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Investigating MH17, Rewriting the Ukraine Crisis, Dynamiting Iraq's Holy Shrines, and more

Soldier's Mother Receives Letter From Son's Killers
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Soldier's Mother Receives Letter From Son's Killers

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

# Investigating MH17: On August 1 international experts were finally able to begin work at the crash site of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17, two weeks after the plane was downed in eastern Ukraine. In the interim, journalists have been building the case that the separatists did the shooting.

# PHOTO GALLERY: After the downing of MH17, many magazines and newspapers issued damning indictments on their covers against Russian President Vladimir Putin.

# Costs Of War In Ukraine: While few want to take responsibility as civilian casualties mount from the fighting, separatist fighters used social media to brag about the deaths of Ukrainian soldiers caught in an ambush--then sent a letter to the mother of one of the dead soldiers [VIDEO]. Two men describe what it was like to be held hostage for ten weeks by pro-Russian separatists, while activists on both sides step up efforts to funnel equipment, basic necessities, and even fighters to the front lines.

# Rewriting The Ukraine Crisis: Whether it is dueling revisions to Wikipedia entries, disappearing social media posts, or a sham Twitter feed for incoming U.S. Ambassador John Tefft, computers linked to the Russian, U.S., and Ukrainian governments have been wielded in a battle over the narrative in the armed conflict. Sometimes, however, cyberspace is just the place to determine how plausible Russia’s denials really are about its involvement in the conflict.

# Sanctions, Court Rulings Hit Russia’s Pocketbook: Russia remains defiant in the face of tightened U.S. and EU sanctions, but the impact on its economy could be severe. Might the Kremlin be looking for an exit strategy? The Russian government also lost big this week in European courts in cases filed by former shareholders in the defunct Yukos oil company. What does former Yukos VP Leonid Nevzlin think, and why might Yukos investors have to wait a decade or more to collect? And purchases of pricey California real estate by Russian media mogul Mikhail Lesin have drawn the attention of U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, who has asked the Justice Department to investigate whether Lesin violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act or laundered money by acquiring homes in the Los Angeles area.

# VIDEO: RFE/RL asks Muscovites if they are concerned about the new round of sanctions.

# Dynamiting Iraq's Holy Sites: While the Islamic State initially exhibited some restraint after entering northwestern Iraq in June, the self-declared caliphate has revealed its radical aims by destroying anything that conflicts with its strict interpretation of Islam. RFE/RL catalogs some of the destruction.

# Azerbaijani Government Gets Tough With Its Loudest Critic: On June 30, Azerbaijani human rights activist Leyla Yunus was charged with several crimes, among them treason, tax evasion, and illegal entrepreneurship. Will the charges and personal attacks silence the seemingly fearless campaigner?

# Undermining Malala? Radio Mashaal talks with Ziauddin Yousafzai, who claims his daughter, education activist Malala Yousafzai, is the victim of a "systematic propaganda campaign" in Pakistan.

# Overcoming The Odds in Afghanistan: An Afghan Justice Ministry official crippled by childhood polio hopes legislation that promises better access and help for disabled Afghans will allow many more to meet their full potential [VIDEO].

# Eight is Enough? Try 39: Gulzar Khan and his family of three wives and 36 children are among the one million refugees forced from their homes by Pakistan’s military operation in North Waziristan. Radio Mashaal visits with the Khan family in Bannu, their city of refuge in northwest Pakistan [VIDEO].

# Eid Mubarak! Muslims in Moscow and Kabul welcome the end of Ramadan [VIDEO].