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The lower depths in Russia today

Over a century after Maksim Gorky’s famous play about homeless people – ‘The Lower Depths' – Ekaterina Loushnikova has been looking around her home city of Kirov to see if anything has changed.

On your marks, get set… intercept!

Russia is devoting considerable effort to trying to ensure that the Sochi Winter Olympics are safe and secure. Mark Galeotti wonders whether the real concern is not an attack on the Games but the consolidation of the security state.

A Different Childhood

What is the experience of growing up gay in Russia? oDRussia publishes extracts of Sergey Khazov's semi-autobiographical novel — longlisted for a literary award in 2010, but deemed  'too politically sensitive' by publishers to make it into print. 

Stavropol — frontline between Russia and the North Caucasus

THE CEELBAS DEBATE// Stavropol is the only one of seven North Caucasus territories with a majority Russian population. Andrew Foxall explores the implications of interethnic conflict on this increasingly fraught political frontline.

Russia: a teenage suicide epidemic?

Russia has the highest underage suicide rate in Europe. Yelena Vorobyova reports from the Bryansk region, where 10 children have taken their own lives in as many months.

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

Russia’s drinking habits today – still hooked on vodka, or do they prefer vino?

Russians and vodka have always been a notorious and combustible combination, but the availability of alcohol has been in a constant change of flux over the last few decades as successive governments have tried to wean the public off the bottle. Mikhail Loginov reports from St Petersburg on changing habits. 

Russians, be horrified at yourselves!

Russia’s problems are many and varied – low life expectancy and falling population figures, soaring rates for crime, alcoholism and drug abuse, not to mention ubiquitous corruption. In a country rich in natural resources, half the population lives in poverty. Andrei Konchalovsky takes us through the horrifying facts and figures and argues that things can only change when Russians themselves learn to be horrified by them.

Flowers on a dung heap: markets, politicians and the demise of Russian rural life

The economic and political transformations of the 1990s onwards have allowed much of the Russian countryside to die a slow death. Roman Yushkov and Vassily Moseyev ventured out of the city to examine the extent of the dilapidation and deterioration of rural life in their native Perm region.

Russian economy: trying to please people doesn’t help

20 years ago there was all to play for: the USSR was defunct and Russia was embarking on a bright future. But the much-needed economic reforms have had patchy success. Every time they took a step forward, the government lost both popularity and its nerve. Now the Kremlin no longer has the funds to keep people sweet and another financial crisis must be a real possibility, says Dmitri Travin

Is corruption in Russia's DNA?

It is difficult to think back to a time when corruption was not endemic in Russia. It is now crippling the country, yet it is still low on the list of immediate concerns for most ordinary Russians. Why is there so little will to fight it, asks Pyotr Filippov?

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.

Mikhail Prokhorov: gilt-edged whipping boy for the Russian elections?

The recent appointment of Mikhail Prokhorov as leader of the liberal party Right Cause is puzzling. He’s the third richest man in Russia, so why should he bother? He has no choice, argues Mikhail Loginov. The Kremlin wants a hate figure on the scene to shore up support for Putin’s United Russia ahead of the parliamentary election. And you don’t disobey the Kremlin.

A meeting with Andrei Konchalovsky: Part II

Director Andrei Konchalovksy and film critic Professor Ian Christie continue a fascinating conversation. In this second part: censorship, the Communists, corruption and civilisation. Part one can be found here

Alaska-Chukotka: when cousins reunite

Soviet times were hard for the indigenous people of the Russian Far East, but perestroika allowed them to reunite with their Alaskan cousins. The ensuing cooperation started with culture, and expanded to scientific research and mapping the bowhead whale. Sarah Hurst tells the story.

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.

Roman Abramovich's Chukotka project

Russia's far east is the site of an experiment in government and social development led by Roman Abramovich, billionaire businessman and owner of Chelsea football club. Zygmunt Dzieciolowski, who has tracked the Chukotka story for six years, uses his unique access to the region to send this progress report.
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