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The Naked Pravda

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Meduza’s English-language podcast, The Naked Pravda highlights how our top reporting intersects with the wider research and expertise that exists about Russia. The broader context of Meduza’s in-depth, original journalism isn’t always clear, which is where this show comes in. Here you’ll hear from the world’s community of Russia experts, activists, and reporters about issues that are at the heart of Meduza’s stories and crucial to major events in and around Russia.
152 Episodes
It’s no secret that the economies of Central Asian countries like Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan rely heavily on labor migration to stay afloat. In 2022, according to the International Organization for Migration, remittances from Russia accounted for just over half of Tajikistan’s GDP, and made up more than 20 percent of the GDPs of Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. Many of the workers sending these remittances are their families’ sole breadwinner — and given the lack of employment opportunities at home, working in Russia is often their best option, even if means dealing with a maze of bureaucracy and relentless discrimination.  The aftermath of last month’s terrorist attack in Moscow has brought the xenophobia that Central Asian migrants face in Russia back into the spotlight, with media outlets reporting on a surge in blatant discrimination and, in some cases, targeted violence. Meanwhile, the Russian authorities have launched a renewed crackdown on migrant workers. This is despite the fact that Russia, with its shrinking population and labor shortage made worse by the war, needs migrants to keep its economy functioning. To learn about Russia’s migration policy under Vladimir Putin and how the xenophobic backlash to last month’s attack has affected ethnic and religious minorities, The Naked Pravda spoke to Moscow Times special correspondent Leyla Latypova; Carnegie Russia Eurasia Center fellow Temur Umarov; and political scientist Caress Schenk, an associate professor at Nazarbayev University. And be sure to check out Temur Umarov’s previous appearance on The Naked Pravda: How Russia pressures Central Asian migrants into military service. Timestamps for this episode: (2:35) Xenophobia in the wake of the Crocus City Hall attack (16:55) Russia’s dependence on migrant labor (27:35) How Russia uses migration policy for political aims (31:25) The migration-extremism fallacy (39:13) The long-term effects of Russia’s current migration crackdownКак поддержать нашу редакцию — даже если вы в России и вам очень страшно
Look at almost any recent major news story from Russia, and you’ll find the Federal Security Service, better known as the FSB. Having failed to prevent the Crocus City Hall terrorist attack in Moscow last month, the agency has played a major role in arresting and apparently torturing the suspected perpetrators. It was FSB agents who arrested Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich on espionage charges just over a year ago. And the FSB has been heavily involved in enforcing Russia’s crackdowns on dissent and LGBTQ+ rights. At the same time, the FSB is inextricably linked to Moscow’s war against Ukraine. After years of carrying out subversive activities there, it provided Putin with key (though apparently misleading) intel that led him to launch his full-scale invasion in 2022. Since then, its agents have facilitated the deportation of Ukrainian children, tortured an untold number of Ukrainian civilians in so-called “torture chambers,” and tried to plant former ISIS members in Ukrainian battalions. And let’s not forget that Putin himself was shaped by his career in the FSB’s predecessor agency, the Soviet-era KGB. Putin’s rise to power was defined by his image as a strong man who could ensure security and stability. Since assuming the presidency, he’s given himself direct authority over the FSB and steadily expanded its ability to surveil and repress Russian citizens. To learn about the Russian FSB’s evolution over the last three decades, its operations in Russia and beyond, and its possible future after Putin, Meduza in English senior news editor Sam Breazeale spoke to Dr. Kevin Riehle, an expert in foreign intelligence services and the author of The Russian FSB: A Concise History of the Federal Security Service. Timestamps for this episode: (3:13) Decoding the FSB: Structure, mission, and operations (5:58) The evolution of Russian national security: From KGB to FSB (14:36) Corruption and ideology: The FSB’s internal struggle (23:31) The FSB’s foreign reach and domestic repression (38:49) The agency’s post-Putin futureКак поддержать нашу редакцию — даже если вы в России и вам очень страшно
