Sebastian Smith

Madoff: The ‘big lie’ that got bigger and bigger

When Bernard Madoff allegedly admitted that his investment company was a "big lie", few realised just how big.

Giant diamonds buck rough trend for luxuries

Two giant diamonds sold for more than -million at auction on Wednesday to a Middle Eastern buyer, bucking a wave of gloom.

Tensions rise at Russia-Nato summit

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday started a tense summit with Nato leaders amid mounting tensions over United States anti-missile defence plans and the alliance's expansion toward Russian territory. In a rare moment of cooperation, Russia and Nato concluded a deal on land transit for non-military freight to Afghanistan.

Doubts cast over Medvedev’s landslide triumph

The West cast doubt on Russia's presidential election on Monday after Dmitry Medvedev won a landslide victory and vowed to follow the course set by outgoing leader Vladimir Putin. Near complete results gave Medvedev 70,2% of Sunday's vote, crushing his nearest rival, Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov, who won 17,8%.

Georgia votes in snap polls under shadow of unrest

Georgians began voting on Saturday in a snap presidential election called by fiery pro-Western reformer Mikheil Saakashvili to face down unrest and restore his democratic credentials. The election, where Saakashvili faces six challengers, opened under thick snow in the strategic ex-Soviet republic's ancient capital, Tbilisi.

Russians vote for Parliament, Putin’s future

Russians voted on Sunday in a parliamentary election expected to hand President Vladimir Putin's party a crushing majority and boost his bid to retain authority after leaving the Kremlin. Polling stations opened in a wave across the world's biggest country, starting on the Pacific coast.

Hawkish Putin announces ‘grandiose plans’

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday announced ''grandiose'' military plans, including development of a new nuclear weapon, and attacked United States policies in Iraq and Iran. Putin, who must step down at the end of his second term next year, also confirmed that he wants to retain major political influence.

Russian prime minister and Cabinet resign

President Vladimir Putin accepted the resignation on Wednesday of his prime minister and government, paving the way for the Russian leader to hand-pick a successor when he steps down next year. The resignation of Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov and the entire Cabinet was shown on state-run Vesti television.

Dark days for Putin-Bush friendship at G8 summit

Six years after they first met and United States President George Bush reported gazing into Russian President Vladimir Putin's soul, the two leaders face some tense talks at the Group of Eight (G8) on Thursday. Bush's strong personal ties with Putin have been at the heart of US-Russian relations since a summit in Slovenia in June 2001.

Russia fingers Israeli fugitive in poison probe

Moscow says an anti-Kremlin businessman living in Israel could be behind the radiation poisoning of Russian agent Alexander Litvinenko, but the allegation only further complicates a spectacularly bizarre murder case. The prosecutor general said it had found links between the fatal poisoning of Litvinenko and Leonid Nevzlin, a former executive in the Yukos oil company who fled criminal charges in Russia.

Russia’s winter shrivels in the face of global warming

There is not quite the drama of a Florida hurricane, or the poignancy of stranded polar bears, but Moscow babushka Larisa Bilik is struggling to sell her wool socks -- and global warming, experts say, is also to blame. The warmest November-December since records began has put Russia's fearsome winter on the back foot.

Nato urges Russia to lift Georgia sanctions

Nato Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer urged the Russian Federation on Thursday to lift punitive sanctions against its southern neighbour Georgia during a visit that was intended to ease tensions between the Western military alliance and Moscow. At a Kremlin meeting, the Nato chief and President Vladimir Putin accentuated the positive in what has long been a rocky relationship.

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