German Chancellor Angela Merkel visits Auschwitz for first time | AFP

Angela Merkel visits the former German Nazi death camp at Auschwitz for the first time in her 14 years as chancellor, as Germany grapples with a resurgence of anti-Semitism and the growth of the far-right. Merkel is only the third German chancellor ever to visit the camp in Poland, with her highly symbolic trip coming ahead of the 75th anniversary of its liberation by Soviet troops on January 27, 1945. IMAGES

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Uzbekistan looks to soften image of notorious cotton sector | AFP

Uzbekistan – an ex-Soviet nation of 33 million in Central Asia – is the world’s sixth largest producer of cotton. Since the Soviet period, centralised and later national production targets have led to forced labour. Uzbekistan’s current president, Shavkat Mirziyoyev, has denounced the use of forced labour and promised to eradicate state quotas by 2023.

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Today in History for November 10th

Highlights of this day in history: The Edmund Fitzgerald sinks in Lake Superior; Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev dies; Henry Stanley finds David Livingstone in central Africa; Film composer Ennio Morricone born; ‘Sesame Street’ premieres. (Nov. 10)

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Today in History for November 4th

Militants storm the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and seize its occupants; Israel’s Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin is assassinated; Soviet troops move in to crush the Hungarian Revolution in Eastern Europe; Baseball hall-of-famer Cy Young dies; Rapper and producer Sean “Diddy” Combs is born. (Nov. 4)

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Russia bids farewell to first man who walked in space | AFP

The coffin of legendary Soviet cosmonaut Alexei Leonov is brought out during his funeral in Moscow. Leonov was the first man to perform a spacewalk in 1965. He died in Moscow aged 85 after a long illness. IMAGES

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Today in History for October 12th

Highlights of this day in history: Columbus lands in Americas; USS Cole bombed in Yemen; Soviet leader Khrushchev bangs shoe at UN; Blast rips Bali nightclub; Opera’s Luciano Pavarotti born; Singer John Denver dies in plane crash. (Oct. 12)

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Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters form human chain | AFP

Thousands of people hold hands across Hong Kong in a dazzling, neon-framed recreation of a pro-democracy “Baltic Way” protest against Soviet rule three decades ago.

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Hong Kong protesters form human chain in creative show of dissent | AFP

Thousands of people hold hands across Hong Kong in a dazzling, neon-framed recreation of a pro-democracy “Baltic Way” protest against Soviet rule thirty years ago. IMAGES

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AP Top Stories August 21 P

Here are the top stories for Wed., August 21st: Trump takes swipe at Danish prime minister; Trump moves to forgive student debt of disabled vets; DHS announces plans to end limits on child detention; Czechs protest, remember 1969 Soviet invasion.

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Today in History for August 21st

Highlights of this day in history: Soviet coup against Mikhail Gorbachev fails; Exiled revolutionary Leon Trotsky murdered in Mexico; Nat Turner leads a slave rebellion; U.S. flag gets 50th star; Count Basie and singer Kenny Rogers born. (Aug. 21)

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Today in History for August 19th

Highlights of this day in history: Soviet hard-liners mount a coup against Mikhail Gorbachev; Nazi Germany ratifies Adolf Hitler’s powers; U-2 pilot Francis Gary Powers convicted by Soviet tribunal; Comedian Groucho Marx dies. (Aug. 19)

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Amid violence and discrimination, Moscow’s Roma theatre plays on | AFP

With passionate songs, flowing dresses and wildly strumming guitars, a theatre in Moscow has staged colourful evocations of Roma culture since the early Soviet era.

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Russian town dredges up Stalin statue, old divisions | AFP

The discovery of a Joseph Stalin statue at the bottom of a pond has divided a remote Russian town and dredged up a debate about the Soviet dictator’s legacy.

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Tetris puzzle video game going strong at 35

The electric puzzle video game “Tetris” turns 35 this year. It was created by Russian game designer Alexey Pajitnov while he was working as a Soviet computer programmer. Pajitnov says that for fans of the game it’s a “good addiction.” (June 11)

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In Russia, thousands search for remains of Soviet war dead

Every spring, groups go to a hilly area named Sinyavino to the east of Saint Petersburg that saw heavy fighting from 1941 to 1944, as Soviets attempted to break through a Nazi blockade. Thanks to volunteers who carry out regular digs at battlefield sites outside Leningrad (now Saint Petersburg) the soldiers will finally be buried, decades after the end of the war.

Today in History for April 25th

Radio pioneer Guglielmo Marconi born; ‘America’ first used on a world map; U.S. and Soviet troops meet in World War II; The Hubble Space Telescope deployed into orbit; Jazz singer Ella Fitzgerald born. (April 25)

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In Azerbaijan, health rhymes with crude oil baths

Ever since Soviet times, people have been flocking to the small Azerbaijani town of Naftalan to immerse themselves in local crude oil, Azerbaijan’s “black gold”, reputed for its therapeutic effect, despite some specialists warning the method has dangerous side-effects.

In hidden mountain air base, Albania stores MiGs for sale

On a barren hillside in northern Albania lies a portal to the country’s communist past: a massive steel door creaks open to reveal a hidden former air base burrowed into the heart of the mountain. Made up of 600 metres of tunnels that once teemed with military life, the secret Gjader air base is now a tomb for dozens of hulking communist-era fighter jets collecting dust in the darkness. Three decades after shedding communism, Albanian is trying to sell off the Soviet and Chinese-made MIG fighter jets, drawing interest from museums and collectors.

Disabled Kazakhs fight for rights amid Paralympics push

Kazakhstan ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2015 and has claimed improvements in inclusion and access for over 600,000 people registered as disabled, particularly in the last decade. But the overhaul of the Soviet approach to disability that saw handicapped people live in isolation from society has not been fast.