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A court in Moscow has issued an arrest warrant for Yulia Navalnaya, the widow of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, on charges related to her alleged involvement in an extremist organization, as reported by state media. Navalnaya, who resides outside of Russia, faces these charges in absentia. Alexei Navalny, widely regarded as Russia’s most prominent opposition figure in recent years, passed away earlier this year while in custody at a Russian prison. Russian authorities officially stated that his death was due to natural causes, but Navalnaya has publicly accused the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, of torturing and ultimately causing her husband’s death.

The Moscow court’s decision to issue the arrest warrant declared Navalnaya wanted, meaning she would be subject to arrest should she return to Russia. These charges appear to be linked to a June 2021 ruling by another Moscow court that outlawed three organizations associated with Navalny, branding them as extremist entities.

Despite being unable to attend her husband’s funeral in March, Yulia Navalnaya has continued to advocate for justice and human rights. She has met with several Western leaders, including US President Joe Biden. Recently, she was elected to chair the Human Rights Foundation, a US-based non-profit organization dedicated to promoting and safeguarding human rights worldwide. In her new role, Navalnaya has pledged to intensify the struggle her late husband fought against Vladimir Putin’s government.

This development underscores the ongoing tension between the Russian government and dissenting voices, both within the country and abroad, amid international scrutiny and condemnation of Russia’s human rights record and treatment of political opposition.

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A children’s hospital in Kyiv has been severely damaged by Russian strikes, resulting in 33 fatalities across Ukraine in an early morning attack. In Kyiv alone, 19 people were killed, including two at Ohmatdyt Children’s Hospital, Ukraine’s largest pediatric facility, which suffered extensive damage. Kryvyi Rih saw at least 10 deaths, three people were killed in Pokrovsk, and one in Dnipro. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, currently in Poland signing a security pact, has vowed retaliation.

President Zelensky detailed on social media that multiple cities, including Kyiv, Dnipro, Kryvyi Rih, Sloviansk, and Kramatorsk, were hit by over 40 missiles, damaging residential buildings, infrastructure, and the children’s hospital. Dr. Lesia Lysytsia from Ohmatdyt described the missile strike as resembling a scene from a film, with a bright light followed by a deafening sound, resulting in 60-70% of the hospital being damaged. Images showed children with IV drips being evacuated. The hospital, which provides cancer treatments and organ transplants, is currently evacuating patients, though many on ventilators cannot be moved easily.

Hospital officials reported to Ukrainian TV that around 20 children were being treated in the ward that was hit. A subsequent explosion nearby forced hundreds to seek shelter in an underpass. President Zelensky mentioned on social media that people were trapped under the hospital rubble, with doctors and civilians assisting in the rescue efforts.

Kyiv Mayor Vitaliy Klitschko described the bombardment as one of the worst attacks on the capital since the war began. Ukraine’s State Emergency Service revealed that a separate maternity unit in Kyiv was also partly destroyed, killing four and injuring three. Ukrainian tennis player Elina Svitolina will wear a black ribbon at her Wimbledon match to honor the victims.

In Kryvyi Rih, the attack killed at least 10 and wounded 31, with 10 in serious condition, according to military administration head Oleksandr Vilkul. Kryvyi Rih, Zelensky’s hometown, has faced repeated attacks since Russia’s full-scale invasion in February 2022. Dnipro regional head Sergiy Lysak reported one death and six injuries in Dnipro, with a high-rise building and a business hit. Pokrovsk in the Donetsk region saw three deaths amid recent Russian advances.

The bombardment coincides with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s state visit to Moscow, where he is set to meet President Vladimir Putin. Russia claimed the strikes targeted military facilities, not civilian infrastructure. Ukrainian Defence Minister Rustem Umerov called for increased air defense support from allies, citing insufficient current capabilities. The UN’s human rights mission in Ukraine noted a rise in civilian casualties, with May being the deadliest month in almost a year due to renewed Russian air attacks.

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The Slovakian Prime Minister made his first public appearance following an assassination attempt. Robert Fico was shot multiple times on May 15 while greeting people outside a cultural center in Handlova, approximately 180km (112 miles) from Bratislava. He underwent emergency surgery and was later discharged to recover at home.

On Friday, Mr. Fico attended a ceremony at Devin Castle in Bratislava to celebrate Saints Cyril and Methodius Day, a public holiday in Slovakia. Cyril and Methodius, two brothers from the 9th century, are credited with converting the Slavic people to Christianity and creating an early version of the Cyrillic alphabet.

During his speech, Mr. Fico, 59, criticized the spread of progressive ideologies and the West’s approach to Russia regarding the war in Ukraine. He referred to liberal ideas as “meaningless” and spreading “like cancer,” and argued that there were insufficient peace talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin to end the conflict.

Mr. Fico, a populist who returned to office last October, has been a polarizing figure both domestically and within the EU. He has called for an end to military aid to Ukraine and sanctions on Russia, and proposed abolishing Slovakia’s public broadcaster.

The attacker, identified as 71-year-old Jurac C., is described as a writer and political activist. Footage of the incident shows a gun being drawn in the crowd and five shots fired. The Prime Minister was quickly escorted into a car by his bodyguards, while the suspect was detained at the scene.

In a video address posted on social media on June 5, Mr. Fico stated that he forgave his assailant and harbored no hatred towards him, blaming the attack on his parliamentary opposition.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin has issued a warning that Moscow may consider arming other countries to target Western interests in response to the West providing long-range weapons to Ukraine. He criticized Western nations, including the United States and Germany, for enabling Ukraine to strike targets within Russia, which he claimed could result in “very serious problems.”

Putin argued that if the West supplies weapons to attack Russian territory, Moscow has the right to reciprocate by supplying similar weapons to regions that could strike sensitive targets in those countries. He did not specify which countries Russia might arm but suggested the response would be asymmetric.

Germany was specifically mentioned by Putin, who said that Berlin’s decision to allow Ukraine to use German-made long-range weapons against Russia has definitively harmed Russian-German relations. He also noted that while U.S. President Joe Biden has permitted Ukraine to use American-supplied weapons in the Kharkiv region, the White House has restricted the use of long-range ATACMS missiles on Russian soil.

Recent reports indicate that Ukraine has used U.S. weapons to strike targets inside Russia. Meanwhile, intense fighting continues near Kharkiv, close to the Russian border.

UK Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron emphasized that it is Ukraine’s decision how to use British-supplied weapons, asserting Ukraine’s right to target Russian territory. Additionally, Ukraine claims North Korean missiles are being used against them, and Western intelligence suggests Russia is deploying Iranian-made drones in the conflict.

Putin reiterated Russia’s nuclear doctrine, warning that Moscow might use nuclear weapons if its sovereignty and territorial integrity are threatened. He criticized the West for assuming Russia would never resort to nuclear escalation and dismissed the notion that Russia intends to attack NATO territories as “complete nonsense.”

These statements were made at the annual St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, where Putin also underscored that portraying Russia as an enemy only harms those who do so.

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The annual Red Square military parade had a different feel this time, not just because of the spring snowstorm. While 9,000 people marched across the square, the numbers were lower compared to previous years before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. There was less military hardware on display, with only one T-34 tank present.

References to Russia’s war in Ukraine were abundant, with soldiers who had been fighting there participating in the parade. President Putin emphasized this in his address, highlighting the ongoing “Special Military Operation” in Ukraine and praising the frontline soldiers as heroes.

Recent tensions with Western nations, including accusations from Russia and warnings from President Putin, added to the atmosphere. Putin issued a warning to the West, accompanied by nuclear sabre-rattling, stating Russia’s readiness to defend itself.

Victory Day in Russia has become a significant holiday, commemorating the Soviet defeat of Nazi Germany and the immense human cost of that victory. However, it’s also used to justify present actions, framing the war in Ukraine as a continuation of World War Two against enemies like Ukraine and the West.

The normalization of war in Russia is evident, as reflected in the unveiling of a war memorial outside Moscow, dedicated to soldiers who died in various conflicts, including Afghanistan, Chechnya, and Ukraine. An official’s speech at the unveiling conveyed the message that wars are part of human nature, marking a shift from the previous sentiment of “No more war” that was prevalent in post-World War Two Russia.

