News of the Day: 25 June 2021

RFE/RL: Russia has reported a record 601 deaths from COVID-19 in the past day as a surge in coronavirus cases attributed to the presence of the delta variant sweeps across the country. The government coronavirus task force on June 25 reported 20,393 new cases in the previous 24 hours, including 7,916 in Moscow alone. That total was the most for a single day in the capital since late January.

RFE/RL: Russian opposition politician Ilya Yashin says he has been barred from running in an upcoming election due to his support of jailed opposition politician Aleksei Navalny, whose network of organizations has been declared by the authorities to be “extremist.” “I submitted documents for elections to the Moscow City Duma. In response, the Election Commission said I was declared ‘a person involved in extremist activities’ and that I am not allowed to participate in elections,” Yashin wrote on Facebook on June 25.

The Moscow Times: The U.S., British and Canadian embassies in Russia on Friday hung rainbow flags on their buildings in Moscow in honor of LGBT Pride Month celebrated worldwide. In a joint statement with colleagues from Australia, Iceland and New Zealand, the Western diplomats said the actions affirm the countries’ “commitment to protecting the human rights of all individuals, including #LGBTI+ persons.”

RFE/RL: In February 2016, just weeks before the North Caucasus republic of Chechnya was to hold an election for executive-branch head, incumbent leader Ramzan Kadyrov announced on state television that he had had enough. “My time has passed,” he said. “There are lots of successors on our team. We have got very good specialists.” Far from being the end of Kadyrov’s notorious run as the region’s strongman, the announcement was actually the start of an elaborate campaign to beg him to remain in power. It featured videos of weeping women and children and a statement from the region’s rights ombudsman to the effect that Kadyrov’s resignation would amount to a violation of the rights of every Chechen.

The Moscow Times: It’s 11 p.m. in a south Moscow hypermarket and Roman Yuneman is feeling philosophical. “Either I’ll end up in jail, or on the ballot,” says the twenty-six-year-old independent candidate for Russia’s State Duma, over supermarket cafe sushi. “I knew that sooner or later it would come to this. I just didn’t think it would be so soon.” With under three months left until elections to the lower chamber of Russia’s parliament, the management consultant turned opposition politician is feeling the pressure.  Amid an escalating crackdown on Russia’s political opposition, Yuneman is one of a bare handful of independent candidates set to mount a real challenge to the pro-Kremlin United Russia party.

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