SOCHI, Russia, Jan 23 (Reuters) – It may not come naturally
to all Russians and, in the run-up to the Winter Olympics, Sochi
hotel managers are getting crash courses in how to smile.
In line with President Vladimir Putin’s efforts to show
Russia’s modern face at the $50-billion Sochi Games, an
initiative has been launched to break down enduring stereotypes
of Russians as cold, severe and unsmiling.
MOSCOW, Jan 19 (Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin denied that any large-scale corruption surrounded the Sochi Winter Olympics and challenged those with allegations of misconduct to come forward with proof.
Western and Russian opposition critics have made allegations that large amounts of money have been stolen during construction for the 2014 Olympics in the Black Sea city, but have provided little concrete evidence.
MOSCOW/ISTANBUL (Reuters) – The Syrian government, preparing for peace talks with rebels next week, handed the Russian co-sponsors of the conference a proposal on Friday for a local ceasefire and an exchange of prisoners.
There was no immediate response from President Bashar al-Assad’s opponents, whose very attendance at the talks due to start on Wednesday in Switzerland remained in doubt – prompting a last-minute appeal to them from the United States.
SOCHI, Russia, Jan 17 (Reuters) – The first warning of the problems that eventually swept away Irina Vorochkova’s house near Russia’s Olympic city of Sochi came when the garden began shifting, then the ground slid away downhill towards a river.
As builders worked feverishly to get the Black Sea resort ready for winter games so closely tied to President Vladimir Putin’s legacy, they failed to notice the effects their work was having on the village below.
MOSCOW (Reuters) – Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem said on Friday he had handed Russia plans for a ceasefire with rebel forces in Syria’s biggest city, Aleppo, and was ready to exchange lists on a possible prisoner swap.
Washington and Moscow have been trying to negotiate some confidence-building measures between the warring sides and allow humanitarian aid to flow to areas worst hit in the nearly three-year-old civil war.
MOSCOW/BUDAPEST, Jan 14 (Reuters) – Russian nuclear power
company Rosatom will expand Hungary’s only nuclear power plant,
more than doubling its capacity in the biggest construction
project in Hungary’s post-Communist history, the two countries
agreed on Tuesday.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said that he and visiting
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban had signed an agreement on
the project at Paks, in central Hungary, which already runs four
Russian-made VVER-type reactors built in the 1980s.
SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) – At the Mayak Cabaret, one of the few gay clubs in Russia’s Olympic city of Sochi, the nightly drag show starts with a drum roll before a performer in a brunette wig lip synchs “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend”.
But when the show is over at one of the last landmarks of a once vibrant gay scene in Sochi, the lights fall on an audience made up mostly of straight couples who came for the novelty.
MOSCOW, Dec 10 (Reuters) – President Vladimir Putin ordered
Russia’s military to increase its focus on the Arctic and finish
plans by the end of the year to upgrade military bases in the
resource-rich region where world powers jostle for control.
Speaking to Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, Putin praised
the military’s work in the Arctic, where Canada said on Monday
it was claiming the North Pole as part of an broader claim on
DONETSK/LVIV, Ukraine (Reuters) – Kiev is the stage for Ukraine’s political drama, but the script was written in its borderlands.
While the capital is convulsed by protests, the East-West tensions tugging at Ukraine are perhaps felt most in Donetsk and Lviv, two cities more than 1,000 km (600 miles) apart which are divided by history and – for some – a sense of the future.
KIEV, Dec 4 (Reuters) – Ukraine’s embattled prime minister
Mykola Azarov warned protesters on Wednesday they would be
punished if they broke the law after he marshalled his ministers
for a cabinet meeting despite an attempted blockade by
With a crisis over the government’s rejection of closer ties
with the European Union piling pressure on the creaking economy,
one of Azarov’s deputies departed for Moscow for talks including
on Russian natural gas, for which Kiev is urgently seeking lower