Robin Ashenden

The key difference between Alexei Navalny and Vladimir Putin

19 February 2024 8:29 pm

Following Alexei Navalny’s suspicious ‘sudden death’ in an Arctic prison camp last Friday, two scenes immediately come to mind featuring…

Russia’s ‘Red Ripper’ Andrei Chikatilo was a uniquely Soviet serial killer

11 February 2024 5:00 pm

In the wake of Vladimir Putin’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine, as atrocities like the killings at Bucha and Irpin came…

Why New Year trumps Christmas in Russia

30 December 2023 11:00 am

What a difference a decade makes. Exactly ten years ago, Russians celebrated New Year by watching Goluboi Ogoniek (‘Little Blue…

Can Jilly Cooper wreck your life?

26 December 2023 5:00 pm

What do the names Octavia, Prudence, Harriet, and Imogen all have in common? If you don’t know the answer to…

Where did the Christmas magic go?

24 December 2023 5:00 pm

It’s late December 1982 or thereabouts, and I’m standing in a Suffolk church before hundreds of people, wearing a cassock…

What fiction can teach us about terrorism

5 December 2023 12:34 pm

The first decade of this century, following Al Qaeda’s attack on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon in September 2001,…

Have we forgotten the lessons of Shoah?

12 November 2023 5:00 pm

Since Hamas’s assault on innocent Israelis, a wave of anti-Semitism has swept across the world. Jews in Europe feel distinctly…

The full English: how to fall in love with this country

14 October 2023 9:00 am

A beginner’s guide to this country

My dreams perished — except the sports car

7 October 2023 9:30 am

They say that, against all expectations, after the age of about fifty you actually get happier, and that much of…

What happened to the Russia I loved?

30 September 2023 10:00 am

I first came to Russia as a travelling English literature-lecturer in the late 1990s. This wasn’t a job given to…

The dazzling classic The Red Shoes has several unfashionable lessons for us today

23 September 2023 9:00 am

Seventy-five years after its release, Powell and Pressburger’s dazzling, much-loved classic is more timely than ever, says Robin Ashenden

A tribute to the lost art of letter writing

4 September 2023 12:00 am

There are many good reasons, we’re constantly told, for millennials and Generation Z to resent their elders. What they can…

What Brits don’t understand about life in Russia

1 September 2023 10:10 pm

When I tell people in England I’ve just returned from several years abroad and they find out the country was…

Navalny exposes the truth about Putin’s ‘strong man’ image

7 August 2023 6:18 pm

The 19-year extended prison sentence handed out to Putin opponent Alexei Navalny on Friday may seem, to many, meaningless and…

The joys of provincial repertory theatre

5 August 2023 9:00 am

Robin Ashenden remembers the heyday of local repertory theatre – now sadly in terminal decline

Igor Girkin’s arrest was a long time coming

22 July 2023 11:36 pm

With the reported arrest on Friday of Igor Girkin (aka ‘Strelkov’ or ‘Igor the Terrible’) the career of one of…

How the Unbearable Lightness of Being enthralled a generation

16 July 2023 8:24 pm

If during the 80s and 90s you were any kind of book lover, Milan Kundera – who died this week…

Rostov returns to reality after Wagner’s botched coup

29 June 2023 1:58 am

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year, it always seemed likely that the war would come back to Rostov-on-Don, the…

Rostov-on-Don: scenes from an occupation

24 June 2023 10:26 pm

The main thoroughfare of Rostov-on-Don is today crawling with military vehicles and masked soldiers carrying automatics, and the entrance to…

How does the Russian public view the invasion of Ukraine?

24 June 2023 9:00 am

It’s not just Putin’s war, says Jade McGlynn. The mass of Telegram data shows how much the nation as a whole supports the offensive

The Kakhovka dam and the cheapness of western rhetoric

10 June 2023 4:30 pm

Following the destruction of the Nova Kakhovka dam in Ukraine, politicians in the West have followed the familiar dance of…

The haunting words of Russia’s jailed Putin opponents

5 June 2023 10:29 pm

How many memorable quotes has the Russia-Ukraine war produced so far? Along with Snake Island’s defiant ‘F*** you Russian warship’,…

Should we ignore Putin’s criticism of the West?

16 May 2023 8:51 pm

Not much happens in Russian families without the say so of the babushka. Russia’s high divorce-rate, and a situation where…

The barbarity of Russia’s white phosphorus attack on Bakhmut

10 May 2023 5:09 pm

There is something oddly Christmassy about the scene: a night-time city bathed, festooned in twinkling white lights, the smoke around…

Why are some Russians still in denial about their troubled past?

7 May 2023 4:00 pm

Few books change your life but one that heavily influenced mine was Among the Russians (1983), Colin Thubron’s travel book…