Showing Archived Posts

Russian President’s Potemkin Press Conference

Posted May 20th, 2011 at 8:20 am (UTC+0)

The empty box said it all. Each reporter was issued a neat white plastic box, complete with notepad, pen and computer memory stick. Each item was embossed: “Press Conference of the President of the Russian Federation Dimitry Medvedev.” But unlike most press kits, there was no press release, no biography of the president and no […]

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Victory Day: Soviet Liberators or Occupiers?

Posted May 13th, 2011 at 9:23 pm (UTC+0)

In Soviet times, the day of victory over Nazi Germany was marked with a level of reverence that seemed to make May 9 the only religious holiday on the Soviet calendar. The reason is clear. Study the family tree of almost any Russian, and you will find branches that abruptly ended at the war years. […]

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Reality Check: Russian vs American record in Afghanistan

Posted May 9th, 2011 at 3:07 am (UTC+0)

Russia’s foreign ministry has just issued a new statement lecturing the U.S.-led coalition “to take additional steps” to reduce civilian casualties in Afghanistan. Presumably, in this post-Osama Bin Laden era, Moscow is trying ingratiate itself with Afghan public opinion, and ultimately, the Taliban. If so, then it’s time for some reality checks: Reality Check 1: […]

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A Tale of Two Wars: United States in Afghanistan and Russia in the Caucasus

Posted May 4th, 2011 at 9:39 pm (UTC+0)

Oddly, the death tolls in both wars stand at 440. In Afghanistan, 440 American soldiers were killed by hostile action last year. In Russia’s Caucasus, 440 Russian police and soldiers were killed by Islamic insurgents last year. The death of Osama bin Laden has many Americans thinking: let’s declare victory, crank up the brass bands, […]

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Public Enemy No. 1 in Belarus: A Diplomat turned Democrat

Posted April 29th, 2011 at 9:34 am (UTC+0)
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When I last talked to Andrei Sannikov, on the night of Dec. 19, he was partly leading, partly being swept along, by a river of Belarussians who filled the largest avenue in Minsk, protesting yet another fraudulent presidential election. Dressed in a business suit and tie, speaking English polished during a five year diplomatic stint […]

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Chernobyl Zone — Europe’s Largest Wildlife Refuge?

Posted April 25th, 2011 at 4:00 pm (UTC+0)

Japan has imposed a 20-kilometer exclusion zone around Fukushima nuclear power complex, banning human habitation for the foreseeable future. April 26, marks the 25th anniversary of the worst nuclear accident on record, the explosion of the nuclear power plant in Chernobyl, Ukraine. The fate of 4,500 square kilometer exclusion zone around the old Soviet plant […]

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Belarus’ Lukashenko and his Mini-me: Biographer Needed

Posted April 22nd, 2011 at 5:58 pm (UTC+0)

Calling all political biographers: We have here on the eastern edge of Europe a quirky modern dictator in desperate need of a world-class writer to tell his tale. Alexander Lukashenko, the long running ruler of Belarus, never ceases to surprise. For starters, there is his 6-year-old son, Nikolai. The president dresses him up in various […]

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Belarus: Bombing while Economy Burns

Posted April 18th, 2011 at 6:05 am (UTC+0)
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When a massive bomb goes off in a police state, one can only ask: where were the police? Belarus is the Cuba of Central Europe — a police state. Type “List of countries by size of police forces” into Wikipedia and you will find that Belarus is the champion, with 1,442 policemen for every 100,000 […]

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Yuri Gagarin: When the Soviets Beat the Americans

Posted April 13th, 2011 at 3:10 pm (UTC+0)

I remember standing in a field in southern France one evening in the summer of 1962. My father watched a blinking red light slowly arcing across the night sky. “That,” he said pointing. “That is a sputnik.” It could well have been the night flight from Paris to Algiers. But the uneasiness in his voice […]

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Russia’s Corruption Fighter — Censored?

Posted April 6th, 2011 at 3:59 pm (UTC+0)

Do a Google search on “Kadyrov cars,” or “Kadyrov palace,” or “Kadyrov racehorse.” Russians often wonder what happens to the billions of rubles the Kremlin pours into Chechnya to prop up Ramzan Kadyrov, the chief of the long rebellious republic. Five minutes on Google gives a juicy hint. Russia is riding the rocket of some […]

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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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