Alexander Lukashenko during a presidential  inauguration ceremony at the Palace of Independence in Minsk, Belarus. Protests continued on Sunday amid allegations from the opposition that the recent  election was   rigged. Photograph: Maxim Guchek/EPA

Russian ally defies West and unprecedented protests against his 26-year rule

  People wearing   face masks walk on the Red Square in Moscow. The city   reported 1,560 new coronavirus cases on Friday and Russia registered 7,212 new infections – the highest such daily figures in three months. Photograph: Sergei Ilnitsky/EPA

Fears mount over combined impact of Covid-19 and common cold as winter nears

Alexander Lukashenko during an inauguration ceremony. Photograph: Sergei Sheleg/Belta/EPA

Belarus’s veteran autocrat takes oath in quiet ceremony as mass protests continue

Czech health minister Adam Vojtech announces his resignation in Prague. Photograph: Vit Simanek/AP Photo via CTK

Record daily rises registered around region that fared well in pandemic's first wave

 Svetlana Tikhanovskaya : “I’m still not a politician and it is particularly difficult to try to be one at such a tough period for my country.” Photograph:  Arturas Morozovas/Getty

Reluctant politician Svetlana Tikhanovskaya on her meteoric rise and memories of Ireland

Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz was stopped at the border with Poland on August 31st. Photograph: Grzegorz Galazka/Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images

Vatican urges Lukashenko regime to allow return of Archbishop Kondrusiewicz

Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko and Russian president Vladimir Putin during their meeting in Sochi. Photograph: Kremlin handout/EPA

Opposition leader Tikhanovskaya says all deals with ‘usurper’ Lukashenko are void

Belarusian women attempt to block a police car with detained women at the protest against the presidential election results in Minsk. Photograph: Stringer/EPA

President’s critics fear he may sacrifice his country’s independence for Russian help

Nobel Prize-winning author Svetlana Alexievich at her apartment in Minsk. Ambassadors from several EU states gathered at her flat after she said unidentified men kept ringing her doorbell. Photograph: TUT.BY/AFP via Getty

Acclaimed author defiant as fellow opposition figures are jailed and expelled

Maria Kolesnikova, one of Belarus’s opposition leaders, who has been detained. Photograph: Dmitri Lovetsky/AP

Lukashenko warns Russia as opposition leader seeks international help

Serbian president Aleksandar Vucic. Photograph: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty

Talks resume in Brussels as Belgrade plays down ‘Basic Instinct’ spat with Russia

Belarus opposition figure Svetlana Tikhanovskaya: Alexander  Lukashenko “no longer represents” his people. Photograph:  Petras Malukas/AFP

Alexander Lukashenko's regime tightens links with Russia and denounces West

Slovak businessman Marian Kocner at the trial in Pezinok, Slovakia, concerning the murder of journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancée Martina Kusnirova. Photograph: EPA/Jakub Gavlak

Slovakia's leaders demand justice for Jan Kuciak and fiancée Martina Kusnirova

Composite image of Kosovo’s prime minister Avdullah Hoti  (L) and Serbian president Aleksandar Vucic. Photos: Armend Nimani and Andrej Isakovic/AFP via Getty Images

Leaders to meet in Washington and Brussels amid impasse on normalising relations

Belarusian students march to show solidarity with political prisoners in Minsk on Tuesday. Photograph: EPA

UN human rights experts condemn brutal crackdown on protesters

Zdravko Krivokapic, leader of an alliance that includes strongly pro-Serb parties. Photograph: Boris Pejovic/EPA

President Milo Djukanovic’s party could be ousted after three decades in office

 A rally in Minsk, Belarus, in support of the Belarusian opposition, and against police brutality and the results of the  presidential election.  Photograph: EPA/Yauhen Yerchak

Putin says special police unit on standby after request from embattled Lukashenko

Belarusian opposition figure  Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya speaks to US deputy secretary of state Stephen Biegun during their meeting in Vilnius on Monday. Photograph: Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya campaign office via AP

