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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:


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 and...


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 and...


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 correspondents...


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 Slutsky’s...


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...


E28: Alexey Kovalev on Putin's Reelection

In this episode of The Russia Guy, Kevin spoke to investigative reporter Alexey Kovalev to learn more about Russia’s upcoming presidential race, voter mobilization efforts, voter apathy, and Vladimir Putin’s pre-Election Day media blitz. In this episode, you'll hear an except from Fabrika's pro-Putin pop song “Vova Vova.” You can watch the NSFW music video here: You can follow Alexey on Twitter If you enjoy...


E27: Slava Malamud on the KHL

On March 7, following the controversial overtime defeat of the ice hockey team Severstal Cherepovets by SKA St. Petersburg in the KHL conference quarterfinals, sports writer Slava Malamud penned a 21-tweet thread arguing that not just the game or the series, but the whole KHL season has essentially been rigged by Vladimir Putin’s cronies to ensure that his hometown team wins this year's Gagarin Cup championship. In this episode of The Russia Guy, Kevin spoke to Malamud to learn more about...


E26: Sexual Harassment in Russia's Parliament

Sexual harassment allegations are gaining steam against Leonid Slutsky, the unbeautifully named head of the State Duma’s committee on foreign affairs. In this episode of The Russia Guy, Kevin asks and answers the following three questions: *Who exactly has accused Leonid Slutsky of what exactly? *How have Slutsky’s colleagues in the legislature responded to the allegations? *What legal recourse do journalists in Russia have against sexual harassment? As always, don't forget to check out...