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E84: Yana Gorokhovskaia on Local Elections in Moscow and St. Petersburg

Today's guest is Yana Gorokhovskaia, a postdoctoral fellow at Columbia University’s Harriman Institute from 2016-2019. She researches authoritarian politics and civil society in post-Soviet states. Earlier this week, Gorokhovskaia authored an article at Eurasianet, titled “Moscow’s Local Election: Ghosts, Disqualification, and Real Political Competition,” about the recent electoral shenanigans in Russia's capital. Gorokhovskaia has written about local politics in Russia for years, and she...


E83: Patrick Reevell on American Gaylen Grandstaff's ‘Two-Year Moscow Prison Odyssey’

Today’s guest is Patrick Reevell, the Moscow bureau reporter for ABC News who co-authored the June 26 report about American Gaylen Grandstaff’s “two-year odyssey” in a Moscow remand prison. Patrick was kind enough to come on the podcast and explain how this report came together. He and Kevin talked about how he discovered the story, what this banned “gamma-butyrolactone” substance really is, and how ABC journalists decided to cover Grandstaff’s trial. (Pictured in podcast episode featured...


E82: Maxim Trudolyubov on Journalism and Opinion Writing in Russia

Today's guest is Maxim Trudolyubov, the editor-in-chief of the Kennan Institute’s “The Russia File,” a blog that offers insights on current events in Russia, U.S.-Russian relations, and other critical issues of the day. He’s been a contributing opinion writer for The International New York Times since 2013, he writes regularly in Russian for the website Republic, and his latest book is called “The Tragedy of Property: Private Life, Ownership and the Russian State.” Max has also worked at the...


E81: Carl Schreck on Chechnya's Disappeared

Today's guest is RFE/RL journalist Carl Schreck, talking about the June 17 investigative report he cowrote with Sergei Khazov-Cassia, titled “His Name Was Andrei,” about the apparent murder of Andrei Kobyshev, a middle-age masseur who disappeared in Grozny in March 2017. The new article details how Kobyshev moved to Chechnya and likely got swept up in the republic’s so-called “gay purges.” There’s a lot here about case records, witness testimony, and cell-phone records, and Carl explains it...


E80: Kate Brown on Chernobyl

Today’s guest is Kate Brown, a professor of science, technology, and society at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She is the author of a new book called “Manual for Survival: A Chernobyl Guide to the Future,” as well as the books “Dispatches from Dystopia” (2015), “Plutopia” (2013), and “A Biography of No Place” (2004). She spoke to Kevin about her research into the April 1986 Chernobyl disaster, her work on the nuclear industry more broadly, and of course her thoughts about the...


E79: Ivan Golunov's Investigation Into Russia's Corrupt Funeral Business

On today’s show, Kevin reads the full text of his translation of Meduza investigative journalist Ivan Golunov’s August 2018 report on corruption in Russia’s funeral industry. This is the journalism (plus a forthcoming part two) that got him arrested over the weekend and turned the country upside-down. Read the text at Meduza: Chapter breakdowns: (5:33) ST. PETERSBURG A private security monopoly (8:21)...


E78: Five recent op-eds on ethnic riots, Iran dealing, Facebook, wormholes, and Surkov

No interview today. Instead, Kevin reviews the following five op-eds/essays (timestamps below): (2:19) Oleg Kashin in Republic: Why hasn’t GRU veteran Nikita Belyankin’s murder sparked ethnic riots in Russia? (7:25) Vladimir Frolov in Republic: The U.S.-Israel-Russia summit is a chance for Moscow to find out what it's worth to Trump in Iran (12:45) Dmitry Steshin in Komsomolskaya Pravda: A Maidan activist’s new public policy job...


E77: Gina Lentine on Human Rights Promotion at Freedom House

Today we’re talking about human-rights promotion in Moldova with guest Gina Lentine, a senior program officer at Freedom House, who works primarily on advancing freedom of expression in Moldova and Ukraine. In many ways, her career mirrors the work Kevin has discussed with Paul Massaro and Rachel Bauman at the U.S. Helsinki Commission, and Nina Jankowicz at the Kennan Institute (episodes 63 and 18, respectively). Follow Gina on Twitter here: And read her work...


E76: Casey Michel on the Maria Butina Case

Today's guest is Casey Michel, an investigative reporter at ThinkProgress, a member of the Advisory Council for the Hudson Institute's Kleptocracy Initiative, and a senior investigative fellow with the Human Rights Foundation. Casey has written about and followed Maria Butina’s case closely since she was arrested last July, and he kindly joined The Russia Guy to talk about her sentence and answer some of my questions about her case, specifically about the role of money, a declaration by...


E75: Karina Orlova on Life as Echo of Moscow's D.C. Correspondent

Kevin's guest today is well known in Russia to Echo of Moscow listeners and readers, and English speakers might know her as a contributing writer at The American Interest, where some of her latest articles address Russia’s captured Ukrainian sailors, the arrest of American investor Michael Calvey in Moscow, and a whole lot more. Please welcome to The Russia Guy Karina Orlova. In this interview, Orlova talks about how Russia’s corrupt legal system drove her to journalism. She describes her...


