The break-up of the Soviet Union made foreign travel for Russians much easier, except, paradoxically, over the internal Soviet borders that previously required no passports or visas. The border guards that now patrol these crossings have too little to do and often turn to extortion in an attempt to increase their modest salaries - recounts Mikhail Loginov.
President Putin’s first 100 days have been quite dramatic, with protests becoming edgier and draconian laws being introduced in response. It might be said that events in Russia are developing along the lines of Milos Forman's great film, says Dmitri Travin
Think of your local
Indian, South African, Mexican or Russian investor looking for guaranteed
profits; pool them all together and you could have community of millions to
leverage for demanding transparency in the extractive industries. It would be hard for their respective
governments and companies to ignore the calls of seven million shareholders who
have investments in the firms.
Marina Akhmedova spent four days in the company of drug users in Yekaterinburg, central Russia, and was met with a picture of desperation, punctured by love, humanity and misplaced hope. oDRussia is proud to reproduce Akhmedova’s harrowing piece
of reportage journalism — perhaps unwisely, now banned in Russia.
Many democratically-minded Russians have seized upon the recent re-criminalisation of defamation as an further example of Russia’s regression during Putin’s third term. They miss the point, argues Poel Karp: Russia does need a law on defamation, but that law needs to apply to everyone, including those who hold office.
When twelve-year-old Lyosha tried to escape a children’s home to return to his family, he was sent to a psychiatric hospital — an abuse of psychiatry immediately reminiscent of Soviet days. Lyosha was eventually saved only by the investigative curiosity of local journalists, Aleksandr Koltsov and Ksenia Turchak. Alarmingly, they themselves are now the subject of a criminal investigation.
Russia’s attitude to events in Syria and her stated determination to respect the viewpoints of both sides in that conflict is a cause for concern and reflection. It is, however, no more than another manifestation of President Putin’s aversion to the idea of any independence, for either his allies or his own citizens, says Maxim Trudolyubov
The Republic of Tatarstan is spending some of its not inconsiderable oil and gas revenues on restoring the ruined capital of an 8th century civilisation. This project may play well to the sense of Tatar identity, but it has many critics, recounts Maxim Edwards
Last month a small village in Kirov region became the unlikely location of serious interethnic violence. More than 100 people took part in a mass brawl, shots were fired and the governor of Kirov region, Nikita Belykh, was compelled to fly in by helicopter. Local correspondent Ekaterina Loushnikova, who made the 350 mile trip by more modest means, uncovers the roots of the conflict.
The murder of the lawyer Sergei
Magnitsky in 2009 looks likely to trigger legislation in the United States
which strikes at the heart of Russia’s corrupt elite. Bill Browder, founder of the
Hermitage Fund, moving spirit behind the impending Magnitsky Act, tells the
Georgia’s politicians are hypersensitive to charges of
collusion with Russia, the old imperial power. President Saakashvili denounces
opposition figures for being tools of the Kremlin. But the record suggests that
he might himself be vulnerable to the same charge, says Vladimer Papava
Russia’s police are starting to use unmanned drones much more often for monitoring street protest rallies, Irina Borogan and Andrei Soldatov report. This sinister development has the complete support of President Putin.
Soon after the fall of communism, Ayshat (not her real name) was kidnapped by a stranger who wanted to marry her. Such kidnaps are not unusual in ultra-conservative Ingushetia, or in any of the North Caucasus republics. What is rare is Ayshat’s courage in speaking out. She tells the story of her violent marriage, breaking silence in the hope of persuading other women to resist abuse.
Three years ago the indomitable Natalya Estemirova was murdered in Chechnya. Her killers remain at large, and arbitrary executions of oppositional figures have remained a tool of power across the North Caucasus. Here, Tatyana Lokshina, Alexander Cherkasov and Igor Kalyapin, three of Russia’s leading human rights defenders review a deteriorating situation, and how address it
women face fresh constraints, new rules and increased violence sanctioned from
above. At home, they are subject to unwritten codes that systematically disenfranchise
them. They must brave all this to enforce their rights under the Russian constitution.
Beyond that, there is only the European Court of Human Rights.
