The Dangers of Idolizing Zelensky

by Therese Askarbek


March 31, 2022

The most recent invasion and attack of Ukraine in February have sparked protests around the world against the war waged by Russian President Vladimir Putin. As cities such as Mariupol are relentlessly bombed and invaded by Russian tanks, the escalating war has been on the minds of many in the US. Concerns over rising gas prices, relatives and friends living in Ukraine, and the consequences of Russia’s power grab are just a few of many that have been plaguing the country and news outlets since the war officially broke out. Aside from the muddle of anxiety and concern, liberals and conservatives alike have begun idolizing Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Memes of him in uniform with other soldiers in the trenches or sitting around a table compared to Putin sitting alone have been trending online as an alleged testament of his groundedness and courageousness. Some, on social media platforms such as TikTok, have gone as far as making fan-edited videos of him, the comments filled with remarks on his physical attractiveness and their infatuation with him. There are several things wrong with this type of rhetoric. 

When looking at the state of post-Soviet countries, a major commonality between them is a near universal issue of corruption. Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Belarus has been run by a dictatorship under Alexander Lukashenko, who is known for jailing his opponents and censoring the press.1 Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov has kept Turkmenistan firmly under his control, with no one allowed to dissent or contradict his policies. In Kazakhstan, citizens have become increasingly discontented with their reduced rights and the wealth gap, with the elite clutching tightly to most of the country’s wealth. Ukraine is no exception to the corruption plaguing these countries since 1991. Under the oligarchic regime in which Zelensky is president, Ukrainian officials and parliament members have been plundering money from the state budget. They were reported to have stolen a fifth of the country’s output per year from 2010 to 2014.2 Though many were hopeful that, if voted into the presidential office, Zelensky would put an end to the corrupt government practices, he proved to be corrupt himself when the Pandora papers were leaked. These papers suggested that Zelensky had a stake in an offshore company that he had transferred to a friend just weeks before being elected.3 He appointed loyalists and his friends to high posts in the government and was backed by a billionaire who owned the network Zelensky worked on as an actor for the hit show “Servant of the People.”4 His promise to tackle corruption was left unfulfilled, with the same issues still prevalent in the country as before. 

Though he has proven to be steadfast, brave, and unwavering in the face of an onslaught of Russian attacks, he is not exempt from criticism. By solely focusing our attention on these qualities he has exemplified, we become dangerously close to complacency, not only with politicians abroad, but in the US as well. As we have seen with Representative Alexandra Ocasio Cortez and “the Squad,” idolizing any politician causes us to lose our objectivity and to find ourselves unable to hold our “favorite” politicians accountable. 

In this particular instance, the ramifications of indulging in passionate displays of affection for Zelensky or treating him like an infallible hero are also profoundly insensitive to the Ukranians suffering from the war. Recently, the New York Post reported that US “fans” were begging for Jeremy Renner to portray Zelensky in a future biopic—as Ukranians were being bombed in their homes.5 In idolizing him, a real, traumatic war is effectively sensationalized. It is turned into trivial fodder for people to entertain themselves with. Whatever one may think of Zelensky, we need to apply mindful, critical analysis to politicians and their policies in order to consciously work our way through the chaos that is today’s current events. 

1 Justin Burke, “Post-Soviet World: what you need to know about the 15 states,” The Guardian, June 9, 2014,

2 Oliver Bullough, “Welcome to Ukraine, the most corrupt nation in Europe,” The Guardian, February 6, 2015,

3 Luke Harding, “Revealed: ‘anti-oligarch’ Ukrainian President’s offshore connections,” The Guardian, October 3, 2021,

4 Anna Myroniuk, “Opinion: I did not vote for Ukraine’s president. His courage has changed my mind and inspired millions,” The Washington Post, February 27, 2022,

5 Andrew Court, “Fans cast Jeremy Renner as Zelensky in fantasy Ukraine invasion film: Too soon?,” The New York Post, February 28, 2022,

Relic of a Bygone Era: Russia Invades Ukraine

by Matthew Volfson


March 31, 2022

In 1919, a war between the Soviet Union and Poland broke out, as well as a war between the Soviet Union and a short-lived Ukrainian independent state.1 It was the end of World War I, a time of suffering for the world and chaos in Eastern Europe, where a communist Hungarian revolution attempted to take root and Polish nationalists fought off the Germans in Poznan. The newly founded League of Nations was bumbling through it all. Meanwhile, the Americans, British, Japanese, and French were invading Russia, ostensibly backing the Russian imperialists in favor of their own interests. 

2022 is very different from that era. Europe is no longer in a state of chaos. Europeans have learned the consequences of starting two World Wars both in their hearts and minds. However, it does not seem that Putin has a heart and a mind as he seeks to repeat Soviet power plays from that era. In his speech rationalizing Russia’s recognition of the rebel-controlled areas of Ukraine, Donetsk and Luhansk, and the movement of his troops into Ukraine on a “peacekeeping mission,” he said that Ukraine was an artificial state created by Lenin in 1922, even though the history of Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, far predates that of Moscow.

In spite of the millions of refugees fleeing Ukraine and thousands of Ukrainian war casualties, the people of Ukraine have stood up to the challenge. President Volodymyr Zelensky is rallying his people and the nations of the world to condemn this invasion. The United States and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) have responded to Zelensky’s call and sent an artillery barrage of sanctions to the open underbelly of the Russian economy.2

The people of Russia have paid a high price for the invasion that many of them did not even want. Russia drafts conscripts aged eighteen to twenty-seven into its army. If this reporter, for example, were in Russia right now, in one year, assuming the conflict lasts for that long, he could be conscripted into the Ukrainian invasion. It is true that Russian forces have captured Kherson, Melitopol, and some other Ukrainian cities.3 However, thousands of Russians are taking to the streets to protest the violence in Ukraine and have been detained for it.4

In addition, these Ukrainian cities have been captured by Russian troops who are low on morale, in the face of a protracted resistance prepared by the citizens against the Russian attack.5 Ukrainians have already begun protesting against Russian occupation. Russia has also not yet captured the cities of Kyiv and Kharkiv, the two largest in Ukraine, which they initially intended to do so in just a few days.6 There has been documented evidence of Russian conscripts refusing to fight.7 The Russian economy has taken a huge hit; the Moscow stock exchange has dropped so low that it has been forced to close. In addition, there has been reported panic-buying all over Russia, further evidence that the war has punctured Russia hard.

