In December 2011, demonstrators took to the streets of Moscow to protest President Vladimir Putin and his corrupt parliamentary election. At one of these rallies, a crowd listened to several speakers — activists, writers, prominent government critics — castigate the Putin government for its authoritarianism.
Then Ksenia Sobchak, a socialite and TV personality, took to the podium. The crowd whistled in disapproval. But Ms. Sobchak, who was known for appearing in films like “The Blonde in Chocolate” (which bestowed her a nickname) and “Thieves and Prostitutes,” persisted.
“I am Ksenia Sobchak, and I have something to lose,” I remember her saying, as she insisted on being heard.… Seguir leyendo »
At the beginning of August, five members of a gang accused of murdering 17 people during robberies on highways around the Moscow area were facing trial at Moscow Regional Court. While the five men were being escorted to the courtroom, they attacked their guards, seized their weapons and opened fire in the courthouse. Most likely this terrible episode could have been avoided had there been adequate security, but the five defendants were accompanied by only two armed guards.
There were no such incidents later in the month when Kirill S. Serebrennikov, a theater director, arrived in court for a hearing. The defendant, a young man in a baseball cap, was escorted into the courtroom by five armed special forces agents.… Seguir leyendo »
In the wake of the impressive street protests in Russian cities on June 12, you may wonder what can be expected next from the Russian opposition. This is one of those rare cases where a political prediction can be guaranteed: There will be no news from the opposition before mid-July.
On June 12, Russian authorities sentenced the opposition leader, Aleksei A. Navalny, 41, to 30 days in jail. And, except for him, no true opposition leaders remain in Russia today.
That was not the case until very recently. In the winter of 2011-12 President Vladimir V. Putin faced opposition from a broad political coalition that had arisen in response to accusations of widespread violations during the parliamentary elections.… Seguir leyendo »
Technically, it’s known as a triarylmethane dye. In drugstores, it’s sold under the name Brilliant Green. But generations of Soviet citizens knew it as “zelyonka” (the green). It was invented in Germany in the 19th century but came into its own in the Soviet Union, where it was a widely used antiseptic.
After an application of zelyonka, a wound dries and forms a scab within a few hours. It’s effective, but zelyonka has one serious shortcoming: It’s extremely difficult to wash off, and even after a wound has healed, traces of green can remain on the skin for days. Soap and water won’t remove it, and even ethyl alcohol requires long and vigorous rubbing.… Seguir leyendo »
When Bill O’Reilly interviewed President Trump last month and called President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia a killer, Mr. Trump did not object. He just responded that there are plenty of killers in America, too.
At this point, we can only speculate about the true nature of relations between the American and Russian presidents. No matter what, Mr. Trump came up with the perfect answer — the one most likely to appeal to Mr. Putin. (The Kremlin demanded an apology only from Mr. O’Reilly; if Mr. Trump had said that Mr. Putin was not a killer, the Kremlin might have requested an apology from the White House, too.)
In Russia during the Putin era, a remarkable phenomenon has emerged: Accusations have become decoupled from crimes.… Seguir leyendo »
In Russia these days, Motorola is less commonly spoken of as a brand name for mobile devices than as the nom de guerre of a famous pro-Russian separatist commander in Ukraine. That Motorola, whose real name was Arsen Pavlov, was killed on Oct. 16, when a bomb exploded in the elevator of his apartment building in Donetsk, a rebel stronghold in eastern Ukraine.
The reason Motorola was killed remains murky. Some say factional disputes among eastern Ukrainian rebel leaders left some people wanting him dead. The separatist government in Donetsk blamed the Ukrainian government in Kiev. What is clear is that Motorola’s funeral on Oct.… Seguir leyendo »
According to Aleksei Diumin, it happened late one night, far from Moscow. He was standing guard at a presidential palace where Vladimir V. Putin was sleeping. A bear approached. “He and I looked each other in the eyes,” Mr. Diumin told a Russian newspaper. Then the bear backed away slightly. “I opened the door and emptied my gun’s entire clip at his feet.” The bear retreated. Russia’s president was safe.
Mr. Diumin told the story of his encounter with the bear in February. Former bodyguards always have a stock of true-life tales for deployment at the dinner table. But Mr. Diumin’s account came only when he became a major Russian politician.… Seguir leyendo »
Last week, Alexander Dolmatov, an activist in a political party opposed to Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin, committed suicide at a detention center in the Netherlands. He had fled Russia last June, hoping to be granted political asylum. When his application was denied, he took his life — the only way to guarantee that he would not be deported home and, most likely, face time in prison.
A Dutch official said “the asylum denial is not the reason for his suicide,” citing a note Mr. Dolmatov, who was 36, left behind. In that note, which Mr. Dolmatov’s mother shared with me, he expressed regret for “having brought shame on everybody.” However, his lawyer has said that Mr.… Seguir leyendo »
On the night of Nov. 6, I was attacked by two young men armed with steel rods. The assault occurred a few feet from the entrance to my house, which is just a 10-minute walk from the Kremlin.
A month later, I am still in the hospital. One of my fingers has been amputated, one of my legs and both halves of my jaw have been broken, and I have several cranial wounds. According to my doctors, I won’t be able to go back to my job as a reporter and columnist at Kommersant, an independent newspaper, until spring.
A few hours after the attack, President Dmitri Medvedev went on Twitter to declare his outrage, and he instructed Russia’s law enforcement agencies to make every effort to investigate this crime.… Seguir leyendo »