Russia in Review, Nov. 6-13, 2020

This Week’s Highlights

  • China on Nov. 13 acknowledged that Joe Biden won the U.S. presidential election, leaving Russia the only major power still on the fence, Business Insider reports. “We believe it’s correct to wait for the official results of the elections to be announced,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Nov. 9. Russia needs to improve its ties with the United States under Biden, though “not at any cost,” former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev said, according to The Moscow Times.
  • On Nov. 10 SCO leaders approved the Moscow Declaration, which states that SCO members: “firmly advocate the preservation and consolidation of the existing norms and mechanisms of global stability and arms control”; “express regret over the discontinuation” of the INF treaty; “stand for keeping … outer space free of any weapons”; and “are in favor of shaping a multipolar world.” Chinese President Xi Jinping told the summit to oppose interference by “external forces,” taking a veiled swipe at the U.S., and stressed the need to avoid politicizing the coronavirus situation, the South China Morning Post reports. Russian President Vladimir Putin welcomed Xi’s statement and noted intensification of foreign policy and military cooperation between SCO members.
  • The surplus of Russia's foreign trade in January-September 2020 amounted to $76.8 billion, which is 42.6 percent (or $57 billion) less in comparison with the same period of 2019, according to the Russian Federal Customs Service, TASS reports. Russia’s key trading partners among non-CIS countries in January-September 2020 were China, with a turnover of $74.4 billion, Germany with $29.2 billion, the Netherlands with $21 billion and the U.S. with $17.7 billion
  • Leaders of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia have signed an agreement to end fighting over Nagorno-Karabakh after Azerbaijani forces made major battlefield gains, RFE/RL reports. Under the deal, the first 200 of 1,960 Russian peacekeepers arrived in Armenia on Nov. 10, and then on Nov. 12, a battalion of Russian peacekeepers entered Stepanakert, according to RFE/RL. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov insisted Nov. 12 that "no peacekeeping units of the Turkish Republic will be dispatched to Nagorno-Karabakh,” RFE/RL reports. Meanwhile, Armenian opposition groups are continuing their protests demanding the resignation Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan over the terms of the deal, shouting "Traitor, go away!”  
  • The Russian military is close to completing a secure nuclear command and control post capable of withstanding a nuclear strike and is planning build a naval base in Sudan, according to The Moscow Times.
  • The Russian government underwent a mini-reshuffle this week, bne IntelliNews reports. Energy Minister Alexander Novak was promoted to deputy prime minister; RusHydro CEO Nikolai Shuglinov will fill his vacancy. Transportation Minister Yevgeny Ditrikh was fired and will be replaced by Aeroflot CEO Vitaly Savelyev. Natural Resources Minister Dmitry Kobylkin was fired and replaced by the Minster of Far Eastern and Arctic Development, Alexander Kozlov.


I. U.S. and Russian priorities for the bilateral agenda

Nuclear security:

  • No significant developments.

North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs:

  • No significant developments.

Iran and its nuclear program:

  • Iran keeps increasing its stockpile of low-enriched uranium far beyond the limits set in a landmark nuclear agreement with world powers and continues to enrich it to a higher purity than allowed, the IAEA said Nov. 11. The IAEA said in its quarterly report seen by the media that Iran, as of Nov. 2, had a stockpile of 2,442.9 kilograms of low-enriched uranium, up from 2,105.4 kilograms reported on Aug. 25. (RFE/RL, 11.11.20)

New Cold War/saber rattling:

  • Russia has escalated its provocative encounters in the North Pacific this year, harassing boats in U.S. fishing waters and sending bombers toward Alaska’s shores. Rear Adm. Matthew T. Bell Jr., the commander of the Coast Guard district that oversees Alaska, said it was not a surprise to see Russian forces operating in the Bering Sea over the summer, but “the surprise was how aggressive they got on our side of the maritime boundary line.” (New York Times, 11.12.20) 

NATO-Russia relations:

  • No significant developments.

Missile defense:

  • No significant developments.

Nuclear arms control:

  • No significant developments.


  • No significant developments.

