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44: Moscow's Trash Collapse

In the suburbs of Moscow people have been fighting with local government to solve what has now clearly become a region-wide garbage management crisis. To make matters worse, it's in the largest urban area of a country that, at least on the official level, doesn't recycle. This week Lily tells Smith what she learned about Moscow Oblast's trash problem from talking with people at a protest in Lobnya, one of the several Moscow suburbs that held trash-related protests on April 14, in honor of...


43: Lenin on the Lower East Side

On top of an unassuming building on the LES of Manhattan there is an 18-foot tall copper statue of Vladimir Lenin, gesturing to Wall Street. This week Smith tells Lily what she learned about the statue’s journey from post-Soviet Russia to New York — and what it has come to symbolize there — from speaking with the statue’s co-owners and residents of the neighborhood. Theme Music: Shit Happens by Tierra Whack


42: Kemerovo

This week SIR tells the story of the recent tragic fire in Kemerovo through voices from the city. On Sunday March 25, a fire broke out in a mall in the Siberian city of Kemerovo, killing 64 people, mostly children, who had come to see the movie Sherlock Gnomes and celebrate the start of their Spring break. The tragedy has been filling the Russian internet and media space for the past week, occupying the minds of people across the country who are mourning with the city.


41: Russian Soul Inspectors ft. Hannah Gais

We've got Hannah Gais on to talk about the phrase the "Russian soul." We cover the phrase's origin and subsequent adoption by the West, its contemporary uses amongst unhinged Twitter personalites, and how it is Russia has excellent sushi despite being a landlocked country. Read Hannah's article on the "Russian Soul" in The Baffler: Follow her on twitter at @hannahgais and go to her website to check out her...


40: The House Behind the Vacant Lot

This week we are co-presenting -- with Event Horizon Magazine and translator Isaac Wheeler -- the English-language debut of author Olga Onoyko. We're devoting this episode to Olga's surreal, dream-like short story, "The House Behind The Vacant Lot." Lily interviews the author and Isaac reads his translation of her story. Olga Onoyko is a 33 year old, Moscow-based musicologist by training, who works in IT. She is the author of multiple published novels and short stories. In 2007 she...


39: Maybe Putin Won't Be President Anymore

On March 18 Russians will vote to elect a (possibly new) President to lead the country for the next 6 years. This week SIR changes it up, handing our mics over to three millennial, liberal-leaning Russians -– Nastya, Max, and Rita -- to discuss the personalities and platforms of all 8 candidates. During the discussion, they explain why TV is the country’s “main problem”, what kinds of gifts you get the first time you vote in Russia, why Ksenia Sobchak was more badass when she started her...


38: Women's Day Hooray

In Russia International Women's Day is celebrated widely every March 8 since 1917. At some point in the Soviet era, the holiday (whose original incarnation is a strongly Socialist-rooted celebration of the struggle for women's rights, gender equality, and in Russia specifically the women who initiated and comprised the 1917 February revolution) morphed into a twisted mirror-image of itself that reinforces woman's traditional social role as caretaker and patron saint of beauty, family, and...


37: Indict Me

Russiagate unfolds: on Feb. 16, 2018. Former FBI director and current US Special Counsel Robert "the Swan" Mueller III published an "unprecedented" indictment of 13 Russian people and 3 Russian companies all related to the so-called Internet Research Agency, aka the "Troll Factory" in St. Petersburg and now all formally accused of interfering in the 2016 US presidential elections. Allow SIR to explain: what actually happened, why it matters, and why we knew all this already. Follow our...


36: We Love Banya

The Russian banya -- the body/soul cleansing, health stimulating spa ritual cum social club. This week we talk about the significance of the banya in Russian culture, why it's very much not just a sauna, what kinds of banyas Russians use today (and one of their slightly frightening prototypes). Plus how to properly "steam" someone with veniki [bushels of leafy twigs, often birch or oak]. Theme Music: Shit Happens by Tierra Whack channel:...


