Let’s call it a temporary hiatus…

As some – many? – of you may know, yesterday the Russian government banned me from future entry. I’m sad about this, both because of how I feel about Russia – the country and people as a whole, not the current regime – and also because actually talking to people, nosing around in shops, eavesdropping on conversations in the metro, and sniffing the air in general, is an invaluable adjunct to all the other open sources. Still, it is what it is. I am determined to return some day, but I suspect only once someone else is in charge…

At a time when Russia is often being caricatured as nothing but a source of violence and evil, a veritable ‘Mordor,’ (I grouse about that here), I think it it is important to be able to experience and talk about the country as it really is, a complex and often contradictory place. This is something I’ve always tried to do, and others can judge my success, which may perhaps help explain why I was the only academic who regularly travels there who was banned. After all, in many ways it suits Putin to allow this kind of stark division between Russia and the West, this lack of nuance: it allows him to turn to the Russian people and argue that they have no choice but to back him, because the West hates them all. This ‘North Koreanisation’ of Russia is a terrible thing.

The official notification, by the way, is here. I can’t help but notice that they seem a little confused how to describe me. I am in the category of ‘journalists’ – and I certainly am not one of them, as there is a world of difference between writing the odd article or column and actually covering the news, but then again nor am I a ‘persons associated with the defence complex,’ which essentially means some MPs and defence industrialists. So I’m in the journalist camp, but described as a politolog, a political analyst/expert. Fair enough.

Still, I’ll be back.

Leave a comment


  1. My deepest sympathies. Trying to describe the reality in objective terms is deemed “anti-russian” these days. Please continue to do so. For the average reader in the “western world”, it’s hard to find moderate and rational assessments of what is happening in Russia.

    • Mark Galeotti

       /  June 16, 2022


      • Cathy Henry

         /  July 1, 2022

        I know a scholar who has been banned from Russia for more than 60 years years.

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