Russia’s Coronavirus Vaccine More Expensive for Africa Than Western Jabs – FT

Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine will cost up to three times as much as western counterparts for African nations, The Financial Times reported Thursday, citing individuals familiar with the procurement process.

The African Union said last week it has secured 300 million Sputnik V doses over one-year period starting this May as Russia promotes it globally as a cheaper, easier-to-transport alternative to western-developed jabs.

The AU will pay $9.75 per dose for Sputnik V, according to the FT, meaning the two-dose jab will cost $19.50 per person in total.

That reportedly compares to $3 per dose for the 100 million AstraZeneca vaccines that the AU previously said it had secured. FT added that AU has also agreed on the purchase of the Indian-made Novavax vaccine for the same price tag.

“Our international price of just under $10 per dose is the same for all markets,” said the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), which markets Sputnik V abroad and funded its development. The AU declined to comment on the pricing.

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Russian Domestic Violence Victim’s Death Blamed on ‘Negligent’ Cops

Russian activists have placed the blame for a young domestic violence victim’s death in Siberia on the police, alleging that they failed to respond as she was being beaten to death in a case that has sparked national attention this week.

Women’s rights activist Alyona Popova claimed that police in the city of Kemerovo ignored repeated calls from concerned neighbors as 23-year-old student Vera Pekhteleva’s ex-boyfriend beat her for 3.5 hours at his apartment last month. The neighbors eventually managed to break down the apartment door themselves only to find that Pekhteleva had already died. 

Two male police officers have been charged with criminal negligence for not responding to the calls, which Popova said means they could get off with just a warning and a fine. 

“Our state currently defends the interests of the killer and the police. This attitude towards domestic violence has already become the norm in Russia,” Popova wrote on Facebook, attaching alleged call transcripts showing that police operators were more concerned with the neighbors’ rude tone rather than their cries for help. 

On Friday, a district court in Kemerovo returned the case to prosecutors to requalify the officers' negligence charges to more serious ones. 

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Coronavirus in Russia: The Latest News | Feb. 26

Russia has confirmed 4,223,186 cases of coronavirus and 85,304 deaths.

Feb. 26: What you need to know today

Russia on Friday confirmed 11,086 new coronavirus cases and 428 deaths.Around 4 million Russians have been vaccinated against the coronavirus so far, state-run TASS news agency reported Friday citing Russia's Health Ministery representative. Guatemala became the latest country to authorize Russia's Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine, the jab's developer announced Thursday. The Egyptian Drug Authority gave emergency authorization to Russia's Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine, the jab's developers confirmed Wednesday. Georgia will be open to Russian tourists from March 1, Russia's TASS news agency reported Wednesday citing Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili. All tourists arriving in Georgia will be required to present a negative coronavirus test result or vaccination certificate. 

Feb. 23

— Kyrgyzstan has also registered Sputnik V, the country's health ministry said Tuesday.

Feb. 22

— Syria has authorized the use of Russia's Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine, its embassy in Moscow said Monday.

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Boeing 777 With Engine Trouble Makes Emergency Landing in Moscow

A Boeing 777 airliner on Friday made an emergency landing in Moscow with engine problems, the operating airline said, days after another model rained down engine debris over the United States.

State-owned Rossiya airline said the crew had registered the "incorrect operation of the engine control sensor" on a cargo flight from Hong Kong to Madrid and that they "decided to make an emergency landing in Moscow."

Online flight trackers confirmed the flight was carried out with a Boeing 777.

The airline said the unscheduled landing went ahead without incident and that no one was injured.

The aircraft will continue its onward journey to Madrid after a delay of several hours, it added.

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Russian Diplomats Push Railway Handcar Home from North Korea

Russian diplomats and their family members returning from North Korea were forced to push a handcar with their belongings over the border as the reclusive country remained closed due to the coronavirus, the Russian Foreign Ministry said Thursday.

North Korea has not reported any Covid-19 cases more than a year into the global pandemic that has infected 113 million and killed 2.5 million people. Foreign diplomatic missions closed last spring and most employees, including 13 from Russia’s Embassy in Pyongyang, were flown out of the country.

