The eXile

Infobox Newspaper
name = The Exile

caption = The 2006-11-17 (#251) front page of "the eXile", featuring a redesigned masthead
type = Alternative weekly
format = Tabloid
foundation = 1997
ceased publication = 2008
price =
owners = Independent
publisher = Konstantin Boukarev
chiefeditor = Mark Ames
Yasha Levine
language = English
circulation =
headquarters = Moscow
website = []

"The eXile" was a Moscow-based English-language biweekly free newspaper, aimed at the city's expatriate community, which combined outrageous, sometimes satirical, content with investigative reporting. In October 2006, co-editor Jake Rudnitsky summarized the eXile's editorial policy to "The Independent": "We shit on everybody equally."cite news|title=Moscow newspapers: the story of one title's survival|url=|work=The Independent|date=2006-10-10] The newspaper is now published in an online-only format.

"Rolling Stone" magazine said in 1998 that then-coeditors "Mark Ames and Matt Taibbi take the raw material of this decadent new Moscow and convert it into 25,000 instantly snapped-up issues of The eXile, consisting of misogynist rants, dumb pranks, insulting club listings and photos of blood-soaked corpses, all redeemed by political reporting that's read seriously not only in Moscow but also in Washington.""Rolling Stone" Magazine, issue 800, November 26th 1998.] A CNN documentary in 1999 focusing on the eXile agreed, saying, "Brazen, irreverent, immodest, and rude, the eXile struggles with the harsh truth of the new century in Russia...Since 1997, Ames and Taibbi have lampooned and investigated greed, corruption, cowardice and complacency."cite news|title=The Russia Factor|work=CNN Perspectives|url=|author=Jack Hamann|date=1999-09-23|format=Reprint (see also [ Hamann's site] )] The Moscow Times writes that "The eXile, which publishes Gonzo-style journalism on topics such as drugs, prostitution and Moscow nightlife side-by-side with political analysis, has often pushed the limits of decency -- not to mention libel law." Newsweek correspondent Owen Matthews called The eXile "brilliant and outrageous." cite news|title=End of The eXile Era|url=|work=The St. Petersburg Times|date=2008-6]

Its history saw a number of practical jokes or stunts, including reportedly getting Mikhail Gorbachev to enter negotiations to secure a position as "perestroika coordinator" for the New York Jets. cite news|title=From Russia With Malice|work=Reason Magazine|author=Sean McMeekin|url=|date=2006-01] Jonathan Shainin of also wrote in 2005 that the eXile "ran serious press criticism salted with vicious personal attacks on reporters", which included throwing a cream pie made from equine semen into the face of a New York Times correspondent Michael Wines.

On June 19, 2008, the London Telegraph reported that following a government audit, the paper would cease to be printed and appear only on the internet. [ [ Moscow forces expat newspaper to close] ] On 10 June 2008, columnist Gary Brecher ("The War Nerd") published a letter on the website asking for donations from readers, saying "it takes money and we have none, zero, aren't even getting paid any more". [Brecher, Gary. [ Save The eXile: The War Nerd Calls Mayday] ] A month after shutting down because of government pressure, the newspaper launched a web sitecite news|title=eXile Returns Online After Paper’s Closure|url=|work=The St. Petersburg Times|date=2008-7] called eXiled Online. According to Mark Ames, the new site is to "focus more on the United States," though the Saint Peterburg Times reported that co-editor Yasha Levine will remain in Russia "as long as [he] can hold out."


In 1997, Ames was editor of the English-language Moscow newspaper "Living Here". The concept of "Living Here" was first proposed by Manfred Witteman, who convinced his partner Marina Pshevecherskaya to provide $10,000 of start-up capital.cite book|author=Ames, Mark; Taibbi, Matt; Limonov, Edward|title=The eXile: Sex, Drugs and Libel in the New Russia|publisher=Grove/Atlantic Monthly|year=2000|id=ISBN 0-8021-3652-4 ( [ online excerpt] available)] Citing Manfred and Marina's "incessant petty squabbles over money and title" Ames quit "Living Here" and begin planning his own publication. Ames convinced most of the intermittently paid staff of "Living Here" to defect to the newly conceived newspaper, "the eXile", including sales manager Kara Deyerin, and his replacement editor Kevin McElwee. Manfred and Marina hired Matt Taibbi to counter this rebellion, but he became disillusioned after producing one issue of "Living Here". Taibbi also defected and became co-editor of "the eXile".

