Putin marks low-key birthday as Ukraine pressures mount

A Ukrainian human rights group and a jailed campaigner against abuses by the pro-Russian government in Belarus also shared the award.
Russian President Vladimir Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin Reuters

KYIV: Russian President Vladimir Putin marked his 70th birthday with little fanfare and a decree targeting a crucial Western energy investment, as signs grew that key parts of his Ukraine invasion were unravelling to trigger unprecedented criticism at home.

News programmes made only glancing references to Friday's event and celebrations were low-key - in contrast to just a week ago, when Putin held a huge concert on Red Square to proclaim the annexation of nearly a fifth of Ukrainian land.On the world stage, in a clear repudiation of Putin's record, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Russia's most prominent human rights group, Memorial, which Moscow shut down at the end of 2021.

A Ukrainian human rights group and a jailed campaigner against abuses by the pro-Russian government in Belarus also shared the award.

Ukrainian authorities found a mass grave in the eastern town of Lyman, recently retaken from Russian forces, regional governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said in an online post. News agency Ukrinform cited a police official saying it held 180 bodies.

Reuters could not independently confirm the account.

In his latest salvo at Western businesses, Putin signed a decree creating a new operator for Exxon Mobil Corp's (XOM.N) largest investment in Russia, the Sakhalin-1 oil and gas project.

Partners include Rosneft (ROSN.MM), India's ONGC Videsh (ONVI.NS) and Japan's SODECO.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine, launched on Feb. 24, has killed thousands, displaced millions, pulverised cities and damaged the global economy.

Russian President Vladimir Putin
Multiple explosions rock eastern Ukraine city of Kharkiv

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