Stories: Russia

  • Russia’s Disappearing Women

    When they were younger, before their son was born, Maria's boyfriend started hurting her. He would place his hands on her neck and squeeze tightly until her skin turned pink and she gasped for air. After her son Andrei came along, the abuse got worse, and her arms were regularly crowded with bruises, her face sore and swollen. Maria...

  • Putin’s Chosen People

    Moscow’s Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center is an impressive place. Original artifacts, film clips, and interactive displays take visitors on a tour through centuries of Judaism’s rich but tragic history in Russia, from the Middle Ages to the czarist-era pogroms to the Holocaust to the repression of the Stalin era to the mass emigration...

  • Russia Gets Religion

    I’m not sure if it was out of personal preference or as a concession to his interviewer that Dmitry Sverdlov asked to meet me at a 1950s-style American diner in Moscow’s Kitay-gorod neighborhood. With the Beach Boys harmonizing on the jukebox and Marilyn Monroe and James Dean looking down from the walls, the small-town Orthodox priest-turned-tech...

  • Sloviansk: A City With PTSD

    Psychologist Tatyana Aslanyan is on a mission to treat a city that seems to be suffering from a collective form of post-traumatic stress disorder. “Everyone, in some way or another, shows the symptoms,” she told me at the Donbass State Pedagogical University in Sloviansk, the eastern Ukrainian city where she is an associate professor. The concrete university is...

  • Did Russia Really Boost Its Birthrate by Promising New Mothers Prize Money and Refrigerators?

    Russia is hardly the only country with worries about population decline—birthrates are falling below the replacement fertility rate in nearly every industrialized country in the world. Russia, though, has faced a significantly more dramatic demographic bust than most places. Thanks to a combination of low fertility, high mortality rates, and emigration, the Russian population declined by...

  • Vladimir Putin’s Tiger Is Lost in China

    If you happen to be traipsing about China’s Heilongjiang province and come across a lost-looking Siberian tiger, the Kremlin would like it back. Kuzya, a tiger that was personally released back into the wild by Russian President Vladimir Putin, has caused something of an international incident by wading across the Amur River that separates Russia...

  • The Chilling Effects of Russia’s Anti-Gay Law, One Year Later

    Sitting in the food court of a Moscow shopping mall, Konstantin Yablotsky reflected on the effects of the Russian government’s hostility to what it calls “gay propaganda” over the past year. “People have become more closed, more depressed, less out than they were,” he said. “The law makes our activity more difficult, because...

  • Top Russian Officials Are Starting to Realize That the Country’s Economy Is in Big Trouble

    You wouldn’t know it from the Chanel boutiques and Maserati dealerships lining the boulevards inside Moscow’s Garden Ring, but economic conditions in Russia are becoming dire. The ruble has weakened to record lows not seen since the 1990s, capital is bleeding out of the country for the first time since the 2008 financial crisis, and the economy...

  • Protesters and Counterprotesters at Moscow’s Big Anti-War March

    When I first arrived at Pushkin Square about an hour before the start of a planned anti-war rally on Sunday, I thought I might have been in the wrong place. The plaza beneath the statue of Russia’s favorite poet was dominated by supporters of the separatists in eastern Ukraine, brandishing the Dixie-esque flag of...

  • How Teflon Is Vladimir Putin’s Popularity?

    I’m currently in Moscow thanks to a fellowship from the International Reporting Project at Johns Hopkins. I’ll be posting some lengthier dispatches from here in the coming weeks as well as keeping up the blogging on general world news. What, me worry? Photo: Kirill Kudryavstev/AFP/Getty Images The violence in Ukraine...