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An Afghan family during sunset in Herat. (AFP/Aref Karimi)
The lives of Russia's migrant workers have never been easy. But the year 2013 brought even greater challenges, with rising nationalism and a shaky economy making migrants the target of increased hostility and violence. The summer witnessed massive nationwide raids in which thousands of Central Asians, Caucasians, and other labor migrants were detained and sometimes deported. Migrants say their status leaves them vulnerable to extortion and abuse. Many Russians, meanwhile, have called for Moscow to impose a visa regime for visiting workers from the post-Soviet region. (20 PHOTOS)
Hundreds of Baku residents have staged a protest rally over the rising costs of fuel and food products.
Between 150,000 and 200,000 opposition supporters have gathered in Kyiv's Independence Square to increase the pressure on President Viktor Yanukovych over his rejection of the deal with the European Union in favor of closer ties to Russia. Progovernment supporters have also staged a rival rally nearby.
Some of the most compelling photographs from RFE/RL's broadcast region and beyond. For more photo galleries, see our "Picture This" archive.
Кухня Євромайдану вночі
The Dordoy Bazaar near Bishkek is said to be the largest public market place in Central Asia. Stretching for more than a kilometer on the north-eastern outskirts of the Kyrgyz capital, it serves as one of the main entrepots via which Chinese consumers goods reach retailers in Kyrgzystan, Russia, and Uzbekistan. An estimated 20,000 people make their living at the market, with many using shipping containers as outlets for storing and selling their wares. Russian travel photographer Alexander Belenkiy has visited the market, where you can buy literally everything -- from clothes and household appliances to sheeps' heads and vans.
Russian travel photographer Ivan Dementievskiy documents various aspects of life in remoter regions of the Caucasus, including this fascinating pictorial portrait of a traditional wedding feast in the mountainous village of Balkhar.
World leaders gathered in Johannesburg on December 10 for an open-air memorial service for antiapartheid leader Nelson Mandela, South Africa's first black president. The memorial ceremony brought together the heads of some 70 countries and thousands of South African mourners. Mandela, who died on December 5 at the age of 95, will be buried in a state funeral in his hometown on December 15. (12 PHOTOS)
Skirmishes with police have not budged thousands of protesters from downtown Kyiv -- and harsh winter weather has also failed to dislodge them.
Supporters of EU integration are continuing their protests in Ukraine's capital, Kyiv, with thousands of demonstrators rallying against President Viktor Yanukovych's government. Despite the snow and sub-zero temperatures, the protests show no sign of abating.
Weeks into antigovernment demonstrations sparked by Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych's decision to scrap plans to pursue closer ties with the European Union, hundreds of thousands of protesters gathered in Kyiv's Independence Square on December 8 to demand his resignation and fresh elections. (11 PHOTOS)
Twenty-five years ago, a devastating earthquake struck the northern part of the then-Soviet Republic of Armenia, killing tens of thousands of people.
For almost three decades, Nelson Mandela was one of the world's most famous prisoners of conscience. His long incarceration on South Africa's Robben Island on charges of sabotage ensured that he became one of the most potent symbols of the antiapartheid movement. After he was released in 1990, he went on to become South Africa's first president elected in a fully representative multiracial election. He served as president from 1994 to 1999, focusing mainly on dismantling apartheid's legacy. Such was his standing at home and abroad that he received over 250 awards and accolades in his lifetime, including the Nobel Peace Prize, the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the Soviet Order of Lenin. He died on December 5, 2013, at the age of 95.
The Macedonian capital is in the midst of an urban renewal project: Skopje 2014, which is designed to give the city a face-lift and help promote a distinctive national brand. The project involves the construction of new government buildings, museums, and monuments depicting historical figures, including Alexander the Great. Slated for completion next year, Skopje 2014 has drawn criticism at home, both for a soaring budget and for designs that some call historical kitsch.
Supporters of EU integration have continued their protests in Ukraine's capital, Kyiv, with thousands of demonstrators rallying against President Viktor Yanukovych's government. The rally has grown after police brutally broke up a demonstration on November 30.
Serbia has become a magnet for asylum seekers from Africa and the Middle East, but the country's two refugee camps are now fully occupied and closed off to new arrivals. With nowhere to go, many of the asylum seekers have been pushed out into the forest to live in tents and makeshift shelters -- but without basic amenities like heat and power. As winter arrives in Europe, RFE/RL correspondent Vesna Andjic visited one of the forest camps near the village of Bogovadja, 70 kilometers from Belgrade. (Text by Reuters)
December 2, 2013 marks the 90th anniversary of the birth of the American-born Greek opera singer, Maria Callas. Born Anna Maria Sofia Cecilia Kalogeropoulos, she is considered the one of the most influential opera singers of the 20th century, as well as a renowned fashion icon. (14 PHOTOS)
On October 20, animal-rights activists rallied in cities across Russia, with the largest being a march and performance in St. Petersburg. Participants gathered to protest against the slaughter of animals for the production of fur used in the clothing industry, according to organizers. The protests are one sign of Russia's growing animal-rights movement. (11 PHOTOS)
The Revolution of Roses (or Rose Revolution) was a change of power in Georgia in November 2003, which took place after widespread protests over disputed parliamentary elections.
Alexander Wienerberger was recruited into the army of the Austro-Hungarian Empire during World War I. In 1915, he was taken prisoner in Russia and ended up staying in the U.S.S.R. until 1934. Later, he worked as a chemical engineer specializing in explosives, and he established chemical factories in the Soviet Union. In 1933, he was assigned as technical director of a synthetic factory in Kharkiv and became witness to the man-made famine orchestrated by the Soviet government, the Holodomor. His photographs -- made with a Leica camera -- are some of about 100 images verified to be authentic portrayals of those harrowing events. The captions are based on the photographer's own notes.
For space enthusiasts, November 20, 1998, stands out as a special date. It was on this day the first component of the International Space Station (ISS), the "Zarya" cargo module, was launched into orbit by a Russian Proton rocket.
Photographer Adrees Latif followed in the footsteps of U.S. President John F. Kennedy and recreated many memorable pictures from his life and career, including several poignant images from the day of his assassination in Dallas on November 22, 1963. Latif reshot these photographs from exactly the same spot where the dramatic pictures were originally taken to produce a series of combination "then and now" images. Fifty years on tourists still come to look at the sites where the assassination and key events such as the shooting of Lee Harvey Oswald took place. The city of Dallas will hold commemoration ceremonies on November 22, 2013, marking the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy's assassination.
November 22, 2013, will mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy in Dallas at the age of 46. These are some of the iconic moments in Kennedy's life, including photographs of his parents and siblings, scenes from the hotly contested U.S. presidential campaign in 1960, the high points of Kennedy's presidency, the assassination in Dallas, and his funeral in Washington.
On November 22, 1963, U.S. President John Fitzgerald Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas. The day began with rain, but sunshine broke through as the president and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy were greeted by enthusiastic crowds, first in Fort Worth, Texas and then in nearby Dallas. These are the images from a day that began with hope and good cheer, but turned into the greatest of tragedies.
Azerbaijani photographer Mirnaib Hasanoglu shot this photo essay in 2002 during a master class in Baku with Josef Koudelka, a Czech member of the Magnum photo agency. Hasanoglu explains: "Josef advised me to create a photo story about the trams of Baku. I worked on it for a week. Unfortunately -- or one could say luckily, from a news perspective -- just two days after the master class ended, all tram service stopped in Baku. The Baku trams, which survived two oil booms in Azerbaijan, could not survive a third. So this environmentally friendly transportation was put on the shelf of history. That's why I called this photo story 'The Last Tram.'"
Kazakhstan's currency -- the tenge -- was introduced 20 years ago, replacing the Soviet ruble. The bold, innovative design of tenge banknotes has earned a handful of international awards.
Shi'ite Muslims in the Iranian town of Noosh Abad took part in a Ta'zieh, a public performance during the observance of Ashura. Ashura, which took place on November 13 and 14, is a time for mourning the death of Imam Hussein, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, who was killed by armies of the Caliph Yazid near Karbala in the year 680.
The Shomansur, or Green, Market in the Tajik capital is known for its fresh fruit and vegetables, dried fruit, baked goods, and household items ranging from needles to satellite dishes.
In onetime Olympic city, Sarajevo, the infrastructure built for the 1984 Winter Games is slowly turning to rubble. Bosnia-Herzegovina's war of the early 1990s, followed by years of neglect, left its 1984 Olympic sites decaying and forgotten.
On the shores of the Black Sea, on Ukraine's Crimea peninsula, lies a shallow saltwater lagoon named Sasyk-Sivash Lake. For centuries, traders have collected and sold the pink-tinted salt that the lake produces.
On November 9 and 10, 1938, Nazi officials instigated riots that resulted in the burning of more than 200 synagogues, the desecration of Jewish cemeteries, countless beatings, and the shattering the windows of some 7,500 Jewish shops in Germany and Austria. The broken glass in the streets prompted the name "Kristallnacht," or Crystal Night. The event was widely covered in the international press and the Nazi-coordinated attacks on Jews sent shockwaves around the world. (8 PHOTOS)
In 1993, The Old Bridge in Mostar, built in 1566 during the Ottoman Empire, was destroyed by shells fired by Croatian gunners amid fierce fighting with Bosnian Muslims. In 2004, nine years after the end of the conflict, a new bridge built largely from the original stones was unveiled in Mostar.
German tax investigators have discovered a huge and previously unknown collection of art masterpieces, some of which was branded "degenerate" and seized by the Nazis. The 1,400 framed and unframed pieces include works by Pablo Picasso, Marc Chagall, Henri Matisse, and Pierre-Auguste Renoir. The hoard was reportedly found in the apartment of Cornelius Gurlitt, the son of a Nazi-era art dealer. Authorities are trying to determine which of the paintings, prints, and etchings may have been stolen by the Nazis and to whom they may rightfully belong.
Georgia's glass-domed presidential palace has been offered to a university and will no longer house the presidential administration.
A rare look inside the historic site, which now houses a museum that is only occasionally open to the public.
In 1978, fearing the new communist regime in Afghanistan, many Pamir Kyrgyz took refuge in Pakistan and later in eastern Turkey.
As Kosovo held local elections on November 3, just about all eyes were on turnout figures. Ethnic Serbs were being encouraged to vote for the first time since Pristina declared its independence from Serbia in 2008, although some hard-line Serbian groups were still urging a boycott.
In Moldova, the poorest country in Europe, almost 80 percent of the population lives below the poverty line. But the capital, Chisinau, is far wealthier than the rest of the country, and is gradually modernizing.
Monique Macias is the daughter of Francisco Macias Nguema, the first president of Equatorial Guinea from 1968 until his overthrow and execution in 1979. She spent 15 years growing up in exile in North Korea after a deal her father struck with friendly Pyongyang officials shortly before his death to take and raise his children. Monique and her siblings spent their school days firing Kalashnikov rifles at the same elite military academy where future North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il studied. Macias -- who left North Korea in 1994 and spends most of her time with relatives in Spain -- has now published her memoirs to tell the story of her bizarre childhood among North Korea's elite. (10 PHOTOS)
Between 600,000 and 1.5 million people fell victim to Soviet leader Josef Stalin's repression in Belarus, according to various estimates. Some survivors of Stalin's repression and their relatives tell their stories.
On his long journey home from fighting in Russia's Far East in the early 20th century, Czech legionnaire Vaclav Balcar captured more than 500 negative images on glass plates.
Outgoing Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili is viewed by many as a divisive leader who has made both important accomplishments for his country and presided over negative developments, including a humiliating war with Russia. Here is a retrospective gallery of Saakashvili from 2003 to 2013. (20 PHOTOS)
It's been 10 years since the detention of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, once Russia's richest man, on tax evasion and fraud charges. His incarceration is seen by many in Russia as retribution for Khodorkovsky's political challenges to the Kremlin.
Afghan electoral authorities have announced a final list of 11 candidates to appear on the ballot for the country's April 5 presidential election. Here's a look at them.
From Alla Pugacheva to Filipp Kirkorov and Vitas, a look at the chest-heaving, soul-baring, costume-wearing magic of Russian "popsa."
Czech voters will elect a new parliament on October 25-26. The previous parliament was dissolved in August following weeks of turmoil and the collapse of Prime Minister Petr Necas's government amid a bribery scandal. The election is likely to give the Communist Party its best result since the Velvet Revolution nearly 25 years ago. Opinion polls show the Social Democratic Party in first and the Czech Communist Party (KSCM) in second. The center-right parties ANO and TOP09 are running third and fourth. (12 PHOTOS)
St. Petersburg is hosting an exhibition of paintings by Hollywood icon Sylvester Stallone. Titled "Sylvester Stallone, 35 Years of Paintings," the exhibition will showcase more than 30 pieces by the U.S. action-film star.
Ilham Aliyev has been sworn in for his third term as Azerbaijan's president. The inauguration ceremony took place on October 19 at the country's parliament. Aliyev has held power since 2003, when he succeeded his father, longtime ruler Heydar Aliyev.
Bosnia-Herzegovina has been celebrating the country's first ever qualification for the soccer World Cup finals since declaring independence in 1992. Vedad Ibisevic's second-half winner in a tense game against Lithuania sealed top spot for the country in Group G on October 15, sparking jubilant scenes in Sarajevo and other cities as rejoicing fans took to the streets with flares and fireworks.
Fotosergide Gökdepe we Baharly etraplaryndaky pagta meýdanlaryndan alnan suratlar ýerleşdirildi.
With less than four months to go before the start of the 2014 Winter Olympics in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, the city is struggling to complete its multi-billion-dollar makeover into a winter sports hub, with massive construction projects still under way. At the same time, organizations in Russia and abroad are raising concerns about the treatment of migrant workers at the Olympic sites, while others are calling for a boycott of the games in response to Russia's repressive antigay legislation. Here is a look at a city in the midst of a transformation.
Speculation is rife a monument to Feliks Dzerzhinsky, the founder of the feared Cheka secret police, may soon return to central Moscow. City authorities are pushing ahead with plans to repair a statue of Dzerzhinsky that was pulled down by pro-democracy protesters in 1991. Previous attempts to restore the statue to its place on Moscow's Lubyanka Square have been resisted by the public.
