Reporters on the Job

• And your title would be...? For today's story on the upcoming Russian elections (this page) correspondent Fred Weir interviewed Alexei Kondaurov - and was struck by the fact that Americans might see a contradiction between Mr. Kondaurov's status as a wealthy businessman and as a Communist Party candidate. "People often unwittingly set up black-and-white stereotypes using snap symbols, such as 'communist,' 'democrat,' 'former KGB,' and so on. When I walked into Kondaurov's office I realized I had a whole arsenal of such images. He's a former KGB major who was once head of the Kremlin bodyguard unit. For the past 10 years, he's been an executive of what is now the largest private oil company in Russia, and, he says, he's learned a great deal about the need for democracy and openness. And, oh, he's running for parliament as a Communist."

But, Fred says, "his story coheres when you consider the tortured course of recent Russian history."

• A helping hand: Before returning to the Baghdad office to work on today's story on the Nasariyah bombing (page 1), Monitor reporter Howard LaFranchi witnessed how in some cases, Iraqis are working with US forces to stop bombing attacks. "I was in the sprawling Baghdad Shiite enclave of Sadr City when we came upon a large number of US forces, in tanks and trucks, even a medical vehicle, directing traffic around an entrance to an American base. Local Iraqi kids had seen something suspicious at the roadside, told nearby adults, and they all informed the Americans. One boy, wearing a T-shirt with "Don't mess with the US" on it, proudly told me he'd been among those going to inform the Americans. It turned out the suspicious object was a roadside bomb."

Amelia Newcomb
Deputy World editor

Follow up on a Monitor story

UNWELCOME ARRIVAL: In a story on Oct. 15, 2003, correspondent Mark Rice-Oxley wrote about the controversy in Britain over a British shipyard's contract to break up decrepit, toxic-laden US vessels. Yesterday, a former US naval vessel, which is being towed, entered the Tees estuary on its way to the facility near Hartlepool, England. A court has ordered that the boats not be scrapped in England.

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