Will Nicoll

The great Soviet gameshow

In the opening chapter of her history of Soviet Central Television, Christine E. Evans observes two Russian televisual displays of 2014. February saw the opening ceremony of the Sochi Winter Olympics — which sought to depict a millennium of national history using glitter and gameshow grandiosity. April brought the stern, but no less theatrical, Direct

The bane of Albania

In his final public appearance, the Albanian dictator Enver Hoxha addressed a Tirana crowd to commemorate the capital’s liberation from German invaders on the 28 November 1944. The Hoxha who had entered the city as a communist partisan was now a weak old man. He was often confined to a wheelchair, had to be hoisted

Reds against Whites

On the 24–25 October 1917 (according to the Julian Calendar, or 7–8 November according to the Gregorian) the political disputes which had shaken the Russian empire reached a peak. The provisional government, or All-Russian Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies (which had been formed in the wake of the February revolution and abdication of Tsar Nicholas

A nation in trauma

Albania is a small country of 2.7 million people, wedged within the Balkan peninsula. Separated from both Greece and Italy by mere kilometres of seascape and shoreline, it borders the European Union, and, with official candidate status as a member country, strongly hopes for closer ties. As Fred C. Abrahams describes it, the country’s transition

Siberia beyond the Gulag Archipelago

Larger than Europe and the United States combined, Siberia is an enormous swathe of Russia, spanning seven time zones and occuping 77 per cent of the country’s land mass. Ryszard Kapuscinski describes the gulags which were placed there as being amongst the greatest nightmares of the 20th century — and that image of suffering has

Valium’s 50th birthday: little to celebrate

A recent report published by the charity MIND – which paints a troubling, and important portrait of Britons driven to alcohol, cigarettes and prescription medication to differing extents by the stress of working-life – makes it a prescient moment to cast the mind back to a series of very strange goings-on. The time was the