Sep/Oct 2018 Current Moscow Time: 07:57:25
19 September 2018


  The world’s biggest country, in a magazine. Since 1956.


History

The past is prologue.

1983: The Scariest Year
1983: The Scariest Year

Ambassador Jack Matlock had a front row seat for the final days of the US-Soviet Cold War and the collapse of the USSR. While working on his article, 1983: The Scariest Year (Mar/Apr 2013), Russian Life Publisher Paul Richardson conducted an email interview with Matlock, which is produced here in its entirety.

Tags: soviet union, gorbachev, reagan, cold war, nuclear arms
The Nature of Dissent
The Nature of Dissent

How should we understand current political dissent in Russia? Russian Life publisher Paul Richardson met with long-time Soviet/Russian political dissident Alexander Skobov to get his views on what is going on in Russia and where things are headed.

Tags: dissent, politics
Moscow's Last Great Fire
Moscow's Last Great Fire

Moscow's last Great Fire was 200 years ago, on September 14, 1812, in the wake of the Russian army's abandonment of Moscow. Debate continues to rage if the fire was accidental or set intentionally by retreating troops. And a misunderstanding of the scope of the fire's destruction hampers preservation efforts to this day.

 
Tags: moscow, 1812, napoleon
Aristocrats, Churches and Noir
Aristocrats, Churches and Noir

Reviews of five interesting new books for Russophiles: Former People, Nevsky, St. Petersburg Noir, Wooden Churches and Russian Film Posters.

 
Tags: books, reviews, churches, fiction
Alexander Herzen
Alexander Ivanovich Herzen

The Russian writer Alexander Ivanovich Herzen was born in Moscow on March 25, 1812 (April 6, New Style). Thanks to a famous phrase from Lenin’s “In Memory of Herzen” – “The Decembrists awakened Herzen. Herzen began the task of revolutionary agitation.” – everyone who grew up in the Soviet Union knew Herzen’s name, whether or not they had ever read a line of his work.

Tags: literature, revolution
Interview with Author William Ryan
Interview with Author William Ryan

William Ryan’s second book featuring MVD Detective Alexei Korolev, The Darkening Field, was released on January 3, 2012. Russian Life Publisher Paul E. Richardson interviewed Ryan about the genesis for his character and the challenges of situating a novel in Soviet Russia.

Tags: fiction, literature, babel, purges, history
1972 ABM Treaty
1972 ABM Treaty

English text of the 1972 Antilballistic Missile Treaty between the U.S. and Soviet Union.

Tags: abm treaty, 1972, cold war
Review: Three World War Two Histories
Review: Three World War Two Histories

It is the great, cruel paradox of World War II in Russia that heinous, unanswered crimes coexisted with truly heroic, astonishing human achievement. That – be it out of fear or love of the Motherland or self-defense – Soviets fought so bravely to defend a system that treated them like cattle, confiscating from them the land, the bread and the peace that the Revolution had allegedly been all about, shipping them and their relatives off to Siberian labor camps, sentencing soldiers unfortunate enough to have been captured in war into “penal battalions.”

On PBS this Month: The Great Famine

Today, Herbert Hoover – the 31st president of the United States (1929-1933) – is probably most associated with the onset and deepening of the Great Depression. Few know that prior to his presidency he was a successful international mining engineer (and had some lucrative investments in Russia before the Revolution), and later headed up the ARA (American Relief Administration), designed to deliver needed foreign aid to Belgium in the aftermath of World War I. 

Post WWII Years
Post WWII Years

The Allied nations of WWII made for a tenuous union at best. The main thing that held Britain, the U.S. and the Soviet Union together was their common enemy, Hitler. Not long after the end of WWII, the Western allies parted company with the Soviet Union and its leader, Joseph Stalin.

Moscow, Winter of 1908

Now that winter has officially arrived, it is appropriate to send along this link to an AMAZING video of Moscow in 1908, over 100 years ago.

Raise a Glass to Jerome
Raise a Glass to Jerome

This week I came across two excellent articles on the Art of Translation, one in the NY Times, the other in the National Post. The NY Times article, written by Michael Cunningham, author of The Hours, raises some fascinating ideas about how writing itself is an act of translation, from the writer's ideas and perception of what his perfect work might be...

Freedom Fries

I will forever associate the fall of the Berlin Wall with french fries. In 1989, my wife and I were living and working in Moscow. Our friend Bob was apartment-sitting in the American embassy complex; and on November 9 he invited us over for dinner...

Tags: communism, 1989, velvet revolutions, soviet union, ussr, gorbachev
BAM Veteran
BAM Veteran

Verbatim text of an online interview with Rashit Yahin. Mr. Yahin was born in 1936, was educated in Moscow as an engineer and worked from 1978 to 1990 on construction of BAM. From 1990 to 1994 he worked as head of the tourism department in the Severobaikalsk Railway Department of BAM. In December 1994, he suffered a stroke that paralyzed his right side. He now is largely confined to a wheelchair, but that has not stopped him working. He actively works to promote tourism to the Baikal region and arranges private and independent travel there (see end of article for contact info). The interview is presented in its entirely, without any redactions or corrections.

Tags: baikal, BAM, railway, environment
From Mikhail to Michael

Four years ago, in August 2005, then Senator Barack Obama was detained for three hours at a Siberian airport. Obama, with Senator Dick Lugar, was on a US delegation touring nuclear warhead storage and disposal sites. Russian border guards insisted on searching the delegation's plane. The senators refused...

Tags: history, obama, gorbachev, reagan, gorbachev, nuclear arms
ICBM Launch Agreement
ICBM Launch Agreement

Background information and text of the 1988 treaty between the U.S. and Soviet Union regarding ICBM and SLBM launches.

Tags: icbm, treaty, missiles, cold war
Afghanistan: A Second Chance?

Thirty years ago, in 1979, the Persian Gulf was a tinderbox. On January 16, following months of uprisings, the Shah of Iran was overthrown. One month later, it looked like Afghanistan’s turn. The Soviet-backed thugs running the country had imposed radical social reforms, sparking a civil war and threatening pro-Soviet rule...

Tags: afghanistan, soviet, intervention, war
Independence Day
Independence Day

In most countries, Independence Day conjures up images of grand celebration, fireworks, family get-togethers, parades and so on. These celebrations commemorate the declaration and establishment of sovereignty by a colony or nation occupied and governed by another nation. This is not exactly the case with Russia's Independence Day.

Tags: independence, august coup, yeltsin, gorbachev
080808

With time, we are finding out more and more about the events that led to the recent Russo-Georgian War in the Caucausus. Two very good recent accounts have been published...

Tags: war, georgia
Caucasian Stalemate

Last Thursday, after several days of skirmishes and confrontation in the breakaway region of Ossetia, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili announced a unilateral cessation of hostilities. Hours later, however, Saakashvili ordered his armed forces to undertake a full-scale assault on Ossetia...

Tags: caucasus, georgia, war