Grant Podelco is the editor in chief of RFE/RL's English-language website. He first joined RFE/RL in Prague in 1995 as a senior correspondent after working for many years as a writer and editor for daily newspapers in New York, Oregon, and Texas. He reported from Afghanistan in November 2002 to mark the one-year anniversary of the fall of the Taliban.
Also by Grant Podelco
October 29, 2021
Testing The 'Tsar Bomba': The World's Most Powerful Nuclear Bomb
The most powerful nuclear bomb in history went off on October 30, 1961, over the Arctic island of Novaya Zemlya. Developed in part by Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov, it was more than 2,000 times as powerful as the bomb dropped on Nagasaki in the final weeks of World War II.
May 24, 2021
The Russian Oil Industry's Toxic Secret
Russian oil companies have long claimed to recycle toxic drilling waste in line with environmental laws. But a new investigation by RFE/RL’s Russian Service reveals the systematic illegal disposal of this waste -- and how regulations are routinely flouted.
October 26, 2020
How The Russian Revolution Brought The Father Of The Helicopter To America
Aviation pioneer Igor Sikorsky was designing bombers for the Russian Empire when World War I broke out. Nowadays, the company he founded in the United States makes the "choppers" that transport U.S. presidents. This is the story of how the "father of the helicopter" crossed the Atlantic and made it
December 10, 2019
Why Are Russian Spy Planes In The Sky Over Washington?
Russian and NATO spy planes regularly fly over each other’s territories, photographing military equipment and monitoring where forces are located. It’s all done with representatives from the observed country on board under the Treaty On Open Skies. Signed in 1992, the treaty has served as a confidence-building measure, allowing 34 countries to conduct observation flights and share the collected data with other members, if requested. But it may soon join the list of dead agreements born out of the end of the Cold War.
November 27, 2019
No Joke: The List Of Countries Russia Is Accused Of Meddling In Is Long
Considering all the media attention, you could be forgiven for thinking that Russia's alleged attempts to influence elections is limited to the United States. But what about Spain, Madagascar, Bolivia, Italy, and Libya, to name a few?
July 08, 2019
Why The Soviet Union Never Landed On The Moon
The U.S.S.R. beat the U.S. to the punch in almost every category of space exploration. Except one. As the world marks the 50th anniversary of Neil Armstrong’s “giant leap for mankind,” we take a look back at the Soviet Union’s own efforts to land a man on the moon – and what went wrong.
September 15, 2014
HRW Says Disabled Children In Russia Face Violence, Isolation, Neglect
Human Rights Watch (HRW) has issued a new report in which it finds that nearly 30 percent of all children with disabilities in Russia live in state orphanages where they face violence, neglect, and isolation. HRW says that many children are needlessly removed from their parents, convinced by doctors that they are incapable of adequately caring for their offspring.
April 18, 2008
Aviation Pioneer Recognized For Parachute Jump From Edge Of Space
On August 16, 1960, U.S. Air Force Captain Joseph Kittinger stepped into a tiny gondola attached to a massive, helium-filled balloon and ascended to the edge of space -- more than 31 kilometers above the Earth. And then, believe it or not, he jumped.
June 05, 2007
Bush Says Missile Shield Aimed At 'True Threats,' Not Russia
PRAGUE, June 5, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- U.S. President George W. Bush said today in Prague that the "Cold War is over" and that Russia has nothing to fear from an antimissile system that Washington wants to set up in the Czech Republic and Poland.
July 18, 2005
Afghanistan: Race To Preserve Historic Minarets Of Herat, Jam
A UNESCO team worked closely with local experts to stabilize Herat's fifth minaret in 2003 Experts from the United Nations cultural agency, UNESCO, are back on the ground in western Afghanistan. They're working with local authorities on a $1 million project to preserve the crumbling, centuries-old minarets in Herat and Jam, which are in danger of collapse. Political instability had forced the teams to interrupt their work. This summer, however, their biggest challenge is not lack of security, but logistics. Massive rigging is needed to stabilize the tall towers, but the equipment is too heavy to transport by normal means. As RFE/RL reports, UNESCO is once again hoping to enlist the help of the U.S.-led military coalition in Afghanistan.
