Russia

Frontline fighters (and martyrs) for free speech

In Burma, the mutilated body of independent journalist Myat Thu Tan was found at the military base where he had been detained, after the camp was overrun by rebels of the pro-democratic resistance. In Kazakhstan, detained activist Aqylbek Muratbai is fighting extradition to Uzbekistan, where he had been speaking out against bloody repression faced by his Karakalpak ethnic minority. And in Burkina Faso, human rights defender Daouda Diallo remains missing months after was "disappeared," presumably at the hands of the ruling military junta. Yet neither the mainstream media nor "progressives" in the West pay heed to these cases—while the reactionary and Kremlin-coopted Julian Assange is a cause célèbreIn Episode 214 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg asks: Why is that?

Ukraine accuses Russia of using chemical weapons

The Public Relations Service of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine accused Russia on Feb. 9 of using chemical weapons in the ongoing conflict, with a staggering total of 815 recorded attacks since the commencement of the large-scale war.

Russia creates new Africa Corps

Following the death of Wagner Group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin, the Russian ministries of defense and foreign affairs quickly moved to reassure African client states that business as usual would continue—meaning that Moscow's unofficial boots on the ground would keep operating in these countries. Now  reports indicate a transformation, with Wagner's estimated force of 5,000 troops—deployed from the Sahel to Libya to Sudan—to be brought under Defense Ministry command as a new Africa Corps. (The Conversation)

Dozens detained at Moscow anti-mobilization protest

Russian law enforcement detained at least two dozen people Feb. 3 at a protest in Moscow, as wives and relatives of service members fighting in Ukraine advocated for their return. Reportedly, those arrested were primarily journalists covering the protest and human rights monitors rather than participants in the demonstration.

ICJ issues mixed ruling in Ukraine case against Russia

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) found Jan. 31 that Russia failed to investigate Ukrainian claims that Russian nationals finance terrorism in Ukraine, in violation of its obligations under Article 9 of the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism (ICSFT). The ruling's press release states that the ICJ otherwise rejected requests by Ukraine for a plethora of provisional measures. Ukraine had requested the ICJ declare Russia in violation of both the ICSFT and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), seeking a court order demanding Russia comply with its obligations under these conventions. Ukraine also requested that the ICJ order Russia to prosecute certain officials, such as the Minister of Defense Sergei Shoigu, and further requested reparations for civilian shelling.

Sahel states defect from ECOWAS

Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso announced they are withdrawing from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on Jan. 28, issuing a joint statement saying they had taken a "sovereign decision" to abandon the regional bloc of which they were founding members in 1975. The three countries accused the bloc of failing to support their fight against "terrorism and insecurity," and imposing "llegal, illegitimate, inhumane and irresponsible sanctions." The statement also charged that ECOWAS has "drifted from the ideals of its founding fathers and the spirit of Pan-Africanism," and is now "under the influence of foreign powers." (BBC News, Al Jazeera)  This appears to be largely a veiled reference to France, with which all three countries have reduced or severed ties, although de facto bloc leader Nigeria is closer to the Anglo-American camp.

'Blood gold,' diamonds behind Russian war effort

Gold-mining operations in Africa under the control of the paramilitary Wagner Group are funneling money to the Kremlin for the Russian war effort in Ukraine, according to a new report by watchdog organizations. "The Blood Gold Report," prepared by the Consumer Choice Center and Democracy 21, finds that Wagner has laundered some $2.5 billion in proceeds from its African operations since Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022, helping Moscow to ride out international sanctions.

Propaganda game in fight over Ukraine military aid

With Republicans holding up new military aid for Ukraine on Capitol Hill, Russia launched one of the most massive aerial assaults of the war on Dec. 29, killing 40 in Kyiv, Kharkiv, Odesa, Dnipro and Lviv. Ukraine retaliated the next day with a missile strike on the Russian city of Belgorod, killing at least 22. Russia counter-retaliated with a wave of drone strikes, damaging schools, hospitals and homes across Ukraine, killing at least 24. Russia accused Ukraine of using internationally prohibited cluster munitions in the strike on Belgorod, and called for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council.

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