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Stories You May Have Missed

We know that rferl.org isn’t the only website you read, and it’s possible that you may have missed some of our most interesting journalism from the past 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.

Lukashenka's 'Zombies': The Units Ready For A Crackdown In Belarus





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Unit 3214 of the Belarusian Interior Ministry forces was shown on TV violently dispersing a crowd during a training exercise. A former officer says the men are “zombies” who swore loyalty to the head of state, but they’re just one of many options President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has for suppressing opposition rallies and protests as the atmosphere grows increasingly tense ahead of a presidential election on August 9. By Ray Furlong and Current Time

Rarely seen photographs of the David-versus-Goliath fight between Poland and communist Russia that raged on the outskirts of Warsaw 100 years ago. By Amos Chapple

Many older Belarusians may still get their news from state media, but younger generations have turned to social media and independent sites that are far from loyal, let alone fawning, when it comes to authoritarian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka. Compounding the longtime leader’s media woes ahead of an August 9 election, Russian outlets have highlighted a COVID-19 crisis that critics say he brought upon Belarus.​ By Tony Wesolowsky

Nobody's Child: Inside Ukraine's Controversial Surrogate Adoption Industry





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Ukraine is one of the few countries in the world that allows commercial surrogacy. Biological parents, often from abroad, pay a company to organize a surrogate mother to carry their child. For some couples, it’s their only chance at longed-for parenthood. But when something goes wrong, human lives hang in the balance, and critics say the business should be stopped or at least regulated. The case of a baby named Brigit, born with disabilities and abandoned, highlights the risks involved. By Current Time, RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Service, and Neil Bowdler

Did opposition protesters really storm into parliament in Baku, or was the incident staged by government “provocateurs” to justify a harsh crackdown on President Ilham Aliyev’s political rivals? By Ron Synovitz

Authorities in Belarus are claiming they thwarted a plot by a group of Russian mercenaries to “destabilize” the country ahead of its August 9 presidential election. But analysts think Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has ginned up a crisis to justify a heavier hand in dealing with a surprisingly strong political opposition. By Irina Romaliiskaya and Robert Coalson​

'I Felt Humiliated': Afghan Moms Fight To Get Names On Kids' ID Cards





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Afghan mothers are waging a battle to get their names on their children’s national ID cards. Despite giving birth, they are not recognized as legal guardians of their own children. As part of a campaign called Where Is My Name?, female lawmakers and activists are challenging Afghanistan’s staunchly patriarchal society where only the father’s and grandfather’s names appear on national IDs. By RFE/RL’s Radio Free Afghanistan and Stuart Greer

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