Sadakat Kadri

18 March 2024

Structures of Force

Yulia Navalnaya’s call for protest votes and spoiled ballots in Russia’s presidential election was heeded by thousands. Outside the Russian Embassy in London yesterday, a queue stretched for almost a mile along Bayswater Road throughout the afternoon. It’s unlikely that many had given up their Sunday to contribute to Vladimir Putin’s 87 per cent share of the vote. 

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18 May 2023

In Treptower Park

Last week saw the anniversary of Nazi Germany’s unconditional surrender. Victory Day ceremonies were muted in Moscow, but Berlin commemorated defeat almost as usual. The Red Army’s arrival isn’t a straightforward cause for celebration in many places that fell under Stalin’s control after 1945, but Germany doesn’t question the sanctity of its liberation. Having learned the hard way why international harmony matters, it maintains at least five hundred Soviet war memorials.

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14 March 2023

One-Way Ticket

As Suella Braverman herself may remember from growing up in London in the 1980s, it used to be quite common among racists to label or insult non-white people as ‘illegals’. There’s no indication she cares about that today – but, like Priti Patel and Dominic Raab, she’s always been determined to differentiate her foreign-born parents from undeserving immigrants. The lawfulness of her father’s arrival from Nairobi in 1968 has therefore become central to her political back story.

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7 March 2023

Nuremberg Strikes Back

The Kremlin is urging Russian cinemagoers to remember 1945. A state-funded romantic thriller, depicting love, skulduggery and justice at the world’s first war crimes trial, recently opened nationwide. Nuremberg, written and directed by Nikolai Lebedev, promises to counter ‘the falsification of history’, according to the foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, who thinks parallels with the present are obvious.

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28 October 2022

Autumn in Finland

The urban woodlands of northern Helsinki looked almost fiery under the low September sun. According to Juha Aalto of the Finnish Meteorological Institute, however, deforestation is accelerating, biodiversity is declining and the land sector in 2021 for the first time emitted more carbon dioxide than it absorbed.

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12 September 2022

A Murder Weapon, Not a Memorial

Yesterday was Tankmen’s Day in Russia. At Patriot Park outside Moscow, children drew Zs in crayon on armoured personnel carriers and raced toy tanks for prizes.

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3 August 2022


Vladimir Putin recently decreed that any Ukrainian who wants a Russian passport can get one. More than 800,000 Donbas residents have already taken the plunge, the Kremlin says, and it’s an offer that may be hard to refuse. Russian citizenship is now required in many parts of occupied Ukraine to hold down a job and access services. Declining it can get you noticed, in a bad way.

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8 July 2022

The Caretaker

The colleagues who have spent years enabling Johnson’s mismanagement and duplicity deserve to share his discredit. But the distance that has belatedly separated him from his party arises from egotism, not principle, and it reflects the opportunism that has characterised his career. While he enjoys wielding power, he despises institutions designed to channel and control its exercise. That dangerous dichotomy has informed Johnson’s policy choices from Brexit onwards. It’s the reason he was prepared to prorogue Parliament, for example, and it explains his contempt for legal limitations and ‘leftie lawyers’. The ludicrous suggestion that he continue as a ‘caretaker’ prime minister now threatens to do yet more damage.

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29 June 2022

Ragbag Powergrab

Dominic Raab’s campaign to replace the Human Rights Act began even before he entered Parliament in 2010. But he’s never explained how getting rid of it would enhance personal freedoms. He’s praised supposedly unique British liberties – above all, free speech and jury trials – but otherwise he’s mostly stressed the need to deport foreign criminals. His Bill of Rights Bill is correspondingly sneaky.

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31 March 2022

In Helsinki

As a child of the Cold War – and a Finnish mother – I’m not surprised that anger towards Moscow is rising. Geopolitics weren’t high on my agenda during summer holidays in Helsinki in the 1980s, but even then, I sensed that Finland’s dutiful relationship with the bear next door was fraught. The only adult who convincingly described the tension was a lonely drunk I once met at a party. Gazing eastwards across Helsinki’s archipelago, he told me about his gun collection before demonstrating how he’d fire at the Soviets if they invaded. With one last imaginary bullet, he shot himself in the head. That, he said, was what Finlandisation meant.

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