With Rooms to Grow

If there is any doubt that Moscow has arrived as a high-end tourist destination, just try booking a hotel room. Accommodations in the hotel-starved Russian capital are already going for $1,000 a night—not including breakfast. The number of travelers to Moscow is projected to increase fivefold, up to 5 million, within the next two years. Where will they all stay? Fortunately, the city is undergoing a hotel-building boom. And given the mega-high real estate prices, five-star accommodations seem...

Russia's Medvedev Woos Business

Dmitry Medvedev, a shoo-in as Russia's next president, recently addressed a key constituency—business leaders—with a hopeful and comforting message.

The Last Word: Yulia Tymoshenko

After months of bickering with his archrival, Ukraine's pro-Russian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, Western-backed President Viktor Yushchenko dissolved Parliament on April 2 and called snap elections in order to breathe life back into the deadlocked government. Now former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko—a charismatic leader of the 2004 Orange Revolution who remains a hugely popular opposition M.P. —has set aside past differences and is coming to Yushchenko's rescue. Tymoshenko says she...

State of Hate

Russia is becoming an increasingly scary place. Ask Marat Gelman, whose gallery made the mistake of hosting a show by a Georgian artist at a time when Georgians are the subject of official disapproval. Last week the gallery was wrecked by 10 masked men--"not vandals, nor hooligans from the street, but highly professional and experienced militants who came to do their job," says Gelman, who was badly beaten. Or ask art historian and curator Aleksandr Panov, attacked (but not robbed) by thugs...

Medical Meccas: Eye-Surgery Assembly Line

Moscow may not spring to mind as a center of medical excellence. Ordinary Russian hospitals are dismal places, and those wealthy enough to afford it usually leave the country for medical care. The exception is the network of clinics founded by Dr. Svyatoslav Fyodorov, a pioneer in microsurgery of the eye.Fyodorov invented the technique of radial keratotomy--better known as surgical correction of shortsightedness--back in 1977. Now one of the standard eye-microsurgery techniques used all over...

Ramzan's World

Drive down Victory Boulevard in Grozny, and you'd never think there had been a war in Chechnya. Five years ago this broad avenue looked like Stalingrad after World War II. Now it's flanked with new apartments and boutiques selling Italian clothes. Across the city, war-damaged buildings are being torn down; jackhammers roar around the clock. Floating defiantly over the ruins that remain: giant banners bearing the face of the city's conqueror, Vladimir Putin.The rest of the world may not have...

Periscope

When Shamil Basayev was killed last week, Chechen rebels lost their most daring and bloodthirsty leader. Basayev became Russia's most wanted man after his followers seized a Moscow theater in 2002; he also ordered the 2004 school siege at Beslan that left 331 people dead. Basayev died after a truck full of arms and explosives he was riding in exploded--apparently part of a "special operation" by Russia's Federal Security Service.In some ways, though, Basayev was already yesterday's man. For the...

What's Wrong with Russia

Peter the Great built St. Petersburg three centuries ago as Russia's window on the West. But for a few days this week, the old tsarist capital will become the West's window on Russia. While the city has always been a showcase, the leaders of the G8 who are gathering there will find it an unusually quiet and tidy place. Homeless people have been relocated. Shopkeepers along the routes of official motorcades have been ordered to buy pots full of flowers (from approved sellers, natch) and 1,500...

Man for the People

Dmitry kozak, vladimir Putin's special envoy to the Caucasus, speaks passionately from his seat at the head of a long table. Listening sheepishly in this conference room in Kislovodsk, a spa in the foothills of the Caucasus Mountains where the poet Aleksandr Pushkin took hot mineral baths in the 1820s, are the presidents of Russia's southern republics, the ward bosses of the country's toughest neighborhood. They're a hard bunch, more used to putting down armed uprisings and mafia turf battles...

Partner, or Bully?