Conflict in Syria:

  • Millions of Syrian refugees who fled their country’s civil war should start returning home to help rebuild Syria now that large parts of the Arab nation enjoy relative peace, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Nov. 9. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said that Western nations have damaged Syria’s economy with sanctions and worked to keep the refugees in neighboring countries. Putin’s comments came in a video call with Assad ahead of a two-day international conference on refugees in Damascus. Most of the refugees fear going home as long as Assad and his government remain in power. (AP, 11.09.20, New York Times, 11.12.20)
  • Russia will reopen its trade mission in the Syrian capital of Damascus by the end of this year, according to a decree by Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin published Nov. 11. (Xinhua, 11.11.20)
  • An armored vehicle of the Russian military police sustained minor damage as it hit an improvised explosive device during a patrolling mission in Syria, none of the Russian servicemen were hurt. (Interfax, 11.13.20)

Cyber security:

  • Microsoft warned Nov. 13 that the company witnessed efforts by Russian and North Korean hacking groups to target pharmaceutical companies and coronavirus vaccine researchers. (The Hill, 11.13.20)
  • A center for combating cybercrimes, telephone spam and phishing will be created in Russia as part of a government program for the digital economy. (bne IntelliNews, 11.12.20)

Elections interference:

  • No significant developments.

Energy exports from CIS:

  • No significant developments.

U.S.-Russian economic ties:

  • No significant developments.

U.S.-Russian relations in general:

  • China has acknowledged that Joe Biden won the U.S. presidential election, leaving Russia as the only major power still on the fence. "We respect the American people's choice and extend congratulations to Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris," Wang Wenbin, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said Nov. 13. (Business Insider, 11.13.20)
    • Russia will not yet recognize Biden as president-elect of the United States, the Kremlin said Nov. 9. “We believe it’s correct to wait for the official results of the elections to be announced,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters. (The Moscow Times, 11.09.20)
    • Compared to other significant countries in the world, the U.S. electoral system is "probably the most archaic," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said. (The Moscow Times, 11.12.20)
    • Russia needs to improve its ties with the U.S. under Biden, though “not at any cost,” the last Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev said. Gorbachev said Biden appeared to “understand the importance of relations with Russia” when he last met the former U.S. vice president at the White House in 2009. (The Moscow Times, 11.10.20)
  • Following Biden's projected victory in the 2020 presidential election, the U.S. saw its favorability rating decrease in both China and Russia, according to a new poll. Conducted by Morning Consult, the study found the U.S.'s favorability rating decreased by three points among those polled in Russia and by one point in China. According to the poll, prior to the 2020 election, 42 percent of respondents in Russia said they have a favorable view of the U.S., while 41 percent said the opposite. In China, 16 percent of respondents said they had a favorable view of America while 70 percent said they had an unfavorable view prior to the election. (Newsweek, 11.13.20) 
  • Former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan, sentenced in June in Russia to 16 years on espionage charges that he rejects, says his arrest and subsequent trial was in retaliation for sanctions that the U.S. imposed on Russia and that he could be used as a bargaining chip in a prisoner exchange. (RFE/RL, 11.11.20)
  • U.S. private equity executive Michael Calvey has been freed from a 19-month-long house arrest in Moscow, raising hopes of an easing of a criminal case that has shaken foreign investors in the country. Russia’s supreme court ruled Nov. 12 that the restriction be lifted on Calvey and his six co-defendants, who all insist that fraud charges against them were misused by a former business partner as leverage in a related corporate dispute over control of a bank. The supreme court’s decision—alongside the $32 million settlement of the related corporate dispute late last month—is a positive signal for Calvey’s supporters. (Financial Times, 11.12.20)


II. Russia’s domestic policies

Domestic politics, economy and energy:

