War in Ukraine: State TV journalist arrested, H&M and IKEA whip out last stocks and oil shipments resume

1. Ukraine says nine Russian warplanes “destroyed” in blasts in Crimea

According to the Ukrainian Air Force, nine Russian warplanes were destroyed in explosions at a military base in Crimea on Tuesday.

Two US newspapers reported that Ukrainian special forces had carried out an attack on the peninsula annexed by Russia.

But Ukrainian officials didn’t publicly claim responsibility for the explosionswhich Russia said may have been caused by a “careless smoker” setting fire to and detonating munitions.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said last night that Crimea is a key strategic target.

“This Russian war against Ukraine and against all of free Europe began with Crimea and must end with Crimea – its liberation,” Zelenskyy said.

Russia has denied planes were damaged in the Crimea blasts.

2. Russian dissident faces ‘fabricated charges’ after protesting war in Ukraine

A Russian critic who burned his passport while protesting the war in Ukraine faces possible extradition on “trumped up” charges of tax evasion.

Alexey Alchin, 46, who lives in Bulgaria, could be sent to Moscow to face allegations that he failed to pay over 282.5 million rubles ($4.7 million) in VAT debts at the end of 2015.

Alchin claims he paid off his debt before leaving Russia and said he was unaware of the charges, which Moscow officials insist date back to 2018.

A court in Bulgaria has approved Russia’s request for Alchin’s extradition, sparking a backlash over the decision.

Alchin’s wife Olga Gyurova believes her husband is being persecuted by Moscow for his political leanings and anti-war stance.

In February, Alchin took part in an anti-war protest in Varna, Bulgaria, where he burned his Russian passport.

If extradition is to go ahead, Bulgaria would become the first EU member state to extradite a Russian citizen since the country invaded Ukraine in February.

Read more in our story here.

3. Oil deliveries to EU countries start again

Russia has resumed oil supplies through a critical pipeline to Slovakia after a payment dispute was settled.

Deliveries by the southern branch of the Druzhba or “Friendship” pipeline, which runs through Ukraine to the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary, were halted on Tuesday.

Russian state pipeline operator Transneft cited complications from EU sanctions and said its payment to the company’s Ukrainian counterpart had been refused.

Today, Slovakia’s Slovnaft refinery confirmed that oil supplies have resumed.

But deliveries to the Czech Republic and Hungary have not restarted, officials said.

The three EU nations, which are landlocked, benefit from exemption from European Union sanctions for importing Russian crude.

4. Russian TV journalist arrested after on-air protest

Russian authorities have arrested a former state television journalist who had televised protesting Moscow’s war in Ukraine.

Marina Ovsyannikova has been accused of spreading false information about the Russian armed forces, her lawyer said on social media.

The producer, who worked for Russia’s state-funded Channel One, held up a sign during a live broadcast: “Putin is a murderer, his soldiers are fascists. 352 children were killed (in Ukraine). How many more children should die for. Should you stop?

On Wednesday, Ovsyannikova’s apartment was searched and she was taken to the Moscow Police Headquarters for interrogation.

The case against Ovsyannikova was initiated under a Russian law criminalizing statements against the military, her lawyer Dmitry Zakhvatov said. A conviction carries a penalty of up to 15 years in prison.

Ovsyannikova has already been fined 30,000 rubles ($270 at the time) after she was accused of criticizing the Russian military.

She faced two more fines in recent weeks for a Facebook post criticizing the military and speaking out in a court where opposition figure Ilya Yashin was remanded in custody for spreading false information about the military.

Read more in our story here.

5. Shoppers are buying the last of H&M and IKEA stocks before the downturn

Russian shoppers are buying the latest goods from H&M and IKEA as stores go out of business in the country.

The fashion and furniture brands are pushing ahead with their exit from Russia following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in February.

Both stores stopped selling after the start of the military operation but are now trying to sell their stocks.

An H&M shopper in Moscow, who gave his name Leonid, said he was “very hurt” that H&M is closing, adding: “A good deal is going.”

Both companies are laying off staff. H&M said on Tuesday that 6,000 workers will be affected and that it is working on details of further support in the coming months.

IKEA said in June many workers will lose their jobs and has guaranteed them six months’ wages and core benefits.

It said this week it had 15,000 workers in Russia and Belarus, but didn’t immediately confirm how many would be laid off.

H&M expects the cost of exiting Russia to reach around 2 billion Swedish kronor (197 million euros), which will be included as one-off costs in third-quarter earnings this year.

IKEA said in June it would start looking for new owners for its four factories in Russia and would close its purchasing and logistics offices in Moscow and in Minsk, Belarus, a key Russian ally.

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