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Lucian Kim

YAROSLAVL REGION, Russia — My mother-in-law, Tatyana, surveys her half acre of paradise. It's located at the end of an overgrown path, a few miles down a dirt road off the main highway to Moscow. The property consists of a three-room cottage with no running water, a vegetable garden and a trim lawn bordered by lilacs, firs and pines.

MOSCOW — Darya Apakhonchich never considered herself a foreign agent.

She taught Russian to refugees in her hometown, St. Petersburg, and took part in street performances against militarism and violence against women. The activism of Apakhonchich's art group was quirky and local, and their performances typically got a couple of hundred views on YouTube.

MOSCOW — John Kerry, the U.S. special presidential envoy for climate, quietly traveled to Moscow this week, becoming the highest-ranking White House official to visit Russia since President Biden took office.

Kerry told NPR that his three days of talks with Kremlin officials were "exclusively" dedicated to climate change. But coming less than a month after Biden's first summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and amid a series of ransomware attacks blamed on Russian cybercrooks, Kerry's trip was clearly aimed at improving the bilateral climate as well.

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MOSCOW — The British Defence Ministry has denied a claim that a Russian vessel fired warning shots at a Royal Navy warship approaching the Crimean Peninsula in the Black Sea Wednesday.

Earlier, the Russian Defense Ministry said that a warplane had also dropped four bombs in the path of the British destroyer, HMS Defender, to force it to change course.

MOSCOW — Catherine Serou, a 34-year-old U.S. citizen studying in Russia, has been found dead after she went missing on Tuesday, Russia's Investigative Committee said in a statement.

A man in his early 40s with past convictions, has been arrested and is cooperating with investigators, the committee said. His name was not released.

MOSCOW — Catherine Serou, a U.S. citizen studying in Russia, has been missing since she got into a car with a stranger on Tuesday. The authorities in Nizhny Novgorod, 250 miles east of Moscow, have started a criminal investigation and are searching a forested area outside the city where Serou's cell phone was last picked up.

On the day of her disappearance Serou managed to send a text message to her mother in Vicksburg, Miss. — the last sign of life from the 34-year-old graduate student and former Marine.

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MOSCOW — Not so long ago, the image of Belarus was of a peaceful, if tightly controlled, former Soviet republic, squeezed between Poland and Russia. Now the country's pro-democracy leaders are warning their country could turn into a North Korea in Europe: a state run by a dangerous, unpredictable leader who survives through fear and repression.

The Biden administration wants a more stable and predictable relationship with Russia. Russian President Vladimir Putin wants to show that his country is taken seriously as a world power. That is the backdrop for the first summit between the U.S. and Russian presidents, which will take place in Geneva on Wednesday.

"Russia is quite invested in having a very friction-filled rather than friction-free relationship with the United States," warns Fiona Hill of the Brookings Institution.

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Editor's note: The fight against disinformation has become a facet of nearly every story NPR international correspondents cover, from vaccine hesitancy to authoritarian governments spreading lies. This and other stories by correspondents around the globe focus on different tactics to combat disinformation, the impacts they've had and what other countries might learn from them.

Updated May 11, 2021 at 11:48 AM ET

A gunman in the Russian city of Kazan opened fire at a school early Tuesday, killing at least seven students, a teacher and a school worker, and injuring 21 others, Russian officials said.

The governor of Tatarstan, an oil-rich, Muslim-majority region where Kazan is the capital, said seven of the dead were eighth-grade students at Kazan's School No. 175.

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MOSCOW — Russian police said Tuesday they made a number of arrests outside the prison where opposition leader Alexei Navalny, 44, is being held. Navalny began a hunger strike last week, protesting the lack of medical care for pain in his back and a loss of sensation in both legs.

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