Russia

54 articles
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The Writer and the Valet

On the intrigue surrounding Dr. Zhivago’s publication.

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The Nuclear Tourist

Visiting the site of the Chernobyl meltdown.

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"Then I Saw Them Everywhere. Children’s Belongings Were Everywhere.”

How the crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 rippled around the world, from the the battlefield of Ukraine to Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam to the White House.

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Interview: I Was A Separatist Fighter In Ukraine

A conversation with one of Russia’s “little green men”: a 24-year-old recruited to fight in Eastern Ukraine.

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From Clay

An American woman's travels and memories of her Russian husband.

"When Bramya was abroad, Sarah mixed adhesives, ordered glaze, saw friends, and lived without the expectation of change to this arrangement. She read his letters and answered his phone calls, and they talked about the things they did when they were apart, neither acknowledging that separation had come to be as familiar as the shape their bodies took together. But when she knew his flight had landed, she sat at the kitchen table with painful patience, rolling clay from hand to hand until it was made pliable by the heat of her skin, piecing together anxiety animals, anticipating the sound of the cab door closing that told her Bramya was on her street."

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To Russia With Love

"For 20 beautiful years, my homeland was open and (kind of) free. Now, I fear, it’s closing back up."

Previously: Keith Gessen on the Longform Podcast.

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The Loneliness of Vladimir Putin

The Russian president has crushed all dissent, but he’s more vulnerable than ever.

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Twilight on the Tundra

An adventure on the Beringia, a dog sled race stretching 685 miles over Russia’s frozen tundra.

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The Most Senseless Environmental Crime of the 20th Century

Fifty years ago, 180,000 whales vanished from the ocean. The mystery is not who killed them, but why.

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The Fifth Problem

How Moscow State university discriminated against Jewish applicants using deceptively simple problems.

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Georgia's Next Leader May Be a Billionaire Zookeeper with Albino Rapper Children

A profile of Bidzina Ivanishvili.

Published originally in GQ Russia.
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Shattered Genius

The author attempts to interview Grigori Perelman, a reclusive mathematical genius.

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Snap Goes The Crocodile

Life inside a provincial Russian drug den. Originally appeared in Russky Reporter.

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Russia's Top Cyber Sleuth Foils US Spies, Helps Kremlin Pals

A profile of Eugene Kaspersky, KGB-trained online security mogul.

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Requiem for a Russian Spy

A CIA veteran remembers his Soviet nemesis, Leonid Vladimirovich Shebarshin, who was the chairman of the KGB for a single day during the 1991 coup against Gorbachev, and committed suicide in Moscow in March.

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My Father and Me: A Spy Story

The highest-ranking CIA officer to be convicted of spying passes the tricks of the trade along to his son.

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The Most Dangerous Game

The parallel lives of a KGB defector and his CIA handler.

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Is Chernobyl a Wild Kingdom or a Radioactive Den of Decay?

Scientists quarrel about the fate of animals living in the 1,600 square mile exclusion zone.

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The war in Chechnya: Diary of a Spetsnaz

The excerpts from a diary of an anonymous Russian special-forces officer who served twenty tours of duty in Chechnya during the Second Chechen War (1999-2009). He tells of torture, civilian killings, female suicide bombers and becoming desensitized to it all.

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The Wrath of Putin

Putin v. Khodorkovsky:

Almost a decade ago, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, then the owner of the Yukos Oil Company and Russia’s richest man, completely miscalculated the consequences of standing up to Vladimir Putin, then Russia’s president. Putin had Khodorkovsky arrested, completely miscalculating the consequences of putting him in prison. During his eight years in confinement, Khodorkovsky has become Russia’s most trusted public figure and Putin’s biggest political liability. As long as Putin rules Russia and Khodorkovsky continues to act like Khodorkovsky, Khodorkovsky will remain in prison—and Putin will remain terrified of him.

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Mother’s Boys

In court and visiting prison with the parents of young Russian Nationalists who’ve killed.

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Cable: A Caucasus Wedding

The lavish display and heavy drinking concealed the deadly serious North Caucasus politics of land, ethnicity, clan, and alliance.

In a cable brought to light by Wikileaks, the Ambassador to Russia describes a raucous three-day Dagestani wedding attended by Chechnya’s president Ramzan Kadyrov.

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Tomorrowland

On Astana, the grandiose new capital that Kazakhstan built on the site of a remote Tsarist fort, and its striving young inhabitants.

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Upping the Ante

Protests against the Putin regime are already drawing over 100,000 in sub-zero weather; what will they become when spring arrives?

