Articles by Peter Spinella


Peter Spinella was an editor at The Moscow Times in 2009-2015.


Russian Gangster Jailed for Contract Killings in 1990s 'Aluminum Wars'

A Russian crime boss whose nervous blinking tic earned him the nickname "Pasha Strobe Light" was sentenced to nine years in prison on Monday.

Russian Women Jailed in New Twerking Scandal at WWII Monument

In the second twerking scandal to rock Russia in recent weeks, several women who were filmed dancing in front of a World War II monument in southern Russia have been put in jail for up to 15 days, local authorities said Saturday.

Russian TV Reporter Detained for Starting Fire for Report About Wildfires

A reporter for Russian state television network Channel One was detained by police for setting a brush fire to set the scene for his report about devastating wildfires in Siberia, the Kommersant newspaper said Thursday.

Orthodox Church Launches Virtuous Music Channel to Compete With MTV

The Russian Orthodox Church has launched a music channel to serve as a virtuous Christian alternative to dozens of other such networks on Russian television, the Church said in a press release this week.

Siberian Man Faces 10 Years in Prison for Setting Forest Fire

A Siberian man faces up to 10 years in prison for maliciously setting fire to forestland, police said Wednesday, as local regions struggle with the aftermath of a recent spate of wildfires that have killed 31 people and left thousands homeless.

Poll: Russians Haven't Been This Positive About Their Country in 5 Years

Russians are more positive about their country than they have been since the Public Opinion Research Center began surveys for its social sentiment index five years ago, the pollster said Tuesday.

Russian Firefighting Boss in Wildfire-Ravaged Region Arrested as Putin Visits

Shortly after President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday that officials should be held responsible for damage caused by recent wildfires in a southern Siberian region, investigators said the head of a local fire department had been arrested for negligence.

Miss Russia to Be Photographed by Murder Suspect

Days after the Miss Russia competition was rocked by claims that the master of ceremonies brutally beat up his girlfriend, news reports said Monday that a famous photographer suspected of murdering his wife has been asked to take photos of the contest's winner.

Russian Mayor Disappears for Days to Escape Assassination Attempt

The mayor of the capital of Russia's Marii-El republic who went missing over the weekend said Monday his disappearance was part of an operation by authorities to apprehend those who were planning to kill him and his family.

Belarussian President Won't Attend Moscow's Victory Day Celebration

Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko said Saturday that he won't attend Moscow's grand celebration of Victory Day on May 9 because he will be attending Minsk's own parade, Belarussian news service BelTA reported.

Former Soviet States Follow Russia in Banning Release of 'Child 44' Movie

The release of American-British film "Child 44," about a serial killer of children in the Soviet Union, has been canceled in Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan following similar moves in Russia and Belarus, media reported Thursday.

Graffitist Who Painted Crucified Soviet Cosmonaut Yury Gagarin Faces Jail

A Russian graffiti artist who painted a mural depicting the first man in outer space — Soviet hero Yury Gagarin — crucified on a cross on Orthodox Easter faces a year in prison for insulting religious beliefs, state media reported Thursday.

70-Year-Old Filmmaker Allegedly Murdered by Neighbor for Her Moscow Apartment

Three suspects have been detained in the murder of 70-year-old filmmaker and television producer Tamara Yakzhina, whose Moscow apartment was listed for sale for 10 million rubles ($200,000) shortly after she went missing last month, Russian media reported.

Putin's Salary Doubled Last Year

Russia's two most powerful officials declared twice as much income for last year as they did in 2013, according to declarations posted on their respective websites Wednesday.

Russian State News Reporter Fired After Saying FSB Shut Yekaterinburg Museum

A reporter for a state newspaper in Yekaterinburg was fired after writing that Russia's Federal Security Service closed down a major museum because of a photography exhibit co-organized by the U.S. Consulate, media reports said Tuesday.

Russian Birthday Ends in Tragedy as Man Shoots Up Neighborhood

A man in the Moscow region who was drunkenly celebrating his birthday shot a neighbor with a hunting gun then barricaded himself inside his house and opened fire on police who arrived at the scene.

Russian Captain on Trial for Allegedly Selling Military Secrets to Ukraine

A Russian military captain who worked at a state-owned ship repair company in St. Petersburg is on trial for treason for allegedly selling classified information about the world's largest assault hovercraft to Ukraine for $200,000, and he faces two decades in prison if convicted.

Swedish Admiral Admits 'Russian Submarine' Was Actually Civilian Boat

A photo that a retired Swedish naval officer said showed a Russian submarine in Swedish waters last autumn was actually of a much smaller civilian boat, a Swedish admiral told his country's media Monday.

Russia Prepares to Block Over 100 Porn Sites

Russian authorities intend to conduct the country's largest-ever block of pornographic websites, targeting at least 136 of them, federal Internet watchdog Roskomnadzor said.

Russian Museum Closes Amid Scandal Over U.S. and British WWII Photos

A major museum in the Urals city of Yekaterinburg has closed for an "undetermined period" amid a scandal over an exhibition of World War II photos co-organized by the U.S. and British consulates.

Spy Satellites Spotted 'Disguised as Space Junk'

Russia has discovered a group of spy satellites gathering Russian communications signals while masquerading as space junk.

Carnival Rides Shut Down at Moscow Park VDNKh Amid Ongoing Dispute

A Russian court has shut down several aging carnival rides, including the Ferris wheel, at popular park VDNKh in northern Moscow until the rides are approved by inspectors, the park said Tuesday in a statement on its website.

Lavrov Says Crimean Tatars Have More Rights Under Russian Rule

Days after Russian authorities shut down the only television station run by Crimea's Tatars, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in comments carried by state media that the minority ethnic group enjoys more rights under Russian rule than they did when the region was part of Ukraine.

Nazi Figurines at Iconic Moscow Toy Store Incite Criminal Inquiry

Moscow investigators have opened a criminal case over the sale of Nazi figurines at a landmark downtown toy store that was reopened last week after years of renovations.

Amid Opera Scandal, Protesters Demand Russian Culture Minister Medinsky's Resignation

Spurred on by speeches from famed film director Andrei Zvyagintsev and recently fired theater director Boris Mezdrich, hundreds of protesters gathered in front of a Novosibirsk theater Sunday to demand the ouster of Russian Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky, local media reported.

British Ph.D. Student Forced to Leave Russia Amid Claims of Spying

A British doctoral student who was reportedly conducting research about the Soviet revolution in Russian state archives is returning home amid claims by a popular tabloid that she had been seeking out ways to incite a revolution in Russia.

Russian Political Opposition Uniting for 2016 Parliamentary Elections

Russia's currently fragmented political opposition — which covers a broad spectrum of ideologies, from the far left to the far right — has agreed to form single alliance for next year's parliamentary elections, newspaper Nezavisimaya Gazeta reported Thursday.

Moscow and St. Petersburg Lead Europe in Traffic Jams

Moscow and St. Petersburg lead Europe in traffic jams, with only Istanbul ranking higher in Eurasia.

Russian Orthodox Activists Throw Pig's Head at Prestigious Moscow Theater

A group of Russian Orthodox activists threw a pig's head at Moscow's prestigious Chekhov Moscow Art Theater on Wednesday in protest of a staging of Oscar Wilde's comedy "An Ideal Husband," which deals with issues of promiscuity and adultery in contemporary Moscow.

Russian Farmer Fined $200 for Dumping Manure Outside Bank in Protest

A farmer who dumped a "big pile of manure" outside a state bank in Russia's third-largest city to protest against the banking system has been fined 11,000 rubles ($200), a local court said in a statement.