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E62: Alina Polyakova on Life as a D.C. Think Tanker

Today's guest is Alina Polyakova, a fellow at the Brookings Institution, an adjunct professor of European studies at Johns Hopkins University, and a specialist in far-right populism and nationalism, and Russian foreign policy. Alina and Kevin discussed who’s to blame for Donald Trump’s election, how you take a sociology doctorate and become a Washington think tank expert, and what life is like in the hustle and bustle of the American capital. She explained why she didn’t really like Keith...


E61: David Klion

Today’s guest is David Klion, a writer in Brooklyn whose work has appeared in The Nation, The New York Times, The Guardian, BuzzFeed, The Baffler, and many other publications. In mid-September, the website Coda published a story by David, titled “Russia, Hollywood’s Mirror,” where he examines Russia tropes in American movies over the past six centuries. Here’s the opening of the article: “If Russians didn’t exist, Hollywood would have to invent them. In a sense, Hollywood has.” So what did...


E60: Amie Ferris-Rotman

Today's guest is Amie Ferris-Rotman, the Moscow correspondent for The Washington Post, and a veteran reporter on Russia, who’s previously worked for Reuters, The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, Vogue, The Atlantic, Politico, and Foreign Policy. She’s also covered Afghanistan, and she was awarded the John S. Knight Fellowship at Stanford University, where she developed and founded the “Sahar Speaks” project, which mentors and trains aspiring women journalists in Afghanistan. On September...


E59: Sean Guillory

Today's show features an interview with Sean Guillory, the scholar behind the popular Sean’s Russia Blog and the SRB Podcast, a weekly podcast on Eurasian politics, history, and culture. Sean is also the digital-scholarship curator in the Russian and East European Studies Center at the University of Pittsburgh, and he’s an occasional columnist at Jacobin Magazine, where he writes about Russian left-wing politics. In this interview, Kevin asks Sean what he makes of American Russophobia...


E58: Mark Galeotti

Kevin continues his interview series with professionals in the field of Russia expertise. Today's guest is Dr. Mark Galeotti, a senior researcher at the Institute of International Relations Prague and the coordinator of its Center for European Security. Check out Dr. Galeotti's latest book: “The Vory: Russia's Super Mafia,” released this May by Yale University Press In this interview, Kevin asks Mark several big questions, like...


E57: Carl Schreck

On today’s show, Kevin continues his series of interviews with journalists working on Russia. This episode features Carl Schreck, a senior correspondent for RFE/RL and a veteran reporter who’s worked in Moscow, from the States, and from Prague, where he’s based now. Carl and Kevin talked about what makes good news stories, how you break into this field, what it’s like to cut your teeth on Russia’s crime beat, and much more. Follow Carl here on Twitter:


E56: Aric Toler on Zakharchenko's Death

On today’s show, Kevin welcomes back Aric Toler to learn more about the August 31 assassination of Alexander Zakharchenko, the separatist leader of the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic, or DNR. What path led Zakharchenko to this grisly end, and who planted the bomb that killed him? An open-source intelligence expert at Bellingcat and the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, Aric Toler follows eastern Ukraine’s separatists as closely as anybody. Follow Aric at Twitter:...


E55: Dustin Giebel

On this episode of The Russia Guy, Kevin talks to freelance writer and Russia watcher Dustin Giebel, who was recently the target of a defamatory blog post by a #resistance freedom fighter named Jay McKenzie. The screed was posted on Medium and promoted by information-warfare darlings like lobbyist Molly McKew and former CIA agent John Sipher — two public figures Giebel has criticized in the past. Geibel talked about life as a Russia watcher at a time when strangers are happy to pick apart...


E50: Shaninka

Today’s show addresses the recent events surrounding the Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences, better known as “Shaninka,” which just lost its state accreditation, following an inspection by Russia’s Federal Education and Science Supervision Agency (Rosobrnadzor). Inspectors claim that the school is in violation of several state education standards. The agency’s report says Shaninka’s undergraduate and graduate programs fail in many areas to maintain “professional competence...


E49: Talking Russian Pension Reform With an 8-Year-Old

On today’s show, Kevin reviews the pension reform proposal slipped into Russia’s news agenda last week, just as the country’s attention turned to a certain soccer tournament. After summarizing the proposed reforms, Kevin gets some feedback about the plan from a very special guest, his eight-year-old daughter. So what are you going to learn about on today’s show? The Russian government wants to raise the country’s retirement age (from 55 to 63 for women, and from 60 to 65 for men), but how do...


