On This Day: April 22, 1899

On this day in 1899, the writer Vladimir Nabokov was born in St. Petersburg. His father was a liberal politician; his mother a well-educated and cultured member of a prominent business family. He was the oldest of five children. He received his early education at home with governesses and tutors and then at a liberal…

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Into the Frying Pan: 9 Top Russian Cookbooks

Writing about cookbooks should not be a minefield, but in trying to nail down exactly what constitutes a “Russian” cookbook, I often feel the need of a sturdy flak jacket.  When you focus on a region whose physical and political borders have ebbed and flowed as often as Russia’s has, culinary history can well become controversial if not positively incendiary.…

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Moscow’s Monuments Get a Spring Shower

When you’re serious about your city’s statues, it isn’t just your home that needs spring cleaning. Muscovites headed outside to give the capital’s famous monuments a solid scrubbing and clean off the winter dirt.

Here’s a look at Moscow’s statues getting spruced up for the new season:

Russian Photographer Shoots Moscow With Blade Runner Aesthetics

With his work, Russian photographer Konstantin Vikhrov (@begushiy_po_ebenyam) attempts what he calls an “aesthetic-semantic” game, contrasting neon colors against dark shadows. The results are gloomy cyberpunk scenes reminiscent of film classic Blade Runner, capturing the bright but bleak sides of the capital.

Here are a few of our favorites:

Celebrate Theater in Peremilovo

This year is the Year of Theater in Russia, and to celebrate, the Theater Gallery on Malaya Ordynka is running an exhibition of works by the delightfully zany artist Vladimir Lyubarov entitled “The Year of Theater in the Village of Peremilovo.” In 1991, Lyubarov left his hometown of Moscow in favor of a simple life…

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On This Day: April 13, 1990

On this day, on April 13, 1943, the German army under Adolf Hitler announced the discovery of mass graves near the village of Katyn not far from Smolensk. The Nazis accused the Soviet Union of the mass murder of Polish officers. For almost five decades, the Soviet Union denied all responsibility, insisting that the murders…

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‘Stalingrad’ by Vasily Grossman

In June a new translation of a new version of Vasily Grossman’s “Stalingrad” is being released. Edited by Robert Chandler and Yury Bit-Yunan and translated from the Russian by Robert and Elizabeth Chandler, it promises to, if not revolutionize readers’ understanding of Vasily Grossman, then at least expand and augment it. We couldn’t wait to…

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Where Chinese Diners Eat in Moscow

Despite the decades-old Moscow-Beijing Friendship, authentic Chinese food has been really hard to find in the Russian capital. But as thousands of Chinese students and tourists flock to Moscow each year, they have been hankering for a taste of home — and now they found it. Assuming that your Mandarin isn’t up to reading the…

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All Too Human

Humans are embodied like all other animals, but according to Plato we are distinguished from the beasts through our possession of a sacred attribute: reason. This attribute is manifest in our ability to contemplate the nature of reality and reflect on how we ought to act. Thinkers from Plato to Steven Pinker have placed great…

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Run Out Winter’s Kinks

The passion to run has hit Russians hard. RunRepeat, a group that tracks marathon participation and times all around the world, reports that more Russians are running and more of them are running faster. In six years from 2009 to 2014, the number of Russian marathoners increased 300 percent. From 2008 to 2018, the average…

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Director Georgy Daneliya Has Died

The film director Georgy Daneliya died in a Moscow hospital on Thursday. The cause of death was a heart attack, but he had been hospitalized since February with an acute respiratory ailment. He was 88 years old. Daneliya was one of the Soviet Union’s most popular screenwriters and directors, whose gently satirical films managed to…

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Chikhirtma

Seriously, though, how do the Georgians do it?  The simplest dish on their stoves becomes a culinary tour de force.  Take, for example, chikhirtma, Georgia’s spicy, tangy, velvety version of Greek avgolemono or egg and lemon soup.    Like most Georgian recipes, the seemingly simple list of ingredients belies the complexity of the finished product.  The secret…

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On This Day: Andrei Tarkovsky

On this day in 1932, Andrei Tarkovsky was born in a village northeast of Moscow. His father was the poet and translator Arseny Tarkovsky, and his mother was a literary editor. He spent much of his childhood in the village before moving to Moscow after the war. At university Tarkovsky studied Arabic and then tried…

