You've probably never heard of Barvikha, Russia. It's a posh little village on the A105 out of Moscow. And it might soon be the new home of Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad.
The village hosts a luxury sanitarium popular with Russian presidents and top drawer nobs. It also serves as a refuge for several deposed bad guys, the type who understood when they absolutely had to get out of Dodge.
This improbable small town of villas and luxury boutiques, built around
the sanitarium, is home to half a dozen or so
deposed leaders and members of their families.
In its snowy tranquillity, it offers one strange, possible future for
the embattled president of Syria, Bashar al-Assad, as Western
governments have been pressuring Russia since the northern summer to
smooth his departure with an offer of asylum.
''The Russians have experience with getting heads of state out in the
nick of time,'' said Mark Katz, a professor of government and politics
at George Mason University in Virginia. ''They could be trying to signal
to Assad there is an offer, but the window of opportunity is not going
to remain open for a long time.''
Leaders' hurried packing and just-in-time flights to this place from
angry street crowds or the nearing sound of gunfire brought measures of
resolution to conflicts in the former Yugoslavia, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan