January 1 marked more than the start of a new year. It was also the day that many institutions handed over their rotating presidencies from one country to another. Sometimes it's a good fit. Sometimes...not so much. RFE/RL looks at four odd presidencies to watch in 2014.
Seventy-year-old Kakesh Jumabai-Kyzy has spent her entire life working with felt.
The mother of eight lives in the mountainous Kyrgyz area of At-Bashy, where many families still tend flocks of sheep that provide the warm, fluffy wool that Jumabai-Kyzy transforms into traditional Kyrgyz clothing and the colorful felt rugs called shyrdaks.
The Czech Interior Ministry is due this week to decide whether to grant political asylum to Tatiana Paraskevich, a 49-year-old former accountant with ties to Kazakh oligarch and opposition supporter Mukhtar Ablyazov.
If her asylum bid is denied, Paraskevich -- who has spent the last 18 months in jail in the Czech city of Plzen -- faces likely extradition to either Ukraine or Russia.
Uzbek media have been abuzz in recent days over Rakhima Ganieva, the 18-year-old Tashkent native who gained minor celebrity this summer when she was named Uzbekistan's first-ever representative in the Miss World competition, which kicked off this week in Indonesia with 131 young hopefuls from around the globe.
Growing up in the southern Kazakh village of Temirlan, Dina got used to a series of daily corrections.
She'd pick up a fork with her left hand. Someone would move it to her right. At school she'd work on a lesson holding a pencil in her left hand. Her teachers, worried, would urge her to switch to the "normal" side.
Khusanjon, a 44-year-old labor migrant from Uzbekistan, was expecting a busy Sunday at the Khovansky construction market in southwest Moscow.
Instead, he and dozens of fellow Uzbeks were rounded up in a raid by OMON special forces on August 4, handed over to local police, and locked in a sweltering garage, where they were beaten and deprived of food.