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Valerie Hopkins

Budapest, Hungary
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About Valerie
Valerie Hopkins is currently the South-East Europe Correspondent for the Financial Times, where she covers the region out of Budapest. She has more than ten years of experience working in South-Eastern Europe. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian The Atlantic, The Washington Post, Foreign Policy, Mother Jones, Politico Europe, and elsewhere.
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Feature Stories Interview (Print / Radio / Podcast) Journalism
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In Moscow Attack, a Handful of Suspects but a Million Tajiks Under Suspicion

04 Apr 2024  |  www.nytimes.com
The arrest of Tajik citizens for a deadly terrorist attack in Moscow has led to a widespread crackdown on Central Asian migrants in Russia. This has caused fear and uncertainty among migrants like Muhammad, who had hoped for a better life in Russia. The Russian police have conducted extensive raids, and courts have deported thousands of foreigners. The crackdown has also triggered a rise in xenophobic attacks, with migrants facing beatings, verbal abuse, and racist graffiti.

Death Toll Rises to 133 in Moscow Concert Hall Attack

23 Mar 2024  |  www.nytimes.com
A deadly attack at Crocus City Hall in suburban Moscow during a concert has resulted in at least 133 fatalities, with Islamic State-Khorasan (ISIS-K) claiming responsibility. Russian officials and state media have suggested Ukraine's involvement, which has been denied by Kyiv and lacks evidence according to American officials. President Putin has vowed retribution against the organizers and designated a national day of mourning. The attack, which involved shooting and arson, represents a significant security lapse for the Kremlin and raises questions about the focus of Russian security services. U.S. officials had previously warned of a potential terrorist threat. The Russian authorities have detained 11 people, including four charged with committing a terrorist act. The incident has reignited fears of terrorism in Moscow, reminiscent of past attacks in the 2000s.

Gunmen Kill 60 at Concert Hall Outside Moscow, Russian Authorities Say

22 Mar 2024  |  www.nytimes.com
A deadly attack at Crocus City Hall, a concert venue on the outskirts of Moscow, resulted in approximately 60 fatalities and over 100 injuries. The incident, which involved several gunmen and was the most lethal in the region in over a decade, was claimed by the Islamic State. The Islamic State in Khorasan, active in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iran, is believed to be responsible. The Russian national guard is searching for up to five attackers, and the violence was accompanied by a fire and explosion that led to the building's roof collapsing.

Putin Extends His Rule After Predetermined Vote

17 Mar 2024  |  www.nytimes.com
Vladimir Putin secured an inevitable fifth term as Russia's leader until 2030 in a tightly controlled election where opposition was stifled, and the only candidate who opposed the war in Ukraine was banned. Despite some Russians expressing dissent, Putin's victory was expected, with preliminary results showing him winning 88% of the vote. The election was criticized by several European nations and the UN for the lack of political debate and repression of opponents, notably the late Aleksei A. Navalny. Voting in occupied Ukrainian territories was denounced as a sham. Meanwhile, Ukraine continued attacks on Russian targets, demonstrating vulnerabilities in the Russian war machine. The Russian opposition, though repressed, showed solidarity through the 'Noon Against Putin' initiative, a symbolic protest against Putin's regime.

As Putin Pitches His Vision, Voters Avert Their Gaze From the War

15 Mar 2024  |  www.nytimes.com
Vladimir Putin's portrayal of a successful and innovative Russia is exemplified by the Russia 2024 exhibition in Moscow, coinciding with his expected re-election. The exhibition, ignoring the ongoing war in Ukraine initiated by Putin, showcases Russia's supposed achievements and promises for the future. Despite the celebratory narrative, Russia faces international isolation, economic challenges, and significant military casualties in Ukraine.

From a Funeral Image, the Textures of Faith and State in Russia

01 Mar 2024  |  www.nytimes.com
Aleksei A. Navalny's funeral at a Moscow church highlights the complex relationship between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Kremlin, reflecting the church's rise in public life post-Soviet Union and its alignment with President Putin's conservative views. Navalny, an opposition figure and Orthodox Christian, represents the struggle of reconciling political dissent with faith among Russians.

