Russia’s economic forecast is not looking good, with the central bank last month lowering its growth projections - though officials maintain the country is not sliding into a recession. But in Russia’s far east, thousands of kilometers and several time zones away from Moscow, the effects of the economic downturn are obvious. On the shores of Lake Baikal in Russia’s Buryat republic, unemployment, meager pensions, and low salaries are taking their toll -- as reporter Ricardo Marquina learned.
Public pressure, including from famous faces in the Russian entertainment industry, has led to the release of a young actor in what observers say is a victory by civil society against state repression. As Ricardo Marquina and Olga Pavlova report from Moscow, Russian authorities have, after massive street protests, overturned a three-and-a-half-year prison sentence for an actor accused, without substantial evidence, of assaulting a police officer. Steve Redisch narrates their story.
Russian voters this week dealt the party of President Vladimir Putin a heavy blow in local elections that were marred by street protests and police crackdowns in Moscow. Putin’s United Russia party lost control of key regions, including the capital, raising questions of how long he may continue to lead what some analysts say is an increasingly restive nation. Ricardo Marquina and Olga Pavlova in Moscow, Mary Motta reports.
Russia appears to be using one of its most powerful weapons — tourism — against Georgia, its smaller neighbor to the south. Moscow has banned direct flights between Russia and Georgia, after the latest wave of protests in Georgia against Russia's occupation of two of its regions. Moscow has also called for its citizens to return home. That is meant to damage the Georgian economy, which is highly dependent on tourism. Ricardo Marquina reports from Tbilisi in this report narrated by Jim Randle.
The Georgian-Russian war of 2008 caused the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people and most of them still live in refugee camps in Georgia. Dispossessed of their lands and their homes, many remain unemployed and vulnerable, while continuing to dream of returning to their homes in territory now controlled by Russia.
The Russian occupation of the Georgian territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia in 2008 created a dividing line in Georgian lands that has affected the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. On the other side, Russian troops control territory, creating a de facto border that tears the country into three parts, still a painful wound, a decade later
The scheduled meeting Friday between U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Osaka, Japan, on the sidelines of the G-20 summit comes as tensions between the two powers have been rising. Yet in Russia, people are viewing this latest encounter between these two leaders with some hope but also skepticism. For VOA from Moscow, Ricardo Marquina has this report narrated by Philip Alexiou.