Europe

10:01pm

Thu March 1, 2012
Europe

Putin Heavily Favored As Russians Pick A President

Originally published on Fri March 2, 2012 6:12 am

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin delivers a campaign speech during a rally of his supporters in Moscow, Feb. 23. Putin is mounting a vigorous campaign in the face of growing opposition but is expected to win Sunday's presidential elections.
Yuri Kadobnov AFP/Getty Images

When Russians go to the polls Sunday, they will have several choices for president. But none is a serious threat to Vladimir Putin, who has been the most powerful figure in Russia for the past 12 years.

Boris Makarenko, a longtime observer of Russian politics, says the candidates arrayed against Putin are all more or less part of what Kremlin leaders call "the systemic opposition."

In other words, he says, they are "the tolerable opposition ... which can never even hope of replacing them in the Kremlin."

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4:03pm

Thu March 1, 2012
Europe

Will The New AK-47 Be As Popular As The Original?

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 8:59 am

A Colombian police officer stands guard next to seized Chinese-made AK-47 replicas on Nov. 18, 2009. The guns have become so ubiquitous around the world that Russia's planned redesign may not do much to booster sales.
Luis Robayo Getty Images

The Kalashnikov assault rifle, or AK-47, is one of the most dangerous and widely used weapons in the world. For more than 60 years, nations, rebels, gangsters and child soldiers have wielded the gun.

And now, Russian officials say it's outdated. As part of a $700 billion army modernization program, the country has announced a redesign of the rifle.

New York Times foreign correspondent C.J. Chivers — author of The Gun, a book about the Kalashnikov — tells NPR's Audie Cornish that the updates are mostly cosmetic.

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11:30am

Thu March 1, 2012
Europe

As Election Nears, Russians Express Frustrations

Originally published on Thu March 1, 2012 4:10 pm

Thousands of Russians form a 10-mile human chain around a Moscow ring road on Monday during an opposition protest against Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. He is expected to win the March 4 presidential elections but is facing growing opposition.
UPI/Landov

Cars decorated with white ribbons and carnations drove around Moscow's Garden Ring Road in a wet snow this past Sunday, honking cheerfully to the thousands of demonstrators on the sidewalk who formed a human chain around the city.

Elena Korobova was a link in that chain.

"I want to get rid of Putin, because I don't like his policy, I don't like what he's doing for Russia," she says of Vladimir Putin, Russia's current prime minister.

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10:01pm

Tue February 28, 2012
Europe

For Leap Day Only, A Rare Newspaper Goes To Print

Originally published on Wed February 29, 2012 9:02 am

A man reads a copy of the satirical newspaper La Bougie du Sapeur (The Sapper's Candle), published every leap day, in a Parisian cafe on Feb. 29, 2008. The paper's tagline is "without reproach."
Patrick Hertzog AFP/Getty Images

At newsstands across France on Wednesday, readers will delight to a humorous broadsheet published every four years on leap day.

At news shops in Paris and around France, readers look forward to their copy of La Bougie du Sapeur every Feb. 29. Published since 1980, the satirical journal is now in its ninth edition. Its title, which translates as "sapper's candle," is taken from an old French comic-book figure who was born on that fateful last day of February.

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3:28am

Sun February 26, 2012
Europe

Will France's First Lady Be Able To Seduce Voters?

Originally published on Wed February 29, 2012 9:20 am

French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his wife, Carla Bruni Sarkozy, greet supporters during a campaign rally in Marseille, France, on Feb. 19.
Patrick Aventurier Getty Images

In the traditional world of French politics, spouses don't usually jump into the fray. But French first lady Carla Bruni Sarkozy is anything but a traditional political spouse.

Her husband, President Nicolas Sarkozy, has just announced he is running for re-election this spring. It's a challenge: Polls show him trailing the Socialist candidate, Francois Hollande.

Sarkozy's wife has promised to do everything she can to help her husband win — and that includes hitting the campaign trail.

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