Robin Ashenden

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…

The Internet Archive’s troubles are bad news for book lovers

18 April 2023 3:26 pm

The Internet Archive (archive.org), a San Francisco-based virtual lending library, is one of the quiet wonders of the modern world. A…

Putin’s feminist crackdown won’t crush the spirit of Russia’s women

9 April 2023 4:45 pm

In the wake of draconian laws against ‘LGBT Propaganda’ introduced in Russia at the end of last year – namely,…

Who is torching Russia’s military recruitment centres?

29 March 2023 5:00 pm

The last twelve months or so in the post-Soviet sphere have been, among other things, the year of the Molotov…

Why was the West so slow to see Putin’s true colours?

25 March 2023 6:30 pm

Cast your mind back just over a decade, to a charity benefit gig in St. Petersburg in 2010. Sharon Stone,…

Is Putin’s security service under attack?

17 March 2023 5:56 pm

Few people in Rostov-on-Don will weep over the news that a local FSB building in the city caught fire yesterday.…

What happened to the Russia I loved?

25 February 2023 5:30 pm

For three and a half years, between Autumn 2018 and 2022, the most thrilling words I could say to anyone…

Putin’s desperate recruits are in a life-and-death scramble for kit

23 January 2023 7:33 pm

As Vladimir Putin seemingly dithers over the question of whether to send a further 500,000 of his citizens onto the…

Russia’s wives and mothers are mobilising against Putin

17 January 2023 2:02 am

On a Russian Telegram channel, Svetlana from Samara is making a public plea. She has not heard from her brother…

The Russian conscription adverts that show Putin is losing the plot

7 January 2023 4:31 am

‘War is the realm of uncertainty’, said the Prussian military analyst Carl von Clausewitz, and this would seem to apply…

Putin’s unholy alliance and the sins of the Russian Orthodox church

26 December 2022 5:30 pm

Travel the length and breadth of Russia – as you could fairly easily before the outbreak of war last February…

Last Christmas in Russia

23 December 2022 5:00 pm

What a difference 12 months makes. Last year, at the Ikea in Rostov-on-Don, South Russia, I splashed out on some…

Would Solzhenitsyn have supported Putin’s war?

27 November 2022 6:30 pm

A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s first novel, appeared 60 years ago this month. Vividly portraying…

Is Netflix’s The Crown fact or fiction?

9 November 2022 11:26 pm

The latest series of The Crown has arrived on Netflix. To its predictable advantage, the show has already had the…

Putin goes to war on LGBT rights

2 November 2022 1:18 am

When I moved to Rostov-on-Don, in the south of Russia, in 2018 for what was to be four happy years,…

Putin's war is tearing Russian families apart

29 October 2022 5:10 pm

Renata is a young paediatrician from St Petersburg who, since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, keeps crying at work. Her colleagues…

‘In Russia, there’s just emptiness': An interview with a Putin draft dodger

15 October 2022 5:15 pm

Thousands of Russians are fleeing from Putin’s forced mobilisation. To escape from a call-up – and probable death sentence –…

Do Russia's conscripts deserve our sympathy?

28 September 2022 7:27 pm

Russia’s new crop of conscripts are a desperate, dejected bunch. A photograph showing an Orthodox priest blessing these men as they…

When the Ceausescus came to tea

17 September 2022 5:00 pm

Anyone still in any doubt about the lengths to which Queen Elizabeth II was prepared to go in the line…