Lucian Kim

Lucian Kim is NPR's international correspondent based in Moscow. He has been reporting on Europe and the former Soviet Union for the past two decades.

Before joining NPR in 2016, Kim was based in Berlin, where he was a regular contributor to Slate and Reuters. As one of the first foreign correspondents in Crimea when Russian troops arrived, Kim covered the 2014 Ukraine conflict for news organizations such as BuzzFeed and Newsweek.

Kim first moved to Moscow in 2003, becoming the business editor and a columnist for the Moscow Times. He later covered energy giant Gazprom and the Russian government for Bloomberg News.

Kim started his career in 1996 after receiving a Fulbright grant for young journalists in Berlin. There he worked as a correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor and the Boston Globe, reporting from central Europe, the Balkans, Afghanistan, and North Korea.

He has twice been the alternate for the Council on Foreign Relations' Edward R. Murrow Fellowship.

Kim was born and raised in Charleston, Illinois. He earned a bachelor's degree in geography and foreign languages from Clark University, studied journalism at the University of California at Berkeley, and graduated with a master's degree in nationalism studies from Central European University in Budapest.

"Fake." "Nonsense." "Lies."

The Kremlin reacted the same way the White House did to news reports that U.S. intelligence had allegedly found Russia offered bounties on American troops in Afghanistan.

A newly unveiled World War II monument towered behind Vladimir Putin as the Russian president made a final pitch for a July 1 vote on a raft of constitutional changes that include a ban on same-sex marriage and an affirmation of Russians' faith in God.

"We are not just voting for amendments," Putin said on state TV on Tuesday. "We are voting for the country in which we want to live, with modern education and health care, reliable social protections and an effective government accountable to the public."

The city of Moscow, the epicenter of Russia's coronavirus pandemic, is lifting lockdown restrictions as the Kremlin prepares for a massive military parade on Red Square and a national referendum that will seal President Vladimir Putin's political future.

Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin, a staunch Putin loyalist, all but declared victory over COVID-19 on the city's news channel Monday. Moscow's lockdown rules will gradually be lifted over the coming two weeks, he said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has declared a state of emergency after a giant diesel fuel spill in a remote Arctic region 1,800 miles from Moscow.

After the accident Friday at a power plant owned by Norilsk Nickel, one of Russia's largest mining companies, Putin skewered officials for their sluggish response.

Nataliya Gumenyuk grew up in a small town outside of Kyiv during the first hungry years after Ukraine gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. Like many Ukrainians of her generation, she was raised on Hollywood movies — but also the American credo of positive social change.

Today Gumenyuk, 36, is a prominent Ukrainian journalist, who co-founded Hromadske, a noncommercial, nongovernmental public broadcaster, during street protests that rocked Kyiv six years ago.

Ruslan Parshutin was just a teenager, but he still remembers New Year's Eve 20 years ago.

Boris Yeltsin, Russia's first president, flickered on TV screens, speaking slowly and deliberately. Eight years of political and economic turmoil following the collapse of the Soviet Union had taken its toll on him. Yeltsin announced his resignation and handed over power to his energetic 47-year-old prime minister, Vladimir Putin.

When he was still commander of the U.S. Army in Europe, Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges displayed a blue and yellow Ukrainian flag on his black backpack. The ribbon was a gift from an elderly woman who gave it to him during a joint military exercise in Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy made his latest address to the nation this week in the gym, then posted it on Facebook.

Last summer, just days before former special prosecutor Robert Mueller publicly warned that the Kremlin would continue its interference in U.S. elections, Russian state television aired a 30-minute special report titled "Ukrainian Interference."

Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny sits on a beige couch in his Moscow apartment, clasps his hands and closes his eyes.

"I want to get into the prosecutor's apartment," he says over and over, as blue smoke rises from the floor. There's a loud "zing" — and suddenly Navalny finds himself more than 1,000 miles away, sitting on the couch of a rental vacation home overlooking the picturesque coast of Montenegro.

Updated 5:37 p.m. ET

A Russian court has sentenced a man to six years in prison. His crime? Being a practicing Jehovah's Witness.

Sergei Klimov was sentenced Tuesday in the Siberian college town of Tomsk. He is one of a number of Jehovah's Witnesses to be convicted in the two years since Russia's Supreme Court banned the religious group as an extremist organization.

When President Trump held his first meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy at the United Nations last month, one offhand remark by the U.S. president stood out to many Ukrainians.

Burisma Group, the Ukrainian energy company where former Vice President Joe Biden's son once served on the board of directors, keeps a low profile. Although the company advertises itself as one of Ukraine's largest private natural gas producers, it is almost impossible to find.