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The Last Prisoner

Pavel Galitsky, 100 years old, blogger and Skyper, survivor of 15 years in Stalin’s Siberian Kolyma mines.

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The New Decembrists

Hanging out in Moscow with Russia’s yuppie, 20-something journalist revolutionaries:

In other words, the protest was being brought to you by the same people you would have relied on, weeks earlier, for restaurant picks.
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How to Get a Nuclear Bomb

Looking for holes in the world’s nuclear security.

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Stalin’s Daughter Dies at 85

From a childhood in the Kremlin to a trip to New Delhi carrying the ashes of her Indian Communist lover, defection at the U.S. Embassy… “finally to decades of obscurity, wandering and poverty.”

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Ostalgia Trips

On nostalgia for Communism.

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Slow Scan to Moscow

How amateur tinkerers electronically contacted Russia during the Cold War:

The object of Joel's attention at this moment, however, as it is much of the time, is his four-pound, briefcase-size Radio Shack Tandy Model 100 portable computer. "I bought this machine for $399. For $1.82 a minute - $1.82! - I can send a telex message to Moscow. This technology is going to revolutionize human communications! Think what it will mean when you can get thousands of Americans and Soviets on the same computer network. Once scientists in both countries begin talking to each other on these machines they won't be able to stop. And we'll be taking a running leap over the governments on both sides.

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Meltdown

Boris Yeltsin’s right-hand man tells the inside story of the 1991 coup that killed glasnost:

"That scum!" Boris Yeltsin fumed. "It's a coup. We can't let them get away with it."

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Disconcerting New Answers In Models Suicide

The investigation of 20-year-old Russian model’s fall from a Manhattan rooftop uncovers a string of mysteries and clues embedded within the insular world of international models and those who scout them.

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Planet Kirsan

Inside a chess master’s fiefdom.

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Russia's Crime of the Century

How crooked officials pulled off a massive scam, spent millions on Dubai real estate, and killed the author’s law partner when he tried to expose them.

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The School

First-person accounts from the 2004 siege of a Russian school in Beslan by Chechen terrorists.

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Chernobyl, My Primeval, Teeming, Irradiated Eden

Twenty-five years later, inside the Exclusion Zone.

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From Russia With LØpht

How a legally dubious FBI sting lured a pair of Russian hackers stateside.

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1989!

On the illusion of the inevitable and the revolutions that ended the Eastern Bloc.

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The Concealed Battle to Run Russia

Putin, Medvedev, and how the Russian security agency FSB became the “new nobility.”

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Cables Shed Light on Ex-K.G.B. Officer’s Death

The Wikileaks-released documents regarding the polonium-poisoning assassination of Alexander V. Litvinenko speak to the potential involvement of both British and Russian security agencies and hint at the disappearance of a plane that bore evidence of the transport of polonium.

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Mikhail Khodorkovsky's Day in Court

Mikhail Khodorkovsky, oil magnate and once the richest man in Russia, delivers a speech from prison, where he has lived since 2003.

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The Tiger’s Revenge

In the feral communities of Russia’s Far East, tiger poaching is among the few lucrative pursuits. This is the story of a tiger who fought back.

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Outcasts: Inmates of the Black Eagle

Russia has ended its death penalty, leaving in its place five prison “colonies” to house its most hardened criminals, nicknamed “The White Swan”, “The Black Dolphin”, “The Vologda Coin”, “The Village of Harps”. Inside “The Black Eagle.”

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Lost in Space

How two Italian teenagers hacked the Soviet space program and may have heard the dying breaths of a lost cosmonaut.

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From Russia With Blood

Mikhail Kalashnikov’s brainchild, Avtomat Kalashnikovais aka the AK-47, is the most stockpiled firearm in the world and has altered the last century like no other product. C.J. Chivers, author of The Gun, discusses.

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From Russia With Prenup

The relative prosperity of the Putin-era has thrown Russian bride-introduction tours for a loop, as a group of American bachelors learn in a series of Meet and Greets.

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The Chessboard Killer

Russian serial killer Alexander Pichushkin was so prolific that even he doesn’t know how many he killed.

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Russia's Spam King

The unsolved killing of Russia’s most notorious spammer.

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Moscow's Stray Dogs

The complex, highly evolved world of Moscow’s subway-riding stray dogs.

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This Side of Ultima Thule

A dispatch from the frozen, drunken wasteland of Eastern Siberia.

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Lost Exile

The rise and fall of The Exile, Russia’s angriest English-language newspaper.

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Roulette Russian

The eighteen-year-old Moscow dropout behind chatroulette.com.