I met with an Automaidan activist who was part of a self-appointed group drafting a lustration law for parliament, which would exclude from political life people who actively participated in Yanukovych's criminal regime.
I left the world of jail with plenty of relief but, more than anything, with a sense of unease that I still can't quite shake.
Baba Seva - Seva Efraimovna Gekhtman - was born in a small town in Ukraine in 1919. Her father was an accountant at a textile factory, and her mother was a nurse. Her parents moved to Moscow with her and her brothers when she was a child.
I grew up in this household where reading was the most noble thing you could do. When I was a teenager, we would have family dinners where we all sat there reading. It wasn't because we didn't like each other. We just liked reading. The person who made my reading list until my late teen years was my mom.
One of the most influential of the post-Soviet books was the Princeton historian Stephen Kotkin's 'Magnetic Mountain: Stalinism as a Civilization' (1995), a study of the steel city of Magnitogorsk, the U.S.S.R.'s answer to Pittsburgh, as it was constructed in the shadow of the Ural Mountains in the early nineteen-thirties.
While I was in Astana, a ballet master from St. Petersburg's Mariinsky Theatre staged a performance of 'Giselle' in the opera hall. It was one of only a few performances to grace Astana's concert spaces in many weeks, and tickets were impossible to come by.