only search is a Russian e-publication covering culture and society. It is the first Russian media publication to adopt a crowdfunding model.

The rise of Andrei Zvyagintsev

The recent successes of Russian film director Andrei Zvyagintsev is a reminder of how artists are pigeon-holed into national frames — and how Russian culture has become all-too parochial.

Alexei Navalny's campaign: effective management or grassroots movement?

Russia’s new wave of protest poses a question for those riding it: what kind of movement are they building?

Is liberalism the future for Russia?

For years, ‘liberal’ has been a dirty word in Russia, a shorthand for everything undesirable. Yet state propaganda is having an unexpected side-effect: the rehabilitation of liberalism. 

How Russian TV propaganda is made

Federal television in Russia has long been suspected of propaganda. Four Russian TV producers share their stories of life behind the lens.


'Is your mum a foreign agent?'

Russian NGOs, large and small, are facing closure after the blacklisting of their foreign funders. speaks to some of the organisations affected.

'I took no prisoners'

4874908_0.jpgIn his own words, a Russian volunteer who signed up to fight in the Novorossiya militia in Eastern Ukraine. на русском языке 


Frighten and be frightened

The uncompromising sentences passed down today to Aleksey Navalny and co-defendant Petr Ofitserov demonstrate that the Putin regime has crossed over to the twilight phase. The only thing it can offer Russia now is fear, and that is not much of a programme, says Kirill Rogov

Brokeback in Belarus

Valery Sidorenko and Sergei Ostapchuk, both tractor drivers, live together happily in a remote village in the Grodinsky region of Belarus. Alyona Soiko travelled there to meet them and hear their story.

'I am Putin's propaganda'

Is it possible to challenge censors without losing your livelihood? Polina Bykhovskaya interviews the men and women who wanted to change the world but ended up in the business of job preservation (their's and Putin's)

Corruption, complicity, careerism: the hydra of Russian justice

Once inside the wheels of the Russian legal system, the odds are stacked against you and a guilty verdict is inevitable. What keeps the wheels turning is conformism with villainy: the ability of normal people to adapt themselves to any, even the most monstrous of systems. Andrei Loshak presents a fascinating report on the Russian judiciary.

Mournful Unconcern: Russia reacts to Domodedovo

Desensitised to terror, Russians will not take long to get over the latest attack. Russian writer and openDemocracy contributor Elena Fanailova passed through Domodedovo Airport just thirty minutes before Monday’s bomb struck.

The Russian protest movement: why my optimism was misplaced

Journalist Oleg Kashin was recently brutally beaten up. To ram the message home, the fingers on his writing hand were broken, as well as his jaw and shins. He had been active in protesting the building of a highway through the Khimki forest nature reserve. Now he reflects on the authorities’ handling of a football demonstration with nationalist overtones and the arrests of the leaders of the punk protest group Voina, ruefully concluding that all this time he has been missing the point.

Parallel worlds: how connected Russians now live without the state

Russia’s summer of the wildfires brought about a change in society, says Andrei Loshak. Previously the only possible options for those disenchanted with the system were to take the streets or pack our bags and leave. Now we have another: self-help and self- organisation, much in the spirit of the Anarchist Prince, Peter Kropotkin

Khodorkovsky trial: a test for the president

The sacking of Moscow mayor Luzhkov and the continuing debacle of Khodorkovsky's second trial could be seen as tests for the Russian President. Will Medvedev pass muster? Mikhail Zygar considers the options.

A Soldier's Tale

openDemocracy Russia now puts together in one document the 9 letters written by Tolya (probably not his real name), a private in the Russian army. Tolya preferred to serve in the army rather than study at university. These letters were written some time ago, but few publications give such a clear indication of the state of affairs in the Russian military.

Kafka’s Castle is collapsing

You can’t reason with the absurd, as IKEA found when it tried to build a model business in Russia. Institutional corruption is out of control. Kafka’s Castle is finally collapsing. This is good news, as Russians, ordinary Russians are losing their fear. Now they’re just angry, says Andrei Loshak.

A Soldier's Tale 9: changed, but not utterly dehumanised

In his final letter home from the army our conscript Tolya “finds” a mobile phone, is pursued by a mad officer and wonders what kind of man the army’s made of him

A Soldier’s Tale 8: violence is no joke

Our conscript Tolya continues his study of violence in his airborne division of the Russian army

A Soldier’s Tale 7: Hopes dashed, business as usual!

Our conscript Tolya had such high hopes of his new posting in the elite regiment of the Russian airborne division, but the bullying goes on – if anything it’s got worse

A Soldier's Tale 6: new beginnings? Perhaps!

Conscript Tolya has been moved again, this time to a show regiment. Life suddenly looks rather better, but is it for real?

Who is Russia's top intellectual?

Throughout Russian and Soviet history, the intellectual has played a central and hugely influential role in society. Today, that has changed. A recent internet vote on the country’s most influential intellectual saw instead postmodern ambiguity emerge victorious, writes Lyubov Borusyak

A Soldier’s Tale (5): a new life? Not b… likely!

Our conscript, Tolya, has left basic training. He hopes that things will be different, but his hopes are soon dashed when he meets his demobbers or dembels.

A Soldier’s Tale (4): the army paradox

Letters are a life-line for Tolya. The army’s a mysterious entity, unknowable by anyone outside it, the conscript reflects. Awful though it is, he wouldn’t have missed it. He’s learned a lot. And even (possibly) made a friend

In memoriam Nastya and Stas

Anastasia Baburova and Stanislav Markelov were gunned down in a neo-Nazi contract killing a year ago. In this moving tale Andrei Loshak tells us why he and his friend, who also suffered neo-Nazi violence, will be going on the Moscow march in their memory

A soldier’s tale (3): hospital, then what?

In this third excerpt from his letters, our Russian conscript ends up in hospital, with time to reflect on what lies ahead. He reflects on the bullying of the ‘bitches’ by the ‘grandpas’. So deeply entrenched is it, he reckons, that the army would fall apart without it.

A soldier’s tale (2): trying to blend in

In this second letter home our new conscript Tolya is starting to settle in to his two-year stint in Russia’s army. He tells us about the food and how he has learnt to avoid being beaten up.

A soldier’s tale (1)

A new Russian army recruit writes home about life at a parachute regiment basic training camp

Kremlin hand hovers over Russia's internet

So far the Russian government has resisted the temptation of controlling the Russian internet, but this may be about to change, says Mikhail Zygar

The posthumous victory of socialist realism

Gorki reads to Stalin, Molotov and Voroshilov

Anatoly Yar-Kravchenko: Maxim Gorki reads his fairy tale "A girl and death" to Stalin, Molotov and Voroshilov on 11.11.1931 (painted in 1949)

Socialist realism, the old Soviet literary canon, has come to dominate the literary scene once more, laments the distinguished literary critic, Olga Martynova

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