Russia

Ivan Vasilevich Ovchinnikov defected to the Soviet Union in 1958. After three years in West Germany, he had had enough of the West with its hollow promises. He was a farmer’s son, and his family’s property had been confiscated and the family deported as ‘kulaks’ during Stalin’s assault on the Russian village in the early 1930s. Ovchinnikov managed to escape the often deadly exile, obscured his family background, and made a respectable career. Brought up in a children’s home, then trained in a youth army school, the talented youngster eventually entered the élite Military Institute for Foreign Languages in Moscow. In 1955, now an officer and a translator, he was sent to East Berlin as part of the army’s intelligence unit.

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Joseph Stalin wanted this wartime correspondence published, and one can see why: he comes off best. As the authors comment, ‘the transcript of the Big Three meetings demonstrates Stalin’s careful mastery of the issues and his superior skill as a diplomatist, regularly keeping his silence but then speaking out in a terse and timely manner at key moments’. He is ...

Letters to the Editor - April 2019

Marilyn Lake
Friday, 24 August 2018

Letters to the Editor: Tony Kevin from Gordon writes on Jeff Sparrow's Trigger Warnings; John Lowe from Ormond on D. H. Lawrence; and some comments on Behrouz Boochani and his poem 'Flight from Manus' ...

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On its first appearance in Russia, Dostoevsky’s novel 'Crime and Punishment' was the hit of the season. It was serialised throughout 1866 in the journal 'The Russian Messenger'. Nikolai Strakhov, Dostoevsky’s first biographer, described the novel’s effect on the reading public as spectacular: ‘[A]ll that lovers of reading talked ...

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‘Heroes, hero worship, and the heroic in history’: so did one observer describe the essence of Edmund Wilson’s To the Finland Station (1940). A series of portraits of ‘great men’, the book culminates with Lenin’s arrival on a German train at Petrograd’s Finland Station in April 1917, shortly after the overthrow of Tsar Nicholas ...

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The centenary of the Russian Revolution has just passed, leaving a rather eerie silence, as Vladimir Putin’s Russia decided not to hold any official commemoration. In the current climate of what has been called a ‘new Cold War’ with Russia, people in the West often forget that the Soviet Union and its communist regime ...

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Winston Churchill once famously said of Russia: ‘It is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.’ The aphorism is still cited regularly today by analysts and commentators confused by the opaque Russian state. Regrettably, the sentences that followed have been largely consigned to history ...

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It is now widely believed that Russia and its agents interfered with the 2016 US presidential election to help Donald Trump get elected ...

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When Svetlana Alexievich won the Nobel Prize in 2015, the response in the Anglophone world was general bewilderment. Who was she? The response in Russia was the opposite: intense, personal, targeted. Alexievich wasn’t a real writer, detractors said; she had only won the Nobel because the West loves critics of Putin ...

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Donald Trump’s rise to the presidency has redefined many features of US politics, not the least of which has been the nation’s relationship with its former Cold War nemesis. ‘Wouldn’t it be nice,’ Trump asked while campaigning, ‘if we actually got along with Russia?’

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