Police target protest and strike leaders after huge rally re-energises opposition

Anti-goverment protesters walk past an advert for army conscription in Minsk, Belarus. Photograph: Misha Friedman/Getty

Defence minister warns army will be asked to deal with ‘violations of order and calm’

Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko speaks to employees at an agricultural plant outside Minsk, Belarus on  Friday. Photograph: Nikolai Petrov/AP

Opposition leader Tikhanovskaya calls for more rallies and strikes to oust regime

Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko chairing a security council meeting in Minsk on Wednesday. Photograph: Andrei Stasevich/BelTA Pool Photo via AP

EU says Belarusians should decide own future as Moscow warns against ‘meddling’

German chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian president Vladimir Putin spoke by phone on Tuesday. Photograph: Adam Berry/Getty Images

Protests and strikes continue after disputed election and brutal crackdown

Alexander Lukashenko visiting the Minsk Wheel Tractor Plant on Monday. Photograph: Nikolai Petrov/EPA

‘Until you kill me, there will be no other elections,’ says autocratic leader of 26 years

Belarusian teachers attend a rally in support of the Belarusian opposition, and against police brutality and the results of the presidential election, in Minsk. Photograph: Yauhen Yerchak/EPA

EU eyes sanctions on regime officials after brutal crackdown on dissent

Sweden’s Ambassador to Belarus Christina Johannesson lays flowers at the site where a protester died in Minsk. Photograph:  Sergei Gapon/AFP via Getty Images

EU foreign ministers to discuss crisis as accounts of police brutality mount

Police surround a protester during a protest  in Minsk on Tuesday. Photograph: AP

Autocrat Alexander Lukashenko blames unemployed ex-criminals for demonstrations

Protesters are pictured in Minsk, Belarus after long-time president of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko won the elections by a landslide with 80 per cent of the votes. The opposition does not recognize the results and has questioned the transparency of the counting process. Photograph: Yauhen Yerchak/EPA.

Riot police and troops deployed and internet restricted as countrywide protests continue

Ukrainian police detain a man who tried to throw an egg at the Belarusian embassy in Kiev following  Lukashenko’s election win claim. Photograph: Sergey Dolzhenko

Second successive night of protests as autocratic ruler of 26 years claims election win

Riot police disperse protesters after polls closed in the Belarus presidential election in Minsk on Sunday. Photograph: Siarhei Leskiec/AFP via Getty Images.

Autocratic leader of 26 years claims foreign forces are behind post-election protests

A couple ride a scooter in front of riot police during a protest in Minsk on Sunday night. Photograph: Sergei Gapon/AFP via Getty Images

Stun grenades and arrests as thousands take to Minsk streets after autocrat’s exit poll ‘landslide’

Opposition leader and presidential candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya campaigns ahead of the Belarusian presidential elections  in Minsk, Belarus. Photograph:  Tanya Kapitonova/Getty Images

Lukashenko says foreign powers conducting a ‘hybrid war’ to destabilise the country

Supporters of presidential candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya during her campaign rally in Minsk on Thursday night. Photograph:  Sergei Gapon/AFP via Getty Images

Tens of thousands attend opposition rally in Minsk as presidential election nears

Belarusian presidential candidate Svetlana Tikhanouskaya speaks to the media in Minsk. Photograph: Tatyana Zenkovich/EPA

Opposition leader defiant as investigators link jailed husband to alleged plot

Hungary’s prime minister Viktor Orban: since taking power in 2010, Mr Orban has tightened central control over a host of previously independent news agencies and turned public news outlets into transmitters for government messaging. Photograph: AFP via Getty Images

Index editor sacked and dozens of journalists quit amid concerns for independence

A woman holds a placard depicting Bulgarian prime minister Boyko Borisov as a clown during an anti-government protest in Sofia, on July 20th Photograph: AFP

