How Putin’s Oligarchs Bought London

How Putin’s Oligarchs Bought London

From banking to boarding schools, the British establishment has long been at their service, discretion guaranteed.

via The New Yorker: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2022/03/28/how-putins-oligarchs-bought-london

The stark implication of “Putin’s People” is not just that the President of Russia may be a silent partner in one of England’s most storied sports franchises but also that England itself has been a silent and handsomely compensated partner in Putin’s kleptocratic designs—that, in the past two decades, Russian oligarchs have infiltrated England’s political, economic, and legal systems.

China’s Information Dark Age Could Be Russia’s Future

China’s Information Dark Age Could Be Russia’s Future

Russia and China have the tendency to learn the worst from each other: tyrants, famines, purges and, now, internet censorship.

Link: https://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/18/business/chinas-russia-information.html

“When people ask me how info environment within the Great Firewall is like,” Yaqiu Wang, a researcher at the Human Rights Watch in New York, wrote on Twitter about China’s censored internet, “I say, ‘Imagine the whole country is one giant QAnon.’”

The Russian Military’s Debacle in Ukraine

The Russian Military’s Debacle in Ukraine

A series of strategic missteps has hampered Putin’s campaign. Will desperation make up for a lack of preparation?

via The New Yorker: https://www.newyorker.com/news/q-and-a/the-russian-militarys-debacle-in-ukraine

I always tell people that military defense analysts focus on capabilities, but military strategy and the operational concepts really matter. It’s the force employment that really matters. The initial Russian campaign represents completely irrational force employment and, in many cases, frankly, nonemployment. A host of capabilities sat on the sidelines

Opinion | In Russia, I Learned, Threats Were Always Real

Opinion | In Russia, I Learned, Threats Were Always Real

A sense of menace floats long enough to make you think you’re paranoid. Sooner or later, what was feared happens. And nobody makes a secret of it.

Link: https://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/02/opinion/russia-putin-nemtsov.html

Life in the compounds was punctuated by ostentatious intrusions: household items conspicuously rearranged, computer files left open, alarm clocks reset to go off in the middle of the night. It was considered gauche to broadcast these events, though, because we reporters were not the story we’d come to cover.

Opinion | Did We Miss Biden’s Most Important Remark About Russia?

Opinion | Did We Miss Biden’s Most Important Remark About Russia?

Putin has something bigger to worry about at home than anything that happens in Ukraine.

Link: https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/25/opinion/president-biden-russia-ukraine.html

“An unseasonably rare forest fire has engulfed the Russian tundra as the country faces significant changes from climate change, Interfax reported.” Some 900 acres “are burning despite below-zero temperatures in the Magadan region some 10,000 kilometers east of Moscow. ‘The tundra is usually covered with snow at this time of year, so such fires occur extremely rarely,’ Interfax quoted an unnamed source as saying. Firefighters’ efforts to extinguish the flames are hampered by frozen water reservoirs, Interfax reported. Video posted online shows firefighters working to stamp out the fire with their feet and with tree branches.”

Trying to Blur Memories of the Gulag, Russia Targets a Rights Group

Trying to Blur Memories of the Gulag, Russia Targets a Rights Group

Prosecutors are trying to shut down Memorial International, Russia’s most prominent human rights group, as the Kremlin moves to control the historical narrative of the Soviet Union.

Link: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/11/22/world/europe/russia-memorial-prosecution.html

“Here you can see a vivid example of living memory which is directly connected to present times,” she said. “It’s a similar pattern. Of course it’s not exactly the same — there are different mechanisms, and different details. But you can recognize the same logic and the same evil standing behind it.”

Can Russia’s Press Ever Be Free?

Can Russia’s Press Ever Be Free?

The journalists of Novaya Gazeta report on dangerous conflicts—and endure threats of their own.

via The New Yorker: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2021/11/22/can-russias-press-ever-be-free

There have been threats and attacks: Kostyuchenko has been physically assaulted, detained, and credibly threatened with terrifying regularity. In 2017, the paper twice received envelopes filled with an unidentified white powder (later deemed harmless). Earlier this year, someone dressed as a bicycle messenger rode up to the building and sprayed it with an unknown chemical substance.

The Nobel Peace Prize Acknowledges a Dangerous Era for Journalists

The Nobel Peace Prize Acknowledges a Dangerous Era for Journalists

The co-winner, Dmitry Muratov, is the editor-in-chief of Novaya Gazeta, which has lost more journalists to murder than any other Russian news outlet.

via The New Yorker: https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/the-nobel-peace-prize-acknowledges-a-dangerous-era-for-journalists

When I asked Muratov what he thought he got the prize for, he told me, instead, who he thought the prize was intended for: the investigative journalist Yuri Shchekochikhin, poisoned in 2003; Politkovskaya, who was shot in 2006; the investigative journalist Igor Domnikov, beaten to death in 2000; the lawyer Stanislav Markelov, who represented the paper in the Domnikov case, shot in 2009; the junior reporter Anastasia Baburova, who was shot together with Markelov; and the journalist Natalia Estemirova, who was kidnapped and killed in Chechnya in 2009.

How Investigative Journalism Flourished in Hostile Russia

How Investigative Journalism Flourished in Hostile Russia

A new wave of news outlets has used conventional, and unconventional, methods to pierce the veil of Putin’s power.

Link: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/21/business/media/probiv-investigative-reporting-russia.html

But the one that blows my mind is “probiv.” It’s drawn from the word that means “to pierce” — or to enter something into a search bar. Today, it refers to the practice by which anyone can buy, for a couple of dollars on the social media app Telegram or hundreds on a dark web marketplace, the call records, cellphone geolocation or air travel records of anyone in Russia you want to track. Probiv is purchased by jealous spouses or curious business partners, and criminals of various sorts. But it has also been used recently, and explosively, by journalists and political activists, overlapping categories in Russia, where the chief opposition leader, Aleksei A. Navalny, often makes use of the tools of investigative journalism.

China Censors the Internet. So Why Doesn’t Russia?

China Censors the Internet. So Why Doesn’t Russia?

The Kremlin has constructed an entire infrastructure of repression but has not displaced Western apps. Instead, it is turning to outright intimidation.

Link: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/21/world/europe/russia-internet-censorship.html

More broadly, the question of how to deal with the internet lays bare a dilemma for Mr. Putin’s Russia: whether to raise state repression to new heights and risk a public backlash or continue trying to manage public discontent by maintaining some semblance of an open society.

The Haunted House of Soviets Gets a New Life

The Haunted House of Soviets Gets a New Life

Residents of Kaliningrad, Russia’s westernmost region, search for meaning in a building many see as an egregious architectural mistake. “It’s ugly, but it’s ours.”

Link: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/16/world/europe/kaliningrad-russia-soviet-union-house-of-soviets.html

The protruding balconies are eyes, above which looms an oversize braincase of office space intended for Communist Party functionaries who would guide the economy. They never settled in because of the structural flaws.