Thursday, November 27, 2014

Back In The U.S.S.R.: The Soviet Union In Color In 1963

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)

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

Photos Of The Week #47

Some of the most compelling photographs from RFE/RL's broadcast region and beyond for the 47th week of 2014.

Crumbling Buildings, Homemade Wine

The breakaway region of Abkhazia has endured the chilling effects of a "frozen conflict" since the early 1990s, when it sought to split from Georgia as that country was fighting for its own independence from the Soviet Union.

The Evolution Of Euromaidan

Euromaidan -- the name given to the pro-European protests in Ukraine's capital, Kyiv -- started late on November 21, 2013, when up to 2,000 protesters gathered on the city's central Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square). The movement, sparked by President Viktor Yanukovych's abrupt decision to abandon talks on a pact on closer relations with the European Union, started peacefully, but did not end that way. The violence started with the government's crackdown on protesters overnight on November 30. Months later, Yanukovych would flee the country and around 100 protesters would be dead.

A Journey Into A Mysterious Siberian Crater

Three massive craters were discovered this summer on the Yamal Peninsula in northern Siberia. In an effort to understand the origins of the newly formed craters, a group of scientists descended into one of the holes, reaching a frozen lake at the bottom.

Czechs Give President The Red Card

Thousands of Czechs held symbolic red cards in the air on November 17, in a protest against President Milos Zeman. The gathering came on the 25th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution, the peaceful overthrow of Czechoslovakia's communist regime in 1989. Protesters are angry with what they regards as Zeman's pro-Russian stance on European Union sanctions on Russia, his criticism of the Russian punk group Pussy Riot who were jailed for denouncing Vladimir Putin in a Moscow cathedral, as well as his use of vulgar language during a recent radio interview.

A Look Back At The Velvet Revolution, 25 Years Later

On November 17, Slovakia and the Czech Republic remember 25 years since the Velvet Revolution. Eight days after the fall of the Berlin Wall, a student protest against communist rule was violently put down in Prague. The following day, theaters went on strike and students occupied university campuses. Within days hundreds of thousands of people were on the streets, and by the end of the month the Communist Party agreed to hold free elections. In December, dissident playwright Vaclav Havel was elected president by the country's Federal Assembly and democracy was restored.

Photos Of The Week #46

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

Photos Of The Week #45

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.

When The Wall Went Up: Berlin 1961

RFE/RL archival photos of the construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961. All of the photographs in this slide show were culled from the RFE/RL archives at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.

The 'Offensive' Work Of Belarus's HoodGraff

Snoop Dogg has released T-shirts and accessories featuring Belarusian embroidery patterns and professing the U.S. rapper's "love" for Belarus. The items were designed by HoodGraff, a group of street artists from the Belarusian city of Vitebsk. The artists chose to relocate to Russia earlier this year after being fined $1,700, a substantial sum in Belarus. Their offense: attempting to paint a mural of the late, internationally acclaimed Belarusian writer Vasil Bykov, a vocal critic of Lukashenka, during a street-art festival in Minsk. Here's a selection of some of HoodGraff's work.

Russian Nationalists March As Kremlin Celebrates 'Unity Day'

Nationalists paraded in Moscow and other cities on November 4 in an annual event called the Russian March, while the Kremlin held patriotic celebrations of the National Unity Day holiday created by President Vladimir Putin. A motley crowd of up to 2,000 mostly male nationalists, some carrying tsarist-era flags, filed though metal detectors in a southeastern Moscow neighborhood and walked down a short stretch of two lane road flanked by tall tower blocks as riot police watched from behind a cordon. The marchers -- some in masks, others in camouflage or baseball caps -- chanted slogans such as "Russia for Russians," "One for all and all for one," and "Forward, Russians." A few threw out their hands in Nazi-style salutes, but the march was mainly peaceful. A separate march was being held later in northwestern Moscow.

The Rise And Fall Of The Berlin Wall

November 9, 2014 marks the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. The barrier between the eastern and western sectors of the German city began going up in 1961. On August 13 of that year, East German troops positioned themselves by the Brandenburg Gate and started sealing off the West-controlled part of Berlin. The wall, which ran 155 kilometers around West Berlin, meant almost certain death for those who wanted to cross to escape from the east. Twenty-eight years after it went up, the wall was unexpectedly opened and throngs of East German citizens poured through. The fall of the wall marked the beginning of the end of the communist-led regimes from Central Europe to Russia.

Looking Back: 1979 U.S. Embassy Siege In Tehran

Several thousand people have demonstrated outside the former U.S. Embassy in Tehran to mark the 35th anniversary of its takeover on November 4, 1979. Participants in the annual demonstration burned American, Israeli, and British flags and chanted slogans against the three countries. In January 1979, under mounting pressure from street protests and anger at his brutal reign, Iran's Shah Reza Pahlavi fled the, leading to the overthrow of the royal regime by guerrillas and rebel troops the following month. Eight months later, and after much turmoil, led by hundreds of students later known as the Muslim Student Followers of the Imam's Line, radicals broke into the U.S. Embassy in Tehran on November 4, 1979, and took 90 people hostage in a standoff that was to last more than 14 months. The leader of the revolution, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, returned to Iran from exile and became supreme leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran in December 1979.

Protected By Riot Police, Gays March Peacefully In Conservative Montenegro

About 200 gay activists have carried out a gay-pride parade in Montenegro’s capital, Podgorica, under the protection of hundreds of riot police. Unlike previous years, when police fought right-wing extremists and gay activists had to be evacuated from the event, this year’s November 2 parade was peaceful and without reports of any incidents. Parade organizer Daniel Kalezic attributed the lack of violence against the marchers to “better cooperation with the authorities.” The marchers carried banners reading “Let’s Love Each Other” and “This Is Just Beginning.” Montenegro is under pressure to protect human rights in order to advance toward membership in the European Union. The head of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegro, Amfilohije, said on October 31 that by supporting gays, Montenegro "is under threat of becoming a sodomite state."

Photos Of The Week #44

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.

Turkey Turns Medieval Armenian Capital Into A Tourist Attraction

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)

Daily Life In War-Torn Donbas

Photojournalist Petr Shelomovskiy has covered the unfolding of the Ukraine crisis: from the Euromaidan protests in Kyiv, the fighting in eastern Ukraine, to the crash site of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17. In this series of photos, he looks at the harsh realities of daily life in Donbas, a region in eastern Ukraine still blighted by war.

Pyotr Pavlensky, Russia's Controversial Self-Mutilating Artist

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.

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