Russian Court Jails Leading Rights Advocate for ‘Discrediting’ Military

27 Feb 2024  |  www.nytimes.com
A Moscow court sentenced Oleg Orlov, co-chairman of the Nobel Peace Prize-winning rights group Memorial, to two and a half years in prison for 'discrediting' Russia's military by opposing the war in Ukraine. Despite the Kremlin's liquidation of Memorial in 2021, Orlov remained in Russia and continued his criticism. He was previously fined for similar charges but was retried and sentenced to prison after prosecutors pushed for a harsher penalty. Orlov's article condemning President Vladimir V. Putin and the Russian public for the war's atrocities underscores the increasing repression in Russia.

In Russia, Knowing That Her Son Is Dead, and Waiting for Him Anyway

25 Feb 2024  |  www.nytimes.com
Yulia Seleznyova from Tolyatti, Russia, holds onto hope that her son Aleksei, who was last heard from on New Year’s Eve 2022, might still be alive despite his unit being hit by U.S.-supplied HIMARS rockets in eastern Ukraine on New Year’s Day. The Russian authorities confirmed dozens of deaths, but Aleksei's remains were not identified, leaving his mother without closure and clinging to the possibility that he may have survived with memory loss.

Confident Putin Suggests He Has Winning Hand in Ukraine

14 Dec 2023  |  nytimes.com
Vladimir Putin, presenting himself as a confident wartime leader, held a four-hour news conference where he maintained his stance on the 'demilitarization' and 'denazification' of Ukraine, showing no signs of compromise. He suggested that Western support for Ukraine might be waning, as evidenced by the impasse in Washington over additional funding for Kyiv. Putin also addressed the arrest of Wall Street Journal correspondent Evan Gershkovich, who is detained in Moscow on espionage charges, which have been denied by him, his employer, and the U.S. government.

Confident Putin suggests he has winning hand in Ukraine

14 Dec 2023  |  bostonglobe.com
Vladimir Putin, speaking from a position of strength, suggested that peace in Ukraine will come when Russia achieves its goals, amidst Western military aid to Ukraine potentially running out. Putin also commented on the arrest of Evan Gershkovich, a Wall Street Journal correspondent, and Paul Whelan, expressing willingness to negotiate their release. Despite Western sanctions, Russian military production is increasing, and Ukraine is facing challenges, having failed to secure a substantial aid package from Congress. The EU has opened talks for Ukraine's accession, which historically irritates Putin. Putin's year-end news conference and annual call-in show were combined into a single event, where he appeared confident and dismissed various domestic issues. The event emphasized the war in Ukraine, which Russia still calls 'the special military operation,' and featured questions from Russian and occupied Ukrainian territories.

Five Takeaways From Putin’s Marathon Annual News Conference

14 Dec 2023  |  www.nytimes.com
President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia confidently addressed his annual news conference, maintaining his stance on the 'demilitarization' and 'denazification' of Ukraine and showing no signs of compromise. Despite a Ukrainian counteroffensive and a stalling U.S. aid package in Congress, Putin suggested Western military support for Kyiv might be diminishing. He expressed openness to peace talks but emphasized that peace would only come when Russia's goals are achieved.

Five Takeaways From Putin’s Marathon Annual News Conference

14 Dec 2023  |  www.nytimes.com
Russian President Vladimir Putin held a four-hour annual news conference, asserting his unchanged goals in Ukraine and expressing confidence despite Western support for Kyiv potentially waning. He was open to peace talks without compromise and discussed a potential 'deal' for the release of detained Americans Evan Gershkovich and Paul Whelan. Putin acknowledged Russia's inflation concerns, made comparisons between military actions in Ukraine and Gaza to discredit the West, and seemed unconcerned about the upcoming presidential election, implying his victory is assured.

A Russian Village Buries a Soldier, and Tries to Make Sense of the War

01 Dec 2023  |  www.nytimes.com
In the Russian village of Ovsyanka, the community feels the profound pain and loss of the war in Ukraine as they gather to mourn Garipul S. Kadyrov, a soldier killed near the front line in Klishchiivka. His mother, Sapura Kadyrova, and sister, Lena Kabaeva, along with other relatives and neighbors, share memories and try to find meaning in his death. The contrast between the distant war in Russia's big cities and the intimate impact on this rural community highlights the varying perceptions and experiences of the conflict.

