n.27 December 2009

Viktor Erofeev is among Russia's most important contemporary authors, and one of its most vividly sarcastic. He sees Putin-era Russia as operating under a central guiding principle: Citizens are free to do whatever they wish in their private lives, so long as they don’t rain on the regime’s parade. As for murdered journalists, who’s really paying attention?

A quick look at 21st century Moscow may conceal the way its architecture has evolved over the decades. The socialist city of the 1900s was once weighed down by layer-upon-layer conflicting eclecticism.
But since the fall of communism, the capital’s changes have taken on a literally spectacular dimension. Now,the sky’s the limit.

Trooping through the Ukraine during World War II at the head of a downtrodden squad, young Italian sergeant Mario Rigoni Stern saw wheat fields and sunflowers that seemed to stretch to the Caucasus and beyond.  Influenced by Gogol and Gorky,he later wrote vividly about his wartime experiences in the breadbasket region. Then as now, it is the city of Poltava that symbolizes the Ukraine of the written word.

The women of the Gaza Strip don't drive motorcycles and rarely even ride them