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Afghan Policewoman Kills Foreign Trainer
Macedonia's parliament has been placed under tight security, with traffic diverted from the center of Skopje, as government supporters and opposition demonstrators staged protests outside over a controversial draft budget.
About 600 shops and Kabul's main money exchange were destroyed after fire engulfed the Afghan capital's commercial market on December 23. No casualties have been reported.
Anastasia Hagen may be the first porn actress to seek asylum in the European Union. But the Ukrainian mother-of-three says that checkered past is well behind her now. She's fighting an uphill battle for asylum in the Czech Republic, saying she could face prison and the splitting up of her young family if she's returned to Kyiv.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said on December 20 that a U.S. law that punishes Russians who abuse human rights is poisoning ties with Washington and signalled support for a retaliatory ban on Americans adopting Russian children. (Reuters video)
Afghanistan’s education system has made huge strides since the end of the Taliban regime, and the number of children attending school -- especially girls -- has skyrocketed. But in many parts of the country, there are not enough schools to accommodate the growing classes. Radio Free Afghanistan correspondent Sabawoon visited schools in Nangahar Province, where children were attending open-air classes.
Russian police detained several opposition leaders, including blogger Aleksei Navalny, Boris Nemtsov, and Sergei Udaltsov in central Moscow on December 15 at an unsanctioned protest against the government of President Vladimir Putin. There was a heavy police presence for the rally on Lubyanka Square in temperatures as cold as minus 17 degrees Celsius. Protesters began by laying flowers at a monument in honor of victims of political repressions in Soviet times. Police reported that some 700 people attended the protest. Independent sources estimated the crowd at around 2,000 people. The protesters were surrounded by vans and riot police with a helicopter circling overhead. (Reuters video)
Two circus elephants -- Jenny and Magda -- were being transported across Siberia when their trailer caught fire on the road. The elephants escaped unharmed, but were then exposed to temperatures of minus 41 degrees Celsius. When it became clear that walking them around in circles was failing to help them withstand the cold, quick-thinking circus workers ran to a local shop to buy a couple cases of vodka, which they mixed with buckets of warm water. The elephants happily lapped up the concoction on the side of the road, and emerged the next day from sleeping in a local school's gym with nothing worse than a bit of frostbite. (Reuters video)
Egyptians began voting on December 15 on a constitution promoted by its Islamist backers as the way out of a prolonged political crisis and rejected by opponents as a recipe for further divisions in the Arab world's biggest nation.Queues formed outside polling stations in Cairo and other cities and soldiers joined police to secure the referendum process after deadly protests during the build-up. Egyptians are being asked to accept or reject a constitution that must be in place before a parliamentary election can be held in 2013 to replace an Islamist-led parliament that was dissolved this year. Many hope this will lead Egypt towards stability. Pope Tawadros II, head of Egypt's Coptic Orthodox church, arrived at a school in Cairo's Abbasiya and cast his ballot alongside other Egyptian voters. (Reuters video)
Fighting in Syria. A rover on Mars. The rise of new leaders and the return of old ones. These are some of the stories, and images, that defined 2012.
In an unexpected reversal, Azerbaijani police on December 10 arrested a man who was staging a solo progovernment protest amid a larger antigovernment rally. The protester told the crowd that if it weren't for former President Heydar Aliyev and his son, current President Ilham Aliyev, there would be no Azerbaijan. He was then taken away by the police. RFE/RL's Azerbaijan Service
The Nobel Committee has presented this year's Nobel Peace Prize to the European Union at a ceremony in Oslo, referring to Europe as a "continent of peace." President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, and European Parliament President Martin Schulz received the award, while German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande stood together to acknowledge the award. (Reuters video)
Police in Baku have forcibly dispersed an unsanctioned rally by the Public Chamber coalition of opposition parties and movements. Dozens of opposition activists tried to gather on December 10 at central Baku's Square of the Fountains to mark Human Rights Day. (RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service)
Afghan President Hamid Karzai told a press conference in Kabul on December 8 that a suicide bomb attack targeting his country's intelligence chief, Asadullah Khan Khalid, was planned in the Pakistani city of Quetta. Karzai said he would raise the issue with Pakistan, but that there would be no change in the way Afghan seeks peace. (Reuters video)
Residents of a village in northeastern Belarus have complained they have had their homes bulldozed and burnt to the ground without proper warning or adequate compensation from the authorities.
Georgia's new government has ruled out any political motives behind the arrests of former officials from the previous administration. More than 20 former officials and government members have so far been arrested, questioned, or charged with abuse of power and illegal confinement.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in Prague on December 3, where she met with her Czech counterpart, Karel Schwarzenberg, on the first stop of a European trip. During her visit, Clinton is expected to encourage the Czechs to choose U.S. firm Westinghouse over Russia's Atomstroyexport to build a new billion-dollar nuclear project at the Temelin power plant. (Reuters)
The region of Stavropol in southern Russia has announced a new dress code for schools that bans the Muslim hijab or head scarf. At least one school is already enforcing the ban and has turned away girls who arrived at school wearing the hijab. (RU24 via Reuters)
Andrey Holosau contracted HIV through drug use in 1996. Since then, he has beaten drug addiction, learned to manage his health, and gotten married. He and his wife Hanna Tkachova, who is HIV-negative, live in the small city of Svetlahorsk.
HIV/AIDS is relatively rare in Armenia, with just over 1,300 officially registered cases, but the rate of infections is growing. Health care professionals say that in many cases, Armenians contract the virus while living abroad and contribute to its spread back home. Produced by Lilit Harutyunyan, RFE/RL’s Armenian Service
The UN General Assembly on November 29 overwhelmingly approved a resolution to upgrade the Palestinian Authority's observer status at the UN from "entity" to "non-member state." The vote set off mass celebrations in Ramallah and other Palestinian cities. Reuters video
Domestic violence remains socially acceptable in Tajikistan, where calls to eliminate it are often dismissed as "foreign" meddling. Here's what some married men and women in the capital, Dushanbe, had to say on the subject.
Pro-separatist parties in Spain's Catalonia have won a legislative majority in regional elections. However, the ruling pro-independence Convergence and Union alliance has lost support. The party will now have to form a coalition to stay in power. (Reuters video)
In Kabul, Shi'ite Muslims beat themselves with steel-tipped flails to mark the 10th day of the mourning month of Muharram.
Afghan land-mine survivor Muhammad Shafayee works as a brickmaker and at construction sites in the eastern city of Jalalabad. He tells his story to RFE/RL's Afghan Service correspondent Sayaed Jan Sabawoon.
Bosnian land-mine survivor Ermin Jusufovic is an athlete who plays on the national sitting volleyball team that competed at the London Paralympics. He tells his story to RFE/RL Balkan Service correspondent Maja Nikolic.
A judge in the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, has postponed until December 3 the hearing into the case of former Georgian Defense Minister Irakli Okruashvili, who was arrested on November 20 after arriving in Tbilisi following five years spent abroad. Okruashvili left Georgia in 2007 after investigations were launched into allegations of bribe-taking and the formation of an illegal armed group. He was later tried in absentia and sentenced to 11 years in prison. (Reuters video)
French combat troops began pulling out from a forward operating base in Afghanistan's Kapisa Province on November 20. Responsibility for the facility is being handed over to the Afghan National Army. (Reuters video)
Israel has been shelling Gaza for a fifth day. Media buildings in Gaza City and a number of other targets have been hit by Israeli shells. Thousands of Israeli troops backed by tanks have also been massing along the border in preparation for a possible ground operation. Palestinian officials say more than 60 people have been killed since the Israeli air offensive began with the killing of Hamas's military chief, Ahmed Jabari, in an airstrike on November 14. Rockets fired from Gaza have killed three Israeli civilians.
Israeli warplanes carried out hundreds of strikes on Gaza targets overnight and several houses in Israel were hit by rockets fired from Gaza. In the Israeli border town of Reim, people gathered in shelters to seek protection. The latest upsurge in the long-running Israel-Palestine conflict came after Israel killed Hamas's military commander, Ahmed Al-Jaabari, in a precision air strike on his car.