A Russian Journalist’s Love Letter to Her People

17 Oct 2023  |  www.nytimes.com
Elena Kostyuchenko's book 'I Love Russia' offers a nuanced and empathetic portrayal of Russian society, focusing on the lives of ordinary people amidst the backdrop of political turmoil and state propaganda. Through a collection of her journalism for Novaya Gazeta, Kostyuchenko highlights persistent inequality and injustice in Russia, while also exploring the impact of state-run facilities and the influence of powerful state propaganda. The book provides a critical view of Vladimir Putin's actions, including the annexation of Crimea and the invasion of Ukraine, and underscores the challenges faced by Russians in a system that often prioritizes state control over individual well-being.

Russian Nobel Recipient and Other Laureates Ask for $100 Million in Aid

06 Oct 2023  |  www.nytimes.com
Dmitri A. Muratov, a Russian Nobel Peace Prize winner, and 47 other Nobel laureates have called on the world's billionaires to donate $100 million to UNICEF for aiding children displaced by the war in Ukraine and other conflicts. Muratov, who donated his prize money and auctioned his Nobel medal to support child refugees from Ukraine, emphasized the destruction of schools and the plight of over three million Ukrainian child refugees. The letter highlights the indirect consequences of the war, such as hunger due to blocked Ukrainian grain exports. Muratov, who stepped down as editor of Novaya Gazeta after Russia's invasion of Ukraine and was labeled a 'foreign agent', expressed a lack of hope but a commitment to continue journalistic work.

Putin Claims Russia Successfully Tested a Nuclear-Powered Missile

05 Oct 2023  |  www.nytimes.com
President Vladimir V. Putin announced that Russia has successfully tested the Burevestnik, a nuclear-powered cruise missile, and is nearing completion of a new nuclear-capable ballistic missile. Speaking at the Valdai Discussion Club in Sochi, Putin emphasized that no rational actor would use nuclear weapons against Russia. Details such as the date of the test and the missile's range were not disclosed, and the claim has not been independently verified.

The Children’s Rights Advocate Accused of Russian War Crimes

01 Oct 2023  |  www.seattletimes.com
Maria Lvova-Belova, Russia’s commissioner for children’s rights, is accused of war crimes by the International Criminal Court for transferring up to 16,000 Ukrainian children to Russia, often through coercion and deception. Despite being sanctioned by the United States and Britain, she is portrayed in Russia as a humanitarian figure. Lvova-Belova has a history of working with disadvantaged children and people with disabilities, but her recent actions have drawn severe international condemnation. Ukrainian authorities dispute her claims of willingness to return the children, highlighting the complex and contentious nature of her activities.

Daily Life in Moscow Goes On With the War Always in the Background

18 Sep 2023  |  www.nytimes.com
Nearly 19 months after Russia invaded Ukraine, life in Moscow continues with minimal major disruptions, with the war becoming a background noise yet remaining omnipresent. The city's metro operates smoothly, but car navigation is hindered by drone-detecting radars. Luxury Western cars are scarce despite demand from wealthy Muscovites. Local mayoral elections proceeded as usual, though many residents abstained, anticipating a predetermined outcome. Moscow celebrated its 876th anniversary with a month-long exhibition, boasting the country's largest hologram and showcasing the city's seamless operation and bright future, attracting over seven million visitors.

In Moscow, the War Is Background Noise, but Ever-Present

16 Sep 2023  |  www.nytimes.com
Moscow's daily life continues with minor disruptions despite the ongoing war with Ukraine, which has become a subtle yet constant presence. Navigation apps are affected by anti-drone radar, luxury car availability is low, and the local mayoral election saw a predictable outcome with low voter turnout. The city celebrated its 876th birthday with a monthlong exhibition featuring the country's largest hologram, attracting over seven million visitors, and promoting Moscow as a thriving metropolis.

In Moscow, the War Is Background Noise, but Ever-Present

16 Sep 2023  |  asiatoday.co
Nearly 19 months into Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Moscow's residents are living with the war as a subtle yet constant presence. Despite little disruption to daily life and continued city development, the war's effects are felt through increased prices, a lack of Western luxury goods, and a subdued political atmosphere. The recent mayoral election saw a predictable landslide victory for the incumbent, reflecting a political environment with little genuine opposition. Public expressions of dissent are limited, and the war is largely absent from public discourse due to repressive laws. Meanwhile, the city adapts, with new brands replacing those that have left and a statue of Felix Dzerzhinsky symbolizing a return to old Soviet symbols.