Together with colleague Benjamin Reece and with the support of international charity organization CARE, photographer Robert Fogarty traveled to Jordan to deliver the messages of Syrian refugees to the world.
A manufacturing plant that turns discarded bottles and other plastics into artificial fibers has opened in Kabul. The Paktika Shaheen factory is Afghanistan's first producer of synthetic fibers, which can be used to make carpets and clothing. Set up with some $2 million in investments from the United States, the factory is expected to employ at least 300 workers, a number which could eventually double.
"Man and Power in Russia in the 19th-20th Centuries" is a large-scale exhibition at the State Museum of Russian Political History in St. Petersburg that took more than a decade to prepare.
RFE/RL picks the best photographs that illustrate what is going on in our broadcast region and the rest of the world this week.
A bomb on a motorcycle set off an explosion that killed at least five people in the southwestern city of Quetta on October 10. Police said some 35 others were injured in the blast, which occurred near a police station on a bustling shopping street in the capital of the restive province of Balochistan. The United Baloch Army has claimed responsibility for the blast. The group has claimed responsibility for numerous such attacks on security forces in and around Quetta.
October 10 marks the 50th death anniversary of French singer Edith Piaf. Nicknamed the "Little Sparrow," she was the country's biggest international star and the first to make it in the United States, her melancholy songs becoming famous in post-World War II years. Piaf's cabaret songs about carrying on in the face of adversity -- such as "Non, Je ne Regrette Rien" (I Regret Nothing) and "La Vie en Rose" (Life Through Rose-Tinted Glasses) -- reflected the difficulties in her own life, which was marked by tragic loss and struggles with addiction. Her lyrics were believable and her life story gave her a tragic charisma that transformed her into someone her audiences could identify with. Piaf's towering stature in French pop music has not diminished since her death in 1963 at the age of 47; her grave at Pere Lachaise remains one of the cemetery's most visited, her songs continue to be covered by new artists, and her life story and music remain a source of inspiration for theater and film. (16 PHOTOS)
Voting is under way in Azerbaijan's presidential election, in which President Ilham Aliyev is expected to easily win a third five-year term in office. Opinion polls ahead of vote showed Aliyev far ahead in a field of 10 candidates. A coalition of opposition parties has united for the first time behind a single candidate, Camil Hasanli, a 61-year-old historian.
October 10, 2013, is the 200th anniversary of the birth of Giuseppe Fortunino Francesco Verdi, one of the most influential composers of the 19th century. His works -- including "Rigoletto," "Il Trovatore," "La Traviata," and "Aida" -- are among the most celebrated operas of all time. In his native Italy, his operas were adopted by the public as part of the nationalist movement for unification and liberation from Austria. (14 PHOTOS)
Protesters demanding the nationalization of Kyrgyzstan's largest gold mine, Kumtor, have barricaded a highway in Issyk-Kul Province in the country's north. The protesters briefly dismantled the roadblock on October 8, but later used burning tires to block transport a second time. Local officials have been holding talks with protest leaders. RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service
The annual Moldova National Wine Day and wine festival took place on October 5 and 6 in the capital, Chisinau. The festival celebrates the fall harvest and recognizes the country's long history of winemaking, which dates back some 500 years. The event is one of the highlights of the cultural calendar and brings winemakers to town from around the country. In addition to drinking, of course, the festival offers plenty of opportunities for dancing and enjoying the country's rich folk traditions.
In Azerbaijan, where voters head to the polls for a presidential election on October 9, there's been a distinct difference in the campaign styles of incumbent Ilham Aliyev and the sole opposition candidate Camil Hasanli.
In Persia for more than 2,500 years, most of the 80,000-100,000 Jews living in Iran before the 1979 Islamic Revolution have left, with only some 8,750-20,000 remaining. Scattered across the country, the biggest Iranian-Jewish communities are in Tehran, Isfahan, and the southern city of Shiraz.
In Turkmenabat, Turkmenistan's second largest city, preparations are underway for the country's Independence Day celebrations. Employees of state institutions and students of public schools and universities took part in a rehearsal held in the city's Labor Stadium on September 28. Similar rehearsals are being held daily in cities throughout Turkmenistan and the exercises will continue until October 27, when representatives and high-ranking officials from all provinces will join President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov in the capital city, Ashgabat, to celebrate the anniversary of Turkmenistan's declaration of independence in 1991.
Early 20-century Russian photographer Sergei Prokhudkin-Gorskii pioneered a stunning method of color photography. Then-and-now photos from the Urals town of Zlatoust make for an amazing journey through the years.
More than 1,200 homes in Russia's Far Eastern city of Komsomolsk are underwater and some 13,500 people are living in a disaster area. RFERL Tatar-Bashkir Service correspondent Ita Tajieva reported from Komsomolsk and took these photos.
Twenty years ago, Russia faced a constitutional crisis that marked a key turning point in Russia's post-Soviet development. Hundreds of people were killed or injured when the showdown between President Boris Yeltsin and the Russian legislature escalated into skirmishes in the Russian capital and the occupation and subsequent storming of the parliament building. (16 PHOTOS)
"Mayak," which means “lighthouse” in Russian, is a gay nightclub located in the southern Russian city of Sochi. The Black Sea resort town was a gay hub during the Soviet era due to its remote location and reputation of being very multinational. The club’s owner, Andrei Tenichev, opened "Mayak" eight years ago after working at a gay bar in Moscow. He says Sochi provides a better climate for this type of business compared to Moscow and expects cooperation with the local government during the Winter Olympics in February. A Russian law banning "homosexual propaganda" has threatened to overshadow the games as it continues to provoke an international outcry. (8 PHOTOS)
Powerful twin explosions hit the busy Kissa Khwani market in the Pakistani city of Peshawar on September 29. The blasts left more than 30 people dead and dozens more injured. It's the third deadly attack to hit the restive northwestern city in the past week. (8 PHOTOS)
The Podgorica Aluminum Plant (KAP), once an industrial giant in Montenegro, now resembles a ghost town, its workforce cut to one-fifth of its former strength.
Lech Walesa, the driving force behind the Solidarity labor movement, is credited with sparking the domino-like collapse of Communist governments across Eastern Europe. The Nobel Peace Prize laureate turned 70 on September 29.
In the early hours of September 30, 1938, the leaders of Britain, France, Germany, and Italy signed an agreement in Munich, Germany, allowing Nazi German leader Adolf Hitler to annex German-speaking areas of Czechoslovakia.
A 7.7-magnitude quake hit the Awaran district and the nearby area of Khuzdar in Pakistan on the afternoon of September 24, destroying scores of dwellings and knocking out communications networks. Pakistan's military is rushing to provide aid after more than 230 people were killed and hundreds of others injured. The quake shook Pakistan’s largest city, Karachi, located about 250 kilometers from the epicenter, and was also felt as far away as the Indian capital, New Delhi, some 1,200 kilometers away. Officials said they are investigating claims from witnesses that the powerful quake pushed up enough earth to form a small island near the port of Gwadar in the Arabian Sea.
Floods caused by heavy rain have prompted Russian authorities to declare a state of emergency in the city of Sochi, which will host the 2014 Winter Olympics in less than five months.
Fort Irwin's training center includes two mock villages that are meant to simulate Afghan and Iraqi urban environments to recreate real-life war scenarios.
Fresh gunfire and explosions were heard on September 23 at a shopping mall in Kenya's capital, Nairobi, where militants are holding an unknown number of hostages. At least 69 people have been killed and more than 170 have been injured in fighting between militants and security forces since September 21, when masked gunmen stormed the Westgate mall. The Somali al-Shabab movement has said it is behind the attack.
Dozens have been killed and injured in a suicide bombing near a Christian church in Peshawar's Kohati Gate district. The incident occurred when local Christians were leaving the All Saints Church after Sunday Service on September 22. Resembling a mosque with Persian script on its walls, the church was built in 1883. In 2001, RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal correspondent Majeed Babar documented Christian services and rituals at All Saints' Church.
Russia's Federal Migration Service estimates that as many as 3 million labor migrants are working or seeking work illegally in Russia. The huge number of migrants has fueled a nationalistic backlash, often directed against migrants from Central Asia, and prompted authorities to step up efforts to catch and deport suspected illegal workers. In the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk, dozens of detained migrants from Central Asia are waiting in limbo at a local police station before being sent back to their home countries. (9 PHOTOS)
As these posters illustrate, Moscow put quite a lot of effort into preaching the Soviet gospel to non-Russian citizens in its eastern regions and the Caucasus during the early years of the U.S.S.R.
A coal mine in a remote area of Afghanistan's Samangan Province caved in after a gas explosion on September 14, killing at least 28 miners. The accident has reinforced concerns about the dangerous working conditions in state-run mines across the country. (11 PHOTOS)
"Europe's best side" -- that's what the Institute of World Politics in Ukraine called its latest campaign on Ukraine's European integration. It implies that Ukraine has always been part of Europe but that there is a better side of Europe: the European Union. And the closer Ukraine is to the EU, the more opportunities it will have to develop, the campaign proclaims. The institute came up with a booklet of cartoons that depict two realities -- the Ukrainian and the European reality. The cartoonists aimed to demonstrate why Ukraine is still not the "best side" of Europe. They want Ukrainians to stop blaming others for their country's failures, to change their mindsets, and to learn about the best things the EU has to offer. (By Maryna Turovska, Kostyantyn Kazanchev, Ihor Bezhuk, and Oleksiy Kustovsky)
At least nine oil tankers carrying fuel for NATO forces stationed in Afghanistan have been destroyed in a fire in southwestern Pakistan. The blaze started on September 15 near the town of Hub in Balochistan Province, bordering Afghanistan and Iran. The cause of the fire has not been confirmed, but local media said that that militants had attacked the convoy.
The 55th Venice Biennale is under way, bringing together international artists working in diverse media for one of the art world's biggest events. The title of this year's exhibition is "The Encyclopedic Palace," a reference to a 1955 work by Italian-American artist Marino Auriti, who created a model of an enormous museum that would theoretically house all human knowledge.
Some of the most compelling photographs from RFE/RL's broadcast region and beyond.
For more than a week the Romanian capital, Bucharest, and other large cities have seen mass protests against a proposed gold-mining project in the Transylvanian village of Rosia Montana. The historical and cultural impact aside, what shocks and angers many are plans by the company to use thousands of tons of toxic cyanide in the extraction process.
The first Asian championship in kokpar, or buzkashi, was held in the Kazakh capital. Teams from Afghanistan, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkey, and Uzbekistan competed for the headless goat carcass.
Artisans from all over Moldova have been taking part in the National Pottery Fair in the Nisporeni region.
In Afghanistan, the national soccer team received an ecstatic welcome home on September 12 after defeating India 2-0 in the South Asian Football Federation championship. President Hamid Karzai congratulated the team at Kabul's airport and crowds gathered in the center of the city to cheer the team's arrival. It was a marked contrast from the days of the Taliban, when sports were harshly restricted and stadiums were used for executions. (RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan)
It's been 60 years since Nikita Khrushchev's rise to power as head of the Soviet Union. Under his leadership, the USSR launched bold reforms like the cultural thaw and the Virgin Lands campaign. It also jump-started the space race and brought the world to the brink of nuclear war in the Cuban missile crisis.
In an isolated part of the Caucasus, a monk is spending his days in prayer and silence atop a 40-meter pillar of limestone in western Georgia (near the town of Chiatura).
The Katskhi Pillar was used by stylites -- Christian ascetics who lived atop pillars and eschewed worldly temptations -- until the 15th century when the practice was stopped following the Ottoman Empire's invasion of Georgia. For centuries the pillar was abandoned and locals could only look up at the mysterious ruins on its summit. Finally, in 1944, a mountain climber ascended the pillar, discovering the skeleton of a stylite and the remains of a chapel.
Shortly after the collapse of communism and the resurgence of religion in Georgia, former "bad boy" Maxime Qavtaradze (now 59) decided to live atop the pillar in the way of the old stylites. “When I was young I drank, sold drugs, everything. When I ended up in prison.... It was time for a change. I used to drink with friends in the hills around here and look up at this place, where land met sky. We knew the monks had lived up there before and I felt great respect for them." In 1993 Maxime took monastic vows and climbed the pillar to begin his new life. "For the first two years there was nothing up here so I slept in an old refrigerator to protect me from the weather."
Since then Maxime and the nearby Christian community have constructed a ladder to the top, rebuilt the chapel, and built a cottage where Maxime spends his days praying, reading, and "preparing to meet God."
As a result of the interest in the site there is now a religious community at the base of the pillar. Men with troubled lives come to stay and ask for guidance from Maxime and the young priests who live at the site. The men are fed and housed on the condition they join the priests in praying for around seven hours per day (including from 2 a.m. until sunrise) and help with chores. (19 PHOTOS)
Photos by Amos Chapple.
The Afghan Premier League (APL) is playing its second season of professional soccer after a successful debut year. Players from the eight teams in the APL live together in a large communal house in Kabul where they eat and sleep during the seven-week season, earning about $9 per day.
The redeveloped site of the World Trade Center in Manhattan includes the new National September 11 Memorial Museum, dedicated to documenting the impact of the September 11, 2001, attacks and their continuing significance. The museum is scheduled to open to the public in the spring of 2014.
Photographer Kamil Chutuev has been photographing his native Daghestan since the 1970s. His photographs appeared in a recent exhibition in Makhachkala, "Planet of Daghestan," in which several photographers' work maps the cultural and natural landscape of the Caucasus republic over many years.
China has 2.7 million U.S.-dollar millionaires and 251 billionaires, according to "The Hurun Report," a financial publication. But the UN states that 13 percent of the country's 1.3 billion people live on less than $1.25 per day. The Chinese government has pledged to double household incomes over the next decade in a bid to close the country's wealth gap. which is now so wide that it threatens social stability.
Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny held the final rally of his campaign for Moscow mayor on September 6. His election campaign office said some 15,000 people gathered at Moscow's central Sakharova Avenue. The rally kicked off with a rock concert. (12 PHOTOS)
RFE/RL Turkmen Service correspondent Yovshan Annagurban Annagurban traveled back to his home country for the first time in 15 years. What he found was a Turkmenistan that in some ways had changed dramatically -- and in other ways hadn't changed at all.
