January/February 2012

Features in this Issue

The Soviet Faust

A history of Leon Theremin, inventor of electronic music and the instrument which bears his name.

Winter Wonderland

Turning Sochi into an Olympic city is a Herculean task. Environmentalists, local residents and bookkeepers are all wary. And then there is Georgia, just a few kilometers away.

Lyubov Orlova

She was the Soviet Union’s first star of the Silver Screen – talented, beautiful, and exuding confidence and optimism. Yet behind this public image was another woman entirely.

Heart of the Matter

A look inside the Russian health care system, as we accompany a group of American doctors in Russia during their multi-year exchange and training program.

The New Russian Philanthrophy

Several Russian billionaires are using their sudden wealth to underwrite education, literature, art and science. So why aren’t average Russians following their example?

Departments and More

  • Departures: Alliluyeva and Alekseyev

    Obituaries of Stalin's estranged daughter, Svetlana Alliluyeva, and the world's onetime strongest man, Vasily Alekseyev.
  • 4

    For the Price of a Hat

    On that frosty January evening in 1982, running coatless back to my hotel, I could really have used Gogol’s overcoat.

  • 5

    Letters to the Editor

    Readers comment and correct.

  • 7
    Note Book

    From Reset to Recess?

    Just two weeks prior to Russia's recent parliamentary elections, President Dmitry Medvedev went on television to make a hawkish anti-American speech. Whither the reset?

  • 8
    Note Book


    Our pages of news cover items as varied as a new film on Vysotsky, the Booker book of the decade, a film on the life of a jailed tycoon, Russian's internet usage, Ronald Reagan, the Bolshoy, museums and much more.

  • 14
    Travel Notes

    Travel Notes

    The latest from the travel front.

  • 16

    Election Fever

    Is Putin in decline? Were the elections rigged? And what are they tweeting about Vladimir?

  • 19
    Russian Calendar

    Paranoia Trumps True Love

    A look back at the law of February 15, 1947, that outlawed Soviets' marriage to foreigners, and a marvelous 1967 play that wonderfully dramatized the sad situation.

  • 21
    Russian Calendar

    Peter's Table of Ranks

    How the introduction of Peter I's merit-based system of ranks changed Russian society after its introduction in 1722.

  • 23
    Russian Calendar

    Alexander Scriabin

    A short consideration of the life and work of Alexander Scriabin, born on Jan. 6, 1872, a composer whose life was cut tragically short, but who nonetheless set the stage for much that was to come.

  • 26
    Survival Russian

    Fending off Demyan

    How to handle that common situation in Russian: too much hospitality...

  • 27
    Language Learning

    The Building of Sochi

    Two readings in Russian on Sochi, with some questions for language learners.

  • 60

    A Soup for Seminarians

    A consideration of the hearty Russian mushroom soup, Pokhlyobka, and Vasily Perov's evocative painting, "Receiving the Wanderer."

  • 62
    Under Review

    Gulags, Ments, Chekhov and Pushkin

    Reviews of Fyodor Mochulsky's "Gulag Boss," William Ryan's "The Darkening Field," and Andrei Gelasimov's "Thirst," with shorter notices on "Memories of Chekhov" (Peter Sekirin) and "Pushkin Threefold" (Walter Arndt, trans.)

  • 64
    Post Script

    Waiting for Miracles

    Exactly why did so many Russians wait on line for hours, sometimes days, to see an ancient relic visiting Christ the Savior Cathedral in November? Maya Kucherskaya has some ideas.

About Us

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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