5 episodes

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.

The Naked Pravda Meduza

    • News

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.

    ‘Executive power in Russia’: How we know what we know about Kremlin politics and what to expect from Putin's new Constitutional shakeup

    ‘Executive power in Russia’: How we know what we know about Kremlin politics and what to expect from Putin's new Constitutional shakeup

    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 redistribute power in the Russian state, possibly weakening the presidential administration. And then his entire cabinet resigned, and long-time Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev was moved (some would say demoted) to a new number-two spot on Russia’s Security Council. While you never really need an excuse in Russia to talk about Vladimir Putin or the Kremlin, the inspiration for this episode of “The Naked Pravda” was Andrey Pertsev’s October 2019 story about Sergey Kiriyenko, Putin’s current first deputy chief of staff and the supposed manager of Russia’s domestic politics. But the article is more than a Kiriyenko profile. It offers a broader look at his office in the Kremlin and at the Putin presidential administration itself, which remains enormously hard to comprehend, even two decades after Putin first took office. To understand the mechanics of Kremlin analysis, or Kremlinology, host Kevin Rothrock turned to some of the brightest political experts around. In this episode:
    (3:51) Maria Lipman on Kremlinology's shortcomings
    (5:42) Konstantin Gaaze says Russia's state ideology was designed accidentally as a “life hack”
    (8:10) Brian Taylor on the presidential administration's relationship with Russia's Constitution
    (22:28) Yana Gorokhovskaia says the proposed reforms will weaken Russia's super-presidential system
    (24:14) Sam Greene highlights the newfound importance of the State Council
    (25:58) Mark Galeotti explains Dmitry Medvedev's new home: the Security Council “The Naked Pravda” comes out on 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 kevin@meduza.io with the subject line: “The Naked Pravda.”

    • 31 min
    ‘Tabloids and an inferiority complex’: The business and political strategy behind the media's biased Russia coverage

    ‘Tabloids and an inferiority complex’: The business and political strategy behind the media's biased Russia coverage

    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 that hundreds of the articles Rossiya Segodnya examined in the British press share the same author: a man who’s worked in Russia since 1992 and now simply rewrites blurbs he finds in Russian tabloids, selected for him by Russian staff working at his news agency. To find out more about this peculiar individual and learn why the Russian authorities devote resources to studies like the one released this fall, “The Naked Pravda” spoke to Meduza's head of investigative reporting, Alexey Kovalev, who profiled Stewart’s bizarre career in journalism in an article this October, and to media scholars Sarah Oates and Vasily Gatov. In this episode:
    (2:47) Alexey Kovalev explains how he found out about Will Stewart, a prolific British reporter in Moscow who turned to tabloids after years of serious journalism.
    (9:46) Sarah Oates argues that officials in Moscow shouldn't be surprised by the Western media's Russia coverage, and it's the trivialization of Russia that's really vexing.
    (16:09) Vasily Gatov describes the “symbiosis” of security functionaries and public relations spin doctors who guide state decision making in Russia.
    (24:28) Concluding remarks by your host, Kevin Rothrock. “The Naked Pravda” comes out on 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 kevin@meduza.io with the subject line: “The Naked Pravda.”

    • 26 min
    ‘The Information Nation’: Kremlin researchers and forensic journalists intersect at Russia’s black market for leaked personal data

    ‘The Information Nation’: Kremlin researchers and forensic journalists intersect at Russia’s black market for leaked personal data

    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 staff. Other GRCC programs allow the police to hunt down “extremists” online. In a special report published in late September, Meduza learned that these computing systems collect information on Russians not just from open sources, but also from leaked databases that are sold illegally on the black market.  To find out more about Russia’s database black market and how this information is being used, “The Naked Pravda” spoke to Meduza special correspondent Liliya Yapparova and Christo Grozev and Aric Toler, two top researchers at the investigative journalism website Bellingcat. In this episode:
    (2:01) Liliya Yapparova explains how she first learned about GRCC and its controversial products.
    (5:46) Kevin and Liliya discuss the ethics of using illegal databases to hunt down criminals, and the tradeoffs tech consumers accept when embracing news services.
    (9:15) Christo Grozev reviews Bellingcat’s history and how he came to the group.
    (11:39) Aric Toler describes “digital stalking” and talks about Bellingcat’s mid-October report about one of the alleged Skripal poisoners attending the family wedding of a Russian military intelligence commander.
    (21:31) Aric explains why Bellingcat isn’t like Wikileaks.
    (23:56) Christo talks about when Bellingcat thinks it’s okay to use leaked databases.
    (30:29) Liliya and Christo argue that Russia’s data-leak problem can’t be fixed anytime soon. “The Naked Pravda” comes out on 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 kevin@meduza.io with the subject line: “The Naked Pravda.”