For the past 10 years, Afghanistan's economy has been heavily dependent on foreign aid and contracts linked to the needs of thousands of coalition troops. That will largely end in 2014 as foreign combat forces leave the country. The government is downplaying the potential impact, but business owners in Kabul tell VOA's Sharon Behn they are worried about the country's economic future.
Far from the wealthy neighborhoods built on Azerbaijan's oil boom, residents of the area known as "Shanghai" live just meters from the railroad tracks. People in this crowded quarter are used to their homes rattling as trains pass, and to the dangers that come with their location. (Video by Nazrin Nazirova of RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service)
Voters in Slovenia are going to the polls today to vote for president. Incumbent President Danilo Turk, an independent, is running against two other main candidates, former Prime Minister Borut Pahor of the Social Democrats and center-right party leader Milan Zver. Reuters video
Amateur video posted on online purportedly shows the aftermath of air strikes in the towns of Douma and Deir al-Zor, where people are seen carrying wounded victims on stretchers. The video is said to be shot on November 11. The latest fighting comes as Syrian opposition groups are meeting in Doha in attempt to strike a deal on forming a united leadership. Reuters video
Maria Barbanou is raising two of her granddaughters while their mother works as a housekeeper in Italy to try to support their family. Their situation is increasingly common in Moldova, Europe's poorest country.
A $40 million library in Tajikistan's capital, Dushanbe, might be the largest library in Central Asia. But critics say it’s less an institution of learning than a vanity project for the Tajik president.
The Kazakh city of Almaty depends on a Soviet-era central heating system that pipes hot water and steam to residents' homes. This year, the city government has delayed turning on the central heat, leaving many thousands shivering. To call attention to the issue, activist Murat Telibekov decided to turn up the heat on city hall.
Muslims are preparing to celebrate Eid al-Adha, the religious festival that coincides with the end of the annual hajj pilgrimage on October 26. The holiday is observed with the sacrifice of a goat, sheep, or cow -- if one can afford it. RFE/RL’s Radio Mashaal reports that hard bargaining is taking place at animal markets in Peshawar, Pakistan, where the price of livestock regularly spikes before Eid, but also depends on the supply and demand in neighboring Afghanistan.
Fifty years ago, U.S. President John F. Kennedy announced that the Soviet Union had begun deploying nuclear missiles to Cuba.
Georgia's new parliament has been meeting for the first time following contentious elections that swept the ruling party out of power. The parliament's first session saw President Mikheil Saakashvili calling for unity while Prime Minister-designate Bidzina Ivanishvili pledged to fulfill campaign promises. (Reuters video)
In September, hard alcohol tainted with methanol left 28 people dead in the Czech Republic, prompting a nationwide ban on the sale of spirits. Police have since traced the contaminated spirits to their source and lifted the prohibition in bars and restaurants. Some consumers, however, are still unsure about the safety of the bottles in their liquor cabinets. One Prague laboratory is relying on new technology to put drinkers' minds at ease. (Video by RFE/RL's Nikolay Pavlov)
Russia hit Georgia six years ago with a wine embargo. Suddenly, the market that had consumed 80 percent of Georgia’s wine exports closed. Now there is serious talk of lifting the embargo. Voice of America's James Brooke reports from Sighnaghi, Georgia, on how the country’s wine industry has fared during the past six years and its future.
Journalists and their supporters in Ukraine are protesting what they say is a government attempt to stifle one of the few remaining independent television stations ahead of parliamentary elections scheduled for late October. The station, TVi, has been embroiled in tax and administrative disputes with the government, and has begun to disappear from cable networks.
Malala Yousafzai is a teenage girl from Pakistan's Swat district who stood up to the Taliban by writing an online diary about their ban on girls' schools there. On Tuesday, she was shot in the head and neck by a Pakistani Taliban gunman while traveling home from her school. RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal
An Afghan woman who runs a shelter for drug addicts has opened a restaurant where former users can work while rebuilding their lives.
A craftsman from Texas and a Russian piano virtuoso create a unique Czech venture to make and play historical pianos that replicate the music Mozart or Beethoven would have heard and performed.
Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian has accused Azerbaijan of preparing for war over Nagorno-Karabakh, the Armenian-controlled separatist territory inside Azerbaijan. In an interview with Reuters in Yerevan, Sarkisian said Azerbaijan’s government has been acquiring arms to prepare for new fighting.
The Pakistani opposition politician Imran Khan is leading a procession into the South Waziristan tribal region to protest U.S. drone missile strikes near the Afghan border. The Pakistani Taliban has condemned the planned march, calling Khan a puppet of the West. Reuters video
Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov is a well-known horse-racing enthusiast, but his prized steeds have been banned from some international races over Kadyrov's record as a human rights violator. However, he's had no trouble in the Czech Republic, where eight of his top thoroughbreds are being trained in Mimon, in the country's north. (Produced by RFE/RL's Nikolay Pavlov)
As Iraqi children started the new school year this week, their schools were barely able to accommodate the number of students. Hundreds of Iraqi schools were demolished during the summer, and new facilities have yet to be built. (Produced by Abbas Al-Wasti, RFE/RL’s Radio Free Iraq)
Central Asia is thought to be the homeland of the melon, and many consider Uzbekistan's melons to be the best in the region.
Hundreds of protesters, mostly female, marched in Kabul on September 24 to condemn violence toward women and demand that the rule of law be upheld throughout Afghanistan. The protest followed the recent public lashing of a 15-year-old girl in Ghazni Province. (Video by Sabawoon, RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan)
Seven-year-old Safet is a good student in his third-grade class in Tuzla, Bosnia, but the costs of going to school -- textbooks and lunches -- are more than his unemployed mother can afford. They are among some 20 percent of Bosnians who live below the poverty line and are struggling to provide for their most basic needs. Produced by Maja Nikolic, RFE/RL's Balkan Service
Protests condemning a film mocking the Prophet Muhammad continued in Afghanistan's capital, Kabul, on September 20. The protesters, mainly university students, chanted anti-American slogans and threatened further demonstrations. Many held signs stating their loyalty to "Our beloved leader, Muhammad."
Nobel laureate and Burmese democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi discussed her country's political reforms and her own experience during years of detention with VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns in Washington on September 18.
The Czech government has banned the sale of hard liquor after at least 20 people died from drinking bootleg vodka and rum tainted with methanol. Bar and restaurant owners are worried about the economic impact of the prohibition, but many Czechs are not letting the ban dampen their spirits.
The school year has begun, and kids everywhere are readjusting to classes and homework. But in the tiny Armenian village of Pokrashen, 6-year-old Lernik faces a unique challenge. (Video by RFE/RL's Armenian Service)
Residents of Lviv in western Ukraine say an unidentified and pervavise odor has tainted their city. Activists recently staged a protest where they declared "We Have the Right to Breathe," and asked passers-by to sign a petition asking officials to solve the problem. (RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service)
Supporters of the Russian punk activist collective Pussy Riot gathered outside the Russian Embassy in Belgrade on September 12, demanding the release of the three members of the group who are imprisoned in Moscow. The protesters chanted a phrase from a Pussy Riot song, asking the Virgin Mary to "drive out" Vladimir Putin. (RFE/RL's Balkan Service)
Adiba Musayeva has been making carpets by hand for 45 years, but she says her profession brings her little income and even less respect. RFE/RL Azerbaijani Service correspondent Vusala Alibayli spoke to Musayeva about what appears to be a tradition in decline.
Sergei Udaltsov, the leader of Russia's opposition Left Front movement, spoke to RFE/RL’s Russian Service about his role in recent protests, saying that he wants to change the course of Russia's development.
