Articles by Sharon LaFraniere



A Small Victory in The Unjust Jungle

  • 23 March 06
  • New York Times News Service
As Solomon Linda first recorded it in 1939, it was a tender melody, almost childish in its simplicity -- three chords, a couple of words and some baritones chanting in the background.

Mugabe's Zimbabwe Prepares for Elections

  • 24 March 05
  • NEW YORK TIMES SERVICE
If this is an outpost of tyranny, it was not immediately obvious in this one-road backwater buried in Zimbabwe's hilly southwest flank.

No Cash for Workers at the Gorlovo Farm

  • 06 August 03
  • The Washington Post
In his battle to keep the 2,600-hectare collective farm he manages from following thousands of other farms into oblivion, Ivan Matantsev has survived economic panic, a killer drought and endless breakdowns of his fleet of 15-year-old tractors.

How Jihad Made Its Way to Chechnya

  • 28 April 03
  • The Washington Post
This isolated village was profoundly peaceful, its residents say, until a Jordanian cleric named Khabib Abdurrakhman arrived in the early 1990s with a seemingly irresistible deal.

Abortions Lead to Widespread Infertility

  • 25 February 03
  • The Washington Post
Health specialists call women like Katya Yesipova one of the more lasting legacies of a Soviet health system that for decades viewed abortion as the main form of birth control.

Tax Law Squeezes Rights Groups

  • 28 January 03
  • The Washington Post
Virtually nothing has stopped a determined band of women from demanding that the military improve its treatment of troops, as the plastic binders bulging with case records in their dusty office show.

Scare Tactics on the Rise in Kuchma's Ukraine

  • 18 December 02
  • The Washington Post
Muscling legislators is just one tactic used by Kuchma's government to maintain its hold on power.

Two-Front War for Pro-Moscow Chechens

  • 17 October 02
  • The Washington Post
Although the Moscow-appointed mayor of his town, Salavat Gibertayev is under no illusion that he can protect the residents from harm. He cannot even protect his own family.

Stalin's Reign Relegated to the Past

  • 25 September 02
  • The Washington Post
Russia's redress for the horrors endured by those persecuted under Stalin is a $3 monthly stipend.

State to Offer Insurance Against Itself

  • 23 September 02
  • The Washington Post
The government is trying a new, unorthodox tactic to overcome the foreigner's all-too-real fears of doing business here: It is offering insurance against itself.

Putting 'Civil' Into Civil Service

  • 17 July 02
  • The Washington Post
Four days had passed since a new law aimed at easing the bureaucratic burden on businesses took effect. But at the state tax office in Nizhny Novgorod, the hurdles to register a company were as high as ever.

Moscow Pulls Out of START II

  • 17 June 02
  • The Washington Post
Russia pulled out of the 1993 START II nuclear arms treaty on Friday, one day after the United States formally withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty prohibiting construction of a missile defense system.

Russia Has Edge in OPEC Export Duel

  • 28 March 02
  • The Washington Post
If the future of Russian oil could be captured in a snapshot, it might show a desolate, snowy field laced with icy rivers and favored by wandering herds of reindeer, roughly 3,200 kilometers northeast of Moscow.

Kremlin's Hand Is Felt Behind TV6 Tender

  • 27 March 02
  • The Washington Post
On Wednesday the government is to award a national broadcasting license in what Kremlin officials have promised will be a fair and open auction. But those with knowledge of the process said the auction will be anything but open.

FSB Plays Cat-and-Mouse With Internet Providers

  • 20 March 02
  • The Washington Post
Nail Murzakhanov, an Internet provider in Volgograd, knew he might lose his business license four years ago when he told the Federal Security Service, Russia's domestic intelligence agency, that he wouldn't give it access to the e-mail traffic of his 1,500 subscribers.

All News Is Good News on Pro-Kremlin Web Site

  • 13 March 02
  • The Washington Post
Headlines such as these are a rare treat for the leaders of most countries. President Vladimir Putin, however, can find them any day on Strana.ru, a pro-Kremlin Internet site. So, hopes the Kremlin, will Russian citizens.

All Faiths Are Not Equal in the Eyes of the Regions

  • 11 February 02
  • The Washington Post
Sprinkled with soot from steel smelters and crisscrossed with uprooted pipes, this industrial city in the Ural Mountains might not look like most people's idea of God's country. But to the 400 Russians here who have converted to Mormonism since the collapse of the officially atheist Soviet state, Chelyabinsk is the next best thing to Salt Lake City.

Pasko Sentenced to 4 Years on Treason Charge

  • 28 December 01
  • The Washington Post
Grigory Pasko, a military journalist who exposed nuclear waste dumping by the navy was convicted Tuesday of treason and sentenced to four years in prison, a case that critics said illustrates the risks of antagonizing the military.

Moscow Eager to Link Chechens to Bin Laden

  • 28 September 01
  • The Washington Post
Two years ago, in the green hills of Chechnya near an old Soviet children's camp, 24-year-old Zamir Ozrokov studied what was described to him as pure Islam.

