In this German-language essay I talk about some of the urban constants and continuities shared by Vienna and Moscow.
I imagine my grandfather would have been amused by the curious twist of fate that has flung me to Vienna, bearing the same name, and doing something similar, really, but altogether less secret: journalism.
My feature about the glitch-plagued presidential election in Austria, as a re-run of the run-off between Alexander Van der Bellen and Norbert Hofer gets postponed over ineffective glue on postal vote forms.
These reports came as former Green party chief Alexander Van der Bellen won Austria's knife-edge presidential run-off, narrowly preventing Norbert Hofer of the anti-immigration Eurosceptic Freedom Party from becoming the EU's first far-right head of state, only for the country's highest court to overturn the result a few weeks later over irregularities and call new elections.
When asked by Viennese friends what I like most about their city, I tend to say architecture or art, or else, more vaguely, “culture”. When friends and family back home in Moscow pose that same question my reply, typically, is “freedom”.
When I first became a journalist, not much of what I did was really journalism. To begin with, I made up a lot. I started small - with a harmless quote perhaps or an insignificant detail - but gradually went over to bigger things.
Austria’s Muslim community is incensed over the government’s plans to amend the country’s century-old law on Islam.
I wrote this German-language series in response to Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014, and the ensuing surge in wrong-headed patriotism encouraged by the Kremlin.
These reports came as Ukraine was gripped by a bloody revolution and Russia-backed separatists took control of the country's eastern regions.
To most westerners, Soviet architecture means imposing, Neo-Gothic Stalinist towers, but the USSR’s 70-odd-year history saw other equally striking - if less celebrated - architectural styles.
In this Russian-language essay, I reflect on the fortunes of Soviet modernist architecture and try to imagine what my mother made of Moscow when she arrived there in the 1980s as a young student from the provinces.
Beyond the concrete wall, there was a silence. It was a massive wall, about three meters tall, with a thick coating of obscenities and pee stains. I crouched, excited, and crawled down a long burrow under one of its looser sections.
I have known Jesus for a number of years – since my first day in college, in fact, when he spilled coffee on the canteen floor and the faculty dean slipped on it. Jesus was his nickname, which he acquired chiefly on account of his appearance, as he bore – especially on his rougher days – a remarkable resemblance to actor Ted Neeley from the 1973 film “Jesus Christ Superstar”.
“It is like knocking on a locked door – no one answers it,” Daria Desnitskaya, a Moscow drama school graduate, says following days of tiring auditions which have elicited nothing, not even an unenthusiastic “we’ll call you.”
There has been a lot of talk about alleged vote fraud in Russia, after both December’s parliamentary polls and last Sunday’s presidential elections, at which Prime Minister Vladimir Putin secured a third stint in the Kremlin. But how exactly are ballots rigged?
Two women who say they defied orders to rig December’s parliamentary elections in favour of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party claim they are being intimidated by the authorities.
"I don't want to talk about Anders Breivik," the leader of Russia's outlawed Slavyansky Soyuz nationalist movement says as we walk through the back-streets and courtyards of central Moscow.
Four drunks are chilling beneath Lenin’s statue. I look up at it: frock-coated, baggy-trousered, goat-bearded, he stares straight ahead toward the inevitable, scientific victory of communism.
I remember that sharp, radiant day in mid-August because of three things. The folks were up early, a sense of foreboding was imminent, and there was nothing on television. My sister was ominously silent, too. I was only in the third year of my life at that time.
The war against street stalls in Moscow is over, but if you think the good old days of kiosk commerce will be back any time soon, you've got another think coming.