E74: Maria Baronova on Leaving Russia's Opposition for ‘Russia Today’

Kevin's guest this week is Maria Baronova, a former opposition activist who now works for the state media network “Russia Today.” On this episode, Masha talks about her new job at “RT,” leaving the Russian opposition, and visiting the United States in the summer of 2018. Follow Baronova on Twitter here: Support this very podcast here: Music: Ну погоди, episode 14, Олег Анофриев,...


E73: Olga Zeveleva on Life as a Sociologist and Journalism in Crimea and Kazan

Today’s show features an interview with Olga Zeveleva, a sociologist who recently earned her doctorate at the University of Cambridge. Olga works on mobility, migration, media, and political transformation. Her dissertation is titled “The State and the Journalist: Regional Crimean Media Professionals Adapting to Change, 2013-2017,” and she’s now doing fieldwork in Tatarstan as an Oxford Russia Fellow, adding Kazan as another case study to her research. On this episode of The Russia Guy, Olga...


E72: Alexey Kovalev on ‘Russians Always Knew There Was No Collusion’

Today’s show looks at a controversial new op-ed that appeared in The New York Times on Friday, March 29, 2019, titled “Russians Always Knew There Was No Collusion.” The subheader reads, “The Kremlin’s allies and its opponents alike have been baffled by America’s Russia obsession. Can we ever look at the U.S. the same way again?” Kevin speaks to the author of the text, Alexey Kovalev, the new investigations editor at Meduza and the author of many articles and op-eds in major news outlets,...


E71: Mike Eckel on Mikhail Lesin's Autopsy Files

On today’s show, Kevin spoke to Mike Eckel, one of the co-authors of an investigative report published earlier today by Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty. The report is based on a 149-page file released exclusively to RFE/RL that offers what is described as “the most precise scientific description to date” about how Mikhail Lesin, the former Russian press minister, turned up dead in a Washington, D.C., hotel room in November 2015. Read the story here:...


E70: Polina Nemirovskaya on Human Rights Advocacy

Today's guest on The Russia Guy is human rights activist Polina Nemirovskaya, a project coordinator at the Open Russia movement. Polina discusses how her organization operates, what hurdles it faces from police and lawmakers, and what it takes to devote your life to those fighting political repression. Follow Polina on Twitter here: Learn more about Open Russia here: Support this very podcast here: Music: Ну...


E69: Seva Gunitsky on Coming to America and Political Science

Today's guest is Seva Gunitsky, an associate professor of political science at the University of Toronto. He researches how international forces like war and globalization shape democracy and domestic reforms. In this episode of The Russia Guy, we talked about growing up in the U.S. as a Russia immigrant, navigating American biases in Russia analysis, understanding the mafia as an economic response, and much more. Get a copy of Gunitsky's book, “ Aftershocks: Great Powers and Domestic...


E68: Aaron Schwartzbaum on Rosstat's Funny Numbers & Michael Calvey's Arrest

This episode's guest is Aaron Schwartzbaum, the founder of BMB Russia, an indispensable daily newsletter about Russian political economy. We discussed two recent scandals in Russian political economy: (1) Rosstat's claim that Russia's GDP growth in 2018 was the biggest in the past six years, and (2) the arrest of American investment manager Michael Calvey, who was jailed on Saturday, February 16, for allegedly stealing about 37 million dollars. Follow Aaron on Twitter here:...


E67: Roman Dobrokhotov on Russian Investigative Journalism

This episode features an interview with Roman Dobrokhotov, the editor in chief of The Insider, a Russian investigative news outlet that's collaborated on key projects with Bellingcat, breaking major news stories related to the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, the Novichok poisonings in Salisbury, England, and more. He talks about the evolution of Russian journalism in the Internet age and the opportunities of reporting in a paradoxically transparent authoritarian environment. Check...


E66: Matt Bodner on Space Reporting

If you ever read about Russia’s space program, you’ll likely recognize today’s guest: Matt Bodner joins the podcast to talk about his work as a journalist in Moscow. Matt’s reporting has appeared in The Moscow Times, Defense News, Space News Magazine, The Telegraph, and many other outlets. He was at the Vostochny Cosmodrome for a Soyuz rocket launch. So what are you going to hear about in this interview? Matt talked about how he got into reporting on Russia’s space program and its military,...


E65: Alexey Kovalev on Touring America

Today, we’re welcoming back Alexey Kovalev, the managing editor of Coda Story’s Russian-language edition and the brains behind the propaganda-busting website Noodle Remover. Alexey recently got back from a whirlwind tour of the United States, as a 2018 World Press Institute fellow. Kevin desperately wanted to know what he thought of his homeland, and Alexey was kind enough to come on the podcast and share his thoughts about America today. So what did they talk about in this interview? Alexey...