Showing Archived Posts

Ukraine Does Not Want to be ‘Little Russia’

Posted August 21st, 2011 at 8:20 pm (UTC+0)

Over dinner at a Kyiv restaurant, Oksana, a Ukrainian journalist remarks, in Russian, that if she ever had to visit Moscow, she would address people in Ukrainian. At another gathering, Yulia, a visiting Russian, innocently suggests to Anna, a gallery manager, that it might be useful to have two passports – one Ukrainian and a […]

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Georgia: Cuba of the Caucasus?

Posted August 12th, 2011 at 4:07 pm (UTC+0)

Let’s shake off August doldrums, and play a mind stretching game. Let’s imagine democratic, free market Georgia as . . . the Cuba of the Caucasus. For both countries, whether in the Caribbean or in the Caucasus, threat numero uno is the Colossus of the North. This Northern Empire has a long history of interfering […]

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Georgia’s David Attacks the Russian Goliath — And Lives to Tell the Tale

Posted August 4th, 2011 at 1:47 pm (UTC+0)

TBILISI — It sounds like a basic political rule of Machiavelli: launch a war, lose the war, lose power. Here’s how it works. In 1974, Greece’s ruling general, Dimitrios Ioannidis, engineered a coup on Cyprus, calculating that Turkey would not respond. Before Ioannidis could unite Cyprus and Greece, the Turkish military invaded, occupying the northern […]

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Russia’s Perfect Storm…of Human Error

Posted July 16th, 2011 at 8:25 am (UTC+0)

The rain was light. The winds were moderate, And the waves were only one meter high. Russia’s shipping tragedy last week was a perfect storm — of human error. The Volga riverboat ‘Bulgaria’ was designed to carry 140 people, but it was loaded with 208. Most of the 59 children seem to have been waved […]

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Why Can’t the Dalai Lama visit Russia?

Posted July 12th, 2011 at 8:32 pm (UTC+0)

In temple after temple in Buryatia, the capital of Buddhism in Russia, one color photo invariably holds a position of honor, often surrounded by garlands of flowers. The photo is of the Dalai Lama, the leader of Tibetan Buddhism since 1950. The vast majority of Russia’s estimated 1.3 million Buddhists follow Tibetan Buddhism. Despite the […]

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Belarus: Did Kolya Bite the Stewardess?

Posted July 6th, 2011 at 5:43 pm (UTC+0)

On a Sunday afternoon, Natalia and I were resting on a tree-shaded path in Minsk’s Victory Park, when she started to ask a delicate question. But she did not want to discuss it while we were sitting on a park bench. “There could be microphones in the bench,” the 20-year-old said. “Our professors at the […]

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Belarus and Greece: The Tale of Two Bailouts

Posted June 27th, 2011 at 8:52 pm (UTC+0)

Greece and Belarus are two largely Orthodox Christian nations in Central Europe. Both have roughly the same size populations. And both, according to international bond ratings agencies, are now virtually bankrupt. Over the last year, European Union officials have labored to persuade Greece to accept a $161 billion aid package under International Monetary Fund supervision. […]

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Russia Back on a Roll?

Posted June 20th, 2011 at 5:12 pm (UTC+0)

Peter the Great built St. Petersburg as Russia’s “Window to the West,” opening up landlocked Muscovy to Europe. But from the East, here came China’s President Hu Jintao, looking like a Chinese emperor in a business suit. President Hu addressed rows upon rows of business suits gathered at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. This […]

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Life: When will Russians live as long as Brazilians?

Posted June 9th, 2011 at 6:44 am (UTC+0)

When will Russian men live as long as Brazilian men? A Russian baby boy born today can expect to live 59 years and four months. That is two months longer than a baby boy born in Haiti. By contrast, a boy born in Brazil can expect to enjoy almost an extra decade of life – […]

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Democracy: Can Russia Catch Up With Brazil?

Posted June 3rd, 2011 at 8:19 am (UTC+0)

When will Russians attain the political maturity of Brazilians? When will Russians, like Brazilians, be allowed to elect state governors and big city mayors, and to have free, competitive elections for congress and the presidency? These questions are faintly offensive to many Russians. 
After all, Brazil was a mere Portuguese colony of banana trees and […]

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James Brooke is VOA Moscow bureau chief, covering Russia and the former USSR. With The New York Times, he worked as a foreign correspondent in Africa, Latin America, Canada and Japan/Koreas. He studied Russian in college during the Brezhnev years, first visited Moscow as a reporter during the final months of Gorbachev, and then came back for reporting forays during the Yeltsin and early Putin years. In 2006, he moved to Moscow to report for Bloomberg. He joined VOA in Moscow in 2010. Follow Jim on Twitter @VOA_Moscow.



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