• Russia's NGO Divide: Correspondent Fred Weir talked to a wide range of nongovernmental organizations (NGOS) to find out how they perceived proposed oversight by the Russian government (page 7). "There was a clear divide. Those groups with a political orientation that the Kremlin would object to - such as Chechnya, human rights, and the environment - were running scared. I haven't seen this much fear since the Soviet era. But the patient's rights group, sports, and music associations were not upset or concerned at all," he says.
"The Mother's Right group deals with kids that have died in the military. They say it's like pulling teeth to get information on how their children died or get death benefits and pensions. They're always at loggerheads with the government officials. They're the kind of group that worry the new regulations will be used against them," he says.
• Just Close Your Eyes: Correspondent Nicholas Blanford has interviewed Hizbullah leaders before, so he is somewhat blasé about the security dance that precedes such interviews as the one in today's paper (this page).
"I stopped by the Hizbullah media office. From there, I was put in the back of a car with blacked out windows and a curtain drawn between the driver and the passenger. To protect the location of the Hizbullah officials, visiting journalists are driven around the suburbs of Beirut," says Nick.
But as a local, Nick, like many others, knows exactly where he's going. "It's an open secret. The journey is only a two-minute walk from the media office. But we drove around for 10 minutes to complete the 'deception.' Usually, the visitor is driven into a garage. This time, they weren't so strict this time. They know me by now."
David Clark Scott