The Deadly Business of Dissent in Russia

February 18, 2022

In the late 1980’s a Ukrainian-born immigrant to the United States who took the stage name Yakov Smirnoff became a brief comedy sensation with lines such as, “In Russia, we have only two TV channels. Channel 1 is propaganda. Channel 2 is a KGB officer telling you to turn back to channel one.” This week’s Horns of a Dilemma podcast explores the uncomfortable ways in which jokes about stifled expression in the Soviet Union still resonate in Russia today. Vladimir Kara-Murza is a Russian politician and opposition leader who was twice poisoned and left in a coma by agents of Vladimir Putin’s regime. Kara-Murza speaks with Professor Kiril Avramov of the Strauss Center’s Intelligence Studies Project and the Global Disinformation Laboratory at the University of Texas, Austin, about freedom of expression and political dissent in contemporary Russia under Putin.  Kara-Murza and Avramov discuss the role of propaganda, the rigging of elections, and the effect of social media on Putin’s control of information. They conclude with an analysis of the ongoing crisis in Ukraine. This event was held at the University of Texas, Austin.

Image: Bogomolov.PL, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons