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Some of the most compelling photographs from RFE/RL's broadcast region and beyond for the 25th week of 2016.
Some of the most compelling photographs from RFE/RL's broadcast region and beyond for the 24th week of 2016.
Abkhazia is shunned by most of the world, so vacationers from Russia -- one of the few countries that recognizes the breakaway Georgian region's independence claim -- are a boon to its economy and self-image. The number of Russians visiting the lush coastal territory has been rising in recent years.
People around the world have shared messages of sympathy and solidarity in the wake of the mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. In many capital cities, citizens created memorials outside U.S. embassies in honor of the victims. Forty-nine people were killed and more than 50 wounded in the June 12 attack.
A gun attack at a gay nightclub in Orlando on June 12 killed at least 49 people and wounded 53 in the deadliest shooting incident ever in the United States. The suspect, 29-year-old Omar Mateen, was shot dead by police after a three-hour rampage at the nightclub. It was the latest in a long line of mass shootings in recent U.S. history.
Some of the most compelling photographs from RFE/RL's broadcast region and beyond.
Elliot Larson and his wife Marty worked in a medical facility in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, while raising a young family from 1970 to 1974. On many of their outings they took a small Minolta camera, shooting slide film of weekends in the sun and trips to regions where today not even NATO soldiers can safely travel. The couple has kindly shared their pictures with RFE/RL, which are published here for the first time.
Across the former Soviet Union, colorful communist-era mosaics still adorn government buildings, housing blocks, and factory walls. Many celebrate industry and culture with artistic flourishes that belie their staid subjects. Photographer David Trilling found himself drawn to them again and again on his travels around Russia and Central Asia.
Curators are putting the finishing touches on exhibits at a new museum in Dnipropetrovsk devoted to the conflict in eastern Ukraine. The first exhibit to open is an outdoor display called "The Roads of Donbas," where streets signs point the way to the sites of major battles, littered with armored vehicles, ambulances, artillery, and other artifacts of war. The indoor part of the museum will open later this year.
The world in statistics. (Graphics designed by Helena Zabranska)
May 27 marks the 40th birthday of investigative reporter Khadija Ismayilova. Two day's earlier, Azerbaijan's Supreme Court ordered the RFE/RL journalist's release from prison. Ismayilova had been detained since 2014 on charges widely believed to be related to her reports linking the family of President Ilham Aliyev to large-scale corruption.
RFE/RL journalist Khadija Ismayilova walked free from an Azerbaijani prison and vowed to keep on working after the country's Supreme Court reduced her sentence from from 7 1/2 years in custody to a suspended term of 3 1/2 years.
Trains move slowly through the landscape of Georgia, and that's exactly how Vakho Khetaguri likes it. The photographer, who works in stark black and white, recently exhibited his ongoing project on a form of transport that was once considered the height of progress in Georgia -- but is now used mostly by low-income travelers.
Some of the most compelling photographs from RFE/RL's broadcast region and beyond. For more photo galleries, see our Picture This archive.
The Sykes-Picot Agreement was a secret accord between Britain and France, with the assent of Russia, to dismember the Ottoman Empire in the event of its defeat in World War I. It foresaw granting the three participating powers direct territorial control in the Middle East and the establishment of "A" and "B" Zones -- French and British protectorates in much of what is now Syria and Iraq. How do modern-day borders compare with the zones designated by this 1916 agreement?
As images come in of wildfires burning out of control in Siberia, a new study suggests that such fires are changing the ecology of the region permanently.
Andrew Quilty stepped into an entirely new world when he left his native Australia three years ago. The 34-year-old photojournalist says he's gone from taking assignments that merely paid the bills to feeling passionate about everything he points his camera at.
Wielding longswords and halberds, more than 750 fighters from 34 countries have descended upon the Czech Republic to compete in the Battle of the Nations on May 6. The medieval-fighting competition, which takes place over five days in Prague, pits national teams against each other in a number of categories, including women's 3 on 3. Blades are blunted as a precaution, but the fighting is full-contact and brutal -- as one would expect from a medieval battlefield.
At first sight, six-year-old Vera Bondik doesn't seem like an unusual child. She looks just like other children her age. The difference is that she will never make eye contact with you, talk to you, or listen to you. She lives in her own world, which no one else can enter. Vera is autistic.
The world in statistics. (Graphics designed by Helena Zabranska)
It’s one of the most photographed places in Ukraine. Visitors travel from around the world to see the famous tree tunnel running through the small western town of Klevan. As RFE/RL’s Amos Chapple discovered when he explored the site, Ukraine's “Tunnel of Love” can reportedly trace its origins all the way back to the tensions and secrecy of the Cold War.