Because of Ukraine’s resolve, the Russians have made little to no progress in recent days. The war has evolved into a stalemate, a humiliation for supposedly the world’s second most powerful military; in comparison, Ukraine isn’t even on the rankings.8,9 This stalemate is mostly due to the fact that the operation was planned very suddenly; Russian soldiers were unaware that they were going to fight on foreign soil right up until the moment the war started. 

In addition to having miscalculated the capacity of his logistics, Putin has badly miscalculated the popular beliefs of Ukrainians and Ukrainian troops. He expected Ukrainians to greet Russian soldiers as liberators when, in fact, the opposite occurred. He expected that it would be the Ukrainian soldiers who would have low morale and decide to overthrow the government when, again, the opposite has happened. Ukrainian soldiers have risked their lives for their government. Morale is higher than ever in Ukraine, and 90% of Ukraine’s people stand behind their president, whom Putin has dismissed as a neo-Nazi, even though Zelensky is a Jew.10,11  

What is even more interesting about Russia’s stalemate status with Ukraine is that in January, analysts at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a premier foreign policy center, predicted the whole situation from afar.12 They stated that, from the perspective of morale, Russia’s military establishment, including both soldiers and upper-level management, has been acting similar to the way they acted before the Soviet Union’s botched invasion of Afghanistan in 1989. 

The CSIS article assumes that Russia would struggle even without external aid to Ukraine, not to say that the aid is not important. Maps in the article state that the Russians would most likely roll over the Ukrainians and link with Transnistria, an unrecognized breakaway state on the western border of Ukraine. That currently has not happened, and Russia is struggling even more now that the West has in fact aided Ukraine, just as the US aided Afghan insurgents when the complacent Soviet command invaded the nation all those years ago.

This prediction exposes the Russian process as flawed from the start. Putin didn’t have to get bogged down in this war if he had listened to the experts who predicted Russia’s struggles. Putin’s brash behavior has led to such an invasion, and with this invasion, he has exposed those in the West who support him.13 And also, the PR campaign on Russia’s end has been an absolute disaster; the only thing people in the West have seen is pro-Ukraine post after pro-Ukraine post about this war.14

Because Putin didn’t listen to those who warned him the invasion would be rough and not worth the effort, those who were in his inner cabinet and those tacticians playing out the wargames, he paid the price, which includes the tanking of Russia’s economy, the wavering of support from what has been the superpower most friendly to Russia, China, and another humiliation of the Russian military. It does not seem that Putin has learned from 1989. What happens next is only a guess, but Putin has the end of his reign within the radius of possibility. The war has been a wave of embarrassment for the Russian nation, changing the country and even the world forever. 

1 Kazimierz Maciej Smogorzewski, “Russo-Polish War,” Encyclopædia Britannica,

2 “U.S. Treasury Announces Unprecedented & Expansive Sanctions against Russia, Imposing Swift and Severe Economic Costs,” U.S. Department of the Treasury, February 24, 2022,

3 BBC Visual Journalism Team, “Ukraine War in Maps: Tracking the Russian Invasion,” BBC News, March 25, 2022,

4 RFE/RL’s Kazakh Service, “Thousands Detained at Anti-War Protests across Russia,” RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty, March 7, 2022,

5 Jim Garamone, “Russian Forces Invading Ukraine Suffer Low Morale,” U.S. Department of Defense, March 23, 2022,

6 Naveed Jamali, David Brennan, and Tom O’Connor, “Exclusive: U.S. Expects Kyiv’s Fall in Days, Ukraine Source Warns of Encirclement,” Newsweek, February 25, 2022,

7 Niko Vorobyov, “Fearing Front-Line Deployment, Some Russians Resist Conscription,” Al Jazeera, March 18, 2022,

8 Martin Armstrong and Felix Richter, “Infographic: The World’s Most Powerful Militaries,” Statista Infographics, January 14, 2022,

9 Monique Beals, “War in Ukraine at Stalemate, Research Group Concludes,” The Hill, March 20, 2022,

10 Robert Mackey, “Zelensky Posts Defiant Videos from the Streets of Kyiv as Putin’s Forces Close In,” The Intercept, February 26, 2022,

11 Afiq Fitri and Kirstie Canene-Adams, “How President Zelensky’s Approval Ratings Have Surged,” New Statesman, March 1, 2022,

12 Seth G. Jones, “Russia’s Possible Invasion of Ukraine,” Center for Strategic and International Studies, March 25, 2022,

13 Victor Jack, “Putin’s European Pals Have to Eat Their Words,” Politico, February 26, 2022,

14 Ian Garner, “How Is the War Going for Putin on Social Media? Not Great,” The Washington Post, March 6, 2022,

The Batman Review

by Allie Vasserman


March 31, 2022

The Batman (2022), directed by Matt Reeves, is the latest Batman reboot. It stars Robert Pattinson as Batman or Bruce Wayne, Zoe Kravitz as Catwoman or Selena Kyle, Paul Dano as the Riddler, Colin Ferral as the Penguin, Jeffery Wright as Lieutenant James “Jim” Gordon, John Tururio as Carmine Falcone, and Andy Serkis as Alfred Pennyworth.

Unlike Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, this version of Batman does not start with the death of Bruce Wayne’s parents, but rather with Wayne doing a monologue as criminals run away in fear and the Bat-Signal lights up in the sky. At the start of the movie, Batman has been fighting crime in Gotham City for two years. The plot kicks off when Lieutenant Jim Gordon brings on Batman to help the police solve the murder of Don Mitchell, the mayor of Gotham City. Bruce Wayne uses his home, Wayne Manor, as a base where he reviews the evidence of the mayor’s murder and determines, with the help of Alfred, that the villain is the Riddler. Batman ends up working with Catwoman, who has her own agenda, to help Jim Gordon and the police solve the mystery.

