One of the oddest truths about reporting in Russia is that we - the Western press corps - often found ourselves outdone by a satirical local rag called the eXile.
Put together by a bunch of expats who have found a home in Moscow, the eXile blends sometimes hilarious, sometimes revolting features on living debaucherously in the Russian capital.
That wasn't the part that impressed the rest of us hacks. What did was the political reporting tucked in between the pages of "Death Porn" and "Whore-r Stories." Unlike much of the rest of what was produced by the Western journalists living in Moscow, the eXile doesn't buy the simple State Department narrative of "Russia intrinsically bad, West trying to save it."
Reporters like the eXile's Mark Ames see the "struggle for democracy" across the former Soviet Union for what it is: an arm-wrestle between the neo-cons in the White House and the neo-authoritarians in the Kremlin. Both sides say they're interested in the prosperity and freedom of the Russian people, in reality both are cynically pursuing their own, largely commercially oriented, agendas.
For a different perspective, check out the eXile's takes on the recent protests in Moscow and the ongoing standoff in Ukraine. Weed through the silly, self-indulgent bits and you'll get to a lot of nuggets that The Economist tends to brush by in its telling of the same tales.
And to head off the criticism that the eXile (like me) is too gentle on the current Kremlin, it's worth noting that they once ran a multi-page feature that was titled something like "99 ways that Putin's Russia is like Weimar Germany." I can't find it online anymore, but it was one of those pieces where you started out laughing, then got deeply unsettled as you considered the substance underpinning the humour.