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The Kremlin, Moscow, from the Bolshoi Moskvoretsky Bridge.  © Stephen Dalziel

Welcome to the website of Stephen Dalziel's writing. You will also find a number of examples of my photography, including the photograph above. It seemed appropriate to open the site with a picture of the Kremlin in Moscow, given the role that Russia has played in my life, both personally and professionally.

For reasons which I have never understood, I had a fascination with Russia from a very young age. Thanks to a lucky break at school when, for two years only, Russian was offered as a subject, and determination to the point of obsession, I have forged a career for myself in Soviet military analysis, journalism, business and translation.

My relationship with Russia has been rather like a love affair with a turbulent partner. We first met in person in 1974 when, post-'O'-level, I went on a school trip to Kiev, Moscow and Leningrad. We agreed to meet again, shortly before my 'A'-level; and after that the full-blown affair began. When one has such a relationship with Russia you quickly learn that there is fascination and frustration in equal measure; there is much laughter and not a few tears.

The majority of the writing on this site will, therefore, have a Russia focus. The first piece I wrote in 2016, following a wonderful six-month period as a Volunteer at the Cosmonauts Exhibition at London's Science Museum. This was the largest exhibition on the history of Soviet and Russian exploration of Space ever put on anywhere, and being a Volunteer was an incredible experience. Some of the photographs may not be of the highest quality; often I was trying to take a quick snap while there were no visitors in the way!

The second piece - and one of the inspirations for creating this site - is a book-length project, divided into multiple chapters, which I call Russia: Collected Wisdom. This has been many years in the making. It started back in the 1980s, when I began collecting quotations about Russia. In those days before I had a personal computer I typed them onto cards (with full attribution) and stored them in a box. In time, as life grew busier, the box was pushed to the back of the shelf.

Many years later, I took off my shelves a book called Russia As It Really Is, by Carl Joubert, an Englishman who lived in Russia for nine years at the end of the nineteenth century and published in 1904. The comparisons with modern Russia were striking; and suddenly I was re-reading many of the journalists' and travellers' accounts I had read over the years, finding nuggets which summed up so much about Russian reality.

Russia: Collected Wisdom is not, however, just a collection of quotations. Whilst they might provide the skeleton of the book, it is my own narrative which is the flesh. I hope that some of the quotations will encourage readers to go back to the original books - there is a complete bibliography - and also encourage debate and discussion, especially among those of us I like to call "Russianists". Where quoted, the opinions belong to others; but in the narrative, all opinions and errors are my own. The beauty of publishing this online means that corrections can be made and attributions and thanks can be issued quickly.

Please read, enjoy, comment and challenge!

Stephen Dalziel, June 2019