Robert Pattinson’s Batman is different from Christian Bale’s Batman; in this movie, Batman is more like The World’s Greatest Detective, which is one of his titles from the comics.  Also, this Bruce Wayne is a recluse, not a billionaire playboy. He does not care about how the world sees him and pours all of his time and energy into being Batman. Other characters appear differently in this movie as well. The Penguin, for example, does not look like a comic book character; the prosthetics on his face make him look more realistic. Unlike other Batman villains that have been on the big screen, Paul Dano’s Riddler does not instill fear in many of the citizens of Gotham; rather, he recruits them through social media by exposing and murdering the most corrupt of Gotham. The Riddler is actually portrayed as a sympathetic villain in this movie, compared to the “good” and “dutiful” government officials. Also, this version of the Riddler does not wear a bright green suit with purple tie, a cap with question mark, or carry a cane with a  question mark like his comic book counterpart, but instead has a more realistic appearance. Jeffery Wright’s Jim Gordon is shown to be one of the good men in Gotham, trying to root out corruption in the city even if it means putting himself in danger and tarnishing the Gotham City Police Department’s reputation. Zoe Kravitz and Andy Serkis do a good job portraying Catwoman and Alfred. Like in the previous Batman movies, this one has a memorable and intense chase scene with the Batmobile, although we don’t see a lot of “bat gadgets” that we see in other Batman movies. And in this movie, the music plays a key role, setting the tone and adding to the suspense. For instance, Batman’s footsteps sound heavy to show that he instills fear into others around him.

The Batman is three hours long, but to me, there was not a single slow moment. This may be my favorite live action version of Batman. I enjoyed watching Batman basically run around Gotham City trying to solve a murderous scavenger hunt set up by the Riddler. I also thought that the fight scenes were well coordinated. I could have done without the romance between Batman and Catwoman, but since Catwoman is a major love interest for Batman in the comics, I expected to see some sort of a romantic storyline between them. And I thought the monologues at the beginning and the end of the movie were unnecessary. But overall, I enjoyed The Batman, which is less of a traditional comic book adaptation and more of a murder mystery. I recommend it for fans of Batman and detective stories.

Russia-Ukraine Crisis: How Will the World React?

by Matthew Volfson


February 25, 2022

After British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain signed the Munich Agreement in 1938, he said, “My good friends, for the second time in our history, a British prime minister has returned from Germany bringing peace with honor. I believe it is peace for our time.”1 After a press conference with Joe Biden in 2021, Chancellor Olaf Scholz of Germany stated, “We are cooperating with our allies in NATO and [the European Union], and with the United States, on the question of how to react to this threat to Ukraine that is coming from Russia.”2

At first glance, these quotes seem quite different. The first claims peace when a German autocrat musters preparations for war; the second implicitly pledges that a nation shall work with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to protect Europe from Russian revanchist claims. However, they share striking similarities. Both Chamberlain’s and Scholz’s claims are fragile. Both were and are wishful thinking. Chamberlain thought he could bring to peace a continent preparing for war. Scholz thinks that he can wage war with Russia, in cooperation with NATO, when half of his country depends on Russian gas.3

That’s all well and good, but why focus on Germany? Scholz’s Germany is the nexus of NATO’s European wing against Russia. Germany is the nation with the largest economy in Europe. If Germany stands to lose on crucial energy reserves, NATO’s energy would be sapped, both literally and metaphorically. Germany is a crucial building block for American forces to assemble their full force against the Russians.

Scholz’s claim is fragile, but Russia’s war-making abilities are also severely limited, which bodes well for Scholz, NATO, and Ukraine. If Putin decides to do a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, he would most likely have to deal with a protracted guerilla war with Ukrainian insurgents sponsored by Americans, ruining the Russian military and economy. 

 It is more likely that the conflict will be localized and similar to a civil war, where Russian-backed separatists are given more aid by Russia against Ukraine. Brandon Drapeau ‘23 agrees, saying, “[There would be a] much bigger cost for Russia to invade Ukraine than [to invade] Crimea; war would be a detrimental situation for both sides.” Of note, Russian ambitions to invade Ukraine have predated the current conflict: in 2014, Russian troops moved into Crimea with few casualties, successfully invading the peninsula that had been part of Ukraine.4 Russia’s success here was most likely due to the fact that a majority of Crimeans, fifty-eight percent, were ethnically Russian even before the Russian occupation, so they were more likely to welcome Putin.5

It is far from clear that Russia is really preparing for war. Most men in Russia who would be conscripted in the war effort hold favorable views toward Ukraine.6 In addition, Russia is too dependent on gas revenues it makes from European markets, which provide forty percent of the money in Russian coffers.7 The economic tolls for Russia would be high, although Putin would most likely be indifferent to those, as Russia has gone through plenty of recessions and suffering already.8

Even if Putin ignores Russian suffering, invading Ukraine would confirm Russia’s foes’ expectations and constant warnings of attack, which would expose the Russian foreign office’s denial of invasion as a lie and cover-up.9,10 Essentially, the most likely scenario, with the least negative effects on Russia, might be for Putin to increase aid to Russian-speaking regions in Ukraine, though one never really knows what will happen until Putin makes his next move.

1 Patrick Corkery, “Peace for Our Time,” The Irish Times, October 8, 2013,,the%20bottom%20of%20our%20hearts.

2 Quint Forgey, “Germany’s Scholz Warns Russia Would Pay ‘Very High Price’ for Invading Ukraine,” Politico, February 7, 2022,

3 Kate Abnett and Vera Eckert, “Factbox: How Much Does Germany Need Russian Gas?” Reuters, January 20, 2022,

4 Jonathon Cosgrove, “The Russian Invasion of the Crimean Peninsula, 2014-2015,” Johns Hopkins University, 2020,

5 Ivan Katchanovski, “Crimea: People and Territory before and after Annexation,” E-International Relations, June 4, 2016,

6 Victor Jack, “How do young Ukrainians and Russians feel about another war?” Al Jazeera, February 7, 2022,

7 Christophe-Alexandre Paillard, “Russia and Europe’s Mutual Energy Dependence,” Journal of International Affairs 63, no. 2 (2010): 65–84,

8 Marshall I. Goldman, “Russia: A Petrostate in a Time of Worldwide Economic Recession and Political Turmoil,” Social Research 76, no. 1 (2009): 55–70,

9 Vladimir Isachenkov and Yuras Karmanau, “Russia Denies Looking for Pretext to Invade Ukraine,” AP News, January 17, 2022,

10 Caroline Nyce, “The Atlantic Daily: America Sounds the Alarm on Russia-Ukraine,” The Atlantic, January 19, 2022,

A Historical Supreme Court Nomination

by Anna Augart-Welwood


February 25, 2022

Justice Stephen Breyer, one of three liberal justices, is stepping down after serving for twenty-seven years on the Supreme Court. During his time on the Court, Breyer operated with the belief that interpretation of the US Constitution should not be fixed but instead should change with the times, which opposes the ideas of conservative justices who adhere to the intentions of the writers. Breyer stated, “The reason that I do that is because law in general, I think, grows out of communities of people who have some problems they want to solve.” Following Justice Breyer’s retirement, President Joe Biden must nominate someone, whom he has promised will be a black woman, to fill the vacancy.

