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Navalny and Next


Guests: Ilya Budraitskis, Svetlana Erpyleva, and Greg Yudin on Alexei Navalny, the Russian opposition, and the prospects of political pluralism in Russian society.

Navalny and Next

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This week’s podcast is a recording of the event “Navalny and Next: Possibilities, Prognosis and Perceptions in Russia,” I hosted a few weeks ago. This event was sponsored by the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard University, Russia Matters, and the Center for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies at the University of Pittsburgh.

After a botched attempt to murder Alexei Navalny in August 2020, the Kremlin has decided to sentence him to over two years in prison upon the oppositionist’s return to Russia in January. Navalny responded with a bombshell video about the corruption around “Putin’s Palace.” Unsanctioned, mass protests in the two capitals and tens of provincial cities followed. The protesters were met with mass, indiscriminate arrests, and police violence. The political ante in this back-and-forth has certainly risen but to what end?

Russia has experienced the ebbs and flows of protest on the federal and local level for years. And while each eruption quickly elicits a sense that Russia is at a turning point, more cautious and sober assessments follow in the weeks and months after. So, is what we’re now seeing something new or more of the same? What do the protests suggest about Russian society, politics, and the state of Putin’s power? Especially, as Russia will hold parliamentary elections in September.

Guests:

Ilya Budraitskis is political and cultural writer. He currently teaches in the Moscow School for Social and Economic Sciences and the School of Design at the High School of Economics. Budraitskis is currently a member of the editorial board of Moscow Art Magazine and host of the Russian language podcast Political Diary. His book Dissidents among Dissidents was awarded the Andrey Belyi prize in 2017. His most recent book We All Live in the World Huntington Invented treats modern Russian conservatism.

Svetlana Erpyleva is a sociologist, a researcher with Public Sociology Laboratory, Center for Independent Social Research in Russia, and a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Helsinki. Her research is focused on protest movements and collective action, political involvement, political socialization, youth and children’s political participation and cognition in Russia and abroad. She’s written for a number of academic journals and Russian and international media.

Greg Yudin is a Professor of Political Philosophy at the Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences. His research focuses on the political theory of democracy with the special emphasis on public opinion polls as a technology of representation and governance in contemporary politics. His book Public Opinion: The Power of Numbers was published in Russian by European University Press in 2020. He is a regular contributor to several Russian media outlets.

Music:

Buck 65, “Protest,” Talkin’ Honky Blues, 2003.