It’s been seven weeks since a local branch of Russia’s Federal Penitentiary Service published a brief news post about the death of opposition leader Alexey Navalny. “He went for a walk, felt sick, collapsed unconscious, and couldn’t be resuscitated.” Russian officials would later insist that Navalny died of natural causes — his mother was told that he succumbed to “sudden death syndrome.” In mid-March, while celebrating his claim on a fifth presidential term, Vladimir Putin finally uttered Navalny’s name in public but only to dance on his grave, claiming that he was ready to trade him off to the West, provided he never came back. “But unfortunately, what happened happened. What can you do? That’s life,” said Putin. This week, The Naked Pravda looks back at Navalny’s career in politics and ahead to the political future of his widow, Yulia Navalnaya, by speaking to two of the people most responsible for educating the English-speaking world about his work: filmmaker Daniel Roher, whose documentary on Navalny won an Oscar last year, and journalist Julia Ioffe, who was one of the first Western reporters to write about Navalny and who’s tracked him and his wife, Yulia Navalnaya, in numerous articles for more a decade, profiling them in stories for The New Yorker and Vanity Fair. Ioffe is also the author of the forthcoming book “Motherland: A Feminist History of Modern Russia, from Revolution to Autocracy,” now available for preorder. Timestamps for this episode: (1:55) How Daniel Roher started filming Team Navalny (10:15) Roher’s goals when making the “Navalny” documentary (11:51) Choosing a literary trope for the Navalny story (15:02) Did anyone try to talk Navalny out of returning to Moscow? (19:39) Filming Navalny’s nationalism (22:37) Rethinking the film after Navalny’s death (24:21) Julia Ioffe remembers meeting Alexey Navalny for the first time (29:47) Ioffe reviews Navalny’s views on nationalism and Ukraine (36:15) Looking ahead to Yulia Navalnaya and back at past revolutionary womenКак поддержать нашу редакцию — даже если вы в России и вам очень страшно
It’s been a little more than a week since a group of armed men walked into a concert hall just outside Moscow and gunned down dozens of defenseless people. A branch of the Islamic State active in South-Central Asia known as Islamic State – Khorasan, or IS-K, claimed responsibility for the Moscow attack in a statement through an affiliated media channel. That same channel later published body-cam footage recorded by the terrorists in the concert hall during the attack. Western intelligence officials say they have corroborated IS-K’s responsibility claim. Though IS-K says the concert hall killings are its work, Russian national security officials — including President Putin in several public statements — have argued that Moscow’s enemies in Kyiv, Washington, and London are the attack’s true masterminds.  The Russian authorities have arrested four Tajikistani nationals they say acted as the gunmen, and several more people are now in custody on suspicion of aiding and abetting the killings. Before the four main suspects were arraigned in court, videos circulated online showing Russian security forces torturing them after their capture. Despite this treatment then and presumably in the days since, so far, only two of the four defendants have pleaded guilty to all charges. To learn more about the perpetrators of this heinous attack, the fluid geopolitics that drives such terrorism, and the road ahead for Russia as the Kremlin tries to utilize the tragedy for its own aims, Meduza spoke to Dr. Jean-François Ratelle, an adjunct professor at the University of Ottawa, and Dr. Domitilla Sagramoso, a senior lecturer in conflict and security in the Department of War Studies at King’s College London. Timestamps for this episode: (5:49) The Role of Tajikistan and Central Asia in the Attack (28:07) Russia’s Response and the Blame Game (29:30) Debunking Narratives: The Truth Behind the Accusations (44:09) The Impact of the Ukraine Conflict on Russia’s Security LandscapeКак поддержать нашу редакцию — даже если вы в России и вам очень страшно