President Biden’s ideal nominee should be able to persuade members of the court as well as the public and possess legal skill and integrity. Biden says he is heavily considering four candidates, including Judge J. Michelle Childs from South Carolina, Judge Kentaji Brown Jackson, who used to work as a clerk for Justice Breyer, and Justice Leondra R. Kruger, who worked in the Obama administration and currently serves on the Supreme Court of California. Senator Chris Coons of Delaware, who was present at the meeting in which Biden discussed the nominees, stated that Biden wants “someone in the model of Justice Breyer, someone who will write stirring, compelling, lasting arguments—hopefully in the majority at some point, but probably, in the coming few years, in the dissent.” Biden is planning to reveal his choice by the end of February, after which the nominee must be confirmed.

Nevertheless, the confirmation of a justice is a lengthy process. When there is an open position in the Supreme Court, the President nominates a candidate. The Senate Judiciary Committee then holds a hearing in which the nominee answers questions about their qualifications and beliefs. Then, the Judiciary Committee votes on the nomination and sends its decision to the full Senate. The Senate determines the results of the nomination with fifty-one required votes for or against the nominee, a change implemented in 2017 that allowed Trump to appoint three Justices. In the event of a tie in the nomination, the Vice President will cast the conclusive vote. The Senate is currently split 50-50 between Democrats and Republicans. Assuming all Democratic senators vote in favor of the nominee or gain support from some Republican senators, Vice President Kamala Harris will have to break a tie vote. The illness or death of even one Democrat on the Senate could cause the party to lose their majority, and then Biden’s nominee might not be confirmed.

Regardless of whom Biden chooses, the first black female Supreme Court Justice is an important step in diversifying leadership and government in the United States. However, this nomination is only the beginning; there are many qualified black female judges and, hopefully, more will soon be given the chance to serve on the Supreme Court.

Detrow, Scott. “Biden Says He’s Done a ‘Deep Dive’ on 4 Supreme Court Candidates.” NPR, February 10, 2022.

Georgetown Law Library. “Supreme Court Nominations Research Guide: Nomination & Confirmation Process.” Accessed February 18, 2022.

Hulse, Carl. “Here’s Why Republicans Can’t Filibuster President Biden’s Supreme Court Nominee.” The New York Times, January 26, 2022.

Hulse, Carl and Katie Rogers. “Biden, a Veteran of Supreme Court Fights, Ponders His Own Historic Pick.” The New York Times, February 12, 2022.

Williams, Pete. “Justice Stephen Breyer to Retire from Supreme Court, Paving Way for Biden Appointment.” NBC News, January 27, 2022.

As You Like It: Interviews With the Cast and Crew

by Giselle Wu


February 25, 2022

After nearly two years of performing on Zoom, Boston University Academy’s Drama Club has made an in-person return with the winter play! Directed by Mr. Gardiner, BUA’s winter play, William Shakespeare’s As You Like It, was performed in the Black Box Theater from January 21 to January 23, 2022. How was this in-person experience for our BUA cast and crew? The following are interviews with members of the BUA cast and crew of As You Like It.

What has it been like to return to doing drama in person? 

Mr. Gardiner, Director:

It’s been exciting, scary and a relief. I was trained in theater and for me that’s in-person interaction with an audience. We did some performances on Zoom in the past two years, and I was very proud of them, but it’s really a different medium than live theater. It is great to finally be in the same space with my actors and students and return to a way of working that feels more comfortable for me. On the other hand, it’s a struggle to try to rebuild a program after such disruption Covid brought. At the same time, I learned from the ways I had to adapt the program for online or hybrid learning.

Suzie Marcus ‘22, Stage Manager:

I’m so glad we got to do it in person! Personally, I love the rush and excitement of the constantly moving parts—the quick changes, props, actor cues, etc. It was also great to see people able to perform in front of an audience and make use of the Black Box space.

Condredge Currie ‘23, Actor:

I participated in the winter play in my freshman year, and it was one of the most exciting experiences I’ve had doing drama ever. I found a community of people who were as passionate as me, and it was a new experience that I somehow lacked without knowing [it]. Then, after Covid began and my sophomore year started, I found myself less passionate about the drama exercises we did in class, and learning the winter play was going to be fully online, I [developed] this aversion entirely. I wanted to move my body to words and feel the material in a more sincere way. This year was incredible because I was able to truly explore my role in the winter play, and the emotions I felt at the center of a stage are unmatched.

Michael Bolgov ‘23, Actor:

A return to drama in person was awesome! I think that audience participation is truly what makes theater a great work of art. From the point of view of an actor, we need the audience to give us feedback. I really enjoyed being able to have the freedom of acting on a stage again and interacting with the rest of the cast and audience!

Theo Chitkushev ‘24, Actor:

It was wonderful. It felt good to feel the BUA sense of community return and even through all of the uncertainty with the Omicron spike, it still felt good to put on a show.

How have coronavirus protocols affected drama? 

Mr. Gardiner, Director:

Covid has affected drama in so many ways! Though I believe an actor needs to use the WHOLE body, it’s an adjustment to overcome how much we rely on facial cues, not only in acting but even in our day-to-day interactions with other people. On stage, we can’t see the actor’s face [when they’re masked], and neither can an actor see their partner and react appropriately to what is being given to them. I have confidence that my actors can rise to the occasion.

Suzie Marcus ‘22, Stage Manager:

Masks for the actors was definitely an ongoing question of “How will we make this work?” Basically what we did is use black and white masks to signify the family or “type” of person the actor was portraying. Honestly, for the actors who played multiple characters, and for the two who had characters pretend to be other people, I think the masks might have actually helped. It made it more obvious to the audience that there was a distinction between people. The other thing was the constant worry of having a cast member get Covid right before or during show week. I decided to make everyone get tested everyday for that week and a half, so that we could stay on top of things, had there been any cases. Luckily, there weren’t any during Tech Week or the show!

Condredge Currie ‘23, Actor:

Wearing masks while acting was an experience that was manageable, but it changed the experience entirely. I couldn’t explore every aspect of my role as much as I wanted because of the fatigue I felt wearing a mask. I was sometimes overwhelmed with delivering lines, moving, and simply trying to breathe.

