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A police officer stands near a checkpoint at the RusSki Gorki Ski Jumping Center in Krasnaya Polyana near Sochi.
With the Winter Olympics beginning in Sochi in just over two weeks, questions continue to linger -- about the security situation, about the Russia's controversial "gay propaganda" law, and about alleged corruption that has made these games the most expensive in Olympic history.

In the first in our series of conversations about the Sochi Olympics, RFE/RL's Brian Whitmore led a discussion on January 23 with guests in Moscow and Prague about the dynamics that may distract the world from the actual competition. (Also here and on YouTube here.)


Irina Lagunina -- Director of RFE/RL's Russian Service, Radio Svoboda, where she previously served as a senior broadcaster and host of the daily analytical radio journal “Time & World.” Prior to joining RFE/RL in 1995, Lagunina worked as the foreign policy and diplomatic editor for the Russian magazine “New Times" and the “Moscow News.” She was in the media pool of the Russian Foreign Ministry, covering the end of the Soviet invasion in Afghanistan, wars in the former Yugoslavia, and ethnic conflicts in the former Soviet Union. She also contributed to the 1999 study “Kosovo News & Propaganda War” by The International Press Institute in Vienna, Austria.

Anastasia Kirilenko -- Correspondent with RFE/RL's Moscow bureau, where she has worked since 2009 and is the author of several investigative reports, most recently about the Sochi Olympics. Kirilenko has an MA in journalism from Moscow State University and graduated from the Faculty of International Relations and Law at Novosibirsk State University of Economics and Management in 2006. She has also contributed to the online platforms "Caucasian Knot" and "Courier International."

Ekaterina Sokirianskaya -- North Caucasus project director with International Crisis Group, supervising activities and advocacy efforts in the region. Before joining ICG, she held positions at the Memorial Human Rights Center from 2007-08 in Russia's republics of Chechnya, Daghestan, and Kabardino-Balkaria, and was a researcher and programs supervisor for the republics of Chechnya, Ingushetia, and North Ossetia. Sokirianskaya holds a doctoral degree from Central European University, has taught courses as assistant professor at Chechen State University, is a member of the Expert Council with the Ombudsman of the Russian Federation, is a board member of International Memorial, and is the author of numerous publications, public lectures, and successful short documentaries.

Brian Whitmore, Moderator -- Europe desk editor for RFE/RL's Central Newsroom and author of "The Power Vertical" blog.
January 22-25: Switzerland hosts the annual World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting in Davos.
The Week Ahead is a detailed listing of key events of the coming week affecting RFE/RL's broadcast region.

Now on Twitter! Daily updates at @The_Week_Ahead.

MONDAY, January 20:

Balkans: European Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee is scheduled to review and vote on the 2013 progress reports on Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia, and Montenegro (to January 21).

Belarus/China: Belarusian Prime Minister Mikhail Myasnikovich visits China (to January 23).

Georgia/Turkey: Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili makes an official visit to Ankara (to January 21).

EU: The EU Foreign Affairs Council opens in Brussels.

Iran: A nuclear deal between Iran and world powers is scheduled to enter into force.

Iraq/EU: The first EU-Iraq Cooperation Council, co-chaired by EU High Representative Catherine Ashton and Greek Deputy Foreign Minister Dimitris Kourkoulas, opens in Brussels.

World: Abu Dhabi holds the World Future Energy Summit (to January 22).

TUESDAY, January 21:

EU: European Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee in Brussels is scheduled to discuss Iraq, the Eastern Partnership, the EU strategy towards Iran.

EU/Serbia: Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dacic visits Brussels for the formal start of the country’s European Union membership talks.

EU/Turkey: Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan visits Brussels for talks with EU officials.

IMF: The International Monetary Fund (IMF) releases its outlook for the world economy.

Uzbekistan: European Union Special Representative for Central Asia Patricia Flor visits Tashkent (to January 23).

World: Human Rights Watch publishes its annual World Report.

World: The International Labor Organization (ILO) publishes its annual report on global employment trends 2014.

WEDNESDAY, January 22:

EU/Russia: The European Parliament's Subcommittee on Human Rights holds a public hearing on the human rights situation in Russia.

Syria: International peace conference on Syria is scheduled to begin in Montreux and then move to Geneva (to January 24).

Russia/NATO: Russian Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces Valery Gerasimov attends the NATO-Russia Council in Brussels.

NATO: Brussels hosts the NATO Chiefs of Defense meeting (to January 23).

World: Switzerland hosts the World Economic Forum summit in Davos (to January 25).

U.S./Russia: The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) and Gallup host in Washington a research briefing on media use in Russia.

THURSDAY, January 23:

Moldova: EU Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy Stefan Fuele visits Chisinau.

Russia: UN Committee on the Rights of the Child in Geneva is scheduled to review Russia (January 24).

Ukraine: Ukrainian opposition leader Vitali Klitschko is planning to attend the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos.

U.S./Iraq: The Brookings Institution in Washington hosts a conversation with Iraqi Council of Representatives speaker Usama al-Nujayfi to discuss the current crisis in Iraq.

World: Freedom House releases its annual Freedom in the World report.

FRIDAY, January 24:

Culture: The Goteborg Film Festival opens with an extensive focus on Russia (to February 3).

Iran: The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) hosts an extraordinary meeting to discuss Iran's nuclear freeze.

Russia/Tajikistan: Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov visits Dushanbe.

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About This Blog

Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at

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