On Wednesday, the Federation Council, the upper chamber of Russia's parliament, voted in favor of investigating twelve NGOs for being 'undesirable' organizations and potentially shutting down their operations in Russia. The list includes the U.S.-based Freedom House, the National Endowment for Democracy, the International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute, and other prominent human rights organizations. This move will undoubtedly further constrain civil society in Russia.
Conflict in Eastern Ukraine carries on, contrasted with normal life in Ukraine outside of the areas of unrest. A
article in this week's update details the complicated situation in the country, where the lengthy conflict is not likely to dissipate soon.
Despite the extensive difficulties of living in the rebel-occupied Donetsk, including high prices for food and other necessities, the Jewish community is organizing Shabbat and holiday celebrations for its members.
In Mariupol, the local community recently organized a celebration for Jewish youth, in an ongoing attempt to maintain its programs despite the fear of war's potential return.
President Petro Poroshenko appointed his deputy chief of staff Valeriy Chaly as Ukraine's new ambassador to the United States. Prior to his work for the Poroshenko administration, Ambassador Chaly headed international programs at a prominent Kyiv-based think tank and served as a deputy foreign minister. I've met Ambassador Chaly in his previous positions and look forward to working with him in Washington in his new role.
Mark B. Levin