When Culture Reaches for a Gun

This article was first published in The New Times. Mikhail Piotrovsky, the director of the State Hermitage Museum, joined Vladimir Putin, Security Council chief Nikolai Patrushev, Patriarch Kirill and former culture minister Vladimir Medinsky in the role of heavy artillery to justify ideologically Russia’s choice of civilization: self-isolation and an archaic militarized state. Mikhail Piotrovsky…

Moscow Fashion Week, in Photos

The Russian capital played host to over 100 fashion shows this week as part of Moscow Fashion Week. While Moscow Fashion Week was always meant to showcase Russian fashion house’s designs, this year’s event placed a particular emphasis on domestic brands after virtually every Western brand exited the Russian market over the invasion of Ukraine.…

Russian Pop Icon Yuri Shatunov Dies Aged 48

Pop singer Yuri Shatunov, who was wildly popular in the 1980s and 1990s, died Thursday at the age of 48. “Last night Yuri’s heart stopped in an ambulance,” said Shatunov’s manager, Arkady Kudryashov, the state-run news agency TASS reported.  Shatunov was perhaps best known as the frontman of band Laskovy Mai (‘Gentle May’), which filled…

Moscow Marks Russia Day

June 12 marks Russia Day: a national holiday that sees Muscovites flock to festivities and firework shows across the city. First celebrated in 1992, the date commemorates when the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic first declared state sovereignty in 1990. But 30 years on, the holiday is not only being celebrated in Russia itself —…

A Non-Russian Russian Year at the Cannes Film Festival

Every year the Cannes Film Festival is dominated by certain topics with a particular political focus. This year’s theme was the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Discussions and disputes began when the film “Tchaikovsky’s Wife” by Russian director Kirill Serebrennikov was entered into the main competition. The president of the European Film Academy Agnieszka Holland criticized…

Russian Director Kirill Serebrennikov Condemns War at Cannes Festival

At this year’s Cannes International Film Festival, Russian director Kirill Serebrennikov spoke out strongly — and obscenely — against the war Russia has launched in Ukraine but was criticized for wanting economic sanctions lifted from one of his backers, oligarch Roman Abramovich. Serebrennikov’s film “Tchaikovsky’s Wife,” was the only film from Russia presented at the…

Producer Alexander Rodnyansky to Make ‘House of Cards’-Style Series About Putin’s Rise

Ukrainian film director, producer and media mogul Alexander Rodnyansky is developing a television series based on the book “All the Kremlin’s Men” by acclaimed Russian journalist Mikhail Zygar, Rodnyansky told Variety magazine.  The series, which Rodnyansky described as a Russian “House of Cards,” will chart the rise of Vladimir Putin from a minor KGB officer…

New Biopic on Anna Politkovskaya in Pre-Production

Australian Luminosity Entertainment will produce a new film that will shed light on the life and tragic death of acclaimed Russian journalist and human rights activist Anna Politkovskaya, according to information published by Deadline.  The film titled “Mother Russia” will be directed by British director James Strong best known for his work on the crime…

A Short List of New Ukrainian Film Hits

At the beginning of 20th century, Ukraine’s cinema was world famous, largely thanks to its revered filmmaker Oleksandr Dovzhenko. Considered to be the father of Ukrainian cinema and one of the key figures of Soviet avant-garde, Dovzhenko made films that have inspired generations of Ukrainian filmmakers to create films of great poetic symbolism that were…

Theater Award Winner Gives Prize to Jailed Art Activist

Russian artist Ksenia Sorokina, who won the prestigious theater award Zolotaya Maska (Golden Mask) for best costume design, donated her prize to Sasha Skochilenko. Skochilenko, an artist and a political activist, was jailed this month for an anti-war action. Sorokina’s friend and fellow Zolotaya Maska laureate, theater director Yevgeniya Berkovich, shared Ksenia’s words on Facebook.…

Russian Museum Closes Exhibition Over Complaints From ‘Indignant Citizens’

