Supporters of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny who gathered to call for his release have been arrested by Russian authorities.
Mr Navalny has today spent his 47th birthday behind bars, serving a nine-year sentence for fraud and contempt of court, charges he says were fabricated to punish him for his work to expose official corruption.
Demonstrators in Saint Petersburg and other Russian cities held pickets wishing Mr Navalny a “happy birthday”.
Activist Egor Perepelyuk carried a poster with the message “Freedom for all political prisoners” under the arch of the headquarters for the Russian armed forces. Ego was detained by the police.
Halyna Kaplunova was detained at Gostiny dvor shopping centre in Saint Petersburg because she was holding the poster “You are not alone”.
A woman holding a small black balloon with the words “Happy Birthday!” who was dressed in a hoody with “You aren’t alone” written on it was among those detained. She reportedly asked officers why they were detaining her, but they didn’t answer.
Police increased their presence in Moscow ahead of the demonstration and moved quickly to round up those who tried to stage individual pickets on Pushkin Square in central Moscow and elsewhere in the capital.
Pro-Navalny demonstrations were also held in several European cities.
Today's top stories
Negotiations between major oil producers led by Riyadh and Moscow were under way on Sunday to consider cutting output further in a bid to prop up prices
Jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny said he was in good spirits on his third birthday behind bars, despite tougher prison conditions and yet another spell in solitary confinement
The Polish fighting alongside Ukraine have claimed to have taken part in the attack on the Belgorod region this week
The governor of Russia’s Belgorod region has said he was willing to meet a pro-Ukraine group of Russian fighters keeping two Russian soldiers captive
The Ukrainian military on Sunday renewed its plea for operational silence around a long-awaited counteroffensive against Russian forces, the latest in a stream of messages by Kyiv as it prepares for the assault
Russian missiles have struck an air force base in central Ukraine and killed a two-year-old girl in separate overnight attacks
New arms supplies to Kyiv by European countries will further escalate tensions, says Dmitry Peskov, Kremlin spokesman
A senior Ukrainian government official expressed ‘disbelief” after learning that nearly half of Kyiv bomb shelters inspected during an initial audit were closed or unfit for use
Four people have been detained as part of a criminal investigation into the death of a woman outside a locked shelter in Kyiv
Russian authorities have called on residents on the Ukraine border to leave their homes as shelling intensified this week
The award-winning film 20 days in Mariupol made its premiere in Ukraine on Saturday, when it was seen for the first time by some of the Ukrainian medics and first responders who were chronicled in the documentary
Pro-Ukrainian fighters capture Kremlin troops in raid on Russian soil
Pro-Ukrainian Russians have offered to swap prisoners they have captured over the past four days in skirmishes with the Russian army along the Ukraine-Russia border.
In a video filmed in a hospital operating room, Denis Kapustin, one of the leaders of the Russian Volunteer Corps, demanded to meet the governor of Russia’s Belgorod region at a church in a village a few miles inside Russia to exchange prisoners.
“It’s also an opportunity to talk with you about the fate of Russia and about this unnecessary and bloody war that has been going on for a 1-1/2 years,” he said.
He was flanked by two of his fighters and one man he described as a captured Russian soldier. Another man lay on the operating table under a foil sheet.
Mr Kapustin also described him as an injured Russian soldier.
The Russian army had said that it had repelled attacks by the pro-Ukrainian Russians which started on Thursday, but the Freedom of Russia Legion, one of the pro-Ukrainian military groups, posted a video of an attack on the city of Shebekino that it said was filmed this morning.
Thousands of people have now fled Shebekino under what Russian officials have described as heavy shelling.
Opec tries to agree oil production cuts in Vienna
Negotiations between major oil producers led by Riyadh and Moscow were under way on Sunday to consider cutting output further in a bid to prop up prices.
The Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries headed by Saudi Arabia was consulting with 10 other oil majors, including Russia, to review the grouping’s future output policy.
The in-person Opec+ meeting – which started three hours later than originally scheduled – was dragging on through Sunday afternoon at the group’s headquarters in Vienna, a source close to the talks told AFP.
Analysts had largely expected OPEC+ producers to maintain their current policy, but signs emerged this weekend that the 23 countries may make deeper cuts.
An output cut of one million barrels per day (bpd) was being discussed, according to the source close to the talks.
In April, several OPEC+ members agreed to cut production voluntarily by more than one million bpd – a surprise move that briefly buttressed prices but failed to bring about lasting recovery.
Putin critic Navalny in 'good mood' on third birthday behind bars
Jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny said he was in good spirits on his third birthday behind bars, despite tougher prison conditions and yet another spell in solitary confinement.
