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Articles by Felix Light
Vladimir Zhirinovsky, Far-Right Court Jester of Russian Politics, Dies at 75
The founder of the LDPR carved out a unique space for himself through his outrageous personality and often vulgar outbursts.
Nervousness in South Caucasus as Russia Distracted in Ukraine
Russian weakness has traditionally been a harbinger of unrest in the region.
At a Young Russian Soldier’s Funeral, Denunciations of ‘Ukrainian Nazis,’ Soviet Dissolution
The Moscow Times attended the funeral of one of the of servicemen to have died in Russia’s “special military operation.”
bracing for impact
For Russia's Small Businesses, Instagram Ban Deals a Huge Blow
Already facing the economic shock of sanctions, Russia's entrepreneurs have now lost a critical means of running their businesses.
As Anti-War Russians Flee, Ex-Soviet Kyrgyzstan Prepares for Emigre Influx
With domestic repressions ramping up and with European countries off-limits, many Russians are making for former Soviet countries.
Slow Progress and Fierce Resistance in Ukraine Could Prompt Brutal Russian Offensive
Experts say Putin’s failure to secure a fast victory could force him to adopt the kind of harsh tactics last seen in Chechnya and Syria.
‘ASHAMED AND HELPLESS’
Russians Protest Ukraine Invasion Despite Crushed Opposition, Risk of Reprisals
Activists, celebrities and journalists are speaking out as best they can within an increasingly authoritarian political system.
‘We’re All Just Spectators’: Russia-Ukraine Border Residents Await Putin’s Next Move
In the city of Rostov-on-Don, news that Russia will send troops to separatist Eastern Ukraine hits harder than elsewhere in the country.
In Photos: Evacuees from Donbas Arrive in Russia
Tens of thousands of women, children and elderly have crossed the border into Russia after separatist leaders accused Ukraine of planning to invade.
‘We Have No Idea What’s Going On’: Evacuees From Ukraine’s Breakaway Donbas Region Take Stock
The Moscow Times spoke to people told to leave their homes in the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics as they crossed the border into Russia.
In the Closest Russian City to Ukraine’s Separatist Region, There Are Few Signs of Refugees
Rostov-on-Don should be gearing up for an influx of people after the breakaway Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics ordered an evacuation.
Kremlin Holds All the Cards as Russia-Backed Separatists Demand Recognition
“All hope is on Putin to recognize the Donbas.”
Russian Parliament Backs Plan to Recognize Breakaway Ukrainian Regions
The motion raises tensions, even as Russian troops begin a partial withdrawal from the Ukrainian border.
For Russia and China, Beijing Olympics Are About More Than Sporting Glory
Putin’s presence at the Games amid the crisis in Ukraine and a U.S. diplomatic boycott is seen as a symbol of deepening Sino-Russian relations.
‘I Haven’t Forgotten That Ukraine Is My Homeland’: Donbas Natives in Russia Dread New War
Many refugees from Eastern Ukraine hope for annexation by Russia, but emotional ties to the country of their birth remain.
SOUTH OF THE BORDER
In Search of a Better Life, Thousands of Russians Are Crossing the Mexican Border to America
Unscrupulous middlemen charge asylum seekers hefty fees to embark on the treacherous journey.
What Scenarios Might Emerge in Ukraine?
Experts believe full-scale invasion of Ukraine is the least likely of the possible outcomes, and lean toward annexation or a “limited operation.”
As Caucasian Glaciers Melt, Locals Face the Future With Stoicism
Caucasian glaciers have lost a quarter of their surface area to climate change since the millennium.
A Week of Russia-West Diplomacy Ends in Deadlock
No one had expected talks on Ukraine and NATO to deliver any breakthroughs, experts told The Moscow Times.
Russia’s Involvement in Kazakhstan’s Crisis Could Have Wide Implications
Experts believe Moscow risks being sucked into neighboring unrest and having to manage strategic instability on two fronts.
For a Troubled Russian Region, Stalin is a Local Hero
North Ossetia has more Stalin monuments than any other Russian region, with many believing the Soviet dictator had local roots
2022 Look Ahead
More Domestic Crackdowns Loom on Russia’s Horizon in 2022
Experts forecast continuing pressure on what’s left of the opposition, but no protests.
2021 in review
Three Decades After Soviet Collapse, Life in Russia Could Be Worse
Society is wracked by contrast, but genuine progress coexists with painful failure.