Michael Bolgov ‘23, Actor:

The Covid protocols that affected us most were the masking and the seating restriction. I know of many people who couldn’t attend the show because the time that worked for them was fully booked, which made me upset, but it was also understandable why they imposed this rule. The masking also affected us, as the show we were doing was Shakespeare, which is hard to understand even when the audience can see and hear the cast fully. This just imposed a small challenge to us, as actors, to make sure that everyone heard us and understood everything we said.

Theo Chitkushev ‘24, Actor:

Obviously being masked was annoying, but other than that not much changed. However, this definitely wouldn’t have been possible with last year’s distancing guidelines.

What was your favorite part of the winter play?

Suzie Marcus ‘22, Stage Manager:

My favorite part of the play was the quick changes and the very organized chaos of everything—that’s why I love being stage manager. I also enjoyed greeting the actors once they came off stage and hyping them up in between scenes.

Condredge Currie ‘23, Actor:

My favorite part of the winter play would have to be the cast. We formed a strong bond, and it strengthened our experience overall. Being together and creating those memories and producing a work of art is a unique experience I wouldn’t trade for anything. 

Michael Bolgov ‘23, Actor:

My favorite part was the community we created in our cast. We all became really close friends throughout this show.

Theo Chitkushev ‘24, Actor:

I really liked seeing the BUA community come together and laugh in the audience, especially during the Friday show!

What are your plans for the spring musical? 

Mr. Gardiner, Director:

We are doing a new musical called ALiEN8. It was written by a group called Ignition Arts, based on interviews with teenagers about issues that resonate with them. It premiered at Drexel University in 2019 and hasn’t been performed since then. We’ll be the first group of high schoolers to present the piece. The action of the play takes place in a small town in the Midwest that has just recovered from a tornado. Out of the storm a mysterious stranger, named 8, appears. People aren’t sure about 8’s gender, backstory, or anything really except that 8 seems to be of high-school age. 8 teaches the students its language, which is based on movement or gesture. Learning the language opens up students and eventually the town to confronting how they dealt with a traumatic incident in the town’s recent history.

A Review of The Guy Who Didn’t Like Musicals

by Theo Sloan


February 25, 2022

The Guy Who Didn’t Like Musicals is a horror-comedy musical produced by Team Starkid. It was written and directed by Matt and Nick Lang, with music and lyrics by Jeff Blim, and it stars Jon Matteson, Lauren Lopez, Jeff Blim, Joey Richter, Jaime Lyn Beatty, Mariah Rose Faith, Corey Dorris, and Robert Manion. It’s also free to watch on YouTube and well worth the watch if you have a couple hours to spare. It’s set in the fictional town of Hatchetfield and follows a simple man named Paul as his worst nightmare comes to life: the world turns into a musical. 

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the most important part of a musical is its music, because that is almost always the thing that will stick with the audience the longest. You can have a fantastic story with interesting, well-developed characters, and it will still only work as a musical if the songs are good; on the flip side, it is very possible for a musical to have a bad or even problematic story, and for that to not really matter because the songs are good (e.g., Dear Evan Hansen). While I definitely don’t love every song in The Guy Who Didn’t Like Musicals, most of them range from good to fantastic, and the soundtrack as a whole is pretty listenable even outside the context of the show. A few of my personal favorites are the opening number and title track, “The Guy Who Didn’t Like Musicals,” as well as “Let It Out,” “Inevitable,” “Join Us (and Die),” “La Dee Dah Dah Day,” and “Show Stoppin Number.” The opening number serves as a great tone-setter, not only establishing the comedic chops of the cast, but also introducing the basic premise and main character. It’s super high-energy and has some really fun jokes sprinkled throughout. It also gives every cast member a chance to sing a line or two, so it introduces us to them all as performers and gives us a little idea as to what to expect going forward. “Let It Out” and “Inevitable” are the two songs that close out the show. “Let It Out” features some of the best acting in the show, and really showcases what Jon Matteson, who plays Paul, is capable of, both as an actor and a singer. I don’t want to get too much into what “Inevitable” is about, as it’s a fairly large spoiler, but suffice to say that it serves as a very good representation of this show at its very best, both as a comedy and a horror story, not to mention that it features an excellent medley of all the major songs sung in the show up until that point and is led by another fantastic vocal performance by Jon. “Join Us (and Die)” is the show’s first turn into full horror and also showcases Jaime Lyn Beatty’s stunning vocal range; “La Dee Dah Dah Day” is a fun, upbeat ensemble number in which the comedic side of the show is dialed up to eleven; and “Show Stoppin Number” is an acid trip of an interlude, led by Robert Manion, in which you question both your own sanity and the sanity of everyone involved in putting the number together. It’s also some of the best satire of musical theater as a genre to ever exist. Suffice to say, I really like a lot of the music in this show.

However, that’s not to say that every song in the show works for me on a musical level. “Tied Up My Heart” is a song with some fantastic choreography on Jeff Blim’s end, but it goes on for too long, and the singing is iffy at best and grating at worst. It still makes for an entertaining scene, but it would have been better if it were written in Blim’s natural range and went on for less time. The other song that I don’t really like is “Not Your Seed,” the song that kicks off the second act. My main problem here is that it cycles through musical ideas very quickly; as a result, it’s very difficult to ever properly get into the scene. Just when I’m vibing with one style, it completely switches up, and this creates a sense of whiplash when listening to it. But Mariah Rose Faith’s voice is absolutely incredible. Do not mistake this as me criticizing her performance, because she does the best she possibly can with the material she’s given.

Another element of this show that shines throughout is the choreography. From Blim’s dance that he does tied to a chair, to Manion’s insane dancing during “Show Stoppin Number,” to Matteson’s fight with himself in “Let It Out,” the choreography in the show never fails to build on the music in a creative, visually engaging way. It’s able to elevate songs that I don’t much care for, such as “Tied Up My Heart,” into scenes that I find fun to watch, and that alone speaks volumes about its quality.

Now besides the musical aspect, the other most important part of a musical is its writing, both in terms of overall story and screenplay. In terms of story, I think this show is simply brilliant. I love the idea of a musical apocalypse, and I think it’s executed very well. It’s sufficiently goofy when it needs to be, sufficiently terrifying when it needs to be, and it does a surprisingly good job blending the horror and the comedy together. The show is, in many ways, an homage to the over-the-top and campy horror films of the 1980s, and by embracing that tone, it’s able to get away with a lot that many modern horror stories would not be able to. The primary thing that comes to mind is the practical gore effects, which are somehow both excellent and patently ridiculous at the same time. All that is to say that the concept is excellent.

