Owen Matthews

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Get Yer Cheap Nukes Now

Are discount nuclear plants a good idea? Russia thinks so. The Kremlin has set about recasting Russia's once top-secret nuclear industry as the world's leading mass marketer of cheap, reliable reactors.

Mission Impossible?

It was a very Turkish standoff. The venue was the large cobbled square in front of Istanbul's ancient Haghia Sophia, a favored local venue for protests for centuries.

Space: Moon Mining

Could a wonder fuel found on the surface of the moon be the answer to the Earth's dwindling energy resources? Known as helium 3, it's an isotope created by solar radiation and caught in crystals deposited on the moon (but not on Earth).


Could Russia and Georgia soon be at war? After Georgian authorities arrested four Rus-sian military officers last week and charged them with spying and terrorism, both sides have been doing a very good imitation of preparing for full-scale conflict.

A Quick Guide to Orhan Pamuk

Once again, Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk is rumored to be a leading candidate for the Nobel Prize in Literature. The author of "Snow" and "My Name Is Red" has been here before, along with Philip Roth and Joyce Carol Oates, the writers most frequently mentioned as his competition.

Cash and Carry

Russians just love Montenegro. The tiny republic, which became the world's newest nation after voting recently for independence from neighboring Serbia, is an island of Slavic culture on one of the most beautiful stretches of the Adriatic.

Second Thoughts

Once, Europe was a sweetshop, and Turkey was an eager kid with his face pressed to the window. Just two years ago, polls showed that more than 70 percent of Turks wanted to join the European Union, convinced that following the road to Brussels would make them richer, healthier and freer.

The Next Front

Israel launched airstrikes on Lebanon in response to attacks by Hizbullah earlier this month, and George W. Bush called it "self-defense." But what to tell the Turks, who over the last week lost 15 sol-diers to terror attacks launched by sepa-ratist Kurds from neighboring Iraq?

Money ChangesEverything

Oil cities are now lit up by windfall profits around the world, but only Kazakhstan has one where none existed before. It's the brainchild of President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who declared in 1997 that the capital would move from Almaty, near the Chinese border, to a place closer to the geographic center of the country.

The Politics of Pipelines

Half a century ago, Hungarians learned the price of defying Moscow. So when George W. Bush recently chose Budapest to send a message to today's masters of the Kremlin, marking the 50th anniversary of the 1956 uprising that was crushed by Soviet tanks, the event was heavy with symbolism. "The sacrifice of the Hungarian people inspires all who love liberty," said Bush as he laid flowers at a memorial to the uprising's victims. "We resolve that when people stand up for their freedom, America will...

Balancing Act

Vladimir Putin sternly told Russia's Parliament last month that the Kremlin was launching a drive to "stamp out corruption." Forgive the management of Motorola for cracking a wry smile.

Beginning of the End?

The scene was sadly familiar, especially in the strife-torn Middle East. In the shadow of a great mosque, a crowd of 40,000 gathered to bury a victim of political violence--and vent their rage at the authorities.

Behind Closed Doors

Along the Rublevo-Uspenskoye highway outside Moscow, a riotous jumble of mansions poke out from above the high fences: the gabled mansards of French châteaux, the pointed tops of Gothic castle towers and baroque dormer windows--all built a decade ago by a generation of Russians who had plenty of money but a deficit of taste.