The Tretyakov Gallery, one of Russia’s biggest and oldest arts museums, has closed the exhibition of Russian-American artist Grisha Bruskin’s works allegedly at the request of the Ministry of Culture. According to the museum’s website, the exhibition was closed for “technical reasons.” However, independent Russian arts magazine Artgid reported that the Ministry of Culture demanded…

Russian Avant-Garde Art Stuck in South Korea

Dozens of paintings by renowned Russian artists including Wassily Kandinsky are stuck in Seoul after an exhibition due to flight sanctions imposed over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, organizers said Monday. The paintings by around 50 Russian artists — including Kandinsky, Kazimir Malevich, and Alexander Rodchenko, among others — have been on display in central Seoul…

Top Political Cartoonist Sergei Elkin Flees Russia

Russia’s most prominent political cartoonist Sergei Elkin announced Wednesday that he had left Russia amid a wartime crackdown on journalism. He is now in Bulgaria. Over the years, Elkin has lampooned politicians, businessmen, and international elites in media outlets across the world — including The Moscow Times, who published his series, “Putin’s Russia” in print…

Russian Police Disrupt Recital Featuring Ukrainian Composer

Moscow police halted a piano recital featuring a well-known Ukrainian composer’s music Wednesday after receiving an anonymous bomb threat warning. Video from the Rassvet cultural center shows two uniformed officers disrupting Russian pianist Alexei Lyubimov’s performance of Ukrainian composer Valentin Silvestrov’s song cycle “Stufen” accompanied by verses of classic Russian poets.   Lyubimov continues to play…

Art Impounded by Finland Released to Russia

Russian art works valued at $46 million impounded by Finland last week were released and arrived in St. Petersburg today. On Monday the Russian state news agency RIA reported that three vehicles containing the art works had left Finland on April 9 and arrived in St. Petersburg. The works, which included paintings, statues and antiques, had…

University Rector Supports ‘Liberating Ukraine from Nationalistic Dirt’

Northern (Arctic) Federal University (NArFU) is Russia’s largest in the north and from the campus near the city center of Arkhangelsk, rector Elena Kudryashova has signed numerous partnership agreements with universities in the Scandinavian north. In 2011, the founding father of the Barents Euro-Arctic cooperation, Thorvald Stoltenberg, was appointed Honorary Doctor at the university. Now,…

Russian Cinema in Turmoil as Hollywood Pulls Out

After years spent translating Hollywood films, Russian Mila Grekova was suddenly thrown out of work after Moscow’s military intervention in Ukraine. Five Hollywood giants — Disney, Warner Bros, Universal, Sony Pictures and Paramount — have all stopped releasing new films there, leaving Russian cinemas bereft of the latest blockbusters. But it has not made Grekova…

Saving the Dogs and Cats of Ukraine

As Ukrainian citizens are forced to leave their apartments and houses to hide or flee the country, most people are bringing their cats and dogs along with them. Some of the pets settle in with their humans in cellars, bomb shelters, underground bunkers or metro stations. Others make the long trek on foot, car, or…

Russia Offers to Educate Depardieu on Ukraine

The Kremlin on Friday offered to “explain” Moscow’s actions in Ukraine to French actor Gerard Depardieu after he denounced Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “crazy, unacceptable excesses.” Depardieu, a long-time star in France before Peter Weir’s 1990 film “Green Card” made him a Hollywood celebrity, left France and took up Russian nationality in 2013 to protest…

Is Anyone in the Market for A Yacht?

On March 3, a week after Russia invaded Ukraine, the U.S. and other governments around the world introduced harsh sanctions against Russian officials and the oligarchs who benefited from the regime in Moscow. The White House announced that governments “all over the world will work to identify and freeze the assets Russian elites and their…

The Feminist Face of Russian Protests

On Feb. 23, Daria Serenko, a Moscow political activist, was finally released from a fifteen-day jail sentence.  Daria had been arrested for an Instagram post she had made in 2021 that featured “extremist” symbols associated with anti-corruption firebrand Alexei Navalny. She was exhausted. Her only wish was to get some sleep. The next day when…