Police have found “no evidence” so far that anyone else was involved in the death of exiled Russian tycoon Boris Berezovsky, but are retaining “an open mind”, according to one of the detectives working on the case. It’s hardly surprising that questions remain. While one friend told the FT: “In the last few months, he was very depressed, very low. He felt beset by all the issues that surrounded him”, another – Nikolai Glushkov, a fellow Russian exile – told the Guardian’s Luke Harding: “I will never believe in the natural death of Boris Berezovsky.” It may be a while before any certainty is reached [update: police said late on Monday that a postmortem found the cause of death was “consistent with hanging”] – but in the meantime, it’s worth reading up on the life of a man whose influence over his homeland will be felt for a long time to come.
Owen Matthews recalls his first meeting with Berezovsky in 1998, at the “luxurious Logovaz Club, a restored prerevolutionary mansion in central Moscow”. In a piece full of pithy assessments (“Yeltsin may have made Russia free, but it was Berezovsky who made it for sale”; “Berezovsky was Dr. Frankenstein, whose monster was a poker-faced little KGB officer”), Matthews paints a vivid picture of the mathmetician-turned-kingmaker whose love of power contributed to his undoing.
Writing for the FT, Ben Judah contrasts the Berezovsky of old – “they called him ‘the comet’, because he burnt so bright and talked so fast” – with the “insecure, self-doubting and anguished man” of recent months.
A man imprisoned for two decades for killing a Hasidic rabbi in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, will walk free this week. The New York Times tells the story of the man who was framed in the case of the “Slain Rabbi”.
With interest rates at rock-bottom, bond markets are hearing echoes of 1994. “What will happen, they ask, when the Fed decides it has done enough to stimulate the economy? Could there be another shock?”
Two weeks ago a masked assailant threw acid in the face of the Bolshoi’s artistic director Sergei Filin. The attack has cast a shadow over the reputation of one of the world’s most celebrated ballet troupes, as Courtney Weaver explains in her fascinating report on the tensions and rivalries that have emerged at the Moscow ballet in recent months.
What’s it like to dance at the Bolshoi? Here are four videos, and four dancers (well, three dancers and one choreographer, to be precise) who made their mark there over the years. For the sake of brevity, we limited ourselves to four, so they can only gesture at the Bolshoi’s long and varied history; please share your thoughts – and recommendations – in the comments.
1) Galina Sergeyevna Ulánova In this video from the Bolshoi’s official youtube channel, you can watch one of its most famous ballerinas – and one of the 20th century’s most acclaimed – fluttering across the stage, pressing down her net skirts, and talking about her favourite role (Giselle). Joseph Stalin himself is said to have ordered the transfer of Ulánova to the Bolshoi from its rival, the Mariinsky Theatre in Leningrad, in 1944 (“Although Leningrad was where the revolution started, Stalin never cared for it. He saw it as a rebellious city,” The Economist notes in its obituary of Ulánova). Read more
Traffic jam in Moscow on December 4 (Reuters/Sergei Karpukhin)
Russia has two main problems, according to an old 19th century joke: “dorogi i duraki”, or “roads and idiots”.
Over the weekend, many Russian motorists travelling between Moscow and St Petersburg were reminded of this saying, which even made a brief debut as a twitter meme “дураки + дороги” after the first snowfall of the year caused a 160km traffic jam on a highway between the two cities.
Finger-pointing in the wake of the snarl-up predictably pitted the “roads” versus the “idiots”, even as government emergency workers toiled frantically to clear new congestion on Tuesday following a fresh snowfall.
“This is mainly the result of uneducated drivers who are always hurrying somewhere, overtaking each other in the opposite lane, and so on… If there was a normal culture of driving, then these problems would not have occurred,” he said. Read more
One has to be prudent, assigning some the category of “prank” while taking others more seriously.
On Thursday, Tanya Lokshina of Human Rights Watch, one of the most prominent activists in Moscow, decided that the nine text messages she had received from an anonymous sender between Sept 28-30 fell into the latter category.
The author threatened her life and that of her unborn child, knew her unlisted address and had details about her private life known only to her and her close friends. Read more
In Russia, the music of Viktor Tsoi, a rock star who died young in 1990, is being played again. That is not just testament to how good it was, writes the FT’s Neil Buckley. With Russians once again protesting on the streets demanding greater democracy, the Tsoi resurgence highlights that history is, in part, repeating itself. Read more
It is a characteristically inscrutable move by Prokhorov, whose political career is nothing if not an exercise in creativity. Last fall he established a political party which then summarily expelled him, following which he ran for President, declaring that with his $18bn fortune, he “represented the Russian middle class”. He came a surprising third in March. Read more
We’ve all been there. You’re on stage outside, you’ve just secured an impossible victory forgotten to wear a hat, and an icy wind is blowing in your face.
Suddenly you’re blinking away tears.
We’ll never really know what was going on when Russia’s freshly-reinstated president Vladimir Putin appeared to weep during his victory speech on Sunday night. Was it simply a physical reaction to the bitterly cold wind, as his spokesman later claimed? Some well-timed eye-drops? Or a natural emotional response at the end of a long week?
Gideon became chief foreign affairs columnist for the Financial Times in July 2006. He joined the FT after a 15-year career at The Economist, which included spells as a foreign correspondent in Brussels, Washington and Bangkok. He also edited The Economist’s business and Asia sections.
His particular interests include American foreign policy, the European Union and globalisation