Tens of thousands of Russians nationwide took part in a second weekend of unsanctioned protests calling for the release of jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who faces years in prison in a trial that starts Tuesday.
Many protesters also rallied against President Vladimir Putin and Russia’s ruling elite, chanting slogans like “Putin is a thief.” More than 5,000 people were detained across the country — a new one-day record — with numerous videos showing a harsh police crackdown on peaceful protesters.
President Vladimir Putin signed a five-year extension to the New START, a key nuclear arms control treaty between Russia and the U.S., prior to its Feb. 5 expiration.
New START is the only remaining nuclear arms control deal between the two countries after Moscow and Washington withdrew from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty in 2019. Its extension comes amid a tense U.S.-Russia relationship.
Former President Dmitry Medvedev said he has been vaccinated with Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine.
Medvedev, who now acts as deputy chairman of the Security Council after stepping down as Prime Minister last January, said he got the jab about two months ago "without consequences." He is the latest high-profile official to receive the jab, while Putin himself has yet to be vaccinated.
Russian billionaire and Putin’s longtime friend Arkady Rotenberg claimed that he owns the lavish Black Sea estate that Navalny says cost over $1.5 billion and belongs to the Russian president.
"I have successfully concluded a deal with some creditors and I became the beneficiary of this site," Russian news agencies quoted Rotenberg as saying. His media service said the billionaire wanted to turn it into an apartment hotel.
AFP contributed reporting.