Also by Robert Coalson
February 20, 2024
'If Anyone Can Continue His Work, Yulia Can': Navalny's Widow Steps Forward In Russian Opposition's Darkest Hour
Days after Aleksei Navalny’s death in prison, his widow, Yulia, pledged to continue his fight against Vladimir Putin, urging Russians to share her “anger.” But amid the most severe repressions since Stalin’s time and the ongoing war against Ukraine, can Navalnaya find a way to make a difference?
February 17, 2024
Aleksei Navalny, Dogged Anti-Corruption Crusader And Outspoken Kremlin Foe, Dies In Prison
Russian opposition activist Aleksei Navalny was an unyielding Putin critic who was noted for his courage and his devotion to nonviolent resistance and democracy. Through years of persecution and prison, his message to Russians stayed the same: "I am not afraid, and you shouldn’t be either."
February 16, 2024
Profile: Aleksei Navalny, Dogged Anti-Corruption Crusader And Outspoken Kremlin Foe
Russian opposition activist Aleksei Navalny: an unyielding Putin critic noted for his courage and his devotion to nonviolent resistance and democracy. Through years of persecution and prison, his message to Russians has stayed the same: “I am not afraid, and you shouldn’t be either.”
January 30, 2024
Russian Anti-War Candidacy Bid An Unexpected Obstacle In Kremlin's Effort To Smoothly Reinstall Putin
Former lawmaker Boris Nadezhdin's attempt to challenge longtime President Vladimir Putin in a March election has proven unexpectedly popular, with people lining up to endorse his bid. But will he be allowed on the ballot? The Kremlin faces a dilemma over what comes next.
January 25, 2024
'It's All Becoming Less Bearable': RFE/RL Journalist Alsu Kurmasheva Marks 100 Days In Russian Custody
January 25 marks 100 days since the arrest in Russia of RFE/RL journalist Alsu Kurmasheva. Facing the prospect of years in prison, she writes from jail: “We live now; we won't have any 'other' time. What have we done today?"
January 19, 2024
Bashkortostan Protests Peel Back The Layers Of Authoritarian Politics In Putin's Russia
The ongoing protests in Bashkortostan demonstrate a potentially volatile mixture of personal, regional, and national politics that could be difficult for President Vladimir Putin's highly centralized system to manage against the background of Russia's war against Ukraine.
January 17, 2024
Toilet Wars: Kremlin Steps Up Claims Of Defending 'Traditional Values' Amid Rising Social Tensions
In recent days, both St. Petersburg Governor Aleksandr Beglov and President Vladimir Putin have made comments about gender-neutral toilets in foreign countries, elevating claims of a culture war with the West over mounting public concerns about the consequences of Russia's real war against Ukraine.
January 01, 2024
The Monster Returns: Stalin Looms Large Over Putin's Russia
Although Soviet dictator Josef Stalin died 70 years ago, his presence seems ubiquitous in the increasingly authoritarian Russia of Vladimir Putin. “We are definitely living inside Stalin’s legacy, where the main things are fear, atomization, submission, and other social evils,” a commentator wrote.
December 31, 2023
How The Russian State Ramped Up The Suppression Of Dissent In 2023: 'It Worked In The Soviet Union, And It Works Now'
There were no mass demonstrations or brutal crackdowns in Russia in 2023. Instead, using a web of vague laws, President Vladimir Putin’s security forces methodically eliminated dissenting voices and sowed fear throughout society.
December 21, 2023
'Maybe It Was All In Vain': Former Navalny Coordinator Opens Up After More Than Two Years In Prison
Ruslan Akhmetshin, a former coordinator for Russian opposition politician Aleksei Navalny in Arkhangelsk, describes his 30 months in custody, from the "inhumane conditions" of pretrial detention to the dismay he felt upon his release from prison earlier this month.
December 15, 2023
'A Spectacle, A Farce, A Rigged Clown Show': Russia Watches As Putin Cruises Toward A Fifth Term
With all political opposition eliminated and Russia firmly in the grip of what analysts call “mature authoritarianism,” the country prepares for a March presidential vote devoid of competition and, if the Kremlin has its way, ushers Vladimir Putin into another six-year term without surprises.
November 30, 2023
The Evolution Of Henry Kissinger's Views On Russia And Ukraine
In September, U.S. elder statesman Henry Kissinger endorsed NATO membership for Ukraine, saying “the idea of a neutral Ukraine under these conditions no longer makes sense.” It was the culmination of his evolving views on Russian President Vladimir Putin and Europe's changing security situation.
November 20, 2023
'That's How My Days Are Spent': RFE/RL Journalist Alsu Kurmasheva Writes From Jail
RFE/RL’s Alsu Kurmasheva has now spent more than a month in a Russian jail on suspicion that she failed to voluntarily register under the country's "foreign agent" laws. In her first messages from jail, Kurmasheva describes her conditions and expresses gratitude for the support she has received.
November 16, 2023
'Five Tiny Pieces Of Paper': St. Petersburg Artist Sasha Skochilenko's Defiant Final Words In Court
Shortly before being sentenced to seven years in prison over a protest against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, St. Petersburg artist Sasha Skochilenko addressed the court, telling the judge “I am freer than you.”
October 30, 2023
Anti-Semitic Outbursts In North Caucasus Expose Moscow's Perilous Balancing Act On Gaza War
The Kremlin has tried to use the Israel-Hamas conflict for its own ends, castigating the West and hosting a delegation from the Palestinian group. The storming of the airport in Daghestan shows that a shift in Moscow's Mideast balancing act has potentially explosive repercussions for Russia.
October 22, 2023
'Cultural Pogrom': Putin's St. Petersburg Alma Mater Purges Dissident Students, Faculty
St. Petersburg State University has stepped up expulsions of students and faculty who have spoken out against the war in Ukraine or otherwise expressed discontent with the growing authoritarianism of President Vladimir Putin.
October 11, 2023
With Russia Mired In Its War On Ukraine, Pro-Kremlin Commentators Revel In 'Good News' From Israel
Amid widespread horror over Hamas's surprise attack on Israel and the violence targeting civilians, many pro-Kremlin commentators have welcomed the carnage as a distraction from Russia’s aggression in Ukraine and a comeuppance for anti-war Russians who fled to Israel.
August 31, 2023
Books To Boots: Critics Say New Russian History Textbook Is Propaganda, Preparation For War
The Russian government is introducing a new history textbook for high-school students that critics say is intended to "incite anger toward Ukrainians" and explain to future conscripts "why they are putting on uniforms and boots."
August 24, 2023
The Man Called 'Wagner': Dmitry Utkin, The Mercenary Field Commander Reported Dead In Russian Plane Crash
Among the passengers listed aboard the Wagner jet that crashed in Russia on August 23 was longtime mercenary commander and former military intelligence officer Dmitry Utkin. Here’s a look at Utkin and how his death, if confirmed, could affect the notorious company.