For decades, NATO’s European members have depended on the U.S. to bolster their defense. Perhaps nowhere is this reliance more acutely felt than in the Baltic countries, which joined the alliance 20 years ago this month, and experienced occupation in living memory. With Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine entering its third year and the future of U.S. military support for Kyiv in doubt, European officials and military analysts have begun sounding the alarm about the risk of Moscow starting a wider war. Meanwhile, the presumptive Republican nominee for the U.S. presidency, Donald Trump, threatens to renege on Washington’s NATO commitments, stoking fears of the alliance being undermined from within. Is a Russian invasion of NATO territory really plausible? If so, how are the Baltic states working to deter it? And in a worst-case scenario, how prepared is the West to fight back? For answers to these and other questions, Meduza spoke to Baltic defense expert Lukas Milevski, political scientist Henrik Larsen, and retired Lieutenant General Ben Hodges, the former commander of the U.S. Army in Europe. Articles mentioned: The Baltic Defense Line by Lukas Milevski and Europe’s Contribution to NATO’s New Defence by Henrik Larsen. Timestamps for this episode: (1:30) Street interviews in Latvia (9:09) Exploring the Baltic defensive line (37:19) NATO’s readiness and the European context (1:01:33) Political will and public opinionКак поддержать нашу редакцию — даже если вы в России и вам очень страшно
U.S. President Joe Biden took less than two minutes to bring up Russia in his 2024 State of the Union address. “If anybody in this room thinks Putin will stop at Ukraine, I assure you, he will not,” Biden said, prompting a standing ovation. “But Ukraine can stop Putin if we stand with Ukraine and provide the weapons it needs to defend itself.”  An unwavering commitment to supporting Ukraine in its fight against Russia has been at the center of the Biden administration’s foreign policy for more than two years now. But Washington’s relations with Moscow and Kyiv looked very different when Biden took office back in 2021. For the inside scoop on team Biden’s Russia and Ukraine policy, and how Moscow’s 2022 invasion turned all their plans upside down, Meduza turns to Politico national security reporter Alex Ward, the author of The Internationalists: The Fight To Restore American Foreign Policy After Trump.  Timestamps for this episode: (5:07) How did team Biden originally plan to handle relations with Moscow and Kyiv? (11:40) How did the 2021 Afghanistan withdrawal influence the response to Russia’s looming Ukraine invasion? (15:46) Why did U.S. intelligence get Russia’s invasion plan right but its military capabilities wrong?  (23:40) What did the first two years tell us about team Biden’s approach to foreign policy? (26:52) What will the Biden administration be remembered for?Как поддержать нашу редакцию — даже если вы в России и вам очень страшно
Last month, there was a sudden panic in the United States when House Intelligence Chairman Mike Turner issued a statement warning of a “serious national security threat” and demanded that President Biden declassify related information. The American media subsequently reported that Turner was referring to alleged Russian plans to deploy nuclear weapons in space, though U.S. National Security Council Spokesperson John Kirby later clarified that the matter concerns anti-satellite weapons that cannot be used to attack people or to strike targets on Earth. He explained that Russia’s development of the technology is concerning but does not pose an immediate threat. To make sense of these reports and to respond to the panic that this situation provokes, The Naked Pravda welcomes back nuclear arms expert Pavel Podvig, a senior researcher at the U.N. Institute for Disarmament Research. Timestamps for this episode: (3:20) The (im)practicality of nuclear weapons in space (5:31) Imagining a nuclear blast in orbit (9:59) The feasibility of nuclear-powered space weapons (28:02) The 1967 Outer Space Treaty and its modern-day implications (31:26) Common misconceptions about space in moviesКак поддержать нашу редакцию — даже если вы в России и вам очень страшно