It came as police arrested at least 45 people taking part in pro-Navalny demonstrations in Russian cities including Moscow and Saint Petersburg on Sunday, according to specialist NGO OVD-Info.
Mr Navalny’s team says he has been harassed in prison and kept in a “punishment cell” for minor transgressions. His supporters say the authorities are trying to crush his morale.
He said he woke up in a punishment cell on his 47th birthday, adding in a message published on social media that it was his 16th such stint.
“My answer is: I really am. Let’s face it, of course I wish I didn’t have to wake up in this hellhole and instead have breakfast with my family, receive kisses on the cheek from my children, unwrap presents...
“But life works in such a way that social progress and a better future can only be achieved if a certain number of people are willing to pay the price for their right to have beliefs.”
Polish Volunteer Corps 'working with Russians in Belgorod raid'
The Polish fighting alongside Ukraine have claimed to have taken part in the attack on the Belgorod region this week.
The Polish Volunteer Corps said in a statement on Twitter: “Everyone asks us a question, did we participate in the operation on the territory of the Belgorod region. The answer is unequivocal: of course, yes.”
The Russian Volunteer Corps have been vocal participants in supporting Ukraine in the war against Russia.
Ukraine’s ministry of defence has previously confirmed the Russian Volunteer Corps and the Russian Freedom Legion, Russian citizens who are a paramilitary group based in Ukraine, as being involved in the operation.
The Polish Volunteer Corps has released a video proving their participation in the cross-border raid into the Belgorod region of Russia last week.
The Poles can be seen capturing a Russian BTR.
The Poles are working together with the Russian Volunteer Corps.
— Visegrád 24 (@visegrad24) June 4, 2023
Russian governor ready to meet group ‘if captive soldiers are alive’
The governor of Russia’s Belgorod region has said he was willing to meet a pro-Ukraine group of Russian fighters keeping two Russian soldiers captive.
The group said earlier it was willing to exchange the soldiers in exchange for a meeting with the governor.
Vyacheslav Gladkov, the governor, said: “Most likely they killed them, as hard as it is for me to say. But if they are alive, from 5-6 p.m – Shebekino checkpoint. I guarantee safety.”
Mr Gladkov added that there is ongoing “combat” in the border village of Novaya Tavolzhanka, 10 kilometres from the district’s administrative centre Shebekino.
“A sabotage group came, there is combat now in Novaya Tavolzhanka,” Vyacheslav Gladkov said on Telegram. “I hope they will all be destroyed.”
In Pictures: Russians view the Trinity in Moscow
Ukraine's military urges 'silence' ahead of expected counteroffensive
The Ukrainian military on Sunday renewed its plea for operational silence around a long-awaited counteroffensive against Russian forces, the latest in a stream of messages by Kyiv as it prepares for the assault.
Anticipation has mounted around what is expected to be a broad attack by Ukrainian forces to retake Russian-occupied territory in the east and south.
But Ukrainian officials have repeatedly discouraged public speculation over the operation, saying it could help the enemy.
Authorities in recent days have also cracked down on citizens sharing images or footage of air defence systems shooting down Russian missiles.
“Plans love silence. There will be no announcement of the start,” the ministry said in a video posted to Telegram, apparently referring to the counteroffensive.
🤫Плани люблять тишу
Оголошення про початок не буде — Міністерство оборони України pic.twitter.com/QafSNfZM08
— Defence intelligence of Ukraine (@DI_Ukraine) June 4, 2023
In Pictures: Russian activists rally in support of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny on his 47th birthday
Russian missile strike hits central Ukrainian air force base
Russian missiles have struck an air force base in central Ukraine and killed a two-year-old girl in separate overnight attacks.
The Ukrainian military confirmed the missile strike on the airbase near the city of Kropyvnytskyi, 200 miles south of Kyiv, although it declined to say whether the hit had knocked out its operations.
“The cruise missiles did not destroy everything, four out of six missiles were destroyed,” a spokesman for the Ukrainian air force said.
“Unfortunately, they hit the operational airfield near Kropyvnytskyi.”
Ukrainian officials have said that the Russian military has switched tactics over the past few weeks and instead of targeting energy transmission systems as it did over the winter, it has targeted command centres and military bases to try to disrupt Ukraine’s heavily-trailed counteroffensive.
Separately, Ukrainian officials said that a two-year-old girl was killed and 22 people were injured after a missile strike on a residential area near Dnipro, also in central Ukraine.
A missile and drone attack on Kyiv was repulsed by air defence systems, Ukrainian officials also said.