The 9th annual Kazan International Muslim Film Festival is under way in the capital of the Russian republic of Tatarstan. Fifty films from 27 countries are competing for the festival's top prize.
Thousands of Hasidic Jews from at least 15 countries have gathered in the town of Uman, Ukraine, to celebrate Rosh Hashanah, the beginning of the Jewish New Year. A record number of pilgrims, estimated at more than 30,000, have come to spend the holiday at the gravesite of the founder of the Breslov Hasidic movement, Reb Nachman. (Andriy Bashtovyy, RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service)
Everyone from Hollywood movie stars to famous pop singers have performed or partied for dictators and their children in various places around the world -- usually for large sums of money. Whether its Chechen strongman Ramzan Kadyrov or the grandson of Kazakhstan's ruler-for-life Nursultan Nazarbaev, various celebrities have accepted cash to sing, dance, or party with ruthless rulers with nasty human-rights records. Most of the "naive" and "unaware" stars apologize -- after being publicly criticized -- and claim to donate their appearance money to charity.
Japan's nuclear regulation authority said on September 4 that radiation levels near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant have reached a new high, measuring 20 percent above the previous peak.
Border police in Serbia say they are facing growing numbers of illegal migrants attempting to enter the country, mainly over its southern border with Macedonia. In the first six months of 2013, police registered illegal entry attempts by more than 5,000 migrants, mostly from Africa and the Middle East. Many are following the trans-Asian corridor, which leads from the Mideast through Turkey, Greece, Macedonia, and Serbia before reaching Hungary and the Schengen free-travel zone. In the past year, the war in Syria has resulted in a massive influx of Syrians attempting to cross the Western Balkans in search of asylum in Europe or beyond. (Photos by Marko Djurica of Reuters.
Opened in 1935 during the Stalin era, the Moscow Metro is an extravagant gallery of communist design, featuring Soviet artworks, statues, chandeliers, stained glass, and ceiling mosaics.
The annual Burning Man Festival of art and music, held at the end of summer in Nevada's Black Rock desert, celebrates the act of self expression. Over the course of a week, visitors from all walks of life gather to create, sing, dance and simply enjoy the feeling of being immersed in a global community of free thinkers. Nearly 70,000 people attended this year's event, now in its 27th year.
As children across the region begin a new school year, many have been showing off their best back-to-school outfits, from sharp suits and uniforms to bows and national dress.
Cotton is the main agricultural crop in Turkmenistan and textiles rank among the country's major exports. The cotton crop takes up about 550,000 hectares of land in the Central Asian country, and yields more than 300,000 tons of "white gold" a year. RFE/RL's Turkmen Service captured these images from cotton fields in Lebap Province. (7 PHOTOS)
Hundreds of protesters demonstrated in Baghdad and other Iraqi cities against generous pensions received by lawmakers. The protests show the widespread anger about monthly payments of thousands of dollars and benefits that go to lawmakers and parliamentary officials in a country where many are struggling to get jobs and basic services.
Some of the most compelling photographs from RFE/RL's broadcast region and beyond for the 35th week of 2013. For more photo galleries, see our "Picture This" archive.
The United Nations’ Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is warning that Syria’s rich cultural heritage is being devastated by the country’s civil war, which is now in its third year.
The recent arrest in Belarus of Vladislav Baumgertner, the general director of Russia's Uralkali potash-producing plant, has also focused attention on the important commodity, a potassium-based salt which is used mostly to make fertilizer.
In Albania, a "sworn virgin" is a biological female who has chosen to take on the social identity of a man for life. It's a tradition dating back hundreds of years that still exists in the Albanian Alps, as well as to a lesser extent in other parts of the Western Balkans.
Since World War I, chemical weapons and agents have killed or injured an estimated 1.5 million people. (WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT)
Often referred to as "the Jerusalem of the Balkans," the Macedonian city of Ohrid is one of just 28 locations worldwide to have been listed by UNESCO in both its culture and nature categories.
Authorities and residents are battling some of eastern Russia's worst flooding in more than a century, with the Amur River swollen and expected to continue rising through midweek. Locals have been evacuated and services halted to a number of regions, including the inundated village of Ust-Ivanovka in Amur Oblast. (Photos by RFE/RL Russian Service's Anton Luzgin)
August 28 is the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, a major milestone in the movement for equality for African Americans. More than 200,000 activists took part in the march, at which Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his iconic "I Have A Dream" speech for racial equality. These photographs show some of the other historic moments in the civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s.
Police in Moscow have detained 10 activists attempting to mark the anniversary of a 1968 Red Square protest against the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia. RFE/RL's Russian Service reports the protesters gathered on Red Square holding a banner reading "For Your and Our Freedom" -- the same slogan used by the 1968 protesters -- but were quickly rounded up by police.
Some of the most compelling photographs from RFE/RL's broadcast region and beyond for the 34th week of 2013.
The European Day of Remembrance for Victims of Nazism and Stalinism was marked in Chisinau on August 23 with the official unveiling on Railway Station Square of a monument in memory of deportees. It is the first monument honoring the victims of the Soviet totalitarian regime in Moldova.
In the steep valley town of Chiatura, Georgia, the public transport system is an engineering spectacle -- but it isn't designed for the faint of heart.
Authorities have ordered thousands of people in Russia's Far East to evacuate their homes as rising floodwaters threaten towns along the Amur River. Near Khabarovsk, the Amur has risen above 700 centimeters, the highest level since monitoring of the area began in 1895.
Afghanistan has won a friendly soccer match 3-0 against Pakistan, the first such contest between the countries in more than 30 years.
Soviet troops and most of their Warsaw Pact allies invaded Czechoslovakia on August 21, 1968, to halt political liberalization in the country called the Prague Spring.
Some 30,000 Syrian Kurds have crossed into Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region in the past week, according to the UN refugee agency. Many of the refugees say they are fleeing threats from the Al-Nusra Front, a Sunni rebel group fighting the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The Kurds arriving in Iraq at the Peshkhabour border crossing are registered and receive humanitarian aid before being transported to makeshift refugee camps in the Kurdish region. (Photos by Abdel Khaleq Sultan of RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq)
Some of the most compelling photographs from RFE/RL's broadcast region and beyond for the 33rd week of 2013.
Some 100 kids took part in the eighth annual Afghanistan Juggling Championships in Kabul, part of a weeklong circus festival that includes street parades and lessons held in refugee camps to help children learn new and rewarding skills.
During World II, the Topovske Supe concentration camp in Nazi-occupied Belgrade held Jews and Roma before they were transported elsewhere for execution.
With some 12 million people spread across the continent, the Roma are Europe's largest ethnic minority -- and also among its most disadvantaged. Romany communities in Eastern Europe are often isolated settlements with crumbling infrastructure on the outskirts of cities and towns. German documentary photographer Bjoern Steinz spent time in some of the Romany communities in eastern Slovakia and filed these photos. More of Steinz's work can be seen at his website.
A security crackdown on two protest camps in Cairo turned deadly on August 14 as forces tried to disperse and detain supporters of deposed Egyptian President Muhammad Morsi. At least 56 people have been reported killed, and the death toll is expected to rise. RFE/RL Radio Free Iraq correspondent Ahmed Ragab filed these photos from the scene of the clashes.
On August 15, 1953, U.S. and British intelligence operatives put into motion a plan to remove Iran's democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh from power. The coup reached completion on August 19, when the military, backed by CIA-supported street protests, overthrew Mossadegh, installed a new prime minister, and reinstated Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi in the primary position of power. The events sparked massive demonstrations, leaving at least 300 people dead in gunbattles in Tehran.
Egyptian security forces moved in to clear two protest camps set up by supporters of ousted President Muhammad Morsi on August 14. Members of Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood report that more than 100 protesters have been killed in the operation, and have urged Egyptians to take to the streets to "stop a massacre." Egyptian authorities have disputed the claims of protesters' deaths, saying no protesters died, while at least two policemen were killed.
Rica, a 12-year-old male Persian leopard who lives at the Tehran Zoo, recently underwent what is believed to be the most complex dental surgery ever performed on such an animal. Doctors implanted gold crowns on both of Rica's two lower fangs after they broke and became infected.
Çeleken şäheriniň Hazar kenarlaryna köp sanly türkmenistanly dynç almaga gelýär.
More than half a million Kyrgyz nationals live in Russia, according to Russia's Federal Migration Service. Some 22,000 of them have settled in remote regions of Siberia, maintaining close-knit communities of Kyrgyz speakers. RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service recently visited members of the Kyrgyz diaspora in the regions of Yakutia and Krasnoyarsk.
Some of the most compelling photographs from RFE/RL's broadcast region and beyond for the 32nd week of 2013. For more photo galleries, see our "Picture This" archive.
The trumpet is present at all major life events throughout the Balkans, from baptisms to weddings and funerals. And Serbia's Guca Trumpet Festival, held every year for the past 53 years in the small western town of Guca, celebrates this tradition. The festival concludes on August 11 with a performance by Goran Bregovic, one of the world's best-known Balkan musicians.
Last week, Muslims worldwide observed the feast of Eid al-Fitr, the holiday marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan. Believers attended prayers at their local mosques, shared food to celebrate the end of the Ramadan fast, and gave alms to the needy.
For more than 100 years, "National Geographic" magazine has been acclaimed not only for its important scientific explorations but for the stunning images produced by its stable of talented photographers.
For some Kazakh shepherds, the summer months bring a change of scenery as they move their flocks from low-lying settlements to pastures high in the mountains. Reuters photographer Shamil Zhumatov takes a look at the daily lives of these modern nomads on the mountainous Assy plateau, some 2,500 meters (8,202 feet) above sea level.
As war broke out between Russia and Georgia on August 7, 2008, over the separatist regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, the Georgian city of Gori was at the heart of the fighting. Russian bombers targeted the city before ground forces moved in and occupied Gori on August 11. RFE/RL Georgian Service correspondent Koba Liklikadze captured these images of Gori in the midst of the conflict.
Five years ago, late on August 7, 2008, Georgian troops rolled into the breakaway region of South Ossetia in an attempt to reclaim the territory from what Tbilisi said was growing Russian militarization. The conflict erupted into a brief war between Russia and Georgia that left hundreds dead, drove thousands from their homes, and destroyed villages and towns.
Residents of Pakistan were bracing for more heavy rain on August 5 after monsoon downpours and flooding killed at least 30 people the previous two days. Meanwhile, relief supplies were being distributed in eastern Afghanistan, where torrential rain led to the deaths of at least 59 people and the destruction of homes in nine provinces. With at least 89 people killed in Pakistan and Afghanistan thus far, authorities said they fear more deaths because dozens of people are missing. The worst-hit area so far has been Kabul Province’s Surobi district with 35 deaths. In Pakistan’s southern port city of Karachi there were at least 16 deaths. Key roads in Karachi were blocked and many residents were left without electricity. (15 PHOTOS)
During the first weekend in August, Kosovars from far and wide descended on the country's mountainous southwest for the annual Rugova Traditional Games in order to participate in a series of almost forgotten but time-honored sports and customs.
Some of the most compelling photographs from RFE/RL's broadcast region and beyond for the 31st week of 2013.
It has been 80 years since the Belomorkanal -- the man-made channel connecting the White Sea and the Baltic Sea -- opened on August 2, 1933. The canal was built with the forced labor of Soviet Gulag inmates, many thousands of whom died during the construction process. (10 PHOTOS)
В Москве 1 августа открылся депортационный палаточный лагерь. Здесь будут жить мигранты, задержанные во время масштабных полицейских рейдов
The city of Zaporizhzhya, the capital of Ukraine's auto industry, is also the site of a unique museum of classic cars, motorcycles, and military vehicles, mainly from the Soviet era. The Faeton Museum is the brainchild of hobbyists from a club of the same name who donated classic vehicles from their own workshops and garages.
Muslims in Kosovo are observing the holy month of Ramadan with the traditional fast from dawn until sundown. In the capital, Pristina, a number of charity organizations and international donors have set up communal dining tents where believers can come together and share a free dinner for iftar, the meal that breaks the fast at the day's end.
As much of the northern hemisphere bakes in record temperatures, RFE/RL looks at what people have been doing to stay cool during the heatwave from New York to Kabul. (14 PHOTOS)
The acting head of the Russian republic of Daghestan, Ramazan Abdulatipov, has urged government officials to wear traditional dress during public ceremonies. The suggestion echoes an early directive issued by Ramzan Kadyrov, the head of neighboring Chechnya, who also told government officials that national holidays call for national dress. Eager to cooperate with the acting president, who is due to be confirmed in September, many civil servants came to celebrate Daghestan's Constitution Day on July 26 wearing the traditional attire of their respective ethnic groups. Photos by RFE/RL's North Caucasus Service
The 16th-century Stari Most, or Old Bridge, in the city of Mostar is one of Bosnia's most recognizable landmarks, and the tradition of diving from the bridge into the Neretva River is as old as the bridge itself. On July 28, high-divers took part in an annual competition, plunging some 24 meters from the bridge's high point in front of spectators and a jury.
Some of the most compelling photographs from RFE/RL's broadcast region and beyond for the 30th week of 2013. For more photo galleries, see our "Picture This" archive.
North Korean soldiers and military hardware were paraded through Pyongyang on July 27 in a painstakingly choreographed pageant marking the 60th anniversary of the Korean War truce. The display was aimed at intimidating North Korea’s adversaries and rallying its people behind their youthful leader, Kim Jong Un.
Commemorations are under way in Ukraine, which is marking the 1,025th anniversary of the conversion to Christianity of Kievan Rus, the medieval Slavic state that laid the Orthodox foundations for modern-day Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine. Top Orthodox Christian clergy from around the world have also gathered in the Ukrainian capital to participate in a special prayer service and other religious events. (13 PHOTOS)
Last week marked the 50th anniversary of the Skopje earthquake, which destroyed more than 80 percent of the Macedonian capital and left some 1,000 people dead. Despite an elaborate makeover nearby, the effects of the devastating tremor all those years ago still leave their mark.
