News of the Day: 24 April 2021

RFE/RL: The European Union has dismissed Russian authorities’ labeling of Latvia-based independent news outlet Meduza as a “foreign agent” and urged Moscow to end its “systematic infringement” of basic rights and freedoms for the political opposition and other Russians. Russia’s Justice Ministry announced the step — which requires organizations to label themselves as “foreign agents” and subjects them to increased government scrutiny and regulation — against the 7-year-old Meduza outlet a day earlier. “We reject the decision by the Russian authorities to include independent media outlet Meduza on the list of ‘foreign agents,'” the EU’s diplomatic service said in a statement on April 24. The bloc cited the media’s duty to “report on issues of public interest” and state authorities’ “obligation…to ensure they can do so in an atmosphere free of fear and intimidation.”

The Moscow Times: Russia has confirmed 4,753,789 cases of coronavirus and 107,900 deaths, according to the national coronavirus information center. Russia’s total excess fatality count since the start of the coronavirus pandemic is above 422,000.

RFE/RL: On March 20, 2012, a decree signed by Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov was published by the Russian government. The decree set out a system of payments to military servicemen “for special achievements in the service.” Section 4 of the order, which was first highlighted by RFE/RL’s Russian Service, stated that “servicemen of military units 99450, 74455, and the structural unit of military unit 29155 are paid a monthly supplement.” At the time, little attention was paid to the decree: Little was known about the units, which fell under the umbrella of the feared-and-respected military intelligence agency known as the GRU.

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