Power To The Party

Vladimir Putin says he may lead United Russia when he leaves office. That will solidify his control, and turn the party into a new center of political might.

A Kremlin Shake-Up

Vladimir Putin's surprise appointment of a political unknown as Russia's new prime minister has further complicated the question of who will succeed him as the country's president when Putin's second (and constitutionally last) term ends in March 2008. Recent polls show that more than 50 percent of Russians will vote for whomever Putin endorses. But predicting who his pick will be is tricky because the Kremlin's inner circle is even tinier and more secretive than it was in the Soviet era. The new prime minister, Victor Zubkov, 66, the former head of Russia's financial-regulation agency, is a close comrade of Putin's from St. Petersburg in the early 1990s. Still, Putin favorites Sergei Ivanov, Russia's former Defense minister, and Gazprom gasmonopoly head Dmitry Medvedev remain front runners. The key for Putin, says his former chief of staff, Aleksandr Voloshin, is "to feel that he has the option to return to power" for a third term as president in 2012. For that to happen, Putin...

Putin: From U.S. Ally to Global Tyrant

George Bush stood with his hand on Vladimir Putin's shoulder. It was November 2001, and the two leaders had just enjoyed Texas steaks personally barbecued by Bush at his family ranch, before heading to Crawford High School to address an audience of students. "It's my honor to welcome a new style of leader," Bush said as he introduced the Russian president. "A reformer, a man who loves his country as much as I love mine." Putin had been the first foreign leader to call in the hours after 9/11 to offer support in the War on Terror, recalled Bush. "When I was in high school, Russia was an enemy," he continued. "Now Russia is a friend." Putin, responding with his trademark shy smile, praised Bush's recent victory over the Taliban in Afghanistan and offered his "congratulations to those who have been liberated by [the U.S.] armed forces, and their relatives."It is hard to imagine such happy scenes today—let alone Putin's congratulating Iraqis on their "liberation." True, Putin still...

Turkey: Election Pits Islamists, Secularists

To hear Turkey’s opposition tell it, this weekend’s parliamentary election represents nothing less than a battle for the soul of the country. On one side stands Ankara’s ruling Justice and Development Party, or AK Party (AKP), a party that has its roots in political Islam and which opponents accuse of harboring a secret fundamentalist agenda to undermine Turkey’s strict separation between religion and public life. On the other are a fractious group of left- and right-wing parties united by only two things: a conviction that the AKP is not doing enough to defend Turkey’s national interests against Kurdish terrorists and European Union bureaucrats, and a passionate opposition to any manifestation of political Islam.Turkey’s nationalists are nothing if not vocal. As soon as parliamentary elections were called in May, middle-class secularist voters in their hundreds of thousands took to the streets in a series of mass rallies in Ankara, Istanbul and Izmir to protest against Sharia ...

War With the Media

Moscow's crackdown on independent news outlets harkens back to the dark days of the Soviet era.

Is Turkey Winning Over the Kurds?

Turkey's military appeared to be poised for war. Responding to a surge in Kurdish separatist attacks launched from northern Iraq, Turkish troops massed on the border—while commandos reportedly staged hot-pursuit raids inside Iraq itself. At the same time, though, inside Turkey the Army was trying a very different tactic—an unprecedented bid for hearts and minds that may end up doing more to end Kurdish violence than brute military force.What a difference a year makes. Last May, the cities of Turkey's southeast were convulsed by bloody riots as ethnic Kurds vented their anger at discrimination, poverty and police brutality. Last week the streets of Sirnak and Diyarbakir were again full of demonstrators, many of them Kurds. But this time they were protesting not against the government, but against the very group that claims to fight for their rights—the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK. Turkish authorities sanctioned the rallies, where speakers denounced the PKK's latest terrorist...

Caught Between Russia and the U.S.

What a difference a year makes. Last summer, when Vladimir Putin hosted the G8's annual summit in St. Petersburg, the Russian president—supercharged by his country's oil-fueled economic boom—seemed the star attraction. He and the Bush administration hammered out a joint strategy on Iran, and Putin expansively welcomed his European neighbors into a new "energy partnership."...

Spreading The Wealth

A decade ago, hotels in princely palaces in Rajasthan, India, were the preserve of wealthy Western tourists. "The only locals you'd see were either in the fields or serving you drinks," says London lawyer Rory White, a veteran India traveler. No longer. These days, you're less likely to see Europeans than wealthy Indians at the Lake Palace in Udaipur and well-to-do Chinese at the Red Capital Ranch boutique hotel near Beijing, with its gorgeous views of the Great Wall.Across Eurasia, local middle-class travelers are increasingly choosing to vacation in their own countries. They've created a boom in domestic travel that has rapidly raised the level of accommodations and services. Many have traveled on package tours abroad, and are demanding the same amenities they found overseas, from spa treatments to high-thread-count sheets. And their demand for upscale travel is reaching even the most remote corners of the earth, from Tibet to Siberia, where posh hotels are opening in areas once...

How Will Turkey's Next Leader Impact Iraq?

By nominating Abdullah Gul for Turkey's presidency, the ruling AK party is bowing to pressure from secularists and the military. How will this impact the country's volatile border with Iraq?

