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A show produced with photos, videos and personal accounts from our Observers around the world - all checked by our staff here in Paris. Saturday at 10.15 am Paris time. We'll be back in September with a new series.

THE OBSERVERS

THE OBSERVERS

Latest update : 2013-12-23

Hazing in China, fake houses in Russia, and more

This show is made up entirely of amateur images. We've seen time and time again how images captured by ordinary citizens then uploaded onto the Web can change history, or at least shift the balance of power. This week, we take a look back at some of those moments.

Story 1: China

We begin today with a video that was posted online in China, but taken down almost immediately. It shows trainee firefighters being hazed by their older comrades. Our Observer says abuse of recruits is widespread in China's national fire service, and in the military and the police. But he says evidence of such abuse is rare, because - as in this case - it is quickly censored by the authorities.

 

Story 2: Russia

Now to Russia, where the tradition of Potemkin villages is apparently alive and well. They were fake villages supposedly built by a local governor to impress the visiting queen Catherine the Great. Two centuries later, nothing has changed, says our Observer. He's a student in Suzdal, a small historic town east of Moscow.

 

Story 3: World

Now for our weekly roundup of other stories and images sent in by our Observers.

Here is a wedding video from Sanaa, the capital of Yemen. The guests are dancing Gangnam-style and having a great time, when one of them fires his gun into the air in celebration. The man loses control of his weapon, hitting several of the guests, killing one outright. Our Observer Saddam is an activist who tries to sensitize young Yemenis to the dangers of owning guns. It's an uphill battle in a country that has lax enforcement of gun laws, and the highest rate of gun ownership in the world - except of course for the United States.

Now to Skopje, the capital of Macedonia. As part of a spruce-up, the city is erecting 37 statues of historical figures. Several of them - like this one - were added at the last minute. But this one has caused fury. It's of Emperor Dusan, a Serbian ruler who conquered Albanian territory back in the 14th century. Members of Macedonia's Albanian minority are not happy. It's not clear who ordered the statue be built, but our Observer suspects it was intended to create tensions that could lead the Albanian party to leave the government coalition.

Next stop Syria, in Deir Atieh, north of Damascus. Before the war, the town was known as one of the tidiest and prettiest in Syria. So when the Syrian army regained control last month, residents decided to clean up. They got out their brooms and shovels, and took to the streets in groups, trying to brush away the signs of war.

Last stop today is Iran -- the Islamic Republic of Iran, where the Christian holiday Christmas is becoming a bit of a phenomenon. There are Christmas windows in the capital Tehran, and more and more Iranians are celebrating the holiday with Christmas trees and presents. The Christmas craze goes far beyond the tiny minority of Christians who live in the country - and so far has been tolerated by the authorities.

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