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About Elena

Elena Strelnikova is a journalist based in Orenburg (Southern Russia)

Articles by Elena

This week’s front page editor


Francesc Badia i Dalmases is Editor and Director of democraciaAbierta.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

Orenburg shawls: a classic of Russian folk art

Gossamer or spider web shawls have been knitted in Orenburg for generations. The tradition nearly disappeared, but folk crafts are in the ascendant again — there is money to be made from them, after all, says Elena Strelnikova

Orenburg 2013: ring out the old, ring in the new!

Regional journalist Elena Strelnikova takes a wry look at some of the events of the departing year. 


On the river: a Russian holiday diary

Holidays by the sea in Turkey or Egypt are beginning to lose their appeal to ordinary Russians, and they’re no longer that cheap either. This summer, Elena Strelnikova joined many of her compatriots in looking nearer to home for rest and relaxation.

Orenburg: East or West? Home is best!

Orenburg is typical of many provinicial Russian towns in that the government does what it wants, while the people try to make ends meet. Despite the rising prices, few Orenburgers see the point in talking about the endemic corruption that surrounds them. For them, it's the bigger issues, such as education and the family, which count, says Elena Strelnikova

Russian provincial life: to be or not to be…single

It’s an age-old adage that things always look greener on the other side of the fence and this is particularly true of married women looking at single women’s life and vice versa. Elena Strelnikova gives a wry account of the problems encountered by single women in the Orenburg Region, where she lives

Russian regions: doing porridge

Life for ex-prisoners is not easy in any country in the world, but there are so few opportunities in provincial Russia that it is hardly surprising a high percentage of the prison population in the Orenburg region are habitual re-offenders, says Elena Strelnikova

Russian provincial life: down on the farm

In any country farming is a hard life, but in Russia the mass exodus to the cities of people of working age has had catastrophic results. Local authority programmes go someway to reversing the flow, but not enough. For many town dwellers the country is only for holidays, says Elena Strelnikova

Russian provincial media: what price freedom?

The degree of press freedom in Russia has fluctuated violently over the 20 years since the fall of communism. The situation in the Orenburg region, as everywhere, is a balancing act between principles and funding. And it’s always more difficult to rebuild what has been lost, laments Elena Strelnikova.

"Jacks-in-the-box": Orenburg’s migrant workers

Bordering Kazakhstan, Orenburg is a first destination for migrant workers from post-Soviet Central Asia. In her latest letter from the Russian Provinces, Elena Strelnikova considers the pluses and minuses of the visitors and how they integrate — or not — into the local society

Elena Strelnikova

I'm almost 90 years of age! But, my god, don't I look well!? The wonders of modern medicine! How marvellous there's no more heart disease, cancer, and HIV. And how beautiful, happy everyone is... If you'd have said this to someone living in Russia forty years ago — how Russians would be full of serenity and love — you'd have written them off as crazy. Looking forward to my next forty years!

Keeping the Cossack legend alive - agreed?

The Cossacks have played an important part at various times in Russian history. Now their ranks are diluted by intermarriage and the admission of non-Cossacks. Elena Strelnikova ponders the attempts to keep Cossack traditions alive in Orenburg, South Russia.

Pioneers, Lenin and the gingerbread men: letter from Orenburg

Over the last 20 years the teaching of history has changed dramatically in Russia. Today’s children seem not to know or care very much about their country’s past. Elena Strelnikova wonders how well they are being taught in school.

Mangoes can’t buy you love: letter from Orenburg

External factors like the Internet, post-Soviet economic upheaval and the availability of exotic fruit have given young Russians a different system of values and approach to life. Mother of three Elena Strelnikova gives a wry overview of parenting in provincial Russia.

Russian regional elections: business as usual

Voting at the recent local elections in Orenburg Oblast was listless and perfunctory. Voters don’t know the candidates, who in their turn make no attempt to remedy the situation, so why should people turn out to vote for them? Elena Strelnikova tries to make sense of the election process

Laid low by the heat

The Russian heat wave has been going on for weeks. From her dacha Elena Strelnikova gives a wry account of officials on freebies, water shortages and the catastrophic effects of the lasting heat on fruit, crops, milk yields and life in the Orenburg Region in general.

Summer days at the dacha

In theory, Russians can holiday abroad these days. In practice, most can't afford it. Still, there are the pleasures of summer days at the dacha. But what with falling water levels and paying beaches, things aren't what they used to be. It's hard work too, growing vegetables, grumbles Elena Strelnikova

Teaching History in Orenburg

Against a backdrop of an ever increasing politization of the Soviet past, journalist Elena Strelnikova returned to her old classroom. Her fly-on-the-wall account shows the contentious debates played through the eyes of 14-year-olds.

Drug crisis on Russia’s borders

Russia’s drugs problem has reached crisis point in Orenburg Region. It borders on Central Asia and is used as a transit point. Government measures against trafficking and addiction are hampered by lack of money and official attitudes

Perm blaze sets Russia alight

The recent catastrophic fire at the Lame Horse nightclub in Perm grabbed national headlines. Local authorities all over Russia are suddenly having to get their act together, says Elena Strelnikova

Panicking about swine flu in Orenburg

The region is gripped by swine flu panic, much of it orchestrated, in the opinion of Elena Strelnikova. But every cloud has a silver lining – we’re all having unscheduled holidays
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