Trying Times for Russia’s Nesting Dolls

Under the white walls and blue-and-gold cupolas of the Sergiyev Posad monastery, the row of vendors selling nesting dolls and other traditional Russian handicrafts is noticeably shorter this summer. Usually the cheap folding tables, set up in a double row outside the spiritual center of the Russian Orthodox Church, are surrounded by tourists snapping up the iconic egg-shaped souvenirs, made of smaller and smaller wooden dolls hidden one within the other. But on a recent Thursday afternoon, there were only about a dozen people looking to buy