Joanna Kakissis

Hysni Rexha, a cheerful 51-year-old farmer in western Kosovo, loves the United States unconditionally.

"Because of America, my country exists," he declares, walking through what he calls his "wildlife garden" of caged peacocks, doves, exotic chickens and a sad hawk.

"So when Donald Trump was elected America's president, I named my favorite wolf after him."

The wolf is one of four Rexha says he found as puppies and domesticated.

To an outsider, this most Balkan of conflicts looks absurd: two countries fighting over a name and a historical icon who lived 25 centuries ago.

But the 26-year-old dispute between two southeastern European neighbors — Greece and Macedonia, over who owns the name "Macedonia" — is seen by both sides as existential and essential to national identity.

Greece, which prizes its ancient history above everything else, is especially sensitive.

Abdul Kadr's wife found out he was gay the night his relatives came to kill him.

She hid him inside the home in Grozny, Chechnya, where they lived with their four young children, and told him she'd stand by him.

"She saved my life," says Abdul Kadr, a silver-haired former businessman in his 40s.

Being married to a woman was how he hid his eight-year relationship with another man, also a married father. It was a way to survive in Chechnya, a largely Muslim southwestern republic of Russia where gay men are reportedly sent to torture camps and even killed.

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Sumeyye Nur and her elderly parents were driving outside Izmir, Turkey, last summer when two plainclothes policemen pulled them over, demanding to know why her 75-year-old father owned a nice car.

It was no ordinary stop. It was part of a sprawling government crackdown on tens of thousands of Turks after last year's failed military coup against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.