The Real Russia. Today. What’s become of the city of Chernihiv

Friday, April 1, 2022

For ongoing coverage of the invasion of Ukraine and its consequences back in Russia, follow Meduza’s live updates. Please note that the authorities are now blocking our website in Russia, and we’re turning to you, our global audience, for financial support.

Latest major developments in Russia and Ukraine

  • 🕵️ The latest ‘foreign agents’: Russia’s Justice Ministry designated several new “foreign agents,” adding individuals 120th thru 127th to its national list. April 1’s additions include multiple journalist like Maria Borzunova and Elizaveta Osetinskaya, as well as Viktor Vorobyov, a local deputy in Russia’s Komi Republic — the first sitting lawmaker to be added to the “foreign agents” registry. (The designation appears to be punishment for his criticism of the invasion of Ukraine.)
  • 📺 A series of tubes: Russia’s Ministry of Education and Science has ordered universities to migrate all their YouTube content to VK Video and RuTube by April 4. The move suggests preparations for YouTube’s potentially looming inaccessibility in Russia.
  • 🕯️ RIP, Babitsky: Russian journalist and war reporter Andrei Babitsky, who was kidnapped during the Second Chechen War, died on Friday at the age of 57. He controversially lost his job at RFE/RL in 2014 after defending Moscow’s annexation of Crimea.
  • ⚖️ Illegal newspaper covers: A court has fined the Urals-based publisher VK-Media (not to be confused with Vkontakte) 1.5 million rubles (roughly $17,000) for publishing antiwar cover pages in several local newspapers. The judge determined that the publishing house “knowingly disseminating false information” about ongoing “national security measures.”
  • 👋 The eight-year error: Lithuanian actress Ingeborga Dapkūnaitė (who played Russian diplomat Irina Sidorova in the Norwegian hit show “Okkupert”) has left Russia, saying it was a mistake for her to remain in the country after the annexation of Crimea.

🕯️ Meduza special correspondent Lilia Yapparova was in Chernihiv in the final days before Russian troops cut it off from the outside world. Here’s what she saw. (31-min read)

In late March, Russia promised to reduce its military activity in Chernihiv and Kyiv; in fact, this was one of the main outcomes of the talks between Russia and Ukraine in Istanbul. Despite that, the Russian army has been laying siege to Chernihiv for almost a week. According to volunteers and local officials, Russian troops have been firing at civilians who try to evacuate the city. Meduza correspondent Lilia Yapparova was in Chernihiv in the final days before the siege began. Below is her account of a city on the verge of humanitarian catastrophe.

🧳 Many Ukrainians are fleeing the war through Moldova, but some are choosing to stay there (14-min read)

Moldova has received thousands of Ukrainian refugees since the beginning of the war. According to the UN Refugee Agency, since February 24, more than 390,000 refugees from Ukraine have arrived in the country. For most of them, Moldova is a way station on the road to other European countries. However, according to UNICEF data, more than 100,000 Ukrainians are currently planning on staying there. The majority of these refugees, about 93 percent of them, are women with children, pets, and hopes of returning home in the future. Today, most of them come to Moldova from Odesa. This is the third wave of Ukrainians fleeing the war — the first two were from Mykolayiv, Kharkiv, and Kherson. In a Meduza exclusive, photographer Sergei Stroitelev made the journey from the Moldovan-Ukrainian border to various refugee centers and talked to those fleeing Russia’s war.

🩺 As Putin approaches 70, investigative journalists look into the state of his health (6-min read)

Since the moment Vladimir Putin became president of Russia, the Kremlin has kept information about his health secret. At first, no one really noticed. But later, when, from time to time, Putin disappeared from public view, many suggested (without presenting conclusive evidence, mind you) that he might be undergoing some kind of medical treatment. What’s more, Putin has been accompanied on all of his trips by a sizeable retinue of doctors. In a new report, the investigative outlet Proekt looks into the health of the Russian president (Meduza’s special correspondent Svetlana Reiter contributed reporting). We’ve summarized the investigation’s findings here.

Yours, Meduza