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NOVAYA GAZETA (Russia)


MOSCOW - There was a market for Soviet war medals even before the Soviet Union itself faded into history. There were thieves and collectors. But the real boom came in the 1990s, just after the fall of the Soviet Union, when many veterans looking to make some extra cash were willing to part with their honors. One collector even recalled obtaining a prized medal in exchange for a bottle of vodka.

The trade in old war medals is still illegal, but the collectors explained that the police have been looking the other way for quite some time, and that in fact collectors are usually the first to help the police in the case of stolen medals. Stolen goods, they explained, never interest serious collectors. Many expressed their hope that buying and selling old war medals would become legal.

Often, the collectors says, they appreciated the medals and the actions they represent far more than the relatives who sell them. That, at least, was certainly confirmed by Novaya Gazeta's reporter, who met with a woman selling her grandfather's war medals, but had no idea what he had done to get them.

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Geopolitics

Why The 'Perfect Storm' Of Iran's Protests May Be Unstoppable

The latest round of anti-regime protests in Iran is different than other in the 40 years of the Islamic Republic: for its universality and boldness, the level of public fury and grief, and the role of women and social media. The target is not some policy or the economy, but the regime itself.

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-Analysis-

The death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in Tehran on Sept. 16, after a possible beating at a police station, has sparked outrage and mass protests in Iran and abroad. There have been demonstrations and a violent attempt to suppress them in more than 100 districts in every province of Iran.

These protests may look like others since 2017, and back even to 1999 — yet we may be facing an unprecedented turning point in Iranians' opposition to the Islamic Republic. Indeed newly installed conservative President Ibrahim Raisi could not have expected such momentum when he set off for a quick trip to New York and back for a meeting of the UN General Assembly.

For one of the mistakes of a regime that takes pride in dismissing the national traditions of Iran is to have overlooked the power of grief among our people.

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