Eight Russian Embassy employees and their families made their way home Thursday with the help of a railroad handcar loaded with luggage and children.

Their journey began with a 32-hour train ride out of Pyongyang, followed by a 2-hour bus ride to the Russian border, where Russia’s Foreign Ministry said a crucial last leg awaited them.

“The most important part of the route was a pedestrian crossing to the Russian side. They needed to prepare a cart in advance, put it on rails, place the luggage, seat the children and set off,” the ministry said.

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‘The police are coming. There’s no need to swear!’. Outrage spreads after Russians learn about the police ignoring a grisly domestic dispute that ended in a woman’s brutal murder. The negligent police officers could get off with a fine.

‘The police are coming. There’s no need to swear!’. Outrage spreads after Russians learn about the police ignoring a grisly domestic dispute that ended in a woman’s brutal murder. The negligent police officers could get off with a fine.

Details about a grisly murder committed a year ago in Kemerovo have found an audience on social media in the past week, following activist Alena Popova’s Facebook posts about the killing of 23-year-old Vera Pekhteleva at the hands of a jealous ex-boyfriend. Her death is particularly disturbing and shocking because neighbors pleaded with the local police for assistance for hours while listening to the woman scream in agony. By the time the neighbors finally kicked in the apartment door, Pekhteleva was dead. The public’s attention now turns to the trials against the killer and the officers whose negligence likely cost a woman her life.

Russians know the story of Vera Pekhteleva, a 23-year-old student at Kuzbass State Technical University who was murdered in January 2020, thanks to Alena Popova, the co-founder of “You Are Not Alone,” an organization for victims of domestic violence. On February 20, Popova shared the following message on Facebook:

Her former boyfriend murdered 23-year-old Vera over a period of three and a half hours. For several hours, the neighbors called the police, begging them to come, but the police didn’t come. Finally, the neighbors themselves broke down the metal door, but it was too late. By then [the former boyfriend] Vladislav Kanyus had inflicted no fewer than 56 injuries on Vera: bruises, cuts, a broken nose, and cranial trauma. He didn’t leave a single place on the girl’s body untouched. In the end, he strangled Vera with the cord from an iron.

Popova, who obtained the case file from Pechteleva’s sister, said Vera had decided to break up with Kanyus. On the day of the murder, she went to his apartment to collect her things, but he wouldn’t let her leave. She tried to break free, but he pulled her away from the door and continued to beat her. Neighbors heard her screaming and called the police at least seven times, but no one responded. By the time the neighbors ultimately broke down Kanyus’s apartment door themselves, Pekhteleva was already dead.

Kanyus has been charged with murder and faces six to 15 years in prison. Popova noted that he is charged simply with murder, not aggravated homicide, which carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. Pekhteleva’s relatives had petitioned for the more serious charge, but prosecutors ignored these requests. The indictment does not state that Kanyus “tortured her to death” over a period of hours, Popova said, which could allow him to get a relatively short sentence with the chance of parole.

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Thousands Rally in Armenia After PM Warns of 'Coup Attempt'

Armenia's Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan defied calls to resign and accused the military of an attempted coup on Thursday, as divisions over his handling of last year's war with Azerbaijan brought thousands to the streets.

Hours after the general staff of Armenia's military made a shock call for the government to step down, Pashinyan rallied some 20,000 supporters in the center of the capital Yerevan against what he said was an attempt to oust him.

The opposition gathered some 10,000 of its own supporters not far away, then began putting up tents and building barricades outside parliament as it vowed to hold round-the-clock demonstrations.

There were no signs of any military action against Pashinyan, who ordered the armed forces to stand behind the government.

"I am ordering all generals, officers and soldiers: do your job of protecting the country's borders and territorial integrity," he said during the rally.