Some of the contributors, including Ames, Tiabbi, Alexander Zaitchik, and John Dolan, previously worked for the "New York Press".


Articles published in "the eXile" have focused both on Moscow- and Russia-related topics, as well as issues of more general interest. Investigative reporting, reviews of Moscow nightlife, concerts, and restaurants, commentary on politics and culture in Russia and America, film and book reviews, and mocking replies to its readers' letters appear in most issues. "The eXile" is known for its descriptions of Moscow life. Andrew Meier, who served as "Time" magazine's Russia correspondent from 1996 until 2001, was quoted by "Rolling Stone" as saying: "No one describes expat life in Moscow better than "the eXile". They hit it right on its ugly head."

"The 90's in Moscow were a great time," Ames told the New York Observer, "like what they say about the 20's in Paris or the early 30's in Berlin. It was completely hedonistic and nihilistic and full of crime....A lot of [Taibbi's] prose was written on smack and a lot of mine was written on speed....We wrote a whole bunch of editorials about the size of Putin's penis."cite news|work=The New York Observer|date=2000-06-18|author=George Gurley|url=|title=From Russia with Lust] .


*"Whore-R Stories," in which Mark Ames describes an encounter with a prostitute, solicited specifically for the purpose of providing material for the column. Ames includes descriptions of her sexual performance, and body type (and sometimes includes a picture), and focuses on the background, opinions, and personality of the prostitute, as well as the economic and social aspects of prostitution in Moscow.
*"Death Porn," which describes and categorizes gruesome and unusual violent crimes occurring in Russia. This section adopts the graphic and cynical style of Moskovskiy Komsomolets's "Срочно в Номер" section.
*"Mandela Porn," in which Natasha Marchetti covers violent crime and law enforcement in South Africa, with an emphasis on particularly vicious and dim-witted criminals. In December 2006, nearly two years after her relocation to Sweden, she renamed the column "Viking Porn" and has since been writing about crime in Sweden.
*"Gandhi Porn" in which Alexander Zaitchik covers and reflects on news from India.
*" [Sic (Latin)| [SIC!] ] ," contains letters to the editor and the eXile's response.
*"The War Nerd," in which self-proclaimed war nerd Gary Brecher provides commentary and analysis of past and present military conflicts.
*"The eXile's Field guide to Moscow," a description of the stereotypically colorful characters that can be encountered in Moscow, parodying the descriptive style of wildlife or bird-watching guides.
*"Feis Kontrol," consisting of impromptu photographs of Moscow nightlife.
*"In Brief," a collection of headlines and short news blurbs in the style of such satirical newspapers as The Onion, typically with the aim of lampooning other news sources.
*The "Club Guide", a review of Moscow clubs, bars, strip clubs, and other night venues. Each location is given rated as a place to drink, as a place to find casual sex, and on its level of "face control".
*"Press Review," consisting of criticism of the coverage of Russian affairs in Western media.
*"Schopenhauer Awards," covering the most unpleasant creatures of the animal kingdom.
*"Chess," wherein "eXile" writers and editors play and analyze chess games against Russian masters and Russian prostitutes.
*"Dyev's Diary," in which Lyolya Androsova reflects on the experiences of her Moscow youth.
*"Kino Korner / Kino Kwikeez," which is a review of films currently running in Russian and English language cinemas, as well as a rundown of popular pieces selling at pirate kiosks.
*"Vlad's Daily Gloat," a blog-style column in which eXile columnist Vladimir Kalashnikov delivers sarcastic and mocking analysis of American news, including many unfavorable comparisons to Russia.


According to John Dolan, "the eXile" publishes articles from perspectives not often heard or read elsewhere. [ Conceived in Sin: The Online Audience and the Case of the eXile] ," a lecture given May 22, 2004 at Budapest University of Technology and Economics, during an international conference entitled [ "Dissolving and Emerging Communities - The Culture of Periodicals from the Perspective of the Electronic Age"] . The title of Dolan's talk was originally listed in the conference's [ program] as "Our Friends From Frolix 8: Offending, Attracting and Ignoring the Reader from Afar."] He has referred to "eXile" columnists as "subaltern," claiming they have been discounted from mainstream discourses as "sinful," irrelevant, disgusting, mysoginistic, or otherwise too objectionable to be heard. As an example, Dolan referenced Gary Brecher::"Brecher's sensibility...has found hundreds of thousands of fans online. Every day devoted followers write to the War Nerd, giving homage to the only online voice they trust. Yet Brecher's sensibility could never be admitted either to mainstream journalism or to academic writing."Dolan has cited "the eXile"'s audience as a reason for leaving academia and what he called its "starchy sensibility," and proclaimed a central role for his concept of sin in "the eXile"'s ideology::"By contrast, the eXile was conceived in sin - "and proud of it," as Bart Simpson would say - by refugees from the moral world of the American academic. Its editor, Mark Ames, fled Berkeley to set up his own paper in Moscow, then the sin capital of the world. In 1997, when the eXile began publishing, Moscow was without law - especially libel law."