Kumis is a mildly alcoholic drink made from fermented mare's milk, popular across Central Asia. In Kyrgyzstan's Alai mountains, some nomadic communities are famous for their kumis, which attracts visitors from the cities who come to drink it for its purported health benefits.
Spanish officials say at least 77 people have been killed and more than 130 injured in a high-speed train derailment in the northwestern part of the country. The crash occurred near the train station in Santiago de Compostela, about 95 kilometers south of El Ferrol. The train had been heading to El Ferrol from Madrid. At this point, authorities say, they think the derailment was an accident rather than the result of sabotage or terrorism.
Police clashed with protesters on July 24 trying to disrupt the first gay-pride parade to be held in Montenegro.
The Georgian village of Tsopi, located just a few kilometers from the Armenian border, is home to both ethnic Azeris and ethnic Armenians. Although tensions linger between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh war of the 1990s, the two groups coexist peacefully in this remote Georgian setting.
The world celebrates with Britain: people at home and abroad mark the birth of Kate and Prince William's baby boy. (11 PHOTOS)
Much of Britain is eagerly awaiting news from a London hospital where Kate, the wife of Prince William, is about to give birth to their first child, who will be third in line to the throne after its grandfather, Prince Charles, and its father. The area around the hospital has attracted hundreds of journalists, photographers, and fans of the royal family; meanwhile, bookmakers and souvenir vendors are turning the event into tidy profits.
Authorities in China say dozens of people have been killed and hundreds injured in a powerful earthquake in northwestern Gansu Province. The U.S. Geological Survey estimated the quake, which struck early on July 22, had a magnitude of 5.9, while Chinese officials put the magnitude at 6.6.
Some of the most compelling photographs from RFE/RL's broadcast region and beyond for the 29th week of 2013. For more photo galleries, see our "Picture This" archive.
Life beyond the concrete wall separating the Russian-run city of Baikonur and the neighboring Kazakh towns of Toretam and Akay is difficult. Locals complain about environmental problems and growing unemployment. An Azattyq correspondent visited Kazakh villages around Baikonur (formerly known as Leninsk), a Kazakh town administered by officials from Russia. (23 PHOTOS)
Vladimir Vladimirovich Mayakovsky was among the foremost representatives of early 20th-century Russian Futurism, a literary school born of the dynamism, speed, and restlessness of modern urban life that sought to repudiate the "static" art of the past and which embraced formal experimentation. His suicide is still the source of much speculation.
A court in the Russian city of Kirov has sentenced opposition activist Aleksei Navalny to five years in prison on embezzlement charges that he said were politically motivated. Navalny and co-defendant Pytor Ofitserov were charged with stealing and illegally selling $500,000 of lumber from the Kirovles timber company in 2009. Ofitserov was given a four-year sentence.
Romanian forensic specialists say they have found the burned remains of what they believe to be seven paintings stolen from a Dutch art gallery last year. The paintings include works by Pablo Picasso, Claude Monet, and Henri Matisse. Olga Dogaru, the mother of one of the suspected thieves, said she burned the paintings in her oven in an attempt to destroy the evidence of the crime.
July 18 is the 95th birthday of former South African President Nelson Mandela, who has been hospitalized with a lung infection for more than five weeks. In honor of the anti-apartheid leader's legacy, the United Nations has designated July 18 as Nelson Mandela International Day. Supporters in South Africa and around the world have been sending Mandela their birthday greetings and wishes for his fast recovery.
The town of Vylkove, south of Odesa on the Black Sea coast, is known as the Venice of Ukraine due to its network of streams and canals, built to manage the marshy terrain of the Danube Delta. Residents of Vylkove use boats for transportation more often than cars, while tourists come from abroad to see the estuary's natural beauty.
Every year, Macedonians in the village of Galicnik celebrate Petrovden, or St. Peter's Day, on July 12 with a three-day wedding celebration involving traditional costumes, rituals, and dances. In past centuries, the feast was the only time when local couples could marry; now just one couple is chosen.
Some of the most compelling photographs from RFE/RL's broadcast region and beyond for the 28th week of 2013. For more photo galleries, see our "Picture This" archive.
Thousands of people gathered near the Bosnian town of Srebrenica to mark the 18th anniversary of the wartime massacre of Bosnian Muslims there in 1995. The ceremony at the memorial center in Potocari included the reburial of 409 newly identified victims, bringing the number of graves there to more than 6,000.
The Battle of Kursk was a World War II engagement between German and Soviet forces on the Eastern Front near Kursk, (450 kilometers southwest of Moscow) in the Soviet Union in July and August 1943. One of the largest armored clashes of the war took place on July 12 and became a decisive Soviet victory and a major turning point in the war.
The village of Shikhzairli in Azerbaijan is famous for its mud volcanoes, created by hot springs leaking to the surface and mixing with dirt and deposits. Many visitors come to the town, set inside the Gobustan National Park, to see these rare geological features. But the nearby tourist attractions have done little good for the remote village, where many houses stand empty as residents move to more developed areas. (Photos by Abbas Atilay from RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service,13 PHOTOS)
Chemical technicians in Moldova, aided by NATO specialists, have started clearing tons of pesticides remaining from the Soviet era, preparing the chemicals to be transported and destroyed in Poland. The initiative took place during a visit by NATO Assistant Secretary-General for Emerging Security Challenges Gabor Iklody, who is in Moldova to take part in "NATO Week" events promoting the alliance's goals.
Thousands of Sarajevans came out on July 9 to escort trucks carrying the remains of 409 people from Srebrenica who were killed in 1995. The remains -- which were recently identified in unmarked mass graves -- will be taken to Potocari and buried at a memorial center on July 11, the 18th anniversary of the massacre in which Bosnian Serb forces commanded by Ratko Mladic killed up to 8,000 Muslim men and boys and buried them in mass graves. (Photos by RFE/RL Balkan Service correspondent Selma Boracic) (13 PHOTOS)
Vardavar is a festival in Armenia where people drench each other with water. Although now a Christian tradition, Vardavar's history dates back to pagan times. The ancient festival is traditionally associated with the deity Astghik, who was the goddess of water, beauty, love, and fertility. The festivities connected with the religious observance of Astghik were originally named “Vartavar” because Armenians offered her roses as a celebration (“vart” means “rose” in Armenian and "var" means "rise"). This is why the event was celebrated at harvest time․ Vardavar is currently celebrated 98 days (14 weeks) after Easter.
During the day of Vardavar itself, it is common to see people pouring buckets of water from balconies onto unsuspecting pedestrians below. It is also a means of refreshment on summer days in July, which is usually hot and dry. (Photos by RFE/RL correspondent Karen Minasyan, 20 PHOTOS)
After years of decline, Kyrgyzstan’s fisheries are seeing a renewal in investment and interest. The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is assisting scientific research, intended to help improve yields, at private fish farms located at Kyrgyzstan’s Issyk-Kul and Song-Kul lakes.
The 27th Summer Universiade opened on July 6 in Kazan, the capital of the Russian republic of Tatarstan, with an elaborate ceremony featuring some 1,000 performers. The ceremony included dance, music, and theater performances focusing on the theme of Russia's ethnic diversity. This year's Universiade -- one of the biggest sporting events in the world -- includes more than 10,000 university athletes from 162 countries.
Some of the most compelling photographs from RFE/RL's broadcast region and beyond for the 27th week of 2013. For more photo galleries, see our "Picture This" archive.
The State Duma on July 3 heard a bill to reform the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS). Opponents of the proposed reform -- which would combine three of Russia's science academies and take control of property away from the RAS -- picketed the State Duma in Moscow. Protesters said the action symbolizes "RAS's funeral" with some participants putting wreaths and black ribbons in front of a gravestone.
The New Century Global Center, described by Chinese officials as the world's largest freestanding structure, has opened to the public in Chengdu, the capital of southwestern Sichuan Province. Measuring 500 meters in length and 400 meters in width, with 1.7 million square meters of floor space, the center is large enough to contain 20 Sydney Opera Houses.
Opposition protesters in Egypt stormed and set fire to the Cairo headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood on July 1, the second day of mass protests against the government of President Muhammad Morsi. A day earlier, millions of opposition protesters took to the streets of Cairo and cities around the country in a massive display of anger and frustration, leading to clashes that left 16 people dead.
As Russia prepares for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russian artist Vasily Slonov has put a satirical spin on the country's PR campaign for the games. In a series of posters, Slonov combines winter sports scenes with images portraying a frightening, repressive Russia. Displayed during the White Nights cultural festival in the city of Perm, the posters provoked a swift backlash: Authorities closed the exhibit and sacked the curator of the Perm Museum of Contemporary Art, well-known gallerist Marat Gelman, for backing the exhibit. The reason for the crackdown was said to be Slonov's unauthorized use of the Sochi 2014 symbols. (7 PHOTOS)
Some of the most compelling photographs from RFE/RL's broadcast region and beyond for the 26th week of 2013. For more photo galleries, see our "Picture This" archive. (36 PHOTOS)
As the price of gold dropped to its lowest point in three years this week, the sustainability of the gold-mining industry is under debate. Kazakhstan, where gold production has increased rapidly in the past decade, is among the countries to feel the impact of the price fluctuation. (8 PHOTOS)
Nine-year-old Bacho Tsiklauri is the only student in his primary school in the Georgian village of Makarta. Set in a remote mountain gorge, the village has just 30 residents. Three older children, including Bacho's brother, Dato, attend high school in a neighboring town four kilometers away. Reuters photographer David Mdzinarishvili spent a day with Bacho as he attended school in his class of one. (14 PHOTOS)
A coalition of gay-rights organizations and other rights groups held a "walk against violence" in the Serbian capital, Belgrade, on June 27 to denounce homophobia and support equality for minorities. The event was held to mark the anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York, a turning point in the gay-rights movement that is commemorated by many gay-pride events worldwide. The march in Serbia also came a day after landmark legal rulings supporting gay rights in the United States. (9 PHOTOS)
Iranian authorities marked the UN-sponsored International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking on June 26 by setting fire to some 100 tons of seized drugs. At least 50 tons of narcotics, mainly opiates, went up in flames on a massive pyre in front of police, judiciary officials, and foreign dignitaries in Tehran. (7 PHOTOS)
Satellite images collected during the course of a year by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) provide a vivid depiction of worldwide vegetation.
According to a NOAA report, although 75 percent of the planet is a relatively unchanging ocean of blue, the remaining 25 percent of the Earth’s surface is a dynamic green. (5 PHOTOS)
Belarus's western borders with Poland, Lithuania, and Latvia mark the meeting point of the European Union and the so-called "last dictatorship in Europe." Reuters photographer Vasily Fedosenko visited the border post near the western city of Brest on the Polish border, where Belarusian guards keep watch for potential smugglers and illegal migrants. (9 PHOTOS)
Tehran's Golestan Palace, the Pamir Mountains of Tajikistan, and a group of wooden churches in Poland and Ukraine are among the places added to UNESCO's list of World Heritage sites at its annual meeting on June 23. The UN cultural agency added five natural sites and 14 cultural ones to its catalogue of places of "outstanding universal value." UNESCO also bestowed World Heritage status on an ancient Greek city in modern-day Ukraine, the city of Kaesong in North Korea, and the Bergpark Wilhelmshoehe in the German city of Kassel. (13 PHOTOS)
High-security prison Camp No. 17, outside of the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk, houses male inmates who have been convicted of serious first offenses. Although the conditions are tough, the prisoners have the opportunity to learn trades and participate in sports and cultural activities. Reuters photographer Ilya Naymushin documented life inside the prison facility. (12 PHOTOS)
Some of the most compelling photographs from RFE/RL's broadcast region and beyond for the 25th week of 2013. For more photo galleries, see our "Picture This" archive. (46 PHOTOS)
As summer temperatures soared in Europe over recent days, Kyrgyzstan's central Naryn region was experiencing an unexpected snowfall. Up to 70 centimeters of snow covered high-altitude pastures in the region, causing power outages, blocking mountain passes, and killing livestock. (12 PHOTOS)
Armenia is home to some 40,000 Yezidis, a minority that combines elements of Kurdish culture with Christian, Zoroastrian, and Islamic Sufi belief. They are the largest minority group in mainly homogenous Armenia, which is 98 percent ethnic Armenian and Christian. The Yezidis have endured discrimination and pressure to adapt to modern customs, but their communities remain tight-knit and committed to preserving tradition. (9 PHOTOS)
More than 1 million Syrians have been forced to leave their country, seeking refuge in neighboring Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq, and elsewhere. Fearing reprisals, many have had to conceal their intentions to escape, bringing little with them as they fled to the border. In this photo series for the UN refugee agency, marking World Refugee Day on June 20, photographer Brian Sokol asked Syrian refugees, "What is the most important thing you brought from home?" (13 PHOTOS)
Imagine being forced to leave your home without warning. What would you take with you? Something essential to your survival? A sentimental object? A beloved pet? The United Nations refugee agency, the UNHCR, is putting these questions to the public as part of its 1 Family campaign in honor of World Refugee Day on June 20. But for many families, such painful choices are an actual part of life. In this UNHCR photo series, refugees living in Central Europe share the most important thing they brought with them when they left their homes.
Photographer Giuseppe Cacace visited the Azerbaijani capital to record some of the developments that are changing the face of that city, which is experiencing an often controversial construction boom fueled by an oil-rich economy.
Sixty years ago, Ethel and Julius Rosenberg were executed in New York for conspiracy to commit espionage for allegedly passing information that assisted in the U.S.S.R.'s development of the atomic bomb. The Rosenbergs were the first civilians executed for espionage in U.S. history.
