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Who Invented Vodka?


THE POWER VERTICAL: Mutko's Soft Landing

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko, who has been fighting allegations of orchestrating a state-sponsored doping campaign, just got a new job.

Generous Bus Driver Rewarded With Free Trip To Mecca

A minibus driver in Makhachkala, Russia, who provides free rides every Friday, has been rewarded for his generosity by grateful passengers, who have have raised cash to send him to the annual hajj pilgrimage in Mecca.

For Russian Forest Ranger, No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

Ikhtiandr Sharipov, a forest ranger in Russia's Chelyabinsk region, led a volunteer effort to repair a country road, and was then slapped with a 2.5 million ruble fine.

Marking Christmas And Combat In Lviv

Hundreds of residents and tourists in Lviv, Ukraine took part in a holiday festival titled Christmas Stars Flare, which, among numerous octagonal stars, featured one created from bullet cartridges and camouflage fabric from the country’s separatist-occupied eastern zone. (Ukrainian Service)

Czech Leader Zeman Seeks Reelection After Polarizing First Term

Czechs vote in the first round of presidential elections on January 12-13, with incumbent Milos Zeman currently the lead candidate in opinion polls.


Russia Says 13 Drones Used In Attack On Its Air Base, Naval Facility In Syria

Russia says 13 armed drones have recently been used to attack its Hmeimim air base and its naval facility in western Syria.

Kremlin Rejects CIA Chief's Assertion Of Meddling

Russian officials on January 8 rejected an accusation by CIA Director Mike Pompeo that Russia is attempting to interfere in U.S. congressional elections this year and has been meddling in U.S. elections "for decades."

Russia Faces Gloomy Economic Forecast In 2018

Kirill Tremasov, former director of macroeconomic forecasting for Russia’s Ministry of Economic Development, told RFE/RL that his country’s economic growth is very weak, noting that Russia has lagged behind developed and developing countries across a range of economic indicators for the past 5 years, and Russians’ real incomes have been declining since 2013. (Russian Service)

Major Opposition Parties Mobilize For Belarus Local Elections

As candidate registration closed on January 8 for Belarus’s local council elections on February 18, preliminary information suggested that the opposition United Civil Party, Social Democratic Party, BPF Party and Fair World Party may field as many as 300 candidates, up from 277 in 2014. (Belarus Service)

Kosovo's Haradinaj Cancels U.S. Visit After 'Failing To Get Visa'

A spokesman for the Iowa National Guard says Kosovar Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj has canceled a planned visit to the U.S. state this week because "he was unable to get a visa."

Defying Ban, Republika Srpska Proceeds With 'Statehood Day’

Bosnian Serb leaders have planned the biggest celebrations ever to mark the Day Of Republika Srpska, a disputed “statehood day” in the Bosnian Serb entity that has been banned by Bosnia-Herzegovina’s Constitutional Court.

Uzbek Decree Places Restrictions On Hajj Pilgrimage

A government decree published on January 6 restricts Uzbeks to performing the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca only once in a lifetime. Umrah, a lesser ritual, may be performed every two years, providing pilgrims have not made Hajj in the previous five years. (in Russian, Current Time TV)

Bishkek Questions Chinese Firm's Firing Of Hundreds Of Miners

The Kyrgyz government wants to know more about a decision by the Chinese company Full Gold Mining to fire 370 miners in southern Kyrgyzstan.

'Bad Luck' For Black Car Owners In Turkmen Capital

Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov thinks white cars bring good fortune. As a result, officials in Ashgabat have been impounding black vehicles without warning, wreaking havoc for owners who need special permission to repaint and then reregister their cars.

FURTHER AFIELD: In Iran, Death Of Jailed Protester Raises Concerns Over Fate Of Detainees

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