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About Daniil Kotsyubinsky

Daniil Kotsyubinsky is a Russian historian and journalist based in St. Petersburg

Articles by Daniil Kotsyubinsky

This week’s front page editor


Sunny Hundal is openDemocracy’s social media editor.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

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. на русском языке

Petersburg, the city with a split personality

Today’s Russia is like a huge ice floe — broken off from contemporary life and drifting further and further from Europe into a dank and gloomy past. St Petersburg, or ‘Peter’, epitomises this duality most of all.

The writing on the wall?

On Friday, a Russian news agency had its publishing licence revoked, supposedly for publishing two ‘profane’ Youtube clips. For Daniil Kotsyubinsky, however, the episode was but the latest example of a 'summary execution' — intended as a warning to any would-be political independents.

Has punitive psychiatry returned to Russia?

Harsh sentences have been meted out to Russians who took part in last year’s political demonstrations on Bolotnaya Square. But possibly none more chilling that the compulsory treatment in a mental hospital ordained recently for Mikhail Kosenko. Our regular contributor, Daniil Kotsyubinsky, discussed the matter with his psychiatrist father.

Messiah or false prophet?

For the past month, Moscow has been following the fortunes of opposition leader Aleksey Navalny — trial, imprisonment, implausible release and continuing Mayoral ambitions. But can all really be as it seems? Daniil Kotsyubinsky presents an alternative view.

Cloak and Dagger Inc.

Anything concealed from citizens, which also has absolute power over them, may be legal, but is not lawful. Do democratic states really need the secret services? 

Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown

At the end of June Prince Michael of Kent attended a retro aircraft festival organized by The Air Squadron in Ukraine. The Russian press always followed such events with adulation, but this event was hardly covered and the media have clearly decided that he is unworthy of their attention. Why?

The alpha tragedy of the beta male

The announcement of the Putin divorce was unexpected and unprecedented for a Russian leader. What made him decide to do it now, when the marriage apparently broke down years ago? Was it an act of alpha courage or a politically disastrous beta move? Daniil Kotsyubinsky looks at the ramifications.

Full steam backwards

Repressive laws, socialist icons, and the promotion of Eurasian identity amount to a regression to the Soviet past, says Daniil Kotsyubinsky. Russian society has moved on, however, and the Kremlin will have to tread very carefully to avoid an explosion of protest. 

Suffer the little children…

A new Russian law banning US adoptions has been roundly criticised at home and abroad; a toddler’s unexplained death has been held up as justification. For Daniil Kotsyubinsky, it is all a case of history repeating: Russia’s past is full of tragic cases where children have become innocent victims.

Is Putin afraid of the Caucasus?

Russian lawmakers have given preliminary approval to a law to allow governors to be appointed in the country’s 83 regions, reversing last year’s move to restore direct elections. As Daniil Kotsyubinsky reports, this issue is unimportant in itself, but it exposes the regime’s soft underbelly, unrest in the Caucasus.

Russia's 2013: Macbeth, or the Comedy of Errors?

2012 started in a huge upsurge of opposition activity: street protests, marches, arrests and imprisonments. A year later the scene is much calmer. Daniil Kotsyubinsky considers the future for the opposition, and does not find what he sees particularly encouraging

What is behind the mask of revolution? Global separatism in the Russian context

Across the world, a youthful flame of revolution has engulfed leaders, governments and the very notion of modern Westphalian order. In an extended essay, Daniil Kotsyubinsky wonders if the logical next phase of history is regionalism, and starting with his own native Russia. 

Vladimir Putin’s ever-decreasing circle of friends

President Putin’s popularity has been dented by the open opposition of two celebrities, hitherto ardent supporters: Lyudmila Narusova and Kseniya Sobchak, respectively widow and daughter of his former political mentor, Anatolii Sobchak. A real stab in the back and evidence that things are hotting up, thinks Daniil Kotsyubinsky.

Russian politics: is Kudrin the cure for Putin’s ‘tandem malaise’?

Are we witnessing the death throes of Russia’s ruling tandem? Since last September, when their (apparently) joint decision to swap posts was announced, speculation has been rife about who President Putin’s next prime minister will be. He made a public promise to Medvedev, but now another infinitely more acceptable candidate is positioning himself for the job, says Daniil Kotsyubinsky

Is Alexei Navalny sent to spoil the democratic party?

Navalny’s campaigns against corruption and his clever campaigning have won him a central role in the protests against Putin. But Navalny has also many critics. In his controversial article Daniil Kotsyubinsky, who saw how Navalny’s nationalism ruined a previous protest wave, wonders whether his programme might not end up destroying the democratic movement.

Why Putin still has a lot to learn from Machiavelli

The catcalls that greeted Vladimir Putin when he appeared at a sports event in Moscow show that for many Russians, the once fearsome leader has been turned into a largely ludicrous and contemptible figure. For Daniil Kotsyubinsky, the blame for such a damaging collapse can be placed firmly at the feet of Team Putin itself. Their strategy of creating a loveable character out of the old steel grey Putin ignored all the lessons of authoritarian master, Niccolo Machiavelli, and left the leader open to ridicule.

Secret mice and liberal hallucinations (or why the fatherland and freedom are strategically incompatible)

The liberals' reaction to President Medvedev’s voluntary political suicide might well be described as ‘gloating disillusion.' For Daniil Kotsyubinsky, the surprising thing was some believed democratic evolution was a real possibility.

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