  • Russia registered 21,983 COVID-19 cases over the past 24 hours on Nov. 13, a record daily increase, as the pandemic worsens in the cold season, the country's COVID-19 response center said. The national tally of cases has grown to 1,880,551, including 32,443 deaths and 1,406,903 recoveries, the center said in a statement. (Xinhua, 11.13.20) Here’s a link to RFE/RL’s interactive map of the virus’ spread around the world, including in Russia and the rest of post-Soviet Eurasia. For a comparison of the number and rate of change in new cases in the U.S. and Russia, visit this Russia Matters resource.
  • Russia said its fast-tracked coronavirus vaccine, Sputnik V, has produced promising preliminary results, showing 92 percent efficacy against COVID-19. (Wall Street Journal, 11.12.20)
    • At least three medics who received Russia’s vaunted Sputnik V vaccine have contracted the coronavirus in Siberia as part of a vaccination drive of at-risk groups, regional authorities said Nov. 10. (The Moscow Times, 11.11.20)
  • The Russian government underwent a mini-reshuffle. Energy Minister Alexander Novak was promoted to deputy prime minister; RusHydro CEO Nikolai Shuglinov will fill his vacancy. Transportation Minister Yevgeny Ditrikh was fired and will be replaced by Aeroflot CEO Vitaly Savelyev. Natural Resources Minister Dmitry Kobylkin was fired and replaced by the Minster of Far Eastern and Arctic Development, Alexander Kozlov. As Kozlov moves to MinPrirody, the head of the Fund for the Development of the Far East, Aleksey Chekunhov, will become the new Minister of Far Eastern and Arctic Development. (bne IntelliNews, 11.11.20) 
  • Russian banks issued their largest ever monthly amount of mortgages in September and are expected to underwrite a total of 3.5 trillion rubles ($46 billion) worth in 2020—a boom that will increase the country’s total amount of outstanding mortgage debt by 50 percent in just one year. (Financial Times, 11.11.20)
  • Russia’s southern region of Ingushetiya is about to become the first ever region in the country to go bankrupt, Novaya Gazeta reported Nov. 11, after its debt service obligations soared to 125 percent of its income thanks to spiraling costs incurred by tackling the coronavirus epidemic. (bne IntelliNews, 11.12.20)
  • Rosatom plans to build a nuclear power plant equipped with an RITM-200 small modular reactor in the village of Ust-Kuyga in Yakutia, in far eastern Russia. The land-based small nuclear plant will be able to supply electricity to isolated power systems or remote areas and consumers. (World Nuclear News, 11.11.20)
  • The Leningrad 2 nuclear power unit in Sosnovy Bor in western Russia was shut down permanently. (World Nuclear News, 11.10.20)
  • A spill that dumped thousands of tons of diesel fuel into the Russian Arctic earlier this year was caused by violations during construction and operation of a storage tank, not permafrost melt, according to a preliminary investigation. (RFE/RL, 11.11.20)
  • A set of Arctic islands north of the Siberian mainland saw temperatures as much as 10 degrees Celsius warmer than normal for the season last month, temperature maps from Russian meteorology service Roshydromet show. (The Barents Observer, 11.10.20)
  • The head doctor of the Siberian hospital which first treated Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny—and repeatedly denied that he had been poisoned—has been appointed the region’s new health minister. (The Moscow Times, 11.07.20)
  • More than 400 Jehovah’s Witnesses have been charged or convicted in Russia since the country banned the religious group as an “extremist” organization three years ago. (The Moscow Times, 11.10.20)

Defense and aerospace:

  • Russia has almost finished building a secure nuclear command and control post capable of withstanding a nuclear strike, Putin announced Nov. 11. Speaking at one of a series of military-themed meetings, Putin emphasized the need for control systems to continue working in combat conditions “even in the event of a nuclear strike.” (The Moscow Times, 11.11.20)
  • Russia plans to build a naval base in Sudan, according to a bilateral draft agreement between the two nations. The agreement would allow Russia to establish a naval logistics base in Sudan for the repair and supply of warships as well as provide rest to sailors. (RFE/RL, 11.12.20)
  • Russia is moving one of the most powerful electronic warfare (EW) systems, called the Murmansk-BN, to military bases in Arctic territory near the Finnish border. This week, the Russian Defense Ministry has released a short video showing the deployment of the Murmansk-BN ground mobile radio interference complex to areas located along the border with Finland. (Defense Blog, 11.07.20)
  • Russian arms exporter Rosoboronexport has exported air defense weapons worth $30 billion since late 2000. (TASS, 11.09.20)

Security, law-enforcement and justice:

  • A Russian court has ordered the arrest on treason charges of a representative of the Aeroflot flagship airline’s office in Britain, state media reported Nov. 12. Dmitry Fedotkin has been placed in pre-trial detention until Jan. 10, 2021, according to the state-run TASS news agency. (The Moscow Times, 11.13.20)
  • A Russian soldier suspected of killing three servicemen using an axe and a gun at a military base has been detained after a massive manhunt, officials said. The shooting—the second at a military base in a year—took place at an airfield near the city of Voronezh where activists say army conscripts have been subjected to humiliating hazing. (AFP, 11.09.20)
  • An investigation has been launched into the death of an inmate that reportedly caused a prison riot in Siberia. The Novosibirsk Regional Prosecutor's Office said Nov. 12 that the probe was launched into the "murder" of a 39-year-old inmate in the Correctional Colony No. 13. (RFE/RL, 11.12.20)


