It’s official. Eddy is allowed in Russia!
It took a few weeks and cost about £80 but, the formalities are complete and I’m the proud owner of an all-singing, all-dancing double-entry visa for the Russian Federation. 45 days and 3000 miles to go and I’ll be dancing with the red Bear.

I needed the “double entry” option (£10 extra) as I’ll be driving through Russia on-route to Latvia and then I’m gonna leave Pete (& Ralph) in Riga & catch a train back under the iron curtain to Moscow.

It’s only one place on our two week trip but, experience tells me I’m going to enjoy Russia a lot …in all it’s oddness. Also, I’m really looking forward to meeting (and maybe understanding) some more ‘real’ Russians. I’ve only ever known one ‘real’ Russian and although I consider her a very special friend, like Churchill’s Russia she’s definitely a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.

My invasion will be less imposing than yesterdays football extravaganza but naturally – far more memorable. Time for some cyrillic practice I think…

McMafiaThe RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures & Commerce)

I was lucky enough to attend a lecture last night by one of my all-time hero’s Mr Misha Glenny. His knowledge and experience of the Balkans is hard to match and his books are partly responsible for my fascination with the region.

Based on his new book ‘McMafia’, MG unpicked “the nexus of crime, politics and money worldwide which have become entangled and interdependent in entirely novel forms since the 1980s, arguing that conventional policing methods are no longer appropriate to deal with a problem whose roots lie in global poverty and the ever widening divisions between rich and poor.”

Having spent another 3 years of his life chasing, interviewing, studying and documenting some of the worlds most ruthless characters he clearly explained how the collapse of communism fused with the rise of consumerism and the global financial market to create a global ‘shadow economy’ which may now account for 20% of the world’s GDP.

I believe the talk will be available as a podcast so I’ll keep my eye out for it and post it on here if I can.

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