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Germany

Putin's Long Shadow Hangs Over Dresden

The Russian president was a KGB agent in the city in the former East Germany when the Iron Curtain started to give way. The ghosts of the past are everywhere.

Vladimir Putin in 1983
Vladimir Putin in 1983
Laure Mandeville

DRESDEN — At 4 Angelika Street, in Dresden, stands a massive house in a residential area of half-timbered dwellings. A plaque outside the small building reads "Rudolf Steiner Center for Anthroposophy." It is hard to imagine that this quiet place was, until 1989, the feared local headquarters of the all-powerful Soviet secret services, the KGB, which cooperated with and kept a close watch on their little brother, the East German political police. And yet, it was in this building that a young lieutenant colonel —Vladimir Putin — lived in an atmosphere of disarray through the trauma of the fall of the Berlin Wall, while a divided Germany was erupting with joy.

In the book, First Person: An Astonishingly Frank Self-Portrait —published before his election to the Russian presidency in 2000 and based on extensive interviews with journalists — the former spy shed a little light on those crazy days that completely changed history. On Dec. 5, 1989, the crowd of demonstrators stormed the regional headquarters of the Stasi in Dresden, on a street near Angelika Street, forcing through the fences of a building that, for decades, had been a place of torture and terror. Putin, who was 39 at the time, said he "understood" the popular outpouring of anger, noting that East Germany was a "harshly totalitarian country, similar to the Soviet Union, only 30 years earlier." In the USSR, meanwhile, perestroika was in full swing.

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Geopolitics

Venezuela-Iran: Maduro And The Axios Of Chaos In The Americas

With the complicity of leftist rulers in Venezuela, Bolivia and even Argentina, Iran's sanction-ridden regime is spreading its tentacles in South America, and could even undermine democracies.

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro visiting Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi in Tehran, Iran on June 11. Venezuela is one of Iran's closest allies, and both are subject to tough U.S. sanctions.

Julio Borges

-Analysis-

CARACAS —The dangers posed by Venezuela's relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran is something we've warned about before. Though not new, the dangers have changed considerably in recent years.

They began under Venezuela's late leader, Hugo Chávez , when he decided to turn his back on the West and move closer to countries outside our geopolitical sphere. In 2005, Chávez and Iran's then president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, signed collaborative agreements in areas beyond the economy, with goals that included challenging the West and spreading Iran's presence in Latin America.

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