All the Russias' Blog

A space for news and opinion, sponsored by The Jordan Center

Rereading Akunin: A Conversation with Eliot Borenstein

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Fandorin is just not a joiner. And specifically, if there’s one principle to which he’s committed above all others, it’s this notion of “personal human dignity” and the individual’s prerogative to sequester themselves in their own preferences. Fandorin doesn’t want to work for the Okhranka or for any other part of the Imperial government, which he sees becoming increasingly brutal and unreasonable. He doesn’t want to be with the progressives, either; he just wants to be on his own. And what’s interesting is that, for him, the only path to true independence is to be insanely wealthy. It’s one big libertarian dream.

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“One Soldier’s War” and the New Literary War Hero

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In literature and in real life, there is a new type of veteran. From the West’s GWOT (Global War on Terror) “hitters” to the generation Russia lost to Chechnya, the days of victory parades, shared belief and struggle, and the romanticized idea of the “War Hero” or “Veteran” is gone. This is reflected in modern war literature, as veterans of these recent wars attempt to tell their truth to what they frequently perceive to be an indifferent or hostile audience back home, and bridge a gap they themselves often claim to be unbridgeable.

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Ten Years of Eastern Partnership in Azerbaijan: Time to Take Serious Steps

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Within Azerbaijan itself, both the population and the political establishment see their future with Europe. This stance dictates prioritizing policies that would move the country closer to both the EU and the international community. For instance, with the EU’s help, Azerbaijan could accelerate the process of joining the WTO; continue to promote institutional reforms; and build more strategic partnerships in the region. However, if the EU and Azerbaijan continue to exist in a relationship defined by passivity and inaction, the moment could be lost, leaving Azerbaijan vulnerable to other regional centers of political gravity.

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What About Tomorrow? An Oral History of Russian Punk from the Soviet Era to Pussy Riot

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Punk arrived in Soviet Russia in 1978, spreading slowly at first through black market vinyl records and soon exploding into state-controlled performance halls, where authorities found the raucous youth movement easier to control. In fits and starts, the scene grew and flourished, always a step ahead of secret police and neo-Nazis, through glastnost, perestroika, and the end of the Cold War. Despite a few albums smuggled out of the country and released in Europe and the US, most Westerners had never heard of Russia’s punk movement until Pussy Riot burst onto the international stage. My book, a history of Russian punk rock from the Soviet era to Pussy Riot, is technically an oral history — but it also includes several chapters written in journalistic style, expressing my personal opinion about things like punk in the provinces and Pussy Riot’s place in the scene.

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“Let’s Look in the Mirror”: Egor Zhukov’s Courtroom Statement

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Today, “All the Russias” is reposting a court statement by Egor Zhukov, a 21-year-old student at Moscow’s Higher School of Economics and a libertarian YouTube personality, originally published on “Meduza.” Zhukov stands accused of issuing public calls for extremism and has been subject to legal action since August 2019. He faces four years in a prison colony and will be sentenced on Friday, December 6.

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Culinary Detente: Pepsi in the USSR

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As the New York Times reported in 1976, Russia-based Pepsi plants were on track to produce 216 million bottles of Pepsi per year as of 1978. While not everyone in the USSR was able to, or wanted to, drink it, the penetration of the market and the popularity among Russians at the time suggests that Soviets were far more open to Western goods than their leaders may have supposed — or wanted to exploit.

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The Stuff of Soldiers: A History of the Red Army in World War II Through Objects

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Soldiers are constructing whatever they can: Oil cans become stoves, artillery shells become kerosene lamps, overcoat fabric becomes wicks. Government officials regularly checked these trench “cities” for proper ventilation, light, heat and nutrition. They also became grounds for officials to disseminate the war’s goals and for connecting people from diverse regions, classes and ethnic groups.

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Energy Aesthetics: Force, Flow, and En-tropy in Russian Culture

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Literature, visual arts, popular science brought together Russian scholars in fields ranging from visual arts to literature to anthropology. The aim of the interdisciplinary symposium was to examine “energy as a shaping force in Russian literature, visual culture, and social practice from the mid-nineteenth cen-tury to the present.”

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