September/October 2009

Features in this Issue

Moscow to Vladivostok

Few trips anywhere in the world rival the Trans-Siberian Railway. A six-day, seven-night, 9250 kilometer-long trip across the girth of the world’s largest country, it is also, as novelist Peter Aleshkovsky found, a trip into Russia’s past.

Baron Shafirov's Finest Hour

Baron Peter Shafirov was a little-known hero of Russian diplomacy who also happened to be a Jew converted to Orthodoxy. He helped guide statecraft under Peter the Great, was richly rewarded and, later, soundly vilified, his in-and-out-of-favor career reflecting the tumultuous times in which he lived.

Warm Music of Uryanhai

The mountainous, remote region of Tuva tends to be known for just two things:?postage stamps and throat singing. We take up the latter in our visit with four internationally renowned throat singers from Tuva, to find out what makes them tick... and sing.

Departments and More

  • 5

    Letters to the Editor

    Readers comment and correct.

  • 7
    Note Book

    After I Leave, I'll Send You a Cup of Joe

    Where we look at the impact and impressions of Vice President Joe Biden's speech dissing Russia and its place in the world, just days after President Obama left Moscow and the "feel-good summit" with President Medvedev.

  • 8
    Note Book


    All the news that fits from all across Russia.

  • 14
    Travel Notes

    Travel Notes

    The latest from the travel front.

  • 19
    Russian Calendar

    Khrushchev visits the US

    Where we follow along on Nikita Khrushchev's magical mystery tour of the US in 1959...

  • 22
    Russian Calendar

    Sophia's Failed Coup

    Peter I and Sophia (his elder step sister) should not have been at odds. They both carried out some of the same sorts of reforms. But you can only have one tsar...

  • 25
    Russian Calendar

    Andrei Platonov

    Andrei Platonov was born to be a Bolshevik. And also one of the 20th century's greatest writers. He soon broke with the Party and had a tortured relationship with his art. He died in poverty.

  • 28
    Survival Russian

    Milky Ways

    Fallen in the milk lately? Everyone does. Apparently some more than others. Like Alexander Lukashenko, president of Belarus, for example.

  • 50

    The Hotline

    In which we explode yet another myth. The Washington-Moscow Hotline does not employ glowing red telephones and is actually very rarely used. Yet it is still a fascinating institution, one apparently designed to sidestep common human shortcomings.

  • 60

    Southern Comforts

    Boris Kustodiev's "Merchant's Wife at Tea" is the takeoff point for a discourse on revolution, nobility and fine food, in this case Rogaliki - Walnut Crescents.

  • 62
    Under Review

    Spies, Shostakovich and Gagarin's Grandson

    Reviews of the film Gagarin's Grandson, the PBS series Keeping Score, as well as the books The Lost Spy, Spymaster, Everything Flows, A Hero of Our Time and Trotsky.

  • 64
    Post Script

    Paratrooper's Day

    August 2 is Paratroopers' Day. Which means lots of striped-shirted guys bathing in Moscow fountains...

  • 65

    Uchites 05

    The fifth edition of our Uchites language insert, sponsored by Russkiy Mir Foundation, uses the life and work of Andrei Platonov to develop vocabulary, explore verb aspect and several issues of grammar. Language

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