To mark the second anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Moscow’s ongoing campaign to seize more territory, Meduza sat down with the author of The War Came To Us: Life and Death in Ukraine, Christopher Miller, the Ukraine correspondent for The Financial Times and a foremost journalist covering the country who was there on the ground when the first Russian missiles struck and troops stormed over the border. In the book, Miller recounts how his life became intertwined with Ukraine and then Russia’s brutal invasion. Find The War Came To Us at Amazon and wherever books are sold. Timestamps for this episode: (3:03) How did you decide which stories to include in the book? (11:18) When did you realize you were witnessing world history, and what did it feel like? (16:53) What kind of people have been on the ground working as journalists during the most pivotal moments of Ukraine’s Maidan Revolution and the fight against the Russian invasion? (23:08) How has the war changed the nature and critical spirit of journalism in Ukraine? (32:01) What would you say to potential international readers experiencing war fatigue who hesitate to pick up a book about Ukraine?Как поддержать нашу редакцию — даже если вы в России и вам очень страшно
Meduza reports on opposition leader Alexey Navalny’s death in prison and speaks to experts about his legacy and the political science behind autocrats eliminating dissident threats. This week’s guests are Meduza journalists Evgeny Feldman and Maxim Trudolyubov and scholars Graeme Robertson and Erica Frantz. Timestamps for this episode: (0:43) Photographer Evgeny Feldman reflects on what Navalny meant to him (4:02) The circumstances surrounding Navalny’s death (6:33) Maxim Trudolyubov discusses Navalny’s impact on Russian politics (14:32) Graeme Robertson puts Navalny’s death in the context of the Putin regime’s crackdown on liberalism (18:21) Erica Frantz explains why political prisoners can still threaten autocrats from behind barsКак поддержать нашу редакцию — даже если вы в России и вам очень страшно
After a year and a half of negotiations, Yandex founder Arkady Volozh and the company’s foreign shareholders have reached a deal to part ways with Yandex’s Russian assets. The Russian IT giant’s Netherlands-based parent company announced Monday, February 5, that it will sell a large portion of its operations to a consortium of Russian investors before rebranding and continuing to develop its remaining international properties. Yandex’s restructuring has been underway for more than a year. Meduza has reported together with the news outlet The Bell on the backroom negotiations that have been underway to ensure that Yandex’s core Russian assets pass to Kremlin-approved hands, and now we’re finally there. The Naked Pravda spoke to Meduza journalist Svetlana Reiter about the ins and outs of the deal. Timestamps for this episode: (2:16) Review of recent news(5:38) Meet Yandex’s new owners(10:18) The future of Yandex(18:56) Yandex InternationalКак поддержать нашу редакцию — даже если вы в России и вам очень страшно
The Russian government has a message for its citizens living in exile: nowhere is safe for you. For years, it’s made this threat clear by subjecting its critics abroad to intimidation, forced repatriation, and assassination attempts. And just as the Kremlin has taken increasingly draconian measures to silence dissent at home since launching the full-scale war in Ukraine, it’s also devised new tactics for targeting activists, journalists, and politicians far beyond its borders. For insight into how Moscow’s approach to transnational repression has changed over the last two years, The Naked Pravda turned to journalist and activist Dan Storyev, who serves as the managing editor of OVD-Info’s English-language edition, and Yana Gorokhovskaia, the research director for strategy and design at Freedom House. *** No country can be free without independent media. In January 2023, the Russian authorities outlawed Meduza, banning our work in the country our colleagues call home. Just supporting Meduza carries the risk of criminal prosecution for Russian nationals, which is why we’re turning to our international audience for help. Your assistance makes it possible for thousands of people in Russia to read Meduza and stay informed. Consider a small but recurring contribution to provide the most effective support. Please donate here. *** Timestamps for this episode (10:22) Case study: An abduction in Kyrgyzstan (16:40) The goal of Moscow’s repressions abroad (20:10) How countries unwittingly “work hand-in-hand with the Kremlin” (23:41) How the Kremlin’s tactics have changed since 2022 (28:29) How Russia takes advantage of the Interpol system to repatriate citizens (34:18) Transnational repression by BelarusКак поддержать нашу редакцию — даже если вы в России и вам очень страшно
