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The Naked Pravda
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.
‘Hybrid Warriors: Proxies, Freelancers, and Moscow’s Struggle for Ukraine’
Meduza speaks to Anna Arutunyan about her new book, “Hybrid Warriors: Proxies, Freelancers, and Moscow’s Struggle for Ukraine,” a study of the early pivotal years of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Beyond TV and polling in Russia
Meduza speaks to anthropologist Jeremy Morris about foreign Russia scholars’ growing reliance on state television as a means of monitoring what is thought to be public opinion, and about problems with polling in Russia.
Problems with the West’s talk about Ukraine’s ‘decolonization’
Meduza speaks to sociologist Volodymyr Ishchenko about his recent essay in New Left Review, where he warns that talk in the West about Ukraine’s “decolonization” often focuses too much on “symbols and identity” and not enough on social transformation.
Studying Russia from afar
Meduza welcomes Riddle editor-in-chief Olga Irisova to discuss being banned by the Russian authorities and producing Russia expertise remotely amid heightened police censorship.
The fight for the future of the Russian language
The Naked Pravda asks philologist Gasan Gusejnov to explain how he views the social and political state of the Russian language today.
Who the hell is Evgeny Prigozhin?
To understand the current significance in Russia of warlord, catering magnet, troll king, and all-around Putin buddy Evgeny Prigozhin, The Naked Pravda speaks to five journalists and experts.
An idiot’s guide to the current state of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine
Meduza asks military analyst Rob Lee, a senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI), for a rundown of the invasion’s latest developments and answers to common questions about the war.
What if Russian commercial aviation cuts too many safety corners?
The Naked Pravda asked experts Richard Aboulafia and Dr. Pavel Luzin about the risks of safety lapses in Russia’s aviation industry amid international sanctions that could soon jeopardize domestic commercial air travel.
What if Russia uses a dirty bomb in Ukraine?
What are “dirty bombs”? And what would happen if a radiological weapon were detonated in Ukraine? The Naked Pravda asked three experts.
Would Russians be able to rationalize the war against Ukraine without gendered rhetoric?
Dr. Lisa Gaufman joined the podcast to discuss her research on how feminization rhetoric helps legitimize Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Will U.S. partisan politics undermine American support for Ukraine?
The Naked Pravda asks FPRI Eurasia Program fellow Aaron Schwartzbaum and international relations Associate Professor Volodymyr Dubovyk how U.S. partisan politics affects American support for Ukraine.
If China invades Taiwan, what happens to the war in Ukraine?
If China invades Taiwan, what would it mean for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine? The Naked Pravda asked regional experts Dr. Sergey Radchenko and Dr. Natasha Kuhrt.
What if Russia uses nuclear weapons?
What if Vladimir Putin orders a nuclear strike? The Naked Pravda asked two experts in nuclear weapon strategy and nuclear crises, Dr. Olga Oliker and Dr. Mariana Budjeryn.
What if Vladimir Putin dies tomorrow?
The Naked Pravda turns to three experts for insights into the potential domestic and global consequences of Putin’s death.
Season three trailer
The Naked Pravda returns for a third season on Friday, September 23, 2022. Each show explores a hypothetical event and its potential consequences for Russia and its relationship with the rest of the world.
Kadri Liik explains ‘Putin’s archaic war’ and the Russia we lost
Russian domestic and foreign policy expert Kadri Liik joins The Naked Pravda to discuss her recent article, “Putin’s Archaic War,” about how the invasion of Ukraine derailed Russia’s poorly understood, peculiar democratization trends.
Russian film and television before and since the invasion of Ukraine
The Naked Pravda speaks to three Russian film and television experts about the industry’s trends and struggles over the past few years and in recent months.
How sanctions against Russia reshape the world
To discuss how economic sanctions are reshaping Russia’s place in the world, Meduza welcomed back political risk analyst Dr. Maria Shagina.
Genocide in Ukraine
The Naked Pravda spoke to four experts about war atrocities in the context of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, focusing particularly on genocide as it’s understood both legally and historically.
Resist and rebuild: Civilian life in wartime Ukraine
Meduza turns to researcher Maria Avdeeva and journalist Nataliya Gumenyuk for insight into civilian life in Ukraine after nine weeks of all-out war.