III. Russia’s relations with other countries

Russia’s general foreign policy and relations with “far abroad” countries:

  • The surplus of Russia's foreign trade in January-September 2020 amounted to $76.8 billion, which is 42.6 percent (or $57 billion) less in comparison with the same period in 2019, according to the Russian Federal Customs Service. In the reporting period, exports of goods dropped by 22.5 percent year-on-year to $242.2 billion. Imports edged down by 7.4 percent to $165.5 billion. This brings Russia’s foreign trade turnover to $407.7 billion in the reporting period, a decline of 17 percent. Key trading partners of Russia among non-CIS countries in January-September 2020 were China with a turnover of $74.4 billion (down 6.9 percent year-on-year), Germany with $29.2 billion (-24.2 percent), the Netherlands with $21 billion (-43.5 percent) and the United States with $17.7 billion (-8.5 percent). (TASS, 11.09.20)
  • Russia actively coordinates with the BRICS countries on a vaccine against the coronavirus and particularly has serious agreements with Brazil and India on this subject, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said at a meeting of the Valdai Discussion Club on Nov. 11. (TASS, 11.12.20)
  • Hungary has said it will receive a sample of the Russian-made COVID-19 vaccine within a week and a half, making it the first EU member state to announce plans to procure the Kremlin-backed shot. (Financial Times, 11.12.20)
  • The first visit by a U.K. government minister, Foreign Office Minister Wendy Morton,  to Moscow since 2017 will go ahead next week in what is being presented as an attempt to maintain a dialogue with Russia while stopping short of a normalization of U.K.-Russian relations. (The Guardian, 11.13.20)
  • Russia said Nov. 12 it will soon introduce retaliatory sanctions on German and French officials over the poisoning of Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny. (The Moscow Times, 11.12.20)
  • The reactor pressure vessel (RPV) for unit one of the Akkuyu nuclear power plant in Turkey was delivered to the site, Rosatom announced. (World Nuclear News, 11.11.20)

China-Russia: Allied or Aligned?

  • Leaders of the countries of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization have approved the Moscow Declaration and other documents at the end of a virtual summit held on Nov. 10. Nine decisions were prepared for the summit, including the action plan for 2021-2025 on fighting epidemics. SCO leaders came out against discriminatory measures in cyberspace that hinder the development of the digital economy in their Nov. 10 declaration, which also states that SCO members: 
    • “firmly advocate the preservation and consolidation of the existing norms and mechanisms of global stability and arms control. They are concerned about unilateral actions that undermine these mechanisms and express regret over the discontinuation” of the INF treaty;
    • “are in favor of shaping a multipolar world”; 
    • “reaffirm their common conviction that there is no alternative to resolving the crisis in Syria through dialogue”; 
    • “continue their collaboration in identifying and blocking channels for the movement of participants in planned terrorist activities”; and 
    • “stand for keeping the outer space free of any weapons and note the importance of strict observance of the existing regulations on exclusively peaceful uses of space.” (TASS, 11.10.20)
  • Chinese President Xi Jinping told the SCO summit to oppose interference by “external forces,” taking a veiled swipe at the U.S., and stressed the need to avoid politicizing the coronavirus situation. Putin welcomed Xi’s statement and noted the intensification of foreign policy and military cooperation between SCO members. (South China Morning Post, 11.11.20, Interfax, 11.10.20)
  • Xi will take part in the 12th BRICS summit on Nov. 17 at the invitation of Putin, according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry. (TASS, 11.12.20)
  • The Royal United Services Institute has concluded that China is well on its way to eclipsing Russia in the field of combat aircraft. (FightGlobal, 11.09.20)
  • A Siberian regional court has banned Falun Gong, the Chinese spiritual movement that China's Communist Party has sought to stamp out since the late 1990s. (RFE/RL, 11.11.20)

War over Karabakh:

  • The leaders of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia have signed an agreement to end fighting over the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh starting on Nov. 10 that provides for long-term deployment of Russian peacekeepers. The deal came after Azerbaijani forces made major battlefield gains, including reports that they were approaching Nagorno-Karabakh's main city, Stepanakert, after taking Shushi. The Russia-brokered deal is a major defeat for Yerevan-backed ethnic Armenian forces who have controlled Nagorno-Karabakh since a 1994 cease-fire ended all-out war. (RFE/RL, 11.09.20 ,RFE/RL, 11.09.20, RFE/RL, 11.12.20, RFE/RL, 11.10.20, RFE/RL, 11.10.20)  Under the deal:
    • Azerbaijan will keep territory in Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding areas captured during the conflict.
    • Armenian forces are to hand over some areas they held outside the borders of Nagorno-Karabakh, including the eastern district of Agdam and the western area of Kalbacar.
    • Armenians are also to forfeit the Lachin region, where a crucial road connects Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia. The agreement calls for a 5-kilometer-wide area in the corridor to remain open and be protected by a Russian force of 1,960 peacekeepers under a five-year mandate.
    • The agreement also calls for Russian border services to monitor a new transport corridor through Armenia connecting Azerbaijan to its western exclave of Naxcivan, which is surrounded by Armenia, Iran and Turkey. (RFE/RL, 11.10.20)
  • In the course of this year’s war over Karabakh, 4,000 people died and more than 8,000 were wounded, according to Putin. (Russia Matters, 11.13.20)    
  • The first 200 Russian troops of the peacekeeping force arrived in Armenia on Nov. 10 and on Nov. 12, a battalion of Russian peacekeepers entered Stepanakert, Nagorno-Karabakh's largest city. Nearly 2,000 Russian peacekeepers will eventually be active in the region, with 90 armored personnel carriers, as part of Russia’s peacekeeping mission. The Russian military is also sending eight Mi-8 transport and Mi-24 attack helicopters to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone following the start of the peacekeeping operation. (RFE/RL, 11.12.20, RFE/RL, 11.10.20, Defense Blog, 11.12.20)
  • Russia has established direct channels of communication with the general staffs of the Azerbaijani and Armenian armed forces, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said. (Interfax, 11.13.20)
  • Armenian opposition groups are continuing their protests to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian over the terms he agreed to in the Russian-brokered accord with Azerbaijan that ended more than six weeks of fighting over Nagorno-Karabakh. Several thousand protesters marched through the streets of Yerevan on Nov. 12, shouting anti-Pashinian slogans such as "Traitor, go away!” (RFE/RL, 11.12.20)
  • Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov insisted Nov. 12 that "no peacekeeping units of the Turkish Republic will be dispatched to Nagorno-Karabakh.” Lavrov said the activity of Turkish observers would be restricted to the premises of a Russian-Turkish cease-fire control center being created in Azerbaijan. (RFE/RL, 11.12.20)
  • Drone strikes—targeting Armenian and Nagorno-Karabakh soldiers and destroying tanks, artillery and air defense systems—provided a huge advantage for Azerbaijan in the 44-day war and offered the clearest evidence yet of how battlefields are being transformed by unmanned attack drones rolling off assembly lines around the world. (The Washington Post, 11.12.20)


  • Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and the head of his office have been hospitalized after contracting the coronavirus earlier this week. (RFE/RL, 11.12.20)
  • A study by Kyiv International Institute of Sociology released Nov. 11 showed that the ruling Servant of the People party would come in third if parliamentary elections were held this Sunday, but Zelenskiy would still win a presidential election. (bne IntelliNews, 11.12.20)
  • Some 48 percent of foreign investors think Ukraine became less attractive for investment, 42 percent consider the investment climate largely unchanged and only 9 percent see improvements. These are some of the findings of the fifth annual survey of strategic and portfolio investors jointly conducted by the European Business Association, Dragon Capital and the Center for Economic Strategy at the end of October 2020. (UNIAN, 11.09.20)
  • Ukraine’s “lost decade” of economic growth cost the nation $1 trillion in GDP, Prime Minister Shmyhal told the Rada Nov. 6. Presenting a national “economic audit,” he said: “Ukrainian citizens lost one trillion—due to constant changes in vectors [priorities], incomplete reforms, absence of long-term economic strategy, corruption, inefficient governance.” Last year, Ukraine’s GDP was $155 billion. (Ukraine Business News, 11.09.20)
  • The Cabinet of Ministers plans to increase Ukraine's dollar gross domestic product (GDP) from $136 billion at the end of 2019 to $300-460 billion by 2030, according to the "Vectors of Economic Development until 2030," published on the government portal Nov. 6. (Interfax, 11.09.20)
  • The World Bank will loan $100 million to rebuild roads and to promote farming and small business investment in the government-controlled half of Ukraine’s Luhansk region, the Bank Board voted Nov. 6. (Ukraine Business News, 11.09.20)
  • Putin and French President Emmanuel Macron held a telephone conversation Nov. 7, during which they stressed the need for strict implementation of the package of measures and Normandy-format agreements for the resolution of the Ukrainian conflict, the Kremlin said. (Interfax, 11.09.20)
  • The U.S. Defense Department has contracted Ukraine’s Iskra company, part of the UkrOboronProm, to supply a new radar system. In a recent interview with, Iskra’s chief designer Dmitro Semenov said that a few days ago, another contract was signed for the supply of radars developed by a Ukrainian company to the United States. (Defense Blog, 11.09.20)


  • Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko vowed on Nov. 13 not to hand over power to anyone amid ongoing mass protests demanding his resignation. Several protesters have been killed and thousands of people arrested since authorities declared Lukashenko the landslide winner of the August election. Most of the country's opposition leaders have been arrested or forced to leave the country, including opposition leader Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya. (RFE/RL, 11.13.20) 
  • The EU has imposed sanctions on Lukashenko, his son Viktar and 13 other high-ranking Belarusian officials held responsible for “violence, unjustified arrests and falsification” of the presidential election nearly three months ago. The EU Official Journal on Nov. 6 published the names of the 15 individuals subject to visa bans and asset freezes. (RFE/RL, 11.06.20)
  • The United States has condemned the “harassment” and expulsion of two British diplomats from Belarus this week. The United States has also condemned the continued detention of political prisoners in Belarus, saying that more than 100 are currently being held for participating in peaceful protests.. Britain says it has expelled two Belarusian diplomats following the "unjustified expulsion" of two of its own diplomats by Minsk. (RFE/RL, 11.12.20, RFE/RL, 11.11.20, RFE/RL, 11.10.20)
  • Putin has said "attempts to exert foreign pressure" in Belarus, Kyrgyzstan and Moldova are "unacceptable." Opening an online summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) on Nov. 10, Putin said that Belarus was "under pressure from external forces." (RFE/RL, 11.10.20)
  • Lukashenko has officially opened the first and only nuclear power plant in Belarus, boasting the Eastern European country "will become a nuclear power." (RFE/RL, 11.07.20)

Russia's other post-Soviet neighbors:

  • Protesters scuffled with police in the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, as opposition supporters continued demonstrations and called for new parliamentary elections. The vote gave the Georgian Dream party its third consecutive election victory. (RFE/RL, 11.10.20)
  • Kyrgyzstan's acting President Sadyr Japarov has reiterated that he plans to step down to be eligible to take part in a presidential election in January and vowed to secure fair and open voting. (RFE/RL, 11.12.20)
  • Kyrgyzstan's Japarov has signed amendments changing the law on elections that lower the threshold for political parties to enter parliament from 7 percent to 3 percent, while also reducing the registration fee for candidates from 5 million soms ($62,000) to 1 million soms. (RFE/RL, 11.11.20)
  • Putin has said he expects the new Kyrgyz administration will ensure the continuity of Kyrgyzstan's policy on the Russian track and vowed Moscow's support. "We have some specific project[s] between Kyrgyzstan, Russia and China," he said. (Interfax, 11.10.20)
  • Twenty-two people have gone on trial in Uzbekistan's volatile Sokh exclave within neighboring Kyrgyzstan for allegedly being involved in mass disorder. (RFE/RL, 11.12.20)
  • Moldovan politician Renato Usatii, who ranked third in the first ballot of the presidential poll on Nov. 1, has accused President Igor Dodon of having spent more than allowed by the law. On the same day, members of the Party of Action and Solidarity (PAS) led by Maia Sandu, who will face Dodon in the Nov. 15 runoff, identified large amounts of electoral newspapers in a state-owned printing house in Chisinau. (bne IntelliNews, 11.12.20)
  • Authorities in Turkmenistan, where no coronavirus cases have been officially reported, have tightened controls over mandatory mask wearing, carrying out raids in organizations, companies and schools, and imposing fines on individuals who don't wear face coverings. (RFE/RL, 11.11.20)


IV. Quoteworthy

  • Putin was a “tough” but “physically unremarkable” man, former U.S. President Barack Obama said in the first volume of his upcoming memoir. According to a New York Times review of “A Promised Land,” Obama likened Putin to “the tough, street-smart ward bosses who used to run the Chicago machine.” (The Moscow Times, 11.13.20)