Thousands join nightly rallies in Sofia to demand end to graft and impunity

Zoran Zaev, leader of North Macedonia’s  ruling SDSM party,  celebrates victory during general elections in Skopje on Thursday. Photograph: Robert Atanasovski/AFP via Getty Images

Social Democrats take narrow win in first parliamentary vote since name change

Anti-government protesters in the Bulgarian capital, Sofia, on Tuesday. Mr Borisov insisted he would not step down at a time when Bulgaria faced great hardship from coronavirus and its economic impact. Photograph: Vassil Donev/EPA

Boyko Borisov resists calls from country’s president and opposition party to resign

 A woman in front of the electoral billboard of the leader of the opposition VMRO-DPMNE Hristijan Mickovski in Skopje on Tuesday. Photograph: Georgi Licovski/EPA

Nato's newest member goes to the polls as it hopes to start EU accession talks

A banner in Pristina depicts Kosovan president Hashim Thaci and former speaker of the parliament Kadri Veseli – the inscription reads: “war heroes”. Photograph: Valdrin Xhemaj/EPA

EU-brokered talks between Kosovo and Serbia resume after 20-month freeze

Romanian prime minister  Ludovic Orban: “Unfortunately in recent months we have faced organised campaigns aimed at making Romanians not believe in the virus, not follow the rules we established.”  Photograph:EPA/Robert Ghement

Government scrambles to pass new control measures and fight public scepticism

Protesters and police clash outside the parliament building in Belgrade, as Serbian president Aleksandar Vucic announced plans for a  return to lockdown  amid a surge in coronavirus cases. Photograph: Koca Sulejmanovic/EPA

Protests in capital turn violent as anger soars over government’s handling of coronavirus

Croatia’s prime minister Andrej Plenkovic waves the national flag as he celebrates election victory with party members in Zagreb. Photograph: AP

European Commission president criticised for role in HDZ campaign video

Andrej Plenkovic, Croatia’s prime minister, casts his ballot in Zagreb. Photograph: AP

Vote takes place as tourism-reliant Adriatic state hit by new rise in coronavirus cases

Cyclists  in front an election poster   of Croatian prime minister Andrej Plenkovic. He has been accused  of endangering public health by calling the election during a pandemic. Photograph:    Antonio Bat/EPA

Ruling party under pressure as new Covid-19 spike hits tourism-reliant state

Russian president Vladimir Putin: “We need internal stability and time to strengthen the country and all its institutions,” he said, admitting that Russia had “many unresolved problems”. Photograph: Alexei Druzhinin/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images

Critics call plebiscite a farce staged to allow leader of 20 years to rule until 2036

Russians voting   at a street polling station in Podolsk outside Moscow in the referendum on amendments to the  constitution. Photograph:   EPA/Maxim Shipenkov

Critics say week-long vote on constitution made a mockery of Russian democracy

Kosovo president Hashim Thaci with  Albanian prime minister  Edi Rama  in Pristina, Kosovo, on Monday. Photograph: Valdrin Xhemaj/EPA

Hashim Thaci vows to resign if indictment relating to 1998-9 war is confirmed

  Hashim Thaci: special prosecutors at The Hague accused Kosovo’s president   of involvement in multiple murders, torture, forced disappearance and other crimes during and after a 1998-9 war between Kosovar rebels and Serbian forces. Photograph:  Valdrin Xhemaj/EPA

Serbia's president Vucic welcomes indictment and hopes for EU accession in 2026

Kosovo’s president Hashim Thaci has been accused of ‘a range of crimes against humanity and war crimes, including murder, enforced disappearance of persons, persecution, and torture’. Photograph:  EPA

Kosovo's premier pulls out of talks after president Thaci accused of war crimes

Russian servicemen marching on Red Square during a military parade to mark the 75th anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany. Photograph: Ilya Pitalev/Host photo agency/AFP via Getty Images

Constitutional changes would let Russia’s leader of 20 years stay on until 2036

A veteran beside decoration for the Victory Day  parade in Red Square, Moscow. Photograph: Yuri Kochetkov/EPA