Video shot in Benghazi late on September 11 shows the U.S. Consulate in flames after an attack by protesters that killed four Americans, including Ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens. (Video courtesy of Alhurra)
Azerbaijan's decision to pardon and promote Ramil Safarov, an army lieutenant convicted in the 2004 ax murder of an Armenian soldier, has provoked anger in Armenia. Safarov had been jailed for life in Hungary, where the murder took place, but he was given a hero's welcome after being released to Azerbaijan on August 31. RFE/RL's Armenian Service asked people in Yerevan for their reactions.
As the use of computers spreads worldwide, handwriting is disappearing from some schools' curriculums and from daily use. But in some countries, schools and institutions are making a special effort to preserve the beauty of the written word. (Produced by Aleksandr Kulygin, Margot Buff, and Tea Topuria)
On a visit to Armenia, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen added his voice to Western criticism of Azerbaijan’s decision to pardon an army officer who was sentenced to life in prison for the ax-murder of an Armenian officer during a NATO training course. (RFE/RL's Armenian Service)
Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has tracked a Siberian tiger and posed with a polar bear, on September 5 took his love of wildlife to new heights by flying with cranes. The flight from Salekhard in an ultralight plane was intended to prompt the young Siberian cranes, bred in captivity, to venture out on their migration route -- and to bolster Putin's image as a nature-loving, clean-living outdoorsman. (Reuters)
Survivors of the recent flooding in the Kuban region of southern Russia are expressing growing disappointment with the authorities' efforts to deliver aid.
In an interview with Voice of America's Carolyn Presutti, former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright speaks about President Barack Obama's foreign policy as well as the situation in Afghanistan, from whom she says the international community must not walk away after the withdrawal of foreign troops. Albright spoke to VOA on the sidelines of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Some business ideas never get stale. Ali, an entrepreneur in Baku, has fired up a tandir -- a clay oven -- to make traditional-style Azerbaijani bread. He's finding that he can't keep up with demand. (RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service)
Mitt Romney has formally accepted the Republican Party's nomination to run against Barack Obama in the U.S. presidential election in November. In his acceptance speech, Romney made an effort to connect with voters by appealing to feelings of anxiety rippling through the electorate as the nation faces an uncertain economy. AP video
Kazakh cyclist Aleksandr Vinokurov was suspended from the sport in 2007 due to doping charges, but he returned to win a gold medal at the 2012 London Olympics. In an interview with RFE/RL's Kazakh Service, he spoke about the doping scandal and his recent decision to retire from racing.
The Paralympic Games opened in London on August 29 with a fireworks display and festive ceremony based on themes of enlightenment and the quest for knowledge. Some 4,200 competitors from 164 countries are taking part in the games. (AFP video)
Since losing his sight from a battlefield injury, Ilham Zekiyev has become a world-class judo fighter, or judoka, winning European and world championships and two Paralympic gold medals. He's fighting for more gold at the current games in London. (RFE/RL’s Azerbaijan’s Service)
Half a million Palestinian refugees are registered in Syria and slightly fewer in Lebanon. Most have remained in Syria, but with the escalation of fighting in and around their camps last month, hundreds of Palestinian families began seeking safer havens in neighboring Lebanon.
As attention turns to the legacy of the London Games, there is a surviving Olympic site that forms a remarkable canvas of 20th century history. Adolf Hitler attempted to turn the 1936 Berlin Games into a showcase for Nazi propaganda. VOA's Henry Ridgwell visited the site and spoke to those trying to preserve it for future generations.
Members of Bosnia's Paralympic volleyball team think they have a good shot at a medal when the games begin in London on August 29. But the team has had a rough road to the Paralympics, with insufficient time for training and a difficult schedule once they arrive. (Produced by Marija Arnautovic and Selma Boracic of RFE/RL’s Balkan Service)
During a visit to RFE/RL's headquarters in Prague on August 26, U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman (Independent-Connecticut) said there is "clear" evidence that Iran is seeking to build nuclear weapons and that if Tehran achieves this goal it would represent a threat to the entire world.
Georgian weightlifter Shota Omarashvili, 30, was born with limited use of his legs. His father joined the military with the aim of getting better health care for his son but died in the 1992-93 war in Abkhazia. Now, Shota has recovered from a series of operations to become a Paralympic contender. (Video by RFE/RL's Georgian Service)
Amid the escalating violence in Syria, Gevorg Payasian and his family left their homes in Aleppo and sought refuge in Armenia. Yerevan has tried to smooth the transition for ethnic Armenians by streamlining the citizenship application process. But the Payasians are struggling to adapt and build a new life in a new country. Produced by Naira Bulghadaryan and Gevorg Levonyan, RFE/RL's Armenian Service
A Ukrainian artist has created a living fairy tale at the National Art Museum in Kyiv. Five "Sleeping Beauties" are lying in the gallery for three days -- and they've agreed to marry any male suitor who can wake them with a kiss. (Reuters video)
Chess players from age 8 to 18 are competing in Prague at the European Youth Chess Championship. Many of the players come from Russia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and other post-Soviet countries where chess is considered part of a well-rounded education.
They have no official funding, they have to clear the weeds off their own playing field, and their wicket is made of bricks instead of wood, but the Afghan national women's cricket team is ready to play. Produced by Sabawoon; reporting by Farangis Najibullah and Omid Marzban
They have no official funding, they have to clear the weeds off their own playing field, and their wicket is made of bricks instead of wood, but the Afghan national women's cricket team is ready to play. (Produced by Sabawoon; reporting by Farangis Najibullah and Omid Marzban)
More than 200 Ukrainian athletes are taking part in the London Paralympics, including the first disabled Ukrainians to compete in cycling.
Activists in Washington, Kyiv, and Berlin gathered at the Russian embassies in their cities to show support for the members of the Pussy Riot punk group as the verdict against them was read in Moscow. The demonstrators said that they hoped to shine light on the case and on the cause of free speech in Russia.
Residents of Varhavar, a village in Armenia’s southeastern Syunik Province, have been afraid to stay indoors since a powerful earthquake struck neighboring Iran on August 11, killing more than 300 people there. The earthquake and its aftershocks were felt in much of Armenia, especially near the border with Iran, damaging houses in Varhavar and neighboring towns. (RFE/RL's Armenian Service)
More than 4,000 Syrians have crossed into Turkey in recent days, bringing the total number of Syrian refugees there to near 60,000.
Azad Naficy is a young Iranian-American songwriter. While his father, Majid Naficy, is well-known to Iranians as a poet, Azad uses a different genre to express his ideas: hip-hop. Produced by Elizabeth Lee for VOA’s “Voices of America” series
Following a police raid on the group's compound on August 1, RFE/RL’s Tatar-Bashkir Service interviewed members of an Islamic sect in Kazan that has lived underground for over a decade. Children living underground with the group were sent to hospitals for check-ups, and some members of the sect may face charges of criminal negligence. One mother described being forcibly separated from her children during the raid.
Taekwondo fighter Rohullah Nikpai returned to Afghanistan on August 14 with his bronze medal in hand -- the country's only medal from the London Olympics. Fans, musicians, and fellow athletes greeted the Olympian in Kabul. (Video by Sabawoon, RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan)
Horse dancing, polo, judo, and many games with a distinctly local flavor were on display at a recent festival celebrating the rich culture of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province's Swat district. (Produced by Niaz Ahmad Khan of RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal)
A clip from state TV in Turkmenistan showing Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov meeting with tourists and surveying the country's new tourist hub, Awaza.
London bid farewell to the 2012 Summer Games during a raucous closing ceremony on August 12, with help from the reunited Spice Girls, a Monty Python anthem, and a swarm of other performers who had 80,000 fans at the Olympic Stadium cheering and singing. (AP Video)
RFE/RL's Russian Service talked to residents of Krymsk, a southern Russian city hit by deadly flash floods on July 7. Many of the victims say red tape is preventing them from receiving proper aid and financial compensation.
Ethnic Armenians arriving in Yerevan from Aleppo say the Syrian government is supplying local civilians with weapons to defend themselves from attacks by rebels. They say a majority of Armenians there are now armed.