Who Is Rustem Umerov, Zelensky’s Nominee for Defense Minister of Ukraine?

04 Sep 2023  |  www.nytimes.com
Rustem Umerov, a former telecommunications executive and member of the Crimean Tatar ethnic group, has been nominated by President Volodymyr Zelensky to be Ukraine's next minister of defense. Umerov, who is set to become Ukraine's first Muslim government minister, has a background in finance and anti-corruption, which is seen as crucial for managing Ukraine's large military budget amid concerns of corruption. He has previously overseen the privatization of state assets, achieving significant proceeds, and has been involved in key negotiations for Ukraine since Russia's full-scale invasion. His appointment is viewed as a strategic move to strengthen military spending efficiency and transparency.

Rumors and misdirection keep crowds away from Prigozhin burial

29 Aug 2023  |  www.bostonglobe.com
Yevgeny Prigozhin, leader of the Wagner Group, was buried in a secretive ceremony in St. Petersburg, surrounded by heavy security to prevent large gatherings. Prigozhin, once close to President Vladimir Putin, led a brief mutiny against Russian military leadership in June, leading to speculation about his death in a plane crash on August 23. The Kremlin has denied involvement, but many Western officials believe Putin ordered the assassination. The burial was marked by confusion and secrecy, fitting for Prigozhin's mysterious life and death.

Leaderless and exposed, Russia’s Wagner faces an uncertain future

28 Aug 2023  |  bloombergnewstoday.com
The Wagner Group, a private military company with ties to Russia, faces an uncertain future after posing a significant threat to President Vladimir Putin's tenure. Despite its contributions to Russia's geopolitical and business interests, the group's strained relationship with the Russian Defense Ministry and its legal ambiguity under Russian law challenge its continued existence. Putin has offered mixed messages about Wagner's future, and Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov has suggested the group may not continue in its current form. Experts like Catrina Doxsee from the Center for Strategic and International Studies anticipate that Russia may still employ similar models to Wagner's but in a more fragmented manner, avoiding conflicts with military leadership.

As Russian forces mount an offensive, Ukrainians in Kupiansk fear a second occupation

14 Aug 2023  |  www.nytimes.com
In Kupiansk, a city near the Russian border and a key point on the 750-mile front line in the Ukraine war, a billboard reflects the precariousness of Ukrainian control. The city, which was occupied by Russian forces for six months at the war's start, was reclaimed by Ukraine in a rapid offensive in September. Now, as Russian forces launch a new offensive, residents fear the possibility of a second occupation.

Russia Strikes Danube River Port, Escalating Attacks on Ukrainian Agriculture

24 Jul 2023  |  www.nytimes.com
Russia has escalated its attacks on Ukrainian agriculture by striking a Danube River port, signaling an expansion of its campaign against Ukraine's agricultural exports. The attack has raised global wheat prices and prompted condemnation from Romania. The strike is part of a broader increase in hostilities in the Black Sea region, with Russia targeting Ukrainian infrastructure and grain exports. The attack has significant implications for global food security, particularly affecting countries in Africa and the Middle East. The article also discusses the broader context of the conflict, including the role of the Wagner Group and the impact on Ukrainian grain exports.

Deadly Russian Strikes Hit Odesa Cathedral and Apartment Buildings

23 Jul 2023  |  www.nytimes.com
Russian missile strikes on Odesa have resulted in civilian casualties and significant damage to historic landmarks, including the city's largest Orthodox cathedral. The attacks follow Russia's withdrawal from the Black Sea grain deal, which had previously stabilized global food prices. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky condemned the strikes and called for retaliation, while also seeking more aid from NATO. Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed Ukraine's counteroffensive has failed, while Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko made unsubstantiated claims about Wagner fighters. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken noted Ukraine's progress in reclaiming territory.

