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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U.S. relations with Russia are at their lowest point since the Cold War thanks to the crisis in Ukraine. Russian defense officials are talking about a new doctrine of subversive warfare between major world powers. They accuse the West of using popular uprisings to topple unfriendly governments. And some analysts say Moscow itself is employing that strategy in eastern Ukraine. More from NPR's Corey Flintoff.

Less than three months after Russia annexed Crimea, Moscow is committing billions of dollars in aid and tax breaks to make the Black Sea peninsula a showcase of development.

But there's at least one major problem: The region has a deeply ingrained reputation for corruption and organized crime, a reputation that already taints some of the region's newest leaders.

After Russian troops seized control of the Crimean parliament in February, one of the first leaders to emerge was a 41-year-old businessman and politician named Sergei Aksyonov.

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This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. Teams of international observers are arriving in Ukraine ahead of tomorrow's presidential election. But in the eastern region of the country, where pro-Moscow militia are vowing to disrupt the vote, there may not be much for them to observe. Separatists say they won't allow the election to proceed in the regions that they have declared to be independent states. NPR's Corey Flintoff reports from Donetsk.

Russian President Vladimir Putin says Moscow will respect the outcome of the upcoming election in Ukraine but later said he still has concerns about the legitimacy of the vote.

There are increasing signs of friction between pro-Moscow separatists and local residents in eastern Ukraine, as some local people demand an end to the violence and lawlessness in the region. Meanwhile, one of Ukraine's richest men has repeated his call for a return to stability, calling on workers to show their support for a unified country.

As Ukraine prepares for presidential elections on Sunday, a social media struggle is underway in the country's eastern provinces.

That's where pro-Russian separatists have seized government buildings in many towns and declared independence after a much-disputed referendum. The separatists have vowed to block the vote in at least two key regions, Donetsk and Luhansk.

Barricades in the eastern Ukrainian town of Mariupol have been dismantled, following a deal between separatist leaders, police and steelworkers from the city's biggest steel mill. The deal came after steel mill owner, billionaire Rinat Akhmetov, issued a statement saying the region's economic future depended on staying united with Ukraine.

In eastern Ukraine, pro-Russian separatists are claiming independence based on a victory in a hastily organized referendum. Now, they're resisting a nationwide presidential election that's scheduled for May 25.

With Russian troops still massed near the border, Ukrainian and international mediators are trying to find a solution for the crisis.

There are some very different visions of the future for the volatile region.

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This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block. Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine declared independence for two regions today, after announcing the results of a much-disputed referendum. Separatist leaders in the Donetsk region asked to join Russia. The Kremlin said it respected the vote but it has not yet responded to that request. The Ukrainian government maintains the referendum was illegal, and it threatened criminal prosecution for those who organized it. NPR's Corey Flintoff reports from Donetsk.

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Now to the conflict in Ukraine. Today, Russian President Vladimir Putin made some conciliatory sounding statements. He called on the pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine to postpone their planned referendum on autonomy. That vote is currently scheduled for Sunday. Putin also said that Russian troops had withdrawn from the Ukrainian border and that Russia is ready for more talks on ways to resolve the crisis.

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a new measure that will give the government much greater control over the Internet.

Critics say the law is aimed at silencing opposition bloggers and restricting what people can say on social media. It would also force international email providers and social networks to make their users' information available to the Russian security services.

The Ukrainian government is describing its offensive against pro-Russian separatists in the eastern part of the country as an "anti-terrorist operation," language that offends the separatists and Russia.

In turn, Russia is using even stronger language, saying that the Ukrainian military has launched a "punitive operation." While that may not carry any special meaning to Western ears, it has far more sinister implications for Russians.

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Russia reacted to news of the Ukrainian offensive in Slavyansk with outrage. The Russian mission at the United Nations has called for a meeting of the Security Council to discuss the issue. A spokesman for President Vladimir Putin said the action had effectively destroyed all hope for the Geneva Peace Accords. NPR's Corey Flintoff reports on the view from Moscow.

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Let's examine just how much U.S. sanctions could affect Russia. President Obama yesterday announced the latest measures aimed at punishing Russia for its links to violence in Eastern Ukraine. Russia is accusing the U.S. and its allies in Europe and Japan of resorting to Cold War tactics.

NPR's Corey Flintoff is covering this story from Moscow. Hi, Corey.

COREY FLINTOFF, BYLINE: Good morning, Steve.

INSKEEP: So what will the latest sanctions do?

Ukraine's interim government is facing major obstacles: a separatist uprising in the east of the country, an economy in tatters and a presidential election next month.

