Articles by Robyn Dixon

Liberians Seek Hope in Elections

  • 12 October 05
Many of the teenagers who fought in civil wars for 14 years, looting, raping and killing their way across this country, are now old enough to vote.

In Starved Niger, Season of Destruction Returns

  • 09 August 05
During the rainy season, Niger's greenery belies the fact that the crops will not be ready for months.

Pit Chief Leads Miners Through Ordeal

  • 31 October 03
Last Thursday was Vasily Avdeyev's first day as director of the Zapadnaya mine so he said he decided to ""take the bull by the horns"" and go down into the pit.

Tsereteli Has 9/11 Memorial for U.S.

  • 15 October 03
Tsereteli's memorial to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the U.S. -- a 35-meter splintered pylon with a giant teardrop-shaped glob of glass that he says will exude drops like real tears -- will soon be built on the Jersey City waterfront.

Taliban Are Resurfacing in Chaotic Afghanistan

  • 05 August 03
Two months after a gun attack, the bullet holes in the Datsun sedan have been patched and it runs beautifully. But water engineer Asil Kahn walks with a limp and he still has two bullets in his body.

Colonel Convicted of Spying for U.S.

  • 16 June 03
A trip home to Moscow to visit relatives in 2001 turned into an 18-year jail sentence for a former Russian intelligence colonel who was convicted last week in a secret court hearing of spying for the United States.

Ukrainian Government Sacked

  • 18 November 02
Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, accused by the United States of approving the sale of early warning radar to Iraq, fired his country's prime minister and government Saturday.

Karpov Bore The Brunt Of Rebels' Frustration

  • 04 November 02
Alexander Karpov, one of the hostages, faced death twice in the last days before he died.

Poor Village Finds Hope in an Artistic Haystack

  • 12 September 02
To some villagers artist Nikolai Polissky is a madman, to others he's an inspiration who showed them the beauty of art in a place devoid of opportunity or hope.

New Device to Track Subliminal TV Ads

  • 10 September 02
A state agency has developed equipment to trace subliminal messages in television advertising which is to be constantly monitoring the airwaves by the end of this year.

Using Coupons to Cork the Collective Bottle

  • 14 May 02
The milkmaids were drunk, and not for the first time. Lyubov, a widow, was crying, and Svetlana had passed the rowdy stage, her eyes alight with anger, her tongue sharp and abusive.

Fraud Goes Through (Mansion) Roof, Georgians Say

  • 29 April 02
There is a suburb going up here filled with fantastic towers of brick and steel, the kitschy dream homes of current and former officials who could not afford to buy on their government salaries alone.

Moscow Rejects Russian in Kabul

  • 17 April 02
In the dank stairwell of apartment block 2 in the suburban Kabul neighborhood of Blakhay Qasaba Kargari, you are transported a world away: This soulless concrete box could be in Moscow, or any other Russian city.

Volga 21 Still Revs Up Russian Passion

  • 15 April 02
It is a unique sports car, custom designed and built for one Russian multimillionaire, a black sleek dream with classic European lines. Yet the first time its designer took the car out on Moscow roads, it drew honks, waves of delight -- and smiles of recognition.

Commission Sets Rules For Afghan Loya Jirga

  • 02 April 02
When 1,450 Afghans from all corners of the country gather in the June heat to choose Afghanistan's future leadership, 160 seats will be set aside for women and six for Islamic scholars.

Matzo Airlift in Time for Passover

  • 26 March 02
At age 8, Itzak Kogan was up to his arms in illegal flour, helping his mother bake matzo, which was banned in the Soviet Union.

A Diary of Russia's Generation-S (for Scumbag)

  • 30 January 02
It was a terrible day for Spiker and Sobakkaa, two young ""scumbags"" -- as they liked to call themselves -- living in London. They hadn't stolen a thing.

Soviet Picasso Settles For Repro Paintings

  • 10 January 02
He started out convinced that he would become Russia's Picasso. But it's unlikely you will have heard of Sergei Yushkevich.

Hunt For Truth In Stalin Myth

  • 19 December 01
Half a century after the dictator's death, there is no consensus on his legacy in lands he once ruled.

Crusading Mom Gives Army of Orphans Hope

  • 12 November 01
When she was 8, the girl's future seemed like a closed book. She would spend her life lying or sitting, unable to move, in a provincial town's home for the disabled.

Anthrax Found in U.S. Diplomatic Mailbag

  • 09 November 01
In the second case of anthrax traced to the former Soviet Union in a week, Russian experts in the Ural Mountains city of Yekaterinburg found spores of the deadly disease in a U.S. diplomatic mailbag.

Afghan Boy Lives to Get His Revenge

  • 16 October 01
Turn out the pockets of a 14-year-old Afghan boy named Alauddin, and you will find the two things he needs to survive: flatbread and bullets. If that was not testament enough to the gulf between his world and the West, Alauddin's story of survival seems plucked from another century. His experiences make it clear why he delights in the U.S. bombing of Taliban territory.

It's Not Easy Being a Wealthy Shevardnadze

  • 11 October 01
The Rolls-Royce is out of action. It can't cope with the potholed tracks that pass for roads here.