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On This Day: Nikolai Gogol

Nikolai Gogol was born in the Ukrainian town of Sorochintsy in 1809. His father, Vasily Gogol-Yanovsky, was himself a poet and a playwright, writing in both Ukrainian and Russian. Both languages were spoken in their home, and this would go on to have a significant influence on Gogol’s writing. In 1828 Gogol moved to St.…

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Rock Opera to the Rescue

How do you save a church? Call in a heavenly choir. That’s what St. Andrew’s Anglican Church in Moscow decided to do. To raise funds for desperately needed repairs to their historic 135-year-old church, the church invited the Stas Namin Theater to perform their production of “Jesus Christ Superstar” on April 2.  And Stas Namin…

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On This Day: Maxim Gorky

On March 28 in 1868, the writer Maxim Gorky was born as Alexei Peshkov in Nizhny Novgorod. Later he took the penname of “Gorky” as he told the “bitter truth” of life in Russia. During the Soviet period he was celebrated as an anti-tsarist, working-class supporter of the Soviet regime, and his books, short stories…

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Lining Up for the Repin Retrospective

The Tretyakov Gallery continues its series of retrospectives of prominent turn-of-the-century painters with an enormous exhibition of works by Ilya Repin. Devoted to the 175th anniversary of the artist’s birth, the retrospective at the Tretyakov Gallery is only the first of three shows. After Moscow it will travel to the State Russian Museum in St.…

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Catch the Russian Muse

March is not a good month in Moscow. The skiing and skating seasons are over, but the running and biking seasons are but a dream of the distant future. You’ve explored every mall and binge-watched every television series produced within the last decade. You’ve mastered several complex, day-long French recipes and gotten loopy trying to…

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A New Look at the Last Tsar

Last year, the 100th anniversary of the execution of the last members of the Romanov dynasty passed in Russia without much official attention. The exception was in Yekaterinburg, where the family was killed and where thousands of pilgrims gathered to mark the day of their murder. But in Moscow the State Historical Museum has been…

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Director Marlen Khutsiev Has Died

Marlen Khutsiev, one of the Soviet Union and Russia’s most innovative and beloved film directors, died on Tuesday morning at the age of 93. Khutsiev was born in Tiflis (now Tbilisi, Georgia) in 1925. His father (ne Khutishvili) was a communist with a pre-Revolutionary socialist pedigree, who, after serving in high positions within the Soviet…

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March Music in Moscow

There is no need for an excuse to listen to chamber music, but with spring still around the corner, March can call for a cozy indoor evening to lift your mood. And by now you might be ready for a change from the mulled wine and electric radiator that kept you going for the past…

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How Many Blini Can You Eat?

Moscow is gearing up to celebrate Maslenitsa — the week before Lent begins  — in grand style with food, concerts and burning effigies. In recent years, Russia’s Mardi Gras or “pancake week” has seen a glamorous and all-frills revival in the large cities as municipal and regional administrations organize a week of public celebration. From…

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The Battle for Moscow

On a cold but sunny afternoon rare for Moscow in mid-winter, a dozen activists stand shivering but resolute on Ulitsa Bolshaya Nikitskaya. They hold up large banners: “Stop tearing down our city!” and “Vandals are at work here!” prepared by the volunteer architecture preservation group Arkhnadzor. Passersby continually stop to read the banners and ask…

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Enter Solzhenitsyn’s World

When you step into a courtyard just off Tverskaya Ulitsa, you will probably look puzzledly at your phone, thinking that Google Maps has led you astray.  But despite its unassuming character, this quiet residential enclave is home to the Apartment-Museum of the Soviet era’s most iconic dissident writer: Alexander Solzhenitsyn. At the very end of…

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A Soviet Oscar Winner Restored

There wasn’t a Russian film up for the Oscar this year, but a newly restored 1969 Oscar winner is an apt reminder of Soviet cinema’s impact on the sweeping Hollywood epic.  “War and Peace,” director Sergei Bondarchuk’s adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s classic, expanded the scope, scale and aesthetic ambition of what could play on the…

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The Definitive Beef Stroganov