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Vladimir Putin is poised to embark on his fifth term as Russia’s president, a testament to his enduring influence over the country’s political landscape. However, this prolonged tenure has not been without controversy. Over the years, Putin’s leadership has undergone a noticeable shift towards authoritarianism, characterized by a tightening grip on power and a crackdown on dissenting voices.

One of the most notable manifestations of this shift is Russia’s involvement in the conflict in Ukraine. What began as a territorial dispute over Crimea has escalated into a protracted conflict, with Russia backing separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine. This aggressive stance has drawn condemnation from the international community and further strained Russia’s already tenuous relations with the West.

Fiona Hill, a former White House national security advisor, has remarked on Putin’s evolution from a pragmatic leader to an imperialist figure reminiscent of Russian tsars. This transformation has had profound implications for Russia’s domestic politics and its standing on the world stage. Putin’s consolidation of power has eroded democratic institutions and marginalized political opposition, leaving little room for dissent.

Despite mounting criticism of his leadership style, Putin has managed to maintain a firm grip on power, thanks in part to his dominance of Russia’s political landscape. His electoral victories, though marred by allegations of irregularities and lack of transparency, have only served to reinforce his position as Russia’s preeminent political figure.

Nowhere is Putin’s influence more evident than in places like Kashira, a town near Moscow, where a massive mural of the president adorns the side of an apartment block. This towering image serves as a constant reminder of Putin’s omnipresence in Russian society and the challenges of dissenting in a political climate increasingly hostile to opposition voices.

Despite the pervasive sense of resignation among many Russians, there lingers a palpable undercurrent of uncertainty about the future. As Putin prepares to embark on another term in office, questions abound about what lies ahead for Russia and how the country will navigate the era of Putinism in the years to come.

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Emmanuel Macron, the French president, recently made headlines by releasing photos of himself vigorously boxing, showcasing his muscular physique. These images, shared on Instagram by his photographer, emerged shortly after Macron adopted a more assertive stance towards Russia in light of the Ukraine conflict. Social media quickly dubbed him “Rocky,” although some skeptics questioned whether the images had been digitally altered, comparing them to previous photos where Macron’s arms appeared slimmer.

The timing of these pictures, coming on the heels of Macron’s suggestion of potential Western military involvement in Ukraine, was seen as a deliberate message to Russia. Macron warned of the danger of allowing Ukraine to fall, emphasizing Russia’s broader territorial ambitions in Eastern Europe.

Analysts speculated that the release of the boxing photos was a strategic move by Macron to project strength and determination, akin to Vladimir Putin’s own displays of physical prowess. Gaspard Gantzer, a PR expert, suggested that Macron wanted to convey his readiness to confront challenges and defend France’s interests.

While some praised Macron’s muscular appearance and interpreted the images as a symbol of his readiness to face adversaries, others criticized them as political posturing. Opposition figures like Sandrine Rousseau expressed disdain, characterizing the photos as emblematic of the superficiality of politics.

Macron’s interest in sports, particularly boxing, is not new, with his wife, Brigitte Macron, revealing his regular training routine. However, this public display of physical strength was seen as a departure from his previous image, such as the more relaxed portrayal in a shirt with open buttons.

In essence, Macron’s release of boxing photos was interpreted as a strategic communication move amid heightened tensions, aiming to convey resolve and readiness in the face of geopolitical challenges.

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Approximately 9,000 children are being evacuated from Belgorod and its surrounding areas following shelling incidents attributed to Ukraine, according to Belgorod governor Vyacheslav Gladkov. The recent attacks have resulted in injuries, power outages, and casualties, with 16 people killed and 98 wounded this week alone.

In response to the attacks, schools in Belgorod were closed earlier in the week, and evacuation orders now extend to several villages in the region. The evacuation process is set to begin on Friday, with the initial group comprising 1,200 children.

