Media Room


In The Media

9 May 2023 – Novaya Gazeta 

While for Europe and most of the world, Victory Day is an occasion to mourn the fallen and commemorate people’s heroic deeds, the Russian regime has increasingly distorted this meaning.  The state’s appropriation of this day, which began long before the war in Ukraine, has now led to the victory over Hitler being used in effect as one of the regime’s prime sources of legitimacy and an important tool to justify the war in Ukraine. In my latest op-ed –  Драма вечного возвращения (English version: The drama of eternal recurrence) – I discuss how even purely bureaucratic practices, such as obligatory weekly patriotic training in schools — the so-called “Important Conversations” — serve the cause of Kremlin propaganda and how a future new Russia will need to handle Victory Day in a way that does not encourage or promote public acceptance of war as a norm.

28 March 2023 – The Moscow Times

An edited version of my most recent Novaya Gazeta article, was republished under the title, How Criminal Culture Has Led Russian Society Toward Militaristic Madness as an opinion piece in The Moscow Times.

16 March 2023 – Novaya Gazeta 

In my latest commentary Дольче бита (English version: Decivilising Russia) I discuss how – after increasingly normalising violence in domestic and foreign policy, and suppressing groups interested in peaceful development – the militant forces that rose to power in Russia at the end of the 1990s have, rather than creating a state monopoly on violence, diffused it across society. The war in Ukraine is a culmination of this process of decivilisation.

6 March 2023 – Interview for T-INVARIANT

In an interview for T‑invariant, a new free media platform for the international Russian-speaking scientific community, I discuss the reasons for the failure of the democratic transition in Russia and the emergence of an aggressive militaristic state. The interview is available in Russian and English.

4 March 2023 – Interview for Sky News

I was invited to contribute to a Sky News article – The Salisbury spy poisonings five years on: Did UK’s response change Putin’s pathway to invading Ukraine? – discussing the impact of the poisonings and what messages they were intended to send by the Russian authorities to the West and to Russians at home.

26 February 2023 – Interview for Дневник (Bulgarian news site)

I was interviewed by the Bulgarian news site Дневник for their article Най-шумният хулиган”: залязва ли звездата на Пригожин (“The Loudest Hooligan”: Is Prigozhin’s Star On The Wane?)  about the head of the Wagner Group and his political ambitions.

19 February 2023 – Novaya Gazeta 

In my op-ed, Сталинтинка! Вместо любви, (English version: Stalintine’s Day: a substitute for love) I discuss  how the Valentine’s Day posting by Tatyana Volynets (Children’s Ombudsperson for the Russian region of Tatarstan) of an alternative “Stalintine’s Day card” (Stalintinka) on her Telegram channel provides an illustration of how the Russian authorities are now seeking to extend their anti-Western agenda into people’s everyday lives. In the post – which marked the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Voroshilovgrad (modern-day Luhansk) by Soviet troops on 14 February 1943 – Volnyets wrote: “Today is a proper holiday, not some Valentine’s Day”, reproaching frivolous young people for exchanging cards and gifts to celebrate the popularly adopted international holiday. Her allegedly “tradition-steeped” card was clearly intended to serve as a challenge to what she sees as a vapid and harmful cultural import from the West.

15 February 2023 – Interview for formiche 

In an interview with Matteo Turato for the Italian news and media website, formiche, I discuss how “divide and conquer” has been the way Vladimir Putin has governed for twenty years, and how this applies also to the role of the Russian oligarch and head of the Wagner paramilitary group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, in Russian politics and his relations with the Kremlin.

4 February 2023 – Novaya Gazeta 

In an opinion piece Право на утилизацию (English version: Prigozhin’s new pipeline) I explain what is behind Wagner Group head Yevgeny Prigozhin’s campaign to turn members of his convict army into new national heroes and how this reflects a new chapter in the history of Putin’s regime, which has now moved on from granting to a select few the right to utilise Russia’s natural resources, to giving them the right to utilise the population as well.

2 February 2023 – Interview for 

In an interview entitled Как связаны современная российская власть и уличные группировки 90-х? (How are today’s Russian authorities and street gangs of the 90s connected?) I discuss with Alyosha Rogozhin the transformation of street criminal groups in Russia from the late 1970s to the 2000s and their lasting impact. I explain how attitudes we attribute to the 1990s — the unity of power and property, the use of both legal and criminal methods to eliminate competitors, complete contempt for the law — continue today and permeate contemporary Russian society from top to bottom. The interview was published for, a multilingual media platform for researchers, artists, small publishers, as part of their карта (Map) project.

29 January 2023 – Interview with Lithuanian Radio and Television (LRT)

In an interview with Andrius Balčiūnas on LRT’s website entitled Sociologė: rusai nėra kamikadzės, bet Putinas formuoja mirties kultą (“Russians are not kamikazes, but Putin is forming a cult of death“) I discuss how – following the collapse of Vladimir Putin’s ambitions to defeat and enslave Ukraine in a few days, and the subsequent launch of mobilisation – the Russian media increasingly talks about the magnificence of dying for one’s homeland, and how processes taking place in Russia are reminiscent of Nazi Germany.

