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News From Russia: What You Missed Over the Weekend

The Matryoshka diamond. alrosa.ru

Kiev protest

Thousands of people gathered in Kiev's main square to protest against President Volodymyr Zelenskiy's deal with Moscow to grant autonomy to Ukraine's pro-Russian rebel-held east as part of efforts to end a five-year conflict there.

In the first breakthrough toward a possible peace deal in years, envoys from Moscow and Kiev agreed at talks on Tuesday on an election schedule for the Donbass region and on legislation giving it special status. Ukraine also agreed to call back its forces from the current contact line with separatist fighters.

Matryoshka diamond

The Alrosa mining company has unearthed a unique diamond with a smaller diamond enclosed within it that resembles a traditional Russian nesting doll called a Matryoshka.

The larger gem measures 0.62 carats, and a smaller 0.02-carat diamond moves freely inside it. Alrosa found precious stones in its mine in the Russian Far Eastern republic of Sakha.

Birthday trek

President Vladimir Putin went mushroom picking with Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu in the Siberian taiga on the eve of his 67th birthday Monday.

Footage showed Putin driving an off-road vehicle, Shoigu digging up wild plants and both of them having a picnic beside a bonfire.

President Vladimir Putin and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu. Kremlin.ru

FBI questions

The Russian Embassy in the United States sent a note of protest to the U.S. State Department after the FBI questioned a Russian lawmaker when she landed in a New York airport to attend the Fort Ross Dialogue forum in California on Sunday.

Russian deputy Inga Yumasheva was questioned for an hour, the Russian embassy said. Russian Ambassador Anatoly Antonov said Yumasheva “was offered to meet with the FBI officer in a different, informal setting and to continue the conversation.”

Allied visit

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yury Borisov visited Caracas to underline Moscow's support for Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro that has helped him stay in power despite intense Western pressure to quit.

Moscow has acted as a lender of last resort for Venezuela's leftist administration, with the government and oil giant Rosneft providing at least $17 billion in loans and credit lines since 2006.

Includes reporting from Reuters.

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