Corey Flintoff

Corey Flintoff is NPR's international correspondent based in Moscow. His journalism career has taken him to more than 50 countries, most recently to cover the civil war in Libya, the revolution in Egypt and the war in Afghanistan.

After joining NPR in 1990, Flintoff worked for many years as a newscaster during All Things Considered. In 2005, he became part of the NPR team covering the Iraq War, where he embedded with U.S. military units fighting insurgents and hunting roadside bombs.

Flintoff's reporting from Iraq includes stories on sectarian killings, government corruption, the Christian refugee crisis and the destruction of Iraq's southern marshes. In 2010, he traveled to Haiti to report on the massive earthquake its aftermath. Two years before, he reported on his stint on a French warship chasing pirates off the coast of Somalia.

One of Flintoff's favorite side jobs at NPR is standing in for Carl Kasell during those rare times when the venerable scorekeeper takes a break from Wait, Wait...Don't Tell Me!

Before NPR, Flintoff served as the executive producer and host of Alaska News Nightly, a daily news magazine produced by the Alaska Public Radio Network in Anchorage. His coverage of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill was recognized with the 1989 Corporation for Public Broadcasting Award.

In 1977, Flintoff got his start in public radio working at at KYUK-AM/TV, in Bethel, Alaska. KYUK is a bilingual English-Yup'ik Eskimo station and Flintoff learned just enough Yup'ik to announce the station identification. He wrote and produced a number of television documentaries about Alaskan life, including "They Never Asked Our Fathers" and "Eyes of the Spirit," which have aired on PBS and are now in the collection of the Smithsonian Institution.

He tried his hand at commercial herring fishing, dog-mushing, fiction writing and other pursuits, but failed to break out of the radio business.

Flintoff has a bachelor's degree from the University of California at Berkeley and a master's degree from the University of Chicago, both in English literature. In 2011, he was awarded an honorary doctorate degree from Drexel University.

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Russia's top prosecutor is threatening to ban the Jehovah's Witnesses for alleged "extremism."

The religious denomination has faced growing pressure in Russia over the past several years, with church members arrested and confiscations of church property.

The Jehovah's Witnesses aren't alone. Other denominations, such as the Mormons, are also under pressure.

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Russian officials are trying to discredit a new report that implicates the Russian military in the shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines flight 17. Nearly two years ago, that attack in the skies over eastern Ukraine killed 298 people.

An independent Russian newspaper has come under fire after it published stories about the business interests of President Vladimir Putin's family and friends.

The Kremlin insists that it's not applying pressure on any media, but observers say there's a climate where journalists don't know how far they can go without risking reprisals from the government.

One part of the refugee crisis in Europe has largely been forgotten: the plight of people who've been displaced by the war in eastern Ukraine. Life is getting harder for some refugees who fled to Russia.

Russia's Federal Migration Service says more than a million people fled from eastern Ukraine to Russia to escape the warfare of the past two years. During the heaviest fighting, families crossed the border into Russia with everything they could carry in suitcases and sacks.

The drop in world oil prices is still biting hard at Russia's economy. As oil has collapsed, so has the value of the ruble. And the people who've been hit hardest — pensioners and people who aspire to join the middle class — are groups that are important to President Vladimir Putin's political base.

For many Russians, the symbol of entering the middle class was the ability to buy a house or apartment. In the growing prosperity of the mid-2000s, people began taking mortgage loans to make that possible, and home sales took off.

The United States and Russia haven't been cooperating much in these days of heightened tensions, but the U.S. Embassy in Moscow this week returned 28 valuable historical documents to Russia.

They were stolen from Russian collections and archives during the turbulent 1990s, in the wake of the Soviet collapse. The documents were believed to be stolen by Russian insiders and then made their way to U.S. dealers and auction houses.

U.S. and Russian officials met at the American ambassador's residence to exchange friendly words and speeches of thanks.

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The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says last month was the warmest January on record. That sets off alarm bells for climate scientists, but for the average person living in a northern climate, it might not sound so bad.

That's what many people are saying these days in Russia, where the expected icy winter has failed to materialize this year – to widespread joy. Of course, any climate scientist will tell you that an unusually warm month — or even a whole warm winter — doesn't mean much. It's the long-term trend that counts.

In Soviet times, it was common for government critics to be branded as "traitors" and "enemies of the people." That sort of rhetoric largely faded away after the Soviet Union fell a quarter-century ago.

