The Not-FAQ

A permanent home for reader questions.

Do you get paid to write this blog? Have you any sponsors or institutional partners?

Russia Reviewed is 100% independent. It’s run purely on private initiative; by a woman with books and a computer – i.e., me. I don’t receive money from anyone and Russia Reviewed has no formal sponsors/partners, be it in academia, think tanks, publishers, NGOs, government, business, or the media. On the one hand, this allows for complete editorial freedom. I don’t toe a party line – nor do I worry about being forced to do so by some contract. On the other hand, not having sponsors means it’s up to me to spread the word about RR. I must obtain books for reviewing via purchase or libraries. In the former’s case, it can be quite expensive (sometimes exceeding $30 for hardcovers) and hardly feasible for a college student. (I haven’t set up a donation bookbox IRL, but maybe I should. Netgalley is also an option, but I can’t use it without compromising my identity.)

Will Russia Reviewed ever partner with anyone? Perhaps – when the future is assured, when more reviews have been written, when I feel the time is right to come in from the anonymous cold. Even then, I’d have to be careful about who I join forces with. He who pays the piper gets to call the tune – or at least believes he can. But this piper is used to playing solos, and is no stranger to the delicate art of Death by Flute.

Interests? (aside from Russia, of course)

Insects; creative writing (especially speculative fiction); unconventional comics; translation; creative illustration; travelling; reading; DIY/crafting. Hand-work, mind-work.

Where do you get your news?

My relationship with the news is…complicated. That’s a post for another time, however. When I do read “news”, it’s usually through the myriad newsletters that appear in my inbox each morn.

I consult Kommersant, Meduza,, ACEWA, VTsIOM, BNE Intellinews (occasionally), academia, several think tanks listed on my ‘Russia Resources’ page, and of course the blogosphere. None of these outlets is perfect. None of them is an indispensable source of Russia information. Everything is taken with a grain of salt, as per the J.T. norm.

In the end, though, nothing feeds the mind like a meticulously researched, well-argued book, even if publication takes longer.

I remember you saying smwh that you’ve amassed a collection of Putin bios. But what are you gonna do with them once he dies/leaves office? You wouldn’t be able to sell them for much, methinks…

Good question.

What is the most controversial thing you’ve written?

Not counting some of my more out-there fiction writing, it would have to be either a 2-star review of American Sniper, a 3-star review of popular comic series Saga, or a 2-star review of Background to “Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent U.S. Elections”. None of these has seen the light of day.

Do you have any other blogs?



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