Owen Matthews rss


Why Putin’s anti-gay crusaders have a soft spot for polygamy

8 August 2015

Homosexuality may not be tolerated in today’s Russia, nor political dissent. Polygamy, though, is a different matter. Ever since news broke this summer of a 57-year-old police chief in Chechnya… Read more


Owen Matthews

17 January 2015

 Moscow Here we go again. The rouble slides, then tumbles, and slides again. For those of us who remember the crash of August 1998, the drill is familiar. For Muscovites,… Read more


Letter from Donetsk: 'Soon, Scotland will leave you, and Putin will be tsar of the world'

11 October 2014

For what is technically peacetime, there’s a lot of shelling going on round here. Donetsk airport is still held by the Ukrainian army and the rebels of the Donetsk People’s… Read more


Igor Strelkov: the face of Russia's frightening future

30 August 2014

Strange times throw up strange heroes — and in Russia’s proxy war with Ukraine, none is more enigmatic than the Donetsk rebel leader Igor Girkin, better known by his nom… Read more


Vladimir Putin’s empire of lies

26 July 2014

According to Russian state television, flight MH17 was shot down by Ukrainian government forces who believed they were targeting Vladimir Putin’s jet returning from a summit in Brazil. An unnamed… Read more

Russian President Vladimir Putin Celebrates Labor Day

No, Putin didn’t plot to invade Ukraine. But now he might have to

10 May 2014

So what, exactly, does Vladimir Putin want? ‘To start World War Three,’ according to the embattled Ukrainian prime minister Arseny Yatseniuk. ‘To rule as president for life with powers on… Read more

A demonstration in Istanbul against the ban on Twitter, 22 March 2014

How did revolution become Istanbul's new normal?

5 April 2014
Turkish Awakening: A Personal Discovery of Modern Turkey Alev Scott

Gaber, pp.336, £14.99, ISBN: 9780571296576

On a recent weekend I was thinking of taking my sons to downtown Istanbul to do some bazaar browsing. ‘Bad idea’,  a fellow expatriate warned me, ‘revolution on Taxim Square.… Read more


Let Putin have Crimea – and it will destroy him

29 March 2014

David Cameron says that Russia’s annexation of Crimea ‘will not be recognised’. Ukraine’s Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk promises that ‘we will take our territory back’. They are both misguided. Let… Read more


Vladimir Putin's new plan for world domination

22 February 2014

It’s been a generation or so since Russians were in the business of shaping the destiny of the world, and most of us have forgotten how good they used to… Read more


Putin’s own Cold War

17 August 2013

Whose side is Vladimir Putin on? It’s a question worth asking, because of late the Kremlin has come closer and closer to the tipping point between obstreperousness and outright hostility… Read more


China: the Middle East’s new power broker

22 June 2013

It’s exactly ten years since Iranian dissidents first blew the cover of a secret uranium-enrichment facility under a mountain at Natanz, in a bleak stretch of desert near Isfahan. Ever… Read more

Newsweek Announces It's Going Digital Only, Will End Print Edition

Who killed Newsweek?

29 December 2012

So farewell then, Newsweek magazine, which published its last print issue this week. After 79 years — 15 of them as my employer — the venerable old rag is to… Read more


Istanbul: Going Deeper

30 June 2012

You’ve done the sights: the Hagia Sofia and the great imperial mosques, the Topkapi Palace and the Grand Bazaar, the Bosporus cruise and Basilica Cistern. With the tourist boxes ticked… Read more


Set art free

10 March 2012

Let’s not waste more millions ‘saving’ Old Masters Last week the National Gallery and National Gallery of Scotland proudly announced that they had jointly raised £45 million to buy Titian’s… Read more


A crackdown on kleptocrats

4 December 2010

The law is catching up with Russia’s corrupt oligarchs Moscow’s White House is a fairly pleasing pile, at least by the standards of late Soviet architecture. Its colonnaded white stone… Read more


There’s something rotten in the state of Russia

6 January 2010

There is a chilling sequence in Tsar, Pavel Lungin’s dark and brilliant new film about Ivan the Terrible. Ivan, played by the mercurial rock musician Pyotr Mamonov, steps out of… Read more

Russia’s ignorant still hate Solzhenitsyn

6 August 2008

In Russia, writers are more than just writers. Russians look to their literary heroes not simply for beauty and entertainment, but for a philosophy of life. Writers do more than… Read more

The mystery of Moscow’s empty supermarket shelves

20 September 2006

My local supermarket in Moscow is, by any standards, a well-heeled place. It’s called the Alphabet of Taste, and its mission is to present its wealthy Moscow consumers with refined… Read more

The price of protection in a lawless land

5 July 2006

The village clubhouse at Nikolina Gora, a well-heeled dacha village just outside Moscow, is usually a delightfully sedate place. Local residents Mstislav Rostropovich and Sergei Prokofiev used to give recitals… Read more

Owen Matthews

5 November 2005

Baghdad Just because you’re not paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you, and someone’s definitely out to get us. Last week the Palestine hotel, home to many journalists… Read more

Ankara should be wary of Brussels

16 October 2004

Earlier this month Turkey’s bid to join the European Union crept past the tipping point from possibility to probability. The European Commission recommended that accession negotiations be opened with Ankara,… Read more

Bagged by the USA

29 May 2004

Owen Matthews goes on patrol with American soldiers in Afghanistan’s ‘Indian Country’ and sees them capture and interrogate suspects It was one of those wonderfully luminous Afghan days, the spring… Read more

Something fishy for Haddock

17 May 2003

If there is any justice in the world, Captain Duane Haddock of US special forces is due a medal. He was, we can reveal, the first coalition soldier to find… Read more

‘The minarets are our bayonets’

23 November 2002

Istanbul I have no doubt that Allah moves in mysterious ways. But if He has chosen Recep Tayyip Erdogan as the instrument of His vengeance on the infidel, He must… Read more