Boris Nadezhdin’s surname has its root in the Russian word for “hope,” and he’s inspired just that in tens of thousands of voters as the politician with an antiwar message who’s come the furthest in the country’s byzantine bureaucracy for presidential candidacy. Nadezhdin’s campaign says it’s collected roughly 200,000 signatures, which is twice what it technically needs for the Central Election Commission to add his name to the ballot in March. While the commission’s approval remains unlikely, the Nadezhdin campaign has been a major news event for antiwar Russians, especially in the ever-growing diaspora, where thousands of people have lined up in cities across Europe and the Caucasus to offer their signatures. Nadezhdhin’s allies have no illusions about his prospects, but showing their support for an antiwar challenger to Vladimir Putin has quickly become the opposition’s first visible civic movement in some time. To understand how this happened, who Nadezhdin is as a politician, and how opposition politics has worked throughout Russia’s Putin era, The Naked Pravda welcomes back Dr. Маrgarita Zavadskaya, a senior research fellow at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs. *** No country can be free without independent media. In January 2023, the Russian authorities outlawed Meduza, banning our work in the country our colleagues call home. Just supporting Meduza carries the risk of criminal prosecution for Russian nationals, which is why we’re turning to our international audience for help. Your assistance makes it possible for thousands of people in Russia to read Meduza and stay informed. Consider a small but recurring contribution to provide the most effective support. Please donate here. *** Timestamps for this episode: (5:43) Nadezhdin’s Political Career and Ideology (9:58) Understanding the Nature of Russian Liberal Politicians (19:26) The Role of Elections in Authoritarian Regimes (26:04) A Hopeful Note: The Power of Collective ActionКак поддержать нашу редакцию — даже если вы в России и вам очень страшно
The U.S. government is reportedly becoming more “assertive” about backing the confiscation of roughly $300 billion in frozen Russian sovereign assets to provide an alternative funding stream for Kyiv. The news comes amid faltering efforts in Europe and Washington to approve the budgetary allocations needed to sustain aid for Ukraine, which presumably makes it even more attractive to force Russia to foot the bill. Kyiv’s most ardent supporters in the West say the seizure of the immobilized Russian state assets is long overdue. In fact, that the seizure hasn’t happened already is both alarming and confounding to many people. To understand what’s keeping the West from grabbing this Russian money and what it will take for the confiscation to go ahead, Meduza spoke to journalist, economist, and political analyst Alexander Kolyandr and welcomed back Maximilian Hess, the founder of Enmetena Advisory and a fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, and the author of “Economic War: Ukraine and the Global Conflict Between Russia and the West.” Timestamps for this episode (4:33) What and where are these frozen Russian assets?(8:46) Confiscation’s potential impact on the world economy(12:41) Implications for Western countries(14:55) Understanding the resistance to confiscation(36:09) Barriers to asset confiscationКак поддержать нашу редакцию — даже если вы в России и вам очень страшно
The Naked Pravda explores how Russia’s mobilization drive is pressuring society and capturing men for the invasion of Ukraine. This episode features Project “Get Lost” creator and director Grigory Sverdlin, whose human rights group helps Russians evade the draft and leave Russia (among other things). For a geopolitical perspective on Moscow’s mobilization, Meduza spoke to Dr. Stefan Wolff, a professor of international security at the University of Birmingham in England and the cofounder of Navigating the Vortex, a newsletter on the geopolitical and geoeconomic context of events and developments around the world. Timestamps for this episode (3:27) Project “Get Lost” (5:10) The challenges of avoiding mobilization (9:15) Consequences for ignoring a military summons (12:24) Military recruiter tactics (15:46) Mobilization’s social and demographic impact in Russia (29:35) The future of mobilization in Russia and UkraineКак поддержать нашу редакцию — даже если вы в России и вам очень страшно
Memories of Russia

