News of the Day: 27 December 2020

RFE/RL: A court in the Russian North Caucasus city of Nalchik has banned four archive videos by the AP news agency from the wars in Chechnya in the 1990s and 2000s for allegedly “propagandizing cruelty.” One of the videos banned by the Nalchik court on December 27 shows Russian soldiers who were being held prisoner by Chechen fighters in 1995. In the video, which has been viewed nearly 2 million times, a Russian officer says he has been treated “very surprisingly” and criticizes Russian tactics in the war.

RFE/RL: Lyubov Sobol, a prominent lawyer for outspoken Kremlin critic Aleksei Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK), has said upon her release from detention that charges filed against her are “revenge” for Navalny’s survival of a recent assassination attempt.

“I believe that this criminal case against me is, firstly, revenge against Navalny, no matter how absurd it may sound, revenge on him for surviving after being poisoned with chemical weapons, revenge for his anti-corruption activities,” Sobol told TV Dozhd regarding the charges, which stem from her ringing the doorbell of a Federal Security Service (FSB) officer implicated in Navalny’s August poisoning.

“And since they cannot do anything with him now, they apparently decided to take revenge on me,” said Sobol, who proclaimed her innocence and called the charges “absurd.”

RFE/RL: The Kremlin has announced that Russian President Vladimir Putin will not participate in the traditional end-of-the-year meeting with business leaders. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on December 27 that the meeting, which is normally held each year in the days before New Year’s, would not be held. He did not give a reason. Earlier this month, Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs head Aleksandr Shokhin said the meeting would take place sometime after December 25. This year Putin also cancelled his annual Direct Line question-and-answer session, an annual televised event at which the president spends several hours fielding carefully chosen questions from people across Russia.

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