Lucian Kim

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Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, the unlikely challenger to Belarus' five-term president, takes issue with being called an opposition leader.

"OK, first of all, if you don't mind, would you please not call us 'opposition'? Because we are not the opposition anymore, we are the majority," she told NPR in an interview from her exile in Lithuania.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko appears to be regaining the upper hand after mass demonstrations against his reelection in an Aug. 9 vote criticized as neither free nor fair by the U.S. and the European Union.

For opposition supporters, a sense of dread is replacing the euphoria of some of the largest protests in Belarus since its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.

As he faces the biggest domestic challenge to his 26-year rule, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko is looking for external enemies to blame — and foreign friends who can help.

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Belarus' scattered and improvised opposition is regaining its footing after five-term President Alexander Lukashenko unleashed his security forces on protesters during four nights of unprecedented violence.

Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, the main opposition candidate in Sunday's election, resurfaced on social media Friday after the authorities pressured her to leave for neighboring Lithuania earlier this week. Tikhanovskaya, a political novice, ran against Lukashenko after her husband was denied registration as a candidate and jailed.

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On Thursday, thousands of women, many dressed in white and carrying flowers, turned out in the streets across Belarus for a second day of protests. They're reacting to a violent crackdown on anti-government demonstrations triggered by a weekend election widely viewed as fraudulent.

Security forces have repeatedly clashed with protesters in recent nights, using batons, stun grenades, tear gas and rubber bullets. Belarusian authorities said they have arrested some 7,000 people.

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Russia's president, Vladimir Putin, announced today that Russia is the first country to register a vaccine against the coronavirus. But there is a lot of skepticism. Here's NPR's Lucian Kim in Moscow.

Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, the main opposition candidate in Sunday's presidential election in Belarus, is refusing to accept the landslide victory declared by the five-term incumbent, Alexander Lukashenko.

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Updated at 6 a.m. ET Saturday

In Belarus, a 37-year-old political novice is giving Europe's longest-serving leader a run for his money.

Svetlana Tikhanovskaya is challenging Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, 65, in an unexpectedly contentious election set for Aug. 9.

An English translator and mother of two, Tikhanovskaya decided to run after her husband, a popular blogger, was jailed in May.

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Artyom Mozgov, 20, is among the thousands of people who have been protesting for two weeks in the Russian city of Khabarovsk, seven time zones east of Moscow on the Chinese border.

"People go out every day without any kind of organization," Mozgov, a political activist, told NPR. "I'm really happy that people from my region have finally taken responsibility for their lives, understand what's happening in our country and go out and protest."

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Seven time zones away from Moscow in Russia's Far East, huge crowds have been protesting the arrest of their governor. As NPR's Lucian Kim reports from Moscow, the surprising demonstrations represent an unexpected challenge to President Vladimir Putin.

"Fake." "Nonsense." "Lies."

The Kremlin reacted the same way the White House did to news reports that U.S. intelligence had allegedly found Russia offered bounties on American troops in Afghanistan.

A newly unveiled World War II monument towered behind Vladimir Putin as the Russian president made a final pitch for a July 1 vote on a raft of constitutional changes that include a ban on same-sex marriage and an affirmation of Russians' faith in God.

"We are not just voting for amendments," Putin said on state TV on Tuesday. "We are voting for the country in which we want to live, with modern education and health care, reliable social protections and an effective government accountable to the public."

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Russia's president, Vladimir Putin, declared a state of emergency in a remote Arctic region of Russia. In that region, 20,000 tons of diesel fuel spilled into a river two weeks ago. Here's NPR's Lucian Kim.

The city of Moscow, the epicenter of Russia's coronavirus pandemic, is lifting lockdown restrictions as the Kremlin prepares for a massive military parade on Red Square and a national referendum that will seal President Vladimir Putin's political future.

Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin, a staunch Putin loyalist, all but declared victory over COVID-19 on the city's news channel Monday. Moscow's lockdown rules will gradually be lifted over the coming two weeks, he said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has declared a state of emergency after a giant diesel fuel spill in a remote Arctic region 1,800 miles from Moscow.

After the accident Friday at a power plant owned by Norilsk Nickel, one of Russia's largest mining companies, Putin skewered officials for their sluggish response.

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We are still eight months out from Election Day, but intelligence officials are already warning of Russian attempts to influence the outcome. And NPR's Lucian Kim reports that the new accusations are causing frustration in the Kremlin.

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Nataliya Gumenyuk grew up in a small town outside of Kyiv during the first hungry years after Ukraine gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. Like many Ukrainians of her generation, she was raised on Hollywood movies — but also the American credo of positive social change.

Today Gumenyuk, 36, is a prominent Ukrainian journalist, who co-founded Hromadske, a noncommercial, nongovernmental public broadcaster, during street protests that rocked Kyiv six years ago.

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Ruslan Parshutin was just a teenager, but he still remembers New Year's Eve 20 years ago.

Boris Yeltsin, Russia's first president, flickered on TV screens, speaking slowly and deliberately. Eight years of political and economic turmoil following the collapse of the Soviet Union had taken its toll on him. Yeltsin announced his resignation and handed over power to his energetic 47-year-old prime minister, Vladimir Putin.

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