Russia-Ukraine War Russian Strikes and Naval Drills Unsettle Black Sea as U.N. Meets

21 Jul 2023  |  www.nytimes.com
Russia intensified its efforts to prevent Ukraine from exporting grain, conducting live fire exercises in the Black Sea and striking granaries in Odesa. The U.N. Security Council held an emergency meeting where Russia presented demands for lifting sanctions and reopening a pipeline before resuming grain shipments. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken condemned Russia's actions, warning of global food supply risks. The article also covers the detention of nationalist critic Igor Girkin, Poland's military movements near Belarus, and the economic impact of the war on Russia, including a significant interest rate hike by Russia's central bank.

No Wagner Group here: Riddles grow as Belarus displays an empty base

07 Jul 2023  |  seattletimes.com
Belarusian officials conducted a tour of an empty military base in Tsel', Belarus, to demonstrate the absence of Wagner Group fighters, following speculation about the group's presence after a mutiny against Russian military leadership. President Alexander Lukashenko claimed to have brokered the mutiny's resolution and suggested the base could house Wagner fighters. However, the base's purpose remains unclear, with Major General Leonid Kasinsky stating it will be used for military training. Lukashenko's actions appear to maintain his subordination to Russian President Vladimir Putin, while also fostering strategic ambiguity. Journalist Igor Ilyash commented on the benefits of this uncertainty for Lukashenko, Putin, and Wagner leader Yevgeny Prigozhin. The future of Wagner and its potential impact on Belarusian politics, given the country's stance on private military companies, adds to the complexity of the situation.

Lukashenko Says Prigozhin Is in Russia, Not Belarus

06 Jul 2023  |  www.nytimes.com
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko stated that Yevgeny Prigozhin, leader of the Wagner Group, is currently in Russia, not Belarus, contradicting his earlier claims. Lukashenko's comments come after his intervention in a mutiny led by Prigozhin, which resulted in a deal granting amnesty to Wagner fighters and safe passage for Prigozhin. The Kremlin has not commented on Lukashenko's claims about Prigozhin's whereabouts. Lukashenko also mentioned that the future of Wagner's deployment is up to Russian leadership and that any Wagner units in Belarus could be activated for national defense. The Pentagon indicated no sign of Wagner fighters in Belarus, with most still in eastern Ukraine. Lukashenko's role as a mediator in the crisis has been seen as an attempt to assert independence from Moscow and gain domestic support.

Fighting Rages on Multiple Fronts as Counteroffensive Continues

03 Jul 2023  |  www.nytimes.com
Fierce fighting continues in Ukraine as the country's counteroffensive against Russian forces progresses with small territorial gains in the east and south. Ukrainian officials report heavy combat and resistance, with advances in the direction of Bakhmut and recaptured territory near Berdiansk and Melitopol. President Zelensky acknowledges difficulties but notes progress. The situation near the Antonovsky Bridge in the Kherson region remains intense. Meanwhile, discussions of a prisoner swap between Russia and the United States are ongoing, involving journalist Evan Gershkovich and former Marine Paul Whelan. The safety of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear complex is a concern due to frontline fighting and infrastructure issues. In other developments, President Zelensky accuses Georgia's government of endangering the life of former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, who is currently imprisoned in Georgia. Ukrainian writer Victoria Amelina dies from injuries sustained in a Russian missile strike. The failed mutiny by Wagner mercenaries against Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu reveals internal tensions within Russia. Saudi Arabia and Russia announce oil production cuts, and Sweden intensifies efforts to join NATO amid the ongoing conflict.

Putin Makes Show of Support as U.S. Officials Say Top General Appears Detained

29 Jun 2023  |  www.nytimes.com
President Vladimir V. Putin made public appearances to project stability following a brief rebellion by the Wagner Group, amid reports that General Sergei Surovikin was detained for his alleged involvement. The Kremlin aims to maintain an image of normalcy, while U.S. officials and intelligence suggest murky circumstances around Surovikin's status. The article also covers the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war, including missile strikes in Kramatorsk, the European Union's support for Ukraine, and Mike Pence's visit to Kyiv. The situation remains fluid with significant geopolitical implications.

