Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson

International correspondent Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson is based in Berlin and covers Central Europe for NPR. Her reports can be heard on NPR's award-winning programs including Morning Edition and All Things Considered.

She was previously based in Cairo and covered the Arab World for NPR from the Middle East to North Africa. Nelson returns to Egypt on occasion to cover the tumultuous transition to democracy there.

In 2006, Nelson opened the NPR Kabul Bureau. During the following three and a half years, she gave listeners in an in-depth sense of life inside Afghanistan, from the increase in suicide among women in a country that treats them as second class citizens to the growing interference of Iran and Pakistan in Afghan affairs. For her coverage of Afghanistan, she won a Peabody Award, Overseas Press Club Award and the Gracie in 2010. She received the Elijah Parish Lovejoy Award from Colby College in 2011 for her coverage in the Middle East and Afghanistan.

Nelson spent 20 years as newspaper reporter, including as Knight Ridder's Middle East Bureau Chief. While at the Los Angeles Times, she was sent on extended assignment to Iran and Afghanistan following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. She spent three years an editor and reporter for Newsday and was part of the team that won the 1997 Pulitzer Prize for covering the crash of TWA Flight 800.

A graduate of the University of Maryland, Nelson speaks Farsi, Dari and German.

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3:30am

Wed July 23, 2014
Middle East

As Gaza Fighting Rages, West Bank Palestinians Can Only Watch

Originally published on Wed July 23, 2014 12:31 pm

Palestinian Imad Abudayyah and his son, Ghassan, speak to relatives in the Gaza Strip via Skype from Ramallah in the West Bank. Israeli restrictions make it extremely difficult to travel between the two territories. West Bank Palestinians have largely been bystanders in the current round of fighting.
Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson NPR

At least three times a day, Imad Abudayyah, 49, fires up his laptop at the West Bank hotel where he's currently living with his 11-year-old son, Ghassan, to reach out to relatives in the Gaza Strip. Abudayyah says Skype is the only way they can see the family members they have left behind.

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2:11pm

Wed July 9, 2014
Europe

In Germany, A Case Against Another Alleged American Spy

Originally published on Wed July 9, 2014 8:39 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

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3:14am

Sun July 6, 2014
Parallels

Germany's Battle Over What May Be Its Last Lenin Statue

Originally published on Sun July 6, 2014 12:48 pm

A statue of Soviet founder Vladimir Lenin outside an apartment complex in Schwerin, Germany. Erected in 1985, four years before communism collapsed in East Germany, it's believed to be the last Lenin statue in Germany and the town is divided over whether it should stay. The inscription reads, "Decree on land," referring to a Lenin manifesto that said workers were the real owners of the land.
Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson NPR

It's easy to miss the controversial bronze statue. It stands in front of a Soviet-style, high-rise apartment in the East German city of Schwerin.

Far removed from the ornate city center, this 13-foot-tall depiction of Vladimir Lenin has him looking relaxed. His hands are tucked in his coat pockets and he's gazing off into the distance.

But an angry message is scrawled in red paint across the sidewalk at his feet. In German, it reads: "LENIN STAYS."

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3:39pm

Fri June 27, 2014
The Salt

Got Leftovers To Share? In Germany, There's A Website For That

Originally published on Wed July 2, 2014 8:46 am

Europeans throw away 90 million tons of food each year, including these vegetables pulled from waste bins of an organic supermarket in Berlin. A new German website aims to connect surplus food with people who want it.
Fabrizio Bensch Reuters /Landov

Child psychiatrist Vero Buschmann says she was looking for a way to get rid of leftovers without having to throw them away. At the same time, the Berlin resident wanted to meet new people.

She found a nonprofit website in Germany that allows her to do both. On a recent evening, her doorbell rings and she buzzes Franzi Zimmerman in to her fifth-floor apartment.

