10 Stories

Putin Bashes 'Delirious' Soviet Founder Lenin

Says Lenin placed 'time bomb' under Russian state

(Newser) - Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday criticized Soviet founder Vladimir Lenin, accusing him of placing a "time bomb" under the state and sharply denouncing brutal repressions by the Bolshevik government. The harsh criticism of Lenin, who's still revered by communists and many others in Russia, is unusual (though... More »

Afghan Schoolbooks Delete US, Taliban History

Taliban atrocities, US invasion get little or no treatment

(Newser) - Soon, students in Afghanistan won't know much about the Taliban or the US-led invasion—and Afghan officials don't seem to mind. New history books purposely exclude or minimize such horrors, apparently to bring cohesion to a war-torn society, the BBC reports. "My responsibility is to bring unity... More »

Belarus Behind on Bills ... So Russia Cuts Its Power

Russia's power supply accounts for 10% of country's power

(Newser) - You know what happens when you don't pay your electricity bill. What happens when a country doesn't? Basically the same thing: Russia has cut electricity supplies to Belarus in half over unpaid bills, and may shut off supplies—which fulfill 10% of Belarus's needs—completely. Belarus is... More »

Family's Search for WWII Hero Scarred Generations

Decades-long quest for Raoul Wallenberg, savior of thousands, in vain

(Newser) - The fate of Raoul Wallenberg, savior of thousands of Jews in World War II, remains unknown, despite his family’s generation-spanning search for the Swede who was arrested by Soviets in 1945, at age 32. That quest has lasted 6 decades—and the Wall Street Journal has reviewed thousands of... More »

Ex-Soviet Monkeys Survive 15-Year Limbo

Breakaway republic can barely support survivors from better times

(Newser) - Traumatized monkeys once the subjects of Soviet experiments are odd remnants of a more prosperous time in Abkhazia, an area of Georgia that calls itself independent, the Los Angeles Times reports. The area was crippled in its effort to break away from Georgia, but the 286 primates living in a... More »

Belarus Merger Could Return Putin to Office

New constitution would give president new lease on power

(Newser) - Vladimir Putin may release a secret weapon this week: a Russian political union with neighboring Belarus that could extend his leadership indefinitely. As the ex-KGB operative’s presidential terms run out, observers look to a merger of nations—including currency, legal system, and armed forces—as an opportunity for a... More »

KGB Doggedly Stalked Nureyev

Russians wanted to break defector dancer’s legs

(Newser) - He was never interested in politics, but Rudolf Nureyev was a KGB scourge for decades after his 1961 defection. The famed ballet dancer’s colleagues were glad to see him go—‘Rudik’ was a prima donna to management and competition for fellow performers—but the state was incensed, the... More »

Rostropovich Dead at 80

Conductor, cellist and champion of artistic freedom dies in his native Russia

(Newser) - Cellist, conductor, and one-time Soviet gadfly Mstislav Rostropovich, who used to instruct his orchestras to "play as if you are being tickled in the sides," died today in Moscow. Rostropovich, whose 17-year-run as the head of the National Symphony Orchestra tranformed it from a middling ensemble to one... More »

Communist Art Is Capitalist Hit

Russian collectors get nostalgic for commie propaganda art, bucolic peasant scenes

(Newser) - Nostalgia for the good old days of the USSR is in—at least for Russian art collectors. These days, communist-inspired paintings of peasant scenes and heroic workers have acquired a uniquely capitalist hipness. "The art was propaganda of happiness," says Yuri Tyukhtin, a banker who runs an art... More »

Boris Yeltsin Dies at 76

(Newser) - Boris Yeltsin, who orchestrated Russia's uneasy transition to democracy, died this morning, according to the Kremlin. He was 76. The cause hasn't been released, but Russia's first democratically elected leader had a history of heart problems. Yeltsin ascended to power after a struggle with reformer Mikhail Gorbachev, who finally ceded... More »

10 Stories