Winter Reading Series: Emil Draitser’s “Farewell, Mama Odessa,” Part II



When the Bolshoi Ballet came to town, Si and Zev printed their own playbills and, at the theater entrance, handed them to the theatergoers. Below the ballet cast of “Sleeping Beauty,” they put a note. It called the public not to ignore the fact that the country capable of producing such an enchanting spectacle was also capable of treating its Jews as second-rate citizens. The police duly arrested the pair.

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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



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



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



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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You Want Romanovs With That?



There has long been a reluctance to accept that the Bolsheviks could, in fact, wipe out the entire imperial family and for the next seventy-five years not feel bad about it. But the lasting conviction that Grand Duchess Anastasia survived has now expanded to include other members of the dynasty.

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Event Announcement: Everyday and the Experience of War in Late Modernity



All the Russias is pleased to announce an event held this Friday, November 15, in NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts (721 Broadway, 7th Floor) at 6 PM. Part of an international research project spanning two years (2017-2019), “Everyday and the Experience of War in Late Modernity” will analyze visual representations —films and video art — pertaining to the experience of war in Eastern Europe.

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Putin’s Y2024 Problem



There is no doubt that Putin has a succession plan – but he has not yet revealed what it is. During his June 2018 call-in program, Putin said in response to a question about his succession “of course I think about it all the time,” remarking that “we have a new generation of young leaders who can take responsibility for running Russia.” When asked about his successor in a June 2019 interview with the “Financial Times,” he said, “I have always been thinking about this, since 2000,” but did not provide any more details.

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The Khachaturyan Sisters and Russia’s History of Fighting Terror at Home



The case of the Khachaturyan sisters reads like one of Liudmila Petrushevskaya’s darkest tales. On August 2, 2018, Maria (age 17), Angelina (18), and Krestina (19) were arrested on charges of having murdered their father Mikhail. He had subjected them to years of severe physical and sexual abuse, including beating them with the butt of a pistol, cutting them with knives, and attacking them with pepper spray. His body was found in the stairwell of their Moscow apartment building with 36 stab wounds around the chest and neck and pepper spray in his eyes. The sisters confessed but said their lives had been at risk. They are currently awaiting trial.

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