The Shanghai Cooperation Organization's (SCO) meeting in Kazakhstan focused on how Central Asia could be affected by the possible spread of the Arab Spring – as well as failure to stabilize Afghanistan.
A Moscow court's ruling that curbs artistic expression, as well as fresh legislation to strengthen the KGB's successor and limit rights of public assembly, appear to some Russians to presage a broader crackdown.
Tensions are growing as NATO and a resurgent Russia divide over future of breakaway statelets.
Russia's president agreed today to lead the ruling party, which commands a 70 percent parliamentary majority, once he steps down next month.
Frustration is deep over Western support for independence that Russia sees as destabilizing and against international law.