Belarus Follows Russia's Orders, Raising Alarms Over Its Sovereignty

26 Jun 2023  |  nytimes.com
Belarus is increasingly following Russia's orders in social, military, and economic spheres, raising concerns about its sovereignty. Schools are teaching patriotism and assembling rifles, factories are producing uniforms for soldiers fighting against Ukraine, and state-owned summer camps are hosting children from occupied Ukrainian territories. Belarus's decision to allow Moscow to place tactical nuclear weapons on its territory is seen as a step towards Russian absorption of Belarus, a long-term goal of President Vladimir Putin. Despite historically balancing loyalty to Moscow with independence to maintain power, Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko's control is now threatened by Russia's growing influence.

One Big Winner of Kremlin-Wagner Clash? The Dictator Next Door.

25 Jun 2023  |  nytimes.com
Aleksandr G. Lukashenko, the Belarusian leader, emerged with a public relations victory after brokering an agreement between Vladimir V. Putin and Yevgeny V. Prigozhin of the Wagner military group, averting a potential clash. Lukashenko is leveraging this success to enhance his image as a credible statesman and loyal ally to Putin.

Belarus Is Fast Becoming a ‘Vassal State’ of Russia

22 Jun 2023  |  www.nytimes.com
Belarus is increasingly aligning with Russia, socially, militarily, and economically, with schools teaching pro-Russia views, factories producing military uniforms for the war in Ukraine, and summer camps hosting children from occupied Ukrainian territories. Belarus's decision to host Russian tactical nuclear weapons and nuclear-armed bombers is seen as a step towards Russia's goal of absorbing Belarus, diminishing Belarusian sovereignty.

Belarus Is Fast Becoming a ‘Vassal State’ of Russia

22 Jun 2023  |  nytimes.com
Belarus is increasingly aligning with Russia, socially, militarily, and economically, with recent developments including the country's decision to host Russian tactical nuclear weapons and nuclear-armed bombers. This move is seen as a step towards Russia's potential absorption of Belarus, diminishing Belarusian sovereignty, according to Pavel Slunkin, a former Belarusian diplomat and fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations.

‘Everything changed’: The war arrives on Russians’ doorstep

04 Jun 2023  |  bostonglobe.com
Residents of the Russian border region of Belgorod, particularly the town of Shebekino, are experiencing the horrors of war firsthand as Ukraine intensifies attacks inside Russia. The escalation has led to the largest military evacuation effort in Russia in decades, with thousands fleeing and the regional governor reporting deaths from shelling. The violence has sparked a reevaluation of the war among locals and resentment towards authorities. The situation has also revived a grass-roots civic spirit as citizens organize to help each other, contrasting with the government's response. Historical ties to Ukraine add complexity to the residents' sentiments, with some expressing a change in attitude towards the Ukrainian armed forces.

‘Everything changed’: The war arrives on Russians’ doorstep

04 Jun 2023  |  www.japantimes.co.jp
Ruslan, an English teacher in a Russian town near the Ukrainian border, experienced the war's proximity as shelling began to occur around 3 a.m., sometimes shaking his house. This marked a significant change from the past, where he only heard distant explosions or witnessed damage to a nearby shopping mall.

For Ukraine Military, Far-Right Russian Volunteers Make for Worrisome Allies

26 May 2023  |  www.nytimes.com
A group of far-right Russian volunteers, led by Denis Kapustin, who have been fighting alongside Ukraine, recently conducted a cross-border attack in Russia. Kapustin and his group, the Russian Volunteer Corps, have been identified as neo-Nazis by various organizations, including the Anti-Defamation League. This association poses a challenge for Ukraine, as it contradicts President Putin's justification for the invasion, which is based on fighting neo-Nazis. Ukraine denies direct involvement with the group but acknowledges their support. The presence of such groups could potentially harm Ukraine's defense efforts by making allies wary of supporting far-right armed groups.

Attackers Hit Russian Border Towns; Anti-Putin Russians Say They Did It

22 May 2023  |  www.nytimes.com
The governor of Belgorod, Vyacheslav Gladkov, reported a security operation following an attack by anti-Kremlin Russian fighters allied with Ukraine. The Free Russia Legion, part of Ukraine's International Legion, claimed responsibility. Videos verified by The New York Times showed the aftermath near Grayvoron, with Ukrainian insignia on military equipment. Ukrainian officials, including an adviser to President Zelensky, Mykhailo Podolyak, denied involvement, maintaining a policy of ambiguity regarding strikes in Russian territory.