Russian Court Orders Closure of Renowned Rights Group Memorial
Memorial's closure rounds out a year in which Russian authorities have cracked down on nearly all forms of dissent.
FAILURE TO PERSUADE
Russian Vaccine Skeptics Oppose Covid Passes
Even as the country’s excess mortality remains among the world’s highest, many Russians are refusing to accept new public health restrictions.
'Stalinism At War' Recasts the Soviet Role in WWII
A new and compelling history of the Soviet Union from 1937 to 1949.
EU Border Migrant Crisis Complicates Russia-Belarus Alliance
An already carefully balanced and contradictory relationship is now even more complex.
Russia Unlikely to Invade Ukraine Despite Ratcheting Tensions, Experts Believe
Losses would be too great and gains too limited, analysts told The Moscow Times.
SUCCESSION OF EMPIRES
In Russia’s South, the Remains of a Greek City Hint at Cosmopolitan Past
The Phanagoria site shines a light on a long-lost heritage, and also on how Russian archaeologists have adapted to a difficult financial environment.
Testing the rules
Moscow Raids Firms Violating Lockdown, as Small Businesses Call for Help
Owners say weak support from the government has left them with no choice but to carry on working.
Russia’s Change in Tone on Climate Is Unlikely to Spark Rapid Green Transition
The world’s fourth-largest emitter of greenhouse gases is still in the bargaining stage of decarbonization, experts told The Moscow Times.
Evgeny Dobrenko's 'Late Stalinism: The Aesthetics of Politics' Recasts 20th Century History
In Dobrenko's telling, 1945-1953 are the most important years in the history of the USSR and Russia.
Amid Coronavirus Surge and New Lockdowns, Some Russians Shrug
More than half of Russians are unvaccinated, and many intend to remain that way.
"The Human Factor" Shines New Light on Recent History
An important study of the end of the Cold War from both a participant and analyst.
Author Jonathan Schneer Dazzles in "The Lockhart Plot"
This is meticulously researched, virtually unknown history by a master storyteller.
‘FREE AND FAIR’
Russian Opposition Calls Foul After Ruling Party Landslide in Parliamentary Elections
Controversial online voting cut the early leads of candidates supported by jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.
In Russia’s Parliamentary Vote, Spoiler Parties and Dirty Tricks Abound
Parties and candidates using misleading names or campaigning techniques to befuddle voters have appeared all over the country throughout the campaign.
‘The Leftward Turn Is Inevitable’: In Lenin’s Hometown, Russian Communists Strive for Soviet Revival
Despite Kremlin pressure, the party is hoping to use popular discontent over falling living standards to gain in Duma elections this week.
Russia's Opposition Candidates Are Fighting Among Themselves. Again.
Alexei Navalny's Smart Voting system has added a new dimension to an old problem.
Russia’s Tame Opposition Admits No Chance of Change in Parliamentary Vote
Despite a widening crackdown, members of the “systemic opposition” hope staying in politics might allow them to influence the country’s future.
BETTER THE DEVIL YOU KNOW
Ahead of Duma Vote, Affluent Voronezh Remains Loyal to Putin and Stability
The president’s United Russia party is set to do well in the city in parliamentary elections despite opposition crackdown and falling popularity.
Russia Prepares for Duma Vote Under Shadow of Crackdown on Dissent
The outcome of parliamentary elections will hinge on whether a beleaguered opposition can cut through apathy to land some blows on the ruling party.
Essential Reading: “Navalny: Putin’s Nemesis, Russia’s Future?”
Ben Noble, Morvan Lallouet and Jan Matti Dollbaum provide a vivid portrait of a complicated individual.
‘It Was All for Nothing’: Russia Marks August Coup With Regret, Indifference
Thirty years on, The Moscow Times spoke to surviving participants in events that led to the collapse of the Soviet Union and birth of a new Russia.
As Chaos Engulfs Kabul, Russia Says It’s Ready to Work With the Taliban
Moscow has a history of pragmatism toward the Islamist militia and appears well placed for a transition in Afghanistan.
BURNED TO CINDERS
In Aftermath of Unprecedented Blazes, Russian Villagers Place Hope in Putin
A scorched Urals settlement bears many scars and feels let down by emergency services.
‘The Young People Don’t Stay Here’: Depopulation Haunts Russia’s Breadbasket
With declining economic trends exacerbated by the pandemic, poor, rural areas are facing a demographic crisis.