Desertification has increased markedly in the past two decades in Central Asia, causing agricultural yields to plummet. Some estimates suggest that 70 percent of Turkmenistan has become desert, but nearby Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan have also suffered precipitously. (7 PHOTOS)
Iranian authorities announced on June 15 that 64-year-old cleric Hassan Rohani received 50.68 percent of the nearly 37 million votes cast in the presidential election the previous day, avoiding the need for a runoff. The announcement prompted celebrations in Iran's streets and was generally welcomed abroad. (18 PHOTOS)
The Murghob region of eastern Tajikistan, set high in the Pamir Mountains, is sometimes known as the Roof of the World. Although Murghob’s mountainous landscape, arid climate, and isolation result in tough economic pressures, the region is beginning to open up to trade with western China and a fledgling tourism industry. (16 PHOTOS)
Some of the most compelling photographs from RFE/RL's broadcast region and beyond for the 24th week of 2013. For more photo galleries, see our "Picture This" archive. (30 PHOTOS)
Iranians are voting in an election to choose a replacement for President Mahmud Ahmadinejad. Opinion surveys have suggested a close race between moderate cleric and former nuclear negotiator Hassan Rohani, who is backed by pro-reform elements, and conservative candidate Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, the current mayor of Tehran. If no candidate captures a majority, a runoff will take place on June 21. (18 PHOTOS)
Russia is marking the 50th anniversary of the first spaceflight by a woman, Soviet cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova. She made international headlines on June 16, 1963, when her Vostok-6 capsule blasted off into space.
Is Mehriban Aliyeva, the formidable first lady of Azerbaijan, being groomed for the presidency? Some observers, looking at her recent promotion to the upper echelons of her husband's political party, say it's a distinct possibility. Here's a look back at Mehriban's life both before and during her marriage to President Ilham Aliyev. (12 PHOTOS)
Czech journalist Petra Prochazkova is known for both her humanitarian projects and her work as a war correspondent in the conflict areas of the former Soviet Union. She reported from Grozny during the First Chechen War of the mid-1990s and the Second Chechen War of 1999-2000. This May, she returned to Grozny, and found the city completely transformed from the war-torn regional capital of 10 years ago. Prochazkova reports that Grozny is now full of excessive displays of wealth, from clothes to monuments, but she described the mood as similar to that of Prague after the 1968 Soviet invasion: exhausted and hopeless. (12 PHOTOS)
Thousands of demonstrators have been gathering in front of the parliament in Sarajevo to protest a legal void which has left all babies born since February without identity numbers, meaning they cannot be issued passports or get medical care. The babies have fallen victim to a dispute between Bosniak, Croat, and Serb deputies in Bosnia's parliament who for more than two years have bickered over a draft law on the personal ID numbers that are necessary for all documents and services. Protesters are from all of the three main ethnic groups in Bosnia and the regions. (17 PHOTOS)
Some 160 mentally and physically disabled children live in an orphanage in the village of Vesnova in southern Belarus. Much of their care is provided by Irish volunteers from Chernobyl Children International, an aid organization with U.S. and Irish branches. The group says its work is intended to help "overcome the domino effect of poverty, poor health, and social and psychosocial impact that was the aftermath of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster." (9 PHOTOS)
Russia's State Duma has passed legislation that imposes harsh fines and jail terms for the distribution of homosexual "propaganda" to minors. The legislation, adopted on June 11, has been criticized by rights defenders as a way to oppress homosexuals amid rising homophobia in Russia. It bans the distribution to minors by Russians, foreign citizens, and media organizations of "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations." Earlier on June 11, as the legislation awaited its final reading, police were deployed to break up clashes in front of the State Duma between gay-rights advocates and Christian activists.
June 12 marks the World Day Against Child Labor, sponsored by the UN's International Labor Organization to bring attention to the plight of working children around the world.
In Serbia, foreign companies are resuming a long tradition of prospecting for gold and copper, and have discovered deposits that could mark a revival of the country's mining sector, Reuters reports.
Iranians go to the polls June 14, but from the hundreds of candidates who registered to run, only eight were selected by the Guardian Council, none of whom are considered serious reformists. In its election coverage, RFE/RL’s Radio Farda took advantage of the space left by the lack of a solid reform candidate to explore deeper questions about the state of Iran’s democracy. Producer Kayvan Hosseini discusses some of the central issues raised.
For anyone who has followed the cutthroat world of Turkish football fandom, the sight of supporters from the country's three most popular soccer clubs teaming up against a common enemy is a jarring one. But that's exactly what's been happening as protests continue against the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Some of the most compelling photographs from RFE/RL's broadcast region and beyond for the 23rd week of 2013. (42 PHOTOS)
Several hundred people protested today outside the city council building in Skopje, Macedonia. They believe the Skopje municipality has a plan to demolish the St. Konstantin and Elena Church, which is under construction. But municipal council President Miroslav Sipovic told RFE/RL that there is no plan to stop construction of the church.
Some 250 inmates serving life sentences at a penal colony settlement some 50 kilometers northeast of the Russian city of Krasnoyarsk also perform forced labor in the prison's agricultural fields and on other farms.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and his wife, Lyudmila, have announced that they have separated and that their marriage is over. "It was our mutual decision," Putin said. "Our marriage is over." The two were married on July 28, 1983. Putin and Lyudmila had appeared infrequently in public together, sparking many rumors through the years.
Protesters clashed with police across Turkey overnight despite an apology for police violence from the deputy prime minister designed to halt an unprecedented wave of protests against Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Hundreds of police and protesters have been injured in the riots since May 31, which began with a demonstration to halt construction in a park in an Istanbul square and grew into mass protests against what opponents call Erdogan's authoritarianism.
Alongside Sergei Prokofiev and Dmitri Shostakovich, Khachaturian is referred to as one of the three titans of Soviet music. Although he was born in Georgia and lived most of his life in Russia, he has been an iconic figure to generations of Armenian composers.
Traditional Bosnian bullfights, which used to begin with the bull being beaten and ended with the animals being seriously injured by sharpened horns, are now more animal friendly after the rules changed as part of a package of reforms tied to Bosnia's efforts toward EU membership.
Torrential rains caused widespread flooding and landslides across Central Europe. At least six people have died and thousands have been evacuated as floodwaters hit parts of Germany, Austria, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, and Poland. It is described as the worst flooding in Central Europe for more than a decade.
Turkish towns and cities were rocked in late May and early June by street violence in some of the biggest antigovernment protests to hit the country in years. The unrest was sparked by government plans to develop a park near Istanbul's Taksim Square, one of the city's few remaining green areas, but widened into a broader protest against Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party. Abbas Atilay, a photojournalist with RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service, sent us these images from Istanbul. (12 PHOTOS)
Some of the most compelling photographs from RFE/RL's broadcast region and beyond for the 22nd week of 2013. For more photo galleries, see our "Picture This" archive. (45 PHOTOS)
A state of emergency has been declared in northern Kyrgyzstan after clashes broke out between police and local residents protesting and disrupting services to the country's biggest gold mine, Kumtor. Dozens of people were said to have been injured in the clashes in the village of Barskoon on May 31. RFE/RL's correspondent reports that police used tear gas against the crowd and that concussion and fragmentation grenades exploded near the scene where around 3,000 protesters were gathered. (11 PHOTOS)
Ahead of International Children's Day on June 1, RFE/RL editors asked children in their home countries to take photographs of the world as they see it. Sometimes aided by their parents, the young photographers were asked to focus on their friends and families, or on their toys, games, and hobbies. Here is a cross section of a child's-eye view across the region.
It is part of every child’s nature to explore an environment through playful activity. In some cases, that results in children playing in dirt pits or hazardous areas. Such polluted sites become the stages and backdrops for extraordinary adventures, epic sagas, breathtaking battles, and an infinite number of heroes, foes, and mystical creatures. The power of imagination can take a child’s mind to a fantastical place, full of wonder and joy, and can transform any location into an amusement park echoing with laughter. (11 PHOTOS)
Sixty years ago, on the morning of May 29, 1953, climbers Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay reached the summit of Mount Everest -- the first successful ascent of the world's tallest peak. Since then, many mountaineers have followed in their footsteps. Some have lost their lives in the attempt, while other adventurers have taken on additional challenges to set new world records. (15 PHOTOS)
Men's Fashion Week kicked off in Karachi on May 27. The port city has become home to Pakistan's first-ever showcase of men's couture, which aims to provide a platform for emerging designers and labels to exhibit their creations. (9 PHOTOS)
As Serbia's economy struggles and unemployment soars above 25 percent, one sector has been gaining workers and profits each year: the weapons industry. The Zastava Arms factory, restructured and rebuilt in 2005, is one manufacturer that's benefiting from the boom, exporting weapons to more than 40 countries worldwide. (9 PHOTOS)
Ashgabat, the capital of energy-rich Turkmenistan, has been recognized by Guinness World Records as having the world's highest density of structures made from white marble, with 543 buildings covering a total area of 4.5 million square meters.
Some of the most compelling photographs from RFE/RL's broadcast region and beyond for the 21st week of 2013. For more photo galleries, see our "Picture This" archive. (48 PHOTOS)
The Wadi Al-Salaam (Valley of Peace) cemetery in Najaf, Iraq, is reputed to be the largest cemetery in the world. The remains of millions of Shi'ite Muslims are buried there, and more than half a million more are interred each year. (20 PHOTOS)
A bunker in the western Czech Republic built in the 1960s to house Soviet nuclear warheads is being turned into a museum where visitors can take a close look at the arms race of the Cold War era. The bunker, one of three such depots in the former Czechoslovakia, was kept secret during the communist era. (10 PHOTOS)
May 22 is the 200th anniversary of the birth of German composer Wilhelm Richard Wagner, one of the most celebrated composers of the 19th century. He is best known for the Ring Cycle of four operas, as well as the operas "The Flying Dutchman" and "Tristan and Isolde," sometimes described as marking the start of modern music. Though his music is highly influential, Wagner's legacy is controversial, the result of his nationalist and anti-Semitic writings, which later became a source of inspiration for Adolf Hitler. (14 PHOTOS)
On May 18, a group of athletic men in tracksuits picked a fight with demonstrators during the "Get Up, Ukraine!" opposition rally in Kyiv. Several protesters were injured, as were the journalists Olha Snitsarchuk and Vladyslav Sodel, who were attacked by some of the men when they began filming the fight. (11 PHOTOS)
A major tornado struck the town of Moore in the U.S. state of Oklahoma on May 20, killing at least 24 people and leaving many others injured or missing. The tornado, thought to measure a kilometer across, reduced whole neighborhoods to rubble. (9 PHOTOS)
A museum of the Stalin-era prison camp system in central Kazakhstan has given visitors a nighttime tour, where they were "treated" to prison meals and a performance of mock interrogations. The unusual visit on the night of May 18 was organized by the Museum of Political Oppression in Dolinka. The central town became infamous in the 1930s as the center of the Qaraghandy Corrective Labor Camps system (KarLAG). (15 PHOTOS)
Some of the most compelling photographs from RFE/RL's broadcast region and beyond for the 20th week of 2013. For more photo galleries, see our "Picture This" archive. (34 PHOTOS)
For generations, Afghan miners from the village of Qara Zaghan have used chisels and pickaxes to extract small amounts of gold from the nearby mountains, part of the towering Hindu Kush range. But the mining business there is in the midst of massive changes. Engineers from international mining companies have built a dirt road through the mountains and are busy surveying the sites to determine how best to exploit the area's mineral wealth. (12 PHOTOS)
More than 30,000 people took part in a rally in the Crimean city of Simferopol on May 18 to mourn the victims of the deportation of Crimean Tatars at the end of World War II. Organizers conducted a "minute of grief and unity" and a Muslim prayer for those who never returned from the expulsion, ordered by Josef Stalin. There were some calls for Crimean Tatar autonomy at the event. (14 PHOTOS)
Thousands of antigay protesters led by Orthodox Christian clergy today prevented a gay-rights rally from taking place in Tbilisi. Thousands of protesters broke through a police cordon and charged the venue where the rally was to be held, forcing the rights activists to leave on buses under police protection. The gay-pride demonstration was scheduled to mark the International Day Against Homophobia. (RFE/RL's Georgian Service)
A subway car known as the "Watercolor Train" is showing a new exhibit as it carries passengers through the Russian capital. The train car is outfitted with art each year to mark the anniversary of the opening of the Moscow Metro on May 15, 1935. (7 PHOTOS)
Twenty-five years ago, on May 15, 1988, Soviet troops began the nine-month process of withdrawing from Afghanistan. Some 100,000 troops would leave the country by February 15, 1989, after nine years of war that killed more than 14,000 Soviet soldiers and hundreds of thousands of Afghan combatants and civilians. (12 PHOTOS)
On May 14, Russian state TV showed video of the detention of a U.S. diplomat identified as Ryan C. Fogle. It displayed objects said to belong to him, including two wigs, a compass, and a map of Moscow. Russia said Fogle worked "undercover" as third secretary of the U.S. Embassy's political department and was caught trying to recruit a Russian counterterrorism officer to work as a spy. He was ordered to leave the country. U.S. Ambassador Michael McFaul was summoned to the Foreign Ministry over the incident on May 15.
The mausoleum holding the remains of Soviet founder Vladimir Lenin reopened to visitors on May 15 after it was closed for renovation in December. Lenin's body stayed inside the tomb on Red Square while the repairs took place under the cover of a protective temporary "cupola." (17 PHOTOS)
A new mosque and Islamic center has opened in Rijeka, Croatia, prompting raves from the local media that the structure is the most beautiful mosque in Europe. The construction cost an estimated 10 million euros. The mosque is only the third to be built in Croatia since the 17th century withdrawal of the Ottoman Empire. (9 PHOTOS)
Some of the most compelling photographs from RFE/RL's broadcast region and beyond for the 19th week of 2013. For more photo galleries, see our "Picture This" archive. (28 PHOTOS)
A little more than 10 years after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, RFE/RL Azerbaijani Service photographer Abbas Atilay traveled through Iraq to document the state of that war-torn country. Atilay's photos capture a vital and recovering Iraq, but also show the scars left by a decade of instability. (20 PHOTOS)
Pakistanis are voting in landmark parliamentary elections that mark the country's first democratic transition of power between civilian governments. The country has been ruled by the military for more than half of its history. (Photographs by RFE/RL Radio Mashaal correspondents)
On May 9, countries in many parts of Eastern Europe and Central Asia celebrated Victory Day, an annual commemoration marking the official capitulation of Nazi Germany to the Soviet Union in the Second World War. (24 PHOTOS)
Conflict Kitchen is a take-out restaurant that only serves cuisine from countries with which the United States is in conflict. The food is served out of a take-out style storefront that rotates identities every six months to highlight another country. Each iteration of the project is augmented by events, performances, and discussions that seek to expand the engagement the public has with the culture, politics, and issues at stake within the focus country. These events have included live international Skype dinner parties between citizens of Pittsburgh and young professionals in Tehran, Iran; documentary filmmakers in Kabul, Afghanistan; and community radio activists in Caracas, Venezuela.
