Pizza and marinières: Galerie Vivienne welcomes Giesbert’s Da Roco

Across the street from the historic Richelieu site of what is now the National Library of France stands an entrance to Galerie Vivienne, one of the famed covered passages of Paris. The shopping arcade was built in 1823 as Galerie Marchoux (inaugurated in 1826 and renamed Vivienne shortly thereafter) in a neoclassical Pompeian style according… Continue Reading ➤

The Sneakers That Could Bring Down Russia’s Prime Minister: an Interview with Nikita Kulachenkov

Nikita Kulachenkov. Photo: KYC360

This article was originally published on KYC360.com. Earlier this year, an exposé on prime minister Dmitry Medvedev took Russia by storm. Don’t call him Dimon was the work of the Anti-Corruption Foundation, the brainchild of opposition politician Alexei Navalny. The foundation, whose mission is to expose corruption at the highest levels of Russia’s political system,… Continue Reading ➤

U.S. Military strikes Syrian airbase: developments and consequences

Photo: VA Comm via Flickr

In the early morning of Friday, 7 April, the United States fired 59 GPS-guided Tomahawk cruise missiles at the Syrian airbase of Shayrat from two Navy warships stationed in the Mediterranean Sea. The attack – an unexpected volte-face from an administration and a President hitherto dismayed at the historically interventionist character of U.S. foreign policy… Continue Reading ➤

What does Putin want in Syria?

Putin Syria article photo

The United Nations Security Council ushered in the new year by unanimously passing a resolution on a nationwide ceasefire in Syria, welcoming a Russian and Turkish initiative announced just six days after Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces regained control of Aleppo on 22 December 2016. Having spent much of 2016 riding a diplomatic rollercoaster after Turkey’s November 2015 downing of a Russian… Continue Reading ➤

The Land of Make Believe: Federalism in Russia

“Let’s meet at the cafe on the right,” read the note in my hand. “It’s the one where they don’t sell cigarettes.” I stood on the corner of Rue La Bruyère and Rue Jean-Baptiste-Pigalle in the Saint-Georges district of Paris. The byzantine domes of Sacré Coeur could be glimpsed at a distance, their impressive alabaster gently piercing the ultramarine sky,… Continue Reading ➤

Uncovering Chernobyl, Thirty Years On

Photo: Hugh Mitton

“I personally think that Chernobyl contributed to the fall of the Soviet Union,” said Dr. Galia Ackerman, taking a sip of her café allongé. The Franco-Russian journalist and I sat in her living room in Paris on the morning of 28 April, just two days after the 30th anniversary of the catastrophic explosion at the… Continue Reading ➤

Transgression: LGBT+ citizenship in a post-Soviet sphere

Photo: Maria Komarova

One Indian summer’s evening, I found myself walking towards the metro along Moscow’s Tverskaya Street. Not far ahead of me, four adolescents – three boys and one girl – appeared wholly content in one another’s company as they engaged in good-natured banter. The group, I soon understood, was composed of two couples: one heterosexual and… Continue Reading ➤

The significance of the Russian Soul in understanding contemporary geopolitics

Photo: Ilia Schelkanov

‘Who would grasp Russia with the mind?  For her no yardstick was created:  Her soul is of a special kind,  By faith alone appreciated.’   – Fyodor Tyutchev (trans. by John Dewey) “Wanted: Russian-speaking spies to help MI5 keep tabs on Vladimir Putin,” read a February Telegraph headline. MI5, MI6 and GCHQ had set a six week-deadline to… Continue Reading ➤

BBC Russian’s Seva Novgorodsev: my method was compassion

Seva Novgorodsev: "I was told on numerous occasions that I was the one who brought [the Soviet Union] down".

“I suppose it started in 1956 with ‘Rock around the Clock’,” says Seva Novogorodsev MBE, chuckling in a bout of reminiscence. The 74-year-old BBC Russian presenter sits across from me in a studio at BBC New Broadcasting House in London. It is the day of our interview for The Cambridge Globalist and I am, expectedly, overcome by emotion. What an honour it is… Continue Reading ➤

Why outstanding women of achievement can inspire us all

"If we are strong and have faith in life and its richness of surprises and hold the rudder steadily in our hands, I am sure we will sail into quiet and pleasant waters for our old age" - Freya Stark

In mid-January, I had the honour of receiving an invitation from Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge to report on the ‘Women of Achievement’ lecture series organised in celebration of the College’s 50th anniversary. Once or twice a week, students, members of faculty, and guests all gathered in the Wood-Legh Room of Strathaird House – a beautifully… Continue Reading ➤