The script, on the other hand, is a bit tricky. Full disclosure, I absolutely adore it, I find the comedy in it to be absolutely fantastic, and I doubt I will ever get tired of watching it. However, I acknowledge that comedy is a very subjective medium, and it’s very likely that some people will watch the show and just not like the style it’s written in. While there are some jokes that I’m comfortable with describing as unambiguously excellent, such as the bit involving walking through the audience, the entirety of “Show Stoppin Number,” and some of the physical comedy in the coffee shop numbers, the comedy in the show is often quite R-rated, and depending on what type of humor you enjoy, your enjoyment of the show will likely vary.

Finally, I’d like to touch on the characters. This show has a fairly small cast, so pretty much everyone plays multiple characters in the show, with the exception of Matteson. A few personal favorites of mine are General John MacNamara, portrayed by Blim; Emma Perkins, portrayed by Lopez; and Paul, portrayed by Matteson. All three have the most distinct characterizations out of the larger ensemble, but that’s not to say that I dislike any of the characters in the show. Sure, there are one or two who feel a tad more like caricatures than fully fleshed out people, but I think that fits with the overall tone that The Guy Who Didn’t Like Musicals is going for. And importantly, Paul and Emma, the two main characters of the show, do go through compelling and nuanced character arcs.

Overall, I think The Guy Who Didn’t Like Musicals is a fantastic show. It has great songs, better choreography, and a very solid story that, tying it all together, often passes into greatness. Not to mention, I find the jokes to be really funny, although I understand that will vary a fair amount depending on the comedic style you enjoy. I personally really like the show, and I highly recommend checking it out. You have literally no excuse not to, because it’s free to watch on YouTube! 


Don’t Look Up Review

by Allie Vasserman


February 25, 2022

Don’t Look Up (2021) is a satirical comedy movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio as Dr. Randall Mindy, Jennifer Lawrence as Kate Dibiasky, Meryl Streep as United States President Janie Orlean, Jonah Hill as Jason Orlean, Cate Blanchet as Brie Evantee, Rob Morgan as Dr. Teddy Oglethorpe, and Ariana Grande as Riley Bina. It is directed, written, and produced by Adam Mckay.

The movie starts off with PhD candidate Kate Dibiasky discovering a comet about five to ten kilometers wide. She shows it to her professor, Dr. Randall Mindy, and they calculate that the comet will hit Earth in six months and fourteen days. Upon impact, it will wipe out all life on the planet. Kate and Dr. Mindy call Dr. Teddy Oglethorpe and request a meeting with President Orlean to discuss the situation. After talking to the president, who does not take their concerns seriously, Kate, Dr. Mindy, and Dr. Oglethorpe decide to leak the information about the comet to the media and the public themselves. 

Usually, end-of-the-world disaster action movies have a few incredibly likable main characters who face obstacles throughout the movie and save the world at the end. This movie, since it is more of a satirical comedy, does not necessarily have such a happy ending. Most of the characters are pretty unlikable and behave in selfish ways. Leonardo DiCaprio’s Dr. Mindy lets fame and power go to his head and makes poor decisions with his work and with his family. Meryl Streep, as the president of the United States, does not take the threat of the comet seriously and only takes action when she thinks she can make a profit from it. She cuts corners on every single plan and chance to save humanity, and it is revealed that her only real intention is to save her own life. Jonah Hill plays Jason, the President’s idiotic son who is incompetent and obnoxious and has power only because his mother is the president. I instantly disliked his character and President Orlean, which shows what good actors Jonah Hill and Meryl Streep are. This movie portrays most of the government officials as selfish people who only want to gain money and power and do not care about serving the public. I liked Jennifer Lawrence’s character the best, because to me, she was the most realistic of all the characters. Her reaction to the comet and the way in which she processed that she was going to die seemed very understandable to me. While watching this movie, I kept hoping that if such a world-ending disaster were to actually happen, governments would handle it better. 

Overall, I found this movie pretty entertaining and I definitely recommend watching it. One tip: if you want to see Meryl Streep interact with aliens, or Jonah Hill’s character get what he deserves after his despicable behavior throughout most of the movie, make sure to stick around for the post-credits scenes.

Remembering Dr. Formichelli

by Alyssa Ahn


January 27, 2022

Members of the BUA community shared the following stories about Dr. Formichelli (1974-2021) and the impact she had on BUA. 

Amelia Boudreau ‘23:

Dr. Formichelli was my freshman year English teacher, and my freshman and sophomore year advisor, and then my junior year English teacher as well. And even years where I didn’t have her as my English teacher or advisor, I would talk to her in general outside of class. 

It’s really hard to say a favorite memory, because there are so many, but there are a few that come to mind immediately. One is [not long] ago. She stopped by our history class. And while we were looking at the slate pencils from the African-American Meetinghouse, she sat next to me. We were trying to figure out what these slate pencils were, at first, because we weren’t told. And someone was like, “I wonder if they can break.” And she snapped one in half and was like, “They can.” And later when we were presenting what we thought [the slate pencils] were to the group, someone was like, “And then we found out that they can break,” and I was like, “Thanks to somebody in our group,” and I looked at her, and she laughed, really really hard; it was very funny. 

Also, I had talked about this at ASM, but we had had a whole email exchange, a few months or so ago, where we talked about possible fan fiction and merch spinoffs of the books that we’d read together in class, so, things like “If Hester Prynne had an Etsy shop.” We actually later found merch with Scarlet Letters. She printed them out and hung up one of these T-shirt models wearing a black T-shirt with a red Scarlet Letter on the corner, and she wrote, “The Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale’s great-great grandson fulfilling his hereditary role,” or something like that. It was super funny, and it was on her whiteboard until recently. She told me, the next day when I came in for class, after we had had this exchange that involved this merch, “Look Amelia, I hung it up over there so that every time I walk past it I can be reminded of our jokes.” 

