• Tilda Swinton looks on during a press conference to promote the movie "The Grand Budapest Hotel" at the 64th Berlinale International Film Festival in Berlin February 6, 2014. (Thomas Peter/Reuters)

    Uncensored

    Tilda Swinton Blasts Putin

    The Oscar winning actress sat down for a candid talk about her new vampire romance, gay Putin, her MoMA performance art piece, and her ‘cousin’ David Bowie.

    Would you like a coffee, love?

    Those are the first words out of Tilda Swinton’s mouth when I meet her. It’s 10 a.m. and we’re in a suite at the Four Seasons Hotel in Austin, Texas. The British actress is here to promote her latest film, Only Lovers Left Alive—a moody, elegiac vampire saga about two star-crossed, blood-sipping lovers in Detroit and Tangier. It stars Tom Hiddleston as Adam, a reclusive, suicidal vamp-rocker, and Swinton as Eve, his extroverted foil and the love of his life, and was directed by her pal, indie film legend Jim Jarmusch.

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  • Anadolu Agency/Getty

    Riots Not Diets

    The Feminists Who Took On Putin

    Feminism may be a dirty word in Russia, but the punk artists of Pussy Riot and the topless crusaders of Femen are among the few willing to stand up to Putin.

    Feminism has long been a dirty word in Russia. Just ask Svetlana Smetanina, a journalist for the state-owned Rossiyskaya Gazeta newspaper who, in a 2010 article, voiced an opinion that many Russians seem to share: women who self-identify as feminists are harpies, she wrote, “unfulfilled in their personal lives and bent on revenging themselves on men for their own unhappiness.”

    Smetanina’s op-ed is representative of the outright disdain in Russia toward feminists—an attitude on full display in recent months, crystallized in the Western mind by images of the punk art collective Pussy Riot being whipped by Cossacks in Sochi and of brutes in Crimea violently choking young, topless activists from the radical group Femen, whose bare-breasted protests against patriarchy and dictatorship (in this case Putin’s invasion of eastern Ukraine) have made them media darlings in the West. Love them or hate them, these women are at the vanguard of the fight against Putin’s repressive state at a time when the domestic opposition has been effectively neutered.

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  • RT

    Hit the Road, Vlad

    RT Anchor: Here’s Why I Quit

    Liz Wahl wasn’t just disgusted by the Kremlin-funded TV network’s handling of Ukraine, she says in an exclusive interview. RT’s coverage “made me feel sick.”

    American journalist Liz Wahl just made Vladimir Putin’s enemies list.

    Wahl, an American anchor for RT-America, a cable news network funded by the Russian government, stunned viewers Wednesday, when, at the end of her 5 PM broadcast, she announced her resignation from the channel.

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  • Members of Russian Pussy Riot Nadezhda Tolokonnikova (Rear) and Maria Alyokhina (R) are taken into custody by Russian police during the protest to enter the Bolotnaya trial building, at least 80 wounded and 400 custody that was held on the eve of President Vladimir Putin's May 7, 2012 in Moscow, Russia, on February 24, 2014. (Sefa Karacan/Anadolu Agency/Getty)

    Putin’s Russia

    Pussy Riot’s In Prison Again

    The punk collective’s two most high-profile former members landed afoul of the cops during massive protests in Moscow over the show-trial of eight activists.

    Barely 24 hours had passed since the closing ceremonies at Sochi before the Russian government set about locking up its opposition again. This time it was a dragnet arrest of protestors, outside a Moscow courtroom at Manezhnaya Square, who were there in a show of solidarity with the Bolotnaya defendants—eight members of the May 2012 demonstration opposed to another stolen parliamentary election. While all eyes were glued to Olympic ice hockey or to a crushed-velvet revolution in Ukraine, the Bolotnaya Eight were busy being found guilty of “mass rioting” in a show trial which revealed, as Amnesty International’s John Dalhuisen put it, “a criminal justice system that is entirely malleable to the dictates of its political masters.”

    The verdicts for all eight were handed down on Friday whereupon a large protest of around 1,000 people broke out at Zamoskvoretsky Court whereupon Russian police cordoned off the building and rounded up around 200 agitators. So the reading of the sentences—seven received jail terms ranging from two-and-a-half to four years, one received a suspended sentence—was put on hold until yesterday, when another demonstration kicked off, this time with as many as 420 people detained (as ever, estimates vary), a few for more than five hours, and some more than once.

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  • AFP/Getty

    Thug-ocracy

    Putin’s Post-Sochi LGBT Crackdown

    The Olympic Games are finally over—which means the Kremlin will soon be ramping back up its toxic anti-homosexuality campaign.

    In the run-up to the Sochi Olympics, much ink was spilled regarding the persecution of LGBT people in Vladimir Putin’s Russia -- along with the occasional prophecy of chaos at the Games themselves.  Those prophecies were never going to be fulfilled; as in Munich in 1936, the past two weeks have been relatively quiet, with the exception of a small kerfuffle involving Pussy Riot and whip-toting Cossacks.

    But all this is prologue.  In fact, Putin’s pre-Sochi campaign against gays in his home country was only in the first stage of a much larger and more dangerous process that will only get underway after the spotlights have turned elsewhere.

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  • ONLY STRONGER

    Pussy Riot: We Can’t be Silenced

    May even run for Russian office.

    Pussy Riot isn’t afraid of prison or Putin. Two of its members spent up to 21 months incarcerated and as the band begins a tour of New York, they are speaking out about how jail has only emboldened their efforts to change Russia. "What happened was that the support and care shown internationally made us free,” Maria Alyokhina, 25, said. The group is still politically active, encouraging protests ofthe Sochi Olympics and contemplating running for political office in the future. “In these two years, the situation in Russia has gotten so much worse.” Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 24. “And if we couldn’t keep quiet about it then, then we certainly won’t keep quiet about it now.”

    Read it at New York Times
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin and his wife Lyudmila attend a service in the Annunciation Cathedral after his inauguration in the Kremlin in Moscow, on May 7, 2012. (Government Press Service, via AP)

    MRS. PUTIN MIA

    Where is Russia’s First Lady?

    Traditionally Russians don’t pay much attention to first ladies, but even they are mystified by Lydmila Putina’s absences. By Anna Nemtsova.

    There were no street celebrations, no memorable concerts, no fireworks, not even a word on the main news channels. Russians did not mark the 55th birthday of their first lady, Lyudmila Putina, last Sunday. Instead, those who did not leave for Egypt or Thailand for the official two-week new-year break were passionately discussing every step made by a new Russian citizen, the scandalous Gérard Depardieu. Last year the Internet carried the occasional question (“Where did Lyudmila Putina disappear?”) or strange claim (“Putin Hides His Wife in a Monastery”). This year Russians forgot even to mention her.

    Russians are mostly indifferent to the wives of their leaders, and in turn the first ladies rarely seek or share the limelight with their husbands. But even by those standards, Vladimir Putin’s wife has always been a shadowy figure.

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  • Geert Vanden Wijngaert

    Dreams Deferred

    Putin to Sign U.S. Adoption Ban

    Expected to immediately block 46 adoptions.

    Vladimir Putin has announced that he will sign a law banning adoptions of Russian children by American citizens, which was approved by Russia’s Federation Council on Wednesday. Lawmakers said they felt the need to retaliate for a U.S. law signed by President Obama that prohibits Russian citizens accused of violating human rights from traveling to the U.S. or owning assets there. The new law will be enacted immediately and is expected to block the departure of 46 children who are ready to be adopted by parents in the United States.

    Read it at The New York Times