Seven Pakistani crew members last week arrived safely back to the port city Karachi after their release by Somali pirates. Captain Javed Saleem spoke to VOA about his nearly 20 months in captivity.
The United Nations says more than 30,000 Syrians have sought refuge from their country's conflict in neighboring Lebanon. As VOA's Margaret Besheer reports from the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli, many of those refugees have sought out smugglers to spirit them to safety.
During the long days of Ramadan without food or drink, many Pakistanis look forward to breaking their fasts with cold drinks at sundown. But with power shortages in some parts of the country for up to 18 hours a day, ice producers are unable to keep up with the demand.
Syrian nationals of Armenian descent who came to Yerevan from Aleppo on board an Armavia plane late on August 2 told RFE/RL's Armenian Service that staying in the city was becoming increasingly dangerous as fighting continues there between rebels and Syrian government troops.
Weightlifter Yulia Kalyna has won the bronze medal in the 58-kilogram weight category, bringing home the second medal for Ukraine at this year's Olympic Games. In her hometown of Mariupol, Yulia's parents told RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service about their daughter's road to victory.
Officials in Kabul say security forces raided a militant hideout in Kabul today, killing five gunmen in a seven-hour battle. Security officials seized suicide vests, rockets, and machine guns, and said the militants were planning suicide attacks at several sites. Video by Sabawoon, RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan
Three members of the anti-Kremlin punk collective Pussy Riot went on trial this week in Moscow for staging a protest at Moscow's Christ the Savior Cathedral. While the Moscow Patriarchate has demanded harsh punishment for the defendants, Christian leaders of various denominations living outside of Russia feel that the charges are disproportionately harsh.
Among the new U.S. citizens sworn in at a ceremony in Houston, Texas, this week was a 26-year-old woman from Pakistan who came to the United States after she had acid thrown in her face 10 years ago. Doctors in Houston performed dozens of surgeries to restore her face. Although still scarred, she is moving on with her life and trying to help other victims of violence back in Pakistan. (Produced by Greg Flakus, VOA)
The Synetic Theater Company, founded by two Georgian performers and based near Washington, D.C., combines drama, dance, and acrobatics. Their biggest accomplishment is putting a fresh face on the 400-year-old plays of William Shakespeare by replacing words with action. Produced by Maia Kay, VOA’s Georgian Service
Many ethnic Armenians from Syria arriving in Yerevan tell RFE/RL’s Armenian Service that the situation in Aleppo has been going from bad to worse in the past 24 hours. Some of them say Aleppo’s Armenian neighborhoods were no longer safe as fighting between government troops and rebels encroached on those parts of the city.
After a temporary closure, Iraq has reopened its borders with Syria, allowing refugees fleeing the violence into camps set up near the crossing points. Burhan al-Obaidi of RFE/RL’s Radio Free Iraq visited the border post of Al-Qaim, where many Syrians are waiting in limbo.
Protesters demonstrated in Kabul to call attention to the case of Shakila, a 16-year-old girl who was reportedly raped and murdered last year in Bamiyan Province. A member of the provincial council, Wahidi Beheshti, is accused of the crime, but he and his powerful allies maintain that Shakila committed suicide. (By Sabawoon, RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan)
Judoka Lasha Shavdatuashvili won the first gold medal for Georgia at this year's Olympic Games with a victory on July 29 in the 66-kilogram weight category. In his hometown of Karaleti, the Olympian's family and neighbors gathered to celebrate and remember. RFE/RL's Georgian Service spoke to Shavdatuashvili’s parents, who described their son’s relatively quick transition from frail boy to Olympic medalist.
Just before the Olympic Games kicked off in London, RFE/RL’s Georgian Service spoke to judoka Varlam Liparteliani, who is expected to be a top medal contender for Georgia.
Shamsia Hassani is known as the only female graffiti artist in Afghanistan, and she wants to use her art to change the perception of women in her country. But just venturing outside to find a location to work is fraught with risk. (Video by Sharon Behn of VOA News)
The International Judo Federation has ruled that Wojdan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shahrkhani, one of the first two Saudi women to compete in the Olympics, cannot wear a head scarf in competition because of the danger it presents to her. The other female Olympian from Saudi Arabia will be able to compete in distance-running wearing a head scarf. Saudi officials agreed to send women to the Olympics on the condition that they wear the appropriate Islamic clothing. (AP video)
On July 21, General Abdullo Nazarov, a senior state security official in Tajikistan’s Autonomous Gorno-Badakhshan Province was stabbed and killed. The government pinned the blame for this on Tolib Ayombekov, a former opposition commander. Government forces subsequently launched a series of military strikes that have left dozens dead.
RFE/RL Tajik Service Director Sojida Djakhfarova discusses the situation and the strategic importance of Gorno-Badakhshan, which shares a lengthy border with Afghanistan.
On July 26, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon visited the memorial to the 1995 Srebrenica massacre in Potocari, Bosnia, where he laid flowers to honor the victims. Ban is the first UN chief to visit the memorial site. (Video by RFE/RL's Balkan Service)
Kristine Esebua is the only archer on Georgia’s Olympic team at the 2012 London Olympics. The 27-year-old won a silver medal at last year’s World Archery Championships, and she hopes to bring home another medal from her third appearance at the Olympic Games. Video by Eka Kevanishvili, RFE/RL’s Georgian Service
Ukraine’s Olympic diving team held an intense training session ahead of the London Olympic Games. (Video by RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Service)
Judoka Ajmal Faizada is one of six Afghan athletes vying to bring home the country's first-ever gold medal from the Olympic Games in London. Faizada says his inspiration to learn judo came from an unlikely source: Russian President Vladimir Putin. (Produced by RFE/RL's Frud Bezhan)
Tajik servicemen stood guard at a hospital in the capital, Dushanbe, as troops wounded in an operation in Badakhshon Province were brought in for emergency treatment. At least 12 troops and 30 militants were killed in the military operation targeting a group suspected of involvement in the killing of a top security official. Video by RFE/RL's Tajik Service
Human rights activist Lyudmila Alekseyeva turned 85 on July 20. She spoke to Kristina Gorelik of RFE/RL’s Russian Service about her long career as a dissident and rights campaigner.
Multiple bombing and shooting attacks in Baghdad and cities north of the capital have left over 100 people dead and wounded scores more in the deadliest day in Iraq this year. The attacks targeted military bases, police checkpoints, and government officials. AP video
The village of Khndzoresk is rich in history, but it took a new feat of engineering to draw crowds of tourists to this remote region of southeastern Armenia. (Produced by Karlen Aslanyan of RFE/RL’s Armenian Service)
Human rights activist Lyudmila Alekseyeva, the head of the Helsinki Group in Moscow, turns 85 on July 20. She spoke to RFE/RL’s Russian Service on her birthday about her long career in human rights.
A gunman opened fire at a movie theater in the western U.S. state of Colorado late on July 19, killing 12 people and injuring 50 others. Police have detained the suspected gunman, a man in his early 20s. A witness described the attack to AP.
The holy month of Ramadan this year coincides with the height of summer, which means long, sweltering days when neither food nor drink is permitted. What do Tajikistan's Muslim leaders advise to help believers observe the fast? Video by Barot Yusufi, RFE/RL's Tajik Service
Bulgaria's Interior Ministry has released a short clip of security camera video showing the man suspected of carrying out a bombing near the Burgas airport. The bombing on board a bus killed five Israelis, the Bulgarian bus driver, and the bomber. AP video
Valilulla Yakupov, a former deputy mufti of the Russian republic of Tatarstan, was shot dead near his home on July 19. The top Islamic leader of Tatarstan, Ildus Faizov, was injured in a separate attack. RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir filmed a roundtable discussion with Yakupov the day before he was killed.