Russia's Cold-War Bluster

Stolid, ramrod-stiff Sergei Ivanov is generally not one to inspire rapturous applause. Yet that's just what Russia's former Defense minister did last month when he appeared before Parliament to announce a $189 billion program to rebuild Russian military might. There would be "revolutionary" new intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarines and aircraft carriers, an early-warning radar system and a mysterious "fifth generation" fighter plane. Was it any coincidence that, days later, the commander of Russia's Strategic Missile Forces, Gen. Nikolai Solovtsov, threatened that some of those new missiles could be "retargeted" at Poland and the Czech Republic? That would be the payback if they agree to host an antiballistic-missile system that the United States aims to deploy in Europe.If there's a whiff of cold war in the geopolitical air these days, it clearly has something to do with Moscow's cherished ambition to restore Russia's standing as a great power. And that, in turn, requires...

Turkey's Violent New Nationalism

The threats have been arriving daily, often via e-mail. "You traitors to Turkey have had your day," reads one. "Stop prostituting yourself and your country to foreigners or you will face the consequences."Not long ago, E, a prominent Turkish writer, would have shrugged off such missives—as did his friend Hrank Dink, the editor of Agos, Turkey's main Armenian-language newspaper, who for years had been a target of nationalist hate-mail. But after Dink was shot dead last month by a 17-year-old ultranationalist assassin, the threats suddenly became deadly serious. "Things are changing in Turkey, very much for the worse," says E, asking that his name not be used for fear of reprisals. "Before Dink's murder, I always spoke out against nationalism and narrow-mindedness. Now I fear for my life."A wave of violence is sweeping Turkey, targeting its modern, pro-European elite. Prominent liberals like Can Dundar, a columnist at the newspaper Milliyet who supported a 100,000-strong march in...

Davos Special Report: We're No 'Monster'

Alexander Medvedev is deputy chairman of Gazprom, the huge company at the heart of Russia's emerging energy empire. Last week he announced that profits rose 43 percent in 2006 to $37.2 billion, even as European leaders were voicing open concern about Russia's use of oil and gas shipments to pressure small neighbors like Belarus and Ukraine. Medvedev is among the Gazprom execs preparing to travel to Davos, where "power shifts" to new players like Russia lead the agenda. They'll try to present Russia as a reliable partner and head off European moves to diversify. Medvedev spoke to NEWSWEEK's Owen Matthews in Moscow: ...

No More Mr. Nice Guy

From the way Aleksandr Lukashenka was talking, you'd think war had just broken out. "We will not surrender our country to anyone who wants to tear it to pieces!" railed Belarus's president after Russia stopped oil exports to Belarus--and European customers farther down the line--in a row over tariffs and energy prices. "We may have to go down into the bunkers, but we will not surrender!"Actually, he waved the white flag just a couple of days later. What choice did he have? No one knows exactly what was said in a tense phone conversation between Vladimir Putin and Lukashenka, but it was clear that Putin was playing for keeps. The Kremlin's key threat: to slap tariffs on Belarussian goods exported to Russia. Since well above half of Belarus's trade is with its larger neighbor--and onetime best geopolitical friend--that would have destroyed the country's economy.The terms of surrender were no less brutal. They included a twofold increase in the price of gas, the sell-off of Belarus's...

Russian Roulette

Alexander Litvinenko said a lot of outrageous things when he was alive. He claimed that Al Qaeda's No. 2, Ayman al-Zawahiri, was a Russian agent. He alleged that he had a tape of Russian President Vladimir Putin having sex with another man. And he declared, just before dying, that his enemies in the FSB, Russia's secret service, had poisoned him in order to silence him. Some of Litvinenko's allegations were hard to believe. But as British and FBI investigators followed a radioactive trail left by the deadly isotope, polonium 210, that killed the Russian exile on Nov. 23--finding traces of it on planes from Moscow to London--they began to believe he might have been on to something. Litvinenko, hairless and ghostly pale, had devoted his last minutes of consciousness to fingering the FSB and Putin himself. "You have shown yourself to be as barbaric and ruthless as your most hostile critics have claimed," the former FSB lieutenant colonel turned dissident said on his deathbed. "The howl...

Who Lost Turkey?

Benedict XVI stood, shoeless, side by side with the Mufti of Istanbul beneath the cavernous great dome of onetime Constantinople's famed Blue Mosque, palms upraised in the traditional Muslim gesture of peace and supplication. What precisely the pope prayed for is a matter between himself and his maker--but surely it involved healing between Christians and Muslims, an issue that has come to define his pontificate and his era.When prayer becomes a geopolitical strategy, there's a problem. The most immediate: an imminent breakdown of relations between Turkey and the European Union. Not so long ago, it seemed that Europe would overcome prejudice and define itself as an ideology rather than a geography, a way of being in the world rather than a mere agglomeration of nation-states. But that chance is now lost. "Turkey will never be a full member of the EU," predicts British M.E.P. Daniel Hannan. "There's a dawning realization of that reality on all sides."This is a tragedy--a catastrophe,...

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