Italian photographer Gabriele Galimberti says he knew he was on to something when he looked at a photograph he had taken in Tuscany of the daughter of a good friend. it turned out so well that on a subsequent trip around the world, he decided to undertake a series of photographs of children posing with their toys. (20 PHOTOS)
Members of a folk ensemble in the Belarusian village of Pahost on May 6 celebrated the feast of Yur’ya, or Yaryla, a pagan harvest god who has persisted as part of some local folk customs. The dancers from folk band Mizhrechcha paraded through the village to mark the beginning of spring and ensure a good harvest. (13 PHOTOS)
Thousands of people attended an opposition rally in Moscow's Bolotnaya Square. The Bolotnaya rally comes on the first anniversary of a mass antigovernment protest that ended in riots and the arrests of hundreds of demonstrators protesting Vladimir Putin’s return to the presidency. The rally is calling for the release of over two dozen protesters detained since last year. (12 PHOTOS)
With the naming of two Chechen suspects in last month’s bombings in Boston, Chechnya has reappeared on the world’s front pages. In Grozny, Chechnya’s capital, there is little evidence of the two wars that devastated the republic over the past two decades. (19 PHOTOS)
Some of the most compelling photographs from RFE/RL's broadcast region and beyond for the 18th week of 2013. For more photo galleries, see our "Picture This" archive. (40 PHOTOS)
Molokans are a Christian sect who split from the Russian Orthodox Church in the late 16th century. The sect’s name, derived from the Russian for milk, refers to their refusal to give up milk and meat on the fast days dictated by the Orthodox clergy. (13 PHOTOS)
The final pieces of the spire have been hoisted to the top of the new World Trade Center building in New York City. An American flag was wrapped around the top piece as construction workers on May 2 lifted it to the summit of the 104-floor skyscraper. The new building is rising at the site where the twin World Trade Center towers were destroyed in the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks claimed by the Al-Qaeda network. Once completed, the building is expected to be declared the tallest in the United States, at 541 meters. The tower’s tenants are expected to include a range of businesses and agencies. It is due to formally open in 2014. (9 PHOTOS)
Russia's cultural hub and former imperial capital, St. Petersburg, officially opens the doors of its sumptuous new Mariinsky II Theater on May 2. The $700 million project has variously drawn jeers and cheers. But there's little disagreement on three points -- it's another feather in the cap of a city already rich with cultural landmarks, its ample space and state-of-the-art technology mark a new chapter for the Mariinsky complex, and it could hardly be a greater architectural departure from the original Mariinsky Theater that rounds out the complex. (15 PHOTOS)
In December 2000, the Old City of Baku, including the Palace of the Shirvanshahs and Maiden Tower, became the first location in Azerbaijan to be classified as a world heritage site by UNESCO. (16 PHOTOS)
Some of the most compelling photographs from RFE/RL's broadcast region and beyond for the 17th week of 2013. For more photo galleries, see our "Picture This" archive. (39 PHOTOS)
Russia’s Emergencies Ministry says a fire that engulfed a psychiatric hospital on the outskirts of Moscow has killed 38 people, two of them medical workers. The cause of the fire is not yet known, although police said it appears there was a short circuit. (14 PHOTOS)
Part of a small community of ethnic Armenian Muslims in eastern Turkey helped mark Armenia's Genocide Remembrance Day on April 24 in a rare public display of their heritage a century after fear and persecution drove them underground. (8 PHOTOS)
Pretend you’re rummaging through an old steamer trunk in a dusty antique store. Hidden amidst some old Frank Sinatra LPs you discover a stack of photographic slides wrapped in a yellowed newspaper. That’s how we’d like to think these 24 photographs of the Soviet Union were discovered. But the truth is, we don’t know much about them. (24 PHOTOS)
You might not be "lovin’ it," but there’s no way you’re not going to have an opinion about it. On the heels of the largest KFC in the world in the Azerbaijani capital, Baku, comes a spectacular new McDonald’s restaurant in Georgia’s Black Sea port city of Batumi, designed by Harvard-educated architect Giorgi Khmaladze.
Some of the most compelling photographs from RFE/RL's broadcast region and beyond for the 16th week of 2013. For more photo galleries, see our "Picture This" archive. (20 PHOTOS)
Iraqis have voted in provincial polls amid tight security. They are the first elections held in the country since the U.S. military withdrawal in late 2011. Nearly 14 million Iraqis were eligible to vote for more than 8,000 candidates running for 378 positions on provincial councils. Official preliminary results are expected in several days.
A panel has announced the results of RFE/RL's internal photo competition. Out of 81 entries, three winners and nine other finalists made the final selection. The winning pictures were chosen for the quality of their content, aesthetic appeal, and technical skill. The theme of the competition was to show the interaction between technology and the environment. The contest featured pictures taken in various locations around the world, including Afghanistan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Kosovo, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine, the United States, and the Czech Republic. (12 PHOTOS)
It has been 70 years since the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, when a small number of armed Jews resisted the German Army as it attempted to clear out the ghetto for a month before being crushed. (18 PHOTOS)
At least three people have died and more than 140 are said to be injured -- some of them critically -- after twin bomb blasts 13 seconds apart near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. No suspects are in custody, and there has not yet been any claim of responsibility. In a brief statement to reporters at the White House, President Barack Obama pledged to find the perpetrators and bring the "full weight of justice” against them. Some 23,000 runners from dozens of countries took part in the 42-kilometer race, which is considered to be the world’s oldest annual marathon. (11 PHOTOS)
The chairman of the Democratic Alliance youth organization, Vasyl Hetsko, and the head of its Kyiv branch, Maksym Panov, were jailed after a protest action held on April 10 outside the presidential residence near Mezhyriya. They had been protesting against the poor conditions of roads and infrastructure in Ukraine, which many blame on high-level corruption among government officials. After the two men were forcefully taken to a police station and later transferred to prison, protesters organized a second rally on April 15 near Mezhyriya to demand their immediate release. This protest was met by special riot police whose uniforms had been stripped of all labels and tags. Although the demonstration had been officially approved, police requested that the activists be taken into custody. (8 PHOTOS)
More than 12 quadricycles and 20 off-road vehicles participated in a competition, yearly organized by the ‘Offroad’ Kings and ‘Racing’ clubs in Kyrgyzstan. It is the fifth time this competition has taken place. RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service correspondent Ulan Asanaliev was at the race and filed these photos. (15 PHOTOS)
Some of the most compelling photographs from RFE/RL's broadcast region and beyond for the 15th week of 2013. For more photo galleries, see our "Picture This" archive. (38 PHOTOS)
Mario Bihari is a well-known Romany musician from Slovakia who has lived and performed in Prague for many years. Although he has been blind since childhood, Bihari has begun using a new medium of expression: photography. He collaborates with photographer Bjorn Steinz to create images that share an aspect of the musician's subjective experience. (19 PHOTOS)
Hundreds of mourners gathered on April 12 outside the Serbian capital, Belgrade, for the funerals of 13 people killed in a shooting rampage by a lone gunman. Onlookers wept as wooden coffins bearing the bodies of the victims were lined up on a red carpet outside a small church in the village of Velika Ivanca. The victims were killed on April 9 when a 60-year-old war veteran, Ljubisa Bogdanovic, opened fire on relatives and neighbors, many of them in their sleep. Bogdanovic’s mother and 2-year-old son were among those killed. Bogdanovic died on April 11 in the hospital after shooting himself in the head following the rampage. Bogdanovich's motive remains unclear, although he had a history of mental illness and had lost his job last year. The killings are Serbia’s worst shooting incident in 20 years. (7 PHOTOS)
Authorities in the Azerbaijani capital, Baku, continue their demolition of houses in the city center, where there are plans for a new "Winter Boulevard." Some of the buildings being razed were built by local oil magnate Musa Naghiyev more than a century ago. (18 PHOTOS)
April 12 is the 80th birthday of opera singer Maria de Montserrat Bibiana Concepcion Caballe i Folch, known as Montserrat Caballe. Born in Barcelona, the Spanish soprano made her professional debut in Basel, Switzerland, in 1956. She became internationally famous in 1965 after her performance as a stand-in in Donizetti's Lucrezia Borgia at New York's Carnegie Hall.
Many children in Chechnya learn to dance from a very early age. In Grozny, the Bashlam dance club has been training children to dance for more than 50 years, and its members have performed on stages around the world. RFE/RL's North Caucasus Service correspondent Musa Saidulayev visited a class of young dancers at the Bashlam club and filed these photos. (7 PHOTOS)
Turkmenistan's government has just launched a multilingual website in honor of Turkmenistan's famous horse breed, the Akhal-Teke. The website also features two books about horses written by Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov. Here's selection of pictures from his tome titled The Flight of Celestial Racehorses.
Official statistics suggest that nearly 30 percent of Kyrgyzstan's population of 5.5 million is made up of school-age children. RFE/RL Kyrgyz Service regional correspondent Sanzhar Eraliev spent time in southern Kyrgyzstan -- including Osh, Batken, and Jalal Abad -- photographing some of them, particularly some of the roughly 50,000 kids that UNICEF said aren't attending any of the country's 2,000 or so schools.
Photographer Alexander Petrosyan has lived in St. Petersburg for more than 35 years, and he sees Russia’s second city with a keen insider’s eye. His work reveals a beautiful, seedy, sunny, funny, madcap, and often bitterly cold city – sometimes all in the same photograph. (20 PHOTOS)
Serzh Sarkisian has been sworn in for a second term as Armenia's president in the capital, Yerevan, amid an opposition challenge to the credibility of his reelection. Sarkisian's main challenger in the February vote, Raffi Hovannisian, held what he had called an "alternative inauguration." Thousands of Hovannisian's supporters tried to march to a memorial using an avenue where the presidential palace is also located. They were blocked by police cordons.
When the famous Avar-language poet Rasul Gamzatov was asked how he had reached such heights of success with his poetry, he replied that in fact, he had come down from the heights. In Daghestan, nearly everyone can say they have descended from great heights. Remote villages continue to flourish and preserve Daghestani culture.
Former British Prime Minister Margaret has died at age 87 following a stroke. Her spokesman, Lord Bell, said that her family announced with great sadness that “she had died peacefully following a stroke this morning." Thatcher had been in ill health for many months. Thatcher, nicknamed the “Iron Lady,” is credited with helping to pull down the Iron Curtain. As Britain's only woman prime minister, she won three elections and governed from 1979 to 1990 -- the longest continuous period in office by a British prime minister since the early 19th century.
During the Soviet era, authorities forced the nomadic Luli minority in Central Asia to settle on state-provided plots. Today, many Luli families in Kyrgyzstan live in poverty and some children in Bishkek resort to begging to help their families get by. (8 PHOTOS)
Voters in the tiny Balkan nation of Montenegro went to the polls on April 7 to elect a president. The country's 512,000 voters are expected to choose incumbent Filip Vujanovic over former Foreign Minister Miodrag Lekic. Turnout is expected to dip as low as 40 percent, with many Montenegrins citing frustration with the country's protracted economic woes.
Some of the most compelling photographs from RFE/RL's broadcast region and beyond for the 14th week of 2013. (34 PHOTOS)
On April 6, Bosnia-Herzegovina marked the 21st anniversary of the 1992-95 war. The fighting between Muslims, known as Bosniaks, and Croats in the southern town of Mostar was some of the fiercest of the war and left them divided on the eastern and western banks of the River Neretva. These combination photographs compare significant Mostar sites during the war and today. (16 PHOTOS)
Two Belarusian photographers have been summoned to court after being accused of organizing an "extremist" photo exhibition. Yulia Darashkevich told RFE/RL's Belarus Service on April 5 that she and her colleague Vadzim Zamirouski face trial in the western city of Ashmyany on April 17.
RFE/RL visits a workshop for traditional carpet weaving in the village of Getik, located in Armenia's Gegharkunik region. The event was made possible thanks to sponsorship from the charity organizations Armenian Caritas and Cross of Armenian Unity. (12 PHOTOS)
In photographs that will make your palms sweat, Ukrainian daredevil Mustang Wanted is shown dangling by his fingertips from some of the tallest buildings in Ukraine and Russia -- without the aid of safety ropes, nets, or harnesses.
Russian media outlets have been reporting the death of notorious guerrilla artist P183, who was in his late 20s. Dubbed the "Russian Banksy" by Western media, in reference to the infamous British street artist, P183's playful and often politically subversive graffiti had regularly appeared at various places around Moscow for more than a decade. Like much of his life, P183's reported death is still shrouded in mystery and there are very few details surrounding the circumstances of his apparent demise. (10 PHOTOS)
Throughout his long career, artist Arthur Pinajian created thousands of vivid, abstract canvases, including landscapes, figure studies, and expressionist works. He received little recognition during his lifetime and worked mostly in obscurity. Now, however, he is gaining improbable posthumous fame with leading art historians saying that, at his best, he ranks among America's finest abstract expressionists. His estate is currently valued at $30 million. (13 PHOTOS)
Several thousand opposition supporters rallied outside parliament headquarters in the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv. Activists gathered on April 2 to demand that local authorities hold an election to select Kyiv's mayor in June. According to demonstration participants, they were also protesting against their political opponents' initiatives to delay the vote. (9 PHOTOS)
Among the places affected by the frozen state of relations between Serbia and Kosovo is Mitrovica, a Kosovar town divided into an ethnic Albanian section in the south and an ethnic Serb enclave in the north. (11 PHOTOS)
Best known for its investigative reports on corruption and rights abuses, Russia’s “Novaya gazeta” newspaper turned 20 on April 1. In a country ranking as one of the world’s most dangerous places for journalists, its reporting has earned international accolades but has also put its reporters in considerable danger.
