Western oil companies are reeling from a series of setbacks in Russia. Welcomed in under Boris Yeltsin, offering a new frontier for exploration and production, the likes of BP and Shell saw a chance to build up their reserves. BP saw Russia as a next step in its history - after Iran (it was the Anglo-Persian Oil Company originally), then Alaska, and then the North Sea.
The double elevation of Shinzo Abe draws the Koizumi era to a natural close. It also raises the question of the departing leader's legacy. The key element in any assessment must be the quality of Japanese governance after five years of frenetic activity and high-octane rhetoric, whose central theme has been that most seductive of all political words: "reform".
Russia's far east is the site of an experiment in government and social development led by Roman Abramovich, billionaire businessman and owner of Chelsea football club. Zygmunt Dzieciolowski, who has tracked the Chukotka story for six years, uses his unique access to the region to send this progress report.