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Journalist hit with pepper ball, sprayed with chemical irritant while covering protest in Omaha

Journalist hit with pepper ball, sprayed with chemical irritant while covering protest in Omaha - U.S. Press Freedom Tracker Journalist hit with pepper ball, sprayed with chemical irritant while covering protest in Omaha
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Oregon journalist kicked by an individual while covering a Black Lives Matter demonstration

Oregon journalist kicked by an individual while covering a Black Lives Matter demonstration - U.S. Press Freedom Tracker Oregon journalist kicked by an individual while covering a Black Lives Matter demonstration
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Rochester journalists caught in sprays of less-lethal munitions while covering Daniel Prude protests

Rochester journalists caught in sprays of less-lethal munitions while covering Daniel Prude protests - U.S. Press Freedom Tracker Rochester journalists caught in sprays of less-lethal munitions while covering Daniel Prude protests
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Photojournalist says he was targeted with pepper balls while covering a protest in Rochester

Photojournalist says he was targeted with pepper balls while covering a protest in Rochester - U.S. Press Freedom Tracker Photojournalist says he was targeted with pepper balls while covering a protest in Rochester
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Independent journalist shoved by Portland police during August protest

Independent journalist shoved by Portland police during August protest - U.S. Press Freedom Tracker Independent journalist shoved by Portland police during August protest
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Journalist caught in chemical irritants and threatened with arrest while covering Rochester protests

Journalist caught in chemical irritants and threatened with arrest while covering Rochester protests - U.S. Press Freedom Tracker Journalist caught in chemical irritants and threatened with arrest while covering Rochester protests
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Democrat and Chronicle photographers hit with pepper balls while covering protests in Rochester

Democrat and Chronicle photographers hit with pepper balls while covering protests in Rochester - U.S. Press Freedom Tracker Democrat and Chronicle photographers hit with pepper balls while covering protests in Rochester
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Navalny is moved from remand prison and likely transferred to a penitentiary

Navalny is moved from remand prison and likely transferred to a penitentiary

The Russian authorities have moved Alexey Navalny from the remand prison in the capital where he’s been jailed since returning to Moscow last month. The opposition politician’s lawyer told the news agency Interfax that he arrived at Matrosskaya Tishina for a meeting with Navalny on Thursday, only to be told that his client is no longer being held there. “He’s probably been transferred to a penitentiary, but it’s also possible they took him somewhere else,” said Vadim Kobzev.

Navalny’s 2.5-year prison sentence entered force on February 20, after an appellate court upheld his conviction for supposedly violating parole requirements in a previous felony sentence that international groups have condemned as an unfair, politicized trial.

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Russian Pranksters Trick Amnesty Heads in Navalny 'Prisoner of Conscience' Call

A pair of notorious Russian pranksters duped top Amnesty International directors into saying their widely panned move to revoke jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny's “prisoner of conscience” status caused damage.

Amnesty was hit with widespread backlash for the decision Wednesday, with critics saying the group had caved in to a “targeted campaign” to discredit Navalny by figures linked to pro-Kremlin media. The organization cited Navalny’s past nationalist and anti-immigrant rhetoric in its decision to remove the label but said it would continue to push for his release.

In the call, three Amnesty officials discuss the fallout from the day's events with the pranksters known as Vovan and Lexus, who pose as top Navalny aide Leonid Volkov.

“We are conscious that what happened has done a lot of damage,” Denis Krivosheev, Amnesty's vice president of Europe and Central Asia, says on the 15-minute Zoom call published to Vovan and Lexus’ YouTube channel Thursday.

A spokeswoman for Amnesty International Russia told The Moscow Times that the video of the call posted on YouTube is authentic but declined to comment further.

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North Korean Laws Since 2016: What They Imply for the Country’s Future

The Kim Jong Un regime, like his father’s, has repeatedly emphasized building a socialist rule-of-law state.[1] In accordance with this objective, North Korea has devoted great attention to making and amending laws. There were 205 known North Korean laws when Kim Jong Un assumed power in December 2011; this number had increased to 236 by December 2015, and 106 laws are known to have been revised during this period.