Some of the most compelling photographs from RFE/RL's broadcast region and beyond for the 13th week of 2013. For more photo galleries, see our "Picture This" archive. (30 PHOTOS)
Models presented outfits by Russian fashion designer Slava Zaitsev on March 29 during Fashion Week in Moscow. (12 PHOTOS)
April 1, 2013, marks the 140th anniversary of the birth of Russian composer Sergei Vasilievich Rachmaninoff. Widely considered one of the finest pianists of his day, Rachmaninoff was also one of the last great Romantic composers in Russian classical music. In spite of his accomplishments, Rachmaninoff was a target of harsh criticism from his musical peers and would eventually be labeled a "violent enemy of Soviet Russia." (13 PHOTOS)
The distinctive blue helmets and berets of UN peacekeepers have featured prominently in many conflicts since their missions began in 1956. Now a peacekeeping brigade in the Democratic Republic of Congo will be allowed to engage in offensive combat against rebel factions, making it the first UN peacekeeping mission authorized to use such force.
Yury Gagarin died 45 years ago, less than seven years after he made history by becoming the first person to orbit the Earth. During what should have been a routine practice flight on March 27, 1968, Gagarin's fighter plane crashed outside Moscow, killing him and co-pilot Vladimir Seryogin. Three days later, thousands of mourners gathered in Moscow's Red Square for the funeral of a national hero. (9 PHOTOS)
After nearly two decades of conflict and the preceding 70 years of Soviet rule, during which religious participation was banned, modern-day Chechnya is going through an Islamic revival. For young girls in the republic, ordinary acts can bring severe consequences. Being caught smoking is cause for arrest, while rumors of a couple having sex before marriage can result in an honor killing. The few girls who dare to rebel become targets in the eyes of Chechen authorities. Documentary photographer and writer Diana Markosian shot this photo essay chronicling the lives of young Muslim girls in Chechnya who, she writes, are now coming of age in a republic that is rapidly redefining itself as a Muslim state. (17 PHOTOS)
Eighteen years after the Balkan wars ended, many Croatian Serb returnees are still living in barely functional, war-damaged homes. A handful of ethnic Serbs in the southern village of Strmica and the nearby former Serb stronghold of Knin are continuing to wait for assistance to help them rebuild or relocate.
Photographer Abbas Atilay of RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service took these photos of the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, where ancient churches, modern bridges, sleepy streets, and busy thoroughfares all lie side by side. (18 PHOTOS)
Businessman Boris Berezovsky, who was found dead at his home outside London on March 23, was one of the key political figures in Russia in the 1990s during the presidency of Boris Yeltsin. Berezovsky, 67, was a leading figure among the Yeltsin-era "oligarchs," a group of politically connected businessmen who profited mightily from the wave of privatizations that followed the break-up of the Soviet Union. Berezovsky used his influence to help engineer current President Vladimir Putin's rise to power. However, he later fell out with the Kremlin leader and went into exile in 2000 in the United Kingdom, where he became one of the most outspoken critics of the Russian administration.
Some of the most compelling photographs from RFE/RL's broadcast region and beyond for the 12th week of 2013. For more photo galleries, see our "Picture This" archive. (33 PHOTOS)
Ukraine has the second-highest rate of tuberculosis (TB) in Europe after Russia. It records about 100 new cases per 100,000 people every year. Thirty Ukrainians die of the disease every day. Ukrainian photographer Maxim Dondyuk began photographing the faces of Ukraine’s TB epidemic over two years starting in December 2010.
New Zealand photographer Amos Chapple has made three reporting trips to Iran since 2011. He visited areas that he described as "stupendously photogenic," but was more interested in uncovering unfamiliar facets of Iranian society.
March 21 is the beginning of spring and the first day of the new Persian year. Across the Middle East, the Caucasus, and Central Asia, that means the start of several days of food, festivities, and music as families celebrate the holiday of Norouz. (21 PHOTOS)
March 22 marks World Water Day, a UN-sponsored event meant to bring attention to the sustainable management of one of our most important resources. As demands for drinking water increase, rapid urbanization, pollution, and climate change all threaten its availability.
A comparative collection of Nazi and Soviet posters appears to indicate that the two authoritarian systems also had an uncannily similar aesthetic and approach to graphic design. (7 PHOTOS)
During World War II, between 1941 and 1945, 78 Allied Arctic convoys brought more than 4 million tons of provisions and munitions to the U.S.S.R. These deliveries played a crucial role in the Soviet war effort. More than 1,400 merchant ships and naval vessels participated in the convoys to the ports of Arkhangelsk and Murmansk in Arctic Russia, which Winston Churchill once described as “the worst journey in the world.” Besides braving frozen seas and harsh weather conditions, the sailors also had to contend with attacks from German dive bombers and U-boat torpedoes. Altogether, more than 100 convoy ships had perished by the time the war ended and more than 3,000 lives were lost. (13 PHOTOS)
People throughout the Middle East, Caucasus, and Central Asia are preparing to celebrate Norouz, the Persian New Year, which marks the beginning of spring on March 20-21. In many countries, a costumed character appears in public to greet the holiday with song and dance.
Russians, Ukrainians, and other Slavic cultures are celebrating Maslenitsa, the Orthodox Christian equivalent of Mardi Gras or Carnival. The celebration marks the beginning of Lent and the imminent end of winter. In Osh, Kyrgyzstan, the Russian diaspora celebrated the holiday on the weekend with their 10th annual festival full of costumes, singing, and dancing.
Iraq is preparing to mark the 10th anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion that began on March 19, 2003. Although the military operation succeeded in quickly toppling the regime of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, it also presaged several years of violent insurgency. In this photo series, scenes of Iraq before, during, and just after the invasion stand side-by-side with images of a country that is showing fragile signs of normalcy after several years of turmoil. (12 PHOTOS)
On March 19, 2003, U.S. forces carried out the first air strikes of the Iraq War, targeting top Iraqi officials at a compound on the outskirts of Baghdad. These photos document some of the most dramatic moments of the invasion that began 10 years ago. (21 PHOTOS)
Some of the most compelling photographs from RFE/RL's broadcast region and beyond for the 11th week of 2013. For more photo galleries, see our "Picture This" archive.
Between 1909 and 1912 and again in 1915, Prokhudin-Gorskii won the support of Tsar Nicholas II to undertake an ambitious project to document the people and places of the Russian Empire. He traveled across 11 Russian regions in a specially designed railroad car that was given to him by the Transportation Ministry.
The first photo shows Peg Podlich apparently taking a photograph of her sister Jan as she poses sitting on a wall in Afghanistan's Paghman Gardens. Tall pine trees tower in the background. Flowers and shrubs bloom amid neatly trimmed grass that borders a long reflecting pool. The second photo was taken from almost the exact same spot about five years ago. The trees are gone. The reflecting pool has disappeared. Even the pathways have been reduced to rubble.
Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina was elected Roman Catholic pope on March 13, becoming the first pontiff from the Americas and taking the name Pope Francis. Appearing on the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica a short time later, the new pope greeted a vast crowd gathered below in St. Peter’s Square with salutations in Italian and led a prayer for his predecessor, Benedict XVI.
Hundreds of students from several universities rallied in Tbilisi on March 13 against officials' decision to withdraw the accreditation of Georgia's Agricultural University. The protesters claimed that the decision was politically motivated and directed against allies of President Mikheil Saakashvili, whose party was defeated in October parliamentary elections. (RFE/RL's Georgian Service)
Khinalug is Azerbaijan's highest, most remote, and most isolated village. It's located north of the town of Quba in the middle of the Greater Caucasus mountain range dividing Russia from the southern Caucasus. RFE/RL Azerbaijani Service photographer Jahangir Yusif visited the village to portray its youngest generation.
On March 12, 2003, Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic was assassinated in Belgrade by a sniper from an ultranationalist special police unit with ties to organized crime. Djindjic had been a driving force behind the ouster of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and became the first democratically elected premier in post-communist Serbia. As Serbia prepares to mark the 10th anniversary of Djindjic’s assassination, here is a look back at his life and death. (16 PHOTOS)
Some of the most compelling photographs from RFE/RL's broadcast region and beyond. (49 PHOTOS)
The Kumtor mine in northern Kyrgyzstan, run by the Canadian Centerra Gold company since 1997, is one of the largest gold mines in Central Asia. It's also at the center of a national debate in which some Kyrgyz officials are pushing for a heavier tax burden and environmental fines on the Canadian operator.
Although it arose from the women's movement in several countries over 100 years ago, International Women's Day took on a life of its own in the Soviet Union. In this gallery of Soviet-era posters and cards, the focus varies widely, from women's achievements to colorful celebrations of spring, motherhood, and international friendship.
Female prisoners at a pretrial detention facility in Moscow held a fashion show on March 5 called "Beauty Outside the Law." The event was an early celebration of International Women's Day.
The 83rd Geneva International Motor Show, considered one of the auto industry's most important events, has opened in the Swiss city. Industry leaders are warning that demand remains weak amid widespread austerity measures in European countries. But hundreds of thousands of visitors are expected to view the luxury models on display, including cars well over the $1 million mark. (12 PHOTOS)
The question of how women balance work and child care is a topic of intense debate worldwide. In honor of International Women's Day on March 8, we look at the lives of working mothers in Azerbaijan, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Montenegro, Iraq, Ukraine, Tatarstan, and the Czech Republic. In this gallery, we spend a day with Roya Rafiyeva, a journalist living in Baku, and her family.
The question of how women balance work and child care is a topic of intense debate worldwide. In honor of International Women's Day on March 8, we look at the lives of working mothers in Azerbaijan, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Montenegro, Iraq, Ukraine, Tatarstan, and the Czech Republic. In this gallery, we spend a day with Shahnoz Komilzoda, a businesswoman, wife, and mother of two children in Dushanbe, Tajikistan.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez died on March 5 after a long battle with cancer. The autocratic populist fiercely criticized the United States and allied himself with Fidel Castro and other fellow leftists. The outspoken leader, who was a hero to Venezuela's poor, sought to remake Venezuela into a socialist state, but left with many citizens still facing poverty despite the country's huge oil wealth. (20 PHOTOS)
No one knows for sure how many people were murdered during Stalin's Great Purge, but estimates put the figure at more than 1 million. During the peak period of 1937-38, Stalin's secret police executed more than 1,000 people per day. These photos show some of the victims in their last weeks or days. (8 PHOTOS)
Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev's untimely passing 60 years ago was overshadowed by Josef Stalin's death the same day. But Prokofiev's legacy did not go unacknowledged. (13 PHOTOS)
When it comes to firebrands of the 19th-century Belarusian nationalist movement, few are held in such high esteem among Belarusians as Kastus Kalinouski, the leader of the 1863 uprising against the Russian Empire. Here are some original artistic tributes. (8 PHOTOS)
The labor camps at Vorkuta were established in 1931 to mine coal deposits at the foot of the Arctic Ural Mountains, 150 kilometers above the Arctic Circle. For 25 years, prisoners and exiles labored to turn this area of tundra into one of the largest coal sources of the Soviet Union. The complex grew to include more than 20 mines, mining villages, power stations, roads, railroads, and the new city of Vorkuta. Today, Vorkuta is an industrial city in decline, plagued by corruption and poverty. These photos show Vorkuta at the height of the Gulag era -- and as it appears now. (17 PHOTOS)
Some of the most compelling photographs from RFE/RL's broadcast region and beyond for the ninth week of 2013.
Josef Stalin rose from obscure origins in Georgia to rule the Soviet Union from the mid-1920s until his death in 1953. RFE/RL takes a look at some images from his early life. (11 PHOTOS)
As this collection of graphic warning signs seems to imply, the Soviet workplace could be a very dangerous place, where all sorts of gruesome accidents awaited those who weren't careful.
Although Russia is rich in biodiversity, many of its most iconic creatures are struggling to survive as they grapple with poaching and a loss of habitat.
Radio Liberty (originally called Radio Liberation) began broadcasting to the former Soviet Union from West Germany on March 1, 1953, and it almost immediately gained a substantial audience when it covered the death of Josef Stalin four days later.
A new exhibition" set to open on March 4 at the Sotheby’s auction house in London will offer a sale of nearly 50 works of Soviet and contemporary art from Central Asia and the Caucasus. For the artists, it’s an opportunity for exposure and profit. And for Sotheby’s, it’s a chance to find potential new clients among the post-Soviet super-rich. (15 PHOTOS)
Corruption, media manipulation, authoritarian governments -- all provide ample fodder for political cartoonists' art. In this gallery, cartoonists from four countries -- Serbia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, and Ukraine -- offer their commentaries on the past and present situations in their countries.
Some of the most compelling photographs from RFE/RL's broadcast region and beyond. For more photo galleries, see our "Picture This" archive. (29 PHOTOS)
Nearly 300 foreign-born children received citizenship certificates this week at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) center in New York City. Children of naturalized immigrants can receive citizenship if they arrived in the United States as minors, but they must first go through a process at the USCIS to prove that they have become Americans. Photographer John Moore took these portraits of some new U.S. citizens. (14 PHOTOS)
The Belarusian Humanities Lyceum was established in 1990 with the goal of promoting Belarusian language and culture. It gained a prestigious reputation in the 1990s, but it has suffered under the regime of President Alyaksandr Lukashenka, who has worked to marginalize the Belarusian language.
Abbas Karimi, 14, who was born with no arms, is a swimmer with ambitions to earn a gold medal for Afghanistan at the next Paralympic Games. If he receives the support required, the teenager will be the first Afghan to represent his country as a swimmer at the games, which will take place in Brazil in 2016. (7 PHOTOS)
Nazif Mujic, a first-time actor, has returned home to a red-carpet reception in his Bosnian village after receiving the top prize for acting at the Berlinale film festival. Mujic and his wife, Senada Alimanovic, are Bosnian Roma who play themselves in the film "An Episode in the Life of an Iron Picker."
There is a wide range of contemporary visual art on display at the "Fine Art Ukraine" exhibition in Kyiv's Mystetskyi Arsenal, including paintings, graphics, sculptures, and photography taken from leading Ukrainian galleries, as well as eight special projects. One of the main installations, "Match-Point 88: a Moment Before the New Life" contains an archive collection of Soviet-era art and is devoted to Ukrainian paintings of the perestroika period. (16 PHOTOS)
From a meteorite in the Russian Urals to camel races in Abu Dhabi, RFE/RL brings you a selection of some of the most compelling images from our broadcast region and beyond.