The Russian North Caucasus during the Ukraine War
Meduza speaks to journalist and activist Izabella Evloeva and independent political and security analyst Harold Chambers to find out how the invasion of Ukraine has affected politics and public life in the Russian North Caucasus.
Independent journalism in Russia after the fall of the free press
Meduza interviews two independent journalists now operating from outside Russia to find out how they’re managing this job: Farida Rustamova (who uses Telegram and Substack) and Ekaterina Kotrikadze (on Telegram and YouTube).
A Russian journalist in Ukraine’s besieged city of Chernihiv
The Naked Pravda speaks to journalist Lilya Yapparova about her new report from the Ukrainian city of Chernihiv, which she left just as Russian troops again besieged the city.
Telegram and the future of Russian Internet freedom
The Naked Pravda speaks to digital media experts Dr. Tanya Lokot and Dr. Mariëlle Wijermars about Russia’s wartime Internet censorship and Russians’ growing reliance on Telegram for unfiltered information.
Russia’s looming financial collapse — a return to the 1990s or 1918?
Meduza asked Russian economy expert Maximilian Hess how badly the financial system in Moscow could collapse under Western sanctions. We mentioned 1991. He talked about 1918.
Putin vs. Ukrainian history
The Naked Pravda speaks to historian Dr. Faith Hillis about Ukrainian and Soviet history, and how we ought to understand Putin’s grand vision of the past.
Thirty years of U.S. ambassadors in Moscow
Meduza speaks to scholar and journalist Jill Dougherty and arms control expert Dr. Hanna Notte about their experiences hosting a major interview series from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies with eight former U.S. ambassadors to Moscow.
The contemporary cultures of Eastern Europe’s breakaway states
Kevin Rothrock reviews the week’s news and opinions, and Eilish Hart speaks to journalist Katie Marie Davies about the evolving contemporary cultures of Transnistria, South Ossetia, and Abkhazia.
Everyday life under Kremlin brinkmanship
With Russia massing troops along its border with Ukraine and the conflict in the Donbas entering its eighth year, Meduza turns to journalists Angelina Karyakina and Uliana Pavlova for some perspective on how Ukrainians and Russians view today’s tensions.
Russia's peacekeeping mission in Kazakhstan and security demands in Europe
Meduza speaks to EurasiaNet Central Asia editor Peter Leonard about Kazakhstan’s recent unrest and the CSTO peacekeeping mission in the country, and foreign policy expert Fyodor Lukyanov answers questions about the Kremlin’s security demands in Europe.
The best English-language journalism and scholarly work on Russia in 2021
The Naked Pravda looks back at some of the journalism and scholarly work in 2021 that made significant contributions to our knowledge about Russia. Nine articles and five books.
Human rights law in Russia
Human rights lawyer Valeria Vetoshkina describes her past work for the Team 29 project and explains how the Russian authorities crushed the organization and “killed civil society” earlier this year.
Russia’s ASAT missile test
Independent analyst and disarmament expert Pavel Podvig explains the science behind antisatellite missiles, the dangers of orbital debris, and the diplomatic obstacles to a more rational use of outer space.
Russian gas in Europe
Meduza talks to political risk analyst Nick Trickett, the author of the OGs and OFZs newsletter, about how Russia fits into Europe’s ongoing energy crisis and what rising gas prices mean for ordinary Russians.
The arrest of Russian cybersecurity titan Ilya Sachkov
Meduza asks cybersecurity experts Julien Nocetti and Josephine Wolff, as well as journalist Mike Eckel, about the significance of treason charges against Group-IB co-founder and CEO Ilya Sachkov.
The clash over Moscow’s electronic voting
The Naked Pravda asks economist Dr. Tatiana Mikhailova and BBC Russia journalist Liza Fokht to break down the allegations of online voter fraud in Moscow’s 2021 State Duma elections.
Returned to Chechnya and paraded on TV: Khalimat Taramova’s story
To learn more about Khalimat Taramova’s abduction in Dagestan and forced return to her abusive home in Chechnya, Meduza speaks to human rights professionals Veronika Lapina and Vanessa Kogan.