Telegram Business Humming Right Along

  • 08 August 01
  • The Washington Post
In less than five years, Russia's sprawling capital has gone from a place lacking a telephone directory to a city in which cell phones ring with a cacophony of Russian folk songs, e-mail is routine and even grocery and clothing stores sell pagers. But if you want to reach someone in one of the 54,000 Russian villages without any telephone service Ч say, an anthropologist in a remote village of 33 homes Ч there is but one reliable way. Her name is Larisa, or Yelena or Margarita, and you get her by dialing 06. They are Moscow's telegram dispatchers Ч a shrinking but by no means dying breed in a nation that has a long way to go before reaching the digital age. The telegram may be obsolete in the United States and throughout much of Europe, but it remains a vital means of communication in Russia, where there is only one telephone for every five people and vast rural stretches are not wired, and probably never will be. To send a telegram to any destination in Russia is cheap Ч 63 kopeks, or two cents, per word.

Hazing Leaves Scars on Proud Army

  • 22 May 01
  • The Washington Post
Sergeant Sergei Ivanov, a handsome 21-year-old with a deep indentation over his left brow, has gotten better in the half year he has spent in military and civilian hospitals. He can answer simple questions now with a yes or no. He can tell his mother when he is tired and when he wants to walk the hospital corridor. He has never asked how he ended up like this, and his mother, Tatyana Ivanova, is afraid to bring it up. The doctor warned her that recalling the incident might trigger a setback for Sergei. She can't forget it, not for a moment. As his fellow soldiers explained it to her, Ivanov, of military unit 25654 stationed in the central Russian city of Georgiyevsk, was sick that day. He was lying on his cot in the barracks, nursing a fever, when the commanding officer, a major, walked in. Music was playing on a cassette player near the bed. The major ordered it turned off, but Sergei did not hear him. The major beat him so badly he was in a coma for three days.

Sifting Through a Mass Grave

  • 17 April 01
  • The Washington Post
NAZRAN, Ingushetia Ч Only when the soldiers left them in an abandoned building long enough for the 10 Chechen prisoners to undo their ropes and blindfolds and flee, did Ruslan Tekibiyev realize that his young brother-in-law was no longer with him. The pair had spent two days squatting with nine other men in a 3-meter-deep pit at what appeared to be a military camp. But now, when it seemed the ordeal was over, 16-year-old Said-Rakhman Musayev was missing. The boy's body was found 70 days later, on Feb. 21. His father, Magomed Musayev, spotted it facedown under 7 centimeters of fresh snow, across a highway from the main military base in Chechnya. The corpse was one of 50 that would be found there. ""When I picked him up, I heard the cracking sound of broken bones,"" said Musayev, one of many relatives who told their stories here. Many of the victims had been dead three or four months, according to Memorial, a human rights group whose officials examined some of the corpses.

Crisis of Power in Frostbitten Far East

  • 22 December 00
  • The Washington Post
RUDNY, Far East Ч Three weeks ago, Olesya Popava was awakened in the predawn darkness by the sobs of her 8-year-old daughter Nikka, huddled against her in the bed in their three-room apartment. ""My feet hurt,'' the third-grader wailed. Her mother took one look and ran to a neighbor's to summon an ambulance. ""They were blue and swollen,'' Popava said. ""The doctor said it is a reaction to the cold and the girl should be kept in warm conditions Ч or she could lose both her feet.'' A simple enough instruction, it would seem. But not in this mining village of 3,000 nestled in the hills of the Far East Primorye region. There is no heat here Ч not even when the temperature falls to minus 25 degrees Celsius, as it did last Saturday. The school closed Nov. 27 after four students suffered frostbite and frozen pipes burst in the gymnasium. The preschool shut down when the pet fish froze in their bowls.

FSB Puts Squeeze On Press In Regions

  • 13 September 00
  • The Washington Post
When Yefim Shusterman, founder of Volgograd's largest newspaper, hears Moscow newscasters and media barons complaining about a Kremlin-ordered press crackdown, his first reaction is: Come to Volgograd. The media have felt pressured for years in that city on the Volga River, 1,050 kilometers south of Moscow, ever since the regional governor began dangling subsidies for postage, newsprint and the like before media owners who toed his line. Then, this summer, most media outlets in Volgograd signed an agreement with the domestic security service, voluntarily censoring what they say about it. Under the agreement, the Federal Security Service, a successor to the KGB, agreed to provide information about its activities, and journalists agreed to convey the information to the public ""without giving any commentaries."" Any negative information about the FSB cannot be published or broadcast until the FSB is contacted and ""competent bodies look into it.

Former Prisoners Describe House of Horrors

URUS-MARTAN, Chechnya -- For a former girls' orphanage, the command post in this dusty Chechen town is a fearsome-looking place. Sandbags are piled high against the outside walls and stuffed into windows of the three-story brown brick building, and snipers lurk on the roof. What goes on inside is even more disturbing, according to the town's residents and other witnesses. Ask Zemilkhan Elmurzayev, a slim, 20-year-old Chechen man who said he spent a week imprisoned there in May on suspicion of being a rebel. In a basement holding cell, he said, a group of 10 drunken soldiers cornered him and demanded that he confess. When he refused, they mocked him for being ""proud."" Then they beat him into unconsciousness, revived him by dousing him with water and raped him for about two hours. ""I pleaded that this was not necessary. But they assaulted me over and over,"" Elmurzayev said in an interview two weeks ago. ""I thought to myself, 'I will die here.'"" According to other witnesses, some Chechens have died.

Doomed to the Detsky Dom

Town Sacrifices Health for Jobs

Russians Say IMF Head Favors Loan

Pull Together, Cut Back to Make Ends Meet

A Cruel Mafia Controls Siberia's Coal Mines