U.S. President Donald Trump on Saturday downplayed a massive cyberattack on U.S. government agencies, declaring it "under control" and undercutting the assessment by his own administration that Russia was to blame.
Trump's response was in sharp contradiction to comments a day earlier from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who had said the breach was "pretty clearly" Russia's work. CNN said White House officials had made plans Friday to release a statement directly blaming Russia, before it was abruptly pulled back for unclear reasons.
Job well done
President Vladimir Putin on Sunday hailed the country's "courageous" spies amid the controversy surrounding the work of the country's security services.
Putin praised Russian security agents after an investigative report claimed last week that members of the FSB intelligence were behind the poisoning of top opposition leader Alexei Navalny with Novichok, a Soviet-designed nerve agent. Putin’s remarks came on a visit to the headquarters of the Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) to mark its 100th birthday.
Thousands of protesters took to the streets of Belarus on Sunday as they sought to keep the pressure on President Alexander Lukashenko over his contested re-election.
The Viasna rights group said more than 100 people were detained in Minsk and other cities.
A Russian mine clearance officer was killed on duty in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan on Thursday, the military announced around 48 hours after the incident.
The unnamed officer died en route to the hospital.
Out of beds
St. Petersburg hospitals had just 27 beds for coronavirus patients, or 0.5% of total capacity, available early Sunday as the city became Russia’s most-infected locale during the second wave of the pandemic. Authorities have vowed to open a 474-bed hospital for Covid-19 patients later this week.
Russia’s second-largest city overtook the northwestern Russian republic of Karelia last week with 19.1 cases per 1,000 recorded over the past month, a figure that sees no sign of slowing down.
Special police units pried open the doors of two crowded west-central Moscow bars after midnight Saturday for violating 11 p.m. curfew orders.
Bars Kvartira and Nikuda Ne Yedem face a fine of up to 1 million rubles ($13,500) or up to 90 days of closure if visitors get infected with coronavirus.
AFP contributed reporting to this article.