'We Eat It'

Life hasn't been easy for Ahmed Khan lately. One year ago, invading Taliban troops drove him and his family out of their home village near Kunduz in northern Afghanistan. "They burned our homes, burned our lands," he says, shaking his head.

In The Hot Zone

He's never given an interview. Few images of him exist. His most detailed biography fits comfortably on a single page. And he moves like a wraith through one of the world's most inaccessible regions.

The New 'Silk Road' Of Death

Col. Ulbaidulo Ahmadov climbs out of his rickety Soviet-era military vehicle. Ahead, down a long hillside of parched grass and across the shallow river Pandj, is Afghanistan, the source of roughly 75 percent of the world's heroin.

Texas Tea, Anyone?

For a cold fish, Vladimir Putin is lately generating a lot of warmth. At their June summit in Slovenia, George W. Bush peered into the soul of the Russian president and declared him "trustworthy." Then, last week, Putin got a bearhug from Chinese leader Jiang Zemin, who had come to the Russian capital to sign a 20-year friendship treaty between Moscow and Beijing.

Putin's Gas-Patch Putsch

For years Russia's economic reformers dreamed about it. Prime ministers attempted it at their peril. Western investors pleaded for it in vain and last week Vladimir Putin finally pulled it off with remarkable ease.

Comrade Putin's New Russia

Eighteen-year-old Andrei Korshunov doesn't remember much about the Soviet Union. But from what his parents tell him, it sounds pretty swell: there was no crime, there was little inflation and everyone had a job.

Russian Road Trip

Vladimir Putin is about to press the flesh. And he doesn't exactly look like he's enjoying it. The Russian president's face has the expression of a man forced to accompany his wife on a shopping excursion: affectionate, dutiful and a bit weary.

Comrade Putin Knows Best

Amid the clutter of a makeshift studio, Marianna Maksimovskaya, one of Russia's best-known TV anchors, is getting ready for her evening newscast. But tonight she's not wearing her regular gray suit; she's dressed in black pants and a turtleneck, looking somewhat like a guerrilla broadcaster--which she's just become.

Russia: Media Turmoil

During the past two weeks I have watched some of Russia's best journalists suddenly find themselves out on the street after losing a series of bruising corporate battles with allies of the Kremlin.

All Putin All The Time

High on the eighth floor of Russia's national television center, journalists from NTV gather for what amounts to a council of war. With tense and tired faces, they listen as one of the station's lawyers, Yuri Bagrayev, briefs them on the day's big news--the latest twist in a prolonged campaign to shut them down. "Don't have any illusions," Bagrayev warns.

Sticking To The Party Line

If press freedom in Russia is under fire, Mikhail Leontiev is proud to be a member of the firing squad. He's made a habit of trashing journalist colleagues.

Russia: A Gorby Celebration

When Mikhail Gorbachev turned 70 earlier this month, his admirers honored him with a series of high-profile concerts, public discussions and parties. TV shows, magazine cover stories and newspaper interviews re-examined his legacy.

What The Russians Really Want

;Back in 1985, Viktor Cherkashin was a senior KGB officer at the Soviet Embassy in Washington. In the shadowy world of espionage, he had a good professional reputation--a spy's spy.

Sorry, No Kandinskys

You enter the KGB Museum through a cavernous, columned foyer adorned with a huge white bust of Feliks Dzerzhinsky, founder of the Soviet secret police. Then you walk up a flight of stairs, past a gold-leaf inscription reading "To the Chekists-Soldiers of the Revolution," and meet the official guide, himself a long-time veteran of the old KGB, who refuses to give his name to visitors.The Chekists were the members of Version 1.0 of the KGB, which was originally known, on its founding in 1918, as...

From Russia With Indifference

Last December, Russian television treated its viewers to a first: an interview with none other than Lt. Gen. Sergei Lebedev, head of the country's Foreign Intelligence Service (known by its Russian initials as the SVR).

Unsolved Mysteries

Whether the Ukrainian president actually ordered the murder of a political nemesis will probably never be proved to anyone's satisfaction. But judging from the demonstrations that have jolted Kiev, the court of public opinion has already declared Leonid Kuchma guilty, though he has denied it vigorously.

Tough-Love Diplomacy

Nostalgic cold-warriors sat up up and took notice last week when U.S. officials announced that a Russian diplomat by the name of Sergei Tretyakov had decided to abandon his job at the United Nations and remain on American soil.

Twilight Of The Oligarchs

Sergei Dorenko was hardly surprised when he was fired two weeks ago. The blow had been coming ever since last September, when the executives of Russia's No. 1 television network, ORT, abruptly canceled the news show he anchored and began dismissing the members of his news team, one by one.

Declining Democracy

When I first met Ravshan Gapirov I didn't think that I might be helping him to get arrested. Gapirov is the director of a human-rights center in the Central Asian republic of Kyrgyzstan, long considered the most liberal of the five countries in the region that once were part of the Soviet Union.

Kidnapped In Chechnya

The shooting started near the Chechen village of Starye Atagi last Tuesday. Unknown assailants fired on a humanitarian aid convoy delivering medical supplies to local hospitals, wounding Richard Littell, an American working for the organization Action Against Hunger.

Usa-Bashing Works For Putin

For many Americans, the forthcoming movie "Thirteen Days" will evoke, as entertainment, an event that has long since faded into history: the Cuban missile crisis.

The Aftermath Of A Squall

With any luck, Edmond Pope will go home to Pennsylvania alive. But as of last weekend, the American businessman's friends and family could only keep praying.

Sing Along With Stalin

Can a song, a banner and a symbol keep Russians' minds off how tough their lives remain? Vladimir Putin has to hope so. Last week the Russian Parliament voted 381 to 51 to approve the president's choice for a national anthem.

The Empire In Shadows

It's not everyday that American presidential candidates wade into the murk of Russian corporate politics. So it wasn't terribly surprising that George W. Bush Jr.

Strange Bedfellows

Vladimir Gusinsky and Boris Berezovsky, two of Russia's richest men, have never been chummy. On the contrary, they are known as ruthless rivals (a former Kremlin bodyguard, Aleksandr Korzhakov, once claimed that Berezovsky asked him to have Gusinsky whacked).

Along Power Avenue

On a warm day in early September, a crowd of Russian villagers set up a roadblock in Kalchuga, a tiny village seven and a half miles outside of Moscow. It lasted only 10 minutes--just enough time to make a point.

'I Was Liberated'

For a few days last week, Karolina Yemelyanova and her high-school friends discovered a whole new life--a life without TV. After a devastating fire in Moscow's Ostankino television tower that blacked out television screens across the capital, Yemelyanova's crowd found themselves engaged in bizarre activities: reading books, going out for strolls, talking with everyone around them. "Usually you just sit there and stare at the screen," Yemelyanova, 16, said in wonderment. "You don't see anything,...

Russia's Press Strikes Back

When a dour Vladimir Putin met with grieving relatives of the Kursk crew last week, he made it clear who was to blame for his poor showing in the crisis. It wasn't the military men and senior officials who had put up a smoke screen of calculated half-truths.

Problems For Putin?

Nina, a building custodian in my apartment building in a placid neighborhood in southwestern Moscow, was shaking with frustration. "Now it turns out that the British are only going to get there on Saturday.

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