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Afghanistan's Ascendants, Balkans Hope, and Battleground Ukraine

Ukraine -- Pro-ukrainian rally, Donetsk, 17Apr2014
Ukraine -- Pro-ukrainian rally, Donetsk, 17Apr2014
RFE/RL's Weekly Rundown, a concise look at our top stories this week:

# Afghanistan's Ascendants - Correspondent Frud Bezhan speaks to Afghanistan's presidential front-runner Abdullah Abdullah about his plans to include even his fiercest rivals in the government if he wins the election, and to rival candidate Ashraf Ghani about his hopes to promote "genuine reconciliation." Also, in panel discussions at SAIS-Johns Hopkins University and Open Society Foundations about his new book "The Pashtun Question," correspondent Abubakar Siddique speaks about the Afghan elections, Islamabad's talks with the Taliban, and the bilateral agreements between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

# Balkans Hope: After a long and costly reconstruction, the 19th-century National Library of Bosnia-Herzegovina, which had been destroyed by shelling and fire in 1992 during the siege of Sarajevo, has been restored to its former grandeur and is ready to open to the public. Video by RFE/RL's Balkan Service.

# Battleground Ukraine: Tensions are running high in eastern Ukraine as pro-Russian gunmen continue to occupy government buildings, and the Ukrainian army is licking its wounds after a much-touted "anti-terrorist" operation ended with separatists in Kramatorsk seizing armored personnel carriers. These graphics show the current status on the ground in other flashpoint cities. Plus, Ukraine's message to Russia's wannabe travelers: Stay East, young man.

# Meanwhile, Back In Kyiv: In an exclusive interview with RFE/RL's Russian Service, former Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, who served from 1994-2004, believes that Western mediation is the only way out of the current crisis. In an interview with Radio Svoboda, former Ukrainian Prime Minister and presidential candidate Yulia Tymoshenko backed "brigades of territorial self-defense" to protect the east. Also, the authorities in Kyiv are pushing ahead to meet Maidan protesters' demands for a sweeping purge of the old elite, but the process known as lustration -- led by journalist Yehor Sobolev -- could explode the country's deep divisions. Lastly, one explanation for why hundreds of people are still camped on Kyiv's Maidan: fear.

# Russia Roils: With its “reset” policy with Moscow effectively buried, the United States has ramped up the rhetoric as it battles with the Kremlin for control of the narrative in the Ukraine crisis. In Ukraine Unspun, a professor at a prestigious Moscow university explains why the Russian media's disinformation campaign of the crisis is working, a Russian TV weatherman mixes politics with his forecasts, and The Putin Show goes global. (See also: an interactive map of the ethnic breakdown of Russia's regions,)

# Beyond Borders Blowback: The crisis in Ukraine is rippling beyond its borders, as Moldova’s Deputy Prime Minister Eugen Carpov has denounced a "propaganda" campaign aimed at creating "tensions" in the breakaway region of Transdniester, a Czech hotelier is staging a one-man protest against Russia, and Germany's largest-circulation tabloid calls for the removal of two Soviet tanks from a Berlin war memorial in protest against Russia's "hegemonic military policies."

# Cold War Remix - Was rock music the CIA's secret weapon in the Cold War? A new documentary tracks how music lovers kept on rockin' in the (un)free world.

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-- Karisue Wyson