Stories written by Kester Kenn Klomegah
Kester Kenn Klomegah is the IPS Moscow correspondent. He covers politics, human rights issues, foreign policy and ethnic minority problems. His research interests include Russian area studies and Russian culture. Kester has worked for several years with the Moscow Times. He has studied social philosophy and religion and spent a year at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations. He is co-author of ‘AIDS/HIV and Men: Taking Risk or Taking Responsibility’ published by the London-based Panos Institute. In 2004, he was awarded the Golden Word Prize for excellence in journalism by the Russian Media Union, a non-governmental media organisation in Moscow.

Russia Still Struggling to Gain Foothold in Africa

As Russia’s new president Vladimir Putin begins a new phase of economic growth, trade experts are keeping a watchful eye on Moscow’s policies with the African continent, which they see as a huge, untapped source of economic opportunity.

Manila and Moscow Inch Closer to Labour Agreement

As the number of migrant Filipino workers in Russia inches closer to 5000, Moscow and Manila are busy negotiating a bilateral labour agreement that could allow thousands more overseas workers into various sectors of the Russian economy.

Indonesia Knocks at BRICS’ Door

Indonesia’s keen interest in becoming the newest member of BRICS – a bloc of emerging-market nations comprised of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – has sparked off a round of debate on the future and efficacy of South-South groupings.

BRICS Bank Could Change the Money Game

India’s proposal to set up a bank of the BRICS nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) will top the agenda at the summit of the group in New Delhi Mar. 28.

RUSSIA-HEALTH: Censorship and Dirty Needles Fuel HIV/AIDS Epidemic

A recent government crackdown on Russian media, particularly online information portals specialising in health tips and harm reduction methods for drug users, has sparked widespread public opposition, with critics claiming that the "draconian silencing" of public health advocates could worsen an already perilous health situation in the country.

RUSSIA: Putin Remains Leading Candidate in Presidential Elections

Election season in Russia promises to be stormy, as Prime Minister Vladimir Putin emerges as the leading candidate in the presidential race scheduled for March 4 and unresolved issues of voting fraud and voter manipulation spark massive protests amongst opposition groups.

GEORGIA: Opposition Rallies in the Face of Repression

More than half of Georgia’s population still lives in abject poverty due to economic stagnation, worsening living standards, rising unemployment and low pay nearly nine years after the 2003 bloodless ‘Rose Revolution’ that promised post-Soviet economic revival, a new political course and better living conditions.

Activists protest destruction of Khimki Forest. Credit: Kester Kenn Klomegah/IPS

ENVIRONMENT-RUSSIA: Activists Protest Destruction of 500-Year-Old Forest

Environmentalists and rights campaigners have mounted pressure on the Russian government to rescind the decision to demolish more than 500-year-old woodlands to make way for the construction of a new super-highway linking Moscow with the country's northern capital, St. Petersburg.

Intigam Aliyev. Credit: Courtesy of Legal Education Society, Azerbaijan

AZERBAIJAN: Govt Fears Spread of Arab Spring

In the wake of anti-government protests by the opposition and youth activists in Baku, Azerbaijan, authorities have arrested and detained scores of demonstrators and journalists in deplorable and inhumane conditions.

HEALTH: ‘Lifestyle Diseases’ Cause Two-Thirds of Deaths

Health experts from around the world have acknowledged rising numbers of ‘lifestyle’ or non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in different countries, admitted inadequate funds are the biggest obstacle in health delivery, and called on the global community to consolidate efforts to effectively tackle the problem.

RUSSIA: Eighteen Years of WTO Negotiations Continue

After almost 18 years of unsuccessful but persistent struggle to join the World Trade Organisation (WTO), experts say that efforts by Russian authorities have not been enough and have often lacked political will.

Arab Spring at Azerbaijan’s Door

Campaigners are asking the Azerbaijan government to introduce radical reforms early to avoid a popular uprising sweeping the Arab world.

Baltic States Faulted for Discriminating Against Minorities

A large ethnic Russian minority population in Latvia and Estonia, which joined the European Union (EU) along with Lithuania in 2004, has repeatedly complained of discrimination and denial of political and social rights by the three Baltic governments.

DISARMAMENT: Bridges Could Become Barricades

Although the ratification of a new strategic arms reduction treaty (START) with the United States is considered a top priority for the Medvedev administration, experts are debating whether such an agreement could threaten to reduce Russian military power in the future.

Soviet Shadow Over Russia

With less than a year remaining for parliamentary and presidential elections in Russia, human rights activists and opposition forces have become targets of political intimidation and frequent harassment by law enforcement agencies. They see an effort to exclude them from the country’s democratic process.

Russia Struggles to Get a Grip on Corruption

A government initiative aimed at rooting out deep-seated corruption in Russia has hit a number of stumbling blocks since its implementation. According to experts, the initiative, adopted by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev at the beginning of his term, has been unsuccessful in combating the pervasive issue of corruption, particularly in regional administrations and offices, in this eastern European country.

CENTRAL ASIA: Remittances on the Rise

Financial remittances to the Central Asian Republics by millions of both undocumented and legal migrants working in Russia have increased substantially, labour experts say.

RUSSIA: New START May End With a Whimper

Efforts by the U.S. and Russian governments to move speedily towards the abolition of strategic nuclear weapons have hit stumbling blocks and continue to generate debates among experts about the practicality of achieving a nuclear- free world in the near future.

A polar bear on Russia's Chukchi Peninsula. Credit: WWF/Russia

ENVIRONMENT-RUSSIA: Threat To Polar Bears Worries Russian Experts

- Environmental experts in Russia have warned that unless urgent steps are taken internationally, climatic changes combined with man-made factors could reduce the world's population of polar bears by as much as 70 percent by 2060.

CENTRAL ASIA: Kyrgyzstan – Wakeup Call For EU, US

The popular revolt in Kyrgystan this month should "serve as a wakeup call to the European Union and the United States, prompting some serious rethinking of their policy priorities in Central Asia," says a leading area expert.

Apas Kubanychbek Credit: Kester Kenn Klomegah/IPS

Q&A: ‘Kyrgyzstan Has Undergone a Grassroots Revolution’

Apas Kubanychbek, who hails from the high mountainous area of Ysyk-Ata in the Chuyskaya province of Kyrgyzstan, was involved in the political movements and democratic struggles of the former Soviet republic in the early 1990s.

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