Memories of Russia


In a special holiday departure from The Naked Pravda’s usual coverage of Russian politics and news, Meduza in English’s social media editor Ned Garvey and senior news editor Sam Breazeale chat about their personal experiences living in Russia, what they found surprising there as Americans, and what still stands out today in their memories of the country. Timestamps for this episode: (8:52) Encounters with seedy characters and police(12:58) Travels around the country(15:01) Surprises in daily life(18:00) Holiday memories(23:06) Friendships in Russia(26:45) Stereotypes: fact vs. fictionКак поддержать нашу редакцию — даже если вы в России и вам очень страшно
Answering the question “Where are you from?” has never come easily for Lena Wolf. As the descendents of 18th-century German settlers living in Soviet Kazakhstan, she and her family “didn’t exist as a group” in the history books or on TV. As a result, many of their neighbors equated them with the soldiers from Nazi Germany who had invaded the Soviet Union in 1941 — even though their ancestors had arrived in the Russian Empire more than a hundred years earlier. To complicate matters further, the lives of Lena’s parents and grandparents were shaped by the brutal repressions of the Stalin regime — a history that her father still believes is “better forgotten.” When Lena’s family finally moved to Germany on the eve of the Soviet Union’s collapse, her parents were eager to assimilate into German society and leave the past behind. But Lena quickly discovered that they were “not like other Germans.” After years of feeling like a person without a history, Lena finally decided to embrace her identity as a “Kazakh German” and record her family’s story in a form that would make it accessible to a new generation. And so, with the help of crowdfunding and a team of artists, she’s now working on a two-part graphic novel. The Wolf family’s story was the subject of a recent feature published by Meduza’s weekly long-reads newsletter, The Beet. To learn what it was like to delve into her family’s difficult past and find new meaning in her parents’ and grandparents’ memories, The Beet editor Eilish Hart and Meduza in English senior news editor Sam Breazeale interviewed Lena Wolf for The Naked Pravda. Timestamps for this episode: (2:45) Who is Lena Wolf?(4:23) The history of German settlers in the Russian Empire (6:40) How Joseph Stalin’s deportations shaped the Wolf family(11:54) Lena’s childhood and the making of her graphic novel(22:10) Finding community and connection through difficult history (34:40) How Lena’s father inspired the title of her book A note from Meduza’s founders: We love making wishes for the New Year and are not ashamed to dream big. At Meduza, we believe the impossible is possible. Why do we keep at this, despite all the signs that the world is heading into an abyss? Well, for starters, Meduza keeps going because we’ve got you. As the year comes to a close, we’ve decided to share our wishlist for 2024 — an inventory of our wildest hopes and dreams. You can take a look here.Как поддержать нашу редакцию — даже если вы в России и вам очень страшно
There’s a paradox in studying Russia today: the country has become “more prominent in the news agenda and simultaneously less transparent for observers,” thanks to the invasion of Ukraine, Western sanctions, isolation, and the intensification of propaganda. This week’s show is devoted to studying Russia in conditions of growing non-transparency, which is the subject of a paper published in October 2023 by scholars Dmitry Kokorin, Dmitriy Gorskiy, Elizaveta Zubiuk, and Tetiana Kotelnikova. For more about this work, The Naked Pravda spoke to Dmitriy Gorskiy, a researcher at the Ideas for Russia Program. Gorskiy and his coauthors write about “distortions” of knowledge production in Russia and knowledge production about Russia, and they explore how experts adapt to less reliable data and disruptions in international cooperation, among other challenges. Timestamps for this episode: (5:30) The importance of studying Russia(6:57) Lessons from the Soviet Union(8:13) Distortions of knowledge production(13:28) Government data and reliability(15:40) Triangulation and leaked data(16:25) A media diet for Russia scholars(26:13) Rigorous social scientific workКак поддержать нашу редакцию — даже если вы в России и вам очень страшно
On November 30, the Russian Supreme Court outlawed an organization that doesn’t exist: the so-called “international LGBT movement.” The ruling came in response to a lawsuit filed by the Justice Ministry, which claimed the “international LGBT movement’s” activities showed signs of “extremism” and incited “social and religious discord.” The new ban won’t officially come into force until January 10, 2024, but its chilling effect was almost immediate. The day after the ruling, Russian police reportedly raided multiple nightclubs that were hosting events for LGBTQ+ people. One of St. Petersburg’s oldest gay clubs has announced its closure, as has at least one LGBTQ+ rights organization. The mapping service 2GIS instructed employees to create a “registry” of LGBTQ+ establishments. According to the Russian authorities, this human rights crackdown is necessary to protect Russia’s “traditional values” from outside threats. But the truth is that this type of conservative nationalism didn’t originate in Russia at all. To learn where it actually came from and what it means for LGBTQ+ life in Russia, Meduza senior news editor Sam Breazeale spoke to historian Dr. Dan Healey, sociologist Dr. Alexander Kondakov, and political scientist Dr. Leandra Bias. Timestamps for this episode: (3:48) Dan Healey on LGBTQ+ rights in Russia in the 1990s and 2000s(9:28) Anti-gay repressions under Joseph Stalin(13:44) Alexander Kondakov on Putin’s “ideology”(25:05) The “innovation” of Russia’s “LGBT movement” ban(31:11) The future of LGBTQ+ rights organizations in Russia(33:55) Leandra Bias on the foreign roots of Russia’s “traditional values”(38:08) How Russia uses homophobia and transphobia to justify warКак поддержать нашу редакцию — даже если вы в России и вам очень страшно
Spotlight on Georgia

