From the current issue (34.2):
When I arrived in Moscow, a week before the March 4 presidential election, it was below zero and winter was grinding to a close. At midday the downtown was completely tied up—lines and lines of cars were stalled in one of the city’s eternal traffic jams. The advancing tires slowly churned a black sea of slyakot—a tenacious type of slush—that splashed on BMWs and tinted-glass luxury cars, as well as on the capital’s poorer pedestrians’ boots. For security reasons, Lenin’s tomb on Red Square was closed; a single soldier in uniform paced back and forth in the snow. A few streets away, a piercing wind circled the Lubyanka, the former home of the KGB and now headquarters to its successor, the FSB—the Russian Security Forces—and still a working prison.
Buda, via Wikimedia
In the current issue, Ellen Hinsey writes of the recent political convulsions in Hungary:
On January 1, 2012, Hungary’s new constitution went into effect. On the evening of January 2, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and President Pál Schmitt, surrounded by members of their Fidesz government and supporters, held a gala evening celebration at the State Opera in central Budapest. But the entering into force of the new Fundamental Law was not an accomplishment celebrated by everyone. Outside the neo-Renaissance building along Andrássy Avenue—cordoned off at a slight distance—tens of thousands gathered in the cold. Many of Hungary’s liberal opposition groups were present, as well as individuals from the far-right Jobbik party, and this convergence resulted in minor clashes. The New Year’s demonstration focused on the new Constitution, but it also addressed the nearly two-year-long process by which the Fidesz party, after its election in April 2010—and subsequent attainment of a supermajority in the Hungarian Parliament—is viewed to be dismantling the country’s democracy built over the last twenty years.