I was recently invited to be a guest on the YouTube channel of the media project Russia Beyond.
In an interview with the host, the Moscow-based journalist and radio presenter Tim Kirby, I talked about my experiences in Russia over the last 16 years. … More Studying, working and travelling in Russia, and unravelling the Russian soul: A chat with Russia Beyond
It’s long past midnight in a rugged little town high up in the Caucasus Mountains, and I’m lying on my back in the middle of an icy street, gazing up at the stars. There is freezing air in my lungs, a mountain climb in my legs, and half a bottle of chacha in my veins. I am so happy I can’t move.
I arrived in northern Georgia from Tbilisi the night before, and booked a room in a guesthouse in Stepantsminda (also called Kazbegi), to make the trek up to Gergeti Trinity Church – one of the most beautiful places in the Caucasus. … More Getting drunk on my own in the former Soviet republics: Confessions of an alcohol analyst
Russians have another name for their second city: simply ‘Piter’. This word best captures St. Petersburg’s mix of beauty and commotion, history and innovation. Here’s how to experience Piter in a couple of days. … More Two days in St. Petersburg, Russia – for Lonely Planet
Severnaya Dvina embankment, Arkhangelsk; north-west Russia, close to the Arctic Circle.
To my left: the path beside the Severnaya Dvina river, which led me to the town’s timber port, buried in the snow, then to Svyato-Troitskaya church, then the bridge over the river. … More Calm in Arkhangelsk (northern Russia)
A thousand miles from Moscow, a thousand kilometres from St. Petersburg, the Arctic town of Kandalaksha, on the frozen shores of the White Sea in Murmansk oblast’, is one of Russia’s most northerly communities. Founded 500 years ago as a fishing village, but with an aluminium smelter and locomotive depot giving the area an industrial purpose under the Soviet Union, Kandalaksha has been forgotten for the last twenty years. It is now only a dot on the vast Kola Peninsula – a 100,000 square kilometre expanse of pine forest between the White and Barents Seas. … More Kandalaksha – Russia’s Arctic North
At 7am the streets of Yoshkar-Ola were dark and empty. As I shuffled over dirty snow and treacherous black ice, the only sound was the bickering of ravens overhead. The shops on ulitsa Kremlyovskaya – Apteka No. 67; Evroset; Moda 21 vek – told me that I had arrived in provincial Russia. Except that ul. Kremlyovskaya is also Kreml urem: street signs and building plaques are written in Russian and Meadow Mari, the most widely spoken of the four Mari dialects.
I made a beeline for the peculiar buildings in the distance. … More ‘Letter from Yoshkar-Ola (Republic of Mari El, Russia)’ – for The Calvert Journal