A Russian ad agency’s war on the Pfizer vaccine
To learn more about how a Russian marketing firm tried to recruit European bloggers in a secret media campaign to smear Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine, The Naked Pravda spoke to journalists Alexey Kovalev, Mark Krutov, and Carl Schreck.
What’s treason in Ukraine today? The case against Viktor Medvedchuk
“The Naked Pravda” talks to journalist Olga Tokariuk about the treason charges against Kremlin-linked oligarch Viktor Medvedchuk, his place in the Ukrainian political landscape, and what the Zelensky government is doing to combat oligarchic influence.
‘Foreign agents’ in Russia and the United States
For insights into “foreign agent” laws in Russia and the U.S., Meduza turns to scholars Sasha Raspopina and Dmitry Dubrovsky, as well as human rights lawyer Marina Agaltsova and journalist Casey Michel.
Spies, student journalists, and life behind bars: A blowup in Moscow’s relations with Prague, the felony case against ‘Doxa,’ and conditions in Russian prisons
“The Naked Pravda” tackles three subjects dominating the week’s headlines: revelations about a Russian spy operation in the Czech Republic, a criminal case against a student journal, and living conditions for Russian prisoners like Alexey Navalny.
‘Sweeping new authority’: What it means to sanction Russia’s sovereign debt
“The Naked Pravda” asks political risk expert Maximilian Hess and international sanctions specialist Dr. Maria Shagina to explain U.S. sanctions against Russia’s sovereign debt and speculate where they’re headed next.
The quiet game: How scientists in Siberia tried to conceal pollution research
“The Naked Pravda” asks science writer Elia Kabanov and physicist and environmentalist Yaroslav Nikitenko why Russia’s expert community is reluctant to share research about pollution in Siberia with the public.
Transnational Repression 101: How Russia goes after its citizens abroad
‘The Naked Pravda’ talks to Freedom House research director Nate Schenkkan and journalist Kateryna Sergatskova to find out more about how the Russian — and Chechen — authorities carry out repressive activities beyond Russia’s borders.
Putin the Killer: What Joe Biden’s pronouncement means in U.S.-Russian diplomatic history
‘The Naked Pravda’ asks international relations expert Dr. Sergey Radchenko to put Joe Biden’s declaration that Vladimir Putin is a ‘killer’ in the larger historical context.
Russia’s failed Twitter throttle
Meduza speaks to professors Tanya Lokot and Marielle Wijermars about Russia’s efforts to throttle local Twitter traffic, exploring attitudes about content moderation in comparison to prevailing views in the United States.
Xenophobes and xenomorphs: A look back at Cold War science fiction
Meduza speaks to Comparative Literature Professor Anindita Banerjee and journalist and Soviet emigre Slava Malamud about USSR and U.S. science fiction, comparing and contrasting the two industries and audience experiences.
Under pressure: The evolving Belarusian opposition movement versus Lukashenko’s embattled regime
“The Naked Pravda” invited two expert guests on the show to talk about how the opposition movement in Belarus has evolved and how Lukashenko’s regime has managed to withstand six months of protests.
Arms control treaties aren’t for friends: The difficult diplomacy of today’s U.S.-Russian negotiations
‘The Naked Pravda’ speaks to experts Olga Oliker and Pavel Podvig about the past, present, and future of New START and other U.S.-Russian arms control agreements.
Fighting the ‘crooks and thieves’: Alexey Navalny’s anti-corruption politics
Meduza looks at the broader impact of Alexey Navalny’s anti-corruption work and his influence on politics in Russia.
Putin’s people: Money in the bank and a palace by the sea
Meduza speaks to journalist Catherine Belton about Vladimir Putin’s KGB past, the slush funds used to finance his alleged ‘palace’ by the Black Sea, and Alexey Navalny’s rising challenge.
How Russia is ruled: Debt and vertical control across towns and industries
Dr. Yuval Weber explains how the Kremlin uses borrowing to bolster its vertical control over regional and local officials, and why Russia is doubling down on investments in a reformed modern military.
Revisiting the poisoning of Vladimir Kara-Murza
RFE/RL journalists Mike Eckel and Carl Schreck tell Meduza what they’ve uncovered in their investigation into the poisoning of a Russian oppositionist who trusted the U.S. government to identify the toxin that nearly killed him.
