Sunday, August 02, 2015


Almaty's Olympic Bid

On July 31, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is due to announce the city that will host Winter Olympic Games in 2022. Either Almaty or Beijing will be chosen. Almaty has already started its preparations for the 2017 Winter Universiade.

Wildfires Sweep Through Russia's Baikal Region

Forest fires are raging in the Irkutsk region of Siberia, on the islands and shores of Lake Baikal. Volunteer firefighters are trying hard to stop the damage, but high winds are working against them. An area as large as 100,000 acres is thought to be affected. (Photos by Petr Shelomovskiy, RFE/RL's Current Time TV)

Afghanistan's Institute of Music

Music in Afghanistan is perhaps best known, particularly in the West, for falling silent under the Taliban. But since 2001, musicians within and outside the country have taken steps to revive Afghanistan's unique musical tradition. One of them is Ahmad Sarmast, who heads the National Institute of Music.

Top Shots

​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.

Photos Of The Week #30

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.

Scythe Matters: Depardieu Gets Mowing Tips From Belarus Strongman

French film star Gerard Depardieu is no stranger to unusual roles and controversy. But even hardened Depardieu-watchers may be taken aback by his latest visual foray -- scything a field with authoritarian Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka. Photos released by Belarus on July 23 showed a burly Lukashenka -- sporting track pants, a T-shirt, and a baseball cap in Belarusian national colors -- giving an even bulkier Depardieu a lesson in hand-scything at his estate outside Minsk. The Belarusian presidential office said the two sexagenarians used the encounter to discuss agriculture and the farming of organic food, among other topics. "You have beautiful women, good milk, and good meat. This is what a little bull like me needs," the 66-year-old French actor was quoted as saying by Belarusian media. "I see that people here are happy, calm, and that the country must be pleasant to live in," he said on a separate visit to a dairy farm. Depardieu traveled to Belarus with the producer of an upcoming film about the French Normandie-Niemen air regiment, which fought on the eastern front in World War II, local media reported. France, Belarus, and Russia are expected to work together on the project. (AFP)

Photos Of The Week #29

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.

Scenes Of Tragedy At The MH17 Crash Site

One year ago, on July 17, 2014, Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 was shot down over rebel-held territory in eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 passengers and crew. Photographer Petr Shelomovskiy of RFE/RL's Current Time TV program documented the disaster in its immediate aftermath, and returned to the crash site near the village of Grabovo repeatedly in the months that followed.

Tehran Residents Celebrate Nuclear Deal

Residents of northern Tehran poured onto the streets after the daily Ramadan fast ended on July 14 to celebrate a long-awaited agreement on the country's nuclear program. Iran's nuclear negotiating team and representatives of world powers had announced the historic nuclear deal in Vienna earlier in the day. (AFP)

Spacious Homes Become Soldiers' Barracks In Pisky

The town of Pisky, near Donetsk, used to be home to some of the wealthier residents of eastern Ukraine. But as the Donbas region spiraled into conflict last year, rich and poor alike abandoned their homes. The larger houses, some worth millions of dollars, have now been appropriated by Ukrainian government forces. As they wait for the next clash with Russian-backed separatists, the troops sleep, train, and cook in the luxury mansions of the region's upper classes. (Photos by James Sprankle)

Photos Of The Week #28

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.

A Stroll Through Grozny

The capital of the Russian republic of Chechnya has undergone immense change since it was embroiled in a civil war in the early 2000s.

The Refugees Of Mazar-e Sharif

Thousands of Afghans have fled their homes amid a fierce Taliban offensive in the country's north. Many of those displaced have escaped to the northern province of Balkh, where they face a life of misery and squalor in makeshift refugee camps and shelters.

Music And Military Hardware At "Russia's Woodstock"

The Nashestvie Music Festival is one of the biggest outdoor music events in Russia, featuring some of the country's most popular rock bands. But alongside the music, dancing, and beer, visitors can also enjoy displays of military power, as Russian troops show off heavy weapons and invite young people to try on uniforms. Photos by Petr Shelomovskiy for RFE/RL's Current Time TV program (www.currenttime.tv)

Photos Of The Week #27

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.

Waiting For The Next Clash In Donbas

Six kilometers from the separatist-controlled city of Horlivka, Ukrainian forces of the 17th Army Battalion are holding their positions in the small town of Dzerzhynsk. The soldiers say that machine guns and mortar strikes can be heard almost every night, and that separatist fighters have approached within a few hundred meters of their camp. Their time is spent waiting for their next orders, or the next outbreak of violence. (Photos by James Sprankle)

Man Drowns As Floods Swamp Russia's Olympic City Of Sochi

A man drowned on June 25 when severe flooding hit the Russian resort of Sochi, destroying homes and cutting off transport links. Authorities declared a state of emergency in the Black Sea city, which hosted the 2014 Winter Olympics, deploying rescue workers from other cities to help cope with the disaster, authorities said. The body of the drowning victim, who was in his forties, was found in Adler, on the outskirts of Sochi. A torrential downpour dumped the equivalent of two months of rain in just 14 hours on the city of 400,000. Around 400 homes were destroyed in the part of the city closest to the Black Sea. "The Kherota river overflowed its banks, the train station was flooded and train services had to be suspended," Sochi's mayor, Anatoly Pakhomov, said. Around 2,000 people were stranded at the airport, which was under 1 meter of water, the mayor added. Several of the venues for the Olympics were flooded, as was the Formula One circuit to host the Russian Grand Prix that was inaugurated in October last year.

Fluffy, Kozak, Yaga, And Gosha -- The Soldiers Of Ukraine's 23rd Battalion

The soldiers of the 23rd Motorized Infantry Battalion are serving in the Starobeshevskiy region of Donetsk. Their military unit was formed in April 2014 as the first defense unit of the Zaporizhzhya region. In May 2014, the battalion was redeployed to the Donetsk region, where its men served at checkpoints around Mariupol. (RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service)

Photos Of The Week #26

Some of the most compelling photographs from RFE/RL's broadcast region and beyond. For more photo galleries, see our "Picture This" archive.

Hundreds Die In Pakistan Heat Wave

A four-day heat wave has killed more than 780 people in Karachi as the government declared a holiday in the southern Pakistani city to encourage people to stay home. The heat wave has coincided with severe electricity cuts and the holy month of Ramadan, when most Muslims do not eat or drink during daylight hours. Many of the deaths, among the elderly and poor have been caused by dehydration. Charities have been working to bridge the gaps in an overburdened and poorly funded public health system in the city of 20 million people, home to Pakistan's main stock market, central bank, and biggest port. Government health officials did not return calls seeking comment. Many of Karachi's wealthy have generators to run air conditioners to beat the heat, which reached 44 degrees Celsius over the weekend. Public services in Pakistan, a nuclear-armed nation of 190 million people, are starved of resources because of endemic tax evasion.

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