Dumbing Russia Down

The Kremlin has largely marginalized Russia's intelligentsia. But 'Girls of the Military' is a hit.

The Biggest Bully

Vladimir Putin's bellicose language and aggressive style has cost Russia friends in the neighborhood.

From A Mouse To A Tsar

Dmitry Medvedev has toiled under Vladimir Putin's shadow. But the heir to the presidency will soon have to show his true colors.

Russia’s Mighty Mouse

Vladimir Putin's handpicked successor seems like a loyal nobody. But he could turn out to be a welcome surprise.

A Turkey Europe Can't Deny

Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan just won't take no for an answer. In 2002 he and his Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power promising to get Turkey into the European Union. Under the banner of the EU's "Copenhagen criteria" for new members, the AKP made an impressive start: it abolished the death penalty, curbed the backroom political power of the military and eased restrictions on Kurdish language and culture. But instead of recognizing just how far Turkey had come, European leaders recoiled, rebuffing Erdogan and his country at virtually every turn. French President Nicolas Sarkozy says he opposes Turkish membership in the EU because it's "an Asian country," suggesting instead that maybe one day it could be part of a proposed Mediterranean Union. German Chancellor Angela Merkel warns that "Turkey's membership is going to constrain the EU." She offers "privileged partnership" instead of full membership.Erdogan is undeterred. Instead of...

Russia’s Election Problems

Putin has killed democracy in the name of stability. How the tragedy of the latest election will haunt Russia in the years ahead.

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."...