One thing I never worry about is how to entertain out of town guests in Moscow.  After twenty-some years, the template has been honed and refined into a delicate balance of classic rubbernecking (the Kremlin, Red Square, the Tretyakov Gallery, Novodeyvichy Convent and Cemetery) and just enough off-the-beaten-track experiences (Danilovsky Market, Garage, Izmailovo) to make…

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The Definitive Beef Stroganoff

One thing I never worry about is how to entertain out of town guests in Moscow.  After twenty-some years, the template has been honed and refined into a delicate balance of classic rubbernecking (the Kremlin, Red Square, the Tretyakov Gallery, Novodeyvichy Convent and Cemetery) and just enough off-the-beaten-track experiences (Danilovsky Market, Garage, Izmailovo) to make…

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See Death and Life in Dzerzhinsk

In a famous essay written shortly after the Second World War, Martin Heidegger draws a distinction between ancient and modern technology. Ancient technology is “gentle” insofar as it exemplifies a certain harmony with the environment. Modern technology is “violent” to the extent that it exhibits little regard for life-sustaining ecosystems. And in his “Industrial Zone”…

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Get Out of Town! Go to Tula

The biggest change in Russia these days? Cool provincial cities. Wikicommons If you need a break from Moscow, hop on a high-speed train and find yourself in the newly cool-ified provincial city of Tula in just two hours.  Founded in late 14th century, Tula first belonged to the principality of Ryazan. But Tula’s famous kremlin…

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Celebrate Russia On Stage

Every spring Russia celebrates the best of theater with a three-month festival called the Golden Mask. This year theater-lovers are looking forward to a particularly vibrant festival, since it is celebrating its 25th year while the country celebrates its Year of Theater. The best productions of drama and comedy, opera, ballet, contemporary dance, operetta and…

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The Magical Light of Arkhip Kuindzhi

Come and be dazzled “Birch Grove” 1879 Arkhip Kuindzhi Courtesy of Tretyakov Gallery On January 27, Arkhip Kuindzhi’s exhibition at the Tretyakov Gallery—a retrospective in honor of the artist’s 175th birthday—became a news sensation after a 31-year-old man stole the painting “Ai-Petri. Crimea” during the museum’s working hours. The heist, which made worldwide headlines, also…

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Moscow’s Chinese Pearls

Ten places to immerse yourself in Chinese culture The Perlov Tea House / Moskva News Agency February 5 marks the beginning of the Year of the Pig – the last Zodiac sign in the Chinese lunar calendar’s twelve-year cycle. China may be more than five thousand kilometers away from Russia’s capital, but you can still…

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‘DAU’: A Preview

“DAU” / Kinopoisk.ru At the end of January, parts of what is surely Russia’s most spectacular film project premiered in Paris. The project — something between a film series and an extended social and psychological experiment — is called “DAU” and directed by Ilya Khrzhanovsky, a filmmaker with only one major work before this pro…

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Restoring Repin

The Tretyakov Gallery describes work to repair the damaged painting “Ivan the Terrible and His Son, November 16, 1581” by Ilya Repin Tretyakov Gallery In May 2018, disaster struck in the Tretyakov Gallery. On a Friday evening just before closing time, a man ran into the almost empty hall of works by Ilya Repin, picked…

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Not Your Babushka’s Museum

If you’ve heard of the All-Russian Decorative Art Museum, it was probably from someone raving about embroidered Russian shawls or colorful enameled samovars from the 19th century. Indeed, the museum has an impressive collection of historical Russian decorative art. Last year, however, the museum opened the Center of Fashion and Design, whose exhibitions have been…

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David Burliuk Comes Back to Moscow

Last weeked to discover the most famous Russian art you’ve never seen “Woman With a Mirror” (1915-16) by David Burliuk Courtesy of Museum of Russian Impressionism Even if you don’t know the avant-garde poet and artist David Burliuk, you’d probably recognize his image instantly: a stocky man in a frock coat and top hat, with…

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Ode to a Preposition

При: very capacious preposition When Russians are learning English, they complain about articles, verb tenses, modal verbs and prepositions. Having listened to a lot of Russian ranting about my native tongue over the years, I can attest that they eventually accept that the difficulties of the first three categories are just part of the structure…

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