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What’s Next for Alexei Navalny?

It has been two months since Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny fell ill from a near-lethal poisoning attack while campaigning in Siberia. Currently recovering from the incident in Germany, Navalny says he is intent on returning to Russia where his role in politics is as fabled as it is uncertain. Charles Maynes reports from Moscow.Camera: Ricardo Marquina   Producers: Ricardo Marquina, Barry Unger 

Afghan Artists Fear a Taliban Return to Power

As the Afghan Taliban tries to negotiate a political settlement with the government, many musicians in the country are worried about the impact a deal will have on their ability to work, as VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Kabul.Videographer:  Ahmad Javed, Rahim Gul Sarwan  Producer: Marcus Harton

Pakistan's Female Journalists Demand End to Harassment 

Female journalists in Pakistan are demanding an end to online harassment, including threats of sexual assault, that they face for their work. After several journalists posted a petition on social media calling for action, the government proposed a new law to curb the harassment. But some journalists have warned that such legislation could be used to limit speech. Gaitty Ara Anis reports for VOA from Islamabad.Camera: Gaitty Ara AnisProducer: Gaitty Ara Anis

On the Scene: Families Flee Bombs in Battle for Nagorno-Karabakh

Last weekend, there was a cease-fire in the battle for Nagorno-Karabakh, a breakaway region inside of Azerbaijan yet controlled and inhabited by ethnic Armenians. It lasted for only hours, or maybe even minutes. Fierce national pride is growing on both sides as towns and cities are attacked and civilians run for cover. VOA has this report with Yan Boechat in Nagorno-Karabakh.

NATO Representative Tells VOA Taliban Driven Violence at 10-Year High

NATO’s Senior Civilian Representative to Afghanistan Stefeno Pontecorvo says while both the Taliban and the Afghanistan Republic negotiation teams in Doha have entered the talks in good faith, the rigidity of the Taliban team is holding up progress. He sat down with VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem in Kabul to discuss what he said were unacceptably high levels of violence, the future of NATO’s commitment to Afghanistan, and what the country might look like in ten years.  Camera: Rahim Gul Sarwan and Hidayatullah Noori   

Armenian and Azerbaijani Diasporas in California Support Their Countrymen

World powers are calling for peace as the conflict continues between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the disputed enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh.  The territory is in Azerbaijan but run by ethnic Armenians; both sides claim it as their own. Meanwhile in America, both Armenian and Azerbaijani diasporas are mobilizing to help their homelands. Angelina Bagdasaryan has the story, narrated by Anna Rice.Camera: Vazgen Varzhabetyan       

Pentagon Silent on Trump Tweet Calling for Full Troop Withdrawal from Afghanistan Before Year’s End

After U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted that all U.S. forces should return home from Afghanistan before the end of the year, defense officials in charge of executing that withdrawal have remained silent. Trump’s new deadline is much sooner than one put forward by his administration hours earlier, and military experts are raising concerns about the ramifications of such a move. VOA Pentagon Correspondent Carla Babb has more.

India Races to Build Border Roads as Standoff With China Continues

India is racing to build a network of roads to its disputed border with China as a military standoff between the two countries that began in May drags into winter. These roads will connect to military bases in border areas and help swiftly deploy troops and equipment to Ladakh in the Himalayan mountains. But as Anjana Pasricha reports from New Delhi, India’s rapid infrastructure development has fueled more friction with China.Producer: Jason Godman 

