Beyond the Kremlin

Russia past and present, from a historian in Cambridge

Remembering 1917: the impossible task

As 2017 draws to a close, the centenary of the Russian Revolution — arguably the founding event of the contemporary world — has famously passed off without much fuss. This … Continue reading

December 19, 2017 · Leave a comment

America meets Russia in the Urals

Even during the height of the Cold War, it was for a time fashionable to say that no two peoples were more similar than Americans and Russians. Some of the … Continue reading

July 31, 2017 · Leave a comment

Post-Soviet Eurovision and the singer in the wheelchair

Held in Kiev in May, this year’s Eurovision Song Contest is an international incident waiting to happen. From selecting the Russian and Ukrainian entrants to calibrating the crowd’s response to … Continue reading

March 16, 2017 · Leave a comment

The Commissar (1967): where the revolution went

This great film about the Russian Civil War contains one of the most terrifying scenes in the history of Soviet cinema. A small group of young Jewish children enact a … Continue reading

March 7, 2017 · Leave a comment

John le Carré, Russianist?

Russia runs like a red thread through the novels of John le Carré. Often it’s there as a proxy — the secret police chief, the guards outside the embassy, or … Continue reading

December 25, 2016 · Leave a comment

The cost of hacking an election

‘I don’t know which is worse,’ asked the Russian comic Maxim Galkin in a hilarious skit that compared Donald Trump and the veteran populist, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, ‘the choice there or … Continue reading

December 16, 2016 · Leave a comment

The Kaiser, the Tsar, and the President: an election day post

What happens when policymakers disagree about Russia? It’s surely a good thing — even if it doesn’t always head off disaster. Take newly unified Germany in the decades before 1914. … Continue reading

November 8, 2016 · Leave a comment