Additionally, "the eXile" aims to publish articles about Russia from outside the perspective of mainstream western journalism. According to editor Jake Rudnitsky western reporting on Russia is often biased: "Western newspapers have an agenda, to show that everything in Russia is related to oil prices, and that Putin's this competent but quasi-fascist leader. They don't have the freedom to go out and actually find out what's going on." Rudnitsky has also stated that the eXile aims to give a more detailed view of Russia than is available in the western press: "We can write about things that Western journalists are too lazy or apathetic to write about...what makes this country fascinating is the details, and that's something we're allowed to focus on."


Former editor Matt Taibbi has said that operating a periodical in Russia was much easier without the burden of American libel laws.cite news|title=Lecture: Matt Taibbi|url=|work=Bullpen|author=Leaya Lee] Similarly, Ames asserted in his article “Democracy Sucks” that “we'd be sued out of existence within a few weeks of appearing in any Western democracy, but here in Russia, in the so-called kleptocracy, the power elite has been too busy stealing and killing to give a fuck about us, allowing us to fly around the capital beneath their radar, like a cruise missile. A real democracy would never let us get off the ground.”cite news|url=|title=Democracy Sucks|author=Mark Ames|work=the eXile|date=1999-04-10]

Pavel Bure libel lawsuit

In 2001, the eXile published an article falsely claiming hockey star Pavel Bure broke up with a well-known celebrity after discovering she had two vaginas. Bure successfully sued the eXile for 500,000 rubles (about $16,000 U.S.).Suetenko, Larisa. [ "Pravda"] , June 21, 2001.]

Eduard Limonov

"The eXile" regularly publishes columns by the politician, Russian dissident, and avant garde writer Eduard Limonov. Limonov is the founder and leader of Russia’s banned National Bolshevik Party.cite news|url=|author=Nabi Abdullaev|work=The Moscow Times|title=Supreme Court Bans Bolsheviks|date=2005-11-16] In 2002 Limonov was imprisoned on felony charges of purchasing automatic weapons and explosives, but was released halfway through his four-year sentence at the request of several members of the Russian Duma who protested that the case was politically motivated.cite news|title=Writer to serve four years in labour camp|url=|author=Tom Parfitt|work=The Scotsman|date=2003-04-16] cite news|url=||title=Maverick writer freed|date=2003-06-30|format=Reprint] In his "eXile" column, Limonov has described several violent episodes from his personal history.


Buns McGillicuddy

To mock "face-control" policies at elite clubs in Moscow, "the eXile" fashioned their intern into a fictitious international nightclubbing celebrity, Buns McGillicuddy. Creating a fake entourage and an absurd music single "Touch my Buns," eXile intern Jeremy Lanou was allowed into the VIP rooms of Moscow's most elite and restrictive clubs.cite news|url=|title=Feis The Music! Buns Moons Moscow Nightclubs|author=Mark Ames|date=2004-07-03|work=the eXile]

