Articles by Masha Gessen



Harm Is Now the Measure of Influence

So Vladimir Putin, formerly a KGB agent in East Germany, and Angela Merkel, a former citizen of that former country, met in Dresden the other day.

A Patriot of a Different Pale

What was the likelihood of finding myself standing next to the Belgorod region governor and a Russian Orthodox priest, surrounded by schoolchildren, flowers, microphones and other attributes of celebratory officialdom?

The Calculus of Crime and Punishment

A court in Chelyabinsk has sentenced Sergeant Alexander Sivyakov to four years in prison for causing Private Andrei Sychyov to lose his legs and genitals.

Taking Back the City, Fence by Fence

I have received an invitation to an unsanctioned-fence razing. It tells a story.

Madonna's Cross to Bear

Iwent to Madonna's concert on Tuesday night. I have never been a huge fan, but I recently read a study that showed that people really only like the music they heard while they were in college.

Racists Step in Where Leaders Fail to Tread

Let's talk about President Vladimir Putin's stand on the events in Kondopoga. You say you don't know what his stand is? Neither do I, and this is possibly the most important of Kondopoga's lessons.

The Bureaucrat in All of Us

After vacationing in the United States for two weeks, my family is in jet-lag hell. Sitting on my bed at 3 in the morning, my son complained, ""I cannot get used to Moscow because the rules are different.""

My Nationality Column Column

I had to get a spravka recently and, when I got it, I stared at it in disbelief. In this case the spravka, or certificate, was a document showing who was registered as residing in my apartment.

Back on Its Feet, Unconveniently

Life in Russia is becoming increasingly inconvenient. This inconvenience is once again becoming a topic of conversation.

On the Road in the Outlaw Nation

The road from my dacha to the center of Moscow provides endless opportunities for traffic cops to lay in wait. On weekends, they stand at the turn-off to the beach, to focus on nabbing drunk drivers.

Too Scared to Laugh

As I was driving to meet a few friends the other night, I noticed a banner advertising a chain of Georgian restaurants.

Be Careful What You Say

Russia's chief health inspector, Gennady Onishchenko, the man who has left us wine-less, brandy-less and Borzhomi-less, has shut down the cafeteria at the Moscow Regional Arbitration Court.

Extraordinary Measures

My son's foreign-travel passport has expired. My children carry two passports, so I have experience of obtaining their passports in both Russia and the United States.

A Clear Case of Overkill

Shamil Basayev has been destroyed. Or so everyone says. I am not trying to cast doubt on the claims that he is dead -- though I could be forgiven for doing so, following all the previous false reports of his death.

Small Talk, Big Problem

Making my way through the giant, packed backyard of the American ambassador's residence the other day -- during the U.S. Independence Day reception, when, it seemed, most of Moscow was there -- I glimpsed an old acquaintance.

Wine Shelves With a Vintage Look

My friend arrived at my dacha the other night bearing six bottles of wine. Oh joy! I had drunk my last half a glass of shiraz the night before.

A Troubling, Repetitive Premise

Sitting in a movie theater the other night, I found myself fuming.

The Third Way on HIV

The other day, I walked up to the front entrance of the State Duma and went in.

Some Extreme Legislation

The Public Chamber wants to save Russian voters from themselves. It wants legislation that would define extremism -- a perennially elusive political term -- and allow the authorities to weed out extremists so that they cannot register as candidates in any election.

Let's Hope No One Sues Me

Is something bothering you? Are you worried or upset? Write your president. Maybe he'll intervene. At least you'll feel better.

Traffic Cops May Play a New Card

Every couple of years, another item is added to the number of documents you have to hand to the traffic police if you are pulled over.

Parade Politics of Fear

Let's get some things straight. Why would anybody want to go out into the street and tell people about her sexual orientation? Or let's start earlier. What is the point of telling others about your sexual orientation?

One Main Reason to Be Scared

We live in a country where religious and secular authorities openly encourage fascist violence.

The Great Post-Soviet Wine Debate

I don't make a habit of reading transcripts of State Duma sessions, but perhaps I should check in once every few months, for a dose of reality on the ways and means by which my reality is increasingly shaped.

Much More to Say

Every year around this time, Muscovites come out of their hiding places and consider adventures that have grown almost unfamiliar over the cold winter: walks, sports, travel. A friend over for dinner on Tuesday night mused about taking a trip. ""I was thinking about going to St. Petersburg,"" she said, ""but then I thought, I wouldn't feel safe walking around there."" My friend, who has been living in Moscow for more than 20 years, hails from one of the former Soviet republics and looks the part: She is much darker than most Russians, which makes her too dark for safety.

Yet Another Murder

For the last week, I have been on a reporting trip in the Canadian province of Ontario. I've had to do a lot of driving, which means I have been listening to the radio for hours on end.

Human Rights and the Church

The Russian Orthodox Church has decided to get into the human rights business. The 10th World Russian Peoples' Council, which got under way this week, plans to adopt its own human rights platform.

The Art of the Judiciary

There has been more news about the courts in the last couple of weeks than, it seems, in the entire period since the Khodorkovsky trial ended. Courts are funny things.

A Message Delivered

If you follow the news, you know now that Garry Kasparov, the chess king who has devoted his life to deposing President Vladimir Putin, has an office on Ulitsa Makarenko in central Moscow.

Dead Friends Speak Volumes

Say nothing of the dead but good."" This Roman dictum can, in English, be pronounced in a variety of ways -- as most cynics know, you can say, ""Say nothing of the dead but, 'Good!'"" Which is what the Russian political establishment should have said about the recently departed former president of Yugoslavia, accused war criminal Slobodan Milosevic.