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The Naked Pravda

Медуза / Meduza

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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.
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show series
 
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 …
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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) Photo…
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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 bef…
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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 ful…
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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 wha…
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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 presumab…
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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 mobil…
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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 co…
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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…
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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, wh…
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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 w…
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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 sta…
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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 thei…
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This week, Meduza spoke to Dr. Sergey Radchenko about his next book, To Run the World: The Kremlin’s Cold War Bid for Global Power (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming in 2024), which explores the era’s diplomatic history, focusing on how narratives of legitimacy offer crucial insights for interpreting Moscow’s motivations and foreign policy. T…
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On the evening of October 29, a crowd of rioters stormed the Makhachkala airport and then flooded the tarmac after a flight landed from Tel Aviv. The angry men had assembled amid reports circulating on the social network Telegram about Israeli refugees allegedly coming to resettle in Dagestan, supposedly with a diabolical plan to oust the native po…
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A new investigation from journalists at iStories and researchers at the Conflict Intelligence Team accuses the Russian military of using so-called “torture pits” against unruly, often drunk soldiers. Journalists and researchers think they found two sites, one outside Volgograd and the other outside Orenburg. iStories collected testimony from soldie…
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If major events and cultural shifts are what elevate music, now is an excellent time to take stock of what’s happening in Russia, more than 600 days after the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the imposition of militarized censorship, and the spread of wartime social norms. To learn about Russia’s contemporary music scene and how the invasion influen…
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In August, a wave of police raids sent a chill through Russia’s migrant communities. By all appearances, the authorities were trying to track down draft-age men from Central Asia who had recently acquired Russian citizenship but failed to complete their mandatory military registration. Officers in multiple cities handed out military summonses on th…
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Have you given much thought to the economic war that rages behind the scenes of Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine? You’ve likely read plenty about sanctions. Maybe you know that the likes of McDonald’s and Starbucks have left Russia, and you’ve probably seen some headlines about Europe struggling to break its energy dependence on Russia. But unle…
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Following an “anti-terrorist” operation by the Azerbaijani military in Nagorno-Karabakh, what was a blockade has transformed into an exodus of the region’s Armenian population, raising allegations of ethnic cleansing as tens of thousands of people flee to Armenia. As this tragedy has unfolded, roughly 2,000 Russian peacekeepers have stood by and do…
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Vladimir Putin has made a slew of anti-Semitic comments in the last few months, from saying Ukraine’s President Zelensky is “not Jewish but a disgrace to the Jewish people” to responding to reports of a former advisor moving to Israel by calling him “some sort of Moisha Israelievich.” In one interview with a Russian propagandist, Putin said that Ze…
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On June 23, 2023, hours before Yevgeny Prigozhin would shock the world by staging a mutiny against the Russian military, Meduza co-founder and CEO Galina Timchenko learned that her iPhone had been infected months earlier with “Pegasus.” The spyware’s Israeli designers market the product as a crimefighting super-tool against “terrorists, criminals, …
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This week’s show tackles Russia’s 2023 regional elections, scheduled for Sunday, September 10, though several regions will keep polling stations open all weekend. “Up for grabs” in contests with mostly predetermined outcomes are 26 gubernatorial offices and seats in 20 regional parliaments. There’s also a whole mess of municipal and local races. Oc…
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How complicit are ordinary Russians in the invasion of Ukraine? That’s a question at the core of Russia’s War, a book published this May, where author Jade McGlynn explores what she calls “the grievances, lies, and half-truths that pervade the Russian worldview,” arguing that too many people in Russia have “invested too deeply in the Kremlin’s alte…
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A new Russian history textbook for 11th graders announced earlier this summer, “The History of Russia, 1945 to the Start of the 21st Century,” has almost 30 pages devoted directly to explaining and especially to justifying the ongoing invasion of Ukraine. The whole textbook is 448 pages: There are 264 pages covering the post-war Soviet period, 48 p…
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“This is a history of a place that doesn’t exist. There is no such thing as Eastern Europe anymore. No one comes from there.” These are the opening lines of Goodbye, Eastern Europe, a new book by writer and historian Jacob Mikanowski that offers a sweeping history of a region that he argues is disappearing. Not in the literal sense, of course; the …
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Russian opposition politician Alexey Navalny famously returned to Moscow in January 2021, where he was promptly arrested at the airport for supposed parole violations. A month later, his suspended sentence was replaced with a 2.5-year prison sentence. Roughly a year later, in March 2022, a judge added another nine years to his prison term, convicti…
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In the final week before the State Duma’s summer recess, Russian lawmakers have been ramming through some curious legislation, including several initiatives the authorities would apparently like to roll out now before Putin’s re-election campaign presumably kicks off in the fall. Notably, one last-minute amendment empowers the president to charge g…
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Since the early aftermath of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, many major Western companies have been in various stages of divesting from Russia. Nearly a year and a half into the war, we’ve entered a new phase of business relations, as the Kremlin has started nationalizing foreign companies’ Russian assets. The latest watershed moment occurred o…
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How many Russians have been killed in the full-scale invasion of Ukraine? If you visited Meduza’s website this week, you’ll know that we ran the numbers and estimate the total death toll among Russian combatants to be 47,000 men. That’s three times more than all the Soviet troops who died over 10 years of fighting in Afghanistan, and it’s nine time…