Afghanistan's Abdullah Discusses Iran, Pakistan, Peace Process

The man heading Afghanistan’s peace efforts said Iran did not attend the ceremony marking the opening of talks with the Taliban due to tensions with the United States.“Iran was invited...Sometimes their relations with the United States which [are] under a lot of tension at the moment, those things affect their decisions [of] participating in a conference or not,” Abdullah Abdullah, the chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation told VOA in Islamabad toward the end of a three-day visit to Pakistan.Despite that, Abdullah said, Iran supported the peace process. He also acknowledged that Iran had “legitimate concerns” and “legitimate interests” in Afghanistan as a neighbor that hosts millions of Afghan refugees.He said Iran’s contacts with various Taliban groups could be used as an opportunity to advance peace efforts.The U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, told a Washington-based research group, the United States Institute of Peace, last week that the U.S.-Iran relations were getting in the way of Iran cooperating with Afghanistan’s peace process.Zalmay Khalilzad, U.S. envoy for peace in Afghanistan is seen during talks between the Afghan government and Taliban insurgents in Doha, Qatar, Sept. 12, 2020.“Iran would like to keep us entangled in a conflict without winning or losing but paying a high price until there is an agreement between the U.S. and Iran,” he said.Iran strongly refuted those claims and said it supported peace in Afghanistan, according to its official Islamic Republic News Agency, or IRNA.In the same story, IRNA quoted the deputy foreign minister for political affairs, Abbas Araghchi, as doubting the U.S. intentions in Afghanistan."We believe that the U.S. should not be trusted and that the U.S. presence in the region is dangerous and will cause a lot of discord in the region," said Araghchi.Abdullah’s Pakistan visit, in which he met with the country’s senior civilian and military leadership, is being viewed as a major shift in his approach toward Pakistan.Abdullah Abdullah, chairman of Afghanistan's High Council for National Reconciliation, left, meets with Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, in Islamabad, Sept. 29, 2020. (Credit: Press Information Department)As the chief executive of Afghanistan in the former administration, he declined several invitations to visit the country.He said, however, that changes on the ground, including the fact that the Taliban and Afghan government were sitting across the table from each other in Doha, helped change his mind.“I thought that with the prime minister, Imran Khan, as ...

Ahead of Peace Talks, Taliban Detail Position on Women’s Rights, Press Freedom, Civilian Casualties

Millions of Afghans are closely watching preliminary peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban in Doha. Many are waiting to see whether the political freedoms and rights gained over the last 19 years will be protected in a future peace deal. VOA’s Najiba Khalil spoke to Mohammad Naim, the spokesperson for the Taliban’s political office in Qatar via Skype about women’s rights, press freedom, as well as Taliban attacks and filed this report narrated by Bezhan Hamdard.

Time Magazine Honors Grandmother Fighting Controversial Indian Citizenship Law

As protests wracked India in the aftermath of a controversial citizenship law passed last year, a wrinkled 82-year-old grandmother sitting with defiant eyes and prayer beads in her hands became the face of resistance to the legislation.Known only as Bilkis, she braved New Delhi’s coldest winter in more than a century to sit for more than three months in the front rows of a protest led by Muslim women. Her fiery resilience won her a place in Time magazine’s 2020 list of 100 most influential people.The magazine said Bilkis became the “voice of the marginalized” and the symbol of resistance “ in a nation where the voices of women and minorities were being systematically drowned out by the majoritarian politics of the [Prime Minister Narendra] Modi regime.” She features in the magazine’s category of icons.Bilkis came to be popularly known as one of the “dadis” or grandmothers of Shaheen Bagh – a largely Muslim neighborhood where women had blocked a major road after Modi’s Hindu nationalist government passed a law that critics have slammed as discriminatory because it excludes Muslims from the list of six religious groups among persecuted minorities in three neighboring countries that can get expedited citizenship.“For us, there is no fight between Hindus and Muslims, Sikhs and Christians. Our fight is with the new law. That is why I am sitting here. Take it back and I will get up,” she told VOA in January.Her slight bent frame wrapped in a shawl, she arrived every morning and sat late into the night listening attentively as women read out the preamble of the constitution, made speeches and sang patriotic songs as a reaffirmation of their citizenship.Bilkis was vocal about what drew her daily to the protest – worries that the new citizenship law will set the stage for a national register of citizens that could make some Indian Muslims vulnerable by calling on them to show proof of citizenship. Modi’s government has said such fears are misplaced and denies that the law is discriminatory.Those assurances have done little to ease the fears of women like Bilkis, who said she was determined to fight religious discrimination in a secular country.“We will not accept this law. This is a free country and that is how we want it to stay,” she said.'We will not budge'The Time article on Bilkis said she “gave hope and strength to activists and student leaders” ...

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