In the News

Over the past year, the Russian news media have faced intensifying pressures. In May 2020, Russia’s leading independent newspaper, Vedomosti, was bought by businessmen with suspected links to the Kremlin. In December, the State Duma passed legislation punishing online slander with jail terms and large fines; critics fear the new law could be used to stifle dissent. Most recently, Russia’s media watchdog has threatened to fine TikTok, Facebook, Telegram, and VKontakte for not deleting posts about the unsanctioned protests in support of Alexei Navalny on January 23 and 31.

While these developments make an unmistakable impression, they echo historical practices of the Russian state’s co-optation and censorship of the press. They also speak to the ways Russia’s autocratic governments have traditionally faced the main challenge posed by the press—that of oppositional politics. Continue Reading.

On July 17, while the world evaluated the U.S.-Russia Helsinki summit, Russia marked a historic anniversary: 100 years since Red Army guards executed Russia’s imperial family in the basement of the Ipatiev House in Yekaterinburg, Russia. In 1917, a year earlier, Czar Nicholas II had been forced to abdicate and surrender to house arrest and later exile. The gruesome end of the Romanov dynasty solidified the finality of the Bolshevik Revolution.

A century on, the family’s deaths sit uneasily in the narrative of Russian history — an example of Russia’s violent past that the state has not reckoned with to this day. Continue Reading.

In November, at the Livadia Palace, near Yalta, Crimea, Mr. Putin unveiled a monument to Russia's Tsar Alexander III, who ruled from 1881 to his death in 1894. The monument is as symbolic as its location. The Livadia Palace had once been the summer residence of the Romanov dynasty — Russia's ruling family. It was also the venue of the 1945 Yalta Conference, where U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Soviet leader Joseph Stalin decided the fate of post-war Europe. In 2014, Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula, provoking international condemnation. By unveiling a contemporary monument to a Russian tsar in Crimea, Moscow seeks to signal historical continuities with the peninsula. Continue Reading.

There is still no national consensus on the legacy and death of the last royal family.

July 17, 2018 marks 100 years since Russia’s Romanov family was executed by Bolsheviks in the basement of the Ipatiyev house in Yekaterinburg. Tsar Nicholas II had abdicated a year earlier, and after a period of confinement, the family was sent first to Tobolsk and later to Yekaterinburg. The deaths of Nicholas and his heir Alexei were pivotal to consolidating the Revolution, excluding the possibility of a return to monarchy. Continue Reading.