Michael Weiss

Putin Sends His 'Leopard' to the Battlefield of Eastern Ukraine

Sophisticated Russian weapons have been spotted near Donetsk, signalling a dangerous new phase of conflict may be underway.

Russia's invaded Ukraine -- again. Though this time, it appears to be moving in weapons systems hitherto unseen on the battlefield, signaling perhaps the next, more deadly, phase in a six-month war which Vladimir Putin's government continues to deny it is a party to.

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The Kremlin’s $220 Million Man

Igor Shuvalov, Russia’s deputy prime minister, is supposed to have the cleanest hands in the Kremlin. So where’d he get a quarter of a billion dollars?

In 2006, Igor Shuvalov, then one of Vladimir Putin's economic aides and now Russia's first deputy prime minister, used offshore companies to purchase close to $2 million in building materials from a Belgian contractor in order to outfit a lavish greenhouse for his 18.5-acre estate just outside Moscow. The company, Glas & Metaal Engineering, which filed for bankruptcy in June 2011 and no longer exists, was based in the municipality of Menen, Belgium. It was contracted in February 2006 to sell "glass-panels and the support-structures in stainless steel, and aluminium outside cleaning-gantry" for the glazed dome and walls for the "Wintergarden" on Shuvalov's sprawling estate in Zarechye village in the Odintsovo district of Moscow, the buildings of which were designed by Italian architect Giuliano Moretti. The land of Zarechye-4, Shuvalov's property, formerly belonged to members of the Soviet Politburo, including hard-line communist ideologist Mikhail Suslov, for the purpose of hosting VIPs. Shuvalov's neighbors include billionaire oligarchs Roman Abramovich and Suleyman Kerimov, with whom Shuvalov has profited enormously in financial dealings uncovered in 2011 and 2012.

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You Wouldn't Kill Margaret Thatcher if You Knew How Hot She Was

Why Hilary Mantel's controversial short story about an imagined assassination of the former prime minister misunderstands the Iron Lady.

There is no lower form of an English cultural event than a manufactured literary scandal. For a few blissful months, it seemed as though the seasonal eruption of belletristic bellyaching had ended. Martin Amis, after all, had moved to Brooklyn Heights. Salman Rushdie's references to himself in the third person were two long years ago, and Zoë Heller has moved on from the trauma of having read it. Even the news of Russell Brand's pop-Maoist tract, in which the recovering heroin addict explains how to "bring down the government and establish a personal and global utopia" in a "simple, accessible book," is not due out for a few more days, was only expected to kick up a modest fuss with the rumors that it was ghostwritten by recovering plagiarist Johann Hari. You might say it was a rather idyllic summer for English letters; that is, until Hilary Mantel set off an early chill to autumn.

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Ghosts of the Maidan

First revolution. Then war. Now what?

KIEV — "Don't listen to the police!"

Oksana Forostyna was explaining why I was late to our meeting at Oliva, a restaurant just off Maidan square in central Kiev. I'd asked directions from local law enforcement about a block away from my destination, and been inevitably led astray. Forostyna is the editor of Krytyka, which might be thought of as Ukraine's answer to the New York Review of Books, and she was kindly instructing me on the new rules of navigating post-revolutionary Kiev. 

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A White Shining Lie

Putin's 'humanitarian' convoy is simply a pretext for the war the Kremlin's been planning for months.

Leave it to Vladimir Putin to make relief sound menacing. "All excuses for dragging out the delivery ... are exhausted," the Russian Foreign Ministry announced on Aug. 22, as more than 200 white-painted Russian Kamaz "aid" trucks entered Ukrainian territory without the permission of Kiev. "The Russian side has taken the decision to act. Our column with humanitarian cargo is starting to move in the direction of Luhansk."

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