In this episode, we talk with Anne Applebaum about her new book, Red Famine. Applebaum argues that the 1932–1933 famine in the Soviet Union was part of a deliberate operation by Stalin to rid the USSR of Ukrainians who resisted the Bolsheviks and their policy of agricultural collectivization.
Mikhail Gorbachev, revered by many in the West for his commitment to “openness” and democratizing reforms, has a more mixed reputation in Russia, where he is associated with the fall of an empire. In this episode, Bill Taubman discusses his new biography of Gorbachev, emphasizing how the leader's personal history and character were reflected in his leadership, and how the policies of Vladimir Putin can be read as a response to Gorbachev’s contested legacy.
Politics increasingly pervades our everyday lives, including our entertainment and pop culture. The Eurovision Song Contest was created in 1956 as an opportunity to bring nations and people together in an expressly non-political fashion—through song. Now, 60 years later, Eurovision is often used as a specific political tool. James Evans and Yuval Weber discuss the history of the song contest and how it has been used as a political tool to reignite recent conflagration between Ukraine and...
Two decades after immigrating from Kiev to Chicago, Julia Alekseyeva found her great-grandmother’s hidden memoirs of a life spanning the Soviet 20th century. With input from comics scholar Hillary Chute, she turned a lifetime of secrets into a work of art.
The vast majority of Russian-speaking Jews today live outside the former Soviet Union. We spoke with Zvi Gitelman about this population, their remarkable impact on the societies that send and receive them, and how traditional notions of "diaspora" and "homeland" have blurred in our globalized world.
In 1959, the KGB, determined to squash the movement for independence in Ukraine, sent Bogdan Stashinsky to assassinate Stepan Bandera using the most unusual of methods. Stashinsky was put on trial in what would become the most publicized assassination case of the Cold War. His story is rousingly depicted in Serhii Plokhii’s Man with the Poison Gun.
In 2014, British photographer Anastasia Taylor-Lind and Ukrainian journalist Alisa Sopova were both in Ukraine, questioning how to represent the ongoing conflict. When they met, they developed a creative collaboration that allowed them to do just that.
Decades after the theories of Soviet agronomist Trofim Lysenko were discredited, his name is back on the tongues of some Russian scientists. Historian of science Loren Graham explores Lysenko’s political legacy and the extent to which new developments in microbiology validate his controversial claims.