And, I remember—this is somewhat less lighthearted, but last year I was having a really tough time in spring semester—I was not sleeping at all, I was also just in a bad headspace in general, and, yeah, it wasn’t good at all for a few months there. And I remember receiving an email from her saying, “Hi Amelia, I was wondering if you’d allow me to meet with you for just ten minutes a week, or it can be longer, not because of how you’re doing as a student—you’re a fine student, but because I want you to know that I’m here for you, and that there’s somebody here that cares and wants to hear whatever you want to share, even if you don’t feel like sharing it, if you’ll just allow me to listen.” I regret it so badly that I didn’t actually accept, because sometimes we get into headspaces where you reject help, in any form, but I went back and reread that, recently, and it just meant a lot, to think of that. She didn’t have to do that at all.

Mr. Kolovos: 

If we were lucky, we all had at least one teacher early in our lives who not only inspired us with their passion for their subject, but who took the time to get to know us at a personal level, see us as individuals, and maybe even recognize more in us than we did in ourselves. Dr. Formichelli was that person for so many BU Academy students. She loved language and literature, but loved working with adolescents even more. She took their ideas seriously, challenged them, and laughed with them. She [is] deeply missed.

Sonya Moo ‘23:

I first met Dr. Formichelli when I had her as my English teacher freshman year. Then I had her again junior year. I always liked to talk to her about gardening and mob shows/movies, which is an odd combination, but those were two interests that we had in common. I know that she was in the process of writing a book in a true-crime style that would’ve been super cool, and she gave me tips on plants that I had at home. She was super cool, and I liked her a lot as a teacher and as a person. 

Madison Ho ‘24: 

The first memory I have of Dr. Formichelli is from freshman orientation. She gathered us all around on Zoom and asked us to share our names and the meaning behind them. She then proceeded to make Quizlets of each one of our names and their meanings so that we could better remember one another. She didn’t have to do it, any of it, but she still did. And that’s what she continued to do throughout the rest of my year with her. During our first remote Wednesday class, Dr. Formichelli’s Wi-Fi cut out for a few minutes. It wasn’t long, but it was all it took for her to come back to the Zoom to find us with all of our names switched. We giggled like the comedians we thought we were and waited for her reaction. She looked around the screen, smiled at our antics, and went right back to teaching. This tradition of remote Wednesday shenanigans continued into the next Wednesday, the Wednesday after that, and all the Wednesdays for the rest of the year. We dressed up as characters from The Odyssey, The Iliad, Raisin in the Sun, Macbeth, Great Expectations, etc. and as our favorite Italian dishes (at Dr. Formichelli’s request). Dr. Formichelli took all of our wild ideas and bad poker faces and cackles in stride and encouraged us to have fun in class. My favorite memory is when we all dressed up as Bob the Minion. Upon joining, Dr. Formichelli surveyed the situation and quickly changed her name to Dr. Bob. She not only cared about us, but also cared about us caring about each other. She cultivated a true sense of community in our own little classroom and had us looking forward to every single class together. The bond and the friendship she nurtured between each of us still lasts today. She was a brilliant teacher who not only helped me [Zooming in all year from California] to grow as a literary student, but also encouraged me to champion the social justice issues I believed in. In such a short time and from three thousand miles away, she shaped the student I have become today, and I’m eternally grateful for her. She was one of the greatest pillars of our community, and her memory will be there with me for the rest of my life. Rest peacefully, Dr. Formichelli. 

At the request of Jennifer’s family, donations in her memory may be made to the MSPCACharles River Alleycats, or to the financial aid program at Boston University Academy. More information about making a gift in Jennifer’s memory can be found at this link.

Unrest in Kazakhstan Prompts Governmental Changes

by Therese Askarbek


January 27, 2022

Kazakhstan, an oil-rich country sparsely populated with just over nineteen million people, has recently undergone major governmental changes in response to recent protests. Earlier this month, on January 2, protests erupted in Zhanaozen, a small town located in western Kazakhstan, before spreading across the country.1 The protests, catalyzed by frustration over the government raising gas and oil prices, intensified because of discontent from Kazakh citizens. In 2011, police shot dead at least fifteen people in Zhanaozen protesting in support of oil workers who were dismissed after a strike.2 Disquiet over continual human rights abuses such as these, corruption, inequity, poor quality of living, and other factors fueled the most violent and large uprisings the country has seen since its separation from the Soviet Union in 1991. To give a picture of Kazakhstan, about a million people are estimated to live below the poverty line.3 The average national monthly salary is less than 450 pounds, about 600 dollars, according to a 2019 report by KPMG, a British-Dutch global professional services network, while 162 people in the country own more than fifty percent of its wealth.4 

The protests quickly spread to other parts of the country, but were mostly focused in the former capital city, Almaty. According to current President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, “About 1300 businesses were affected, more than one hundred shopping centers and banks attacked, and about five hundred police cars burned.”1 Looters and unidentified non-state armed groups emerged among the peaceful protests, with the government claiming these groups have ties to “criminal, extremist, and terrorist networks—homegrown and foreign—though without providing any convincing evidence.”1 They knocked out doors and windows, threw around documents, and destroyed offices. Grocery stores, among other establishments, were looted, leaving many without basic necessities.1 Nurali Kuanyshbaev, a resident of Almaty (and the cousin of this reporter) who flew into Boston from Astana on January 17, had this to say about his experience during the protests: “The first two days, my family and I were very worried. We then moved to our grandparents’ house, which was safer. We rarely went outside, only to the grocery store for necessities. In the beginning, when the protests were peaceful, I supported all the protesters, but not the looters who decided to cash in on the trouble. Most of the people here have not liked or supported the government for a long time.” Many others in Almaty had similar experiences during the protests. They stayed in their houses as the bullets fired outside, and those who couldn’t get to a grocery store shared food with their neighbors. 

The now burned-down Almaty akimat, or government office, has become a symbol of these tragic events, known as Qandy Qantar—Bloody January. After the situation was deescalated, reports surfaced of police wrongly detaining civilians on charges of participation in the violent riots and looting.1 Victims released from detainment claimed they had suffered prolonged interrogation, beating, torture, and pressure to confess. The tactics used to suppress uprisings in Kazakhstan closely resembled those in Belarus: a brutal and swift takedown of peaceful citizens and looters, sowing disinformation, broadly blaming unspecified foreign “terrorists,” and cutting out the internet across the country.5 At the height of the unrest, Tokayev said he had ordered troops to shoot to kill protesters without warning. The official death toll is 225, with nearly ten thousand detained. The authorities have justified their response by putting responsibility for the protests on both foreign and domestic “bandits and terrorists.”