Critics accuse Putin of risking public health before vote to reset his term limits

Serbian president, and Serbian Progressive Party leader, Aleksandar Vucic is accused of creating an autocratic system. Photograph: Getty

Aleksandar Vucic hails party’s ‘historic’ win ahead of Moscow and Washington meetings

Hungary’s prime minister Viktor Orban: “There can be no stricter rule for political parties than for organisations that influence political thinking.” Photograph:  Michal Cizek/AFP via Getty Images

Damning verdict of NGO law on donations comes after migrant ‘transit zones’ were ruled illegal

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic (R) shakes hands with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (L) after their press conference in Belgrade, Serbia,  June 18th, 2020. Photograph: Andrej Cukic

Russia says final deal should not be rushed as US picks up the pace

 EU special representative for the Pristina-Belgrade Dialogue Miroslav Lajcak and Kosovo president Hashim Thaci during a press conference following their meeting in Pristina, Kosovo, on June 16th. Photograph: EPA

White House takes initiative with plan for June 27th Kosovo-Serbia summit

Paul Whelan, a former US marine accused of espionage and arrested in Russia in December 2018. Photograph: Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP via Getty

Irish passport holder says he was framed by security services as US expresses ‘outrage’

 People sit at a cafe bar on the main street Ilica during a street art festival in downtown Zagreb, Croatia, on June 7th. Photograph: Antonio Bat/EPA

Tens of thousands of tourists travel to Croatia as Greece prepares to open up

A gift shop worker sets up cardboard cutouts of  US president Donald Trump  and Chinese president Xi Jinping on the street after reopening a shop in Moscow, Russia. Moscow authorities are easing coronavirus restrictions. Photograph: Yuri Kochetkov/EPA

City accused of rushing to reopen ahead of military parade and vote on Putin term limit

Abdullah Hoti, newly elected prime minister of Kosovo. Photograph: Valdrin Xhemaj/EPA

US welcomes Kosovo's move but Belgrade plays down prospects of deal

Folk dancers in Heroes’ Square in Budapest on Thursday, as Hungary marks the centenary of the Treaty of Trianon, which saw large swathes of the country divided among neighbouring countries following the first World War. Photograph: Tamas Kovacs/EPA

Trianon treaty stripped the country of two-thirds of its territory and 3m citizens

 Red Square on May 30th: residents ventured out to exercise, stroll and shop on June 1st. Photograph: Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP

Military showpiece to precede vote that could allow Putin to rule until 2036

Dubrovnik: Croatia is hoping, like its neighbour Montenegro, to capitalise on its relatively low virus numbers to salvage the 2020 tourist season. Photograph: Denis Lovrovic/Getty

Holiday destinations start competing for travellers willing to defy Covid-19

Slovak people return to Slovakia from Austria  at the Bratislava-Berg border crossing. Photograph: Joe Klamar/AFP

Serbia bars Montenegro Airlines after perceived snub over free movement

A member of the Hungarian police closes a razor-wired fence at a migrant transit centre near Roszke, at the border crossing with Serbia. File photograph:  Oliver Bunic

Nationalist government in new row over ban on gender changes on ID documents

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky talking to socially distanced journalists in a Kiev park near the presidential administration on Wednesday. Photograph: Sergey Dolzhenko/EPA

Ex-comic Volodymyr Zelenskiy's reform agenda questioned after a year in power

The coronavirus lockdown has meant closure of the border between Germany and the Czech Republic. Photograph: EPA

Slovakia set to scrap raft of restrictions and allow foreign day trips to eight countries

People sit in a cafe in Zagreb, Croatia. On Monday the country allowed the reopening of cafe bars, restaurants and hotels, a well as transportation between cities. Photograph: Antonio Bat/EPA

June 15th the target for easing controls on EU’s Schengen borders before holiday season

Czech  prime minister Andrej Babis: ”It’s not acceptable – if it’s true – for a foreign state to take action against our citizens here.” Photograph:  Getty Images