In Chernobyl a small group of people have chosen to return to live inside the irradiated exclusion zone. RFE/RL's Amos Chapple met one man living a remarkably idyllic existence on Chernobyl's poisoned land.
In central Moscow, the humble trolleybus is arriving at the end of the line. The lumbering electric buses, tethered to overhead cables, are a cheap and quiet way to get around the Russian capital. But now, as part of city renovations, Moscow authorities plan to phase out trolleybuses from many central streets this year. According to reports, 30 kilometers of trolleybus routes are due to be dismantled. A dip into the photo archives reveals the long relationship between Moscow and its "trams without rails."
The shaky cease-fire between Russia-backed separatists and Ukrainian government troops appears to have fallen apart around the small industrial town of Avdiyivka. In recent weeks, battles have erupted around the strategically important crossroads in eastern Ukraine's Donetsk region. European observers have reported the “highest level of cease-fire violations” since September 2015, with deaths reported on both sides. On April 2, photographer Maxim Tucker entered the area and spent a week documenting villages shattered by a conflict that is now entering its third year.
Cosmonautics Day is celebrated on April 12 each year in Russia. It is a holiday dedicated to the first manned space flight, 55 years ago, when Yuri Gagarin orbited the Earth on board the Vostok-1 spaceship.
Thirty years after the world's worst nuclear accident, the area around Chernobyl -- known as the exclusion zone -- remains empty of people, but the forest teems with elk, deer, wolves, and other animals. The diversity of wildlife suggests that radiation, though harmful, has not kept creatures from thriving, and the lack of human activity has allowed the natural habitat to recover.
Spaso-Kamenny was the first stone monastery in Russia's north. Established in 1260 on an island in Lake Kubenskoye, about 500 kilometers north of Moscow, it played an important role in expanding orthodox beliefs. In 1937, the historic Spaso-Preobrazhensky cathedral was blown up by the Soviets. Today, the monastery is considered one of the main pilgrimage centers of the region. In the winter, there are just a few people living there, maintaining and restoring it.
As another winter melts into spring, the masterful Russian photographer Alexander Petrosyan has shared with RFE/RL moments from the long, cold months in St. Petersburg. From the city's delicate golden spires, to its grimy back streets, Petrosyan always manages to present images that are as fresh and bracing as the winters he portrays.
A Turkish charity is training volunteers to cross the border into Syria and erect tents for internally displaced people there. The IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation volunteers are also cooking food which they deliver daily to some 50,000 people on the Syrian side of the border. (RFE/RL's Petr Shelomovskiy)
The annual Sony World Photography Awards, organized by the World Photography Organization, has revealed its short list of entries for 2016. This year's contest attracted 230,103 entries from 186 countries. Images taken by professionals, amateurs, and youth were judged in a variety of categories. The winners are due to be announced on April 21. Here are a few of the finalists.
In the wake of the horrific terrorist attacks in Brussels that killed dozens of people, social networks have been awash with powerful memes and images paying tribute to the victims and expressing support for the traumatized city.
Two explosions at Brussels airport and one on the Belgian capital's metro have caused numerous deaths, with reports saying dozens were killed and scores more injured. The Belgian Prime Minister, Charles Michel, said the attack on the airport was a suicide attack.
As spring begins, so does the Persian New Year. The festival of Norouz, celebrated on March 20 and 21, coincides with the spring equinox. Throughout Central Asia, the Caucasus, and parts of the Middle East, people are planning family celebrations with food and music, and markets are bustling with shoppers preparing for the holiday.
Satellite images capture Syria's destruction.
Iran bought and received 79 F-14 Tomcat fighter planes from the United States in the years before the country's 1979 Islamic Revolution. Some of those jets are still operated by Iran's air force, though the exact number has not been made public. These photos show Iran's last active service F-14s being overhauled at an unspecified location. This year marks the 40th anniversary of their deployment in Iran. (Photos from Iran's FARS news agency)
On March 16, 2014, residents of the Crimean peninsula voted to join Russia in a referendum condemned as illegal by Ukraine and nearly 100 other countries. On March 21, Russia officially annexed the territory. In the two years since, members of the Crimean Tatar minority have been among the most vocal critics of the annexation, and their self-governing body, the Mejlis, has refused to recognize the change of government. Some Crimean Tatars have fled the peninsula, and others who remained in Crimea have cited harassment by the Moscow-backed authorities.