Kiriyenko letter

In a July 2004, an "eXile" article entitled [ "We Dunnit! the eXile Prank Hits Halls Of Domer"] claimed authorship of the "Kiriyenko letter", a forged document purportedly from five U.S. Republican Congressmen which expressed concern over Russia's "democratic transition," and accused former Russian Prime Minister Sergei Kiriyenko of stealing IMF funds. After claiming to have forged the letter, Ames was condemned by U.S. Representative Henry Bonilla (R-TX), who demanded that Ames be "prosecuted" and "punished" for forgery.cite news|url=|work=Metroactive|author=Mark Ames|date=2004-09-04|title=Our Man in Moscow] Some US media outlets also believed that "the eXile" had sent the letter.cite news|url=|title=Bonilla forgery was work of tabloid|date=2004-07-15|author=Gary Martin|work=San Antonio Express News] After the letter was printed verbatim by "Novaya Gazeta", both it and "the eXile"'s claim of responsibility were covered by Russian news media.cite news|url=|work=Pravda|date=2004-06-28|language=Russian|title=Американские конгрессмены копают под киндер-сюрприза] cite news|url=|work=Novaya Gazeta|language=Russian|title=КРЕДИТ МВФ: КТО-ТО ТЕРЯЕТ, КТО-ТО НАХОДИТ|date=2004-06-28] cite news|url=|work=Lenta|title=Exile взял на себя ответственность за фальшивое письмо о Кириенко|language=Russian|date=2004-07-13] Kiriyenko won a libel suit against "Novaya Gazetta" on the grounds that the paper had not fact-checked properly.cite news|url=|title="Новая газета" опровергла обвинения в адрес Кириенко|work=lenta|language=Russian|date=2004-12-20] The episode also earned "the eXile" a "website of the week award," from the Philadelphia weekly "City Paper,"cite news|url=|work=Philadelphia City Paper|title=Web site of the week|author=Joel Tannenbaum|date=2004-08-05] while the Moscow newspaper "Kommersant Vlasti", which believed Ames' claim of responsibility, called him a "hero of Russia."cite news|url=|title=Зарубежные события|work=Kommersant Vlasti|2004-07-19|language=Russian]

In the next issue, Ames claimed that the contentious article was a joke, saying it had been inserted as filler on production day.cite news|url=|title=Double Punk'd! Meta-Prank Goes Mega-Bad|author=Mark Ames|work=the eXile|date=2004-07-22] In columns for "the eXile" and "Metroactive", he wrote that he had been followed and harassed as a result of the claim, and that he feared arrest or violent reprisal.

Pie attack on Michael Wines

In March 2001, "The eXile" set up a single-elimination contest to determine who, in their eyes, was the "most foul hack journalist" in Russia.cite news|url=|author=Matt Taibbi|title=HACK Eat's Horse Sperm Surprise|work=the eXile|date=2001-04-05] In each issue, they paired up the previous week's survivors, who were then compared and analysed. The winner, "New York Times" Moscow bureau chief Michael Wines, had a cream pie allegedly made from equine semen flung into his face by Matt Taibbi.cite news|url=|author=Richard Johnson|title=Editor Out Over Pope Parody|work=Page Six (NY Post, syndicated by Yahoo News)|date=2005-03-08] cite journal|journal=Critic|title=x-Rated Journalism|date=2003-03-24|url=] Jonathan Shainin of confirmed the incident, after seeing photographs of the attack.cite news|title=Politics-a-palooza||author=Jonathan Shainin|date=2005-05-12|url=] According to "Media Life Magazine," "the New York Times" confirmed via telephone that the incident had occurred but could not confirm the contents of the pie. Media Life also alleged that the attack was retribution for Wines' "fawning coverage of president Vladimir Putin."cite news|url=|title=NY Times Moscow chief gets a nasty faceful|date=2001-04-11|work=Media Life Magazine] In explaining why it had chosen Wines, the eXile cited previous criticism of him by the journalism watchdog group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting.cite web|url=|work = Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting|title=The Year of Dangerous Reporting|author=Renita Steeley|date=July 1990]

Investigation by Russian federal services

On June 5, 2008, an article in the Moscow Times reported that the eXile was under investigation by the Russian Federal Service for Mass Media, Telecommunications and the Protection of Cultural Heritage.cite news|url=|title=Investigators Target eXile For Possible Violations|author=Alexander Osipovich|date=2008-06-05|work=The Moscow Times] Ames confirmed the investigation to the Moscow Times, but was unsure of the exact reason, announcing "I get the general sense that they have decided it's time to shut us down, that they're not going to tolerate us anymore." The end result of the action forced the staff to relocate permanently out of Russia proper and establish themselves in Panama.


*Mark Ames
*John Dolan
*Edward Limonov
*Matt Taibbi
*Denis Salnikov
*Gary Brecher
*Thierry Marignac
*Yasha Levine
*Alexander Zaitchik
*Kirill Pankratov
* Full author [ list] .

ee also

*The Hungry Duck
*Gonzo journalism
*The Beast (newspaper)


External links

* [ The eXile's] old web site
* [ eXiledonline] , the new web site

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