The newest episode of the Democracy in Question podcast, hosted by Central European University (CEU) President and Rector, Shalini Randeria, features Masha Gessen who is non-binary, and uses the pronouns, they and them and is a Russian-American, who is a staff writer for "The New Yorker." They have authored 11 books. The most recent is Surviving Autocracy, an insightful account of the Trump presidency that also draws on their experience of living in Russia. Let me also mention two of their books that'll be the subject of our conversation today, The Future is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia and The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin, published in 2012.
Born in Moscow, in the Soviet Union, Masha moved to the United States in 1981, only to return to Russia as a journalist a decade later. A strong critic of Putin's regime from the very outset, they decided to leave Russia and to return to the United States due to the politically motivated crackdown on gay parents by Russian authorities.
In this episode "Current State of Affairs in Putin’s Russia with Masha Gessen" published June 22, Shalini and her guest discuss the current situation in Putin's totalitarian Russia and analyze whether there is hope for change coming from within the country itself. It is a vivid picture of how authoritarian regimes shape what citizens see, believe, and think and how this leads to a profound sense of hopelessness, isolation, a state of general anxiety and despair. Is the resurgence of Putin’s new imperial ambitions likely to bolster his power nationally and internationally? Can sanctions or economic sanctions in general give a hope in resolving the conflict?
Series four of Democracy in Question is produced in partnership with the Albert Hirschman Centre on Democracy at the Graduate Institute in Geneva (AHCD) where Randeria is a Senior Fellow. ACHD and the Institute for Human Sciences (IWM) in Vienna co-produced seasons one and two of the podcast.