Since 2016, Russia has become an extremely effective disruptor. From its social media “firehose of falsehood” to its recent Solar Winds hacking of U.S. government agencies to its interference in the 2016 U.S. election to its nefarious clampdown on domestic opposition, Russia’s leaders have played exceptionally divisive and explosive cards on the world stage. But what will Russia do next? In reflecting on years of its disruption, what does the future hold? How vulnerable is the U.S. to information gleaned during the Solar Winds hack, and how can we use a better understanding of Russia to better protect our democracy, our world — and ourselves?
This livestream series is a partnership among the Santa Fe Council on International Relations, the Phoenix Council on Foreign Relations, and the Melikian Center for Russian, Eurasian and East European Studies at Arizona State University. Over at least five livestreams, we’ll explore key facets of Russia’s disruption with leading thinkers, journalists, activists, ambassadors, and more.
POSTPONED due to Biden-Putin Summit – NEW DATE TBD!!!
The Russia Disruption 5: Kremlin’s Suppression of Dissent
A fierce opposition activist, Vladimir Kara-Murza has been a vocal opponent of the Kremlin and supporter of Alexei Navalny. Kara-Murza will discuss the Kremlin’s suppression of dissent and what’s really happening on the ground in Russia. How will the opposition respond to Navalny’s imprisonment and the recent media crackdown? What is it like to actually be in opposition to President Putin?
Vladimir Kara-Murza is a Russian democracy activist, politician, author, and filmmaker. He was a longtime colleague of Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov and chairs the Boris Nemtsov Foundation for Freedom. Kara-Murza is a former deputy leader of the People’s Freedom Party and was a candidate for the Russian State Duma. He has testified before Parliaments in Europe and North America and played a key role in the passage of the Magnitsky legislation that imposed targeted sanctions on Russian human rights violators in the U.S., Canada, Great Britain, and several EU countries. U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) called Kara-Murza “one of the most passionate and effective advocates for passage of the Magnitsky Act”; U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) described him as “a courageous advocate for the democratic process and fundamental universal human rights.” Twice, in 2015 and 2017, Kara-Murza was poisoned with an unknown substance and left in a coma; the attempts on his life were widely viewed as politically motivated. He is a contributing writer at The Washington Post and hosts a weekly show on Echo of Moscow radio, and has previously worked for the BBC, RTVi, Kommersant, and other media outlets.
Past Livestreams in this Series:
The Magnitsky Affair – How to Oppose a Criminal State?
Wednesday, May 19
Jamison Firestone was working as a lawyer in Russia during the uncovering of a $230 million tax fraud case, the largest in Russian history. This discovery would lead to Jamison’s colleague Sergei Magnitsky’s death. The Magnitsky affair prompted countries around the world, led by the U.S., to pass the Magnitsky Act, a law sanctioning human rights offenders and allowing seizing of assets and banning entry to the U.S.
The Kremlin undermines institutions at home and around the world, while at the same time, Russia enjoys a permanent seat on the UN Security Council and many international organizations, including Interpol and the Council of Europe. To talk about these issues and how to encourage better behavior by the Kremlin, one must understand Vladimir Putin and his regime. The Magnitsky Affair provides a view of how the Kremlin operates, Putin’s intentions and how Putin’s regime might be approached. The conversation will be moderated by ASU’s Keith Brown.
Domestic and Foreign Policy Challenges With Putin:
Thursday, April 8
Moscow has been difficult for Washington dating back to Stalin’s USSR. Along with China, Putin’s Russia has emerged as the greatest challenge facing the Biden Administration. Russia’s efforts to exert power and control over the countries of Catherine the Great’s Imperial Russia, in what it calls its “near abroad,” is intended to drive a wedge in the Atlantic alliance between the US and our European allies. Cooperation with Beijing to frustrate America’s global leadership and exacerbate divisions within America by using both new technologies and established methods makes Putin’s Russia every bit as much a challenge as it was during the height of the Cold War. Dr. Fiona Hill, former National Security Council and National Intelligence official will discuss the threat and what must be done to confront it.
Moderating our discussion with Dr. Hill are Dr. Claire Sechler Merkel, who currently serves as Vice President of PCFR and Sr. Director of the McCain Institute for International Leadership at ASU; and David A. Merkel, Associate Fellow with the International Institute for Strategic Studies, who previously served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State; Director, National Security Council and Senior Professional Staff on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Watch the talk here.
Russia and America After Trump
Thursday, March 18
Russia’s challenge to the U.S.-centered world order began before Donald Trump’s presidency, with the two nations locked for decades over their interests and values in the changing international system. Russia-US rivalry will continue to prevail — even if the U.S. is prepared to address some issues of mutual importance. Narrowing differences between the two nations will remain difficult until the transition to a new global order is completed.
Featured speaker Andrei P. Tsygankov is a Russian-born academic and author in the fields of international relations. He is currently a professor at San Francisco State University, where he teaches comparative, Russian, and international politics in the Political Science and International Relations departments. Tsygankov has written many books, published extensively in leading academic journals, and contributed to Asia Times, Johnson’s Russia List, Moscow Times, Korea Herald, Los Angeles Times, Russia Profile, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Voice of America and other media outlets.
Watch the talk here.
Assassination at Home and Abroad
Wednesday, February 24
Russia stands accused of assassinating regime opponents at home and abroad in a campaign of terror and political repression. Alexei Navalny, one of President Putin’s fiercest and most creative critics, recently returned to Russia after narrowly surviving poisoning with Novichok, a military grade chemical weapon. Navalny’s immediate detention by Russian authorities and quick sentencing to prison has sparked protests across Russia resulting in thousands of arrests. What do these developments mean for Russia, for President Putin’s hold on power, and for Parliamentary elections scheduled in September 2021? Does Navalny’s brave stance have a chance of succeeding in changing Russia’s authoritarian system, or will Putin’s crackdowns on protest and dissent again succeed in solidifying his grip?
Speakers: Paul Kolbe is a veteran CIA officer and executive with 25 years of service in the Directorate of Operations and led operations in Russia, Central Asia and Eastern Europe. Following his CIA career, Mr. Kolbe was Director for Intelligence at BP where he focused on geopolitical and cyber threats Paul is currently the Director of the Intelligence Project at Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. Shaun Walker is a foreign correspondent for The Guardian based in Budapest. He spent more than a decade reporting from Moscow and was The Guardian‘s bureau chief there between 2013 and 2018. His book The Long Hangover: Putin’s New Russia and the Ghosts of the Past was published by Oxford University Press in 2018. Yevgenia M. Albats is a Russian investigative journalist, political scientist, author, and radio host. Since 2007, she has been the Political Editor and then Editor-in-Chief and CEO of The New Times, a Moscow-based, Russian-language independent political weekly. Currently she is a Senior fellow at Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard University, working on her new book.
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