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Briefs

Russia Struggles Against Ruin In Triumph's Aftermath

Los Angeles Times
VOLGOGRAD, Russia

In this city once called Stalingrad, where colossal feats of architecture celebrate Russia's triumph in World War II, monuments more befitting the vanquished now dominate the landscape.

Silent memorials to the slow death of craftsmanship during seven decades of Soviet power, Khrushchoby and dilapidated factories line potholed roads crowded with grime-caked trucks and buses, a vista of failure overriding the proud tributes to victory in this riverfront city.

The awesome "Motherland" statue towering 30 stories above the bleak horizon beckons survivors of the Battle of Stalingrad to remember the grit and determination that propelled them through one of modern history's most devastating sieges.

But for many in this city synonymous with ruin, recollections of bygone valor do little to blot out the pervasive reminders that today's Volgograd, like the rest of morose and impoverished Russia, is more a place of victims than of victors.

As Russians prepare to mark on May 9 the 50th anniversary of victory, some have come to regard it as Pyrrhic. When Russia and its Western allies defeated German fascism and Japanese militarism in 1945, their peoples emerged with a sense that not just their armies had won, but also their values, their ideology and their way of life.

FBI Director Takes Key Role In Bombing Case's Legal Matters

Los Angeles Times
WASHINGTON

FBI Director Louis J. Freeh is playing a central role in legal decisions in the Oklahoma bombing case as Attorney General Janet Reno and Deputy Attorney General Jamie S. Gorelick turn to him for advice.

Gorelick, in an interview Monday, said that Reno and she "respect the full range of his views and want to hear what he has to say - not just on investigative questions." Freeh prevailed in the decision last week to seek criminal charges against both James and Terry Nichols in an explosives conspiracy.

The brothers were being held as material witnesses in the bombing case because of their ties to Timothy J. McVeigh, the only defendant charged in the worst terrorist act on U.S. soil, but the criminal charges against them are expected to increase pressure on them to cooperate, one official explained.

The problem was that Gorelick and Justice Department attorneys concluded the evidence was only strong enough to charge James Douglas Nichols. But in a dramatic late-day session in the Strategic Information Operations Center on the fifth floor of FBI headquarters, Freeh listed on a yellow legal pad the facts supporting charges against both brothers and what was still needed.

By the next day, the FBI had the information, and Gorelick was convinced. The decision was so 11th-hour that the criminal complaint initially distributed to reporters in Michigan listed James Douglas Nichols as the sole defendant in the conspiracy and destructive device charges. Justice Department officials quickly corrected that slip, issuing the correct complaint that listed both brothers as defendants and accused them of conspiring to make and possess destructive devices.