Apr 30, 2001

Myanmar's Shan State: a complex tragedy

THAI-MYANMAR BORDER — Mae Sai is the end of the road in northern Thailand. This is not to suggest that the lackluster town is undeveloped: It does a roaring trade in gemstones (both real and fake), tourist trinkets, snacks and all kinds of contraband. ...

Apr 30, 2001

Myanmar solutions require three-way talks

Myanmar’s junta, the State Peace and Development Council, is engaged in secret reconciliation talks with democratic leader Aung San Suu Kyi. For now, exiled dissidents and ethnic opponents of the junta watch cautiously from the sidelines. Any solution to Myanmar’s problems, though, will have ...

Dec 27, 2000

Running on Soviet time

In December 1991, Russian, Ukrainian and Belarusian leaders met at a hunting lodge in western Belarus. There they signed the Belavezha Agreement, which had no small historical significance. The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was being consigned to the dustbin of history — the ...

Dec 27, 2000

In a gray concrete world, a city of beautiful churches

GRODNO, Belarus Most Belarusian cities get a bad press, at least for good looks, in foreign guidebooks. Polatsk is notable for “what was once there,” Mogilev is decidedly “uninspiring,” Homel’s biggest drawing card is a bust of its most famous son, the late Soviet ...

Nov 15, 2000

The yellow (or white or blue) treasure of Kaliningrad

Monopoly is not a word you would naturally associate with Kaliningrad. Yet the tiny Russian enclave possesses a remarkable — and entirely natural — one: amber. Ninety percent of the world’s commercial amber comes from just one site, the open-pit amber quarry at Yantarny ...

Nov 15, 2000

Russia's Baltic outpost

Mikhail Ivanovich Kalinin was not one of Russian history’s shining stars. An unpleasant figure, he found favor with dictator Josef Stalin and rose to become Soviet president before dying in 1946. Nonetheless, in the fashion of those times, his surname was given to two ...

May 31, 2000

Risking death with every step, every day

“We are full of love for you, but cannot take care of all.” — from a notice to Karen villagers that mines would be set on their land During World War I, military personnel comprised 90 percent of deaths and civilians the other 10. ...

May 31, 2000

Myanmar's ethnic patchwork

In terms of sheer social complexity, it has few rivals — perhaps Lebanon, possibly the Balkans. But Myanmar’s ethnic mix is truly diverse. There are some 100 languages and dialects. Major ethnic groups like the Karen, Shan, Mon, Chin and Kachin encompass others. The ...

May 31, 2000

When political expression leads to jail

Bo Kyi speaks English in a soft voice. He learned it the hard way, unable to see his teacher. They were political prisoners in adjoining cells in Myanmar’s Thayawaddy Prison . His teacher whispered to him while the guards were away. Then Bo Kyi ...