This week's editor

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Adam Ramsay is co-editor of OurKingdom.

Debates and articles from across the openDemocracy website that discuss or are relevant to Russia & Eurasia

The new Russian power bloc

A quarter century after Mikhail Gorbachev supervised the collapse of Europe’s cold-war division, a world of new dividing lines is emerging—with Vladimir Putin playing an active part in inscribing them.

Crimea's referendum: four dangers

The planned vote to transfer Crimea from Ukraine to Russia will plant the seeds of greater conflict in the peninsula.

Ukraine's crisis, the west's trap

The dangerous stand-off with Russia over Ukraine is also a display of the west's skewed perceptions and moral vanities.   

Kleptocracy: final stage of Soviet-style socialism

The tumult in Ukraine marks a wider crisis of the corrupt post-Soviet model. The impact will be felt most acutely in Russia itself, says Krzysztof Bobinski.

An Armenian perspective on Khojali

Many civilians were killed in the war between the newly independent states of Armenia and Azerbaijan in the early 1990s. But the disputed period raises larger questions of common suffering, says Gerard Libaridian, adviser to Armenia's president at the time, who reflects on one incident that casts a long shadow.

Why does Putin fear Maidan?

The popular upheaval in Ukraine reveals how the Kremlin thinks, says Carmen Claudín.

Sochi = Syria: boycott the Olympics

The crimes of Bashar al-Assad's regime and its support by Vladimir Putin demand an answer, says Martin Shaw.

A tipping point for Mongolia's democracy?

Sandwiched between the giants of Russia and China, Mongolia is looking to develop its vast mineral wealth. How will this affect one of the most stable democracies in the region, and what will happen to the benefits of development?

Sergey Dvortsevoy, Talented Ripple Master

Sergei Dvortsevoy’s films may have won plaudits internationally, but his uncompromising observational style and ethical stance keep them out of the multiplexes in Russia. Zygmunt Dzieciolowski interviewed this extraordinary director. 

Goodbye Lenin: Tajikistan's new historical narrative

THE CEELBAS DEBATE // Since the collapse of the USSR the Tajik government has striven to establish a new historical narrative. Statues of Lenin may have disappeared, but for many the difficulties of post-Soviet life are a poor substitute for their previous life, says Eleanor Dalgleish

The tale of Boris and Vlad

The death of Boris Berezovsky created a storm of speculation and reminiscences in the world press.  But for most Russians Berezovsky was a forgotten figure, so why the explosion of interest there too? Because it’s a classic Russian fable, thinks Zygmunt Dzieciolowski 

 

Civil society in post-Soviet Europe: seven rules for donors

The west's contribution to building more democratic and open societies in the post-Soviet region leaves much scope for improvement. Orysia Lutsevych draws lessons and offers recommendations to both public and private donors.

Decision time for Central Asia: Russia or China?

Vladimir Putin’s attempts to draw the countries of central Asia into his fledgling Eurasian Union creates a dilemma for some of them: if they take up his offer, they might lose their valuable trading links with China. Li Lifan and Raffaello Pantucci discuss their options.

The fable of the eagle, the dragon and the bear

How will Russia react to China’s rapid ascent as a global power? Will it develop its eastern links to spite the West, or join a USA led attempt to freeze Beijing out? Pavel Salin argues that this is a simplistic view of things and that Moscow may choose a third way.   

An investment wonderland? Reality checks

Since the collapse of the USSR investors have flocked to Russia, tempted by the high rates of return and the Alice in Wonderland atmosphere in Moscow, where everything seems possible. But the Russian business community has rather less faith in the future promised them by their government, says Pavel Usanov

Russian consumerism: market boom chaos

The collapse of the USSR replaced the perennial shortages of goods and services with the problem of low incomes and rising prices. Today management is grossly inefficient, but rampant corruption blocks any moves to improve the situation. People complain, but they still vote as they’re told at elections, says Vladimir Gryaznyevich

Russia: an Oprichnik economy

Owning a business in Russia today is a hazardous affair: each year thousands of companies close after their owners are accused of ‘economic crimes’ and face either prison or protection payments to government officials. Andrey Zaostrovtsev describes a system reminiscent of an equally lawless period in Russia’s past (photo: RIA Novosti Agency).

Whatever happened to Russia’s economic miracle?

The first eight years of the last decade were incredibly successful for Russia’s economy, but the crisis of 2008 hit hard and growth remains decidedly sluggish. Dmitry Travin wonders whether the country’s economy will ever be able to regain the Midas touch.

Scenes from an uprising: the Kopeysk revolt

A mutiny at a prison camp in the Chelyabinsk region of central Russia has just shaken the country. Olesya Gerasimenko is one of the few journalists whom its director allowed into the penal zone, and to date the only one to interview him.

Believing in tears: a snapshot of new Russian documentary cinema

The Sixth London Russian Film Festival, which took place in London earlier this month, introduced 11 new feature films and 7 documentaries to the British public. Masha Karp went to watch the documentaries, hoping to see a true picture of Russia today.

Russia paralysed by pragmatism

Officially, the Russian government is above politics. While this stance worked well during the boom years, since the financial crisis it has been paralysing government. Reform is urgently needed. But how can these be pushed through without recourse to politics? Russia’s non-political period is drawing to a close, Dmitry Butrin reckons.

Bidzina Ivanishvili and the new-old Georgia

The election victory of Bidzina Ivanishvili has reconfigured Georgia's political landscape, dominated by Mikheil Saakashvili since the "Rose Revolution" of 2003. But there are already concerns over what the billionaire leader is doing with his power, says Donald Rayfield.

Russia, land of slaves

Last month, a number of slave migrant workers were discovered in the cellar of a Moscow store. It was, alas, just one example of a much a wider practice exploiting vulnerable groups across the country. In a special oDRussia investigation, Grigory Tumanov reports on the worrying prevalence of modern-day enslavement within Russia.

Shoigu gets his epaulettes

Traditionally, Soviet and Russian Defence Ministers have carried the military rank of General. Anatoly Serdyukov, recently dismissed by President Putin, was an exception, and his civilian status reflected a desire to make the MOD more subject to political control. Aleksandr Golts discusses the implications of his successor Sergei Shoigu once again accepting his General’s epaulettes (photo: RIA NOVOSTI AGENCY).

Change put on hold in Nazarbayev’s Kazakhstan

President Nazarbayev has been head of state in Kazakhstan for 23 years (before, and since, independence in 1991). The 2011 election effectively confirmed his life tenure, which has put the country into a state of suspended animation and stagnation. Change will have to wait, says Luca Anceschi

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