only search

About Susan Richards

Susan Richards is a non-executive director and founder of openDemocracy.

She has produced a number of feature films and written a prize-winning book, Epics of Everyday Life, about the lives of ordinary Russians in the transition from communism. Lost & Found in Russia, Encounters in the Deep Heartland, which covers the period 1992-2008, was published by IB Tauris in May 2009.

Articles by Susan Richards

This week’s front page editor


Francesc Badia i Dalmases is Editor and Director of democraciaAbierta.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

Putin Country

As authoritarian control and renewed superpower tension dominate headlines, telling stories of Russia’s everyday heroes can reveal lost alternatives.

The motivation of the Boston Bombers

The background of the Tsarnaev family must provide some clues to the Boston bombing.

Has Russia abandoned Dagestan?

Police corruption has reached epic levels in the Russian republic of Dagestan. The men in charge with tackling the issue felt they had no option but to go public, but their actions have been met with a deafening silence from Moscow, says Susan Richards

A good infection – remembering Bookaid

Against the backdrop of Soviet disintegration, a grassroots campaign was launched from Britain to send hundreds of thousands of books to libraries across Russia and its ex-colonies. As Bookaid celebrates its twentieth anniversary, two of its organisers, Susan Richards and Ekaterina Genieva, consider a venture that still has resonance today – the struggle to establish civil society across the territory of the old Soviet empire. 

On the eve of collapse: encounters in a changing Russia

Next week marks the twentieth anniversary of the August 1991 coup attempt. While this proved a dramatic final nail in the Soviet coffin, many more fundamental changes — the breaking down of information walls and the dissipation of fear — occurred in the months and years leading up to then. Susan Richards, oD Russia’s founder editor, spent much of this time traveling around Russia, talking to ordinary Russians about their lives. We reproduce two accounts here.

An improbable team

It took an unlikely combination of talents to start building openDemocracy’s Tower of Babel, comments one of its founders

Russia's security services: back in charge, out of control

Russia’s security apparatus is back in charge — as powerful, and with less holding it back than ever before. Susan Richards reflects on Wikileaks and reviews a fascinating account of Russia's unofficial second state

Tolstoy: a life too large

What else could possibly be written about Tolstoy? Before reading Rosamund Bartlett’s new biography, Susan Richards did wonder. But the fall of Soviet power has revealed material which allows us to appreciate how vividly his legacy has lived on and how relevant it remains today

Liberating Pushkin

Russia’s greatest poet Alexander Pushkin is notoriously hard for non-Russian speakers to appreciate. So Susan Richards welcomes a concise new biography of the poet by his translator Robert Chandler which strips the varnish off

Russia's drugs problem: blame the West

Why is Russia resisting international help with its spiralling drugs problem, asks Susan Richards? While the Kremlin's rhetoric reveals a profound insecurity, its policies are failing to deal effectively with the situation

Lost and Found in Russia III: My Dream House

The final excerpt of openDemocracy Russia editor Susan Richards' book Lost and Found in Russia follows Natasha and Igor to Crimea. Seven years have passed since the author last saw them in Siberia.

Lost and Found in Russia 2: Building Heaven or Hell

This second excerpt from Susan Richards' book Lost and Found in Russia follows the same characters, Natasha and Igor, to Siberia four years later, in 1997. What is it in Natasha's past that haunts her, pursuing her across Russia? A very odd clue emerges. 

Meet Susan Richards in conversation with author and scholar Anatol Lieven, Thursday 2 July, 7pm, The Crown Tavern, Clerkenwell Green, London

30 places remaining. Please email to book a place.


Lost and Found in Russia: a visit to Marx

The first of three excerpts from a new book by openDemocracy Russia editor Susan Richards. Lost and Found in Russia tells the story of post-communist years through the lives of a group of idealistic young people in the heartland.

Meet Susan Richards in conversation with author and scholar Anatol Lieven, Thursday 2 July, 7pm, The Crown Tavern, Clerkenwell Green, London

30 places remaining. Please email to book a place.



Russians don’t much like the West

Russian public opinion has fallen out of love with the Western model of liberal democracy, a new study suggests

Georgia's Byzantine politics

The sacking of the French-born foreign minister has opened a new phase in Georgia’s troubled post-rose-revolution history. In Tbilisi, Susan Richards assesses the challenge facing a defiant Salome Zurabishvili.

Chechnya and Iraq: imperial echoes, militant warnings

Military occupation, armed resistance, pervasive insecurity, the hunger for religious certainty, a compliant media and oil. The parallels between Russia’s war in Chechnya and America’s in Iraq are uncomfortably close. Will either ‘imperial’ power heed the warning they present?

The World's Fair

A new world is also a new way of seeing. The World Social Forum, warmed by the electoral success of Brazil's new president and infused by the energies of its global citizenry, offered openDemocracy confirmation that shifts of power and perspective go together. For Susan Richards, it all came together at Porto Alegre. 

More trouble in paradise

To the outside world, the bomb blast that hit the Mombasa Paradise Hotel on 28 November was the latest strike in al-Qaida’s “war” on Western targets. The local perspective is different. For the indigenous population of the Kenyan coastal region of Msumarini and the neighbouring villages of the Kilifi district, the bomb was just the latest calamity in the region’s downward spiral into poverty and banditry. Before the bombing, a recent Kenyan poll voted the Kilifi district as the third most likely in the country to erupt in violence.

Defending the Palace of Western Culture

The disastrous climax to the Chechen assault on a Moscow theatre inevitably recalls the tragedy of Manhattan. The phlegmatic reaction of ordinary Russians reveals not just a different emotional register, but a nationalist trigger-instinct that carries great dangers. Will this at least unite America and Russia? The managing editor of openDemocracy calls her Moscow friends, listens, argues – and warns.

The discussion

openDemocracy’s public meeting on 7 March 2002 at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London addressed the theme of ‘Women, Islam and Modernity’. Here is the audience discussion that ensued.

Responses on the night

During openDemocracy’s public meeting on 7 March 2002 at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London which addressed the theme of ‘Women, Islam and Modernity’, we asked the audience to suggest one positive thing that could be done to advance the dialogue between Muslim and non-Muslim women, or to register their comments. Read their accounts.

Russia changing

The impoverishment, corruption and violence of Russia’s first post-Soviet decade reinforced the fatalism in people’s hearts. In a recent visit to Moscow and Saratov, openDemocracy’s senior editor senses a shift. Political stability, modestly growing businesses, the respect of the West, and a leader who doesn’t shame people, are some ingredients of the mood. The inner change, palpable if not yet widely rooted, says: we can embrace the future and still be Russians.

Being open to surprise

The common, consoling wisdoms are already encrusting around 11 September and its aftermath. We need to return imaginatively to the surprise we felt that day, and learn its lessons.

History will not stop for Europe

In 2001, a series of profound changes were underway within the European Union. The same was true then as now: Europe needs a new argument.

History will not stop for Europe

The Euro is coming. Enlargement beckons. Institutions and people are on the move across the continent. Cultures and identities are in flux. From Athens to Helsinki, Europe must imagine its future into shape - or be trampled in the rush.
Syndicate content