The custody of a Russian girl who drew an antiwar picture is still undecided.

07 Apr 2023  |  nytimes.com
Maria, a 13-year-old Russian girl, was removed from her father Aleksei Moskalyov's care after drawing an antiwar picture, attracting international attention. Over a month later, her custody remains undecided. Moskalyov, charged with discrediting the Russian military, escaped house arrest and was sentenced to two years in prison in absentia. He was later detained in Minsk, Belarus, and is currently in a pretrial detention center in Zhodino, awaiting a deportation hearing. With no close relatives for Masha, her long-term custody is uncertain.

The custody of a Russian girl who drew an antiwar picture is still undecided.

07 Apr 2023  |  nytimes.com
Maria, a 13-year-old Russian girl, was taken from her father Aleksei Moskalyov after drawing an antiwar picture, and her custody remains undecided. Moskalyov, charged with discrediting the Russian military, escaped house arrest but was later detained in Belarus. Maria's mother, Olga Sitchikhina, has now taken her from the orphanage. Russia's children's rights commissioner, Maria Lvova-Belova, indicated Maria's initial reluctance to live with her mother has changed. A custody hearing was inconclusive, with another scheduled for April 20. An activist was fined for a drawing discrediting the Russian armed forces at the hearing.

Belova, the Children’s Rights Advocate Accused of Russian War Crimes

02 Apr 2023  |  www.nytimes.com
Maria Lvova-Belova, Russia’s commissioner for children’s rights, has been involved in bringing Ukrainian children from Russian-occupied areas to Russia, where they are given Russian citizenship. This process was facilitated by a decree signed by President Vladimir V. Putin. Lvova-Belova's actions have led to accusations of war crimes.

Valerie Hopkins

13 Dec 2020  |  Valerie Hopkins
Valerie Hopkins is a journalist currently serving as the Moscow Correspondent for the New York Times. She has been recognized for her reporting on Russia's invasion of Ukraine with awards such as the Newswomen’s Club of New York’s Marie Colvin Award for Foreign Correspondence and the FASPE Distinguished Fellow Award. Prior to her current role, she was the South-East Europe Correspondent for the Financial Times. Valerie has over a decade of experience in journalism, particularly in South-Eastern Europe, and her work has been featured in several prestigious publications.

My FT page where you can see all of my work for the newspaper.

On GPS with Fareed Zakaria talking about Hungary's Premier Viktor Orban and his use of the Covid-19 pandemic to acquire further power.

Donald Trump’s Big League Balkans Problem

31 Jan 2017  |  Foreign Policy
The article discusses the anxiety in Kosovo regarding the potential impact of Donald Trump's presidency on U.S. foreign policy in the Balkans. Kosovo, heavily reliant on U.S. support, fears a shift in American priorities could embolden Serbian nationalists and destabilize the region. The article highlights the mixed reactions in Kosovo and Serbia, with Kosovo Albanians anxious about losing U.S. support and Serbian nationalists celebrating Trump's victory. The recent tensions, including a provocative train incident, underscore the fragile relations between Kosovo and Serbia, with potential implications for regional stability.

Fortress Europe’s Balkan Outpost

17 Feb 2016  |  Foreign Policy
The article discusses the challenges faced by Macedonia and Greece in managing the influx of asylum-seekers amid the European migrant crisis. It highlights the EU's efforts to shift border control responsibilities to Macedonia, the financial and logistical burdens on the Macedonian government, and the political implications within the region. The article also touches on the broader European response, including temporary border checks and potential long-term measures to manage the crisis.

The Town Dayton Turned Into a Garbage Dump

21 Nov 2015  |  Foreign Policy
Mostar, a city in Bosnia and Herzegovina, faces severe public health issues due to uncollected waste and a rat infestation, symbolizing the broader political and ethnic divisions that persist two decades after the Dayton peace agreement. Despite efforts to unify the city and streamline its governance, ethnic divisions and bureaucratic inefficiencies continue to plague Mostar, leading to political deadlock and deteriorating public services. The city's complex political landscape, marked by divided services and ethnic tensions, reflects the broader challenges facing post-war Bosnia and Herzegovina.
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