January/February 2004

Features in this Issue

May the Waters Be With You

With roots stretching back over a millennium, the Russian banya (steam bath) is stitched tightly into the fabric of the Russian soul. We asked an intrepid journalist to help us unravel the mysteries, and sent him on a tour of Moscow's finest public bani.


It was one of the most horrifying and heroic episodes of the last century. Sixty years ago this January, the 900-day Siege of Leningrad was finally broken. We take you back for a look at what daily life was like for average Leningraders.

Daily Bread

A page-long sidebar to our story on the Leningrad Siege, in which we look back at how people fed themselves during the horrific blockade.

Payback Time

Russia faces the same demographic presures as other industrialized nations: a declining workforce, rising numbers of retirees, and a desire to lower taxes. To meet the challenge, the Russian government is privatizing a part of pensions. Sort of.

Winds From the East

Russia produces some of the most talented classical musicians in the world. We profile a youthful quintet that seeks to break into the highly competitive US market -- a difficult task, even with the esteemed name of the Russian National Orchestra behind you.

The Magical World of the Russian Circus

It is the world's largest circus organization and one of its oldest. We asked a noted circus-phile to take us behind the flaps of Russia's Big Top, to look at the fascinating history of this 210-year-old institution.

Departments and More

  • 5

    Letters to the Editor

    Readers comment and correct.

  • 14
    Travel Notes

    Travel Notes

    The latest from the travel front.

  • 8
    Note Book


    All the news that fits from all across Russia.

  • 14
    Russian Calendar

    How Many Lenins Does it Take?

    60 years ago, the first statue to Lenin was unveiled in the Soviet Union. They soon multiplied to unfathomable numbers, and the tide was only turned back when the Soviet Union collapsed. We look back at the sometimes odd history of Lenin worship.

  • 16
    Russian Calendar


    An intimate biography of the Georgian filmmaker Otar Ioseliani, who turns 70 on February 2, 2004. A filmography is also included.

  • 16
    Russian Calendar

    Calendar Items in Brief

    Short takes on some historical dates with anniversaries during this issue's publication period.

  • 20
    Study Russia

    Summer Camps

    Where to send the kids for summer camp? How about a Russian language camp? We offer a first-ever listing of some of the many (we were surprised how many) options around the country.
  • 34
    Survival Russian

    Just a Minute

    An offbeat look at the different ways Russians and Americans think about, and talk about, time.

  • 35

    Primorye: Cars and Crime

    In the third installment of Ilya Stogoff's travels in the Russian Far East, the author explores Russia's Eastern Crime Capital (Khabarovsk), and has a first-hand encounter with "the criminal element."

  • 44
    Notes from a Russian Village

    May the Earth Be As Soft As Feathers

    When a long-time member of a small Russian village passes on, there are rituals aplenty to observe.

  • 60
    Under Review

    Stalin, Siberia and more

    Where we review a new book on Stalin by Zhores and Roy Medvedev, and one on Siberia, by Fiona Hill and Clifford Gaddy. Plus some shorter notes on books on everything from submarines to Petersburg to Marina Tsvetaeva.

  • 62

    A Winter Ferment

    One of Russia's most typical winter dishes is fermented cabbage. You'll want to rush out to the store and buy a few heads to make this dish when you are done reading our recipe.

  • 64
    Post Script

    January 27, 1944

    A rare photo of the salut Leningrad gave itself upon its liberation on this day, plus a translation of Akhmatova's poem of the same name.

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Russian Life is a publication of a 30-year-young, award-winning publishing house that creates a bimonthly magazine, books, maps, and other products for Russophiles the world over.

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