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Putin’s war is a cross to bear for all Russians

‘The photographs of murdered civilians, their hands tied behind their backs, shot in the head and tossed like animals on to the street… we will not forget, and no one will let us forget,’ wrote Russian journalist and author Yevgenia Albats last week. ‘The guilt for this will lie on our children and grandchildren. Bucha,

How Putin weaponised the Russian Orthodox church

In the week before Orthodox Lent began, some 233 Russian Orthodox priests published a petition calling for peace. The signatories spoke of the ‘fratricidal war in Ukraine’, with a call for an immediate ceasefire, and deplored ‘the trial that our brothers and sisters in Ukraine were undeservedly subjected to’. Anyone who knows how authority is

I can feel my heart hardening as the war goes on

Palm Sunday in Perugia. Umbrians were scuttling around with twigs and leaves, but I was in town to celebrate another faith. It was the annual International Journalism Festival, which hasn’t been ‘annual’ for the past two years due to Covid. Happy reunions were applauded with the sound of countless clinking glasses, but the mood was

The war has helped to resurrect Poland’s Catholic church

In my wife’s home city of Wroclaw, there’s a luxury hotel named after John Paul II. It has always seemed strange that the Catholic church sanctioned this. Giant chandeliers and glitzy bathrooms weren’t really what St John Paul stood for, and since the hotel opened in 2002 it had seemed as much a monument to

My Easter recipe: Greek-style marinated lamb

This is a delicious way to cook lamb with a distinctly Mediterranean feel. It’s super fresh, easy to prepare and would be perfect for Easter Sunday. I would serve it with pitta bread and chilli sauce. It pairs well with a chilled bottle of Sangiovese. Serves 2 The lamb – 2 lamb shanks – 1-2

Why so many African leaders support Putin

The Russian atrocities against civilians in Ukraine have been met with silence from Dar es Salaam, Harare and Juba. Not a word from Addis Ababa, Maputo or Khartoum. On Russia’s invasion of Ukraine the Ugandan President’s son, lieutenant general Muhoozi Kainerugaba, is clear: ‘Putin is absolutely right!’ Nearly half of Africa’s 54 nations refused to

Notes on...

Why violets come into their own at Easter

The English Rock Garden, the magnum opus of the great gardening writer, horticulturist and plant collector Reginald Farrer, is an indispensable A to Z guide to alpine flowers. When he finally reaches V, Farrer writes: ‘Viola brings this alphabet to the last great dragon in its path.’ But rather than offering fire-breathing terror, he presents