E48: Russian Labor Discrimination

Howdy, folks! It’s Wednesday, June 13, and we’re hours away from the kickoff of the next FIFA World Cup, which is being hosted in Russia this year. The next month will turn much of the world’s attention to Russia, which means this is a good opportunity to shine a light on the country’s social issues. The last time a sporting event did this was the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, and back then many in the United States suddenly cared very deeply about LGBT rights in Russia. This year, it’s more...


E47: Natalia Roudakova on the Babchenko Hoax

This episode of The Russia Guy takes place a week after the staged murder of Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko, who was dead to the world for almost 24 hours, from May 29 to May 30, until he was gloriously resurrected by Ukraine’s National Security Agency, which revealed that his killing had been a hoax apparently designed to obtain a hit list with the names of 47 prominent Ukrainian and Russian journalists. The hired hitman was in on the sting operation, and the man arrested for hiring...


E46: Nikita Kulachenkov on Russian Activism

Kevin's guest in this episode is Nikita Kulachenkov, one of the Anti-Corruption Foundation’s full-time investigators. What are you going to learn about on today’s episode of the podcast? Kevin asked Nikita about Russia’s possible criminalization of appealing to foreign governments for sanctions against Russian citizens, and he asked him what impact this legislation could have on the Anti-Corruption Foundation’s activities. They also discussed the ongoing police crackdown on the organizers...


E45: Aric Toler on MH17

Today’s episode of The Russia Guy welcomes back Aric Toler from Bellingcat, which together with The Insider has just released a new report that contains some pretty amazing revelations about the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine almost four years ago. All 298 people on board that plane were killed, and Bellingcat has led the way in open-source intelligence gathering when it comes to tracing this back to Russia, and Aric has been one of the group’s key researchers....


E44: Keith Gessen on The Quiet Americans

Kevin’s guest today is Keith Gessen, a novelist, journalist, literary translator, and assistant professor at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. Gessen has written about Russia for The New Yorker, The London Review of Books, The Atlantic, and The New York Times Magazine, where he recently published a fascinating story, titled “The Quiet Americans Behind the U.S.-Russia Imbroglio,” where he examines the historical and philosophical landscape of today’s Russia expertise in the...


E43: David Filipov

On this episode of The Russia Guy, Kevin’s guest is David Filipov, a journalist who’s reported from Moscow, Chechnya, Iraq, Afghanistan, and New England. David spent years with The Boston Globe, where he contributed to the newsroom that won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Reporting for covering the Boston Marathon bombing. He also won the 2014 Edward R. Murrow Award for Continuing Coverage as part of a team of Globe videographers, he was awarded the 2003 James Aronson Award for...


E42: Natalia Antonova

Kevin’s guest today is Natalia Antonova, who as many listeners already know is a prolific writer, and a journalist who’s worked in Moscow, Kiev, and soon Washington, D.C., where she’s accepted a position at the Voice of America. Natalia was deputy editor at The Moscow News before it was liquidated in the collapse of RIA Novosti, and she’s been published all over the place, including The Washington Post, Politico, The Guardian, Foreign Policy, Newsweek, and many other fine outlets. Natalia is...


E41: Emily Parker on ICOs

In this episode, Kevin's guest is Emily Parker, a writer who's worked for The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. Previously, she was a member of the policy planning staff at the U.S. State Department, where she advised on Internet freedom, digital diplomacy, and open government. Today, Emily writes about tech and foreign affairs, and she works at a blockchain startup. So what are you going to learn about on today’s episode? Emily Parker you through some of the differences between...


E40: Mikhail Svetov

The past three episodes of The Russia Guy have been devoted to the technical details surrounding Russian Internet censorship, but today’s show focuses on one of the organizers of Monday’s Internet freedom rally in Moscow. Kevin spoke to Mikhail Svetov, a member of the Russian Libertarian Party’s federal committee. So what are you going to learn on today’s episode? Mikhail told me how Monday’s Internet freedom rally came together, and explained the organizing role his political party played....


E39: Pensions and Telegram

In this episode, Kevin discusses three stories: (1) the structure of Russia’s pension system and the ongoing problems with keeping it funded, (2) two reports by different media monitoring groups that study traffic on Telegram, and finally (3) why it is that the Russian authorities have failed to keep so many Russian Internet users from accessing Telegram. For more on these issues, see the following articles: “The Russian pension system's 2018 deficit will be twice as big as predicted”...