But the leadership is also facing a longer-term challenge, one that will shape the future of the country: the creation of a new constitution.

The task will be complicated by pressure from Russia, which has already made clear what kind of constitution it thinks Ukraine should have. Russia's foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, laid out Russia's position in an interview last month.

Russia says it is once again staging military drills near the border of eastern Ukraine.

Russia's defense minister says the exercises are a reaction to NATO maneuvers in Eastern Europe and what he calls "Ukraine's military machine."

Russian President Vladimir Putin says he hopes he won't have to move troops into Ukraine to protect the local Russian-speaking population, but he reserves the right to do so. He made the comments on a televised call-in show.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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In the political battle between Ukraine and Russia, one of the biggest pawns is chocolate.

That's because the current front-runner in Ukraine's presidential race is Petro Poroshenko, known as "the Chocolate King." His billion-dollar empire was founded on candy factories.

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The Obama administration's announcement of sanctions comes as Crimea's parliament voted to unite with Russia. It's also called for a referendum on the issue in 10 days. At the same time, lawmakers in Russia began taking steps that could streamline the process of making Crimea a part of Russia.

NPR's Corey Flintoff joins us on the line from Moscow. And, Corey, how has this sanctions announcement from the U.S. been received there?

President Vladimir Putin isn't the first Russian leader to try to create a world-class resort in Sochi. That story is told in one of Sochi's best attractions, an excellent city history museum.

The closing ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Sochi featured a particularly captivating image: an aerial view of the coastal Olympic village, with the stadiums set like jewels among sparkling avenues, set off by the flash of fireworks in the night sky.

It seemed as if Russia, and especially President Vladimir Putin, had achieved everything that could be hoped for from a world-class sporting event.

The contrast couldn't have been greater: the protest band Pussy Riot in colorful ski masks and mini dresses, attempting to film a segment for a new video on Sochi's waterfront; and Cossacks in traditional uniform with black sheepskin hats and riding boots, patrolling Sochi streets as part of security for the Olympics.

The Cossacks, trying to enforce a government ban on protests, knocked band member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova to the ground, lashed her with a horse whip, and roughed up other musicians.

Long before it became an Olympic host city, Sochi was a favorite getaway for one of history's most ruthless dictators: Josef Stalin.

The Soviet leader had a villa built in the hills overlooking the Black Sea, and he visited it during some of the most tumultuous years of his reign.

The villa, known as Stalin's dacha, or summer house, was built in 1934, and he used it until the end of World War II in 1945. No Soviet or Russian leader after Stalin is known to have visited it.

There are probably fewer American fans in Sochi than at previous Winter Games, partly because of concerns about security, and partly because of the time and expense it takes to get to the Russian resort town on the Black Sea.

But Americans are represented there, with gusto, by a group of evangelical Christians who call themselves the International Sports Chaplains. Members of the group have been going to the Olympic Games since 1988.

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The 2014 Winter Games officially kick off today. And we're going to spend a few minutes to talk about the driving force behind them, Russian President Vladimir Putin. He's been in power since Russia began bidding for the games back in 2005, and he's made it a mission to bring them to Sochi. NPR's Corey Flintoff is on the line with us from Sochi to talk about why these games are so important to the man at the top. Hi there, Corey.

COREY FLINTOFF, BYLINE: Hi, Audie.

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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

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And I'm Audie Cornish.

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Two weeks before the Winter Olympics, Russian security forces are reportedly searching for potential suicide bombers, at least one of whom may already be in the host city of Sochi.

The suspects are thought to be linked to Islamist militants who are fighting to throw off Russian control and create a fundamentalist Muslim state in Russia's North Caucasus Mountains.

Police have been circulating leaflets at hotels in Sochi, warning about women who may be part of a terrorist plot.

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And now to Ukraine where the crisis is intensifying. Today, there were more clashes between protesters and police in the capital city, Kiev. This after a massive protest turned violent yesterday, when more than 100,000 people turned out to denounce a new law that limits public protests. The protests have shaken Ukraine for two months, as the opposition claims President Viktor Yanukovych is turning increasingly autocratic and aligning his country with Russia.

With less than a month to go before the Winter Games, Russian officials are putting the finishing touches on what they say will be the tightest Olympic security in history.

After a spate of deadly terrorist attacks in the region, the authorities are deploying high-tech surveillance equipment and tens of thousands of troops in Sochi, the host city on the Black Sea.

Sochi is unique among the cities hosting the Winter Games because it has the mild climate of a seaside resort, but it's less than an hour away from the snow-capped mountains of the North Caucasus.

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