Russia and the UK

Owen Bennett Jones introduces personal insights, reflection and analysis from BHBC correspondents around the world. In this edition: Steve Rosenberg on unexpected protests in Russia and Peter Day on the raucous history and more genteel revival of the British gin industry.

Solid as a rock - or splitting at the seams?

For centuries, in Russia the general population has often been surprisingly willing to forgive its leaders their mistakes. Under the tsars, then under the secretaries-general of the Communist Party, and then under Boris Yelstin and Vladimir Putin, people have said over and over again "it’s not the leader's fault – his advisers are the ones to blame!".

That attitude could lead to strong leaders - even those not popular abroad - being revered and respected for years, if not decades, on end within Russia itself. For a long while, Vladimir Putin seemed to enjoy such a hold on public opinion. But recent protests got Steven Rosenberg thinking about another enduring theme of Russian political culture – popular revolt and the demand for change.

Ice and lemon, easy on the tonic...

Regular BBC World Service listeners will know that Peter Day is a man who's clocked up an impressive number of air miles. But he is by no means hooked on planes - he’s also been round London on his bike recently, investigating the revival of a traditional industry with a rather miserable past. They didn't nickname the product "mother's ruin" for nothing...

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10 minutes

Last on

Thu 15 Dec 2011 04:50 GMT

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