22 January 2023 – Novaya Gazeta

Novaya Gazeta published my opinion piece Далеко не идиоты  (English version: Far from being idiots).. The article discusses a recent interview with Oskar Kuchera, a well-known Russian actor who runs a “patriotic” Telegram channel, by Yury Dud, a popular YouTube blogger, has sparked massive debate on Russian social media. The interview titled A talk with a supporter of the Russian army had registered 17 million views by the morning of 22 January, and is a valuable source of data, helping us to understand what it means to be ‘Putin’s person’ in today’s Russia and why such people support the Kremlin but wish the war was over,

22 December 2022 – The Moscow Times

My recent Novaya Gazeta article was republished in an edited form as an opinion piece in The Moscow Times under the headline, Putin’s Idealization of Death Reflects Russia’s Growing Nazification.

6 December 2022 – Novaya Gazeta

In my article В стуже собственной крови  (English version: In Cold Blood) I discuss how, with defeats on the frontline of Russia’s war in Ukraine and the mobilisation of thousands to fill the places of those already killed, the messages from the the Russian authorities, and in popular media, to the general population, including the mothers of those being sent into battle, are changing from the carnivalesque tone previously adopted by state television to a more somber note, with calls for  acts of heroism and sacrifice. However, the language being used about the meaning of a human life is at odds with the long-term Russian traditions it purports to represent, and is more reminiscent of the National Socialism doctrines of Hitler’s Germany, illustrating the gap in empathy between those at the top and their citizens.

22 September 2022 – Novaya Gazeta

Novaya Gazeta published my article Чего произволите? (English version: Autocracy as a curse), in which I discuss how, instead of trying to explain the current actions of the Russian authorities in terms of some fascist ideological project or as a replication of European colonial wars for territories and resources, these can be better described in more ancient and familiar categories for Russia – autocracy and arbitrariness (proizvol). I discuss how such pursuit and exercise of power for the sake of power, without need for ideology and morality, is illustrated, for example, in Shakespeare’s vision of autocratic power as a curse in his portrayal of Richard III. 

31 July 2022 – Interview with Sapere Aude 

In an interview with Julia Tarkovski of Sapere Aude (“a project about events, trends and phenomena of the global world”) I discuss the development of bandit groups in the post-Soviet space and their relationships with power structures; how the gangs’ honour culture has influenced, and is often reflected in, the language and attitudes of the state authorities; how Russian society has developed in the five months since the current war began; and the prospects for change after the current regime. Our discussion can be watched on Sapere Aude’s YouTube channel under the title, O российской власти и культуре чести, or listened to in podcast form as От хамства – к войне.

26 July 2022 – Холод

My opinion piece Не смотреть, не видеть, не знать (English version: Don’t Look, Don’t See, Don’t Know), published on the politics blog “Holod”, analyses public support in Russia for the war in Ukraine, and the justifications offered for this, from a sociological and criminological perspective.

9 July 2022 – После

My article Пацан сказал — пацан сделал (English title: The Lad Said, The Lad Did), published on the politics blog “Posle”, discusses the relationship between Russia’s street gang culture and moral code and the Russian state’s policy and use of language.

20 June 2022 – Novaya Gazeta

In my Novaya Gazeta article Умри ты сегодня, а мы – никогда (English version: We Invite you to die) I discuss the influence of necropolitics in Russian politics.

12 May 2022 – Холод

In an an article for the politics blog “Holod” – Кремлевская феня, – I discuss how the Russian authorities use the language of the street, was published on the politics blog “Holod”.

12 April 2022 – Radio Free Europe

My op-ed Настоящее не навсегда (English version: The Present is not forever ) for Radio Free Europe’s website sets out how shifts in the perception of biographical and historical time are central to many Russian people’s understanding of the war in Ukraine.

20 February 2018 – Current Sociology

I was named as Current Sociology’s “Sociologist of the Month” for my article “It takes two to tango: The state and organized crime in Russia

9 March 2017 – Deutsche Welle

I was interviewed about Russian Parliamentarian Igor Lebedev ‘s suggestion that hooligans clashing could become a spectator sport on Deutsche Welle’s international service on Sunday 19 June. Audio available here and the text of the interview is available here.

3 March 2017 – BASEES

“Gangs of Russia” wins Alexander Nove Prize for scholarly work of high quality in Russian, Soviet and post-Soviet studies

19 June 2016 – Inside Europe, Deutsche Welle

I was interviewed about Russian football hooligans on “Inside Europe” on Deutsche Welle’s international service on Sunday 19 June.

18 May 2016 – Thinking Allowed, BBC Radio 4

I was invited to take part in “Thinking Allowed” with Professor Laurie Taylor on BBC Radio 4 on Wednesday 18 May.

29 March 2016 – Sean’s Russia Blog Podcast

I discuss my book with Sean Guillory of the Center for Russian and East European Studies at the University of Pittsburgh in a podcast titled The Gangs of Russia on his “Sean’s Russia Blog” website.

2 February 2016 – International Business Times

My work is featured in Inside Russian Street Gangs by Tom Porter of the International Business Times.

14 January 2016 – Times Higher Education Book of the Week

My latest book, Gangs of Russia: From the Streets to the Corridors of Power, was selected as “book of the week” in  Times Higher Education’s 14-20 January 2016 issue. The full text of the review and and an interview can be found on THE’s website.

In a related Times Higher Education podcast, I speak with THE Books Editor Karen Shook, about my  life as a university student in the USSR, summer as a visiting fellow in 1990 in the “paradise” of the University of Kent, changes in society and the academy ushered in by Mikhail Gorbachev’s reforms, and research for my latest book, “Gangs of Russia: From the Streets to the Corridors of Power”, including interviews with members (“the lads”) of Kazan gangs about criminality, masculinity, social mobility and the code of the street.