Peter Pomerantsev

Peter Pomerantsev’s latest book, This Is Not Propaganda, won the 2020 Gordon Burn Prize.

From The Blog
14 July 2021

‘Traditional Russian spiritual-moral and cultural-historical values are under active attack from the USA and its allies, as well as from transnational corporations and foreign NGOs,’ according to the Kremlin’s new National Security Strategy, published this month. It defines ‘Russian values’ as ‘life, dignity, rights, freedoms’ as well as ‘high ethical ideals, a strong family, prioritising the spiritual over the material, humanism, kindness, justice, collectivism and patriotism’.

From The Blog
29 December 2020

‘That Alexey Navalny must be quite someone,’ went a joke on the Russian internet, ‘if he has the secret services washing his underpants.’ Earlier this month, the opposition politician prank-called one of his attempted murderers. The FSB man, believing he was talking to a colleague, explained how his team had smeared Novichok on Navalny’s underpants in August, and then picked up the murder knickers after the operation and washed them (twice) to get rid of the evidence. Not only had Navalny, with the help of investigative reporting by Bellingcat and the Insider, managed to find out the names of the FSB goons who had tried to poison him; he also got one to confess to the operation. It took 49 minutes for the FSB officer to ask if it was OK to be talking on an open line. ‘Look how stupid and corrupt the Kremlin’s system is,’ Navalny said on his YouTube channel after the phone call: another reason to get rid of the regime. The late John le Carré’s world of Soviet superspies, operating silkily in shadows within shadows, has been replaced with a quite different image of Kremlin espionage: bumbling putzes scrubbing a pair of Y-fronts in full view of the world.

From The Blog
15 October 2019

I know that a nation doesn’t experience trauma in the same way as a person, but I couldn’t help wondering whether the Leave campaign’s latching onto the phrase ‘take back control’ hadn’t been not only about appealing to what Dominic Cummings called a desire for ‘loss aversion’, but had also touched on something deeper, darker, more self-destructive.

Dead Man’s Coat: Teffi

Peter Pomerantsev, 2 February 2017

How​ does a comic writer describe a world that has stopped being funny? What to say when the system you satirise is swept away, when parts of the population are killed, when the survivors become refugees, drifting away en masse but it’s unclear where to? Teffi was faced with these questions as she tried to make sense of revolution in St Petersburg, as she fled through the Civil War,...

Diary: European Schools

Peter Pomerantsev, 16 June 2016

Educated side by side, the children of the European School played up to caricatures of their homelands. The French were moody: the boys read graphic novels and the girls wore Chanel. The Italians were appalled by the food and seemed to take badly to multilingualism. The Germans were the jocks. We in the English section, the boys anyway, posed as eccentrics: we quoted Monty Python and made a point of eating Marmite. It’s said of Boris Johnson that he elaborated his cartoon Englishness at Eton, but the groundwork would have been laid at his European School.

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