35: Latvia ft. Kristaps Andrejsons

We're kicking off our ongoing series on former Soviet countries with Kristaps Andrejsons, host of The Eastern Border podcast and, incidentally, a Latvian. Our conversation runs the gamut: wild boars in Riga, the three waves of National Awakening (i.e. how Latvia became a country), and the best summer festival. Theme Music: Shit Happens by Tierra Whack Listen to Kristaps's podcast:


34: Surfing The Net ft. Igor Belkin

This week we shoot the shit with Igor Belkin, journalist, media person, "blogger", about the Russian Internet (Runet). We've got Livejournal in the early 2000s, quintessential Runet memes, and menacing Orthodox officials. Plus what it's like to be a Russian expat in America. Theme Music: Shit Happens by Tierra Whack Interlude: IAmNobody by Lin-Z


33: Space Cadets

This week we tell the story of Russian and American space programs -- the race to space, why "free men" should get there first, Russian bear hugs, and the (lack of) politics in space. This episode is a montage of primary source clips from archives and other corners of the internet that tell the story starting from the 1800s til the present day. And we, of course, play peanut gallery. Theme Music: Tierra Whack Interlude: Mae Jemison by Sammus


32: Translation Station ft. Kevin Rothrock & Isaac Wheeler

This week we discuss the theory and daily practice of translation, joined by two honored guests and translators. Our first guest is Kevin Rothrock, Senior Editor and Translator at Meduza in English, who tells us about his daily work bringing independent Russian news to English speakers, and how to stealthily pick fights on Twitter. Our second guest is Isaac Stackhouse Wheeler, professional independent translator of both Russian and Ukrainian poetry and prose, who tells us, among many other...


Beaches Go To Brighton

This week we were both in NYC and took the opportunity to spend the day talking to people in Brighton Beach, aka Little Odessa, aka the neighborhood of choice for Soviet immigrants. We spoke to people from all over the former USSR (and Turkey!) who live, work, and/or were visiting Brighton, asking them about the neighborhood and their relationship to it. We tried to let them do the talking.


Taking a break this week

Taking a break this week by Olivia Capozzalo and Smith Freeman


30: 2017 Round Up

This week we select clips from some of our favorite episodes of the year. Happy New Year.


29: Bourgeoisie Tree

This week Lily tells Smith the tale of the Russian Christmas/New Year's tree. Pagan anti-demon rituals, Peter the Great shaking and moving, a pro-tree Pravda op-ed by a party leader: Lily plots the course of how the Christmas Tree came to Russia and then ultimately became a New Year's tree. Them Music: Tierra Whack Interludes: Guayaba (aeonfuxxx on Soundcloud)


28: Reading Russian Rainbow

Cozy up for story time. This week we bring you a reading of two texts translated from Russian -- a short story called "Thirteen" by Alisa Ganieva and an excerpt from a novel called "The Gardener is Gone" by Lena Eltang. The short story was translated by Isaac Stackhouse Wheeler and published in The Missing Slate. The novel is currently in the process (!) of being co-translated by Isaac and Reilly Costigan-Humes -- we're very grateful to the translators for the chance to get a sneak peek of...


27: Tit4Tat

This week we're checking in with “Russiagate”/ the “Russian matter” [российское дело]. You will learn: what Michael Flynn’s plea deal is and why there's a fuss about it; and what happened to RT America, the US branch of a multinational Russian news network. RT’s case has in incited yet another tit for tat between the US and Russian governments involving their respective “Foreign Agent” laws (which are very much not the same), the tit of which is looking to be alot more harmful than the...


26: Small Shuttered Palace ft. Molly Zuckerman

This fall, European University at St. Petersburg was shut down under dubious circumstances. We talk with Molly Zuckerman about the school's contentious history with government and the plight of foreign students now stranded by the school's closure. Plus, she shares some good tidbits on kegels from a Russian sexologist. Theme Music: Tierra Whack Interludes: Tatarka


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