North Korea is notorious, however, for its secrecy and its laws are no exception. The North’s last known published compilation of laws occurred in December 2015, and very little reliable or comprehensive information is available about the enactment or revision of its legislation over the past five years.[2] Given the legislative record from 2011-2015, it is reasonable to presume that roughly 150 laws have either been enacted or amended since 2015, though less than a third of these have been identified (see the Appendices).[3] That said, most of the country’s laws since the 1990s fall into two categories: those for facilitating greater economic development and ones for strengthening social controls.

Laws for Economic Development

About half the North Korean laws and regulations known to have been revised following 2016 are targeted at promoting the economy in two main areas (see Appendices).

Foreign Investment and Foreign Trade

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Moscow City Hall Develops App to ‘Replace’ Skype, Slack – RBC

Moscow authorities have developed an internal messaging app intended as a “full replacement” for workplace communication platforms like Slack, Skype and Telegram, the RBC news website reported Thursday. 

The app’s appearance comes as Russia slams what it calls censorship and discrimination of government-affiliated accounts by western social media platforms. Earlier this week, President Vladimir Putin raised fines for protesters and “foreign agents,” as well as on social media giants accused of “discriminating” against Russian media.

The TDM Messenger app first appeared on Google Play in July 2020 but disappeared from the store after RBC sent a request for comment to Moscow’s IT department. A subsidiary of Moscow’s IT department had been listed as one of the app’s developers, RBC reported.

According to RBC, the app operates like a typical messaging app, with the ability to send photos and video as well as make personal and group voice calls. The Moscow IT department subsidiary’s website touted the app as having "an unprecedented level of security, resiliency and scalability for user collaboration in government agencies," adding that it allows for encrypted messaging and voice calls.

A representative for Moscow City Hall declined to comment on the app’s development to RBC, saying only that the city’s IT department "systematically tests new solutions."

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Armenia’s prime minister says the military is trying to overthrow him, following resignation demands from top generals

Armenia’s prime minister says the military is trying to overthrow him, following resignation demands from top generals

Armenia’s prime minister and military leadership are squaring off in what the former is calling an attempted coup, following the Armed Forces General Staff’s calls for the immediate resignation of Nikol Pashinyan and his government cabinet, reports News.am

The General Staff released its demands in a letter signed by 40 senior military officers. The letter says Pashinyan’s decision to remove Lieutenant General Tiran Khachatryan as first deputy chief of the General Staff was made for “short-sighted and unfounded reasons.”

Armenia’s prime minister responded to the demands in a Facebook post, saying he considers the General Staff’s announcement to be “an attempted military coup.” “I invite all our supporters now to Republic Square [in Yerevan]. Very soon, I’ll be making a public address in a live broadcast,” wrote Pashinyan, who later announced that he’s removed Colonel-General Onik Gasparyan as chief of Armenia’s General Staff. Gasparyan then also signed the military’s letter to Pashinyan and his cabinet. 

According to the Russian news agency Interfax, some of Pashinyan’s opponents soon assembled near the Defense Ministry’s building, chanting slogans like “Pashinyan is a traitor!” and “Nikol, go away!” Neil Hauer, a Canadian journalist who lives in Yerevan, noted on Twitter that there is no evidence yet of a military coup in action. “No military vehicles on the street, no sign police are disloyal, [and] no statement of intent by [the] military to take power,” he wrote.

At the time of this writing, Armenia’s Defense Ministry had not commented on the General Staff’s demands.

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Anti-Putin Shaman Charged With Sword Attack on Police

A Siberian shaman who was re-committed to a mental hospital ahead of his planned journey to expel President Vladimir Putin from power has been charged over a sword attack on a police officer, authorities announced Thursday. 

Investigators in the Far East republic of Sakha said a 51-year-old resident resisted detention on Jan. 27 after the mental hospital treating him complained that he had failed to appear for his monthly check-up.

“The man used an 84-centimeter handmade cold weapon and inflicted a stab wound on the police officer,” the regional Investigative Committee said without identifying Alexander Gabyshev by name.

The officer received medical treatment for his injury, it added in an online statement.

Interfax identified the weapon as a traditional Yakut long sword called a batas.

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