Sunday 20 March 2016
March 18, 2016
Norouz Celebrations Welcome Spring Across The Region
As spring begins, so does the Persian New Year. The festival of Norouz, celebrated on March 20 and 21, coincides with the spring equinox. Throughout Central Asia, the Caucasus, and parts of the Middle East, people are planning family celebrations with food and music, and markets are bustling with shoppers preparing for the holiday.
March 15, 2016
Iran's Aging Fleet Of U.S.-Made Fighter Planes
Iran bought and received 79 F-14 Tomcat fighter planes from the United States in the years before the country's 1979 Islamic Revolution. Some of those jets are still operated by Iran's air force, though the exact number has not been made public. These photos show Iran's last active service F-14s being overhauled at an unspecified location. This year marks the 40th anniversary of their deployment in Iran. (Photos from Iran's FARS news agency)
March 14, 2016
Crimean Tatars Under Growing Pressure Two Years After Annexation
On March 16, 2014, residents of the Crimean peninsula voted to join Russia in a referendum condemned as illegal by Ukraine and nearly 100 other countries. On March 21, Russia officially annexed the territory. In the two years since, members of the Crimean Tatar minority have been among the most vocal critics of the annexation, and their self-governing body, the Mejlis, has refused to recognize the change of government. Some Crimean Tatars have fled the peninsula, and others who remained in Crimea have cited harassment by the Moscow-backed authorities.
March 10, 2016
Vorkuta -- A Hardscrabble Town That Is No Stranger To Tragedy
Vorkuta is a brutal place. This Russian city of 70,000 just north of the Arctic Circle is almost completely dependent on coal mining. It was founded in 1932 as one of the most notorious camps of the Stalin-era gulag system. Out of the initial group of 1,500 prisoners who were sent to the barren wasteland, only 54 survived the ordeal. Nowadays, sons continue to follow their fathers into the mines and the city is still no stranger to tragedy. In late February, a series of methane explosions at the Severnaya coal mine left 36 people dead.
March 10, 2016
Abandoned Mining Towns Of The Russian Arctic
The coal mines of Vorkuta, just north of the Arctic Circle, were once vital to Soviet industry. But after the collapse of U.S.S.R., the mines were privatized and some were shut down. Today, the city is surrounded by former mining centers that have become ghost towns, or are sparsely inhabited. The coal mine in Vorkuta's Sovetskiy district was closed in 1996, but some 150 families still live nearby, half an hour by bus from the rest of the city, with no grocery store or pharmacy in their community. The mining town of Yurshor and the settlement of Rudnik, once part of the gulag camp system, have both been abandoned altogether. (Text by Sergei Khazov-Cassia, photos by Petr Shelomovskiy, RFE/RL)
March 08, 2016
At Work And Play On International Women's Day
RFE/RL correspondents across the region shared photos taken on International Women's Day, observed on March 8. They show the diversity of women in their communities as they carry out jobs ranging from military service to copying the Koran or herding cattle -- or as they simply relax and play football.
March 06, 2016
Tajikistan's Dwindling 'Town Of Giants'
Depshaar, which translates as "Town of Giants," is a tiny Kyrgyz village in the Jerge-Tal district of Tajikistan. The place has never really enjoyed the potential benefits from its proximity to Ismoil Somoni, the summit of the Pamir Mountains, which was known during the Soviet era as "The Peak of Communism." The village was depopulated by Stalinist deportations, and it now faces an exodus of residents to neighboring Kyrgyzstan. (Photos by Janyl Jusupjan)
March 04, 2016
Baku Paves Over History For The Big Race
This June, the old streets of Azerbaijan's capital will echo with the roar of Formula One racing cars. But preparations for the 2016 Baku European Grand Prix have included paving over quaint cobblestone streets with asphalt -- a move which the authorities say is "temporary."