Follow the money: What monetary policy and banking say about Russian politics
“The Naked Pravda” asks experts Tom Adshead (Macro-Advisory Ltd.) and Stephanie Petrella (BMB Russia and Ukraine) what monetary policy and banking tell us about the nature of political power in Russia.
Maia Sandu’s win and what it means for Moldova
“The Naked Pravda” talks to four experts on Moldova about the country’s socio-political landscape, the 2020 vote, and the future of Chisinau’s foreign policy.
Is it Putin or is it Russia? The causes of today’s bad vibes between Moscow and the West.
“The Naked Pravda” asks three experts on Russian foreign policy and international relations how and why U.S.-Russian relations collapsed with the rise of Vladimir Putin.
The Nagorno-Karabakh truce: What to expect in the years that follow a bloody six-week war
“The Naked Pravda” speaks to experts Neil Hauer, Richard Giragosian, and Rob Lee about the trilateral settlement between Russia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan that ended a bloody six-week war.
Keeping Up With Kyrgyzstan
“The Naked Pravda” talks to Erica Marat, Bektour Iskender, and Colleen Wood about the ongoing political crisis in Kyrgyzstan.
From Russia With Junk: Why the U.S. Trashed the Ventilators Shipped From Moscow
“The Naked Pravda” speaks to BuzzFeed News correspondent Chris Miller about the U.S. government’s decision to discard 45 ventilators sent by Russia as part of a “humanitarian aid exchange” earlier this year.
The Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict
“The Naked Pravda” speaks to Thomas de Waal, Jeffrey Mankoff, Arzu Geybulla, and Kevork Oskanian about the causes and potential future of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
Stephen Cohen’s legacy
“The Naked Pravda” speaks to historian Sean Guillory about the significance of Stephen Cohen’s work on Nikolai Bukharin, about Cohen’s place in American policy debates about Russia, and what his passing means for the study of Russia in the U.S.
Belarusian propaganda: From courting the West to taking Russia’s cues
“The Naked Pravda” speaks to Alexey Kovalev about his two most recent investigations into Belarusian propaganda: a decade-old PR campaign to ingratiate Alexander Lukashenko to the West and a collaboration now unfolding in Minsk with Russian journalists.
Finding the poison: Dr. Marc-Michael Blum explains the analytical chemistry needed to identify nerve agents in patients
‘Meduza’ interviews biochemist Marc-Michael Blum about how analytical chemistry is able to identify nerve agents in patients and what the outlook is for Alexey Navalny’s recovery.
For Russian eyes only: U.S. voter data, hackers, and the story that wasn’t
‘Meduza’ asks three analysts working on cyber-threats, digital diplomacy, and Russian politics about a controversial, misleading report published this week in ‘Kommersant’ about U.S. voter data shared on a hacker platform.
Russia’s coronavirus vaccine: Assessing the risks and research behind ‘Sputnik V’
Meduza asks two American experts on healthcare and demography in Russia and Eurasia about “Sputnik V” — the coronavirus vaccine Moscow has approved for general distribution this fall.
Poisoned in Russia: Alexey Navalny fights for his life as a deadly trend catches up to the country’s top oppositionist
Meduza reviews Alexey Navalny’s mysterious illness and looks back at some recent poisonings in Russia to get a sense of what he’s up against.
The Belarusian Election: Three experts explain what to expect from the presidential vote and the real political battle that follows
Meduza speaks to three experts on Belarusian politics about the August 9, 2020, presidential race and the geopolitical game Minsk is playing with Moscow.
The Sino-Russian Propaganda Pact: How Moscow and Beijing bungled a media partnership meant to promote each other
Meduza asks a handful of regional and media politics experts how the Russian and Chinese state media work together, why this cooperation has stumbled, and how geopolitics plays into this relationship.
The FSO on the QT: The state of sociological work and opinion polling in Russia today
“The Naked Pravda” speaks to two sociologists about the Kremlin’s secret polling and the state of public opinion surveys in Russia today.