June 17, 2005
World: Solar-Sail Spacecraft Ready For Maiden Voyage
Solar-powered space lasers could someday shine a focused beam on huge lightweight sails, allowing a spacecraft to reach enormous speeds Early explorers such as Columbus and Magellan used ships to reach the New World. Next week, a sailing craft of a different sort is being launched -- not on the sea, but into space. On 21 June, in the Barents Sea, a Russian submarine is scheduled to launch a ballistic missile containing "Cosmos 1," the world's first solar-sail spacecraft. As RFE/RL reports, scientists see solar sailing as a feasible, efficient method that may someday be used to explore new worlds in our solar system, and beyond.
June 16, 2005
UN: World Refugee Day Shifts Focus From Politics To People
Many Uzbek refugees fled to Kyrgyzstan after the recent violence War. Hunger. Persecution. Ordinary people rarely have to face such challenges, but these grim realities define the daily existence of many of the world's 19 million refugees, asylum seekers, and stateless persons. That's why the UNHCR, the UN's refugee agency, has chosen "courage" as the theme for this year's World Refugee Day, on 20 June. In places such as Chechnya and Uzbekistan, courage is needed to flee war and deadly violence. In Iraq and Afghanistan, refugees must summon the courage to return, not knowing if life will be better than when they left.
June 08, 2005
U.S.: Ex-President Carter Joins Chorus Of Critics Who Want Guantanamo Closed
Former U.S. President Carter It's being called the "gulag of our times," a propaganda gift to America's enemies, and an embarrassment to the reputation of the United States. The U.S. military's detention center at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba houses more than 500 so-called "enemy combatants" -- most of them from Afghanistan. Human rights groups condemn the U.S. for holding detainees without charge and for using interrogation methods they say can be defined as torture. Now, public calls to close Guantanamo are gathering momentum. Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter -- an avid human rights campaigner -- is the latest influential voice to join the chorus of critics. But as RFE/RL reports, the Pentagon says the prison still serves a "vital purpose" in the war against terrorism.
May 25, 2005
Uzbekistan: President Begins Visit To China Carrying No Baggage From Andijon Crackdown
President Karimov (file photo) Uzbek President Islam Karimov has arrived in China to begin a three-day visit, his first trip abroad since the bloody crackdown on protesters in Andijon earlier this month. The violence is widely perceived to have isolated Uzbekistan diplomatically. That's true in the West, particularly in Europe. But Uzbekistan's two largest neighbors have been supportive of its actions. On the eve of Karimov's visit, Beijing announced that it "strongly" backs Uzbekistan's response to the events of 13 May. China is also expected to sign an oil deal with Tashkent. Russia, too, has been sympathetic.
May 25, 2005
World: Amnesty's Global Survey Condemns Governments For Human Rights Failures
The U.S. treatment of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, figures heavily in the Amnesty report Amnesty International says governments are failing to provide principled leadership in the quest for a world order based on respect for human rights. In its annual global survey, released today, the watchdog group says the global war against terrorism has been more effective in eroding human rights principles than in countering violence. The report singles out the United States for particularly harsh criticism. Amnesty says Washington "thumbed its nose at the rule of law" by not properly investigating reports of prisoner abuse at Iraq's Abu Ghurayb prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and at Bagram air base in Afghanistan. The poor human rights situations in Iran, Russia, Central Asia, and the Caucasus are also highlighted. But Amnesty says there were signs of hope in 2004, too.
May 17, 2005
Uzbekistan: Western Reaction Toughens To Andijon Killings, Crackdown
Western reaction to this week's bloodshed in Uzbekistan is intensifying after muffled criticism in the days immediately following the unrest. Britain is calling on the Uzbek government to provide international officials and journalists with immediate access to Andijon, the center of the unrest, where security forces are reported to have killed as many as 500 people. The United States says it is deeply disturbed by the reports coming from Uzbekistan and condemns the indiscriminate use of force against unarmed civilians.