But now, it's returned — and much of it is coming from Ramzan Kadyrov, the leader of the Russian republic of Chechnya.

Kadyrov likes to portray himself as an action hero from the rugged Caucasus Mountains of southern Russia.

Tuesday was an important holiday in the Russian Orthodox Church: Epiphany, which celebrates the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan.

Russian believers mark the event by re-enacting that baptism in ponds and rivers, and since Russia is far north of the Jordan, that means plunging into freezing water through holes cut in the ice.

Big cities like Moscow often set up elaborate stations where people can take the plunge, but people in other cities go for the do-it-yourself approach.

Russians became enthusiastic travelers after the Soviet Union broke up, and two of their most cherished winter getaways were the sunny resorts of Egypt and Turkey.

But those countries are now off-limits, and Russia's sagging economy and sinking currency are also keeping many at home.

Protests are rare in today's Russia, but there's one expression of discontent that's not going away.

For weeks now, long-distance truck drivers have been protesting against a new system of fees for using the highways. They say the fees will bankrupt them and drive up prices for Russian consumers.

What makes this protest significant is that it's not coming from the Russian middle class or liberal intellectuals. It's coming from people who are part of President Putin's working-class base.

Russian investigators have opened the tomb of 19th century Czar Alexander III in search of evidence that may help confirm the remains of his grandchildren, who were executed shortly after the Russian Revolution.

Alexander III, who went by the title "Emperor and Autocrat of All the Russias," died in 1894. His reign was conservative and repressive, and may have spurred the discontent that eventually engulfed his son, Czar Nicholas II, in revolution.

"The grave's a fine and private place," but (with our apologies to English poet Andrew Marvell) not when it's in cyberspace.

The city of Moscow says it is extending free Wi-Fi to cemeteries. It's part of a campaign to make Internet access available in public spaces throughout the city.

The service has already earned the sobriquet "Die-Fi."

Russia seems to be building up its military force in Syria, especially after Turkey shot down a Russian warplane along the Turkish-Syrian border late last month.

In his State of the Nation speech on Thursday, President Vladimir Putin warned the Russian people that the fight could be a long one.

The organization that combats drug use in world sports has officially declared that Russia's anti-doping agency doesn't comply with international rules. It's another blow to Russian track and field stars, who already face a provisional ban — which Russia says it won't contest — for alleged doping violations that could keep them from competing at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio.

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Moscow may be projecting a tough image abroad, but Russia is facing severe internal problems, including worrying trends that suggest the world's biggest country could run short of people.

That's not what you might assume, judging by the number of babies in buggies and strollers in any large Russian city. At a neighborhood park in St. Petersburg full of young families with children and toddlers, it looks like this country is in the midst of a baby boom.

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Police in Russia have arrested a dissident performance artist for setting fire to some doors at Russia's top security agency.

Images from the protest show Pyotr Pavlensky standing in front of two monumental wooden doors, their panels outlined in flame. The 31-year-old artist is a cadaverous figure, wearing a dark hoodie and holding a gasoline can.

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The nightly news on Russia's state-run television is full of the whine of jet engines as warplanes launch sorties from a dusty airfield in Syria. Russia has just over 30 fixed-wing combat planes in Syria. The Ministry of Defense says these planes are flying dozens of missions every day.

Russia's bombing campaign in Syria has entered its third week, and military officials are claiming daily successes in striking what they say are "terrorist targets."

Russian President Vladimir Putin celebrated his 63rd birthday Wednesday, amid a controversial bombing campaign in Syria, a weakening economy and tensions with the U.S. and its Western allies. The Russian leader made a point of taking it all in stride — including adulation from his fans.

He occupied an even more prominent place than usual on Russian state television on Wednesday. Putin was shown receiving a briefing on the Russian military operation in Syria, including the news that Russian warships in the Caspian Sea fired more than two dozen rockets at targets in Syria.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Russia has been displaying its military might lately, with war games and weapons shows. Even though his country is the midst of a recession, President Vladimir Putin is pushing ahead with a costly plan to modernize the military.

Top U.S. and NATO officials have identified Russia's war-making potential as a greater threat than Islamist terrorism, but is the hype justified?

There's a quote that's often attributed to Winston Churchill: "Russia is never as strong as you fear or as weak as you hope."

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