Ukraine-Russia war – live: Putin nemesis Navalny ‘missing for three days’ as president stands for re-election

By Isaac M December 9, 2023

Kyiv suffers ‘largest ever’ drone attack by Russia leaving ‘five wounded’

Vladimir Putin’s jailed arch-critic Alexei Navalny has not been heard from in three days after suffering a “serious health-related incident”, according to allies who fear his “life is at great risk”.

The Russian opposition politician’s press secretary said his lawyers stood all day outside the penal colony where he is detained – but were denied entry.

Mr Navalny’s team has been coordinating a vast telephone campaign to seek to undermine Russian support for Mr Putin – who announced on Friday he would stand for the presidency once again next March, effectively cementing his rule until 2030 – and for the war in Ukraine.

It came as Ukrainian Ground Forces Command spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Volodymyr Fityo claimed that 11,000 Russian soldiers were killed in November.

The troops were likely killed in the Kupyansk, Lyman, and Bakhmut directions, according to the US-based Institute for the Study of War think tank, which said Russian forces “may be suffering losses along the entire front in Ukraine at a rate close to the rate at which Russia is currently generating new forces.”


Navalny ‘missing’ days after being handed new charges by Russian prosecutors

Warnings that Alexei Navalny has not been heard from for three days after falling ill in prison come days after the Vladimir Putin critic was handed new charges by Russian prosecutors.

The 47-year-old is already serving more than 30 years in prison after being found guilty of crimes including extremism – charges that his supporters characterise as politically motivated. In comments passed to his associates, Mr Navalny said he had been charged under article 214 of Russia’s penal code, which covers crimes of vandalism.

“I don’t even know whether to describe my latest news as sad, funny or absurd,” he wrote in comments on social media Friday via his team. “I have no idea what article 214 is, and there’s nowhere to look. You’ll know before I do.”

He said that the charges were part of the Kremlin’s desire to “initiate a new criminal case against me every three months”, joking that “never before has a convict in solitary confinement for more than a year had such a rich social and political life”.

Andy Gregory9 December 2023 10:37


War crimes probe opened as civilian killed in Kherson

One civilian was killed and another wounded after Russian forces dropped an explosive from a drone on a town in the southern Ukrainian region of Kherson, authorities said on Saturday.

Prosecutors opened a war crimes investigation into the incident, which occurred at around 10am in the town of Beryslav. Both victims had been walking on the street at the time of the attack, authorities said.

Russian forces have regularly attacked the western part of the Kherson region, particularly its eponymous capital, since retreating across the Dnipro River late last year.

Andy Gregory9 December 2023 10:04


Ukraine faces ‘mortal danger’ if West backs down, warns first lady

Ukrainians face “mortal danger” if the West backs down over financial support for the resistance against Vladimir Putin’s forces, Ukraine’s first lady Olena Zelenska has warned.

Ms Zelenska argued that people in her country will be left to die if the world gets tired of providing support, in an interview with the BBC, saying: “We really need the help. In simple words, we cannot get tired of this situation, because if we do, we die.

“And if the world gets tired, they will simply let us die.”

Andy Gregory9 December 2023 09:33


Ukraine’s human rights envoy calls for a faster way to bring back children deported by Russia

Ukraine’s human rights ombudsman has voiced hope that a coalition of countries formed to facilitate the return of Ukrainian children illegally deported by Russia will be able to come up with a faster mechanism to repatriate them.

Over 19,000 children are still believed to be in Russia or in occupied regions of Ukraine.

Dmytro Lubinets spoke to reporters following the first meeting of the National Coalition of Countries for the Return of Ukrainian Children, which was formed based on a recommendation by Canada, in Kyiv.

Read more in this report:

Samya Kullab9 December 2023 09:14


Putin critics plan ways to undermine president as he stands for re-election

Although they believe Vladimir Putin will be declared the winner in March’s presidential elections no matter how voters cast their ballots, Russian opposition figures are still hoping to undermine the widespread public support he enjoys and turn popular opinion against the war in Ukraine.

“No one but us will step into this battle for the hearts and the minds of our fellow citizens. So we need to do it and win,” imprisoned Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny said in a recent online statement relayed from behind bars.