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2:44pm

Thu June 26, 2014
Sports

For German Fans In Berlin Beer Garden, National Pride Is No Problem

Originally published on Thu June 26, 2014 5:10 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Of course, today's match drew big crowds in both the United States and Germany. We first go to NPR Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson in Berlin, who joined scores of Germans at a beer garden to watch the game on three screens outside.

SORAYA SARHADDI NELSON, BYLINE: Most Germans are uncomfortable displaying national pride because they are sensitive about their country's notorious history. But they make an exception during World Cup season, and today, thousands of Berliners carried German flags.

(SOUNDBITE OF CROWD AT BEER GARDEN)

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5:47am

Sat May 24, 2014
Europe

Ultra-Nationalist Party Surges In Hungary

Originally published on Sat May 24, 2014 12:09 pm

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

And the far right is poised to do well in Hungary's EU election tomorrow. Candidates blame the EU for many of that country's problems. NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson reports from Budapest.

SORAYA SARHADDI NELSON, BYLINE: To many Hungarians, a half-finished World War II monument next to a popular fountain in downtown Budapest highlights the extremist tenor of politics in this former East Bloc country.

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3:05pm

Sun May 11, 2014
Europe

Eastern Ukraine Muddles Through Voting On Referendums

Separatists in the eastern Ukraine regions of Donetsk and Luhansk asked voters to take part in an unauthorized referendum Sunday on whether to make their region independent.

2:11pm

Fri May 9, 2014
Europe

On Victory Day, Fanfare In Crimea And Turmoil In Eastern Ukraine

Originally published on Fri May 9, 2014 6:45 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel. President Vladimir Putin travelled to Crimea today to mark the anniversary of Russia's victory in the Second World War. It was his first time there since the peninsula was annexed by Russia. His visit was criticized by the Ukrainian government and Washington, but Putin told Crimeans that by being together with Russia, they're stronger.

PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN: (Speaking foreign language)

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2:54pm

Thu May 8, 2014
Europe

Spurning Putin's Calls For Delay, Ukrainian Separatists Forge Ahead

Originally published on Thu May 8, 2014 5:49 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Robert Siegel.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block. In eastern Ukraine, pro-Russian separatists have decided to go ahead with Sunday's referendum on independence. That's despite Russian President Vladimir Putin urging them yesterday to postpone that vote. Here's the self-declared governor in the eastern region of Donetsk earlier today.

VALERY BOLOTOV: (Foreign language spoken)

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2:13pm

Fri May 2, 2014
Europe

Deaths And Downed Helicopters In Eastern Ukraine Offensive

Originally published on Sat May 3, 2014 9:17 am

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2:13pm

Thu May 1, 2014
Europe

For Separatists, Ballots Are On Their Way — But Plans Are Still Pending

Originally published on Thu May 1, 2014 6:32 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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2:00pm

Wed April 30, 2014
Europe

Ukraine's Acting President: We've Lost Control Of East

Originally published on Wed April 30, 2014 4:18 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Robert Siegel.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block. Ukraine's interim president says his military forces have lost control of the eastern part of the country. That declaration today came after masked separatists captured government offices in a key provincial capital. NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson is in the city of Donetsk in the east where separatists also wield control.

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2:04pm

Fri April 25, 2014
Europe

Heated Words On Air Often Don't Match Events On Ground In Ukraine

Originally published on Fri April 25, 2014 5:15 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish. The government in Kiev accused the Kremlin today of trying to start another world war. This comes as a team of unarmed military observers in Ukraine is said to have been detained by pro-Moscow militants. The group is made up of representatives from several European countries. They've been monitoring growing tensions in eastern Ukraine.

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2:16pm

Tue April 22, 2014
Europe

As Putin Rides Wave Of Popularity, Opposition May Get Swept Under

Originally published on Tue April 22, 2014 4:38 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

In Russia, President Vladimir Putin is enjoying unprecedented public support for his recent annexation of Crimea. His pledge to protect Russian, speaking citizens elsewhere in Ukraine, by military force if necessary, is also wildly popular. Putin is banking on that support as he moves to quash another perceived threat: His political opponents at home.

NPR Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson went to Moscow for that story.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Foreign language spoken)

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2:07pm

Thu April 17, 2014
News

Out Of A Tough Day Of Diplomacy, A Surprising Deal On Ukraine

Originally published on Thu April 17, 2014 6:06 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish.

A deal now that could possibly ease the tensions in eastern Ukraine. The U.S., Europe, Russia and Ukraine came to an agreement that calls on multinational monitors to oversee steps to restore order. The deal would likely delay any new sanctions against Russia. President Obama has already cast doubt on whether the Russian's will cooperate. NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson has more.

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2:17pm

Fri April 4, 2014
Europe

As Pressures Mount On Putin, Analysts Wonder What He Hopes To Gain

Originally published on Fri April 4, 2014 4:18 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

It's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Robert Siegel.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block.

U.S.-Russia relations have deteriorated since Russia's annexation of Crimea and there are still questions over Russian President Vladimir Putin's agenda in Ukraine and Eastern Europe. Targeted sanctions, political isolation and NATO's plans to beef up its presence in Eastern Europe haven't persuaded Putin to change course.

NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson has more from Moscow.

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1:29pm

Tue April 1, 2014
Parallels

Not An April Fools' Joke: Russians Petition To Get Alaska Back

Originally published on Tue April 1, 2014 2:35 pm

Russians in Moscow's Red Square hold banners reading, "Love You Crimea!" "Together For All Time" and "Obama, Think About Alaska!" during a March 18 rally celebrating the annexation of Crimea.
Sergei Ilnitsky EPA/Landov

President Vladimir Putin's annexation of Crimea is reigniting talk in Russia of taking back Alaska from the United States, which purchased the territory from a czar for $7.2 million nearly a century and a half ago.

Most of the talk is tongue-in-cheek, but it comes at a time of heightened sensitivity in the West over whether Russia is planning further incursions or land grabs.

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10:17am

Sun March 30, 2014
Europe

Caught Between Russia And Ukraine, Border Cities Share Only Worry

Originally published on Sun March 30, 2014 3:59 pm

Demonstrators carry a giant Russian flag through Kharkiv, Ukraine, earlier this month. The city's population is a blend of Ukranians and Russians, many of whom share families across the Russian border.
Sergey Kozlov AP

The deployment of tens of thousands of Russian troops along their country's western border with Ukraine worries the new government in Kiev and its Western allies, including President Obama.

In a phone call Friday, he asked Russian President Vladimir Putin to pull those forces back, a demand likely to be repeated by Secretary of State John Kerry when he meets with his Russian counterpart in Paris Sunday.

But people in the Russian border city of Belgorod, one of the places where troops have been gathering, say they can't understand why the U.S. is making such a fuss.

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1:32pm

Tue March 25, 2014
Parallels

With Ribbons, Russians Show Support For Takeover In Crimea

Russian lawmaker Leonid Slutsky wears a ribbon to show support for Russia's takeover of Crimea. The same symbol is used to mark the Soviet victory in WWII and dates back centuries.
Alexander Zemlianichenko AP

It's hard to keep up with the vast array of colored ribbons that convey causes around the world, especially when the same color has multiple meanings. Red ones, for example, represent AIDS awareness but also drunk driving prevention, among other things.

Last week, deputies in the Russian parliament, or Duma, adopted their own ribbon to signal approval for Russia's takeover of Crimea – ones with black and orange stripes.

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3:37am

Mon March 17, 2014
World

EU Rejects Crimean Vote, Weighs Sanctions Against Russia

Originally published on Mon March 17, 2014 4:19 pm

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And as Eleanor just told Renee, the government in Kiev says the world is with them, and not with Russia.

Let's bring in NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson into this conversation. She's in Berlin. She's been monitoring the European reaction to the vote in Crimea.

And, Soraya, as we mentioned, the EU, like the United States, threatening sanctions against Russia. EU foreign ministers are actually meeting today to draw some up and take a vote. What exactly are these sanctions?

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