Episode of the Siege of Sebastopol During the Crimean War in 1855

Empire: The Russian Way

Russia's rise as an imperial power was built on intercontinental expansion, and a mission of "civilizing, protecting and educating" the conquered.
People wait for trains on the platform at Kyiv train station on February 28, 2022 in Kyiv, Ukraine.

Ukraine, Russia, and the West: A Background Reading List

Research reports and scholarly articles on the history of the Ukraine-Russia conflicts of the past, and possible paths for peace.
Photograph: A Russian orphan in Kiev during the famine. Her parents died from starvation and she survives on charity from a neighbour. 1934

Memorializing Life Under Soviet Terror

A Russian court has ruled the country's oldest human rights organization must be dissolved. The work they do required trust from those who had lived under Stalin.
Peter the Great cutting a Boyar's beard

Peter the Great’s Beard Tax

Why did the Russian tsar seek to ban beards?
Nikolai Vavilov in prison

The Weed Scientist Who Brought Down the Wrath of Stalin

Nikolai Ivanovich Vavilov's hypothesis on the evolution of rye is now accepted. But in the 1930s, his research got him arrested.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and former Russian President Boris Yeltsin attend an inauguration ceremony for Putin May 7, 2000 in the Kremlin in Moscow.

Was Russia Destined to Be an Autocracy?

The most important factors that steered Russia away from democracy, says one scholar, weren't inevitable.
Saint George Defeating the Dragon by Johann König, c. 1630

How Saint George’s Dragon Got Its Wings

As time went on, the dragons in Russian iconography slowly became more Western in style—just like Russia itself.
An unknown woman from the city of Grodno, circa 1900

Tsarist Russia’s Feminist Intelligentsia

In the context of Russia's patriarchal autocracy, its intelligentsia was surprisingly feminist, as Vera Podorovskaya's life illustrates.
Suprematist Painting (with Black Trapezium and Red Square) by Kazimir Malevich

Dreaming of Spaceflight in 1920s Russia

Early in the 20th century, Cosmism was all the rage in Russia, inspiring a utopian and mystical view of interstellar travel.
Frozen lake Baikal near Olkhon island

Exploring Lake Baikal

The world's largest, deepest freshwater lake is home to hundreds of species that don't live anywhere else on Earth. But it's threatened by climate change.