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The Real Russia. Today. Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Source: Meduza

The war in Ukraine

  • 🪖 Ukrainian troops relocate to ‘advantageous positions’: Ukraine’s Joint Chiefs reported on Tuesday that the military has repositioned its forces near the city of Vovchansk and the village of Lukiantsi in the Kharkiv region. Officials explained the “maneuvering to more advantageous positions” as necessary to avoid further losses amid Russian advances.
  • 🪖 Situation critical in Ukraine’s northeast: General Kyrylo Budanov, the head of Ukraine’s military intelligence agency, tells The New York Times that the situation in the Kharkiv region “is on the edge,” adding, “Every hour, this situation moves toward critical.” Ukraine hopes to stabilize the Kharkiv front in the coming days, but officials expect Russia to launch a new offensive in the direction of Sumy, a city about 90 miles northwest of Kharkiv. Ukraine’s military finds itself outnumbered and facing critical weapons shortages, while recently approved U.S. aid has only “barely begun to arrive.”
  • 🪖 The next defense minister’s priorities: Speaking to Russia’s Federation Council on Tuesday, Defense Minister nominee Andrey Belousov stressed the need for more troop recruitment but clarified that “routine measures” like non-combat conscription and especially contract service are the tools to achieve this. Belousov also discussed strategies for more efficient military production and better social benefits for soldiers. 
  • 💥 Continued devastation in airstrikes on Kharkiv: A Russian aerial bomb injured roughly two dozen people (including at least two children) and damaged a 12-story residential building in Kharkiv on Tuesday. Several other buildings were also hit in the attack, according to Ukraine’s internal affairs minister. 
  • Nationwide power blackout declared in Ukraine: Ukraine's power grid operator Ukrenergo announced nationwide controlled emergency shutdowns effective between 9 p.m. and midnight on Tuesday, May 14, due to a “significant deficit of electricity in the system resulting from Russian shelling and increased consumption due to colder weather.” Power restrictions for industrial consumers will be in place on May 15, as well.

🪖 Russia’s new offensive near Kharkiv is gaining ground, but the real objective might be exhausting Ukraine’s limited reserves (10-min read)

Last Friday, Russia opened a new front in Ukraine’s northeast. With the help of artillery and air support, Russian infantrymen crossed the border into the Kharkiv region and reportedly proceeded to advance five to seven kilometers (about three to four miles) in two operational directions. In the process, they captured positions held by Ukrainian Border Service officers, which were reinforced by detachments of Ukraine’s Main Intelligence Directorate (the HUR). The Russian army also claims to have occupied several border villages and entered the towns of Vovchansk and Lyptsi.

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Russian domestic news

  • 👂 Former Security Council secretary lands new Kremlin gig: Putin appoints former Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev as presidential aide
  • 🥊 An ex-boxer joins Russian regional politics: Former professional heavyweight boxing champion Alexander Povetkin has been appointed a lieutenant governor of Russia’s Vologda region. According to acting Governor Georgy Filimonov, Povetkin’s work will focus on physical fitness initiatives and youth outreach. Povetkin served as one of Vladimir Putin’s many reelection campaign proxies in both 2018 and 2024.
  • 💀 Propagandist with long resume dies suddenly: Russian pundit Maxim Kononenko has died at the age of 53. He was reportedly hospitalized earlier in the day on Tuesday after suddenly falling ill. A columnist and publicist, Kononenko spent the last years of his life writing for Russia Today and the state-run radio station Vesti FM. He once cohosted a television program with “political technologist” Gleb Pavlovsky and wrote a satirical blog about Vladimir Putin under the penname Mr. Parker. Former RT employee (and longtime friend to Kononenko) Maria Baronova wrote on her Telegram channel that he spent the last six months of his life struggling for money when columnist work dried up after he carelessly reposted a joke mocking the surname of the late Russian-Ukrainian separatist Vladimir Zhoga.
  • 🧦 Cock-in-a-sock musician flees Russia, evades conscription: Rapper Vacio (real name Nikolai Vasiliev) has fled Russia (reportedly to the United States). His colleague Yana Dzhalyu wrote on her Telegram channel that Vasiliev left the country without any warning. Vasiliev’s former manager has confirmed his client’s departure from Russia, though the rapper’s lawyer says he’s unaware of any such travel. Vasiliev infamously attended Nastya Ivleeva’s controversial “Almost Naked” party last year wearing nothing but a sock over his penis. He was subsequently arrested for disorderly conduct, fined for spreading “LGBT propaganda,” and jailed again for bad behavior in police custody before he was handed a military draft board summons. In late January, Vasiliev’s attorney revealed that his client would be conscripted this spring.
  • 🫗 The booze tycoon on everyone’s naughty list: Russia’s Prosecutor General has filed a lawsuit to nationalize the Russian assets of Global Spirits, the biggest alcohol holding company in Eastern Europe. The case is reportedly premised on the supposed extremist activities of the company’s chief owner, Ukrainian businessman Yevhen Cherniak, whom Russian officials charged in July 2023 with “financing terrorism” for his donations to the Ukrainian Armed Forces. In Ukraine, meanwhile, national security authorities announced in December 2023 that they suspect Cherniak of financing Russian aggression by continuing to do business in Russia.

🚨 The military purge isn’t done yet: Russia arrests second top Defense Ministry official on corruption charges (2-min read)

Lieutenant General Yuri Kuznetsov, the head of the Russian Defense Ministry’s Main Personnel Directorate, has been arrested on suspicion of taking “especially large bribes,” the Russian Investigative Committee reported on Tuesday. The charges pertain to a period in 2021–2023 when the general led the 8th Directorate of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, which encompasses the Defense Ministry’s State Secrets Protection Service. Investigators allege that Kuznetsov “accepted a bribe from representatives of commercial structures for performing certain actions on their behalf.” A Moscow district court also jailed a Krasnodar-based businessman named Lev Martirosyan, a second defendant in the bribery case against Kuznetsov. Martirosyan allegedly gave Kuznetsov 30.5 million rubles ($335,000) in bribes to win military contracts for hotel services worth 372 million rubles ($4.1 million).

As the world turns

  • 🇦🇲 Russia will leave some border guard troops in Armenia: FSB director Alexander Bortnikov said on Tuesday that Russian border troops will remain in Armenia at Yerevan’s request to guard the nation’s borders with Turkey and Iran. Also at the Armenian government’s request, Russian border troops will close their checkpoint at Zvartnots International Airport in Yerevan and withdraw its temporary task force from the demarcation line on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border.

🇬🇪 Russian immigrants on why they’ve joined the mass protests against Georgia’s ‘foreign agents’ law (12-min read)

On Tuesday, Georgia’s parliament approved its controversial bill on “transparency of foreign influence” in its third and final reading, bringing it closer than ever to becoming law. The vote followed weeks of demonstrations against the bill, which opponents refer to as a “Russian law” for its similarity to Moscow’s own repressive law on “foreign agents.” Barring any unforeseen changes, Georgian media outlets and other non-government organizations that receive more than 20 percent of their financing from foreign donors will soon be required to register as “foreign agents.” The issue has sharply divided Georgian society: proponents say the bill is an important transparency measure, while experts and politicians both in Georgia and abroad have warned that it will give the government grounds to restrict the activities of anyone who opposes the ruling Georgian Dream party, weakening the country’s democracy and putting its prospects for E.U. accession in doubt. But not all of the bill’s protesters are Georgian: many of the Russians who fled to Georgia after facing repressions back at home feel they have a duty to support the movement against the new law. They spoke to Meduza about their experiences.

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