A Royal Mark Up: How an Emirati Sheikh Resells Millions of Russian Vaccines to the Developing World
The Moscow Times investigated a deal between Russia and a minor Dubai royal to supply poor countries with Sputnik V — at high prices.
‘We Are Not Revolutionaries’: Russia’s Last Liberal Party Operates Under No Illusions
Yabloko stalwarts see little chance of victory in September’s high-stakes elections to the country’s national parliament.
Russia Says Its Forests Neutralize Billions of Tons of Greenhouse Gases. Scientists Have Their Doubts.
Eight experts told The Moscow Times the government headline figure of 2.5 billion metric tons of CO2 is at best unproven and at worst unrealistic.
‘I’m Ready to Go to Prison’: The 26-Year-Old Taking On Russia’s Ruling Party
Roman Yuneman is counting on a mix of nationalism and local activism to win a State Duma seat from United Russia.
JABS FOR JOBS
Russia's Unprecedented Mandatory Vaccination Push Divides Society
Russian officials are desperate to get citizens vaccinated in a nation that distrusts vaccines.
Ahead of Tense Putin-Biden Summit, Few in Russia Expect Breakthroughs
Analysts in Moscow said the most that can be expected is a return to the predictable antagonism of the Cold War era.
Thirty Years On
A Century After His Birth, Dissident Sakharov Divides Opinion
The father of the Soviet bomb is publicly lauded, but his pro-democratic convictions are glossed over by the authorities.
After Plane Crisis, Is Belarusian President Lukashenko Becoming a Troublesome Partner for Russia?
Analysts say Moscow’s muted reaction to the diversion to Minsk of a Ryanair flight speaks to the Kremlin’s ambivalent view of the strongman.
‘EPIDEMIC OF SHOOTERS’
In the Wake of Another School Massacre, Russia Confronts Rising Gun Violence
The 10th school shooting in seven years has sparked calls for a clampdown on gun ownership and tighter internet censorship.
BLAZING A TRAIL
Russia’s Controversial Eurovision Entry Challenges Tradition
Tajik refugee and feminst Manizha seems to many a rebuttal of all that the country has come to stand for in the Putin era.
DISPATCHES FROM DAGESTAN
Confined By the Pandemic, Russian Tourists Flock to Dagestan
With foreign holidays ruled out, Russians are warming to a mountainous Caucasian region that, until recently, was seen as dangerous and backward.
‘How Can We Survive When the Land Is Gone?’ In Dagestan, a Proud People Fights the Desert
Desertification, driven by climate change, is destroying the Nogai people’s grasslands and livelihoods.
As the Caspian Sea Disappears, Life Goes on for Those Living by Its Shores
Scientists predict the world’s largest inland sea will shrink by a quarter due to climate change by the end of the century.
Supporters Protest Across Russia for Release of Ailing Navalny
The jailed opposition leader has been on hunger strike for three weeks.
Will Russia’s Belated Promotion of Sputnik V at Home Sway a Doubting Public?
The vaccine has met with a cool reception and muted promotion among skeptical Russians, despite international fanfare.
Navalny Hunger Strike a Dangerous Step After Poisoning, Allies Fear
The jailed Kremlin critic is refusing food until prison authorities allow his doctor to treat crippling back and leg pain.
Facing Heightened Threats, Russia’s Main Independent Paper Contemplates a Bleak Future
The latest attack on Novaya Gazeta is making some of its editors wonder how long it can survive in the country.
Kremlin Push Against Opposition Ramps Up Ahead of Fall Elections
With opposition leader Alexei Navalny in jail, authorities are doing their best to neutralize his Smart Voting scheme.
‘ONLY THE BEGINNING’
Is Russia’s Twitter Clampdown a Harbinger of Wider Restrictions?
Activists fear Chinese-style censorship of foreign social networks could be on the horizon.
Left Out in the Cold for Decades, Russia’s ‘Gulag Children’ Battle to Return Home
Russians born in Stalin’s camps are still fighting for compensation the law says they are entitled to.
A Vote on Restoring a Secret Police Chief’s Statue Opens Old Wounds in Russia
Three decades after anti-communist protesters toppled the monument to Felix Dzerzhinsky outside the KGB’s headquarters, it could be set to return.
