As the year draws to a close, let's take a look back at the stories, videos, and photo galleries that most piqued the interest of RFE/RL's readers in 2021.
Inside 'Putin's Palace'
Images made by Aleksei Navalny's anti-corruption team revealed the astonishing scale and luxury of a property on Russia's Black Sea coast purportedly used by Vladimir Putin as his personal "palace." View the photo gallery by clicking on it above (and read our story about the palace here).
Tortured By The Taliban: A Soldier's Story
Afghan commando Hasibullah Faizi was captured by Taliban militants when his helicopter was shot down in 2016. He gave RFE/RL's Radio Azadi a horrific account of brutal torture that he says left him praying for his own death. Watch the video by Ray Furlong and RFE/RL's Radio Azadi on YouTube above.
Meeting 'Mother Armenia,' The Woman Behind Yerevan's Iconic Statue
In this photo story, Jenya Muradian recalled the monumental secret she kept for most of her life after a chance encounter with a famous Armenian sculptor. Read the photo story by Amos Chapple here.
Gorbachev At 90, Looking Back At A Career That Changed History
Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, who turned 90 on March 2, presided over the collapse of the Soviet bloc and the end of the Cold War. Watch the video by RFE/RL's multimedia team above.
The Young Hungarians Who Got Vaccinated With Sputnik And Sinopharm And Now Wish They Hadn't
Thousands of Hungarians were vaccinated with China's Sinopharm or Russia's Sputnik V, often much earlier than other Europeans of a similar age. But many ended up regretting their decision as they were unable to travel. Read the story by Lili Rutai here.
As Siberia's Permafrost Thaws, Scientists Marvel At The Mammoth Treasures Beneath
Climate change has accelerated the thawing of frozen earth that lies beneath much of Siberia. But for some of the scientists investigating the phenomenon, it’s the riches beneath -- including the cryogenically preserved carcasses of mammoths and other animals that lived tens of thousands of years ago -- that represent the biggest prize. Read the story by Matthew Luxmoore here.
In Living Color: Georgia Before The Soviets Arrived
The people and spectacular cityscapes of tsarist Georgia were captured in vivid color by a world famous photographer. Read the photo story by Amos Chapple here.
Researchers Say Islamic World 'Actively Collaborating' With China’s Global Campaign Against Uyghurs
A new report asserted that Muslim-majority countries have been cooperating with Beijing to surveil and extradite Uyghurs and other groups back to China. Read the story by Reid Standish here.
Bone Of Contention? Six Letters That Could Rewrite Slavic History
When a Czech archaeology student happened to notice some unusual markings on a bone fragment she was washing after a routine excavation, she had little idea she had stumbled across a stunning artifact that could shed new light on a murky period in Europe's past. Read the story by Coilin O'Connor here.
Inside Pakistan's 'Conversion Factory' For Hindu Brides
Human rights groups in Pakistan are calling for new laws to protect underage Hindu girls from being forcibly converted to Islam and married off to Muslim men. It's estimated that as many as 1,000 girls are coerced, tricked, or abducted each year. RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal spoke to desperate families who have been torn apart and questioned the clerics behind the alleged forced conversions. Watch the documentary on YouTube above, which was produced by Daud Khattak, Muhammad Zawar, and Stuart Greer