As the Russian government strongly condemns Kosovo’s declaration of independence, Russia’s independent media voices are reacting with ambivalence to the dispute between their country and most of its Western interlocutors. Among reporters who maintain some distance from the Kremlin, the general tone is one of disillusionment with the West and concern about the condition of the international system, rather than full endorsement of the Russian government’s position. On the one hand, there is a widespread sense that intemperate expressions of anger by Russian officials do the country no favors. In “Rogozin Threatens NATO” (, Feb. 22), Natalia Kuklina quotes Dmitrii […]

GULU, Uganda — After one-and-a-half years of rocky peace talks between the government of Uganda and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), northern Ugandans are cautiously courting freedom. Although many internally displaced people are still sleeping in the camps they’ve called home for about a decade now, they’re beginning to move furniture and farming tools back to their village homes. Meanwhile, in the northern town of Gulu, new hotels and apartment buildings are being constructed and buses are now leaving for Kampala, the southern capital, at 11 p.m. (A late-night trip was unthinkable just three years ago, when rebels could be […]

BANGKOK, Thailand — Three days after Burma’s repressive military regime announced a timetable for its self-styled roadmap to democracy Feb. 9, the generals were back to their old, undemocratic ways. They ordered that the deputy leader of the much-restricted opposition National League for Democracy be held under house arrest for another year. Tin Oo has been detained for almost five years, but aged 81 he hardly seems like a threat to the all-powerful army that runs the desperately poor, underfed country of 54 million, which was Asia’s biggest rice exporter during British colonial days. Tin Oo’s continued detention seems to […]

When asked by reporters about the threat to his own safety following the assassination of his mother and Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto, 19-year-old Bilawal Bhutto Zardari cited a Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) saying: “How many Bhuttos can you kill? From every house a Bhutto will come.” But despite such defiant rhetoric, videos of the Oxford student at the Dec. 30 London press conference during which he was thrust suddenly into the spotlight of the Bhutto legacy — and into the shadow of the Bhutto curse — reveal a nervous boy trying his best to muster the courage to fill […]

KATMANDU, Nepal — This week, ponies and porters are making their way to Nepal’s most remote regions with boxes of election materials taken from trucks and helicopters in district headquarters. The thousands of boxes contain voter education posters, election rules and the indelible ink that will hopefully mark the fingers of 17.6 million voters on April 10. It’s a huge logistical challenge but, after two false starts, Election Commission spokesman Laxman Bhattarai is confident. “It is easier than previously because many things we have prepared for the last election but it didn’t happen.” said Laxman with a chuckle. While the […]

If you believe the claims of conspiracy theorists, you probably think supporters of Israel have already held their secret meeting — picture a dark room and flickering candlelight — to decide who they will anoint as the next president of the United States. Chances are you also think the “Israel lobby” all but hand-delivered George W. Bush to the White House. Sorry to disappoint — on both counts. Supporters of Israel are as torn as the rest of the country during this election, and they were not exactly in control the last time around. First, the last elections: Bush received […]

WASHINGTON — Indonesia’s strongman Suharto was many things to many people. As the debate rages over Suharto’s mixed legacy, he was ultimately an enigma to his protégé, vice president and successor Bacharuddin Jusuf Habibie. When Suharto was forced to resign on May 21, 1998, after 32 years at the helm, he did not say a word to Habibie. They had once been close. Habibie had nicknamed his mentor “SGS” — “super genius Suharto” — to gain his favor. Suharto, a devotee of mysticism, was drawn to Habibie’s preacher-seer father whom he met quite by chance as a young military officer […]