Lucian Kim

Lucian Kim is NPR's international correspondent based in Moscow. He has been reporting on Europe and the former Soviet Union for the past two decades.

Before joining NPR in 2016, Kim was based in Berlin, where he was a regular contributor to Slate and Reuters. As one of the first foreign correspondents in Crimea when Russian troops arrived, Kim covered the 2014 Ukraine conflict for news organizations such as BuzzFeed and Newsweek.

Kim first moved to Moscow in 2003, becoming the business editor and a columnist for the Moscow Times. He later covered energy giant Gazprom and the Russian government for Bloomberg News. When anti-government protests broke out in Moscow in 2011, he started a blog. In the following years he blogged about his travels to Chechnya and to Sochi, site of the 2014 Olympics.

Kim started his career in 1996 after receiving a Fulbright grant for young journalists in Berlin. There he worked as a correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor and the Boston Globe, reporting from central Europe, the Balkans, Afghanistan, and North Korea.

He has twice been the alternate for the Council on Foreign Relations Edward R. Murrow Fellowship.

Kim was born and raised in Charleston, Illinois. He earned a bachelor's degree in geography and foreign languages from Clark University, studied journalism at the University of California at Berkeley, and graduated with a master's degree in nationalism studies from Central European University in Budapest.

Room 615 in Vladivostok's Hotel Gavan is a cramped, two-room "business suite" with green wallpaper and carpeting. Yet when former North Korean leader Kim Jong Il traveled to Russia's Pacific coast in 2002, the modest digs served as his presidential suite.

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Last week, 60 U.S. diplomats and their families boarded a charter plane in Moscow and left Russia — maybe forever.

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Just a week ago, Russian President Vladimir Putin was basking in an election victory that gave him a strong mandate for another six years in power.

But within days of thanking his fellow Russians for handing him nearly 77 percent of the vote, Putin is now dealing with one of the biggest challenges of his 18-year rule.

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Vladimir Putin won a fourth term as Russia's president on Sunday in a vote designed to be more of a referendum on his 18 years in power than a competitive election.

According to official results as of Monday morning, Putin swept up almost 77 percent of the vote, with Communist candidate Pavel Grudinin trailing in a distant second with less than 12 percent. None of the other six pre-approved candidates rose above the single digits.

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On the day Olga Skripnik fled her home in Crimea, many of her fellow Crimeans were celebrating.

On March 16, 2014, separatist leaders in the Ukrainian province rushed through a referendum on joining Russia in violation of Ukraine's constitution. The controversial measure, which few countries recognized, passed overwhelmingly under the watchful eyes of a Russian occupation force that had seized the Crimean Peninsula two weeks earlier.

All that separates Alexei Navalny's office from the outside world is a long hallway and a door — which police have sawed open twice in the past year to search for imaginary bombs.

The Kremlin's most vocal critic runs his nationwide opposition network from a desk strewn with papers in a cramped corner office of his Anti-Corruption Foundation, housed in a nondescript Moscow business center.

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When heavily armed Russian troops began fanning out across Crimea in February 2014, one man stepped out of the shadows to lead the movement to break off from Ukraine and join Russia.

Sergei Aksyonov, then the head of a small pro-Kremlin party, was appointed the leader of Crimea and oversaw a referendum in favor of the split that few countries recognized. The lightning Russian takeover was a watershed moment, leading to a downward spiral in relations between Moscow and the West.

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More than two months after a mysterious radioactive cloud was detected over Europe, Russia's nuclear industry went public Friday in an attempt to dispel fears that one of its facilities had released a plume of ruthenium-106.

Russia's state nuclear corporation, ROSATOM, released the findings of a special commission, which concluded that the Mayak nuclear reprocessing plant, near the border with Kazakhstan, could not have been the source of ruthenium-106, a radioactive isotope.

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Covering Russia could get tougher for foreign reporters there. Russia's lower house of parliament, the Duma, passed legislation today requiring international media to declare themselves as foreign agents. And as NPR's Lucian Kim reports, this is payback.

Gennady Gudkov, a retired KGB colonel, peered at me across his dark, vaulted office in an old Moscow manor house.

"I'm going to tell you something that I've never told anyone before," he said. "About 10 years ago, Russia had the opportunity to seriously influence election results in France."

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Being a member of Russia's democratic opposition has long meant coping with failure and irrelevance. In the carefully choreographed public life of Vladimir Putin's Russia, political campaigns lacking the Kremlin's blessing have usually failed.

But in early September, Russian democrats finally had something to celebrate: Almost 300 opposition candidates surprised everyone by winning majorities in 30 of Moscow's 125 local district councils.

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