Vladimir Putin was feeling indignant. Why don't Europeans trust Russia? "I constantly hear complaints" that Europe is "overly dependent" on Russian energy, he griped last week to German Chancellor Angela Merkel in the Siberian city of Tomsk. "But Russia is a reliable partner. It always has been."Really? Ask the Georgians--or almost any of Russia's former satellites. Rather than a reliable partner, they've found Moscow deeply vindictive toward any neighbor that crosses its interests. Ever since...

Fear and Loathing in Siberia

Vladimir Putin, like Russia's double-headed imperial eagle, has two faces. Both have lately been very much in evidence. At a meeting of G8 energy ministers in Moscow last week, the Russian president showed his Western visage, presenting Russia as a reliable energy partner and playing the superpower alongside the big hitters of the democratic, industrialized world. This week he travels to Beijing to cement a growing partnership with Asia's other booming authoritarian-capitalist country, China....

The Good Life

Moscow is a city riding high on oil money. Now the spending habits of high-rolling Muscovites have spawned some of Europe's coolest clubs and most lavish restaurants. The owner of Turandot , for instance, former painter and restorer Andrei Dellos, spent $50 million on interior design; it's the most expensively decorated restaurant in the world.Nearly 500 artists--including set designers from the Bolshoi theater--worked to create a faux 18th-century chinoiserie fantasy. The food is truly...

A Chill in the Moscow Air

The scandal broke with all the trappings of a cold-war espionage story--British spies as the villains, the eagle-eyed Russian secret service as the heroes. Late last fall the FSB, the successor agency to the infamous KGB, secretly filmed a British diplomat seeking out and taking home a large rock from a Moscow park. Last week, after a go-ahead from the Kremlin, the grainy footage was aired on Russian state television. Interviews with agents from the FSB revealed that the fake rock hid an...

Roiling the Baltic Waters

In June 1947, Capt.-Lt. Konstantin Tershkov of the Soviet Navy had a serious problem on his hands. He'd been ordered to dump 34,000 metric tons of captured Nazi chemical weapons into the deepest part of the Baltic Sea by the end of the summer. Since most Soviet merchant and military ships in the Baltic were laden with loot from defeated Germany, Tershkov commanded only two small freighters rented from the British and two Soviet Navy trawlers, plus a crew of German civilians press-ganged into...

Russia: Looking Toward a Positive Future

It's not a beauty pageant that little girls dream of winning. But Svetlana Izambayeva, 24, who was diagnosed with HIV in 2002, felt a need to enter Russia's Miss Positive 2005, an Internet beauty pageant solely for HIV-positive girls. "We will never have any progress until we give HIV a voice and a face," she says. "I thought I could be that face."By winning the pageant last week, Izambayeva now is. Up to a million Russians are infected with the disease, and that number is growing...

Not Quite Paradise

You're dropped in by a military helicopter, and off you go, reveling in some of the finest untouched powder skiing in Europe. This isn't France or Switzerland but southern Russia, on the slopes of Krasnaya Polyana, 2,800 meters high in the Caucasus Mountains. President Vladimir Putin is among the aficionados who seek out this "Russian Courchevel." But few foreigners have ever heard of it.And that's the problem. A year after Putin proclaimed the importance of tourism for the country, Russia's...

Awaiting The 'Big Fire'

Ramazan Tembotov hardly cuts the image of a hardened Islamo-terrorist. A soft-spoken human-rights activist, he's clearly more at home with legal briefs than a Kalashnikov. He's also an elected representative of the Kremlin's ruling party, United Russia. Yet none of that kept him from being rounded up in a massive counterterrorism operation in the Russian town of Nalchik, deep in the volatile north Caucasus, where masked militia recently grabbed him from his car at gunpoint and carted him off to...

A Spreading War

They came early in the morning. More than a hundred, and perhaps as many as 500 armed men attacking the quiet Russian town of Nalchik in the shadow of Europe's highest mountain. A bloody battle over the next 36 hours saw dozens dead and left Kremlin policy in the turbulent region in tatters. Yet another of the poor, volatile republics spread across the North Caucasus had been hit by an event of extreme violence and shocking brutality, and yet again the culprits were Islamic militants. Their...

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