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russia's ruffled economy has a few surprises - several industries and people aren't as bad off as economic analysts once predicted.

Meanwhile, law enforcement is trying to spring a surprise on suspects. Police agencies from Canada to China are sending up helicopters.

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In India, help to save towns arrives in another way. Author/activist Arundhati Roy is being called the Pablo Neruda of India. Her main concern is the ever-rising gap between modern urban India, and the vast poverty found in villages.

In Kosovo, Serbian Orthodox priests have turned into activists, sheltering Serbs They also have been firsthand witnesses to the decline of Serbian power in the region.

- Faye Bowers, Deputy world editor


*ON THE TRAIL: The Monitor's Bob Marquand tried to interview Arundhati Roy a year ago, when she marched in a nuclear rally in downtown New Delhi. But she had put a moratorium on all interviews because she thought the spotlight had turned her into a commercial enterprise. He told her that if she were going to write long essays against nuclear weapons, and march, she ought to be willing to speak. She said her essay spoke for her. In the end, Bob was glad she said no. When he went to the Nizamuddin train platform as the Narmada rally was leaving Delhi, he was struck with the number of young college grads who were traveling to the valley 400 miles away. Most said they were going because of Ms. Roy and her essay on big dams. She had clearly emerged as a larger social figure. After a long and dusty trip to the valley, Roy agreed to talk, saying enough time had elapsed since her book had come out, and it "felt like every little feeling I had put into 'The God of Small Things' [was being] traded for silver coin.... It is time to share more of what is behind the book, time to give back something."

*LOOKING BACK: When correspondent Scott Peterson last visited the Serbian Orthodox Patriarchate in Pec in 1996, he marveled at its flowering gardens and elbowed with tourists to buy some souvenirs: a booklet, a cassette tape of Serbian religious songs, and a packet of incense normally burned by priests in swinging censers. This time, the same mementos were available - stacks of cassette tapes competed for space on the table with cheap-looking cross necklaces - but the priest was giving out copies of the booklet for free, and there were no tourists in sight. "This time the tourists are in uniform," he said, pointing to the Italian NATO troops on guard to protect the monastery.

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