Russia has recently introduced controversial new legislation that bans "propagandizing" homosexuality among minors, making it risky for gay activists even to speak out. As their community gets pushed farther into the margins, some gay men and women are choosing to protect their privacy and remain silent rather than face an uphill battle for tolerance. (Video by Alexander Gorelik of RFE/RL's Russian Service)
The Afghan activist group YoungWomen4Change recently celebrated its first anniversary at the Sahar Gul Cafe, an Internet cafe exclusively for women, which the nonprofit created. (Video by Sabawoon of RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan)
Russian TV personality and opposition activist Ksenia Sobchak organized a charity auction of jewelry donated by supporters to raise money for children who lost one or both parents in the deadly floods in Russia’s south. (RFE/RL’s Russian Service)
In the past decade, Georgia has implemented strict measures to fight drug use, with apparent success. Officials claim the number of hard drug users in the country has fallen from 250,000 to 40,000. But the problem of addiction remains widespread. One new rehabilitation program, opened with funds from the Open Society Foundation, is the first to promote art therapy as the key to recovery from addiction. (Produced by Tea Topuria of RFE/RL's Georgian Service)
A day after performing at a government-supported music festival in Belarus, the winner of this year's Eurovision Song Contest, Swedish pop singer Loreen, met with human rights activists at the Swedish Embassy in Minsk, where she issued a statement in support of Belarusian political prisoners. (RFE/RL's Belarus Service)
A 66-meter-long painting by Uzbek artist Lekim Ibragimov has been unveiled in the Czech capital, Prague. Titled "One Thousand Angels and One Painting," the work is an interpretation of the tales of "One Thousand and One Nights" and is made up of 1,000 individual canvases. Ibragimov says he hopes that bringing the painting to Central Europe will help create a bridge between East and West. (Video by RFE/RL)
Armenia's national airline, Armavia, resumed flights to and from Syria this week after several months. But even with flights back on schedule, there are far more ethnic Armenians trying to leave Syria than available seats. RFE/RL's Armenian Service spoke to passengers arriving on a Syrian Air flight to Yerevan who recounted their difficulties in securing tickets and their fears of violence in Syria. (Video by Naira Bulghadaryan and Hovhannes Shoghikyan)
Afghan women have marched in Kabul in a "silent protest" against violence toward women. The demonstration follows the recent public execution in Parwan Province of a young Afghan woman who was accused of adultery, and whose killing was captured on video. (Video by Sabawoon, RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan)
Mourners gathered by a Volga River port in Russia's Tatarstan Republic for a memorial to mark one year since the sinking of the "Bulgaria" cruise ship. More than 120 people died in the disaster on July 10, 2011. (Video by RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service)
The city of Krymsk started burying many of the victims of the July 7 flash floods on July 9, as Russia observed a national day of mourning. (Video by RFE/RL' s Russian Service)
A mass wedding ceremony took place in Andijan, as part of Fund Forum's "1,000 Weddings and 1,000 Sunnat-Tuy (circumcisions)" project.
Trucks carrying 520 coffins with the remains of newly identified victims of the Srebrenica massacre arrived in Potocari, where they'll be buried on July 11, the 17th anniversary of the massacre of some 8,000 Muslim men and boys by Bosnian Serb forces. (Video by Marija Arnautovic of RFE/RL's Balkan Service)
Armen Nazarian is getting ready to compete in his third Olympics, which he says is likely to be his last. If he brings home the gold, he'll be only the second Armenian to do so. Produced by Karlen Aslanyan of RFE/RL’s Armenian Service
On July 1, the European Union's embargo on Iranian oil purchases came into effect, adding to an already robust sanctions regime on the Islamic republic. Radio Farda's Kayvan Hosseini discusses the effects of such sanctions on ordinary Iranians and how the regime in Tehran is attempting to spin and counter the latest embargoes.
As London prepares to host the 2012 Olympic Games, Athens' experience eight years ago could offer some sobering lessons. Many of the facilities now lie overgrown and empty. Many Greeks, and even the head of the International Olympic Committee, say hosting the 2004 Olympics contributed to the country's debt crisis. (Video by Henry Ridgewell for VOA News)
Naglaa Ali Mahmoud is married to Egypt’s newly inaugurated President Muhammad Morsi, but she avoids the title of first lady, preferring instead to refer to herself as a servant to the nation. In a rare interview granted to a Western news agency, Mahmoud spoke with Voice of America early in the campaign about her marriage to Morsi, which began when she was a teenager; his decision to join the Muslim Brotherhood; and relations between Egyptian Muslims and Christians.
The Russian government raised eyebrows recently by asking filmmakers to portray people from the Caucasus in a more positive light. RFE/RL takes a look at screen images of Caucasians from the days of Soviet silent film up to the 2008 Russian-Georgian war.
This week marks the first time the 57-nation Organization of the Islamic Conference is devoting a congress to China and the Muslim world, focusing on Beijing's influence in Islamic countries. At the same time, Islam within China is flourishing, with official statistics counting more than 20 million Chinese Muslims. But the state continues to maintain close watch over Islamic activities. VOA's Stephanie Ho visited the Ningxia autonomous region of northwest China, home to millions of Muslims of the Hui minority, to find out what life is like for Chinese Muslims.
June 27 is Tajikistan's National Unity Day, a commemoration of the 1997 peace deal that ended five years of bloody civil war. Fifteen years after the conflict ended, many questions remain unanswered and countless victims remain missing or have not received a proper burial. Akram Qahhorov of RFE/RL's Tajik Service visited the site of several mass graves in western Tajikistan and spoke to survivors whose memories of war are still painfully fresh.
The streets of Kabul, normally crowded with military convoys and UN vehicles, have been taken over by girls and boys on skateboards. The occasion was the fourth-annual “Go Skateboarding Day,” organized by Skateistan, an international nonprofit devoted to empowering young people through sports. After the outdoor show of skill, the skateboarders, many in traditional dress, took part in the largest competition of the year. (Video by Sabawoon of RFE/RL’s Radio Free Afghanistan)
As fighting continues to escalate in Syria, thousands of members of the country's large community of ethnic Armenians are seeking refuge in their ancestral homeland. Ahead of World Refugee Day on June 20, RFE/RL's Armenian Service met with one family of Syrian-Armenians who are trying to make a new life in Yerevan.
Ahead of a court decision in Moscow on the continued detention of members of the antigovernment punk collective Pussy Riot, activists from the group were spreading news of the case in the Czech capital. Meanwhile, their Czech supporters set up a temporary wall in downtown Prague where passersby can write messages of support. (Video by RFE/RL's Margot Buff)
A number of former industrial sites in Germany's Ruhr region have been transformed into centers for business, entertainment, and tourism. This video takes a short tour of some of the region's successes in industrial redevelopment. (Produced by Yaroslav Dimont)
Egypt's Freedom and Justice Party, the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, has announced that its candidate, Muhammad Morsi, has won the country's first free presidential election since Hosni Mubarak's ouster 16 months ago. AP Video
A number of former industrial sites in Germany's Ruhr region have been transformed into centers for business, entertainment, and tourism. This video takes a short tour of some of the region's successes in industrial redevelopment. Produced by Yaroslav Dimont
As countries on June 12 mark the World Day Against Child Labor, RFE/RL's Tajik Service provides evidence that underage labor remains a widespread problem.
A gay rights march, which is seen as a test of tolerance in the EU-bound nation, began on June 9 under heavy police guard in Croatia.
In Lviv, one of the host cities for the Euro 2012 soccer championship, foreign fans discuss their impressions of the city, Ukraine in general, and what they expect from the tournament.
The Azerbaijani village of Mazam on the Armenian border has been caught in the cross fire as clashes have flared between the two countries in the past week. (Video by RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service)
With the Euro 2012 football championship set to kick off in Poland and Ukraine, the city of Kyiv is undergoing last-minute changes, with workers repairing the streets as well as new English-language announcements and signs installed in the subway.
As Azerbaijan and Armenia trade accusations over casualties on the Azerbaijani-Armenian border, residents in an Armenian village say exchanges of fire between the two countries' militaries have become an ordinary occurrence.
