RFE/RL's Weekly Rundown, a concise look at our top stories this week:
# INFOGRAPHIC--Gazprom’s Grip: Why do some countries pay so much more for Russian natural gas than others? This map shows the prices Russia's state-run natural gas giant Gazprom charges many of its customers, who Russia's biggest gas customers are, and how dependent those customers are on Gazprom's (and Russia's) good will. RFE/RL journalists Glenn Kates and Li Luo also examine the politics behind the pricing.
# Pardon My French. Or Russian, Actually: A law came into effect on July 1 imposing fines on Russians for swearing in books, music, theater and film. Do Russians on the street think it will keep their compatriots from cursing? This week's "The Power Vertical" podcast also looks at this latest effort by the Kremlin to tighten control over discourse--and therefore, over politics. Speaking of curbing vices in Russia, as of June 1 Russians are no longer allowed to smoke anywhere in public, cigarettes cannot be displayed in stores, and showing a person inhaling tobacco smoke in films and on television is illegal "unless it is an integral part of the artist's idea."
# Tentative Truce: The foreign ministers of Ukraine, Russia, Germany, and France have agreed on a package of steps to resume the cease-fire in eastern Ukraine, where security forces have been battling pro-Russian separatists. Follow our Live Blog for the latest developments. In separate interviews with RFE/RL, former Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk said the Kremlin's philosophy of defending the interests of the "Russian World" is centered on "aggression [and] disregard for the interests of its neighbors," and U.S. Senator Roger Wicker described Russia's actions in Ukraine as having a "familiar ring from the 1930s."
# Starting Over In Ukraine, and in "New Aleppo": As Putin restates his prerogative to use force in eastern Ukraine to protect Russian speakers, RFE/RL talks with Russians who have recently immigrated or are seeking asylum in Ukraine about their decision to move. And in its English-language video documentary "New Aleppo," the Armenian Service examines the challenges faced by ethnic Armenians who have fled the war in Syria and are trying to make a new start in their historic homeland of Armenia.
# Crisis in Iraq: As the situation continues to escalate, Iranian war planes have reportedly been deployed in Iraq. And RFE/RL tries to make sense of the announcement by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) that it has created an Islamic caliphate on the territory it holds in Syria and Iraq.
# Under Pressure: A notorious former Gulag that has been transformed into a museum dedicated to education about the horrors of the Soviet-era camps is fighting for survival in the face of pressure from regional authorities, a creeping rehabilitation of the Soviet era in Russia, and rising imperialist sentiment following the Kremlin’s annexation of Crimea.
# Say What? For the first time in two decades, Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has given a speech in the Belarusian language, a tongue he had previously derided as primitive.
# In The Summer Edition Of Lady Liberty: Award-winning Turkish author Elif Shafak discusses storytelling, stereotypes, and the plurality of voices she tries to capture in her writing. Plus, training the next generation of Middle Eastern journalists, a Belarusian cartoonist’s satirical take on politics and society, and an attempt by Iranian state-controlled media to defame the journalist who created the "My Stealthy Freedom" Facebook page. For more on women in journalism and stories about women in our broadcast region, follow Lady Liberty on Facebook.
-- Emily Thompson