Russian history and culture, from a historian in Cambridge

Honesty in Khabarovsk, Minsk, Omsk

On the morning of 20 August — this morning, long ago — Aleksei Navalny, Russia’s leading opposition politician and anti-corruption campaigner, was taken ill on a flight from Tomsk to … Continue reading

August 21, 2020

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

Is Vladimir Putin a conservative?

You learn to tell your right hand from your left when you’re little. It’s a lesson that British politics seems to have forgotten, as polling day approaches in the general election. … Continue reading

April 30, 2015 · Leave a comment

Two votes: 1946 and 2012

What was it like to vote for Stalin? One of the most important elections in Soviet history was the 1946 poll for the Supreme Soviet, the country’s ‘parliament’. Of course … Continue reading

June 9, 2014 · Leave a comment

Elections without choice

Elections are regularly held in contemporary Russia, but Vladimir Putin or his supporters always win. Here the apparatus of democracy — parliament, presidency, parties — exists in plain sight, but … Continue reading

May 31, 2014 · Leave a comment

The historical origins of Vladimir Putin (1)

John McCain, the senior US Senator from Arizona, outspoken member of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee and Barack Obama’s opponent for the presidency in 2008, calls Vladimir Putin ‘an unreconstructed … Continue reading

April 5, 2014 · Leave a comment