Gabriel Gavin

Gabriel Gavin

Gabriel Gavin is a Moscow-based journalist covering central and eastern Europe.

What happens when a state fails

Beirut, Lebanon ‘You can still smell it in the wind,’ says Maria. She points out from the neon-lit bar along Beirut’s shorefront to the dark port area just across the road, where tangled metal and broken concrete jut out into the sky. Maria had been working from home on August 4, 2020, when 2,750 tonnes

Turkey’s earthquake and the growing anger towards Erdogan

Istanbul, Turkey It’s Monday morning and Sam is late to work. The cafe he owns in a quiet residential area of Istanbul is already busy with émigré Russian IT workers tapping away at their laptops and small groups of locals scrolling through the news on their phones in silence. ‘This earthquake,’ he says, walking around

Has a Quran-burning protest ended Sweden’s Nato dream?

A crowd gathered outside Turkey’s embassy in Stockholm on Saturday afternoon to watch far-right politician Rasmus Paludan burn the Quran. Paludan, who leads the anti-Islam ‘Hard Line’ Danish party, was watched by dozens of photographers, police officers and bemused passers-by. Paludan is no stranger to controversy: he has previously been convicted under racism and defamation law. This

Russia’s military disaster could lead to famine in the Caucasus

Two years ago, 13-year-old singer Maléna was rehearsing for Eurovision Junior when war broke out. While her rivals battled in Warsaw on stage, she stayed home in Armenia. Young men picked up AK-47s to fight against their Azerbaijani neighbours in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh. More than 4,000 never returned. A year later, Maléna re-entered

The year the Russian empire really collapsed

In a quiet suburb of Moscow, a twenty-minute metro ride from the Kremlin, is the Soviet Union’s answer to Disneyland. Between a budget supermarket and a teacher training college is the Exhibition of Achievements of National Economy, known to locals by its Russian-language acronym, VDNKh. The ‘Kh’ is said like you are clearing your throat.

The Istanbul bombing will deepen Turkey’s rift with the West

Istiklal Avenue is a picture of chaos at the best of times. Istanbul’s answer to Oxford Street, the bustling pedestrian area is lined with upmarket shops, cafes and overpriced kebab stands. Groups of men sit out till late at night on benches drinking tea and playing chess, while families pushing buggies jostle with tourists for

Tensions are growing between Turkey and Greece

Tavernas along the beachfront are closing for the winter months. Staff stack chairs and fold red and white checkered tablecloths. It’s the end of the tourist season on the Greek island of Astypalaia. ‘This place is so peaceful right now,’ says Christina Koutsolioutsou, a local artist, ‘but we can’t help but think about what would

Life among the Russian refuseniks

Yerevan, Armenia It was getting dark outside Yerevan Airport when I arrived, but there were still a dozen flights from Russia yet to land. Groups of young men in their twenties and thirties were milling around the terminal building, stacking suitcases onto trolleys, changing money and working out what to do next. Armenia is one of

On the front lines of Europe’s newest war

Sotk, Armenia A group of Armenian soldiers stand guard on the road towards the village. ‘It’s not safe to go ahead,’ one says, slinging his Kalashnikov across his shoulder and motioning for our van to pull over. ‘They were shelling the highway just 15 minutes ago.’ In the distance, there’s the unmistakable thunder of artillery

Why Erdogan is now happy to snub Putin

Vladimir Putin’s first trip outside the former Soviet Union since the start of the Ukraine war was supposed to project power. Instead the Russian president appears to have been left red-faced at a summit in Iran this week after his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, left him waiting in front of the TV cameras. For

After Boris

30 min listen

In this week’s episode:After Boris, who’s next?On the day the Prime Minister resigns, Katy Balls and James Forsyth discuss the aftermath of Boris Johnson’s premiership. Who might be the next Tory leader? (0.51).Also this week:Who are the wealthy Russian émigrés ready to fight in the war?Sean Thomas talks with Moscow-based journalist, Gabriel Gavin about the

Turkey is heading for a Nato showdown

‘Nato is surrounding Turkey,’ reads a banner flying in Istanbul’s Kadiköy district, on the Eastern side of the water that divides Europe from Asia. ‘Let’s get out of it.’ The sign, featuring American flags scattered across Europe and the Middle East, from Greece to Syria, has appeared across the country’s second city in the run-up

The death of Russian diplomacy

‘It’s like being part of a cult,’ explains one student of Russia’s elite diplomatic academy. ‘They expect us to learn about diplomacy and the international order like nothing has changed, but everything has.’ Since it was founded by Joseph Stalin in 1944, the Moscow State Institute of International Relations has been a training ground for

Life in an age of hyperinflation

Istanbul, Turkey On Saturday mornings, Istanbul’s markets and greengrocers are packed with housewives in search of a bargain. Anxious women compare cabbages while chefs haggle over bunches of parsley, passing across thick wads of ten Lira notes – equivalent to about £5 a decade ago, now worth just 50 pence. The rising cost of food

Could Russia invade Moldova?

Chișinău, Moldova Armed soldiers patrol the checkpoints along the road into Transnistria, standing guard under a giant Soviet hammer and sickle flag. International law dictates that this thin tract of land along the border with Ukraine is part of Moldova. Yet it feels not just like a different country, but a different decade altogether. Held

Will Russia sink Le Pen?

Paris, France Marine Le Pen has changed her image. Five years ago, the veteran far-right leader lost her second bid for the French presidency to a virtual newcomer, Emmanuel Macron, who swept into office with two-thirds of the vote. This time, she has assured her anxious supporters that things will be different. She has retired

The Northern Ireland elections could break the Union

Belfast, Northern Ireland Phillip Brett was just nine years old the night a neighbour called to say his brother, Gavin, had been shot. Their father raced through the streets of their Belfast estate, arriving just in time to cradle his eldest son as he died. The teenager had been celebrating a friend’s birthday at the

Why Russians celebrate monsters

Nobody knows how long people live in Dzerzhinsk – life expectancy statistics for the Russian city, 250 miles east of Moscow, aren’t released to the public. In the days of the Soviet Union, it was closed to outsiders and left off official maps, but those in neighbouring Nizhny Novgorod joked that residents must have purple

Is Putin using chemical weapons in Ukraine?

In 1942, as Hitler’s forces swept through the Soviet Union, the Red Army went underground. Outside the city of Kerch in Crimea, 10,000 Russian, Belarusian and Ukrainian soldiers dug into the caves of a limestone quarry, ready to defend their position to the last man. Intent on flushing them out, the Nazis bombed them from