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Torture in Ukraine, Tension in Crimea, Russia on the Rebound, and more


RFE/RL's Weekly Rundown, a concise look at our top stories this week:

# Battleground Ukraine: As Ukrainian forces press ahead with efforts to recapture the country's east, pro-Russian insurgents are waging their own underground war against dissent and torture is their weapon of choice. One Ukrainian journalist who spent nearly three weeks in captivity by pro-Russian militants in the city of Slovyansk in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic tells his story. And, if you were searching for voting irregularities in the May 11 separatist referendums, you didn't have to look far.

# Tension in Crimea: As Crimea's Tatars continue to resist Moscow's annexation of the Ukrainian Black Sea peninsula, the Kremlin is relying on officials from the Republic of Tatarstan to convince them that life in Russia isn't so bad. But, Crimean Tatar leader Mustafa Dzhemilev has been banned from his homeland by the de facto authorities on the peninsula, even as Crimean Tatars prepare to mark the 70th anniversary of their deportation.

# Anti-Semitism As Political Football: Amid the accusations and denunciations about anti-Semitism involving Ukraine and Russia, the U.S.-based Anti Defamation League has released a new poll about attitudes toward Jews in countries around the world, and finds Ukraine is a more anti-Semitic place than Russia.

# Russia's Resurgence: With the nationalistic fervor accompanying the Ukraine crisis, President Vladimir Putin has changed the conversation in Russian politics, but has he changed the fundamentals? Plus, Russian media uses a fake news story about hockey in an attempt to embarrass the United States, and Eurovision winner Conchita Wurst of Austria personifies what Russia hates about Europe -- except for the beard.

# Azerbaijan's Fox In Europe's Human Rights Henhouse: Azerbaijan has repeatedly come under fire for stifling dissent, jailing opponents, and obstructing democracy. So has the Council of Europe, Europe's top human rights body, undermined its credibility by allowing Azerbaijan to take over the rotating chairmanship of its decision-making arm? (INFOGRAPHIC: Profiles of some of the political prisoners currently in jail in Azerbaijan.)

# Iran Comes To EU's Rescue, But Rebuffs Afghanistan: As the EU worries about its energy security with Russia, Iran is offering to become one of its major natural-gas suppliers. The offer seems aimed at giving the West more reasons to lift sanctions over Iran's nuclear program, but how feasible is it? And, despite years of protests in Afghanistan and relentless lobbying by Kabul, the execution of Afghan prisoners in Iran, mostly on drug smuggling charges, is on the rise.

# Afghanistan Readies For Round Two: As the country readies for a runoff election on June 14, Abdullah Abdullah has taken a major step toward the Afghan presidency after securing the backing of former candidate Zalmai Rasul. Meanwhile, locals say recent clashes between extremist rivals associated with the Afghan Taliban and Pakistani militant faction Lashkar-e Islam have forced thousands to leave Naziyan, a mountainous district near Pakistan's border in the eastern Afghan province of Nangarhar.

# INFOGRAPHIC: International Day Against Homophobia: May 17 is International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, and RFE/RL has a map that illustrates the legal protection of gay rights in Europe and the former Soviet Union. In Russia, the St. Petersburg-based organization Vykhod -- translated as Exit, or Coming Out -- say they are coming under pressure -- not because of antipropaganda legislation, but because of a 2013 law that requires NGOs to register as "foreign agents" if they receive funding from abroad.

# UPCOMING: Washington correspondent Luke Johnson will appear on The Bill Press Show at 7 am on Monday, May 19 to discuss Ukraine.

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