When Timo Soini, a co-founder of the populist Finns Party, entered government last year, some expected him to 'push his agenda or act like a hick.' But instead, he has proven a responsible, respected foreign minister.
Russia's national team is on probation after a few hundred of its supporters attacked English fans in Marseille, raising concerns about Russia's hosting of the 2018 World Cup. Some fan groups have connections to ultra-nationalist political forces.
Turkey, Egypt, and other favorite vacation spots are out of reach these days for Russians. But the north coast of the Black Sea, spanning from Crimea to Sochi to Abkhazia, offers an affordable alternative.
The statelet, which the world doesn't recognize, has retained its de facto independence from Georgia for years, thanks in large part to Russia's patronage. But many Abkhazians worry about being smothered.
The 'immortal regiment' parade, started in 2012, was meant to allow Russians to highlight their forebears' role in beating back the Nazis during World War II. But it has grown immensely in popularity and prominence since then.
The exchange of Ukrainian helicopter pilot Nadiya Savchenko for two Russian servicemen appears to be moving ahead. But the deal could also reopen the question of just how involved Russia is with Ukraine's eastern rebellion.
Vladimir Putin took questions from reporters and the public, on topics ranging from his love life to foreign policy. But the overarching theme seemed to be an effort to sympathize with and reassure Russians suffering from the recession.
In September, Russian voters will be able to directly elect some of their representatives to the national legislature – potentially allowing reformers to gain national office. Authorities are looking to stop that.