What happened in the State Duma on June 5 could be the shape of things to come. In a Russian version of the filibuster, the center-left opposition party A Just Russia submitted more than 400 amendments to a controversial bill that would dramatically increase fines for illegal protests -- and insisted on reading out each amendment in excruciatingly pedantic detail. The little rebellion in the Duma is sure to embolden the opposition and illustrates just how much Russian politics has changed in the past six months.
An RFE/RL correspondent says Ukrainian police have used tear gas to disperse protesters outside the country's parliament. The demonstrators were protesting against legislation that would make Russian an official language in some regions alongside Ukrainian. Security forces apparently released multiple cylinders of the gas, which produced a cloud that covered dozens of protesters and the police themselves. The Interior Ministry has denied the reports.
Romany musicians and dancers from across Europe are performing in the Czech capital this week as part of the Khamoro Festival. The celebration of Romany, or Gypsy, culture hit the streets with a parade through Prague's Old Town, with performers from Macedonia, France, Turkey, and elsewhere. (Produced by RFE/RL's Margot Buff)
Seventy years ago, Czech resistance fighters assassinated the Nazi leader of occupied Czechoslovakia, Reinhard Heydrich, known as the "Butcher of Prague." A Czech organization is commemorating the event with a re-creation of a concentration camp, a reminder not only of the resistance effort, but also of the brutal crackdown on civilians that followed. (Video by RFE/RL's Nikolay Pavlov)
A group of protesters raided the campaign headquarters of Egyptian presidential candidate Ahmed Shafiq in Cairo on May 28 and set fire to the building. There were no reported injuries. A number of supporters of Shafiq, who was prime minister under Hosni Mubarak, later gathered at the scene and chanted slogans. (AP video)
The privately bankrolled Dragon capsule, the first commercial spacecraft to enter orbit, docked with the International Space Station on May 25. Astronauts Donald Pettit and Andre Kuipers used the space station's robot arm to snare the Dragon after a few hours of maneuvering. The vehicle, built by the California-based Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX), will remain at the space station for nearly a week before returning to Earth carrying research results. (AP video)
The Afghan National Institute of Music is training a new generation to carry on Afghanistan's musical traditions. At least half its students come from underprivileged backgrounds, including orphanages or the streets of Kabul. Hamid Rakin of RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan recorded some of these promising performers.
A Falcon 9 rocket, built by the SpaceX company, blasted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on May 22 with supplies for the International Space Station. This is the first time a private business has launched a vessel to the space station. (AP video)
In an interview with Voice of America's Urdu Service, Marc Grossman, the U.S. special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, talks about efforts to reopen NATO supply routes from Pakistan into Afghanistan. Grossman spoke on the sidelines of the two-day NATO summit in Chicago.
Residents of the village of Chovdar in western Azerbaijan say a mining company has seized their land and blocked their roads as work begins to extract huge gold reserves. They've been trying to ask President Ilham Aliyev to intervene. What few realize is that the mining operation is largely controlled by members of the Aliyev family. (Video by Nushabe Fatullayeva and Khadija Ismayilova of RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service)
May 19 saw hundreds of artists wheeling their works through the streets of Moscow, in an allegorical protest against the authorities following disputed parliamentary and presidential elections. (RFE/RL’s Russian Service)
Female graduate and post-graduate students protested in front of the Ukrainian Education Ministry on May 21 after Education Minister Dmytro Tabachnyk said that women at the highest levels of study in Ukraine are not as attractive as other women. (RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service)
Azerbaijani opposition parties held an unsanctioned demonstration in the capital to highlight rights abuses, and reports say a number of demonstrators were beaten and arrested. The extent of injuries from the confrontation was not immediately clear. The protest was staged as Baku is preparing to host the Eurovision Song Contest, which begins on May 22.
During a march to mark the International Day Against Homophobia, gay rights activists in Tbilisi scuffled with counterprotesters associated with the Union of Orthodox Christian Parents. (RFE/RL's Georgian Service)
"They're locking up musicians again!" That cry of alarm was the name of a benefit concert held in Prague to show support for Pussy Riot, the Russian female punk rockers who are facing prison terms for staging a protest in a Moscow cathedral. The Czech musicians included the Plastic People of the Universe, who have reason to sympathize: the band members' arrest in the 1970s helped spur Czechoslovak dissidents' demands for freedom. Video by Margot Buff and Anton Chiriaev.
Bosnia this month marked the 20th anniversary of one of the milestones of the country's 1992-95 war: the fighting on Sarajevo's Dobrovoljacka Street, in which an unknown number of Serb soldiers died. As officials and civilians commemorated the event, some Bosnians came to protest against honoring the forces that besieged the city. Produced by Marija Arnautovic and Tina Jelin Dizdar, RFE/RL’s Balkan Service
Bosnian Serb General Ratko Mladic went on trial at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague on May 16 over alleged atrocities, including leading the slaughter of 8,000 unarmed Muslim boys and men in Srebrenica in 1995 and the seige of Sarajevo. Mladic, now 70, listened intently as prosecutors made their opening remarks at the trial, the last of a main protagonist of the Balkan wars of the 1990s. (Reuters video)
The sudden appearance in a downtown Minsk park of a moose cow and juvenile surprised residents on May 15. The pair ran free in Chelyuskin Park before they were sedated and moved -- either back to the wild or across town to the Minsk zoo, depending on the source. (video by RFE/RL Belarus Service's Bahdan Arlou)
In an interview with Ihar Tsikhanenka of Voice of America's Russian Service, U.S. Senator John McCain discusses the status of democratic values in Ukraine since the Orange Revolution.
U.S. Senator John McCain (Republican-Arizona) speaks with Igor Tsikhanenka of Voice of America's Russian Service about Moscow's exertion of power over Ukraine, Belarus, and the Baltics; the draft legislation that would sanction officials implicated in the death of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky; and the state of U.S. President Barack Obama’s “reset” policy with Russia.
In an interview with Igor Tsikhanenka of Voice of America's Russian Service, U.S. Senator John McCain discusses the status of democratic values in Ukraine since the Orange Revolution.Voice of America's Russian Service, U.S. Senator John McCain speaks with reporter Ihar Tsikhanenka about the importance of international sanctions on Belarus to bring about the release of political prisoners.
Amateur video shows explosions shaking the town of Rastan, held by Syrian rebels, as troops loyal to President Bashar al-Assad fired shells. The fighting there has reportedly left at least 23 soldiers dead and dozens wounded. AP video
Opposition activists in Moscow have adopted new low-key protest tactics in an effort to avoid further arrests after hundreds were detained during recent protests. The activists, many wearing white ribbons as a symbol of the opposition movement, are gathering in surprise flash mobs or simply taking "antigoverment strolls" around Moscow. (RFE/RL's Russian Service)
U.S. President Barack Obama has announced that he believes gay couples should have the right to get married. In an interview with U.S. broadcaster ABC, Obama said that it is his personal view, and that U.S. states should decide on the issue individually. (AP video)
Every evening, men gather in the town of Bannu in Pakistan's Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province, put on flower garlands, and dance to the sound of flutes and drums. No special occasion or holiday is needed; the festivities are simply part of everyday life. Word of the "Bannu evenings" has spread, and visitors now come from across Pakistan to join in the celebrations. Video by Umar Daraz Wazir, RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal
Serbia is holding simultaneous presidential, parliamentary, and local elections on May 6. The right-wing opposition has a narrow lead in the polls for president and parliament, with voters likely to punish the ruling liberals for the country's economic woes. RFE/RL's Balkan Service.
Voting has begun in Armenia’s May 6 parliamentary elections, which pose the most serious challenge yet to President Serzh Sarkisian’s four-year rule and his administration’s declared commitment to democratic reform.
In honor of World Press Freedom Day on May 3, RFE/RL journalists talk about threats to the media in their home countries, and how they are fighting back against repression of free speech.