Treason and Military Journalism in Russia: The arrest and prosecution of Ivan Safronov
“The Naked Pravda” speaks to Human Rights Watch’s Rachel Denber and Harvard University’s Dmitry Gorenburg about the treatment of journalists and reporting on the military in Russia, following treason charges against Ivan Safronov.
The Seventh Studio Case: What Kirill Serebrennikov means to Russia’s art world
“The Naked Pravda” takes a closer look at stage director Kirill Serebrennikov to try to understand what makes him so special in Russia’s art world.
‘Secondary Infektion’: Ben Nimmo explains how his investigative team helped to uncover a long-running Russian disinformation operation
“Graphika” head of investigations Ben Nimmo answers questions about new research exposing the long-running Russian information operation “Secondary Infektion,” a group allegedly responsible for forgeries, election interference, and virtual attacks.
Nationalism and the Alt-Right: Another look at ‘Russian Lives Matter’
This week’s show looks at Russian nationalism, activism in Russia against police brutality, and the American alt-right. We also return to the “Russian Lives Matter” movement.
Russian Lives Matter: How America’s new civil rights movement reverberates in Russia
Five guests in Russia and the United States discuss the nature of the Black Lives Matter movement and its significance around the world, including its relationship to a similarly named initiative against police brutality in Russia.
Moral calculus under Putin: Joshua Yaffa talks about his new book, ‘Between Two Fires’
Joshua Yaffa, The New Yorker's Moscow correspondent, talks to Meduza about his 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.
It's business time: Max Seddon dissects the controversy at ‘Vedomosti’ and reviews the nature of financial reporting in Russia today
Host Kevin Rothrock reviews what we know about developments at the newspaper Vedomosti and speaks to Financial Times Moscow correspondent Max Seddon about the newsroom controversy and business journalism in Russia more broadly.
F**k the Pulitzer: A Russian investigative journalist says his team deserves recognition for breaking one of the stories that won ‘The New York Times’ its latest reporting award
‘The New York Times’ has won another Pulitzer Prize for its Russia reporting, and once again Russian journalists say the U.S. newspaper failed to acknowledge their own groundbreaking investigative work.
‘Red Dawn’: What Hollywood's most outlandish Cold War movie says about Americans and Russians
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, and Hollywood released “Red Dawn.”
Pandemic Justice: How COVID-19 and coronavirus containment measures have exacerbated problems in Russia's courts and prisons
How have coronavirus containment measures affected Russia's justice system? “The Naked Pravda” turns to two pairs of human rights activists and scholars, as well as the author of a Meduza investigative report.
‘Russian Journalism's Newspeak’: How the Kremlin's euphemisms creep into reporting about disasters
As Russia confronts the global coronavirus pandemic, the role of euphemisms in news reporting takes on special importance. On today's show, two media experts explain how journalists in Russia and other countries take cues when writing about disasters.
‘The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad New Boss’: Editorial changes at ‘Vedomosti’ jeopardize one of Russia's best-respected business newspapers
To understand the significance of recent editorial troubles at Vedomosti, “The Naked Pravda” turns to Vedomosti editor-at-large Maxim Trudolyubov, who helped launched the publication more than 20 years ago.
‘Queer Science Fiction in Russian’: What space epics and tech dystopias tell us about post-Soviet minority activism
As governments and vigilantes ramp up violence against LGBTQ Russian speakers, queer activists are turning to science fiction to map out a political future when it seems like any future is impossible.
‘Russia's Chances Against Coronavirus’: Sizing up the country's healthcare capacity and social readiness for a pandemic
With Russia's suspiciously low coronavirus numbers raising concerns about the reliability of official statistics, Meduza turns to several healthcare experts to understand the challenges ahead.
‘Constitutional Gymnastics’: Russia's strange initiative to keep Vladimir Putin in office for years to come
The Russian authorities are marching forward with sweeping reforms to the country's Constitution. What laws are being bent or trampled in the campaign to allow Vladimir Putin another two presidential terms?
‘Russians in America’: Russian immigrants and visitors in the U.S. discuss the 2020 Democratic primaries
Americans worried about election interference talk constantly about “the Russians.” Here's what Russian people living the U.S. think about that.
‘Starting WWII’: Today's war of words between Russia and Poland over the history of the late 1930s
Four historians explain why assigning blame in WWII is more complicated tha