Vorkuta is a brutal place. This Russian city of 70,000 just north of the Arctic Circle is almost completely dependent on coal mining. It was founded in 1932 as one of the most notorious camps of the Stalin-era gulag system. Out of the initial group of 1,500 prisoners who were sent to the barren wasteland, only 54 survived the ordeal. Nowadays, sons continue to follow their fathers into the mines and the city is still no stranger to tragedy. In late February, a series of methane explosions at the Severnaya coal mine left 36 people dead.
The coal mines of Vorkuta, just north of the Arctic Circle, were once vital to Soviet industry. But after the collapse of U.S.S.R., the mines were privatized and some were shut down. Today, the city is surrounded by former mining centers that have become ghost towns, or are sparsely inhabited. The coal mine in Vorkuta's Sovetskiy district was closed in 1996, but some 150 families still live nearby, half an hour by bus from the rest of the city, with no grocery store or pharmacy in their community. The mining town of Yurshor and the settlement of Rudnik, once part of the gulag camp system, have both been abandoned altogether. (Text by Sergei Khazov-Cassia, photos by Petr Shelomovskiy, RFE/RL)
RFE/RL correspondents across the region shared photos taken on International Women's Day, observed on March 8. They show the diversity of women in their communities as they carry out jobs ranging from military service to copying the Koran or herding cattle -- or as they simply relax and play football.
Depshaar, which translates as "Town of Giants," is a tiny Kyrgyz village in the Jerge-Tal district of Tajikistan. The place has never really enjoyed the potential benefits from its proximity to Ismoil Somoni, the summit of the Pamir Mountains, which was known during the Soviet era as "The Peak of Communism." The village was depopulated by Stalinist deportations, and it now faces an exodus of residents to neighboring Kyrgyzstan. (Photos by Janyl Jusupjan)
Some of the most compelling photographs from RFE/RL's broadcast region and beyond for the ninth week of 2016.
This June, the old streets of Azerbaijan's capital will echo with the roar of Formula One racing cars. But preparations for the 2016 Baku European Grand Prix have included paving over quaint cobblestone streets with asphalt -- a move which the authorities say is "temporary."
Anna Krikun spent a decade in a Soviet labor camp in Vorkuta, the city in the Russian Arctic where 36 workers died in coal-mine disaster last month. Krikun survived dictator Josef Stalin’s Great Terror, World War II, the gulag, and more than 18 years in Vorkuta's coal mines.
Mourners attended the funerals on March 4 of five rescue workers and one miner killed in an explosion at the Severnaya coal mine in the Arctic city of Vorkuta. The rescue team had been conducting search operations on February 28 after two earlier explosions ripped through the mine, killing 30 people. The blasts were apparently caused by a sudden spike in methane gas. (Photos by RFE/RL's Petr Shelomovskiy)
Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev turned 85 on March 2, 2016. His years in office brought the end of the Cold War, while at home his twin policies of perestroika (restructuring) and glasnost (openness) changed the Soviet Union -- and ended with its demise.
Some Pakistani parents send their daughters to train in boxing -- an exotic hobby in this conservative country -- because it is not safe on the streets. About a dozen girls, aged 8 to 17, have gone to the Pak Shaheen Boxing Club after school to practice their jabs, hooks and upper cuts. Pakistani women have been training as boxers in small numbers and competed in the South Asian Games last year, according to Younis Qambrani, the coach who founded the club in 1992 in the Karachi neighbourhood of Lyari, a place better known for internecine gang warfare than for breaking glass ceilings.
This photo documentary was started in 2013 by Onnik James Krikorian. It grew out of another project documenting the problems of children deprived of parental care and sent to institutions in Armenia and Georgia during the years between 2000 and 2010. Georgia has initiated reforms of its child protection system, but many children still can be found living or working on the streets.
The Turkish town of Kilis is so close to Syria, you can hear the sounds of the fighting rumbling from across the border. In the suburbs of this small city, photographer Petr Shelomovskiy gained exclusive access to a secretive rehabilitation “hospital.” Free Syrian Army fighters recover there after emergency treatment. The men inside, who asked to have their identities hidden, spoke to Shelomovskiy about the Syrian government bullets and Russian bombs that changed their lives. [WARNING, GRAPHIC CONTENT]
The top prize this year went to Australian photographer Warren Richardson. Richardson’s winning image, which was never published, depicts a migrant passing a baby underneath a razor-wire fence on the Hungary/Serbia border.
