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Meduza’s first 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 the issues at the heart of Meduza’s stories.
 
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Last month, the Siberian branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences decided to withhold public access to new research on atmospheric and soil pollution in cities throughout the region. The discussion about burying the “alarmist” report was streamed on YouTube, however, and the academy’s effort to purge the footage from the Internet only drew the pub…
 
When it comes to carrying out repressions, the Russian government’s reach isn’t limited by its own borders. The Kremlin is known for going after perceived enemies abroad — especially former “insiders” and members of the political opposition. In recent years, high-profile assassinations linked to Russian agents have made headlines around the world, …
 
In an interview published on March 17, U.S. President Joe Biden said he considers Vladimir Putin to be a “killer,” prompting the Russian president to respond a day later with a schoolyard retort that translates loosely to the phrase: “Look who’s talking!” In what sounded more like a threat than a salutation, Putin also wished his American counterpa…
 
Russia and Twitter haven’t really gotten along for years now. In fact, since 2017, federal censors at Roskomnadzor (RKN) have filed more than 28,000 takedown requests with the social network, and the agency complains that Twitter still grants Russian users access to 3,168 of these materials containing supposedly illegal information. In retaliation …
 
In a time when intergalactic superheroes dominate global box offices and capture the imaginations of millions of people around the world, what do we see when we look back at the science fiction of the Cold War? What is gained and what is obscured by comparing the films and literature created by the two superpowers of the early Space Age? And what d…
 
Belarus has seen ongoing protests since August 2020, when election officials declared that Alexander Lukashenko (Alyaksandr Lukashenka) had won his sixth consecutive presidential term. The mass demonstrations were met with a violent police crackdown, and several members of the opposition were thrown in prison. Pressure and threats from the authorit…
 
Vladimir Putin and Joe Biden recently had their first presidential phone call — a conversation that paved the way for a renewal of the New START Treaty (the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty reached in April 2010 between presidents Obama and Medvedev). But most other arms control agreements between Moscow and Washington have expired or collapsed in y…
 
For the last six months, Russian opposition politician Alexey Navalny has been making headlines both in Russia and abroad. His near-fatal poisoning in August 2020 provoked international outcry and his immediate arrest upon returning to Russia after spending months recovering in Germany sparked a wave of protests that brought people to the streets c…
 
In December 2010, a St. Petersburg businessman named Sergey Kolesnikov penned a nifty four-page open letter to then-President Dmitry Medvedev, outlining how a glorious palace built for Vladimir Putin came to be. The details of this seemingly ancient document are now familiar again thanks to a massive investigative report released this week by the o…
 
Thanks to Russia’s recent constitutional amendments, local self-government has effectively lost its independence. State officials at all levels are now accountable, one way or another, to the president. Dramatic as these changes seem on paper, the reforms, in fact, formally recognize what has long been true in reality: appointed “city managers” hav…
 
There have been major breakthroughs in the investigative reporting surrounding the poisoning of Russian opposition figure Alexey Navalny, whom the Federal Security Service allegedly tried to assassinate in August 2020. As Meduza has reported previously, Navalny’s case is part of a long, grim trend in Russia. In recent weeks, thanks to investigative…
 
Even if you follow news in Russia regularly, you might be unaware or only vaguely aware that Russia’s Central Bank printed an enormous sum of money over the past decade in a sweeping campaign to restructure the country’s major banks and liquidate smaller failing financial institutions. In a recent joint investigative report, Meduza and its media pa…
 
On November 15, Moldovan citizens at home and abroad came out in record-breaking numbers to cast their ballots in the run-off vote of the country’s 2020 presidential elections. In the end, former Prime Minister Maia Sandu defeated incumbent President Igor Dodon, becoming Moldova’s very first woman president-elect. Taking place amid the coronavirus …
 
Back in early October, Meduza learned about a whole archive of transcripts between members of the Clinton administration and Vladimir Putin, dated between 1999 and 2001 — records that were first declassified and published by the Clinton Digital Library in August 2019. We wrote three feature stories based on these archives, highlighting and contextu…
 
A six-week war in Nagorno-Karabakh has ended disastrously for Armenia. Judging by the map, the situation on the ground will revert mostly to the conditions in place before Yerevan’s 1991 war with Baku, leaving Azerbaijani artillery perched just outside the breakaway republic’s capital city and the 50,000 souls who call it home. The big difference t…
 
On October 5, thousands of opposition demonstrators took to the streets of Bishkek to protest the official results of Kyrgyzstan’s parliamentary elections. About a dozen different opposition parties had failed to overcome the seven percent threshold needed to get into parliament and two pro-government parties had won nearly half the seats. The prot…
 
In April 2020, Russia shipped 45 ventilator machines to New York City as part of what became a humanitarian exchange with America at the height of the Big Apple’s initial coronavirus outbreak. But what should have been a heartwarming display of cooperation in challenging times quickly became a political boondoggle. American hospitals were unable to…
 
