Vadim Nikitin

Vadim Nikitin investigates financial crime in the former USSR.

Saintly Outliers: Browder’s Fraud Story

Vadim Nikitin, 5 October 2023

Last February​, after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the word ‘oligarch’ experienced a brief spike in Google searches, just as a volley of Western sanctions hit these Russian billionaire businessmen, who were deemed responsible for propping up the government of Vladimir Putin. The oligarchs are a diverse bunch, but they have certain characteristics in common. Most made their...

From The Blog
4 March 2022

I spent three days this week trying to get out of Russia with my three-year-old son, who was visiting his grandparents in Murmansk for the first time (in retrospect perhaps not the best time to have made such a trip). There were no flights out, but also no spare tickets on any bus going to Helsinki; the train was still running (for Russian and Finnish citizens only) though everyone expects it to stop any day. At Finland Station payments to Russian Railways with Western cards were not working. I had to beg the lady to hold the tickets in the face of a long angry queue as I ran to a nearby Sberbank to withdraw cash.


Vadim Nikitin, 21 February 2019

I remember​ the first time I paid a bribe. It was the summer of 1993, and I was standing at the ticket counter of the Aeroflot office in Voronezh; I was nine years old. My parents had just handed in their passports at the window. ‘Biletov nyet,’ a voice barked from behind a brown computer console labelled ‘Robotron’. The rest happened quickly. I saw my father...

One​ of my parents’ favourite Soviet films is called Autumn Marathon. Its main character, an academic translator, is living a double life. Out of divided loyalties rather than greed or excitement, Andrei spends most of his time running frantically between his home, his office at the university and the apartment of his typist, who is also his mistress. Each night, the drawbridges...

Diary: In Murmansk

Vadim Nikitin, 30 November 2017

The time capsule was buried in a secluded square in Murmansk in 1967 on the eve of the fiftieth anniversary of the Russian Revolution. Inside was a message dedicated to the citizens of the Communist future. At short notice, the authorities brought forward the capsule’s exhumation by ten days, to coincide with the city’s 101st birthday. With the stroke of an official’s pen, a mid-century Soviet relic was enlisted to honour one of the last acts of Tsar (now Saint) Nicholas II, who founded my hometown in October 1916. From socialism to monarchism in ten days.

Read anywhere with the London Review of Books app, available now from the App Store for Apple devices, Google Play for Android devices and Amazon for your Kindle Fire.

Sign up to our newsletter

For highlights from the latest issue, our archive and the blog, as well as news, events and exclusive promotions.

Newsletter Preferences