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Russian Politics


23 August 2022

In the documentary film Navalny, Christo Grosev, chief investigator with the Bellingcat group of independent journalists, details how he followed the data trail to identify the FSB (Russian secret service) kill team who shadowed Alexei Navalny (leader of the opposition movement) to Siberia in August 2020 and poisoned him with the Soviet-era nerve agent Novichok. The attack left Navalny in a coma, teetering between life and death in a Russian hospital, the doctors apparently complicit in the attempts to cover up the source of his illness.

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Kicking the Kremlin by Marc Bennetts & Putin and the Oligarch by Richard Sakwa

August 2014, no. 363

Moscow’s annexation of Crimea in March was a dramatic sign of Russia’s sense that it had recovered from its post-Soviet weakness. Viewed in the West as an outrage, in Russia the seizure was portrayed as a triumph, the culmination of a national resurgence under Vladimir Putin. It remains to be seen how long this mood of triumph will last. 

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In Ernest Hemingway’s novel For Whom the Bell Tolls, the hero Robert Jordan, an American fighting on the Republican side in the Spanish Civil War, receives some advice from Karkov, a Russian ‘journalist’ at the unofficial Soviet headquarters in Madrid.

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The Western stereotype of the Russian bear has been reborn over the past decade, and Vladimir Putin can take much of the credit. If Hollywood decides to make a movie of John Le Carré’s Smiley’s People, the Russian president, a German-speaking KGB officer, would make an excellent Carla, the master spy.

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