Articles by Alexei Bayer



Back to 1960s Moscow in 'Murder at the Dacha'

"Murder at the Dacha" by Alexei Bayer is a detective thriller set in 1960s Moscow, the Moscow that New York-based Bayer grew up in. The novel features policeman Pavel Matyushkin, who gets caught up in an infamous hard currency case.

The Russian Rebel Spirit

Back in the Soviet era, American historian Richard Pipes wrote that the Russian people are both inherently anarchic and frightened of their own nature.

Russia's Petrodollar Days of Plenty Are Over

Conspiracy theories have a fatal attraction to the Russian public. Nothing of importance can ever happen in the world without some powerful players arranging it behind the scenes.

Russia's Economy Is Stuck in the Past

Karl Marx taught that economics were the base on which ideology, politics and morality all rested. President Vladimir Putin and his inner circle read Marx at school and were once members of the Communist Party.

Lyubimov and the Miracle of Soviet Theater

Yury Lyubimov, who died last week at age 97, was the most influential cultural figure in Moscow in the late 1960s and early 1970s. All performances at his Taganka Theater were sold out, to get tickets you needed connections — or camp out overnight in front of the box office.

Reliving 'Red Cavalry' in Today's Ukraine

Writer Isaac Babel is known for two short-story collections: "The Odessa Tales" and "Red Cavalry Stories." Both were banned when Babel disappeared into the gulag in 1939 and re-emerged only during Khrushchev's thaw.

The Sun Is Setting on Russia's Empire

I'm a fairly typical product of the great Soviet melting pot. My father was born in Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan, and grew up in Almaty, then the capital of Kazakhstan.

If the West Won't Help Ukraine, China Will

As it becomes increasingly clear that the West has no stomach for war with Russia over Ukraine, Ukraine must constantly remind Western politicians and their voters that it was former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych's refusal to sign an association agreement with the European Union that sent Ukrainians onto the streets in protest in November 2013.

Russia Pines for the 19th Century

Speaking at the opening of a World War I memorial in Moscow earlier this month, President Vladimir Putin noted that victory in that war had been stolen from Russia.

EU's Unity Won't Last Long

From the start, the European integration project has been based on accommodation and compromise, on rules and laws rather than confrontation. It was founded not as a zero-sum game but as a universally beneficial project.

Russia's War in Ukraine is Now Europe's Conflict Too

It is a stark symbol of our times. On one side there was a wide-body jet liner, made by a U.S. company and operated by Malaysia Airlines, en route from one of the world's most prosperous and liberal cities to the capital of one of the fastest-growing Asian nations.

Russia Can't Conquer Kiev

Aside from the threat of Western sanctions, there may be other reasons why Russian troops have not been sent to Ukraine, reasons that reach back into the history of the Soviet Union.

There were three pervasive Soviet institutions: the military, the Communist Party and the secret police. They were highly interlinked, but each remained distinct. Relations between them were often tense and even hostile. However, although Communist elites and the secret police cadres continued to thrive despite the Soviet Union's fall, the military, excluding the special forces, has never really found a strong foothold, even during the days of the Soviet Union.

Russia Forgets Europe's Initial Compassion

Relations between Russia and the West have reached rock-bottom and questions are being asked about what went wrong.

Prepare for War, Not Peace

How richly symbolic. Just before the 70th anniversary of the Allied landing in Normandy, Barack Obama flew to Poland, the first official victim of Nazi aggression, and pledged more U.S. troops for Europe. Then the summit of the Group of Seven leading industrial nations, reconstituted after Russia's expulsion for the first time since 1998, discussed in Brussels the first forcible re-drawing of European borders since the end of World War II.

Russia Will Regret Its Gas Deal With China

Russia no longer takes economics into account when it makes policy decisions.

Putin Fails Big as a Strategist

During the Cold War, Washington was playing for the long term, building a stable international system that survives to this day and serves as the core of the global economic and political order.

Why the Kremlin May Turn Against the Jews

While reviving many aspects of the Soviet Union, President Vladimir Putin's regime has avoided one of the most odious of all Soviet practices: state-sponsored anti-Semitism. There are no Soviet-style hidden quotas for jobs or universities and no harangues of Israel and global Zionism that often masked old-­fashioned Jew-hatred.

Why the World Looks at Russia With Disdain

During recent U.S. presidential campaigns, Republican candidates made two outlandish statements. Sarah Palin, the 2008 vice presidential candidate, predicted that if Barack Obama were elected, Russia would invade Ukraine. Four years later, Mitt Romney called Russia the U.S.' No. 1 geopolitical foe.

The War That Russia Didn't Fight

Karma is a belief that past actions return to haunt us. Once a bad deed is perpetrated, bad karma casts a shadow over the future, shaping it and inflicting inevitable retribution.

Managing Russia's Economic Decline

One reason why Russians support their country's invasion of Crimea is because Russia looks strong again. The Russian military appears well-equipped, disciplined and efficient.

Putin's Pandora's Box in Ukraine

It is a cliche that wars never go as planned. What President Vladimir Putin intends by invading Crimea remains unknown. While moving gradually and maintaining plausible deniability, he has destabilized Ukraine and carried out a creeping annexation.

The Apotheosis of Putin

After the rule of Augustus, Rome developed an imperial cult in which emperors were declared gods, and shrines were built to venerate them. Some religious and nationalist authorities declare that Russia, the heir to Byzantium, is the Third Rome. It's no surprise that it, too, has developed a version of the imperial cult — albeit a strange variation of it.

Let the Games Begin

Just before the start of the 2006 Turin Winter Olympics, I learned by chance that there were still tickets available to see most events. My 11-year-old son was an avid hockey fan. On a lark, we bought a package that included hockey and downhill skiing, along with a compulsory addition of curling, and in mid-February found ourselves on a plane to Italy.

Medvedev's Liberal Hot Air

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev often looks like the odd man out in the government he heads. Many people expected him to be retired to some meaningless sinecure once his four-year stint as figurehead president ended in May 2012. Yet President Vladimir Putin is keeping him on. The question is why.

The High Price of Long Vacations

Russians enjoy longer holidays than people in any of the other 40 countries tracked by the travel website Hotels.com, combining the generous 28-day paid vacation required by the labor law with 12 days of official public holidays adds up to 40 days per year, compared to 36 days off work for second-place Italy.

Russia's Killing Fields

One hundred years ago, the Russian Empire entered the bloodiest period any country on Earth had ever experienced before. Between the start of World War I and the death of Stalin 39 years later, at least 60 million men, women and children lost their lives. The monstrous arithmetic works out to 1.5 million dead per year, or more than 4,000 every day.

When Swine Rules the U.S., Russia and Ukraine

A banker friend noted recently that even though several investment banks were wrecked by corruption, greed, rigging rates and currency markets and selling fraudulent financial products, their senior executives went home safe and rich. No one was stripped of their assets or thrown in jail.

China's Tail Wagging the Dog

China has always regarded itself as the center of the world, the Middle Kingdom surrounded by hostile or subservient barbarians. Now, after a hiatus of several centuries, this view once more corresponds to reality as China emerges as a global economic superpower.

The Russian March Starts in Kiev

Russia has always had a thinking minority and a feeling majority. The latter were out in force last Monday during the National Unity Day, which, in classic Orwellian fashion, is now celebrated with the ultranationalist Russian March.

Collective Punishment for Migrants

In George Orwell's novel "Nineteen Eighty-Four," the Party holds a daily "Two Minutes Hate," during which it whips up a frenzy of collective fear and loathing by screening images of enemies of the state.