It's a fascinating time to be in Russia. Sochi just won the bid for Winter Games which baffled many of us. Putin's presentation to the Olympic Committee was the first time I had ever heard him speak English. I do hope this will push Russia to deal with issues of environmental degradation and it's role in the world (maybe it will even improve customer service) as the games approach. There's much to be done.
The NY Times also had an interesting piece on the new leadership in Turkmenistan.
Seeking the Persona of New Turkmen Leader
By C. J. CHIVERS
Published: July 5, 2007
Turkmenistan’s new president holds the keys to enormous gas fields and state coffers and has promised reform.