Russia will win war with new satellites, says UN weapons inspector
Russia will be able to see and hit Ukraine’s weapon reserves with its new surveillance satellites, the UN weapons inspector to Iraq has said.
Scott Ritter – who is also a former US intelligence officer – said Moscow has recently used the first of its surveillance satellites that have a resolution of up to one metre.
He said the satellites “can see everything”. “It can see through clouds, it can see through rain. It can see through everything. High resolution radar, and they are seeing everything right now,” he said.
“You can’t hide anything from the Russians anymore,” Mr Ritter told Russian media.
In reference to European countries sending weapons to Ukraine, he said: “Its going to have a fundamental shift in how this [Ukrainian] conflict goes because all that stuff that’s been brought – can’t hide it.
“They [the weapons] are all detected now and they’re all getting programmed into the Russian target database. And the Russians are gonna start hitting this stuff, more and more and more and we see evidence of this already,” Mr Ritter said.
The war would become “unsustainable for the Ukrainians sometime by the end of summer, early fall,” he added.
New powerful arms sent to Kyiv will spiral tensions, says Russian spokesman
New arms supplies to Kyiv by European countries will further escalate tensions, says Dmitry Peskov, Kremlin spokesman.
Mr Peskov told Russian media that weapons such as missiles with a range of 500 kilometres will lead to another “spiral of tensions”.
“Now we are already seeing that discussion begins about deliveries, for example, from France, Germany of missiles with a range of 500 or more kilometers. This is a qualitatively different weaponry, which will eventually, let’s say, lead to another spiral of escalating tensions,” he said.
Four detained over locked shelters
Four people have been detained as part of a criminal investigation into the death of a woman outside a locked shelter in Kyiv.
A security guard who allegedly failed to unlock the doors has remains in custody. Three others, including a local official, were placed under house arrest.
Vitali Klitschko, the mayor of Kyiv, said on Saturday that city authorities received “more than a thousand” complaints regarding locked, dilapidated or insufficient air-raid shelters within a day of launching an online feedback service.
At least 500 children killed by war, says Zelensky
President Volodymyr Zelensky said that Russia’s war has killed at least 500 Ukrainian children.
Mr Zelensky revealed the death toll just hours after rescue workers found the body of a girl, 2, who died in one of the latest Russian strikes.
The president said in a statement that “Russian weapons and hatred, which continue to take and destroy the lives of Ukrianian children every day,” killed the hundreds who had perished since Russia’s full-scale invasion.
“Many of them could have become famous scholars, artists, sports champions, contributing to Ukraine’s history,” he said.
Mr Zelensky said it was impossible to establish the exact number of children who were casualties due to the ongoing hostilities and because some areas are under Russian occupation.
Wagner chief 'will defend Belgorod if Russia fails'
The head of the Wagner group made an "astonishing" threat to defend Belgorod from partisan raids without the permission of the Russian defence ministry.
Yevgeny Prigozhin said he will not wait for an invitation to take over border security if the army cannot prevent further… pic.twitter.com/NYbiCT6k3e
— Iuliia Mendel (@IuliiaMendel) June 4, 2023
Russian army 'hit Ukrainian military airfields'
The Russian army has said it hit Ukrainian military airfields with long-range weapons overnight after Kyiv acknowledged Moscow had struck an air base in the central part of the country.
“Today at night, the armed forces of the Russian Federation carried out a group strike with long-range precision-guided air-launched weapons against enemy targets at military airfields,” the Russian army said in a statement.
Anti-Kremlin fighters 'capture two Russians'
A group of pro-Ukraine Russian fighters said on Sunday they had taken two Russian soldiers captive amid fighting in Russia’s Belgorod region and offered to exchange them during a personal meeting with the regional governor.
The joint statement by the Freedom of Russia Legion and the Russian Volunteer Corps was posted on the former’s Telegram channel.
Fighting near Bakhmut persists, says Ukraine
Clashes are continuing around the city of Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine and Moscow is still suffering “significant losses” despite a relative easing of combat operations in recent days, Kyiv’s armed forces said on Sunday.
Russia claimed late last month to have captured Bakhmut following what had become the war’s longest and bloodiest battle, but Ukraine says its forces still retain a small foothold and denies that Moscow is in full control of the city.
Ukraine’s top military command said in its daily report on Sunday that Russian forces had carried out two unsuccessful operations around Bakhmut and launched a number of air strikes and artillery shelling on nearby villages.
It said some 23 combat clashes had taken place over the past 24 hours in the Donetsk region, where Bakhmut is located, and in neighbouring Luhansk. Russia claims to have annexed both regions from Ukraine, along with three others, including Crimea.