Armenia and Azerbaijan reached a fragile ceasefire agreement in Moscow on October 10 after nearly a dozen hours in negotiations. The two sides will suspend hostilities so bodies and prisoners of war can be exchanged, while diplomats from Yerevan and Baku debate a more lasting resolution. Since the late 1980s, the fight for the Nagorno-Karabakh regi…
 
The historian Stephen Cohen died on September 18 at the age of 81. Though he became something of a pariah among American Russianists in his final years, particularly after 2014 (thanks to his views on the Ukraine conflict, which often dovetailed with Kremlin talking points), Cohen was perhaps best known professionally for his 1973 biography about N…
 
About a decade ago, after a temporary falling out with Vladimir Putin, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko tried to pivot his country to the West. In this endeavor, he had help from a British PR firm called “Bell Pottinger” that once employed some of the most influential spin-doctors in the world. The campaign was a complete failure: the cons…
 
The German media reported on September 9 that Russian opposition figure Alexey Navalny was poisoned with a new type of “Novichok” nerve agent, more dangerous than any variation previously identified. Earlier in the month, Meduza science editor Alexander Ershov interviewed biochemist Marc-Michael Blum to find out more about how analytical chemistry …
 
On September 1, 2020, the Russian newspaper Kommersant ran a story that looked like a real bombshell before it fizzled out. The report, titled “Hackers Appeal to the U.S. State Department: American Voter Data Appears on Russian Darknet,” credits a Russian hacker platform with posting millions of American voters’ personal data (mainly voters in the …
 
If you’ve read anything about Russia’s coronavirus vaccine, “Sputnik V,” you know that it’s rolling out to the public in October, just as Phase III trials begin — meaning that researchers still have no idea how effective the product actually is. So far, the scientists developing Sputnik V say they’ve combined Phase I and Phase II testing and confir…
 
Opposition politician and Anti-Corruption Foundation creator Alexey Navalny was hospitalized early on Thursday, August 20, in critical condition. At the time this podcast was recorded, he was in a coma and breathing through a ventilator in Omsk, where his flight home to Moscow was forced to make an emergency landing when he became violently ill. “T…
 
On August 9, Belarus concludes its most contentious, openly dirtiest, and toughest presidential campaign ever. During the race, one leading (albeit unregistered) candidate has been imprisoned (as well as two campaign chiefs of staff) and another fled the country altogether. Long-time incumbent President Alexander Lukashenko (Alyaksandr Lukashenka) …
 
For the past two years, several major state news organizations in Russia have been working with China’s biggest media conglomerate to trade publicity about each nation’s greatest achievements. Beijing’s efforts have fallen mostly flat in Russia, however, thanks to shortages of trained personnel and shortcomings in China’s grasp of the Russian media…
 
In reporting and analysis about Russian politics, the question is ubiquitous: How does Vladimir Putin see things? While there’s no shortage of efforts to read the Russian president’s mind, a more grounded approach would be to examine the intelligence that shapes Putin’s policymaking. One of the Kremlin’s best-trusted sources of information about po…
 
On the morning of July 7, federal agents arrested Ivan Safronov, a longtime journalist who recently took a job as a communications adviser to Roscosmos head Dmitry Rogozin. Safronov is being charged with treason and faces up to 20 years in prison. His lawyers have been granted limited access to the case file compiled by the Federal Security Service…
 
On Friday, June 26, a Moscow court announced verdicts in the controversial “Seventh Studio” case involving the alleged embezzlement of almost 129 million rubles (about $1.9 million) allocated to the Culture Ministry’s “Platforma” project (a state-led contemporary art incubator). All four defendants — director Kirill Serebrennikov, former Culture Mi…
 
On today’s show, host Kevin Rothrock speaks to online-disinformation investigation pioneer Ben Nimmo about his latest research into a sweeping Russian disinformation campaign called “Secondary Infektion.” Mr. Nimmo is the founder of the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab and last year he became the head of investigations for the socia…
 
This week’s show looks at Russian nationalism, activism in Russia against police brutality, and the American alt-right. We also return specifically to remarks by Mikhail Svetov from last week’s show about an initiative he’s calling “Russian Lives Matter.” The Black Lives Matter movement in the United States has occasioned a global conversation abou…
 
On today’s episode, we’ll hear from five guests about race and injustice in Russia and the Soviet Union, including from the activist behind a new initiative against police brutality in Russia built around the slogan “Russian Lives Matter.” As you may have guessed, this adapts the better known phrase “Black Lives Matter,” which is the rallying cry f…
 
This week's guest is Joshua Yaffa, The New Yorker's Moscow correspondent and the author of the new book “Between Two Fires: Truth, Ambition, and Compromise in Putin’s Russia,” which offers a look at Putin’s Russia without focusing on Putin, studying a handful of individual case studies and the moral choices of various individuals who have played un…
 