A year after the U.S. operation that killed Osama bin Laden, Radio Mashaal correspondent Khalid Khan spoke to residents of Abbottabad, Pakistan, which the Al-Qaeda leader had made his home. Locals expressed their anger that the military strike damaged the surrounding houses, while others said that the resulting unrest has taken its toll on business and daily life.
Just hours after U.S. President Barack Obama left Kabul following a surprise visit, a series of suicide attacks rocked the Afghan capital, Kabul, on May 2, leaving at least seven people dead and 17 injured. Afghan forces said they killed the attackers. It was not immediately apparent whether any foreigners were killed in the incident.
U.S. President Barack Obama delivered a speech to the American people during a surprise visit to Afghanistan on the anniversary of the killing of 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden. He also signed an agreement cementing U.S. ties with the nation that once harbored the Al-Qaeda chief. (AP video)
Hundreds of young Afghans marched in Kabul on April 30 to protest against the country's former warlords, many of whom still wield significant power in political affairs. The protesters burned posters and chanted slogans condemning the men. (Produced by Sabawoon, RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan)
A year after the U.S. operation that killed Osama bin Laden, Radio Mashaal correspondent Khalid Khan visited the site of the Al-Qaeda leader's hideout in Abbottabad, Pakistan. Bin Laden's compound was reduced to rubble by Pakistani authorities two months ago and is now a makeshift cricket pitch for local kids. But it also draws visitors who come to drink the water, which some say is holy. Still, doubts persist in Abbottabad about whether bin Laden actually lived at the site.
An accident at one of the reactors at the Chornobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine on April 26, 1986, caused radiation to spread across parts of Ukraine, Belarus, and elsewhere in Europe in what became known as the world's worst civilian nuclear disaster. (Footage from Volodymir Shevchenko's "Chornobyl: A Chronicle of Difficult Days")
Villagers in Pakistan's Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province recently held "Peace Games," with 32 local teams competing in mukha, archery with a local touch. Villagers have revived the tradition with an annual tournament since Taliban influence waned.
Ten years ago, Afghans fleeing from war filled refugee camps outside Peshawar, Pakistan. Today, many come to Kabul. They live in ragged encampments around the city. Despite the fact they are in their own country, they say they receive little help from the government. RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan visited one camp to see how the displaced live.
Several thousand supporters of the political opposition in Azerbaijan have staged a rally in Baku to demand freedom for political prisoners and the resignation of President Ilham Aliyev.
About 150 people from the Mothers Of Kabardino-Balkaria in Support of Citizens' Rights and Freedom movement took to the street of Nalchik in the southern Russian republic of Kabardino-Balkaria on April 21 to protest against the abuse and ill-treatment of those arrested and still not tried after hundreds of armed fighters launched an audacious attack on security and military facilities in Nalchik in October 2005. (RFE/RL's North Caucasus Service)
Adnan Rashid, a prominent Pakistani Taliban fighter sentenced to death, has appeared in a short video following his escape from prison. Rashid escaped along with nearly 400 other prisoners during a Taliban attack on the prison on April 15. The video was made available to RFE/RL’s Radio Mashaal.
Two high-profile political prisoners in Belarus spoke after their unexpected release from prison.
Every month, thousands of U.S. troops move through the Manas transit center in Kyrgyzstan on their way to and from Afghanistan. The base plays a key role for U.S. operations in the region, but its future is uncertain as Washington lobbies to continue using Manas after the current agreement expires in 2014. Kenzhebaeva Zhyrgal of RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service takes a look at daily operations at Manas.
RFE/RL’s Kazakh Service joined a school group visiting a sculpture devoted to the Kazakh people in the capital, Astana, as a tour guide explained how the monument also honors the greatness of President Nursultan Nazarbaev.
Numan Burki, 13, has lived with a disability his entire life. And for the past two years, he and his family have faced new hardships. Fighting forced them to flee their homes in Pakistan's South Waziristan for a refugee camp in neighboring Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province. But nothing has dampened Numan’s ambition to get a good education and work for peace. (Video by Sailab Mehsud, RFE/RL’s Radio Mashaal)
The village of Darbnik, 15 kilometers to the southwest of Yerevan, is home to about two dozen ethnic Armenian families who fled the war and subsequent insurgency in Iraq. (RFE/RL's Armenian Service)
On the 20th anniversary of the start of the siege of Sarajevo, the city commemorated the victims with 11,541 empty seats along the main avenue, one for each of the civilians killed in Sarajevo during the war. Video by Tina Jelin Dizdar, RFE/RL's Balkan Service
On the 20th anniversary of the siege of Sarajevo, VOA's Bosnian Service spoke to Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel on the efforts he made to get the West to halt the bloodshed.
On April 6, 2010, protests by opponents of Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiev turned violent in the northwestern city of Talas. The protesters clashed with police, stormed government buildings, and later set the district administration on fire. By April 7, the violence spread to the capital, Bishkek, eventually leaving nearly 90 people dead and driving Bakiev out of office. RFE/RL captured dramatic video as the events unfolded.
The Sarajevo Haggadah, a Jewish illuminated manuscript dating back more than 650 years, has survived everything from the Spanish Inquisition to the siege of Sarajevo, which began 20 years ago. Now it is threatened once again -- this time, by the lack of funding for Sarajevo's cultural institutions. RFE/RL looks at the book's history as Jews around the world celebrate Passover, the holiday when the Haggadah is read.
April 6 marks 20 years since the start of the siege of Sarajevo, a blockade of the city by Bosnian Serb forces. The siege lasted 44 months and resulted in 11,541 deaths. Archival video provided by Flash Production Sarajevo shows the bombing of the city during the siege and the human cost that resulted, along with scenes of Bosnian Serb wartime leader Radovan Karadzic leading the offensive.
As Sarajevo prepares to mark the 20th anniversary of the start of the siege of the city by Bosnian Serb forces, theater director Haris Pasovic, who is organizing the April 6 commemorations, talks about how the simple act of making a salad automatically takes him back to wartime in the city.
A young opposition candidate, Konstantin Yankauskas, won a seat on the Moscow municipal council in the March 4 vote. His victory is seen by some as a small but important sign of change in Russia’s political scene. RFE/RL’s Russian Service
On December 26, 2008, 23-year-old Renat Shawaliev was taken to a police station in Zelenodolsk, in the Russian republic of Tatarstan. He was never seen again. When his mother Aliya asked the police about the fate of her son, she was told he had escaped from custody. RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service spoke to Aliya about the case.
For hundreds of thousands of Tajiks, the beginning of spring means the start of seasonal work -- and for many, that means leaving home in search of jobs. There are more opportunities in Russia, but Tajiks working there also face a number of threats, from harassment by the police to racist attacks. (Produced by Akram Qahhorov, RFE/RL's Tajik Service)
Demonstrators met on the outskirts of Minsk for a tightly policed march and rally in honor of the "Day of Freedom" -- an
unofficial holiday marking the day an independent Belarus state was created in 1918.
As Iran celebrates Norouz, the Persian New Year, some well-to-do Iranians have been traveling to their more liberal, neighboring country Armenia to enjoy the holiday with alcohol, nightclubs and music.
VOA's Moscow correspondent spoke with the U.S. ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul, about the two sides' stances on Syria and Iran.
VOA's Moscow correspondent spoke with the U.S. ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul, about U.S. funding for civil society organizations and the Jackson-Vanik amendment.
Russian Prime Minister and President-elect Vladimir Putin has carefully cultivated his macho image in recent years. But a new art exhibit in St. Petersburg by painter Aleksei Sergienko shows the leader in a gentler light: petting a dog, holding a child, or riding a bicycle. Whether the show, titled “The Kindest Man,” is meant seriously or as a satire of Putin’s image-making is left up to the viewer. (Video by Aleksander Gorelik for RFE/RL)
People across Central Asia, the Caucasus, and the Middle East are celebrating Norouz, the Persian New Year, which marks the coming of spring. In Kabul, Afghans gathered at a fair full of music, rides, and food, while young men dressed in green, the traditional spring color, to try to kiss a holy flagpole raised during each Norouz. (Video by Sayedjan Sabawoon, RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan)
Uladzislau Kavalyou and Dzmitry Kanavalau have been executed in Belarus after being convicted of carrying out a deadly 2011 bombing in the Minsk subway. RFE/RL's Belarus Service spoke to Kavalyou's mother, Lyubou Kavalyova, shortly after she received news of her son's execution.
