Hamid Ismailov, a writer who fled Uzbekistan in 1992, also reflects on how the superficial removal of the symbols of Soviet rule did little to change the mentality of the country or its government.
BG Muhn explores the legacy of socialist realism art in North Korea, arguably the only remaining totalitarian communist country, where painters work in government-run studios to produce artwork inspired by Soviet ideals and Korean pride. Also examining propaganda in art, David Aaronovitch looks back at the famous Soviet films he grew up watching, and asks whether their distortion of true events is any more sinister than that of Hollywood.
Jan Fox also interviews Luis Lago Diaz, a Cuban filmmaker, showing the global reach of Soviet influence, and Rafael Marques de Morais dissects the Stalin-inspired cult of personality surrounding the president of Angola.
Meanwhile, with eyes on history, Kaya Genç examines the complex relationship between Russia and Turkey, Bernard Gwertzman reflects on his time as the New York Times’ Moscow correspondent during the 1960s, and Duncan Tucker investigates how Leon Trotsky’s journey from founding Soviet leader to dissident non-person saw him become a champion of free speech during his exile in Mexico.
Outside of the special report, Laura Silvia Battaglia interviews a Yemeni journalist about his ordeal reporting on his country’s war, which has included being kidnapped, tortured and shot, and Eliza Vitri Handayani explains how a small rural community in Indonesia has found innovative ways of standing up to big industry, including encasing their feet in cement.
Plus Jemimah Steinfeld asks the author Margaret Atwood about current threats to free speech, the South African cartoonist Zapiro discusses the time President Jacob Zuma sued him and in the culture section award-winning writer Jonathan Tel presents a surreal, original short story about China’s ban on time-travelling television.