The Supreme Court of Russia on May 25 ordered the liquidation of the People's Freedom Party (PARNAS) at the request of the country's justice ministry, according to state news agency TASS. The Ministry of Justice contended that the number of the party's regional offices dropped by seven, from 47 to 40, and law requires parties to have representative offices in half of the regions of the Russian Federation. According to the independent Mediazona, whose reporters were in the courtroom, PARNAS leaders responded that the party still had 44 offices, and was only considered out of compliance with the law because the court counted Russian-occupied territories in Ukraine as Russian administrative regions.
Some 100 fighters in armored vehicles crossed into Russia from Ukrainian territory May 22 and seized the town of Kozinka in Belgorod oblast. They were only driven out after Russian forces responded with fighter planes and artillery, and Moscow says its troops are still "mopping up saboteurs." Two groups claimed responsibility for the raid, both said to be made up of Russians who are fighting for Ukraine. One is the self-proclaimed Freedom of Russia Legion, which released a video message to coincide with the attack, calling on Russians to take up arms "to put an end to the Kremlin's dictatorship."
Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia reacted with outrage after China's ambassador in Paris appeared to question the sovereignty not only of Ukraine, but all the former Soviet republics. Interviewed on French television April 21, Lu Shaye was asked whether Crimea (unilaterally annexed by Russia in 2014) was part of Ukraine under international law. He replied that Crimea was historically Russian and had been handed over to Ukraine; and then added: "Even these countries of the former Soviet Union do not have an effective status in international law, since there is no international agreement that would specify their status as sovereign countries." Fearing diplomatic censure, Beijing's Foreign Ministry backpedalled, releasing a statement saying: "China respects the sovereign status of former Soviet republics after the Soviet Union's dissolution." (The Guardian, NYT)
In Episode 143 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg notes the all too telling irony that Putin's annexation of Ukraine's Donbas region came on exactly the same day as the 1938 Munich Agreement, which approved Hitler's annexation of Czechoslovakia's Sudetenland region. Russian annexation of the Donbas was preceded by that of Crimea, just as the Nazi annexation of Sudetenland was preceded by that of Austria. This is the same pattern of escalation toward world war—only this time Putin's overt nuclear threats make the stakes even higher. Signs of hope include the anti-draft uprising in Russia and mass exodus of Russian youth, which undermine Putin's war effort and threaten his very regime. War Resisters International has issued a petition demanding that European states offer asylum to all Russian deserters and conscientious objectors to military service. Alas, much of the Western "left" continues to cover up for Putin's criminal aggression. Dissident websites such as CounterVortex and Balkan Witness debunk the Russian war propaganda being recycled by Putin's internet partisans on the pro-fascist pseudo-left.
More than 2,000 people have been detained in protests across Russia since President Vladimir Putin announced a mobilization of military reserve troops to fight in Ukraine, according to human rights monitor OVD-Info. The demonstrators are risking long prison terms under laws passed shortly after the Ukraine invasion was launched, which have facilitated a harsh crackdown on dissent.
Drone strikes and unexplained explosions on the Russian-annexed Criman Peninsula have prompted the Moscow-controlled administration to urge citizens to hunt for possible saboteurs. This comes amid widening repression on civil society, especially targeting the Crimean Tatar people. On Sept. 15, a local court jailed at least four people involved in a Tatar wedding in Bakhchysarai for performing a Ukrainian patriotic song, "Red Kalyna." Each accused performer was held for several days.
The United Nations Human Rights Monitoring Mission (UNHRMM) on Sept. 9 accused Russia of arbitrary detentions and forced disappearances in Ukrainian territory, and violating the basic human rights of Ukrainian war captives. The UNHRMM documented numerous cases of torture and ill-treatment of prisoners of war. Russian authorities have also prevented Ukrainian prisoners of war from contacting their relatives or sharing their locations or health conditions with loved ones.
A series of explosions tore through a Russian airbase on the Crimean Peninsula Aug. 9, leaving one dead. Russia's Defense Ministry said ammunition had detonated at Saki airfield, near the village of Novofedorivka. The base is some 200 kilometers from the Ukrainian lines, and President Volodymyr Zelensky's office denied responsibility for the blasts. However, an unnamed Kyiv official anonymously told the New York Times that Ukrainian forces carried out an attack on the base. The official emphasized that "a device exclusively of Ukrainian manufacture was used."