On July 1, after “recovering,” by decree, from the coronavirus pandemic, Russia held a vote on a package of constitutional amendments. Introduced by Vladimir Putin back in January and expanded by the State Duma over the following months, the 206 changes are touted as protecting Russia’s sovereignty, defending Russian history, and boosting Russians’ economic well-being. The amendments also nullify the previous presidential terms of Vladimir Putin, allowing him to run again for the presidency when his current, fourth term expires—in effect, extending his twenty-year grip on power indefinitely. “Russia’s strength,” explained the chairman of the Duma when talking about amendments, “is not oil and gas, but Vladimir Putin.”… Seguir leyendo »
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This running series of brief dispatches by New York Review writers will document the coronavirus outbreak with regular updates from around the world.
MILAN, ITALY—March 8. We started with the best intentions. We had gotten over the irritation of seeing all the things that enrich life in Milan closed down. The restaurants, concert halls, theaters, cafés. My gym. Her yoga. We rather appreciated a new feeling of community on the streets, here on the edge of town. A new awareness, in particular among the various ethnic groups. It boded well. We knew that the special problem with this illness is that some 5 to 10 percent of those with symptoms will need an extended stay in intensive care, and that places are scarce.… Seguir leyendo »
Las protestas que se propagaron en toda Rusia antes de la cuarta toma de posesión de Vladimir Putin como presidente se desarrollaron según un guion ya conocido. La policía declaró que dichas aglomeraciones eran ilegales, y los medios de comunicación minimizaron el tamaño de las mismas. Alexey Navalny, el principal organizador y líder de facto de la oposición en Rusia, fue arrestado de manera dramática, ya que la policía lo sacó a rastras de una manifestación en Moscú. El día 15 de mayo, Navalny fue sentenciado a 30 días de prisión. Más de 1.600 manifestantes en todo el país fueron golpeados y detenidos.… Seguir leyendo »
To be a first-generation Russian-American in the age of Donald Trump is a somewhat nutty experience. As “Russians,” the identity into which we were born, we are now associated less with Dostoevsky and Pasternak, and more with election interference, troll farms, and other subversions of democracy. Yet as “Americans,” our hard-earned new identity, we are the citizens of the very democracy that the “Russians” are believed to have sabotaged. The set-up seems almost purposefully literary. In the age of Trump, we are America’s Trojan horse, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Raskolnikov and Svidrigailov in one person. If the Russians didn’t exist, it would have been a good idea to invent us.… Seguir leyendo »
Imagine France canceling Bastille Day. Or America demoting the Fourth of July and celebrating British monarchs instead. That sounds fantastical, even in our “post-truth” West. Yet in Russia, this is how Vladimir Putin is trying to refashion the country’s history. The leader who once lamented the dissolution of the Soviet Union as “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century” deems the October Revolution itself, the USSR’s foundational event, no cause for celebration. Today, November 7, the official birthday of the USSR, is no longer part of Russia’s holiday canon.
National holidays tell a story of a nation. Every Soviet person born before 1985—more than half of Russia’s population of 144 million people—knew that on November 7 (in the old, Julian calendar, October 25) an armed insurrection led by Lenin’s Bolshevik Party overthrew the “bourgeois” Provisional Government and transferred power to the Soviets in the name of the people.… Seguir leyendo »
I am a grandchild of the revolution. My grandfather, Anatoly Alexandrov, was a Communist who spent his life building the Soviet Union. He traveled a path from working as an unskilled laborer at a locomotive assembly plant in Rostov-on-Don, a large industrial city in southern Russia, to becoming the head of military transportations for the strategic North Caucasian Railroad.
When war with Germany came, he found himself responsible for the evacuation of plants and factories from the rapidly collapsing front lines. Saving Soviet industrial capacity turned out to be one of the few success stories in the otherwise disastrous first months of the war.… Seguir leyendo »
On May 14, thousands of residents of Moscow went into the streets to protest a project that entails the demolition of as many as 8,000 Soviet-era apartment buildings, now privately owned, to make space for an upscale residential development. The rally took place on Sakharov Prospect, named after the Soviet dissident and scientist Andrei Sakharov.
Moscow’s mayor, Sergei Sobyanin, did not attend. Mr. Sobyanin, a former chief of staff for President Vladimir V. Putin, is the author of draft legislation behind the scheme, which would uproot 1.6 million Muscovites, could increase the density of redeveloped areas by as much as threefold, and would cost an estimated $61 billion.… Seguir leyendo »