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.

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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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

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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MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

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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MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

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.

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