Anne Garrels
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Anne Garrels

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The walled Solovetsky Monastery at dusk. John Poole/NPR hide caption

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John Poole/NPR

A fisherman looks at sturgeon lying in a boat on the Volga River near Astrakhan in August 2000. The communities around Astrakhan are struggling as the sturgeon population plummeted during recent decades. Oleg Nikishin/Newsmakers/Getty Images News hide caption

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Oleg Nikishin/Newsmakers/Getty Images News

Russian veterans of World War II attend a Victory Day event in Volgograd, formerly Stalingrad, May 8, 2010. The site of one of the bloodiest and most important battles of World War II, Volgograd and its residents are struggling to find their way in post-Soviet Russia. Mikhail Mordasov/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Mikhail Mordasov/AFP/Getty Images

While Russia's president, Vladimir Putin visits a farm in the Volga region, outside Saratov, in September 2004. Since then, Putin has helped bail out farmers in the area, but many observers worry about his party's seemingly pervasive power. Alexey Panov/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Alexey Panov/AFP/Getty Images

A day after leaving Moscow, travelers can see colorful churches along the forested banks of the Volga. They share the banks with mansions of Russia's nouveau riche. Anne Garrels/NPR hide caption

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Anne Garrels/NPR

Russia's Volga River travels 2,300 miles through the country's heartland. It is the source of Russia's power, spanning from imperial times to the present. Here, a cruise ship travels down the Moscow-Volga canal, heading into the river. Anne Garrels/NPR hide caption

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Anne Garrels/NPR

Epidemic Of Addiction Threatens Russia's Future

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Russian President Dmitry Medvedev (right) and Defense Minister Anatoly Serdiukov inspect a Russian soldier's military uniform Oct. 8 at a base outside Moscow. The two leaders are spearheading a massive and highly controversial overhaul of the Russian military. Dmitry Astakhov/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Dmitry Astakhov/AFP/Getty Images

In Siberia, An Effort To Fight Population Shrinkage

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A young conventual sings during an Orthodox Easter celebration Mass at the St. Nicholas convent in the town of Maloyaroslavets, about 80 miles southwest of Moscow, in April 2004. Denis Sinyakov/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Denis Sinyakov/AFP/Getty Images

Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov (right) and Russian parliament deputy Adam Delimkhanov pray at a mosque in Chechnya's capital, Grozny. Musa Sadulayev/AP hide caption

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Musa Sadulayev/AP

Demonstrators in Moscow hold photos of journalist Mikhail Beketov last year during a protest against a brutal attack on him for investigating allegations of corruption. President Dmitry Medvedev says Russia's biggest problem is corruption among local officials. But attacks on anti-graft crusaders continue in the country. Mikhail Metzel/AP hide caption

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Mikhail Metzel/AP

A boy chops wooden pallets next to a Russian-made Lada in the suburbs of Sofia, Bulgaria. Russian automaker AvtoVAZ has announced it will lay off 25,000 employees from its plant in Togliatti, where 1 in 7 residents is employed by the manufacturer. Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP/Getty Images

Russia's Motor City Braces For Widespread Layoffs

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