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The 'Mystery' of MH17, What Now in Russia, Business of Forgiveness in Iran, and more

A protester holds up a photo of Vladimir Putin and Muammar Qaddafi in front of the White House on March 31, 2011.
A protester holds up a photo of Vladimir Putin and Muammar Qaddafi in front of the White House on March 31, 2011.

RFE/RL's Weekly Rundown, a concise look at our top stories this week:

# The "Mystery" of MH17: As the world's attention focuses on the sad task of burying the dead, the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in Ukraine remains unsecured and barely open to investigators, complicating efforts to prove what, or who, brought the plane down. Even as evidence mounts that pro-Russian separatists had the weaponry and will to bring down the plane, Russia's print media is giving credence to Kremlin-friendly theories that to many outside the country would seem far-fetched. Getting the story straight in the middle of a war zone is hard enough, but the task is made even more difficult by reports posted and then deleted online in a game of information whack-a-mole. Meanwhile, nations seeking to prosecute those responsible for downing MH17 face a complex legal question: Is the tragedy a war crime?

# So, What Happens Now In Russia? The debate about whether Russian President Vladimir Putin has crossed the "Lockerbie line" could make him an international pariah. Responses to the downing of MH17 -- from Putin's odd midnight video statement where he vacillated between being confrontational and conciliatory, to the Defense Ministry's Dr. Strangelove-like briefing -- are littered with mixed and confusing signals, at least on the surface. In the midst of the Ukraine crisis, Putin forged ahead with a move to enforce a "spirit of patriotism and responsibility" with a renewed crackdown on NGOs. Yet, despite increasing levels of international outrage, Russians' trust in their government and military is at an all time high.

# INFOGRAPHIC: Russia's Economy: Robust or Fragile?

# Mosul's Christians Expelled: Before they were ordered from the city, many of the Christians who fled Mosul thought they were leaving to avoid fresh attacks like those that swept the city in June, after which the Islamic militants seemed to be helpful and even protective. Turns out they were being banished from the Iraqi city, putting an end to their two thousand year old religious community.

# The Business Of Forgiveness In Iran: A wave of mercy is spreading across Iran, following the April pardon of a young man just minutes before his execution by the mother of his victim. Although highly supported by media and human rights activists, some are convinced that there is a business to forgiveness, with the families of some killers having purchased their freedom from victims' families for $50,000 or more.

# Dust-Up Over Iranian Jamming: The Iranian government’s jamming of satellite transmissions, long used to disrupt the flow of news and information into the Islamic Republic (including by RFE/RL's Radio Farda), reportedly kept experts from predicting a deadly dust storm that hit Tehran in June.

# Uzbekistan's Sugar Shock: Sugar shortages are presenting new opportunities for black marketeers in Uzbekistan, where the price of sugar has more than doubled in recent days. The “Qishloq Ovozi” blog takes a close look at whether the cause of this sugar deficit is natural or artificial.

# Quiz: Kurds and Kurdish Culture: Thirty million Kurds reside in major swaths of five countries in the Middle East and Caucasus. You've read about the politics of "Kurdistan," but how much do you know about its people?

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