In an interview with Alhurra in Abu Dhabi on March 15, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said there is still a chance negotiations with Iran on its nuclear program can succeed but that the window of opportunity is closing.
The Corrupt Tour Travel Agency, which opened in February, offers a different look at the Czech capital. Locals and tourists can visit the main sites of the country’s biggest corruption scandals. The company’s founder, theater director Petr Sourek, hopes to offer not just an entertaining tour but also new insight into the widespread problem of corruption. (Video by Lukas Bally and Bela Mamayeva. RFE/RL’s Russian Service)
As U.S. and other NATO troops prepare to withdraw from Afghanistan in 2014, they are stepping up efforts to train local security forces. Voice of America reporter David Axe traveled to one isolated village along the border with Pakistan, where coalition forces are hoping that a risky local police initiative will win over villagers and help weaken the Taliban.
In Afghanistan, ambiguously defined "moral crimes" or "bad character" can mean jail sentences for women. Sayedjan Sabawoon of RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan visited Kabul’s only detention facility for women and spoke to the inmates about the charges that put them there.
Maryam Durani, a member of the Kandahar Provincial Council, has been named one of 10 International Women of Courage by the U.S. State Department. A day before the March 8 ceremony, Voice of America asked Durani about her work -- she also runs a radio station aimed at helping women understand their rights -- and the risks involved.
Voice of America's Afghan Service talks to Sima Samar, who heads the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission, about her concerns for basic freedoms for women in Afghanistan.
Riot police detained dozens of people, including opposition leaders Aleksei Navalny and Sergei Udaltsov, after thousands of protesters took to the streets of central Moscow to challenge Vladimir Putin's victory in the March 4 presidential election.
Riot police detained some 50 opposition protesters in St. Petersburg on March 5 after hundreds took to the streets to challenge Vladimir Putin's victory in the March 4 presidential vote.
Eduard Limonov, the head of the Other Russia opposition coalition, was detained along with other activists on March 5 as they tried to stage an unsanctioned protest outside the Central Election Commission. Their demonstration took place as another, larger opposition protest was under way elsewhere in Moscow. RFE/RL's Russian Service
As Russians vote for a new president on March 4, volunteer election observers from various opposition groups have been reporting on violations. Members of an election observer group in Moscow say they have spotted so-called "carousel" voting, i.e. multiple ballots cast by the same people.
More than 10,000 people took part in an opposition protest in the southern Kyrgyz city of Osh, voicing support for Mayor Melis Myrzakmatov and criticizing Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambaev. Officials said security measures were increased around Osh in advance of the protest, which is being held ahead of March 4 elections. (RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service)
Dozens of Iraqis, driven from their homes by instability, have made a makeshift residence at a disused military base on the outskirts of Baghdad, where they struggle to scrape by.
Russia's upcoming presidential election has exposed a generation gap between younger and older voters. Aleksandr Avanesov, the 56-year-old director of a French choir in Moscow, wants Vladimir Putin to remain in power to avoid a repeat of the chaos of the 1990s. Many of his students, however, want to see an end to Putin's rule. (RFE/RL's Russian Service)
Russia's March 4 presidential election has exposed a generation gap between younger and older voters. Aleksandr Avanesov, the 56-year-old director of a French choir in Moscow, wants Vladimir Putin to remain in power to avoid a repeat of the chaos of the 1990s. Many of his young students, on the other hand, want to see an end to what they call Putin's authoritarian system. (RFE/RL's Russian Service)
Directors Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy and Daniel Junge have just received an Oscar for their short documentary "Saving Face," about the efforts of plastic surgeon Mohammad Jawad to help the victims of acid attacks in Pakistan.
A rally was held in Moscow on February 26 in support of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who is widely expected to win the upcoming presidential election. Activists carried slogans saying "Putin Loves Everybody" and "Putin Will Win In A Week."
The leader of the separatist Georgian region of Abkhazia has survived an assassination attempt.
In an interview with RFE/RL, Yevhenia Tymoshenko, the daughter of former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, says her mother has been subjected to poor medical care and abusive conditions in prison.
With Russia's presidential elections just weeks away, former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev spoke to RFE/RL's Russian Service in Moscow about prime minister and presidential hopeful Vladimir Putin's authoritarian tendencies and capacity to change.
RFE/RL Balkan Service Director Gordana Knezevic spoke with actress Angelina Jolie in Sarajevo about her directorial debut, "In the Land of Blood and Honey." The film, a drama set during Bosnia's war of the 1990s, premiered in the Bosnian capital on February 14.
Theater group Teatr.doc premiered a new political satire on February 14 in Moscow. Director Varvara Faer explains that "Berlusputin" is a reinterpretation for Russian audiences of a play by Italian Nobel laureate Dario Fo, in which scientists create a monstrous hybrid of former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. Produced by Alexander Kulygin of RFE/RL's Russian Service.
This month’s extreme winter weather throughout Europe and Eurasia is a matter of life or death for people living on the streets. In the Azerbaijani capital, Baku, officials have set up several shelters that offer a temporary respite for the city’s homeless. Video by Nushaba Fatullayeva, RFE/RL’s Azerbaijani Service
Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev spoke to RFE/RL's Russian Service in Moscow on February 14 about the surprise changes at independent radio station Ekho Moskvy, saying that he had no doubt the changes were sanctioned by the Kremlin.
The Uzor factory near St. Petersburg produces tapestries that decorate Russian homes. Its best-selling products: textile portraits of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. (video by Reuters)
Tens of thousands of anti-Kremlin demonstrators hit the streets across Russia on February 4 to protest alleged fraud in parliamentary elections late last year and Putin's domination of Russian politics. In the Siberian cities of Tomsk and Irkutsk, protesters marched carrying signs with antigovernment slogans and chanted "Russia without Putin." Activists addressed crowds saying Russia must get rid of corrupt politicians and end unfair elections.
Anti-Kremlin protesters came out in force on the streets of Moscow on February 4, in demonstrations that come a month before Prime Minister Vladimir Putin faces reelection to the presidency.
A song by a group of former Russian paratroopers has become an Internet sensation, receiving nearly 800,000 views on YouTube. The song claims that Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has destroyed the armed forces. The paratroopers talked to RFE/RL's Russian Service and plan to perform at the February 4 antigovernment rally.
A Russian coffee chain is taking its own informal poll of who's most popular among the presidential candidates running in the upcoming election. Baristas are creating the candidates' portraits with cinnamon shaken over milk foam, then tallying which face is picked most often for customers' drinks. Communist Party chief Gennady Zyuganov and billionaire businessman Mikhail Prokhorov are apparently more popular than Vladimir Putin on customers' lattes. (AP narrated)
A new UN survey shows that many Afghans have doubts about their police officers’ capacity to take charge of security as NATO-led forces withdraw. RFE/RL’s Radio Free Afghanistan spoke to one police officer in Kabul about the challenges of the job. Produced by Muhammad Arif Ludin, RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan; written by Farangis Najibullah
Orthodox Christians in Kazan participated in the annual tradition of swimming in the icy waters of Kaban Lake to mark Epiphany on January 19. (Video by RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service)
Police used pepper spray, water cannon, and tear gas on January 14 in clashes with Kosovar Albanian demonstrators at two border crossings with Serbia. The protesters are attempting to block Serbian goods from crossing the border.
Ahead of Orthodox and Eastern Rite Christmas on January 7, RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Service visited a living history museum in Kyiv to see what Christmas would have looked like for Cossacks some 400 years ago. Performers at Mamajeva Sloboda (Mamaj’s Village) demonstrate how to prepare kutya, a traditional Ukrainian Christmas dish.
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