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Moscow and Kyiv have traded allegations that the other side is planning a disastrous attack on the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant that they warn could cause a major radiological event. Last week, Ukrainian President Zelensky warned that Russian occupation forces have placed “objects resembling explosives” on some rooftops at the power station, “p…
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Yevgeny Prigozhin is now (in)famous around the world for mounting a failed mutiny against the Russian military in a last-ditch attempt to avoid being absorbed into it, as the Kremlin reclaims its monopoly on violence and ends an experiment with outsourcing bits of the Ukraine invasion to mercenaries. The Naked Pravda has focused numerous times befo…
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On June 14, the Russian State Duma passed the first reading of a new bill that would essentially ban every aspect of gender transitions, from changing your gender marker in official documents to health care like hormone replacement therapy and gender-affirming surgeries. The only exceptions would be for people with “congenital physiological anomali…
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About a month ago, the Russian authorities outlawed Greenpeace, giving it the same treatment as Meduza, slapping the organization with an “undesirability” label that makes its operations illegal. Greenpeace International “poses a danger to the foundations of Russia’s constitutional order and security,” declared the Prosecutor General’s Office. Its …
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Ten years ago this week, a curious thing happened: during the intermission of a ballet performance at the State Kremlin Palace, Vladimir Putin and his wife of thirty years gave an interview to a TV news crew where they revealed that they were no longer married. It was a brief exchange, but it’s also one of the rare moments in his long presidency wh…
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Last week, on May 25, the digital-rights group Access Now broke a story revealing that Pegasus spyware was used to hack civil-society figures in Armenia. Notably, these infiltrations took place against the backdrop of the conflict with Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh — making this investigation’s findings the first documented evidence of Pegasus s…
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After February 24, 2022, when many Western Internet companies withdrew from Russia, and the Russian state itself outlawed other online platforms, the RuNet’s future seemed uncertain. How would Russia’s Internet market develop? Where would the authorities turn for the technology needed to pursue “digital sovereignty” and more advanced censorship too…
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Russia is notorious for its political prisoners, and the authorities have only added to this population by adopting numerous laws since the February 2022 invasion of Ukraine that outlaw most forms of anti-war self-expression. Figures like journalist Ivan Safronov and opposition politician Alexey Navalny were already locked up before the full-scale …
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Bloggers and news outlets in Russia are abuzz with speculation about what could be the start of Ukraine’s long-awaited spring counteroffensive. Experts have had months to speculate about what shape the counteroffensive might take and what its chances of success are, but recent attacks in Moscow, Crimea, and border regions raise other questions abou…
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Victory in the Second World War, in Europe anyway, came a day later to the Soviet Union. That’s a technicality, of course. Germany’s definitive surrender was signed late in the evening on May 8, and it was already May 9 to the east in Moscow. This month marks the 78th anniversary of that victory, and though the West has enjoyed one more calendar da…
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Formal treason charges and denied bail for journalist Evan Gershkovich, a rejected appeal from opposition politician Ilya Yashin (who’s serving an eight-and-a-half-year prison sentence for spreading supposed “disinformation” about Russian war atrocities in Ukraine), reportedly new felony charges against jailed anti-corruption icon Alexey Navalny, a…
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Throughout its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Moscow has repeatedly and regularly carried out attacks where it’s either tolerated civilian casualties as acceptable collateral damage or even embraced indiscriminate tactics deliberately. Considered alongside what’s happening domestically in Russia, where political repressions underway for years alre…
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A new investigative report published jointly by Meduza and The Bell looks closely at Rostec, one of Russia’s key state corporations, and its campaign to exert control over the public discourse on Telegram about Rostec’s operations and executives. Rostec is responsible for developing, manufacturing, and exporting high-tech products in aviation, mech…
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In a new investigative report, journalists at Mediazona counted 536 service-related felony cases filed in Russian garrison courts against soldiers since the full-scale invasion of Ukraine started last year. Most of these charges involve AWOL offenses, often resulting in probation sentences that allow offenders to return to combat. More serious crim…
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Show host Kevin Rothrock revisits noteworthy news stories in Russia from mid-March 2023 and celebrates 99 episodes of The Naked Pravda by reading some listener feedback. Timestamps for this episode: (0:01) Evgeny Prigozhin’s Wagner Group paramilitary cartel starts recruiting on Pornhub (2:26) Russia knocks an American UAV into the Black Sea (3:52) …
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Late last month, there was a sudden and brief explosion of news reports in Russia and Ukraine about an ascendant youth movement of violence supposedly built around the subculture of anime fans. According to vague stories in the media, fistfights were breaking out at shopping malls and other public places as part of a transnational campaign by somet…
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On Thursday morning, March 2, a few dozen armed men crossed over from Ukraine and raided two small towns in the Russian border region of Bryansk. The militants — described as “Ukrainian saboteurs” in hurried Russian news reports and later identified as soldiers in the so-called Russian Volunteer Corps — posed for some pictures, recorded a few breat…
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Amid an escalating public conflict between Russia’s Defense Ministry and Evgeny Prigozhin, The Naked Pravda builds on last year’s episode about the warlord-tycoon, looking more closely at the paramilitary cartel he fronts. To understand how Wagner Group should be defined, why its brutality is so valuable to Moscow, and how its recruitment of prison…
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In early February 2022, as Russia massed more than 100,000 troops on the border with Ukraine, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán traveled to Moscow on what he described as a “peace mission.” Standing alongside Vladimir Putin at a press conference, Orbán urged other Western countries to adopt a “Hungarian model” of relations with Russia — one sup…
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In the initial months after Moscow launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, hundreds of thousands of people left Russia. Some were fleeing the war’s economic repercussions or the country’s accelerated descent into authoritarianism, while others saw emigration as a moral necessity. Then, in September, Putin’s mobilization announcement set off a …
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