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Novgorod, violence and Russian political culture

The themes of violence, plots and suspicion are integral parts of Russian political culture. Although it is not easy to trace the origins of these issues, they appear to partly stem from the times of Ivan the Terrible. His oprichnina and the sack of Novgorod marked the beginning of instutionalised oppression on an unprecedented scale.

Every autumn, the city of Veliky Novgorod hosts the Valdai Discussion Club. Introduced 17 years ago, these talks have focused on the country’s present and future and provide an arguably open and democratic environment for expert dialogue. Meanwhile, Russia’s political system has been evolving into an autocracy where basic civic freedoms are greatly limited and state violence is on the rise. Poisoning of those proclaimed foes and defectors, long prison sentences for peaceful protesters, and intimidation have become everyday realities for those who oppose the current state of affairs in the country.
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December 2, 2021 - Miłosz Jeromin Cordes - History and Memoryissue 6 2021Magazine

The Millennium of Russia bronze monument (it was erected in 1862) in the Novgorod Kremlin with Saint Sophia Cathedral behind Photo: Alexander Gatsenko / Shutterstock

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