Thirteen public buildings whose designs were widely ridiculed. But in many cases, time has softened those opinions.
World Press Photo, an independent, nonprofit organization that supports photojournalism, has once again honored the best photographers from around the globe. Here is a selection of the winning images from 2012, which were announced on February 15.
Organized by the World Photography Organization and sponsored by Sony, the 2013 World Photography Awards saw more than 122,000 entries from 170 countries. Images taken by established professionals, as well as amateurs and youth, were judged in a variety of categories.
Winners in the Open and Youth competitions will be announced on March 19. Professional winners and the Photographer of the Year prize will be announced in London on April 25.
In this photo gallery, RFE/RL is largely focusing on photographers or subjects from our broadcast countries, with a smattering of other photos just too good to resist. More about the contest can be found here. (27 PHOTOS)
On January 23, the Azerbaijani town of Ismayilli erupted into unexpected unrest. Thousands of people rallied to voice their anger at the authorities' refusal to shut down a local motel allegedly housing a brothel. Dozens were detained after rioters set fire to the motel, cars, and the governor’s residence. President Ilham Aliyev later sacked the region's governor. But since the riots died down, the town has returned to its normal state of calm. RFE/RL Azerbaijani Service correspondent Nurlan Babazadeh filed these photos from neighborhoods that ordinarily would not expect a place in the media spotlight.
Two towns in the remote Russian republic of Yakutia, Tomtor and Oymyakon, compete for the title of the coldest inhabited place on Earth, with winter temperatures reaching as low as minus 71 degrees Celsius. The region has another claim to fame as well; it’s the home of the Yakut horse, sometimes known simply as the Yakut, a rare native breed with an exceptional ability to withstand the cold.
RFE/RL's Belarus Service made midwinter visits to a handful of villages outside Minsk that have no grocery stores. Residents around Vialeyka, around 100 kilometers northwest of the capital, instead get their groceries from an "autalauka," a sort of mobile shop that was more widespread throughout the Soviet Union decades ago. (12 PHOTOS)
The Vatican has announced that Pope Benedict XVI will resign on February 28, the first pontiff to step down in nearly 600 years. Benedict, 85, was quoted as saying he no longer had the strength, which he said "in the last few months has deteriorated in me." In 2005, the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of Germany became one of the oldest elected popes in history at the age of 78. (24 PHOTOS)
Some of the most compelling photographs from RFE/RL's broadcast region and beyond. For more photo galleries, see our "Picture This" archive. (35 PHOTOS)
Kyrgyzstan renames a National Historical Museum and fills it with exhibits documenting the country's natural and political history, but many still refer to it as the "Lenin Museum." (22 PHOTOS)
Authorities in the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek, have been offering medical exams to the city's homeless. Out of more than 100 patients, 14 were diagnosed with active cases of tuberculosis. City officials said the tuberculosis patients would be admitted to a hospital for treatment. According to local NGOs, there are several hundred homeless people in Bishkek -- more than the city's four shelters can accommodate. At least eight people living on the streets died of exposure to the cold in December. RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service
Aeroflot was established 90 years ago, heralding the birth of Russian civil aviation. Despite criticism of its safety record, millions still use the former "Dobrolyot" airline every year. (15 PHOTOS)
For months, ethnic Croat and Bosniak -- or Bosnian Muslim -- factions in the town of Mostar have been locked in a dispute over how to reform the town’s electoral procedures. The feud is representative of the persistent ethnic divides in Bosnia-Herzegovina and has left Mostar without an approved budget for 2013.
The Kabul in William Podlich's photographs is an almost unrecognizable place -- a bustling capital of nattily attired men and women; modern cars; and green parks. A place where women could freely walk the streets. A peaceful place where tourists could take buses to the major historic sites in the country or across the border to Pakistan.
British researchers say they have identified a skeleton excavated from under a parking lot as the remains of King Richard III, who died in battle in 1485. DNA tests were used to match the bones, unearthed in September 2012, with a sample taken from a living relative of the king, who was the last of the Plantagenet dynasty.
Some of the most compelling photographs from RFE/RL's broadcast region and beyond. For more photo galleries, see our "Picture This" archive. (37 PHOTOS)
The Battle of Stalingrad was one of the most brutal and bloody battles of World War II. Germany's disastrously ill-fated attack is widely considered to have been a major turning point in the conflict, as its army suffered massive military losses and a huge psychological blow from which it never recovered.
On February 1, Hillary Clinton completes her tenure as the 67th U.S. secretary of state. She leaves the post with sky-high approval ratings and, according to President Barack Obama, major credit for restoring the United States' image and frayed alliances. RFE/RL looks back at Clinton's four years of crisscrossing the globe, during which she visited a record 112 countries and traveled nearly 1.6 million kilometers. (14 PHOTOS)
Uzbek authorities have increased the use of forced labor by adults and older children in the cotton sector during the past year in an effort to shift the burden away from younger children in response to public scrutiny and international pressure.
The poorly defined borders in parts of Central Asia have been a source of tensions for decades; this month, those tensions exploded into violence in Uzbekistan’s Sokh exclave, which is populated mainly by ethnic Tajiks and surrounded by Kyrgyz territory. But for many people, unclear borders and even uncertain citizenship are simply a fact of life. Photographer Svetlana Zelenskaya shot this photo essay about Gulbubu Isaeva, who lives on the Kyrgyz-Tajik border in the Ferghana Valley. Photos courtesy of Kloop.kg
On hundred and twenty-five years ago, a small group of scientists and enthusiasts founded the National Geographic Society with the aim of creating “a society for the increase and diffusion of geographic knowledge." To mark the occasion, the society is sharing photographs from its archive of more than 11 million images.
"White road" -- the words offered to travelers throughout much of Central Asia as they embark upon a journey. American Ivan Sigal, 43, was bid "white road" countless times between 1998 and 2005, as he and his camera crisscrossed the steppe. He knew the region well, having worked for years to help design and establish local media outlets in the former Soviet Union and Afghanistan. Thousands of photos later, the result is an ambitious project of the same name, as black-and-white images from the Central Asian republics, Russia, and Afghanistan are coupled with a travelogue written in stream-of-consciousness style. The viewer finds scenes of joy, scenes of gloom, and the shades in between that make this presentation of the region, as least as far as Sigal is concerned, a metaphor "about living." (12 PHOTOS)
Some of the most compelling photographs from RFE/RL's broadcast region and beyond. For more photo galleries, see our "Picture This" archive. (38 PHOTOS)
January 25 marks the 75th anniversary of the birth of singer, poet, and actor Vladimir Vysotsky, who died in 1980 at the age of 42. Vysotsky is remembered throughout the former Soviet Union as a satirical critic of the Soviet regime during 1960s and 1970s. Despite being labeled as subversive, his songs spread widely through bootleg recordings, and he starred in dozens of plays and movies. Here is a look back at Vysotsky’s life in music, film, and theater.
Yandex, the most popular search engine in Russia, has created an amazingly colorful, graphically dynamic office space for its headquarters in St. Petersburg. The striking concept for its new offices was designed by the architectural studio za bor architects.
Intourist, the Soviet travel agency, was established in 1929 to attract foreign visitors to the U.S.S.R. Using the classic elements of early communist graphic design, Intourist managed to entice tens of thousands of foreigners (many from the United States) to special tourist sites set up for them in the Soviet Union.
Baikonur Cosmodrome in the remote desert steppes of Kazakhstan is one of the most important sites in the history of space travel. During the Soviet era, the first man-made satellite, "Sputnik 1," took off from there in 1957, and it was also the place where the first man in space, Yury Gagarin, blasted into orbit in 1961. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Baikonur has been used to launch missions to the International Space Station. Russia has also continued to operate space missions from Baikonur under the terms of an agreement with Astana, even though this cooperation is now under threat due to a dispute between Kazakhstan and Russia over the rent paid for the use of the facility. (12 PHOTOS)
Russian-born photography aficionado Anton Orlov couldn't believe his luck when he was allowed to rummage through old storage chests in the basement of a house in California in 2005. Inside, he found a treasure trove of hand-colored glass slides taken during the Russian Revolution in 1917.
Orthodox worshipers in Russia, Belarus, and elsewhere celebrated Epiphany -- marking the baptism of Jesus Christ by John the Baptist and the beginning of his ministry -- with ritual plunges in subfreezing temperatures around midnight on January 18-19. Honoring an old Russian tradition, in many places bathers dip themselves in cross-shaped holes cut in ice over lakes and rivers. (11 PHOTOS)
Animals -- in particular monkeys -- have a long history of space travel.
RFE/RL's Kazakh Service has launched a photo competition asking its readers to send in photos that capture the spirit of Kazakh youth. From wedding parties to souped-up cars to snake dances, the photos are a compelling portrait of a post-Soviet generation.
Vevcani, a tiny town of around 2,500 people in western Macedonia, held its annual carnival this week, a spectacle that allows the heavily Orthodox locals to indulge in unbridled paganism and show off their creativity. Dedicated to St. Basil the Great (Vasilij), the event turns the sleepy little hillside municipality into a "theater without borders in which every house is part of a street scene with masked actors performing their games." (10 PHOTOS)
The eruption of Russia's Plosky Tolbachik volcano began in November after it was dormant for almost 40 years. Tolbachik is a volcanic complex on the Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia's Far East. It consists of two volcanoes -- Plosky Tolbachik (3,085 meters) and Ostry Tolbachik (3,682 meters).
Thousands of demonstrators are taking part in the "Caravan of Democracy March" led by influential Islamic cleric Tahir-ul Qadri to protest against government corruption and demand election reforms. The protesters began the march in Lahore and are expected to reach Islamabad's outskirts late on January 14. Security is tight in the capital, with shipping containers blocking the roads to some diplomatic enclaves and a heavy police and army presence around government buildings.
Some of the most compelling photographs from RFE/RL's broadcast region and beyond. (39 PHOTOS)
Polls have opened in the first direct presidential election in the Czech Republic. More than 8 million voters are eligible to chose a new head of state to replace outgoing President Vaclav Klaus. Euro-skeptic Klaus, 71, has completed the maximum two five-year terms allowed by the constitution. Opinion polls ahead of the Friday-Saturday vote show former prime ministers Jan Fischer and Milos Zeman in front, followed by Vladimir Franz, a composer who has tattoos covering most of his body. A total of nine candidates are standing. The top two finishers will compete in a runoff in two weeks. The position is mostly ceremonial, but can be influential through appointments to offices, amnesties, and veto powers.
In one of Pakistan's bloodiest days in recent years, a series of bombings struck two cities on January 10, killing at least 115 people and wounding dozens more. The deadliest attacks were twin blasts which killed 81 people at a snooker hall in Quetta, the capital of the province of Balochistan. The bombings were claimed by the Sunni militant group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, while an earlier attack in Quetta was claimed by the separatist United Baluch Army. In the northwestern Swat Valley, at least 22 people were reported killed by an explosion near Mingora.
A bomb exploded today in a crowded area of Quetta, southwestern Pakistan, killing at least 11 and wounding more than 30. Police said the bomb had been placed under a paramilitary vehicle near a checkpoint. Produced by Khudai Noor Nasar, RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal
The judges at "National Geographic" looked at more than 22,000 images submitted by photographers from 150 countries before deciding on the winners of the magazine's 2012 photo contest. Entries were evaluated in three categories: People, Places, and Nature.
The family of former FBI agent Robert Levinson, who went missing during a March 2007 visit to the Iranian island of Kish, has released new photographs of him in captivity. In the photos, which were given to RFE/RL, Levinson is dressed like a prisoner at the Guantanamo Bay detention center and is holding various signs written in crude English. Levinson’s wife, Christine Levinson, spoke to RFE/RL correspondent Golnaz Esfandiari about the photos and her husband's case.
On January 9, 1863, the world's first underground rail journey took place between London's Paddington and Farringdon stations on the Metropolitan Railway. Within its first few months, the pioneering subway system was carrying 26,000 passengers a day. Today, that number tops 3.5 million.
Orthodox Christians around Europe and Russia celebrated Christmas on January 6 and 7 with liturgies, processions, and an array of local traditions to mark the holiday.
Wanted: A few good men to run for Iranian president. Candidates must have strong management skills and commitment to Islamic and revolutionary values. Applicants who are unwaveringly loyal and fully obedient to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, exhibit strong anti-Western leanings, and can present a documented history of hard-line political and religious views will receive preference. All entries will be vetted by the Guardians Council. Oppositionists need not apply.
These are among the traits and qualifications expected of candidates who plan to run in Iran's June 14 presidential election, according to Iran observers and comments coming from within the supreme leader's inner circle.
In November, the supreme leader's representative in the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), Hojatoleslam Ali Saeedi, listed management skills and revolutionary and Islamic values as prerequisites for "suitable and competent" candidates.
Iran observers have narrowed the list further, saying the contest will essentially be waged among traditionalists and the new guard within the conservative camp. Reformists or figures close to outgoing President Mahmud Ahmadinejad are given virtually no chance to win, if they choose to throw their hats into the ring at all.
As Washington D.C.-based political analyst Ali Afshari put its, the Islamic regime is looking for a more civilized Ahmadinejad -- that is, in the mold of the current president before he began challenging the supreme leader.
There is a long way to go before a comprehensive and official candidates list can be compiled -- none is yet confirmed -- but names are already being floated. Eventually, according to Habibollah Asgarolad, secretary-general of Iran's Islamic Coalition Party, there will be 40 potential candidates, with 25 from the conservative camp.
So, knowing the qualifications expected and the likely introduction of electoral reforms that could weed out many potential candidates, who is poised to contend? Here's a rundown.
-- Golnaz Esfandiari
Some of the most compelling photographs from RFE/RL's broadcast region and beyond, including Orthodox Christmas festivities, continued fighting in Syria, Shi'ite Arbain celebrations, and New Year fireworks.
Flash floods engulfed parts of Baghdad on December 25-26 after some of the heaviest rains in 30 years. A week later, the Iraqi capital -- whose sewer system is not equipped for heavy precipitation -- is still dealing with the aftermath.
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