Three Prague politicians who angered Moscow reportedly targets for ricin attack

Pupils attend classes in Prague, Czech Republic. The government there has begun further easing the restrictive measures to slow down the spread of Covid-19. Photograph: Gabriel Kuchta/Getty

Much of Spain softens rules as Czechs give green light to foreign bus and train travel

A  worker  disinfects an area in Moscow near an installation  “Hero city Moscow” dedicated to the 75th anniversary of  victory over Nazi Germany. Photograph:  Getty Images

Military parade and political and economic projects halted as Covid-19 cases soar

Staff at Belarus’s ministry of defence spray disinfectant on each other after disinfecting a hospital in Minsk on Tuesday. Photograph: Sergei Grits/AP

Lukashenko plays down virus threat and ignores WHO calls to change tack

Serbian president Aleksandar Vucic. Serbia registered 120 new cases on Tuesday, bringing its total to 9,677.  File photograph: Marko Djurica/Reuters

Belgrade plans June election and seeks to end state of emergency

 Hungarian soldiers disinfecting  an elderly care home in Budapest where eight pensioners died due to  coronavirus.  Photograph: Gergely Botar/AFP

Tight controls will continue in Budapest, but other areas in Hungary with lower infection rates will start to relax restrictions

Polish prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki: The country reported 197 new cases of coronavirus on Wednesday, bringing its total to 12,415, with 606 deaths. Photograph:  EPA/Radek Pietruszka

Czech Republic speeds up economic restart as Covid-19 outbreak wanes

Russian president Vladimir Putin: “We all need to be fully concentrated, disciplined and mobilised.” Photograph: Alexey Druzhinin/Sputnik/AFP

Putin says rules may ease from May 12th but virus threat nearing ‘top level’

A Ukrainian Orthodox priest: The Moscow Patriarchate angered Ukraine’s government by failing to halt all public services over the Easter period. Photograph:  Genya Savilov / AFP

Anger over war deepened by church's reluctance to follow lockdown rules

A square in the medieval old town of Dubrovnik in Croatia. Photograph: Darko Bandic/AP

Czechs eye ‘corona corridor’ to Adriatic coast as lockdown controls ease

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko (R) and his son Nikolai (middle) light candles at an Orthodox Easter service. Photograph: Nikolai Petrov/EPA

WHO urges Lukashenko to tighten controls as virus outbreak 'grows rapidly'

Nikola Marova, first soloist of the Czech National Ballet, practises in the garden of her home in Prague. Photograph: Martin Divisek/EPA

Serbia and others loosen controls but Romania and Hungary to wait until May

Police officers wearing protective masks walk on the Red Square in front of the Kremlin in Moscow on Friday.  Photograph: Yuri Kochetkov/EPA

President Putin says Russia faces ‘very high’coronavirus risks as cases soar

A priest and two volunteers carry willow branches, an Orthodox Palm Sunday tradition,  in Bucharest, Romania last Sunday. Photograph:  Vadim Ghirda/AP

Some clerics and believers baulk at church closures and ban on Easter rituals

 Health workers wearing protective face masks watch a member of the contemporary circus company Cirk La Putyka perform at the courtyard of a hospital in Prague, Czech Republic. Photograph: Martin Divisek/EPA

Prague says masks must still be worn as it releases timetable for reopening society

 Fire burning at the  Chernobyl exclusion zone in Ukraine. Some 500 firefighters battled the blaze that broke out on April 4th. Photograph:  Volodymyr Shuvayev/AFP via Getty Images

Kiev says radiation level is normal, and the defunct nuclear plant is not threatened

Vladimir Putin: he said the “sloppiness” of some had allowed coronavirus hotspots to appear in areas far from Moscow.  Photograph: EPA

Putin warns regional officials they could face prosecution for criminal negligence over Covid-19

