RFE/RL's Weekly Rundown , a concise look at our top stories this week:
# Who's Who in Eastern Ukraine?: Confused about who is the self-appointed leader of which new "People's Republics" of Ukraine? Here's your cheatsheet. Meanwhile, the Ukrainian army has been underfunded and neglected for years, so much so, that volunteers are raising money to get soldiers the most basic supplies. Could this be why the Ukrainian army has shown mixed combat capabilities? In his commentary for RFE/RL, Andrii Deshchytsia, Ukraine's Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs, says the Ukrainian government is the party most interested in putting an end to the violence in eastern Ukraine, but, sadly, the Russian government is the only party that can do so without the use of force.
# Ukraine's Border To Border Tensions: In Luhansk, sense of panic is coursing through the city as residents feel trapped in a situation where neither the government nor the separatists can ensure their safety. Several foster families from the conflict-torn cities of Slovyansk and Donetsk have been forced to leave their homes and seek shelter in a neighboring region, and in Crimea, a Ukrainian Orthodox priest recounts how attackers took over his church. Ukraine's western Zakarpattia region is no Donbas, but the ethnic-Hungarian awakening there shows that simmering ethnic discontent isn't just a problem in the restive east, and illustrates that Russia is not the only neighboring country seeking to take advantage to Ukraine's fragile state.
# Information Wars: Bloggers have debunked some of the most outrageous fabrications about Ukraine in the Russian state media and pro-Russian online communities, which often use shocking images from other countries to illustrate the situation in Ukraine. Plus, new from #UkraineUnspun, Right Sector has become the go-to bogeyman for Russian authorities and mouthpieces, and who's to blame for the explosion at Luhansk's state administration building?
# Can You Feel The Russian Love?: Russia may be threatening to cut off Ukraine's gas supply, but it is busy exporting its gangsters and neo-Nazis to its southern neighbor. Meanwhile, the German public staunchly opposes harsher sanctions against Russia and expresses sympathy for Russia's claims in the former Soviet Union, views partly shaped by the turbulence of World War II and the nerve-wracking tensions of the Cold War. And despite Western anger at Russia's role in fomenting separatist unrest in Ukraine, at home President Vladimir Putin is more popular than ever. (Except, maybe, not so much with the ladies. And this Russian blogger, who beat cancer by receiving treatment in the United States after Russian doctors declared him incurable.)
# Iran's Path To Heaven: Iran's President Hassan Rohani has picked a fight with the country's conservative hardliners over the Islamic regime's interference in the public and private lives of Iranians, as official Iranian media crudely smear the journalist behind the "Iranian Women's Stealthy Freedom" website.
# Taboo No More?: Tattoo parlors, once a rarity in Iraq, are increasingly common on Baghdad streets as young men seek out fashionable new looks. But there's a darker side to the trend, as a growing number of clients are choosing tattoos that could help identify them if they become victims of violence. And in Tajikistan, prostitution has long been taboo but not illegal. And with the apparent rise in the number of sex workers, the world's oldest profession is slowly becoming a topic of open debate.
# Afghanistan Election Showdown: With the clock winding down on Afghanistan's presidential race, contestants are outdoing themselves trying to show they are *the* candidate to vote for. Plus, new from Gandhara, 10 years after Afghanistan first considered adopting a money laundering law, shadowy figures within Kabul's political elite are still maneuvering behind the scenes to block it.
# Vaclav Havel Journalism Fellowship: RFE/RL is currently accepting applications for the 2014-2015 Vaclav Havel Journalism Fellowship. The purpose of the Fellowship is to support aspiring journalists from countries lacking media freedom and independence to pursue their profession and advance pluralism in their societies. It is inspired by former Czech President Vaclav Havel's belief in the transformational role of journalism in challenging tyranny. Find out more here.
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-- Karisue Wyson