Russia’s defense ministry claims to have intercepted Ukrainian shells over Belgorod and conducted strikes against alleged Ukrainian “saboteurs” near the border regions. Concurrently, Ukrainian border areas have also faced Russian attacks, necessitating evacuations.

Although Kyiv has not officially responded to the incidents in Belgorod, Russian President Vladimir Putin has accused Ukraine of attempting to disrupt his re-election campaign through the strikes. Putin has urged the Federal Security Service to identify and punish Russian fighters supporting Ukraine’s cause, vowing retribution regardless of their location.

Earlier this month, reports emerged of Russia-based paramilitary groups crossing into Russian territory from Ukraine. Videos circulated by these groups claimed control over villages in the Belgorod and Kursk regions, although Russia’s defense ministry refuted these claims, stating that such attempts were thwarted.

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Vladimir Putin, known for his reluctance to address his main opponent in Russia directly by name, notably changed his approach following the death of Alexei Navalny. After securing his fifth term as president, Putin acknowledged Navalny’s passing, describing it as a sorrowful event. He also hinted at a potential agreement for Navalny’s involvement in a prisoner exchange.

Navalny’s associates allege he was murdered while in custody in an Arctic jail by Russian authorities, whereas official Russian sources attribute his death to natural causes. US President Joe Biden condemned Putin’s regime, characterizing Navalny’s demise as further evidence of Putin’s brutality.

Putin recently disclosed that prior to Navalny’s death, he had been informed of a proposed swap involving individuals detained in the West. Putin claimed he had agreed to the swap on the condition that Navalny remained outside Russia, but the plan did not materialize due to unforeseen circumstances.

Some observers interpret Putin’s remarks as an effort to distance himself from Navalny’s death, while others see it as a sign that Putin no longer perceives Navalny as a significant threat. Previously, Putin had rarely mentioned Navalny by name, arguing that he was just one among many opposition figures.

Navalny’s associates assert that Putin’s recent acknowledgment of Navalny’s name signifies a shift in his stance, indicating that Putin no longer feels the need to avoid mentioning him. However, critics view Putin’s comments with skepticism, considering them as attempts to downplay his involvement or responsibility in Navalny’s demise.

The circumstances surrounding Navalny’s death are intertwined with discussions of a potential prisoner swap, allegedly involving Navalny and individuals held in the West. Despite Putin’s acknowledgment of the proposed exchange, the Kremlin has not officially confirmed these negotiations. Additionally, Putin has refrained from directly naming Vadim Krasikov, a Russian hitman implicated in a high-profile murder in Germany, despite allusions to his involvement.

Overall, Putin’s remarks and the events surrounding Navalny’s death underscore the complex dynamics of Russian politics and international relations, with lingering questions regarding accountability and justice.

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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un recently enjoyed his inaugural ride in a luxury car gifted by Russian President Vladimir Putin, marking a symbolic moment in the strengthening relationship between Pyongyang and Moscow. This gesture underscores the deepening ties since their summit in September, as Kim’s sister, Kim Yo Jong, highlighted the significance of the occasion as evidence of the robust DPRK-Russia friendship. The vehicle, an Aurus Senat limousine, arrived in Pyongyang in February after Putin’s invitation to Kim during their meeting.

Aurus, touted as Russia’s premier luxury car brand, has been a staple in the motorcades of top Russian officials since Putin’s inauguration in 2018. Notably, Kim Jong Un, known for his collection of foreign luxury cars, has previously utilized vehicles like the Maybach limousine during his travels, including his visit to Russia. However, the gift of the Aurus adds another dimension to his collection.

Despite the diplomatic exchange, concerns have been raised, particularly regarding potential violations of UN sanctions. The Ministry of Unification in South Korea condemned North Korea’s public display of the gift, stressing Russia’s responsibility as a UN Security Council member. Additionally, there are concerns about the close ties between North Korea and Russia amid the latter’s conflict with Ukraine and suspicions of military cooperation between the two nations.

Kim’s use of the luxury vehicle was coupled with overseeing military drills, emphasizing his country’s military capabilities. Furthermore, his daughter accompanied him during this event, indicating a potential succession plan within the leadership.

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