Seasonal workers heading to Germany wait outside Cluj airport, Romania. Photograph. Photograph: Raul Stef/Inquam Photos via Reuters

Food security fears lead to easing of rules and offer of flights to avert labour shortage

A man walks through central Prague on Wednesday. The Czech government has made it compulsory to wear facemasks in public spaces. Photograph: Michal Cizek/AFP via Getty Images

Tough early moves and mandatory facemasks helped manage crisis

A boy rides a scooter on the deserted Dvortsovaya Square in downtown St Petersburg on Wednesday, during the  lockdown in Russia to stop the spread of Covid-19. Photograph: Olga Maltseva/AFP via Getty Images

Virus lockdown lifted on Wuhan but imposed on Suifenhe on Russian frontier

President Vladimir Putin listens during a meeting in the Kremlin, in Moscow, on Monday as the country recorded its biggest daily rise of 954 new cases. Photograph: Mikhail Klimentyev/Sputnik/Kremlin Pool Photo via AP

Attempts to seal off areas from rest of Russia ‘unacceptable’, says prime minister

An old man sits outside a house in a Roma  neighbourhood under curfew in the town of Tandarei, Romania.  Photograph: Daniel Mihailescu/AFP via Getty Images

Rights groups warn millions of Roma face increased risks amid spread of Covid-19

Romanian military personnel set up a mobile hospital in the outskirts of Bucharest, Romania. Romania’s doctors and nurses have started speaking out against shortcomings in the fight against the new coronavirus. Photograph: Getty

Pandemic highlights EU's wealth gap and major westward migration by medics

Russian president Vladimir Putin with chief physician Denis Protsenko during a visit to a hospital treating coronvirus patients on the outskirts of Moscow on March 24th. Photograph: Alexey Druzhinin/Kremlin/Reuters

Kremlin says medical supplies sent to US in ‘solidarity’ but critics argue equipment needed in Russia

Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko in action during an ice hockey competition in Minsk, Belarus. Photograph: Andrei Pokumeiko/EPA

Journalist arrested after criticising Lukashenko’s views on coronavirus ‘psychosis’

Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban: defends Bill awarding him sweeping powers on grounds of need for speedy action against coronavirus crisis. Photograph: Zoltan Mathe

Nationalist leader's critics fear special measures will be extended and misused

Red Square in Moscow: nearly 40 per cent of Covid-19 sufferers now on ventilators in the city’s hospitals are under the age of 40. Photograph: Sergei Ilnitsky

Church patriarch joins officials and tells people to stay at home and ‘not act the fool’

People wearing medical face masks stand in line for testing of the coronavirus disease,  in Moscow, on Friday. Photograph: Maxim Shipenkov/EPA

Most workers told to stay at home for a week as outbreak gathers pace

 Albin Kurti: deputies voted late on Wednesday to remove the cabinet of the leftist prime minister   after less than two months in office. Photograph: Armend Nmani/AFP/Getty

Power struggle and US pressure bring down two-month-old government

Prime minister Oliver Spasovski (C) addresses citizens in Skopje, North Macedonia, on Tuesday. Photograph: Government of the Republic of North Macedonia/EPA

Bloc also boosts Covid-19 help for Balkan states following criticism over its response

Prime minister Viktor Orban: extraordinary powers to fight the coronavirus crisis threaten Hungary’s democracy and rule of law. Photograph: Tamas Kovacs

Bill allows Orban rule by decree and bypass parliament to prolong state of emergency

General view of the damage in the streets following an earthquake in Zagreb, on Sunday. An magnitude 5.3 earthquake has shaken Croatia damaging buildings and cutting off electricity in a number of neighborhoods. Photograph: Antonio Bat/EPA

Girl (15) in critical condition after being rescued from collapsed apartment block

 The prime minister of the Republic of Kosovo Albin Kurti takes part in a march to mark International Women’s Day in Pristina. Photograph: Valdrin Xhemaj/EPA

Six-week-old coalition splits as White House tells Pristina to lift tariffs on Serbia

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