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RFE/RL's Friday Potpourri: Traveling with the Berkut in Ukraine, Caught in the Crossfire in Iraq, Tracking Radicalized Central Asians in Syria, and much more


Screengrab - Iraq Service video from attack in Kirkuk

Screengrab - Iraq Service video from attack in Kirkuk

A roundup of original stories from throughout RFE/RL's Services:

# The Berkut are Ukraine’s most feared special forces unit and are being vilified by tens of thousands of protesters in the capital, Kyiv. Correspondent Tom Balmforth happened to share a train cabin with two veterans of the feared police unit and talked politics with them over vodka, cognac, salo, and quail eggs. (For more on RFE/RL's outstanding Ukrainian Service coverage on the EuroMaidan protests, click here.)

# WATCH: Radio Free Iraq Correspondent Nihad Al-Bayati films while caught in the crossfire in northern Iraq as gunmen attack the headquarters of a police intelligence unit in Kirkuk.

# Syria has become a magnet for foreign jihadists seeking to wage holy war. Correspondents Ron Synovitz and Elenora Bishenbek take a closer look at how an increasing number of Central Asians are being radicalized and recruited to fight there.

# Twenty-five years after Armenia was struck by a massive earthquake, Armenian Service Chief Harry Tamrazian traveled to the town of Gyumri and found many residents struggling with poverty, poor housing, and a lack of hope for a better future.

# Correspondents Sofia Kornienko and Claire Bigg profile "Putin's Games," a new documentary about the Sochi Olympics that offers a rare glimpse into the pervasive corruption, rights abuses, and environmental damage that critics say has pervaded the Black Sea resort ahead of the 2014 games.

# Hundreds of NATO trucks carrying crucial supplies to Afghanistan remain stranded in Pakistan, where protesters have blocked their passage in protest of U.S. drone strikes. The blockade could help explain the alleged disruption in fuel supplies voiced by Afghan officials. Correspondent Frud Bezhan reports.

# There's been some rough jockeying between Azerbaijan and Iran over the ancient sport of chovqan, also known as chogan. Website Managing Editor Andy Heil reports.

# IN PICTURES: Using cutting-edge panoramic photography, a Czech website offering a virtual tour of Gulag camps aims to provide visitors with a realistic idea of living conditions in the Siberian Gulag where millions of Soviet citizens and people from many other countries perished. Web Editor Coilin O'Connor reports.

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-- Karisue Wyson
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