Russia says Ukraine shelled market in border town
The governor of Russia’s Belgorod region said that Ukrainian forces have shelled a market area in the town of Shebekino, about four miles from the Ukrainian border.
Vyacheslav Gladkov, the governor, said the shelling had caused fires to break out near the town’s market, a private area and a grain depot. Reuters was not able to immediately verify his account.
“Emergency services are on the scene,” he wrote on Telegram.
Ukraine minister in 'disbelief' at closed Kyiv bomb shelters
A senior Ukrainian government official expressed ‘disbelief” after learning that nearly half of Kyiv bomb shelters inspected during an initial audit were closed or unfit for use.
Volodymyr Zelensky, the Ukrainian president, ordered an inspection of all Ukrainian shelters on Friday, a day after three people were killed in Kyiv when they were unable to access one during a Russian air strike.
Oleksandr Kamyshin, Ukraine’s minister of strategic industries, said that out of 1,078 shelters examined on the first day, 359 were unprepared and another 122 locked, while 597 were found to be usable.
“I greeted with disbelief that fact that half were open and considered ready,” he wrote on Telegram.
“Yesterday, when we selectively checked the shelters in the Obolon district with our mayor, the absolute majority of the shelters were closed.”
Mr Kamyshin said the inspections would continue.
In Pictures: The damage caused by a Russian missile in Dnipro
Russia urges border district to evacuate amid Ukraine shelling
Russian authorities have called on residents on the Ukraine border to leave their homes as shelling intensified this week.
The district of Shebekino in the western Belgorod region on the Ukraine border has been hit by daily shelling, killing several civilians and forcing villagers to relocate.
The governor of the region, Vyacheslav Gladkov, urged residents to cooperate with authorities and evacuate.
“I ask that in the villages of, first of all, the Shebekino district that has been shelled, to listen to the position of authorities and leave – temporarily leave – their homes,” Mr Gladkov said on Telegram.
He said the goal was “to safeguard what is most important: your life and the lives of your close ones”.
He said it was another “not calm night” in the district with “a lot of damage”.
Mr Gladkov spoke a day after two women were killed in border villages by shelling.
He said “more than 4,000 people” from border areas were currently in temporary housing in the Belgorod region.
He said authorities would take minors from border villages and the children of mobilised soldiers fighting in Ukraine to youth camps.
Award-winning film on Mariupol screened in Ukraine
The award-winning film 20 days in Mariupol made its premiere in Ukraine on Saturday, when it was seen for the first time by some of the Ukrainian medics and first responders who were chronicled in the documentary.
Standing ovations in a Kyiv cinema greeted the civil servants who had toiled nearly non-stop in and around a Mariupol hospital in the early days of the war, which was the narrative of the film.
For some, the screening served as an unsettling flashback to their own brushes with death, a fate inescapable for untold numbers of victims of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, including toddlers, infants and expectant mothers whose final moments are shown in the film.
In Pictures: Emergency workers rescue residents from rubble in Dnipro
Shelling continues in Belgorod as thousands relocated
Shelling by Ukrainian forces on Russia’s Belgorod region continued overnight on Sunday after two people were killed the previous night and hundreds of children were evacuated away from the border, governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said on Sunday.
“Overnight, it was quite restless,” Mr Gladkov said on the Telegram channel, adding that the Shebekino and Volokonovsky districts suffered “lots” of damage from shelling during the night.
More than 4,000 people were relocated to temporary accommodation in the region, which borders Ukraine to its south and west, Mr Gladkov said.
Paranoid Russian government uncertain over own rules, says MoD
Latest Defence Intelligence update on the situation in Ukraine - 04 June 2023.
Find out more about Defence Intelligence's use of language: https://t.co/YVnIr3Aa9L
🇺🇦 #StandWithUkraine 🇺🇦 pic.twitter.com/mFQnDGX5A3
— Ministry of Defence 🇬🇧 (@DefenceHQ) June 4, 2023
Russia fires another wave of air strikes at Kyiv
Russia launched a fresh wave of air strikes against Ukraine early this morning, striking an airfield in a central region but failing to hit the capital Kyiv, Ukrainian authorities said.
Air force spokesman Yuriy Ihnat told local television that four of six cruise missiles had been shot down by air defences but that two had struck an “operational airfield” near the central city of Kropyvnytskyi.
He added that two of the five Iranian-made drones launched by Russia had struck infrastructure in the northern Sumy region.
Kyiv officials said air defences had downed all projectiles that had been aimed at the capital before they reached the city.