Cop Finds Out the Truth Hurts

  • 03 October 01
Vladimir Port is either that rarest of diamonds -- an honest Russian policeman -- or a nut case, a traitor and a liar. It depends on whom you talk to.

Tajik Men Fleeing Roundups In Kabul

  • 26 September 01
For ethnic Tajiks headed north on the old Kabul road Monday, the journey began in a pre-dawn panic Sunday, as soldiers descended upon their neighborhoods.

Poachers Ply Sea of Secrets

  • 10 September 01
Stepping onto the Kuril Islands, one's first impression is one of collapse and despair. Rusting ship hulks decorate the shore. Dilapidated buildings toppled by a 1994 earthquake sit grumpily on the hills. But crawling out of the desolation like soldier ants are powerful Land Cruisers and their wealthy drivers. On the shoreline, new processing plants and refrigeration facilities are quickly being thrown up. There's a buzz of people and money. But it's all gray money, lurking in the shadow economy, skirting official taxes the way poachers' vessels scoot around border guards' patrol boats. Robyn Dixon of the Los Angeles Times reports. KRABOZAVODSKOYE, Far East -- Russian sailors call it a ""spider"" -- a cyclone on a weather map fax. Before Pyotr Yakovlev went to sea one frigid afternoon last winter, a fellow captain handed him a spider, and a friend urged him not to go. Yakovlev had a bad feeling about the trip, but he was under intense company pressure to sail.

Soltys Leaves Puzzle for Family and Friends

  • 04 September 01
SHUMSK, Ukraine -- Lyubov Nakonechna was 17 when she went against her family's wishes and married Nikolay Soltys. It was the only time in her short life that she ever disobeyed her parents. So when things began to go wrong, she kept the violence from them. Then, when she was six months pregnant, she finally told her brother Petro Nakonechny, 28, that her husband would bang her head against a wall until she fainted. Then he would douse her with water. She would come to, and he would beat her again. It was 1998. Today, Lyubov is dead and Nikolay is in the custody of the Sacramento County Sheriffs Department, accused of killing her, their toddler son, an aunt, an uncle and two young cousins. Yet no one here in western Ukraine believes anything could have been done to protect her from her husband's violence or prevent her from going to live with him after he moved, first to upstate New York and then to California's Central Valley.

Tajiks Caught Between Drug Trade and Poverty

  • 28 August 01
DASHTIDZHUM, Tajikistan Ч He was a threadbare child of 12 when he set out from his village for the city, a small, serious boy with a big mission: to sell 1 kilogram of Afghan opium in the Tajik capital to help his parents feed his 11 brothers and sisters. But in the venal, cutthroat underworld of Dushanbe, it is easy to cheat a village boy. The dealer who promised to pay him the following week simply disappeared. So Oiyatula Rakhimov returned home empty-handed. One August night several months later, more than 10 gunmen from just across the border in Afghanistan swept silently down the verdant slope behind his house and seized the boy as a hostage for the family's drug debt to them. Nearly two years later he remains a prisoner, and the price for his life Ч $1,000 Ч is so far beyond his father's reach that, at mention of the sum, the old man just bows his head and weeps. The remote valley where the Panj River divides northern Afghanistan from southern Tajikistan seems a place of rugged, calm majesty.

Ukrainian Girl Spent 23 Years in Cowshed

  • 16 August 01
PODOLSKY YAR, Ukraine Ч Nina Gordy was sitting naked and caked in mud when the men saw her through the cracks of a ramshackle cowshed. The men, local police officers and leaders of a neighboring village here in western Ukraine, were searching for a stolen tractor. They went on with their hunt and forgot about Nina. That was three years ago. Nina had been locked inside the shed for two decades. Her parents, who didn't know what else to do with their mentally disabled daughter, put her there. When she was finally freed this spring, she was 36 years old. ""It was not my territory and I forgot about it,"" said one of the men, Pavel Smolinsky, chief of the Veliky Zvanchik village administration. ""I have five villages to look after."" He wasn't the only one who knew. Nina was a shadow, always present, like a dark blot on the villagers' consciences. ""Everybody knew. The police knew. No one paid any attention,"" said Lyudmila Nikolayeva, 26, one of the closest neighbors. ""Everyone just got used to it.

Lusty Memories Sustain Island Women

  • 10 August 01
MALOKURILSKOYE, Far East Ч As far away from Moscow as a single girl could travel in the days of the Soviet Union, there was an outpost known as the island of love: the mystical, beautiful Shikotan. From the 1960s to the mid-1980s, hopes of romance and high salaries drew thousands of adventurous young women to this island in the Kuril Islands chain. Soviet authorities shipped the women like bulk goods as seasonal workers for the island's gigantic fish-processing plants, in the belief that they were stable and docile, well-suited to monotonous factory work. As one might expect, Love Island Soviet-style was no holiday camp. It meant 12-to-16-hour shifts cutting up dead fish, cramped dormitories at night and a ban on alcohol for much of the year Ч plus the threat of deportation to the mainland for misbehavior. The women met their first disappointment when they sailed into port: a critical man shortage on Shikotan. Of the 3,000 locals, 80 percent were women, many of whom had stayed on after previous seasons.