We see mafias as vast, powerful organisations, harvesting billions of dollars across the globe and wrapping their tentacles around everything from governance to finance. But is this the truth? Travelling from mafia initiation ceremonies in far-flung Russian cities to elite gambling clubs in downtown Macau, Federico Varese sets off in search of answers. Using wiretapped conversations, interviews and previously unpublished police records, he builds up a picture of the real men and women caught up in mafia life, showing their loves and fears, ambitions and disappointments, as well as their crimes.
The second evening in the Kleptoscope series explored the illicit wealth originating from the Middle East that flows through the capital’s economy.
“Three quarters of money looted in Russia comes to the UK.” The audience sat in stunned silence. Roman Borisovich continued, “there is an army of UK bankers, accountants, lawyers, trustees, and other professionals assisting Russian corruption.”
In the lead up to the US presidential elections, the US government formally accused Russia of political hacking. The US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper stated that the stealing and leaking of emails from the Democratic National Committee and other institutions was intended to interfere with the election process. But did Russia actually launch ‘cyber warfare’ on the US, and how grounded are the C.I.A.’s conclusions? Join us for a discussion on what the hacking debate has revealed about relations between the two countries and the new role of cyber conflict in international relations.
For the first event in a new series investigating corruption and dirty money in London – its origins, its launderers, and how it gets spent – we will be hearing three groundbreaking stories focusing on the former Soviet Union. We will discuss how Russian kleptocrats have used the services of the British capital to retain and launder their money; how London’s property market has become a piggy bank for the world’s corrupt elite; and how ex-Soviet businessmen have covertly funded MPs and parliamentary groups, gaining preferential treatment as a result.
Ukrainian Sheriffs follows Viktor and Volodya, two men who have been appointed local sheriffs by the mayor in the town of Stara Zburyevka, Ukraine. While dealing with crimes such as stolen ducks and drunken neighbours, the news about the war is slowly creeping in on them through their televisions and the invitations to join the army. Ukrainian Sheriffs gives us look beyond the war and inside everyday life in a remote Ukrainian village, with a great eye for the shady side of life.
On Tuesday 14 June, a packed-out Frontline Club hosted a screening of the acclaimed documentary City 40 followed by a Q&A with the film’s director Samira Goetschel and Guardian journalist Luke Harding.
This screening will be followed by a Q&A with director Samira Goetschel.
Tucked away deep in the heart of Russia, there is a hidden city where thousands of men, women and children live and work behind barbed-wire fences monitored by armed guards. Built after the Second World War to create the Soviet Union’s nuclear weapons program, City 40 is one of Russia’s secret closed cities. In this feature-length documentary, the film crew is smuggled inside the top secret CITY 40 to meet the brave residents who risk their lives to warn us of the human and environmental catastrophe that threatens the region.
From the rise of anti-Western paranoia and imperialist rhetoric to the intervention in Syria and the annexation of Crimea, a distinct theory of Russian national identity based on ethnicity and geography, Eurasianism, has moved from the fringes of political discourse to become official state policy.
Cambridge spy Guy Burgess was a supreme networker, with a contacts book that included everyone from statesmen to socialites and high-ranking government officials, to the famous actors and literary figures of the day. He also set a gold standard for conflicts of interest, working variously, and often simultaneously, for the BBC, MI5, MI6, the War Office, the Ministry of Information and the KGB.
For May’s members’ BookNight, we look forward to welcoming Stewart Purvis and Jeff Hulbert on the release of their new book, Guy Burgess: The Spy Who Knew Everyone .
Since the summer of 2014, thousands of young Russians poured into the Donbass region of Eastern Ukraine. Driven by propaganda on Russian television, they believed they were fulfilling their patriotic duty. This documentary follows two volunteers, Oleg and Max, as they discuss their motivations and share their own perspective on the conflict. Oleg’s Choice serves as a uniquely personal testimony of one side of the war rarely seen in the western media.
For April’s members’ BookNight, we are delighted to welcome Marina Litvinenko and Luke Harding on the release of his new book, A Very Expensive Poison.
1 November 2006. Alexander Litvinenko is brazenly poisoned in central London. His crime? He had made some powerful enemies in Russia. Based on the best part of a decade’s reporting, as well as extensive interviews with those closest to the events, Luke Harding‘s A Very Expensive Poison is the definitive inside story of the life and death of Alexander Litvinenko.
How does the idea of Eurasianism influence modern Russia? We will be joined by a panel, including Charles Clover author of Black Wind, White Snow: The Rise of Russia’s New Nationalism, to explore this theory of Russian national identity based on ethnicity and geography.