In Chechnya, the warfare that rumbled on between 1994 and 2009 has been turned against the republic’s women. The most public aspect of this campaign is the progressive imposition of a so-called ‘Islamic’ dress code. Lisa Kazbekova charts its course, enquires why it is happening, and how Chechnya’s men and women are responding
Taisa wanted to be a singer, but ended up becoming a victim of one of Russia's most patriarchal and violent societies. oDRussia continues its series of 'stories you weren't meant to hear' with a harrowing narrative from Chechnya.
Young women in Kabardino-Balkaria must resort to lies and stratagems to navigate a society governed by man-made rules and double standards. In this excerpt from an unpublished novel, Marina Marshenkulova reveals through fiction the reality she cannot describe as a journalist.
In Dagestan, where government forces are pitched against insurgents, and the official priesthood against the Salafites, the third front concerns women. Marina Akhmedova reports from the region on the totemic role of the hijab in these events.
Why are the freedoms
of women in Chechnya, Ingushetia and Dagestan so constrained? Is Islam to
blame? Is it a consequence of war in the region, or of poverty? Or do the
reasons lie elsewhere? These questions form the basis of a new series on openDemocracy Russia.
As Russia’s politicians go off for their summer break, political commentator Kirill Rogov takes a look at the latest opinion polls. His conclusion? Putin’s hardline policy towards the opposition is turning out to be counterproductive.
A bitter post-Soviet war in 1992-93 saw the Black Sea territory of Abkhazia resist invasion from Georgia and establish an independent statehood. But amid non-recognition from all but a handful of countries, and persistent hostility from Georgia, the young republic has faced many challenges in the subsequent two decades. The leading scholar of Abkhazia and advocate of its case, George Hewitt, presents an overview of these twenty years and outlines a scenario for the future.
On July 11, the Russian Duma passed legislation to establish a central register of extremist websites. The new laws are ostensibly designed for child protection; Andrei Soldatov senses the real aim is to take control over the country’s burgeoning social networks.
July a Moscow court extended the pre-trial detention of three members of
feminist punk rock band Pussy Riot, charged with hooliganism after they
performed a ‘blasphemous’ and anti-Putin song in the city’s main cathedral in February.
Pastukhov believes there is much the case tells us about the relations between
the Putin government and the Russia’s Orthodox Church.
Journalism in Russia has never been easy, but today the complications are many. If you write to order, you may be financially better off but you will be despised. If you are honest, then you can end up risking life and limb. But despite the dangers there are still journalists prepared to stand up and be counted, says Mikhail Loginov.
Traditionally Russia’s agricultural land was subdivided into a patchwork of villages and fields, interspersed by forest and marsh. Now the villages are deserted and crumbling: the state closes them down, often on a whim, and young people leave to find work elsewhere. Matilda Moreton tells the tragic story based on fieldwork in the Russian North.
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.
As Putin’s new
government beds in and shows its teeth against the protesters, Dmitry Travin
takes a look at the generational differences among the opposition. Life experience makes many of the older generation more weary of street protest, yet on other fronts people are beginning to speak with one voice.
Revolution may be a dirty word in Russia, but journalist Maхim Trudolyubov argues that conditions for revolution are ripening, and that those responsible are not opposition forces outside the Kremlin, but those working within its walls.
After previous repressive measures by the Kremlin, the ‘March of Millions’ in Moscow on 12th June was expected to turn ugly. Raids on leading oppositionists had many talking about another 1937 (the year of Stalin’s Great Purge), yet the expected provocation and police brutality did not happen. Julia Pettengill assesses the significance of this restraint.
Born in Germany during the war, Helmut ended up in a Soviet internment camp. Later he moved to the region of Abkhazia on the Black Sea, where he settled. Now nearly 70, he recounts the fascinating story of his life so far away from his home country to Maxim Edwards
‘War minus the shooting’ was George Orwell’s definition of sport, unpleasantly brought once more to mind during the recent battles between Russian and Polish football fans. There is a long history of animosity over sporting events between the two countries, but there could be a way forward, says Zygmunt Dzieciolowski
The recent Eurovision song contest catapulted Azerbaijan into world news and focused attention on its internal problems. But foreign policy issues are a cause of considerable concern too. The country is caught in between Iran, Russia and the West and finding a way to meet the needs of all of them is going to be extremely difficult, says Elkhan Nuriyev.