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St. Petersburg canceled its New Year’s Eve celebration and will donate the money to “purchase additional gear and equipment for volunteers and mobilized units,” the mayor announced on Thursday.
The decision was made “after a meeting with members of the city government,” the mayor of Russia's second-largest city said on social media.
Events for families with children and the traditional children's Christmas tree will take place as scheduled, the city said.
On Friday, Russia’s Defense Ministry urged cities not to cancel their New Year’s festivities.
In a statement, Deputy Minister of Defense Col. Gen. Viktor Goremykin called the decision to cancel “premature and unnecessary.”
“Our Armed Forces today have all the equipment they need, all units and every serviceman have been provided in full, both in the arena of the Special Military Operation and in the training areas for mobilized citizens, ” Goremykin added.
It looks inevitable that Russia's war in Ukraine will continue for some time -- and the question is how much damage will have occurred before negotiations resume, according to a spokesperson for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Turkey, while critical of the Russian invasion and President Vladimir Putin's recent move to annex territories in Ukraine, has maintained good relations with the Kremlin and brokered an agreement this summer to allow grain shipments from Ukrainian ports.
Earlier on Friday, Erdogan spoke with Putin about the "latest developments" in the war in Ukraine, according to a readout from the Turkish government.
His spokesperson, Ibrahim Kalin, told CNN that negotiations will likely resume at some point.
"The question is: When we will come back to it and how much damage will have been done by then?” Kalin said during an interview with CNN’s Isa Soares.
Negotiation ground to a halt after Russia’s annexation of four Ukrainian regions last week, with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky going so far as signing a decree declaring negotiations impossible.
The decree, published on the Ukrainian Presidency’s website, declared "the impossibility of holding negotiations with the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin." It was dated Sept. 30, the day on which Putin announced that he would illegally annex four partially-occupied regions of Ukraine.
Kalin said the halt in talks was to be expected, adding he had recently discussed the issue with US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan.
The Turkish official said there was also a larger point at play when it comes to Russian involvement in negotiations.
"Our understanding is that Mr. Putin wants to have a new grand bargain, a new deal with the West. It's partly about Ukraine, no doubt. But the larger issue is really a new deal between Russia and the Western world,” Kalin said.
Moscow feels that the agreements made at the end of the Cold War, under Presidents Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin, no longer reflect the Russia of today, he said. "There is a new Russia, there is a new world, there is a new reality, and they want to have a new bargain,” Kalin said.
As a result, the entire global liberal order is facing a big test, he said.
The Russian Ministry of Justice on Friday added anti-war rapper Oxxxymiron, anti-war writer and journalist Dmitry Glukhovsky and women’s rights activist Alena Popova to its registry of "foreign agents."
The ministry alleged Oxxxymiron had received funding from Ukraine.
Oxxxymiron — whose real name is Miron Fyodorov — has been the country’s most popular rapper for over a decade, with songs that are often political. Since the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, he has held a series of “Russians against war” concerts in Istanbul, Berlin and London. All the proceeds were directed to Polish organizations that help Ukrainian refugees.
Russia’s Investigative Committee is examining Oxxxymiron’s songs under the country’s anti-extremism laws.
Glukhovsky, who is most famous for his books “Metro 2033” and “Post,” is also facing criminal charges under the law for spreading fake information about the armed forces. Glukhovsky has been put on the country's wanted list. He is not currently in Russia.
In July, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law "on control over the activities of persons under foreign influence."
More than 20 suspected Russian “torture chambers” have been found in the northeast territory recently retaken from Russian forces, a top police official said.
“In almost all large cities and towns, where military units of the Russian army were based, they set up such places of detention of civilians and prisoners of war and tortured them,” said Serhii Bolvinov, head of the investigative department of the regional police, adding that one was in the town of Pisky-Radkivski.
The most common torture techniques were electric shocks and severe beatings with sticks and other objects, he said, adding that there were also cases of nails being pulled out and the use of gas masks to restrict breathing.
Bolvinov cited testimony from a 67-year-old man in Izium, who the Russians accused of assisting Ukrainian targeting.
According to Bolvinov:
This man was taken to the local police department and later had a black hood put over his head. One of his interrogators had put a gun to his head and demanded to know to whom he had given the coordinates of targets. When he denied doing so, they used a pipe or bat on his hands and broke his arm. The man had testified that later his captors had pushed metal spokes from a bicycle wheel under his skin, and beat him. His injuries included internal bleeding and he was now in a Kharkiv hospital, according to Bolvinov.
CNN has not been able to verify the regional police chief's account.
Bolvinov also said there were also criminal proceedings underway regarding allegations of rape.
"We understand that it is very difficult for victims to testify about such facts. However, there are proceedings that we have registered, there are appeals from women who were raped. We have information about the alleged facts of rapes in torture chambers," Bolvinov added.
The bodies of more than 500 civilians have been discovered in the territory in northeast Ukraine that has recently been retaken from Russian forces, according to Ukrainian police.
Most of the remains — 447, according to Ukrainian forces — were found at what was described as a mass burial site in the town of Izium, which Ukrainian forces liberated from Russian occupation in early September. Russian troops had been using Izium as a launchpad for attacks southward into the Donetsk region.
As Ukrainian forces liberated more land in the northeast, new burial sites are being discovered.
“We found the bodies of 534 civilians from the de-occupied territories," said Serhii Bolvinov, the head of the investigative department of the regional police,
They included 226 women and 19 children, Bolvinov added.
The day after US President Joe Biden warned of a potential of a nuclear "Armageddon,” the Pentagon said “we don't assess that President Putin has made a decision to use nuclear weapons at this time,” press secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said during a briefing Thursday.
“Many people in our government and in the international community, to include [Defense Sec. Lloyd] Austin, have highlighted the fact that this nuclear saber-rattling is reckless and irresponsible,” Ryder said.
Right now, the US does not have any information to cause a change in “strategic deterrence posture,” Ryder added.
The US continues to take the threats “very seriously,” and will continue to monitor the situation, he added.
There is growing support among European Union member states for joint energy purchases, according to European Council President Charles Michel.
Speaking during a news conference following an informal EU leaders' summit in Prague on Friday, Michel said Russia has "fired an energetic missile at the European continent and the world," highlighting the severity of the energy crisis Europe is facing.
"Before the summer, we said that we needed to organize the procurement of energy supplies. We came back to the topic today and there is increasing support to progress this," Michel told journalists.
Under this model, energy stocks would be refilled as soon as it becomes necessary, Michel added.
He was supported by his colleague, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who called it of "paramount importance" that the EU has joint procurement of gas.
A joint scheme would eradicate the need for member states to "outbid each other" for supplies while allowing the bloc to wield a "collective bargaining power," according to von der Leyen.
“We have to keep our single market together and we have to avoid fragmentation,” she added.
The death toll after Russian missile strikes hit a city apartment building has risen to 14, according to Anatolii Kurtiev, secretary of the Zaporizhzhia city council.
"We continue to receive disheartening news from the dismantling of the rubble on the buildings damaged by yesterday's attack. The death toll has now risen to fourteen," Kurtiev said on Telegram.
Some background: Moscow launched a series of fatal missile attacks on the city of Zaporizhzhia early Thursday, just hours after the Kremlin signed a decree to formally seize a massive nuclear power plant nearby.
The city of Zaporizhzhia is not far from the front lines of the conflict. Though the city is under Ukrainian control, about 75% of the greater Zaporizhzhia region is occupied by Russian forces.
That region is one of four Ukrainian territories Russia is claiming to annex in violation of international law.