BA (Hons) History; MA Russian Studies; previously worked in management capacity as 'Arts and Ideas' editor at The Moscow Times. Still writing on Russia, Eastern Europe, culture and international politics.
Over the past few years, as more and more Russians go online, the government has banned various platforms and blocked millions of websites, targeted individual social media users, and increased its own surveillance powers. A particular uptick has been seen since March, when thousands of people protested across Russian cities in the biggest and most widespread demonstrations since 2011.
When I arrive at the beauty pageant "Miss USSR UK", several women smile rehearsed smiles at me and tell me I look “amaaaaazing”. A voice coach tries to convince me that the presentation of what I say is potentially as important as the content of what I’m saying. But I have not come to this grand old building in East London as a participant. I'm here as an observer, to understand why this event is taking place at all.
In the US, “sanctuary cities” are, in short, places where local officials do not hand over undocumented migrants to federal agents for deportation. New York, Chicago, Boston, and several major cities in California all hold “sanctuary” status. On January 25, US President Donald Trump signed an executive order saying that any municipalities that do not cooperate with federal immigration officials would have their funding withdrawn.