Before 1989, the medieval ruins of Ani were in a no-go zone on the border between NATO-member Turkey and what was then the Soviet Union. Until a few years ago, it was still difficult to visit, requiring a number of permits. But the local authorities in the nearby city of Kars realized the tourism potential, lifted restrictions, built roads and a visitor center, and reconstructed some of the site. These photos shows Ani during three periods: in 2003, when the visitor restrictions were still in place; in 2007, when restrictions were lifted but few tourists came; and in September 2014, when crowds of international tourists vied for better photo opportunities. (Text and photos by Anthony Georgieff)
Some of the most compelling photographs from RFE/RL's broadcast region and beyond for the 44th week of 2014. For more photo galleries, see our "Picture This" archive by clicking on the banner above.
If Russian artist Pyotr Pavlensky planned to shock the public, his latest stunt can certainly be described as a success. On October 19, Pavlensky stripped naked, climbed onto the roof of Moscow's Serbsky psychiatric center and sliced off his right earlobe with a huge kitchen knife. The stunt, titled "Separation," was meant to denounce Russia's growing use of psychiatry to silence dissidents. Previously, he has wrapped himself naked in barbed wire in front of St. Petersburg's legislature and sewn his lips shut to condemn the prosecution of two members of the opposition punk collective Pussy Riot.
Some of the most compelling photographs from RFE/RL's broadcast region and beyond for the 43rd week of 2014. For more photo galleries, see our "Picture This" archive by clicking on the banner above.
A photo exhibition depicting the complexities of life in Israel and the West Bank focuses on history, geography, daily life, and the perception of these topics by the global community.
Some of the most compelling photographs from RFE/RL's broadcast region and beyond for the 42nd week of 2014. For more photo galleries, see our "Picture This" archive by clicking on the banner above.
Souvenir shops in Belgrade have something new to offer: mugs, T-shirts, and fridge magnets of Vladimir Putin. The Russian president traveled to the Serbian capital on October 16 to take part in a military parade celebrating the 70th anniversary of the liberation from the Nazis, when Red Army forces fought side by side with Yugoslav partisans. Serb nationalists see Russia as a protector that supported Belgrade during the Kosovo crisis and has refused to recognize Kosovar independence. (RFE/RL's Balkan Service)
A UEFA qualifying match for the Euro 2016 football tournament was suspended on October 14 after fighting broke out between players, team officials, and fans at Partizan stadium in Belgrade. Tensions were high before the match, which marked the Albanian squad's first trip to Belgrade since the 1960s and Serbian nerves still raw over the sovereignty of Kosovo, the majority ethnic Albanian region of the former Yugoslavia that declared independence from Serbia in 2008. No Albanian fans were allowed to attend the match, in an effort to ensure safety. The sports European governing body said it would investigate, and the incident could lead to serious repercussions. Here's what happened:
Demonstrators have clashed with police outside the Ukrainian parliament during a raucous protest that prompted the legislature to go into recess. Some of the protesters tried to push past police and enter parliament during the demonstration on October 14. The approximately 500 protesters were demanding the Verkhovna Rada include on its agenda a draft law recognizing controversial World War II-era guerrilla resistance groups -- the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) and Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) -- as national heroes.
On October 16, 1944, Sergei Prokofiev's opera "War and Peace" debuted for a private audience with piano accompaniment at the Moscow Actors' Center. Prokofiev revised the opera at least a dozen times in an effort to win a seal of approval from the Soviet authorities, who demanded a clearly patriotic emphasis in the saga of the 1812 French invasion of Russia. During the revision process, which coincided with World War II, the opera became increasingly bombastic, adding nationalistic marches and choruses. The final version would not be performed at the prestigious Bolshoi Theater until six years after the deaths of both the composer and Stalin. In recent years, music historians have tried to recreate Prokofiev's earlier scores to revisit his original musical conception of the opera.
Photos of the crisis in Ukraine dominate this year's Czech Press Photo contest. The competition, based on the World Press Photo awards, highlights the best journalistic work of photographers living in the Czech Republic and Slovakia during the previous year.
Some of the most compelling photographs from RFE/RL's broadcast region and beyond for the 41st week of 2014.
At least nine Pakistani and eight Indian civilians have been killed by cross-border shelling in Kashmir during the past week, in some of the heaviest fighting between the two countries in a decade.
The region of Abkhazia, in Georgia's northwest, has fought to assert its identity since the collapse of the Soviet Union. A bloody war in 1992-1993 claimed the lives of at least 35,000 people and displaced hundreds of thousands of ethnic Georgians. Following the short Georgian-Russian War in August 2008, Abkhazia declared independence from Georgia, but that status has been recognized only by its chief sponsor, Russia, and a handful of other UN member states -- Nicaragua, Venezuela, and Nauru. Since the 2008 conflict, Russia has donated at least $150 million to help support Abkhazia, but that has done little to improve the daily lives of some 240,000 residents who must endure the fallout of the so-called frozen conflict. (Text and photos by Anthony Georgieff)
Kyrgyzstan-Osh, Tandyr, 27Sep14
Throughout Central Asia, tandyr -- clay ovens -- are used to make traditional tandoor bread or "nan." It's a special process in which the dough is stuck to the side of the tandyr and is baked by the heat from the oven walls. Photographer Ernist Nurmatov of RFE/RL’s Kyrgyz Service, Radio Azattyk, recently visited a family tandyr factory in the southwestern Kyrgyz city of Osh. The Nizamov family, who are ethnic Uzbeks, have been producing the ovens by hand for almost 40 years.
Eid al-Adha preparations, Hong Kong protests, and the Kyiv conflict feature in this week's collection of some of the most compelling photographs from RFE/RL's broadcast region and beyond.
The eastern basin of the once-great Aral Sea dried up completely in the month of August for the first time in modern history. Soviet irrigation projects set up in the 1960s to support the Uzbek cotton industry have had a devastating effect on this body of water.
Hundreds of gay rights activists have marched in Belgrade in Serbia's first gay pride parade in four years. Media estimate that between 1,000 and 1,500 activists took part in the peaceful march on September 28. Several thousand anti-riot police, special police units, armored vehicles, and water cannons were deployed across the capital for the march due to threats by far-right groups. Some 50 anti-gay protestors were detained during the march. The parade was banned during the last three years over security concerns after hard-line nationalists attacked marchers and clashed with police at the first-ever event in 2010, leaving 150 people injured. (Photos: Vesna Andic, Ognjen Zoric, Zoran Glavonjic, Zarka Radoja)
Some of the most compelling photographs from RFE/RL's broadcast region and beyond. For more photo galleries, see our "Picture This" archive by clicking on the banner above.
As the annual cotton harvest gets under way in Uzbekistan, officials have ordered people of all ages and professions to contribute to the harvest effort. Although compulsory labor for anyone under 18 is officially banned, school-age children were seen working in the fields alongside adults, including pensioners. Medical students and doctors were also ordered to pick cotton, leaving some clinics closed to patients. (RFE/RL's Uzbek Service)