The Russia File podcast explores Russia: its history, politics, culture and society, and its relations with the surrounding countries, the United States and beyond. It is a companion podcast of the Kennan Institute’s Russia File blog. Hosted by Maxim Trudolyubov and Izabella Tabarovsky.
Rethinking the Space Race
The Soviet pilot Yuri Gagarin made his pioneering spaceflight 60 years ago. In the USSR, it marked a time of optimistic, forward-looking modernization, of which the Soviet space program was the hallmark.
Maxim Trudolyubov discusses the Soviet-American space race and today’s newfound space enthusiasm with Victoria Smolkin, associate professor of history and Russian studies at Wesleyan University, and Asif Siddiqi, professor of history at Fordham University.
Weak Strongman: Discussing the Limits of Putin's Power with Timothy Frye
Russia is often seen as a country that was led astray by a former KGB officer, Vladimir Putin. Informed by his training and character, it is often implied, he turned himself into an all-powerful ruler and turned Russia into the autocracy it is today. But what if he simply was helpless to do any better?
We discuss the constraints on Putin's ability to execute authority with Timothy Frye, whose book, Weak Strongman: The Limits of Power in Putin’s Russia, is out this month.
Sputnik V: International Success, Domestic Problems
Sputnik V, Russia's COVID-19 vaccine, is not just a scientific achievement but a golden moment for vaccine diplomacy. Despite the initial distrust—some of which persists to this day—dozens of countries have granted Sputnik V emergency use authorization. Why is Russia falling behind in its domestic vaccination campaign, and will Russia be able to maintain its international vaccine leadership?
We talk about Sputnik V with Olga Dobrovidova and Judy Twigg, experts on Russian science policy.
Beyond Electoral Politics: Social Change, Not Political Awakening
Most Russians have long stopped expecting that any real change may come from electoral politics. And yet, a slew of recent, successful popular movements from Moscow to Khabarovsk are proving that, even without real elections, Russians can stand up for their interests.
Maxim Trudolyubov discusses Russia's newfound social and political activism with Zhanna Nemtsova, co-founder of the Boris Nemtsov Foundation for Freedom and daughter of the late Boris Nemtsov.
A Poisonous History: The Kremlin's Fear of an Imported Revolution
For years journalists Irina Borogan and Andrei Soldatov have reported on Russia’s security services. This time, they decided to look at the agencies’ history and wrote The Compatriots: The Brutal and Chaotic History of Russia's Exiles, Émigrés, and Agents Abroad. With the poisoning of the Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny and its aftermath, the book is suddenly more topical than one is comfortable to admit. Borogan and Soldatov discuss the KGB of old and Russia’s existing security organizatio
Russian-Speaking Israelis and How They Changed Israel
Thirty years ago, a million Russian-speaking immigrants arrived in Israel. Overnight, they became one of the largest Russian-speaking communities in the world outside the former Soviet Union. Who are the Russian-speaking Israelis? What did their arrival signify for the country? We discuss these questions with Ksenia Svetlova, Matti Friedman, and Yossi Klein Halevi. Matti Friedman’s piece in Mosaic: https://bit.ly/3qBd40k Yossi Klein Halevi’s piece in Mosaic: https://bit.ly/3owVkkK