A peaceful protester, Sergey Shutov, was arrested on January 11 after attending protests in the city of Atirau. He claimed security services brought him to a gym on the outskirts of town and repeatedly beat him and dozens of others. “I begged them to stop kicking me. I had to promise I would never join a meeting again,” Shutov said. A veteran opposition activist, Aset Abishev, said, “There is no way back for Tokayev. The people of Kazakhstan have seen what this regime is capable of. He has blood on his hands.”6 Along with the President announcing an order for state police to shoot to kill without warning, the state used water cannons, tear gas, and flashlight grenades against civilians. Those who stayed after signs of escalation were caught in the crossfire between the police, who used both rubber and regular bullets, and non-state armed groups on the night from January 4 to January 5. The government still has not released the names of the deceased civilians, despite civil activists’ demands.1 A senior aide to Kazakhstan’s prosecutor general said that 3,337 offenders were released while over a thousand people were currently under arrest.4

In response to the uprisings, Tokayev attempted to pacify the crowds by dismissing former President Nursultan Nazarbayev, taking over his position as chairman of the National Security Council, and naming a new prime minister and government. He fired and detained Karim Massimov, head of security services, and an official who worked under Nazarbayev. Several other officials related to Nazarbaev, such as his nephew, also were removed from their high positions.7 Many protesters demanded that Nazarbaev be removed from power, who resigned from his post in 2019 but still is considered by citizens and outsiders to be controlling the government and, in tandem, Tokayev.8 Many seem to think that Tokayev’s decision to take Nazarbaev’s position was a move to safeguard Nazarbaev’s legacy and keep him close to power.4 

In any case, Tokayev’s attempt to appease the public wasn’t effective enough, so he switched tactics by describing the demonstrators as terrorists. He then brought in the Russian Collective Security Treaty Organization, which includes Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan, to send “peacekeeping forces” to Kazakhstan “to stabilize and normalize the situation,” according to Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan.2,9 Approximately three thousand Russian soldiers were deployed, alongside some five hundred troops from Belarus, one hundred Armenians, two hundred Tajiks, and one hundred fifty Kyrgyz, to conduct the “counter-terrorist operation,” as described on Twitter by Tokayev.10 He also rejected calls from the international community, including the United Nations and the United States, to resolve the crisis peacefully, saying it was not possible to negotiate with parties he described as “armed and trained bandits, both local and foreign.”9 The Special Rapporteur on counter-terrorism and human rights, Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, made an official visit to Kazakhstan in May of 2019, including regions of Aktau and Almaty where the protests emerged. According to her, Kazakhstan’s overly broad use of the word “terrorism” in this context against protesters, civil society activists, human rights defenders, journalists, and political parties aimed at instilling fear was deeply concerning. Several other experts appointed by the United Nations Human Rights Council echoed her sentiments.11

In very recent news, before Tokayev removed the rights of a private recycling monopoly linked to Nazarbaev’s daughter Aliya, he made his first ever public criticism of Nazarbaev, saying last week that under his predecessor’s leadership, many lucrative businesses and extremely rich people had appeared in Kazakhstan and that it was now time for the ordinary people to receive what they deserved.4,12 Numerous political analysts are not surprised by Tokayev’s moves to dismantle Nazarbaev’s power monopoly, as they have claimed that Tokayev has been trying to get out from under the control of Nazarbaev since his own instatement.7 Nazarbaev, who seemed to disappear during the protests, finally reappeared in a video address on Tuesday, in which he claimed, “In 2019 I handed over my powers to President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, and since then I am a pensioner. I am currently taking deserved rest in the capital of Kazakhstan and I have not gone anywhere,” in response to rumors that he had fled Kazakhstan.13

Now, weeks after the height of the protests, there are some political uncertainties within and outside of the country. Russia’s involvement and Putin’s interests are making political analysts and commentators uneasy, and citizens are still reeling from the death and destruction that this situation has left in its wake.14 Many are looking for their loved ones who are still unaccounted for and begging the government for answers.

If you’re looking for ways to help, supporting local activists, demanding accountability, and donating to fundraisers are just a few ways to support those affected. I recommend the following three fundraisers: Stand with Kazakhstan, Dollar-for-dollar donation initiative to help civilians in Almaty and other regions of Kazakhstan to recover from the aftermath of social unrest and the ensuing chaos, and Aid for those affected in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

1 Akbota Karibayeva, “Kazakhstan’s Unrest Leaves Behind a Traumatized Society,” Foreign Policy, January 19, 2022,

2 “What’s behind unrest rocking oil-rich Kazakhstan,” AP News, January 6, 2022,

3 Gareth Jones, “From stability to turmoil – what’s going on in Kazakhstan,” Reuters, January 8, 2022,

4 Pjotr Sauer, “‘His Family Robbed The Country’: personality cult of ex-Kazakh leader crumbles,” The Guardian, January 20, 2022,

5 Michael Bociurkiw, “For Putin Kazakhstan is a domino too big to fall,” CNN, January 17, 2022,

6 Pjotr Sauer, “As the Dust Settles on Kazakhstan’s Unrest, Reports of Torture and Violence Surface,” The Moscow Times, January 19, 2022,

7 Rachel Pannett, “Kazakhstan’s ‘father of the nation’ resurfaces, says he’s retired after Russian intervention in bloody unrest,” The Washington Post, January 19, 2022,

8 Shaun Walker, “Poverty, inequality and corruption: why Kazakhstan’s former leader is no longer untouchable,” The Guardian, January 5, 2022,

9 Helen Regan, “Kazakhstan is in turmoil and regional troops have been sent to quell unrest. Here’s what you need to know,” CNN, January 7, 2022,

10 Matt Cavanaugh and Jahara Matisek, “Little Blue Helmets in Kazakhstan,” The Diplomat, January 19, 2022,

11 Atul Alexander, “Kazakhstan Crisis: Has International Human Rights Law anything to offer?” The Leaflet, January 19, 2022,

12 RFE/RL’s Kazakh Service, “Kazakh President Replaces Defense Minister, Parliament Removes Nazarbayev From Lifetime Posts,” Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty, January 19, 2022,

13 Shaun Walker, “‘I have not gone anywhere’: former Kazakh leader denies fleeing country,” The Guardian, January 18, 2022,

14 Shaun Walker, “As order is restored in Kazakhstan, its future remains murky,” The Guardian, January 8, 2022,