“Our task is to make sure that the issues we will be able to raise and bring into the public agenda in January, February, March stick — stick with Russians even after the election,” said Leonid Volkov, Navalny’s top strategist, who left Russia several years ago.

To that end, Mr Volkov and his team launched a project called “Navalny’s Campaigning Machine.” The idea is simple — talk to as many Russians as possible, either by phone or online, and convince them “to turn against the candidates we hate: candidate Putin and candidate ‘War,”’ as Navalny himself put it in an online post announcing the project in June.

In late October, the project already had about 170 volunteers making the calls, Volkov said, and was conducting a survey to figure out the specific grievances and needs of people in order to tailor talking points they would use in future phone calls.

M Volkov said that out of the thousands of calls already made, only a handful of people said they were completely content with everything happening in Russia and beyond. “Someone is discontented over the war, someone is discontented with the economic situation, someone is unhappy with the health care system, social justice — lots of things,” Mr Volkov said.

On the eve of Mr Putin’s announcement, the team placed a number of billboards – in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and other Russian cities – that read “Russia” and “Happy New Year,” with links and QR codes leading to a website titled “Russia without Putin.” The website urges people “to convince at least 10 people to act against Putin” and talks about various ways to campaign.

The Anti-War Committee — another opposition force that unites prominent activists in exile such as former tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, chess legend Garry Kasparov and former lawmakers turned opposition politicians Gennady Gudkov and his son, Dmitry Gudkov — also plans a campaign called “No to Putin!”

Gennady Gudkov told AP that the general goal of the campaign is to explain to Russians “what the future could be like without Putin” – no war, no repressions, with the government focusing on things like the economy, science and education.

A possible election day tactic, Mr Gudkov said, could be to urge Mr Putin’s critics to go to the polls at a specified time so that long lines form to show how many people oppose him: “If the country, the elites, the world will see long queues of people who clearly disagree with Putin’s policies, it will be enough.”


Navalny ‘missing for three days’ in prison after ‘serious health incident’

Vladimir Putin’s jailed arch-critic Alexei Navalny has not been heard from in three days after suffering a “serious health-related incident”, according to allies who fear his “life is at great risk”.

The Russian opposition politician’s press secretary said his lawyers stood all day outside the penal colony where he is detained – but were denied entry – after he collapsed in his cell.

“We don’t know what it was, but given the fact that he’s not being fed, is being kept in a punishment cell with no ventilation and the time for walks has been reduced to a minimum, it looks like a hunger faint,” said Kira Yarmysh.

“Since this incident, the lawyers have seen Alexey and he has been relatively well. But now it’s the third day that we don’t know where he’s. Before that, there were at least occasional letters from him, albeit censored ones, but there have been no letters all week.”

Maria Pevchikh, chair of Mr Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation, said: “Navalny’s life is at great risk. He is in complete isolation right now.”

Andy Gregory9 December 2023 08:33


Kremlin dismisses ‘peace talks’ report

The Kremlin has said the idea that Russia would engage in peace talks with Ukraine on Kyiv’s terms next year was unrealistic.

It was responding to a media report which said Washington wanted such a scenario to unfold.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called the idea “absolutely unrealistic”.

Jane Dalton9 December 2023 07:00


Ukraine claims assassination of ‘traitor’ ex-MP who fled to Russia

Jane Dalton9 December 2023 06:00


Kyiv passes bills to start talks on joining EU

The Ukrainian parliament has approved three bills necessary to start European Union accession talks, including one on national minorities’ rights – a demand from Hungary which opposes Ukraine’s bid.

President Volodymyr Zelensky, who signed all three bills into law, described them as a key step in Ukraine’s application.

An EU summit next week is to consider whether to start negotiations on membership with Ukraine, and neighbouring ex-Soviet Moldova.

EU leaders must unanimously approve the move.

“We expect that Ukraine‘s efforts will be duly appreciated by leaders of the European Union and the corresponding European promises to Ukraine will be fulfilled,” Mr Zelensky said.

Ukraine, he said, had “done everything expected of us” in taking on EU recommendations.

Jane Dalton9 December 2023 05:00


Russian missiles devastate separate towns

A Russian missile struck Pavlohrad, eastern Ukraine


A Russian missile struck Kharkiv on Friday


Jane Dalton9 December 2023 04:00


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