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The best of BBC Radio 3's flagship arts and ideas programme Free Thinking - featuring in-depth interviews and debates with artists, scientists and public figures.

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Free Thinking – Russian Culture Inwards and Outwards

February 25th, 2016

Episode 1108 of 1219 episodes

Anne McElvoy investigates the role of culture within historic Soviet expansionism and current Russian geopolitics. She talks to Charles Clover, author of Black Wind, White Snow: The Rise of Russia's New Nationalism about Eurasianism, an old idea with considerable traction in Putin's Russia and why bad ideas tend to win out over good ones . Historian Polly Jones, author of Myth Memory Trauma: Rethinking the Soviet past, 1953-70 and Clem Cecil, in-coming Director of Pushkin House, are in the studio to discuss the extent of Soviet interest in soft power alongside Mark Nash, curator of Red Africa and Ian Christie, co-curator of Unexpected Eisenstein, two new exhibitions in London. The continuing cultural legacy of Cold War relations between the Soviet Union and Africa is the subject of Red Africa, a season of film, art exhibition, talks and events, runs at Calvert 22 in London while at the same time Unexpected Eisenstein, a new exhibition at GRAD gallery in London, tells the story of the anglophile tendencies of a the great Soviet film-maker, Sergei Eisenstein. Eisenstein, whose epic and patriotic films Battleship Potemkin, Alexander Nevsky and Ivan the Terrible, together constitute a visual retrospective of Russian power, was himself hugely influenced by British writers from Shakespeare to Dickins. But as Anne McElvoy hears, the director went on to influence generations of British artists and film-makers, one legacy of his six-week sojourn in London in 1929. It was, as Christie explains, a trip ordered but not precisely sponsored, by Stalin. Producer: Jacqueline Smith

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