A new Russian doctrine – which says it can use nuclear weapons preemptively against small regional adversaries – is seen either as a sign of aggression or bluster to mask insecurity.
Stalin's grandson tried to sue Novaya Gazeta over its characterization of the Russian leader. A judge ruled against him Tuesday, giving human rights advocates a boost.
President Medvedev is likened to a general without an army, with most top posts held by Putin's people. But there are signs he's pushing back.
Colleagues of Ms. Estemirova say her murder Wednesday is part of a pattern that shows cost of a Kremlin pact with Chechnyan President Ramzan Kadyrov.
Since President Obama took office, twice as many Russians report 'positive attitudes' toward the US. But skepticism continues to dominate ties between Washington and the Kremlin.
Although both countries claim the military exercises are simply for practice, some wonder if the old dispute is again flaring.
Some Russians say a new Amnesty International assessment understates the dangers faced by those who dare to offer dissent.
Sergei Protazanov's killing in March was the latest in a series of violent attacks targeting journalists.