I kept reading about Trump’s many ties to Russia, but none of the news outlets ever presented a timeline, so I decided to assemble one myself with links to the source articles. I started in 2016, but I’ve been updating it every day or two as events unfold. When the award-winning history book gets written, not every event in this timeline will turn out to have be relevant. Some things mentioned below are doubtless meaningless coincidences.
« U.S. intelligence estimates conclude that Russia has no intention of invading Ukraine. […] A senior U.S. intelligence official told The Daily Beast that the timing of the military exercise, coming only days after the Ukrainian parliament voted to oust the pro-Russian president, Viktor Yanukovych, was suspicious. But nonetheless, U.S. intelligence agencies have collected no information suggesting the training exercises were preparation for an invasion. » — 2014-02-27 « Behind the scenes, Obama administration officials are preparing a series of possible battle plans for a potential economic assault on Russia in response to its invasion of Ukraine, an administration source close to the issue told The Daily Beast.
We see a few last bits of St Petersburg. In the evening, we visit Olga’s friend Anna. Anna has recently been to America; she seems to like New York more than I did. Epilogue A few weeks later, Boris Yeltsin sent tanks in to shell the Russian Parliament building. I watched on TV. Suddenly news from Russia seemed a lot more real, a lot more important. I saw the Pizza Hut where we had bought lunch, this time with an armored car outside it.
The exchange rate is now 1,466 rubles to the UK pound, a gain of 50 in 6 days. The Russian Museum has a lot of Russian art, naturally. The collection seems to go as far as the early 20th Century, but there’s very little sign of any kind of abstract art. It’s all pictures of Czars, men with beards, peasants, landscapes, that sort of thing. Upstairs are lots of icons.
We head out into the countryside. The family owns half of a dacha (country summer house) near a lakeside village, set in woodlands. It’s very beautiful. We have a barbecue. Some of Alexei’s friends from Murmansk are there. Murmansk is Russia’s most northern port, where many of the nuclear submarines were based during the Cold War. The ocean regularly freezes over there, and during mid-winter there are only minutes of daylight each day.
Petrodvorets is amazing. There are huge fountains everywhere, the weather is beautiful, clear blue skies and it’s hot enough to dispense with sweaters and overshirts. I don’t have much more to say about the place, except… look at some photos. In the evening we go to the ballet. The Kirov is away on tour abroad, but we get to see what I’m told is the world’s second-best ballet. The music is all Tchaikovsky—three pieces, one of which is part of Swan Lake.
Peter and Paul’s Fortress is on its own island, part of the cluster that makes up St. Petersburg. Inside is a church where almost all the Czars are buried; I’m not sure what happened to the other two. As usual, the fortress features onion domes covered in gold leaf, and a big spike on the roof. We see the cells where various political prisoners were once held, including Lenin’s brother.
We go to St. Isaac’s Cathedral. Olga has another ‘contact’ there, and as a result we get a free personal tour. St. Isaac’s is the fourth largest church in the world, after St. Peter’s in Rome, St. Paul’s in England, the the Duomo in Firenze. It reminds me very much of St. Peter’s, except it’s more tasteful. There’s less gold and the place is more colorful, with lapis lazuli and colored marble everywhere.
The plan is for us to go to Pushkin and see some majestic summer houses which belonged to the Russian nobility. We will get the Metro to the edge of the city, then catch a train to Pavlovsk and see the Czar Pavel’s Summer Palace. Czar Pavel was the son of Catherine The Great. He reigned for only 4 years, then his German wife lived in the palace. There we will also meet one of Olga’s relatives, who is also (conveniently enough) called Olga.
We walk to the waterfront again in the morning. In the daylight we can see how shabby all the buildings are. It was once forbidden to take photographs of the bridges; they were considered military targets. Nobody seems to care now. We go in to a featureless shabby building. It turns out to be the bank; there’s a guard behind a screen in the outer lobby. Everything looks typically Soviet—faded painted official notices, dim lighting, institutional color paintwork, bored clerks.