SUPPLY AND DEMAND
Looming Supply Glut of Russia’s Sputnik V Vaccine Could Pave Way for Exports
Pharmaceutical industry experts told The Moscow Times that manufacturers are set to overshoot targets while Russians remain indifferent to the jab.
Russia’s Communists Are Split Over Support for Navalny
The opposition activist’s jailing is upsetting the balance between the party’s pro-Kremlin leadership and radical grassroots membership.
As Moscow’s Jails Overflow, Navalny Detainees Are Held Outside the City
Friends and relatives of people arrested at rallies in support of the opposition leader are queuing with care packages in the village of Sakharovo.
Poisoned Putin Critic Navalny Gets Almost 3 Years in Prison Colony
The opposition leader was convicted of violating a 2014 suspended sentence for fraud while he was recovering in Germany.
True Beliefs and Opportunism: Navalny’s Tangled Political Development
While Russia’s opposition leader has veered from liberalism to nationalism and populism, his core values center on anti-corruption.
From Skepticism to Relief: Why I Got the Russian Vaccine
“I sank into a strange, semi-feverish state.”
Wave of unrest
Protests for Jailed Kremlin Critic Navalny Sweep Russia
Police clash with demonstrators in major cities and detain thousands.
‘A Step Into the Unknown’: Russians’ Relationship With Jailed Navalny Is Complicated
As the opposition activist calls for protests, polls show his support is small but growing.
Could Navalny’s Detention Derail His Movement?
Some analysts believe the opposition figure’s arrest could lead to a broader crackdown on his supporters.
Russia Detains Poisoned Kremlin Critic Navalny on Return to Home Soil
The opposition leader has spent months in Germany recovering from an attack with a poison Western experts concluded was Novichok.
NOT JUST A PLACEHOLDER
A Year After Shock Appointment, Russian Prime Minister Mishustin’s Star is Rising
Some experts are predicting that the well-connected technocrat might be destined for a long career at the summit of Russian politics.
Resignation of Yakutsk’s First Female Mayor Raises Questions About Russia’s Ruling Party
Some experts believe Sardana Avksentiyeva was forced out by a Kremlin keen to clear the field ahead of Duma elections.
The Kremlin Tightens the Screws on Public Dissent
Russia has cemented sweeping new restrictions on political protests, social media and “foreign agents.”
2021 LOOK AHEAD
Russia in 2021: Looming Elections Dominate the Domestic Scene
The vote to elect deputies for Russia’s lower house of parliament, the Duma, must be held by September.
2021 LOOK AHEAD
Russia in 2021: As Climate Crisis Rages, Scientists Fear the Worst Is Yet to Come
The world’s largest country faces an accelerating emergency as warming weather sparks more environmental disasters.
A Feminist Pro-Kremlin Lawmaker Who Supports LGBT Rights
Oksana Pushkina tells The Moscow Times her views aren’t oppositional — they’re just common sense.
‘NOT A BELIEVER’
Vaccine Fears Slow Moscow’s Sputnik V Rollout
Initial numbers indicate that as few as 14 people per clinic per day are receiving the vaccine.
LACK OF TRUST
As Russia Begins Mass Coronavirus Vaccination, Its Medics Aren't On Board
Skepticism among the medical community will make a nationwide Sputnik V push difficult.
QAnon Gains Traction in Russia
The coronavirus pandemic has boosted the popularity of the pro-Trump viral conspiracy theory.
In a Poor Russian City, Coronavirus Hits Hard
The pandemic has combined with poverty to push Ivanovo’s healthcare system to its breaking point.
5 Things You Need to Know About Moldova’s Presidential Elections
Former prime minister Maia Sandu's unexpected victory could push the ex-Soviet eastern European nation further away from Moscow’s orbit.
CONSPIRACY UPON CONSPIRACY
Coronavirus Conspiracy Theories Flourish in Russia’s Republic of North Ossetia
The fringe Soviet Citizens movement has co-opted the pandemic for its agenda.
Coronavirus Hits Hard in Russia’s Volatile Republic of Ingushetia
Poverty and political unrest are making a bad situation worse in the tiny North Caucasian region.
Coronavirus Outbreak Is Major Test for Russia’s Facial Recognition Network
Russia wants to follow China’s example in combating the virus with technology, but its systems are embryonic.
Russia Is Building One of the World’s Largest Facial Recognition Networks
According to some projections, it may even be bigger than China’s 200 million camera system.