November/December 2012

Features in this Issue

Where We First Touched Outer Space

The world's largest and most active space port is situated in the middle of the Kazakh desert. Largely off-limits to outsiders, it is an unusual mix of hi-tech and low-key. And it was from here, just over 50 years ago, that humankind first reached out to touch the stars.

Publishing for Kids

Vadim Meshcheryakov was halfway through a successful career as a banker when he gave it all up to publish children's books. But not just any children's books.

The Tiny Oasis

Not far from the middle of Moscow, there is a diminutive church with a distinctive legend at the heart of its history. We went for a visit.

Spirits of the Home and Forest

Russian place spirits - including the domovoy, bannik, fleshy, rusalka and others - have a history that stretches back to Rus' pagan past. And despite the crush and frenzy of modern life, these spirits impact Russians to this day.

Departments and More

  • Editorial

    Russian McCarthyism?

    Is Russia embroiled in “a rampage of obscurantism with significant limits on civil freedoms” that has a close parallel with McCarthyism?

  • 5

    Letters to the Editor

    Readers comment and correct.

  • 7

    Bracing for Isolation

    Times have gotten tough for Russian NGOs lately. New laws, the expulsion of USAID and now some troubling signs of high-level internal spying is making the work of non-profits and rights watchdogs downright perilous.

  • 8
    Note Book


    All the news that fits from all across Russia.

  • 14
    Travel Notes

    Travel Notes

    The latest from the travel front.

  • 13

    Profile of Russian Chinovniki

    Where we bring some interesting statistics and graphics to bear on the overwhelming influence of bureaucrats in modern Russia.

  • 19

    Pavel Fedotov

    A consideration of the wonderful story-telling paintings of the classic nineteenth century artist Pavel Fedotov.

  • 22
    Russian Calendar

    The Thaw Snaps

    In December 1962, Nikita Khrushchev's Thaw was drawing to a close, only no one quite knew this yet. It would take a contrived showdown at a Moscow art exhibition to bring things to a head.

  • 24
    Russian Calendar

    Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker

    Tchaikovsky's now classic holiday ballet debuted in December 1892, but it was far from as popular in its debut as it is today. And it has gone through some interesting changes over the past 120 years.

  • 26
    Survival Russian

    Friend or Foe?

    A consideration of the language of enemies and whether Russia is, as Mitt Romney has averred, the US's chief geopolitical foe.

  • 27


    This issue's Uchites insert launches off from our feature article on Baikonur. Language
  • 50

    Lev Gumilev

    By any measure, the son of Anna Akhmatova and Nikolai Gumilev lived a life that was very full. Born 100 years ago this fall, this is his amazing story.

  • 60

    A Vessel of Significance

    The distinctive form of the Russian drinking vessel known as the kovsh dates back thousands of years. We consider its form and function, and offer a related recipe for Cranberry Kvass.

  • 62
    Under Review

    Spies and Cats

    A review of two new works of fiction, Matthew Dunn's Sentinel and Ilya Boyashov's The Way of Muri. Both offer entertaining reading, for entirely different reasons.

  • 63
    Under Review

    The Museum of Abandoned Secrets

    Where we interview Nina Shevchuk-Murray, translator of this new book by Oksana Zabuzhko, which is an expansive piece of historical fiction that encompasses much of Ukrainian history, particularly during WWII.


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