David Greene

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Compared to many of the dynamic economies in Asia, development is Russia's Far East is limited.

Russia had one of the world's most famous revolutions nearly a century ago, in 1917. Yet for centuries, the country has seemed to prefer strong leaders who promised stability rather than revolutionary change. On a trip across Russia today on the Trans-Siberian railroad, NPR's David Greene found many Russians who expressed disappointment with their current government. But most said they wanted changes to be gradual, and were not looking for a major upheaval.

Second of three parts

Seven time zones and thousands of miles separate Russia's capital, Moscow, from the port city of Vladivostok on the Pacific Ocean. NPR journalists traveled the full length of the Trans-Siberian railroad and report on how Russia's history has shaped its people, and where, 20 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russians want their country to go.

First of three parts

Two decades after the collapse of communist rule, just where is Russia headed? Scholars, diplomats and poets are spending careers contemplating the question.

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When it comes to football there are two types of compelling games. One, the most people like, when teams battle back and forth to a dramatic finish. The other, when one team totally dominates to such an extent that all you can do is watch in awe.

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It's tempting, when beginning a visit to the far reaches of Siberia, to dismiss cold as some Russian cliché. Like vodka. And fur hats.

Sure, there'll be vodka — but not at every meal. Maybe I'll buy a fur hat as a souvenir — but I won't actually wear it.

Cold is no cliché. Siberia is cold.

I know cold. I like cold. I grew up in Pittsburgh, skiing, sledding and sitting through Pittsburgh Steeler football games in January, where beers and sodas freeze in plastic cups at your seats.

Of all the economic downturns of the past few years, the tiny European nation of Latvia may have suffered as much as any place. Incomes fell and families suffered as the government implemented harsh austerity measures.

Now, the citizens of this former Soviet republic seem more open to what was once unthinkable: backing a social democratic party that's pro-Russian.

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Last night, Major League Baseball's regular season went out with a bang.

(SOUNDBITE OF SPORTS BROADCAST)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Unintelligible) down the left field line. That ball is gone! And the Rays win it!

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It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

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Sylvia, good morning.

SYLVIA POGGIOLI: Good morning.

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Four years ago, Russian researchers made a bold, if unseen, move. From a submarine, deep beneath the icy waters of the North Pole, they planted a Russian flag on the ocean floor.

Russia has the world's longest Arctic border, which stretches more than 10,000 miles. And for Russia, that 2007 research mission was only the beginning of a major drive to claim ownership of vast portions of the Arctic, as well as the oil and gas deposits that are beneath.

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