In the past several weeks, Meduza has written extensively about the newsroom controversy at Vedomosti, one of Russia’s top business newspapers. Most recently, Meduza published a joint investigation with a handful of other independent news outlets (including Vedomosti itself) about the backroom wheeling and dealing that’s guided the outlet’s ownersh…
 
On May 4, 2020, the Pulitzer Prize Board announced the latest winners of the most coveted award in journalism. The staff of The New York Times won prizes in three different categories: international reporting, investigative reporting, and commentary. The first honor was awarded for “a set of enthralling stories, reported at great risk, exposing the…
 
In a world engulfed by the coronavirus pandemic, “The Naked Pravda” travels back in time to the carefree 1980s, when Americans and Russians worried about simpler things like World War III. Fears in U.S. popular culture that the Cold War might turn hot culminated in 1984 with the film “Red Dawn,” starring Patrick Swayze and Charlie Sheen, about a gr…
 
In regions and cities across Russia, state officials are taking extraordinary measures to limit people's movements and curb the spread of coronavirus. On March 18, Russia’s Supreme Court even imposed a moratorium on all hearings across the nation’s judicial system except for particularly “urgent cases,” though judges have enormous leeway here to de…
 
In late 2019, many Internet users started noticing that the Russian state media was increasingly describing gas explosions as “gas pops” in news coverage — even when the incidents caused major damage to life and property. In fact, the number of “gas pops” mentioned in news reports jumped from a few dozen stories in early 2017 to thousands of such r…
 
In late March 2020, after the owners of the newspaper Vedomosti confirmed that they'd reached a preliminary agreement to sell off the publication, deputy editors appealed to the paper’s new owners in a letter where they warned that the newsroom is in chaos, advertisers are in shock, and subscribers are demanding refunds for paid subscriptions. The …
 
LGBTQ activists in the Russophone world face obstacles that many in the Anglophone world do not, but that means they also find ways to survive that defy the imagination. One way queer Russian speakers have found to work through those life-and-death decisions is writing science fiction. Through stories about augmented reality, lesbian seduction in s…
 
As COVID-19 spreads rapidly across the world, the disease is pushing healthcare systems to the brink. The number of reported cases is low but rising in Russia, where officials have imposed limits on public assemblies and major events, while resisting the more drastic measures deployed in Asia and now rolling out in the West. To get a better grasp o…
 
We’ve known it was coming since January when Vladimir Putin warned the nation, but now it’s moving at full throttle and threatens to inflict untold damage. No, it’s not the coronavirus — it's the other calamity currently unfolding in Russia: a massive campaign to rewrite the Constitution so that Vladimir Putin’s presidency might continue until 2036…
 
The Democratic Party's primaries are underway in the United States, where the country's increasingly left-leaning political party is flirting with democratic socialist Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders as its nominee. Additionally, recent reports citing U.S. national intelligence that Russian operatives are again trying to interfere in the American pr…
 
Earlier this month, Meduza published an article by Andrey Pertsev about President Vladimir Putin's shifting rhetoric when discussing the 1939 Soviet-Nazi nonaggression pact, as well as his growing criticism of Polish foreign policy in the year before the USSR cut a deal with Adolf Hitler. Despite being many decades old, these events remain hotly de…
 
In mid-January, administrators at Moscow’s Higher School of Economics (HSE, perhaps the best university in Russia, shared a proposal to impose greater restrictions on political activism within the university that would have prohibited individuals affiliated with HSE from mentioning this connection when discussing political issues or taking part in …
 
The “Agora” human rights group and digital activists at Roskomsvoboda recently released a report on Russian Internet freedom in 2019, where they argue that the state authorities have settled on an Internet policy vector focused on “control, censorship, and isolation.” Late last year, Meduza published a story about how a Federal Protective Service v…
 
In recent years, we've witnessed a strange convergence of Russian and American conspiratorial thinking. They're talking about each other again in Moscow and Washington, often spinning stories that aren't exactly rooted in facts. Whether it's Russiagate in the United States or color revolution in Russia and countries across the former Soviet Union, …
 
Most weeks, it's fair to say that you could probably roll your eyes at a 30-minute podcast about the inner workings of executive power in Russia. But the issue is suddenly urgent. Two days ago, Vladimir Putin delivered his annual state-of-the-nation speech, where he surprised the country by calling for Constitutional amendments that would radically…
 
According to a report by the news agency “Rossiya Segodnya,” almost half of the articles in the foreign press about Russia are “negative.” This recent study leans heavily on the British media (which makes up more than a third of the entire sample), where nearly 40 percent of the selected coverage is supposedly biased against Russia. Meduza learned …
 
The Russian Presidential Affairs Department’s Scientific Research Computing Center (GRCC) develops systems to monitor and deanonymize social-media users, and it sells these systems to government and private clients alike. Using the company’s services, insurance companies can root out dishonest employees, and security-guard companies can recruit new…
 
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