Hey, you're busy! We know rferl.org isn't the only website you read. And that it's just possible you may have missed some of our most compelling journalism this week. To make sure you're up-to-date, here are some of the highlights produced by RFE/RL's team of correspondents, multimedia editors, and visual journalists over the past seven days.
We are also including content here from Gandhara, an RFE/RL website focusing on developments in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Revelations In Grisly Death Of Iconic Iranian Dissident: Did Tehran Hire A Friend To Kill Him?
Fereydoun Farrokhzad, an exiled entertainer and scathing critic of Iran’s Islamic leaders, was murdered in 1992 in his Bonn apartment -- a crime that remains unsolved. An RFE/RL investigation sheds light on his bloody demise and uncovers evidence pointing toward Tehran’s hand in the killing. By Hooman Askary, Shahriar Siami, and Carl Schreck
School's Out, Forever? Amid COVID Spike, Many Bulgarian Students Back Online For Third School Year
Many students in Bulgaria are back online for a third straight school year as COVID-19 rates spike in the EU's least vaccinated country. Parents are furious, saying being away from classmates is taking a heavy mental toll. By Elitsa Simeonova
He Said, He Said: Russian, U.S. Statements On Biden-Putin Call Differ Starkly
Statements released by the White House and Kremlin following a video call between U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin differed deeply, leaving plenty of room for disappointment and discord at planned follow-up talks By Steve Gutterman
'Expect Anything': Ukrainian Troops Brace For Possible Russian Attack
As reports of Russian military buildups on the Ukrainian border intensify, there has been no letup in the low-level war between Ukrainian forces and Russia-backed separatists in the Donbas region. In the trenches near Horlivka, 570 kilometers southeast of Kyiv, a Ukrainian soldier told RFE/RL "you can expect anything." He was speaking on December 4, two days after his 22-year-old comrade was killed by a sniper. By Andriy Dubchak, RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service, and Ray Furlong
The Fight To Save The Priceless Works Of Art In Georgia's Gelati Monastery
Georgia's Gelati Monastery is one of the country's national treasures, hailed as a "masterpiece" of medieval architecture and known for its vivid and intricate murals. But after a botched renovation, the newly repaired roof started leaking, with rainwater badly damaging the murals inside. By Nino Bakradze
'Family Dorm': Former Kazakh Orphans Face Housing Hardships As Adults
In Kazakhstan, children raised in orphanages have the right to state-funded housing when they grow up, but the reality is harsh for many who wait for years -- even decades -- to get a decent roof over their heads. By RFE/RL's Kazakh Service
'FREEkey' In Hungary: NGO Wants People With Disabilities To Live Independently
Ten people with and without disabilities have formed a group in Hungary to help disabled people live freer, more independent lives. The group's name, FREEkey, combines the words "free" and "key" to proudly embrace what they call their "freakiness." They say employing personal assistants is key to enabling disabled people to organize work and leisure time. RFE/RL's Hungarian Service reported on the story of one member named Geri to mark the International Day of Persons with Disabilities on December 3. By RFE/RL's Hungarian Service
Religious Communities In Montenegro Are Still Wary Of Vaccination. Muslim Leaders Are The Exception.
The Balkans' smallest country lost its Orthodox leadership to the pandemic. But of Montenegro's three main religions, only Islamic leaders are encouraging the faithful to get their shots against COVID-19. By Lela Scepanovic and Andy Heil
Talk Of War: Frontline Ukrainian Soldiers Respond To Invasion Warnings
Amid concerns about a large Russian troop buildup on the Ukrainian border, frontline fighters in the Donbas downplay warnings from Kyiv and Western intelligence agencies that Moscow may be planning a major new offensive. By Amos Chapple
Human Traffickers Said To Offer Russia As Alternative Route To EU
Human traffickers are offering trips to Russia as a new route for migrants to the European Union, according to the head of a team monitoring Arabic and Kurdish social media. Monika Richter, head of research and analysis at the intelligence firm Semantic Visions, told RFE/RL that there was "enthusiasm" online about the existence of a way "to circumvent the restrictions" on the Polish-Belarusian border. By Ray Furlong