Spotlight on Georgia


On November 8, 2023, the E.U. recommended that Georgia be granted candidate status, which it applied for in March 2022, just after Russia started its full-scale invasion of Ukraine. The E.U. had previously only given Georgia what’s called a European Perspective, recognizing it as a potential candidate but stopping short of granting it candidate status, as it had for Ukraine and Moldova in June 2022. In recent years, the E.U. had criticized the ruling Georgian Dream party for its increasing restrictions on media freedom, crackdown on protests, and for developing closer relations with Moscow. Improving relations with Russia has been received negatively in Georgia not only because of Russia actively waging a war in Ukraine, but also due to the 2008 war over Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Georgia’s two breakaway regions, which Moscow has since occupied. While the conflict is often described as “frozen,” people living along the so-called “separation line” between the breakaway regions and Georgia proper continue to experience the war’s lasting effects. At times, they have been deadly — in early November 2023, a Georgian man was killed by the Russian military when he was visiting a church located on the separation line. For insight on what life is like for people living along this line and the prospects for peace, Meduza spoke to Olesya Vartanyan, Crisis Group’s Senior Analyst for the South Caucasus region. Meduza then turned to Mariam Nikuradze, the co-founder and executive director of OC Media, to learn more about the recent Foreign Agents Draft Bill, the Georgian government’s crackdown on protests, and the challenges journalists in Georgia continue to face.Как поддержать нашу редакцию — даже если вы в России и вам очень страшно
This week’s show spotlights the experiences of two comedians, “Dan the Stranger” (Denis Chuzhoi) and Sasha Dolgopolov, who emigrated last year after their opposition to the invasion of Ukraine made it unsafe to continue their careers in Russia. Despite the challenges of creating and performing comedy in a foreign language, they continue to ply their craft in Europe. Dan and Sasha told Meduza about the incidents and brushes with the police that drove them to leave their homeland, particularly in the aftermath of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. The conversation touches on the adjustments needed to perform in English, the similarities of the comedy scene in Europe and the United States, and their commitment to expressing their individual experiences even when playing with Western stereotypes about Russians. Resources to follow these two performers: Dan the Stranger: website / upcoming shows in Munchen, Stuttgart, Barcelona, Madrid, Lisboa, Brussels, Luxembourg, Amsterdam, and Berlin Sasha Dolgopolov: website / upcoming show in Riga, Latvia, on November 24, 2023 Timestamps for this episode: 02:46 The Decision to Leave Russia 03:46 Controversy Surrounding Religious Jokes 06:54 The Impact of the War on Comedians' Freedom of Expression 07:19 The Journey to Berlin and the Start of a New Life 11:42 Challenges Performing Comedy in a Foreign Language 20:02 The Process of Building a Comedy Routine in English 33:26 The Influence of Russian Stereotypes on ComedyКак поддержать нашу редакцию — даже если вы в России и вам очень страшно
Комментарии (7)

Annakaye Bennett


Jan 15th

Ksenia Neliubina

Kevin,you're a wonderful host. despite the fact I'm constantly doomscrolling and actively reading the Russian version of Medusa, I still find something new in your stories. you have an interesting perspective and great sense of humor,thank you for your work 🤍

Mar 17th

Must Listener

Какая разница, в каком стиле риторика Навального, когда ему 14 раз не дали зарегистрировать партию! *ready for this level* WTF

Dec 4th

Olga Zilberbourg

insightful! thanks for unpacking the racism behind Russian Lives Matter

Jul 6th

Ilya Kashnitsky

The head of HSE PR doesn't speak English. And every student entering has to pass a toefl like exam. Facepalm!

Feb 17th

Marina Matveeva

While this was a valuable episode, the best thing Meduza could do for women is to forbid inappropriate behaviour in their own company. Their editor-in-chief harassed his employee's wife, got fired under public pressure but was quietly brought back to his position in less than a year. While this incident is obviously less horrific than the cases described in this episode, this certainly gives men the sense of impunity that causes domestic violence and shows Meduza's hypocricy.

Dec 4th
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