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The best English-language journalism and scholarly work on Russia in 2021
On this week’s show, The Naked Pravda looks back at some of the journalism and scholarly work in 2021 that made significant contributions to our knowledge about Russia. These nine articles feature incredible fieldwork, insights into how power works in Russia, and compelling stories that you might have missed over the year. Meduza spoke to the authors of three of these articles — Julia Ioffe, Pjotr Sauer, and Maria Danilova — and we asked historian Sean Guillory of The SRB Podcast for his five favorite scholarly books on Russia and the Soviet Union released in 2021.
Timestamps for this week’s episode:
- (3:15) “A Black Communist’s Disappearance in Stalin’s Russia: What Happened to Lovett Fort-Whiteman, the Only Known African American to Die in the Gulag?” by Joshua Yaffa (The New Yorker)
- (6:25) “Climate Change Is Melting Russia’s Permafrost — and Challenging Its Oil Economy” by Ann Simmons and Georgi Kantchev (The Wall Street Journal)
- (8:58) “On a Pacific Island, Russia Tests Its Battle Plan for Climate Change” by Anton Troianovski (The New York Times)
- (11:51) “The Great Russian Oil Heist: Criminals, Lawmen, and the Quest for Liquid Loot” by Sergei Khazov-Cassia (RFE/RL)
- (15:47) “Inside Wagnergate: Ukraine’s Brazen Sting Operation to Snare Russian Mercenaries” by Christo Grozev, with contributions from Aric Toler, Pieter van Huis, and Yordan Tsalov (Bellingcat)
- (21:48) “Lyubov Sobol’s Hope for Russia” by Masha Gessen (The New Yorker)
- (28:05) Meduza speaks to Julia Ioffe about her story, “‘These Bastards Will Never See Our Tears’: How Yulia Navalnaya Became Russia’s Real First Lady” (Vanity Fair)
- (45:22) Meduza talks to Pjotr Sauer about his investigation, “A Royal Mark Up: How an Emirati Sheikh Resells Millions of Russian Vaccines to the Developing World,” coauthored with Jake Cordell and Felix Light (The Moscow Times)
- (54:07) Meduza asks Maria Danilova about her report, “Russia Has an Opioid Crisis Too — One of Untreated Pain” (Vice)
- (1:04:11) Sean Guillory discusses “Cold War Correspondents: Soviet and American Reporters on the Ideological Frontlines” by Dina Fainberg
- (1:10:09) Sean talks about “Utopia’s Discontents: Russian Émigrés and the Quest for Freedom, 1830s-1930s” by Faith Hillis
- (1:14:05) Sean recommends “Navalny: Putin’s Nemesis, Russia’s Future?” by Jan Matti Dollbaum, Morvan Lallouet, and Ben Noble.
- (1:18:32) Sean recalls why he loved “Flowers Through Concrete: Explorations in Soviet Hippieland” by Juliane Fürst
- (1:22:05) Sean ends his list with “The Things of Life: Materiality in Late Soviet Russia” by Alexey Golubev
- (1:24:03) Closing remarks and a reminder to contribute to Meduza if you’re not already doing so!
“The Naked Pravda” comes out on Saturdays (or sometimes Fridays). Catch every new episode by subscribing at Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, or other platforms. If you have a question or comment about the show, please write to Kevin Rothrock at [email protected] with the subject line: “The Naked Pravda.”
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