The Russian military intervention in Ukraine’s autonomous republic of Crimea has brought relations between the United States and Russia to their lowest level in a quarter century. It has transgressed the sovereignty of one of the most populous countries in Europe, violated the terms of a diplomatic agreement to respect Ukraine’s borders, and placed Russia on a war footing with one of the few states in the post-Soviet world that has managed to hold multiple free elections. It is a military operation that is unsanctioned by any international body, wholly open-ended, and blessed only by the Russian Parliament.
Crimea is routinely described as “pro-Russian,” given that an estimated 58 percent of the population of two million is ethnic Russian, with another 24 percent Ukrainian and 12 percent Crimean Tatar.… Seguir leyendo »
If current demographic trends continue, within the next half-century Muslims will constitute a sizable part, perhaps even a plurality, of Russia's population; indeed, Moscow currently has more Muslim inhabitants than any other European city. And unlike those in Amsterdam or Paris, most of Moscow's Muslims are citizens, not immigrants — products of the Russian Empire's 19th century southward expansion. In the coming decades, Muslim peoples from Russia's North Caucasus and Volga regions, together with migrants from neighboring Central Asia and Azerbaijan, will continue to displace Russia's Slavic core and reshape how the country defines itself.
These shifts pose new challenges to Russia's stability.… Seguir leyendo »
“I’ll be waiting for you,” she said, almost at the door of the Lubyanka prison in Moscow. “It will be as if you’ve gone to Odessa ... only there won’t be any letters.” Those were among the last words of Antonina Pirozhkova to Isaac Babel, her common-law husband and the father of her child.
It was the summer of 1939. Babel had just been taken into custody by Stalin’s henchmen for his alleged involvement with Trotskyists and spying for France and Austria. He was executed less than a year later.
Pirozhkova, who died this month at the age of 101, worked tirelessly to keep Babel’s memory alive and to discover the true history of his incarceration and murder.… Seguir leyendo »
When Russian leaders speak of security threats, they tend to mention NATO expansion and the U.S. missile defense program in eastern Europe. But the unremitting violence in Russia’s North Caucasus region — a sliver of land sandwiched between the Black and Caspian seas and inhabited primarily by Muslims whose lands the Russian Empire conquered in the 19th century — shows that dire dangers lurk at home.
Over the past decade, Russia has experienced spectacular terrorist attacks, and the violence has either occurred in or emanated from the North Caucasus. The grizzly incidents have included a mass hostage-taking in a packed Moscow theater, the killing of hundreds of children at a school in southern Russia, the derailing of high-speed trains between Moscow and St.… Seguir leyendo »