For Episode Five of the EarthRights Podcast, Mel and Pippa are in conversation with two Russian friends, who have asked to remain anonymous given the current unstable political situation in Russia. Ideology, corruption, propaganda, Alexei Navalny and methods to silence criticism - this episode aims to unveil some of Russia's secrets...
Whilst the interviewees oppose the Russian government, much to the surprise of Westerners, they are in the minority - a lot of people will not agree with them.
Mel, Pippa and anon discuss Russia's 20th century history, starting with the October Revolution and the creation of the Soviet Union. At that time, the concept of socialism was still embryonic, but as the decades passed, Lenin and Stalin gave it an ugly, oppressive and deadly nature that continues to shape present day Russian politics.
Importantly, anon tell EarthRights that there is a huge difference between Moscow and the rest of the regions in Russia in terms of politics and daily life. 18 million people live in Moscow - the city that never sleeps - but it is being developed by corrupt leaders and is heavily influenced by technologies created in China.
Propaganda is ever-present in Russia; the impact is greater on the older generations than younger people, who more and more are researching their news on the internet. In fact, YouTube is the online platform where Alexei Navalny has published his critique and exposed the corruption of the Russian government, particularly Putin.
The Russian state and its notorious secret police have a reputation for silencing criticism in hideous ways. Anon explain why protesting in support of Alexei Navalny, and expressing opposition is very dangerous in Russia. It is not like taking to the streets in Europe; one risks immediate detention, which in many instances leads to torture or death.
These risks and realities have pushed the Russian interviewees and their young family to leave Russia and seek a safer life in Europe, with less censored education and with better protection for their fundamental rights and freedoms.