    • 33 min
    ‘Instead of her face, I saw a pizza’: How women in Russia are fighting back against sexual assault

    ‘Instead of her face, I saw a pizza’: How women in Russia are fighting back against sexual assault

    In life and in news reporting, violence against women is a sadly “evergreen” topic, but the issue has taken on new and growing momentum in Russia, where there’s a rising number of high-profile cases involving rape and self-defense. Meduza has reported extensively on these investigations, and, in this first episode of “The Naked Pravda,” managing editor Kevin Rothrock speaks to a handful of activists and journalists who are working to shed more light on these cases and the social movement that hopes to transform how Russia handles women’s safety. In this episode:
    (1:20) In mid-October, after weeks of hesitation, a journalist in Veliky Novgorod publicly accused a colleague from another local news outlet of raping her. (Read Meduza’s report here.) Why was she reluctant to speak openly about the assault?
    (5:22) Marina Pisklakova-Parker, the founder and chair of the board of the women’s rights group “Center ANNA,” recalls how women’s rights advocacy in Russia has evolved since the 1990s, and discusses the impact of being designated as a “foreign agent” by the Justice Ministry.
    (8:18) Hilah Kohen, Meduza’s English-language news editor, argues that ethical storytelling in cases of sexual violence focuses on survivors and frames allegations in a broader social context. 
    (14:40) Elena Kalinina, a managing partner at the advertising agency “Room485,” explains how her team created an interactive game designed to raise awareness about domestic violence and abusive partners.
    (17:45) Anna Romashchenko, region coordinator for the advocacy group “Nasiliu.net” (No to Violence), talks about creating safe spaces for women in Russia and the unexpected demographics of views about women’s rights. 
    (20:18) Ola Cichowlas, AFP’s Moscow correspondent, recounts her story about a woman in Moscow who was prosecuted for defending herself against an abusive partner.
    (23:26) Nastya Krasilnikova, who writes on Telegram about representations of women in the Russian media, argues that many news outlets actively “hate women,” but there is more willingness now than before to talk about sexual assault. If you or someone you know is in an unsafe relationship, there are resources available, like the National Domestic Violence Hotline in the U.S. and the National Domestic Violence Helpline in the UK. In Russia, you can contact Nasiliu.net, Center ANNA, and other groups. “The Naked Pravda” comes out on 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 kevin@meduza.io with the subject line: “The Naked Pravda.”

    • 33 min
    ‘The Naked Pravda’ premiere trailer: Meduza’s new English-language podcast

    ‘The Naked Pravda’ premiere trailer: Meduza’s new English-language podcast

    “The Naked Pravda” highlights how Meduza’s top reporting intersects with the wider research and expertise that exists about Russia. Future episodes will look at the following issues: 💾 Leaked databases and how the black market for this information has become a key aspect of Russian law enforcement and investigative journalism in Russia 🗑️ Russian tabloid journalism and its reverberations in the Western news media ⚔️ Kremlin clan politics and the power of the presidential administration. ✊ The show's first episode, which debuts on Friday, November 29, will address a sexual-assault case in Veliky Novgorod and the state of women’s rights and safety in Russia today. Americans, queue it up for that Thanksgiving drive home. 🎧 Subscribe and listen on Apple Podcasts and other platforms.

    • 1 min

Customer Reviews

WJGuy1 ,

Beyond the headlines

I’ve only listened to the first three podcasts so far but really appreciate the in-depth treatment that is given to elements of Russian society that does not make the headlines. It’s perfect for a Russian news junkie like me, presented in a digestible format I can listen to while doing other things. I look forward to more!

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