May 23, 2013 |
At a cafe on the Place des Vosges, Natalia Gevorkyan is picking at a salade verte and thinking about betrayal. It's a central theme in the worldview of Vladimir Putin, the Russian president and a man who once spent many hours telling her of his life and his credo. It was natural for a KGB officer to suspect betrayal all around him, she says, and although Putin left the agency nearly two decades ago, he has never shaken its particular view of human nature. Yet today, an air of suspicion...
February 7, 2013 |
SOCHI, Russia — The vice president of Russia's Olympic Committee was fired Thursday after a public roasting and ritual humiliation by Vladimir Putin, who was in a pique because the Olympic ski jump was behind schedule. With one year to go before the Opening Ceremonies on Feb. 7, 2014, the Russian president spent Wednesday inspecting venues for the Sochi Games and showing off Russia's progress to Jacques Rogge, president of the International Olympic Committee, and Jean-Claude Killy, chairman of the coordination...
December 16, 2012 |
Habits instilled by fear are slow to fade but can be rapidly relearned. That is one lesson Vladimir Putin is teaching us. Roaming through Russia just after the Soviet Union dissolved, I kept in my pocket a copy of the new U.S.-Russia treaty that opened the country to free travel. As I drove down highways until recently off-limits, my license plate identifiable as a foreign reporter's, highway police would pull me over and demand to know who had given me permission. "Your foreign minister," I would say, handing...
December 6, 2012 |
MOSCOW — Hold the Botox! The latest rumors swirling around the Kremlin suggest Vladimir Putin needs a makeover, dropping his macho, macho man refrain in favor of some crinkly-eyed gravitas. Putin's usual sky-high ratings have been slipping, the people around him are constantly pestered with questions about his health and gossip persists that powerful behind-the-scenes string-pullers, known as the elite, are locked in an ugly struggle over the country's direction. What's a 60-year-old president to do?
November 4, 2012 |
As dictatorships collapsed toward the end of the last century and into this one, many people assumed that history moves in only one direction. The tide of freedom had lifted East Asia and Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union and Indonesia. In an era of global trade and communications, the rest of the world surely would follow. Academics and think tanks studied democratization, often presuming that it could be observed and predicted like any other natural process — that the democratic West didn't have to do much but...
October 15, 2012 |
MOSCOW — President Vladimir Putin's ruling party decisively swept regional elections, according to results tabulated Monday, paradoxically confronting his top-down authoritarian system with a serious challenge. Since December's parliamentary vote, when large numbers of demonstrators unexpectedly began protesting rigged elections, Putin and his allies have been trying to regain what had been an undisputed grip on power. Sunday's election would appear to confirm they had done so. The...