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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...


E45: 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...


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...


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...


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”...


E38: Yasha Levine on Telegram

Today’s podcast guest is Yasha Levine, an investigative journalist and the author of the new book “Surveillance Valley: The Secret Military History of the Internet,” which offers a new look at the little-discussed genesis of the very thing that brings my voice to your ears: the Internet. What did Yasha and Kevin discuss? You guessed it: Russia’s block of Telegram. Some highlights: *The concepts of “national information security” and “digital sovereignty” *How we ought to know whom to trust...


E37: Nikita Likhachev on Telegram

Russia has finally blocked Telegram! In this episode, Kevin spoke to's chief editor, Nikita Likhachev, to learn more about this story. Some things Nikita discussed: *Technically speaking, how will Roskomnadzor block Telegram? *Will Russia order Google and Apple to remove Telegram from their app stores? *What will most Telegram users in Russia do? Will they bother with VPN technologies? If you enjoy this podcast, consider pledging a little dough to help with sound recording,...


E36: Nataliya Vasilyeva

In this episode, Kevin spoke to Nataliya Vasilyeva, who works as a Moscow correspondent for the Associated Press. Nataliya is one of the most talented reporters working the Russia beat today, and you’ve probably reading her work, maybe without even knowing it. Last December, she managed to obtain a copy of a 47-page contract between a firm linked to Evgeny Prigozhin and Syria’s state-owned General Petroleum Corporation, which granted the Russian company a quarter of the proceeds from oil...


E35: Neil Hauer on Russia in Syria

In this episode, Kevin spoke to Neil Hauer, an independent analyst and journalist based in Tbilisi, Georgia, who focuses on Syria, Russia, and the North Caucasus, to learn more about the chemical weapons attack in Syria that provoked the latest tensions between Washington and Moscow. He discussed evidence and the military situation that led us here, as well as Russia’s threat to shoot down American missiles fired at targets in Syria. Neil also talked about Russian personnel on the ground...


E34: RIP RuNet, Pt. 9000

Today Kevin looks at some wild draft legislation just submitted to the State Duma that would give Russia its latest unenforceable Internet regulations. The draft law in question is actually a rewritten version of legislation introduced last summer that was supposed to require social networks to delete any “illegal content.” The new version of this law is basically the same thing, with some added provisions against “fake news” and even cussing. So what are you going to learn in this episode...


E33: Andrew Roth

Howdy, folks! On today’s episode of The Russia Guy, Kevin interviews Andrew Roth, The Guardian’s new Moscow bureau chief, and a reporter who’s written previously for The Washington Post and The New York Times. In this interview, you’ll learn how Andrew Roth got into the business of reporting on Russia. I asked him about his upbringing, his education, and especially about his early days as a journalist in Russia. We also talked about the lifestyle and quality of living foreign...


E32: Moscow's Trash Uprising

This episode of The Russia Guy focuses on trash and the nightmare it’s created in towns surrounding Moscow, where locals have been staging protests on and off for weeks and months in different places, in response to an apparent ecological disaster that seems to be spiraling out of control. What are you going to learn on this episode of The Russia Guy? Kevin reviews “garbage riots” in six districts surrounding Moscow, looking at the reported sizes of these demonstrations and what tactics...


E31: Ben Noble on the State Duma

In today’s episode, Kevin spoke to Ben Noble, a lecturer in Russian politics at University College London in the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, who researches legislatures in non-democracies. In this interview, Kevin asked Ben what he means when he says Russian members of parliament “can serve as pawns in proxy skirmishes between non-legislative actors.” Ben also talked about how he gets all his information about bureaucratic infighting at the Duma, and what actors and...


E30: Alexey Kovalev on the Slutsky Scandal

In this episode, Kevin spoke again to friend-of-the-show Alexey Kovalev, an investigative journalist in Russia. We discussed the latest developments in the scandal surrounding State Duma deputy Leonid Slutsky, who was exonerated this past week by the Ethics Committee, despite accusations by multiple women journalists who say he sexually harassed them at different times over the past several years. The committee’s decision, as well as the insulting questions its members asked two of...


E29: The Putin Campaign's Bankrollers

In this episode of The Russia Guy, Kevin discusses a new Meduza-OCCRP investigative report about the secretive groups funding Vladimir Putin's re-election campaign. Questions asked and answered in this episode: * What does it mean that Putin’s re-election campaign is funding itself through nonprofit foundations affiliated with United Russia? Is that any different than how he’s always done it? * What are these foundations, and how are they connected to influential political players like...