Azerbaijan’s capital city has had a dramatic few years. When the oil money rolled in, the skyscrapers went up. But today the country is reeling from crashing oil prices, and Baku has even resorted to switching off its streetlights to save money. The capital is a now a complex patchwork of glittering new developments, poor neighborhoods, and residents who carry on regardless of Baku's changing fortunes. RFE/RL photographer Petr Shelomovskiy explored the promenades and backstreets of a city in flux.
One year ago, Russia-backed separatists won control of the city of Debaltseve from Ukrainian government troops. The fighting left the city in ruins. Many residents fled, and those who remained have often struggled to survive without heat, running water, or reliable access to food. In the past year, some residents have reconstructed their homes and workplaces, but the work has only just begun. (RFE/RL photographer Petr Shelomovskiy)
A 5-month-old baby boy, named Umarali, died while being held with his parents in Russian custody last October in St. Petersburg, where they were accused of violating migration rules. Zarina Yunusova says that she was hastily deported in order to prevent a thorough investigation of Umarali's death. His father, Rustam Nazarov, has remained in Russia, awaiting results of an investigation. Russian officials initially said the child died in the hospital after suffering respiratory problems. The parents have challenged this, insisting the boy was healthy. RFE/RL photographer Petr Shelomovskiy visited Yunusova after her return to her hometown of Obigarm, Tajikistan.
One year after the signing of the Minsk peace agreement on February 12, intended to put an end to fighting in eastern Ukraine, residents of Donetsk and the surrounding areas have grown accustomed to shortages, checkpoints, and sporadic clashes. (RFE/RL photographer Petr Shelomovskiy)
For the great Russian photographer Sergey Maximishin, choosing 100 of his best images for a book was too challenging a task to take on himself. In order to create an objective collection of his finest work, the 51-year-old enlisted the help of three trusted colleagues. The results are now on display in Prague’s Zahradnik Gallery. From a brooding Vladimir Putin to the flash of a ferryman’s gold teeth, Maximishin's photographs are at once journalism and art.
While Western Europe and the United States have tightened laws on drones, countries of the former communist bloc have been slower to close their skies to unmanned aerial vehicles. Over the past two years, RFE/RL photographer Amos Chapple has made the most of the free airspace to capture a series of unique photographs of monuments dating back to the Soviet past and beyond.
Some of the most compelling photographs from RFE/RL's broadcast region and beyond for the fourth week of 2016.
The Azerbaijani village of Novkhany near Baku is located right beside an oil field. RFE/RL photo reporter Petr Shelomovskiy went there to document the daily lives of local farmers and other inhabitants.
Georgia's capital, Tbilisi, is known in the South Caucasus region for its relative ethnic and cultural diversity. That has also led to the emergence of a small punk community, and an even smaller goth scene with its macabre style and music. This photo story is part of ongoing work by British journalist and photographer Onnik James Krikorian on youth and subcultures in Georgia for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. For more photos by Krikorian, visit his website http://www.onnik-krikorian.com.
Protests in Azerbaijan have been met with a heavy security response. In a nation that depends on oil to keep the economic wheels turning, the continued slump in crude prices, along with the recent drop in value of the national currency, is putting enormous pressure on ordinary people.
In recent years President Ilham Aliyev has spent billions on glittering vanity projects, especially in the capital, Baku. But with a government known for corruption and brutality, many Azeris are unimpressed with state spending on the capital’s skyline and the “caviar diplomacy” that has earned the country several recent sporting and cultural events. As the protests continue to simmer, there’s concern that a perfect storm of discontent may be brewing.
Through the summer days of the Soviet era, Vladimir Prokopyev was a busy man. On a pristine island in Lake Baikal, the airport manager watched over the arrival of three or sometimes four flights every day.
Then it all stopped. While Vladimir carried on with his tasks, the U.S.S.R. collapsed. In the hard new realities of the free market, support for the air service disappeared and the planes stopped coming.
But Vladimir, now 86, is a man of duty. He had an airport to maintain and, for the past 20 years, ever hopeful that scheduled flights would return, that’s exactly what he’s done. (Photos by RFE/RL's Petr Shelomovskiy)
The massacre of the Avetisian family one year ago shocked the Caucasus nation of Armenia. The killings left seven dead, spanning three generations, with the youngest victim just 6 months old. News that the lone suspect was a soldier stationed at Russia's 102nd Military Base, located in the northwestern city of Gyumri, left locals outraged. But despite this being only the latest in a string of violent incidents related to the base, many feel that without the presence of Russian military the very existence of Armenia would be threatened. Photos and text by RFE/RL's Amos Chapple
Some of the most compelling photographs from RFE/RL's broadcast region and beyond
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