On its website, Burisma lists an address in Cyprus, and in the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, the company's offices are ensconced inside a nondescript, five-story business center in a residential neighborhood.

The last thing Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy did before flying to New York this week was sign his country's first law on presidential impeachment.

On Aug. 1, Yegor Zhukov posted his last YouTube video, making an impassioned appeal to support anti-government protesters caught up in the wheels of Russia's criminal justice system. Wearing a dark blue button-down shirt, the 21-year-old Moscow political science student leaned into the camera and urged Russians not to be cowed into silence.

"Russia will eventually be free," he said. "But we may not live to see it if we let fear win."

Lyubov Sobol looks frail after ending a monthlong hunger strike. The unexpected protagonist of equally unexpected anti-government demonstrations in the Russian capital this summer, she speaks softly and chooses her words deliberately.

"My daughter is 5 years old," she says in an interview with NPR. "I want her to live in a country where human rights and freedoms are respected, where the courts are independent, and where there is a free press. I want her to live in this country. I don't want to move away."

Disgust fills Mikhail Mulenkov's voice when he talks about politics. But life became so tough in his town in central Russia, he says, that he was "forced" to run for city council last year. Much to his surprise, he won a seat.

"This wasn't my success, it was a protest by the people," says Mulenkov, 37, who works in a building management company in Pereslavl-Zalessky. "People here hate the government because of the pension reform, because it's cold in their homes during the winter and because garbage is being dumped here and even more landfills are planned."

On a recent Sunday morning at 11 o'clock, a dozen people, mostly elderly, gathered in front of an elegant apartment building on a sun-dappled street in central Moscow.

Ksenia Polunina stepped up to remember her father Sergei Polunin, a scientist who was hauled from the building, her childhood home, on a February night in 1938 — and then shot by Soviet dictator Josef Stalin's secret police.

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DON GONYEA, HOST:

Ukrainians are so fed up with their politicians that many are seeking political relief from a TV comic in presidential elections taking place this weekend.

Volodymyr Zelenskiy's only connection to politics is the role he plays in a hit TV series about a man who accidentally becomes Ukraine's president. Now, the real-life Zelenskiy, 41, is the unexpected leader in opinion polls, which consistently show him winning up to 25 percent of the vote.

In 1982, Igor Yerin was working in a Moscow car plant when he was drafted into the Soviet army at age 20 and sent to Afghanistan to fight U.S.-backed guerrillas known as the mujahedeen. He ended up serving as a platoon sergeant with the 149th Motorized Rifle Regiment based in the northern city of Kunduz.

Paul Whelan was wearing a blue button-down Oxford shirt and glasses when he made his first and only public appearance in a Moscow courtroom last month after being arrested as a suspected spy.

The 48-year-old Michigan resident stood in the glass box customary for defendants in Russian courtrooms. Two defense lawyers leaned into a tiny window to talk with him while a plainclothes officer in a balaclava and jeans stood by.

The Chistye Prudy neighborhood is one of Moscow's liveliest, with restaurants and cafes clustered along a boulevard with a tram line and grand old apartment buildings.

Russian authorities tolerated the music videos of zombie babushkas and gothic maidens, even as the ghoulish songs racked up millions of hits on YouTube. But when the Moscow-based electronic music duo IC3PEAK ventured into politics with their latest track, "Death No More," trouble began.

Updated at 3 p.m. ET

Nearly two months after a rocket malfunction forced NASA and the Russian space agency Roscosmos to abort the launch of a Soyuz mission, a new crew blasted off on Monday for the International Space Station and arrived safe and sound.

Editor's note: On Thursday, President Trump said on Twitter he had canceled a planned meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, citing intensifying Russian aggression toward Ukraine.

Igor Korobov, the head of Russian military intelligence, has died amid mounting accusations that his agency, commonly known as the GRU, was behind subversive attacks on Western countries.

Russian President Vladimir Putin was fielding questions from a hall of sedate academics last month when suddenly, Oleg Sirota's riotous head of curly brown hair popped out of the crowd of dark suits.

"I'm a farmer and cheesemaker from the Moscow region," Sirota declared on national TV. "I wanted to thank you for the sanctions."

Nelli Tachko stood on Moscow's Lubyanka Square and pronounced the name of her father, Stanislav Frantsevich Tachko, a postal worker who was executed at age 41 by the Soviet secret police.

Tachko, 93, was one of hundreds of Muscovites who waited for hours in frigid temperatures Monday to take part in an annual tradition in which anybody who wants to can read the name, age, profession and date of execution of a victim of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin's Great Terror eight decades ago.

A cacophony of languages fills Riga's historic center, as foreign tourists pack the cobblestone streets of the Latvian capital. But eavesdrop on residents and you're just as likely to hear Russian as you are the national language, Latvian.

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