News of the Day: 11 December 2021

RFE/RL: Russia has blocked off nearly 70 percent of the Sea of Azov around the illegally annexed Crimean Peninsula, the Ukrainian Navy has announced. “Currently, the Russians have issued navigation warnings on restrictions on navigation in certain areas, allegedly in connection with artillery fire in areas near Mariupol, Berdyansk and Henichesk,” the Ukrainian Navy said in a statement issued on December 10.

RFE/RL; Last month, the Russian government initiated legal proceedings aimed at shutting down Memorial International and the Memorial Human Rights Center, venerable nongovernmental organizations devoted to researching and memorializing the crimes of the Soviet Union, as well as to promoting human rights in former Soviet republics today. The Russian Supreme Court will resume hearing the case against Memorial International on December 14, and the Moscow City Court will hold hearings on the Memorial Human Rights Center on December 16.

Meduza: About 20 years ago, Alexander Sokurov directed a film set in the Winter Palace of the Russian State Hermitage Museum, recorded on location and in a one-take single 96-minute sequence shot. In the movie, an unnamed narrator wanders from room to room, encountering real and fictional characters from various periods in St. Petersburg’s 300-year history. On December 9, 2021, during a virtual meeting between Vladimir Putin and the Presidential Human Rights Council, the same filmmaker offered another sweeping look at Russia, this time in just 15 minutes. Sokurov warned the president that the nation faces a constitutional crisis, suggesting that Moscow should permit certain regions of the country to leave the Russian Federation. Putin denounced the remarks, accusing Sokurov of wanting (“like they do in NATO”) to take Russia backwards to its days as a small principality.

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