By Isabel Gonzalez-Prendergast On Wednesday 24 February, a panel of experts met to discuss the legacy of war and communism in eastern Europe. A full house convened for the event to mark the release of the latest edition of Granta, No Man’s Land, which focuses on the ground between opposing forces, twenty five years since the fall of […]
By Elliot Goat “It took me years to make sense of my own history, and Russian society will take a similar time.”– Vladimir Ashurkov, Russian opposition politician In collaboration with Theatre Royal Plymouth and the Sputnik Theatre, on Thursday 14 January the Frontline Club presented a staged reading of Grandchildren: The Second Act by Alexandra Polivanova […]
By Antonia Roupell A panel discussion focused on The Fight Against Daesh made for a timely first First Wednesday of the year at the Frontline Club. The packed event on 6 January was chaired by David Loyn, foreign correspondent for the BBC for over 30 years. The speakers included Richard Spencer, Middle East editor of The Daily and Sunday […]
The Frontline Club and Theatre Royal Plymouth in association with Sputnik Theatre present four nights of new Russian drama. Featuring exciting and topical plays by British theatre directors and cast – each evening will touch upon various aspects of life in Russia covering an array of issues, from the clampdown on theatre and freedom of speech to growing social tensions and immigration.
The play Doctor is one of the longest running productions of Teatr.doc, the famous studio theatre in Moscow which was supported by Tom Stoppard amongst other prominent British voices when facing closure in 2014. The staged reading will be followed by a discussion with artistic director of Teatr.doc, Elena Gremina, in conversation with senior international correspondent for The Guardian, Luke Harding.
Zhanna is a self-made business woman who has made it to the top for all the wrong reasons. She is living happily and in love until she is jilted, which sets her on the course for revenge. This play is not only about love but also the ruthless business practices borne of 1990s opportunistic Russia and its gangster capitalism. Following the staged reading, the members’ clubroom will open its doors to all attendees in celebration of theatre week.
How do the grandchildren of prominent Stalinists feel when they find out who their beloved grandparents really were? Interviewed by the playwrights over the last couple of years, the protagonists’ grandparents were from Stalin’s inner circle – or members of the Soviet Communist Party or NKVD – and their testimonies bear witness to the very human desire to forgive those we love, even when we know their worst crimes. The staged reading with be followed by a panel discussion.
The War Hasn’t Yet Started is a poignant play that depicts the dehumanising effects of living in a society on the brink of all-out war. The staged reading will be followed by a Q&A with artistic director of Sputnik theatre, Noah Birksted-Breen, and the artistic director of Theatre Royal Plymouth, Simon Stokes in conversation with Lucy Ash, an award winning presenter of foreign affairs documentaries at the BBC.
By Elliot Goat “This is not a phone conversation…” – Soviet saying Introducing his new book The Red Web: The […]
For this unique event a selection of short documentaries by celebrated ethnographic filmmaker Vincent Moon will be screened in alternation with an informal discussion by the director of London’s Institute of Philosophy Dr Barry Smith. He will explore the neural correlates of meaning, music and language in the context of each film, to offer the audience an explanation of the role of language in subjective mental life.
Please join us and our partners for an evening in support of imprisoned Ukrainian filmmaker, Oleg Sentsov. We will be screening Sentsov’s award-winning film Gamer. Honourable guests will include David Lan, Michael Stewart, Mike Downey and other prominent UK cultural figures.
On the eighth floor of an ordinary-looking building in an otherwise residential district of southwest Moscow, in a room occupied by the Federal Security Service (FSB), is a box the size of a VHS player marked SORM. The Russian government’s front line in the battle for the future of the Internet, SORM is the world’s most intrusive listening device – monitoring e-mails, Internet usage, Skype, and all social networks.
In a new book, The Red Web, Andrei Soldatov and Irina Borogan peel back the history of advanced surveillance systems in Russia. They will be joining us to discuss what they found and to reveal how a free global exchange can be coerced into becoming a tool of repression and geopolitical warfare.
By Sara Monetta Twenty years have passed since the beginning of the first Chechen war. How has the country changed in this period and what happened to the many men and women who fought for independence? With this starting point, journalist and filmmaker Manon Loizeau revisited Chechnya, a country where she had previously lived and reported from during the […]
By Olivia Acland On Tuesday 2 June, acclaimed writer and historian William Dalrymple joined an audience at the Frontline Club for a fascinating talk on his latest book, Return of a King – The Battle for Afghanistan, in partnership with the London Press Club. The work is the third volume in a series examining the history of […]
By Francis Churchill As part of the Documenting Ukraine festival held on Saturday 17 and Sunday 18 May in partnership with Open City Docs and GRAD, the Frontline Club screened the UK premiere of Anthony Butts’ work in progress: The Curious Tale of a Handmade Country. With astonishing access, Butts followed and filmed Ukrainian rebels in the east of the country […]
This screening will be followed by a Q&A with director Manon Loizeau.
Award-winning journalist Manon Loizeau has spent the past 20 years covering the Chechen conflict. In Chechnya, War Without Trace she returns to the places she knew well, filming undercover, to examine the lasting effects of conflict with Russia.
By Elliott Goat “Creativity always wins out over power.” – Srdja Popovic To mark the release of his new book, Blueprint for Revolution: How to use rice pudding, Lego men, and other non-violent techniques to galvanise communities, overthrow dictators, or simply change the world, the Frontline Club hosted a conversation with Serbian author and activist […]
Open City Docs and the Frontline Club present Documenting Ukraine: Two Days of Cinema and Debate — special events and discussions exploring the realities of modern Ukraine and the depth of Ukrainian cinema — on Saturday 16 and Sunday 17 May 2015 at the Frontline Club.