Elections (or war) in Ukraine

Ukraine has never seen such an unusual election campaign; part of it – Crimea – is no longer Ukrainian; there are Russian tanks on its eastern frontiers, and separatism is rampant in the eastern regions.

Sorting out the opposition in Samara

People protesting against the Russian annexation of Crimea in the Russian city of Samara have been subjected to harassment and death threats from ultra-nationalist thugs – a sign of things to come?

The last camping ground

Russia’s oil goliaths have been devastating vast areas of natural landscape, and indigenous people’s lives, in their rush to extract the black gold that lies beneath. But a family of reindeer herders has taken them on.

Educating Orthodoxy

The Russian Orthodox Church has been expanding its educational activities to include not only seminaries but universities offering a wide range of courses. But if you’re a woman, don’t even think about wearing jeans to class.

The challenges for Ukraine’s presidential election

On Sunday 25 May, President Putin permitting, 36.5 million voters will go to the polls in Ukraine to vote for a successor to President Viktor Yanukovych, ousted after three months of protests, and over 100 dead

Crime without punishment

The Highway Code does little to protect Russian citizens, especially pedestrians. High-ranking officials or people with connections get away, sometimes literally, with murder in today’s Russia and there is no redress for them under the law.

Is Russia’s ‘foreign agent’ law illegal?

On 6 March the Russian Federation’s Constitutional Court began hearings on whether a law affecting thousands of NGOs is in fact unconstitutional. But many civil rights campaigners believe that whatever the outcome, it will be too late.

The three ages of Putinism

Two years ago, on 4 March 2012, Russians went to the polls to elect a new president, and returned Vladimir Putin for his third term in office. Since then he has been putting the finishing touches to his personal ideology.

TV Rain - the wrong question

A row over a viewer opinion poll has effectively silenced TV Rain, Russia’s most independent TV channel. A pity they asked the wrong question.

Crimea – from playground to battleground

Journalistic speculation about Crimea becoming independent is rife. However, the real dangers lie elsewhere…

The importance of not being a 'stan'

What’s in a name? President Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan was apparently in earnest when he recently suggested changing the name of ‘his’ country. If he gets his way, the domestic and international implications are very real.

Kazakhstan – the succession

President Nazarbayev has turned Kazakhstan into a Central Asian powerhouse. He is 73, and shows no sign of giving up the reins. But there are riches at stake, and people waiting in the wings.

The veterans out in the cold

In Russia, 23 February is celebrated as Defender of the Fatherland Day. But despite a law entitling them to decent housing, many World War Two veterans in Siberia have little to celebrate.

The myth of the black widow

Fears of terrorism surrounding the Sochi Olympics have seen much talk of ‘Black Widows’ and the 'Caucasus Emirate,' but do these headline-grabbing terms obscure the real nature and origins of terrorism in the North Caucasus? 

Rich cities and dying company towns

Russia’s unemployment figures look low, but they are rising, and there is a great gulf between the prosperous centre and failing regions.

Sochi Olympics – the dangers of rebranding

What does President Putin hope to gain from hosting the Winter Olympics? There is a grave danger that the messages behind the Kremlin’s rebranding exercise could boomerang against the government.

Return of the Empire

At the end of 2013 veteran US statesman Zbigniew Brzezinski, known for his fierce anti-Soviet stance, wrote in the Financial Times that Russia would find it impossible to revive its former empire. But how convincing are his arguments?

Maidan on wheels

Euromaidan in Ukraine has produced another protest movement – Automaidan.  It has picked up so much speed that the government is doing everything it can to put the brakes on…

Operation MBK

How does one explain Mikhail B. Khodorkovsky’s (MBK) unexpected release from prison? President Putin no longer sees him as a threat? President Putin is losing his grip? No, Operation MBK was a classic power play…

The heavyweight guide to Ukraine

Don't know your Klitschko from your Titushki? Can’t remember which oligarch is which? What or who is a ‘Maidan?’ With our heavyweight guide, you won’t have to buy the next round…

Putin’s political triumph - but economic impasse

Global attention is focused on Russia’s hosting of the Winter Olympics, a PR coup for President Putin. But all is not well on the economic front and the scenario the Russian government will probably choose going forward is unlikely to be much help.

The Siberian archipelago

There’s a popular misconception about Russian politics that ‘everything happens in Moscow.’ But sometimes it’s the capital that has to catch up with the regions (or with Siberia at least).

Now I'm a union man

In both Soviet and more recent times, Russia’s trade unions have tended to be an arm of the regime, but Grigory Tumanov argues that a growing independent movement is becoming a significant force in the country.

The one that didn’t get away

President Putin’s amnesty which has seen Pussy Riot’s Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova released, as well, perhaps, as the Greenpeace 30, is by no means extended to everyone. Young activist Taisiya Osipova also has a young child, but she remains locked up with no apparent chance of release, says Marc Bennetts

Nailing things down…

Pyotr Pavlensky is the performance artist who nailed his scrotum to the cobblestones of Red Square. Pained, the government reaction was to institute criminal proceedings against him. Yelena Kostyleva talked to Pavlensky the night before his first interrogation.

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