Russia’s Wild Fantasies of an All-Powerful State Department
September 17, 2012
When journalist Arkady Mamontov aired his television exposé on Pussy Riot last week, the central question was who was behind their riotous performance? Mamontov’s investigation yielded two culprits: oligarch-in-exile Boris Berezovsky, and “some Americans” who hired Pussy Riot and choreographed their act in order to corrupt the souls of Russian youth. Mamontov didn’t need to spell out who those Americans were; everyone watching got the message anyway.
The Blunt Weapon of Russian Law is Turned Against One of its Makers
September 14, 2012
Today, the Russian parliament voted 291 to 150 to strip one Gennady Gudkov of his seat. Gudkov, a former KGB man and businessman, has served in the Duma, the Russian parliament, for eleven years, most of them in the leftist Just Russia party.
Putin Flies with Birds, Jumps the Shark
September 06, 2012
MOSCOW—Last summer, Russian president Vladimir Putin, who was then still technically prime minister, put on a wetsuit and diving gear, and dove into the Black Sea, where he stumbled upon an ancient urn. It was the beginning of the end for Putin, image-wise. His previous stunts—personally putting out forest fires, tagging whales with a crossbow—were ridiculous, yes, but his deep sea discovery smacked especially of a light insanity. It didn’t help when Putin’s press secretary flippantly admitted the obvious: The urn had been planted.
How to Tell If You’re an American Spy in Russia: Ask Hillary Clinton
September 04, 2012
On July 26, the heads of two of the most famous human rights groups in Russia sent President Barack Obama an open letter with a pressing issue: were they, or were they not his spies? It was a strange move, but also quite a clever one. In May, in the last week of its session, the Russian parliament kicked into overdrive and passed a raft of measures widely seen as trying to pull the rug out from under the increasingly vocal and increasingly numerous opposition.
Pussy Riot? More Like Pussy War
August 30, 2012
MOSCOW—Yesterday afternoon, two women—a mother and her 38-year-old daughter—were found stabbed to death in the southeastern city of Kazan. By the time the news reached Moscow this morning, it arrived with a new bit of information: someone had scrawled “Free Pussy Riot” on the hallway wall. In blood. It’s not clear who did this—or, more significantly, why—but two weeks after the three young women of Pussy Riot were sentenced to two years in jail for singing a “punk prayer” in the main church of the capital, the story continues to roil Russian society.
Vladimir Putin’s Favorite Bling: A Definitive List
August 28, 2012
Today, Boris Nemtsov, a former deputy prime minister under Boris Yeltsin and veteran opposition leader under Vladimir Putin, and journalist Leonid Martynyuk did something that all journalists hate to do: report out the super-obvious but extremely succulent story. For about as long as anyone can remember, on-again, off-again president Putin has been rumored to be one of the richest men not only in Russia, but in the world. In 2007, one British journalist estimated his fortune was some $40 billion, about $39,999,900,000 more than Putin makes officially.
How Three Young Punks Made Putin Blink
August 17, 2012
When the members of Pussy Riot heard their two-year prison sentence, they laughed.
Pussy Riot v. Putin: A Front Row Seat at a Russian Dark Comedy
August 06, 2012
On the morning of February 21, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina, and Ekaterina Samutsevich walked up the steps leading to the altar of Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Savior, shed their winter clothing, pulled colorful winter hats down over their faces, and jumped around punching and kicking for about thirty seconds. By evening, the three young women had turned it into a music video called “Punk Prayer: Holy Mother, Chase Putin Away!” which mocked the patriarch and Putin.
August 02, 2012
IT’S A BREEZY Moscow night, and Maria Baronova has moved on from tea and tom-yam to prosecco. Sitting on the terrace of a bar overlooking the Moscow River, she fishes around in her messy leather purse and shows me the court document charging her with inciting mass riots. “As you can see, I’m the organizer of an intergalactic revolution,” she scoffs and lights another menthol cigarette.
On Monday afternoon, Italian premier Mario Monti and Russian president Vladimir Putin convened a small press conference in the slanting, gold light coming off the Black Sea. They had just met to discuss the European economic crisis as well as energy (Italy is Russia’s second biggest gas client), but they also touched on the deepening conflict in Syria. “We do not want the situation to develop along the lines of a bloody civil war and for it to continue for who knows how many years, like in Afghanistan,” Putin said, standing with his perfect posture in a slate-gray summer suit.