News Dima Litvinov became the first member of the so-called 'Arctic 30' to leave Russia; boarding a train at a railway station in St. Petersburg

The first of 30 Greenpeace activists arrested after a protest over Arctic oil drilling has left Russia, the environmental group said on Thursday, with all expected to get clearance to leave Russia by Friday.

Russia's old hand at the helm

I still remember our dismay at the first public glimpse of the new premier - a sombre figure in a navy-blue raincoat

Russia's reckoning: Power struggle at heart of the Kremlin

INTENSE BARGAINING was under way last night in the highest echelons of Russian power over who should lead the nation out of an economic, political and social crisis before it is too late. Both chief player and hostage at the heart of the deal-making was Viktor Chernomyrdin, the apparatchik whom Boris Yeltsin hauled back as prime minister in despair, prompting speculation that the Kremlin had run out of solutions.

Kremlin shake-up fixed in secret at Cannes

Russia: Billionaire car dealer and media boss Berezovsky acted as the go-between for Yeltsin and Chernomyrdin

Western markets braced for Russian debt terms

HOPES OF an early resolution to the Russian financial crisis were fading last night despite reassurances from Russia's new Prime Minister, Viktor Chernomyrdin, that a $40bn debt restructuring package would not discriminate against foreigners.

Russian PM gives green light to delayed debt deal

THE NEW Russian Prime Minister, Viktor Chernomyrdin, gave the green light last night to a plan to restructure $40bn of government short- term debt and put the country back on a firmer financial footing.

Yeltsin fires his entire government

RUSSIA WAS plunged into profound political turmoil last night after Boris Yeltsin sacked his Prime Minister, Sergei Kiriyenko, only four months after he was confirmed in office and, with him, the entire government.

Man for one season runs out of time

Russian crisis: After four months of grappling with dire economic problems, Sergei Kiriyenko departs

City talk: Why investors in Russia get into hot water

AFTER a week in Moscow and St Petersburg, this column will stray from its usual stamping ground to look at the prospects for investment in Russia.

Shock as architect of reform is sacked

AS THE smoke cleared after Boris Yeltsin's astonishing government shake-up yesterday, one figure stood out against the charred political landscape.

Iran: Caspian oil soothes troubled waters for West

Iran's gradual reopening to the world comes at a time when Tehran is increasingly on the minds of Western policymakers.

Shell edges ahead of the field in Russia

In the emerging battle between Shell and BP for NK Rosneft, Russia's last big state oil company, Shell has the inside track, say Russian oil analysts.

Shell and BP pump pounds 1bn into Russia

Europe's two biggest oil companies separately announced $1.7bn (pounds 1bn) of investments in Russia to develop the country's vast oil and gas reserves. The moves are the first by Western oil companies since Russia relaxed restrictions on foreign investment in its oil industry.

Black gold for high stakes

BP's coup in a small Caspian Sea deal is its first bid in a greater game. By Phil Reeves in Moscow and Gayane Afrikian in London

Europe: French sign explosive oil deal with Iran

The French oil company Total has signed a $2bn gas contract with Iran. This is a challenge to the US, which is committed to take sanctions against firms dealing with Tehran. A combustible transatlantic trade dispute is hotting up.

After Yeltsin: how will Russia react?

This time the President may not bounce back. Phil Reeves assesses the forces awaiting his demise
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