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As COVID-19 has spread to every corner of the world, its effects on Russia have been difficult to discern. How has the country responded to the crisis? What data can we believe? How will COVID-19 affect the government’s strained relations with the West and how may it affect Putin’s grip on power?
The Russian government itself has claimed that it has the COVID-19 crisis under control, and has taken draconian measures to stifle criticism of its response. Domestically, Russian cities have gone into lockdown and the country is reportedly planning to use facial recognition software and a dedicated app to track the spread of the virus. Internationally, Russia, along with China and Iran, has taken advantage of the chaos of the crisis in its influence operations. What more has COVID-19 revealed about the Russian government and its relations with the world?
Join us for this edition of The World Today with Perry World House Wolk Distinguished Visiting Fellow Ambassador Alexander (“Sandy”) Vershbow, The New Times editor and talk-show host of “Absolute Albats” at Echo Moskvy broadcasting Yevgenia Albats, and Perry World House Visiting Fellow and Philadelphia Inquirer Worldview columnist Trudy Rubin as they discuss these and other questions in conversation with Perry World House Interim Director Michael Horowitz.
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. It went digital-only since June of 2017, when its distribution and sales got severed by the Russian authorities. Since 2004, Albats has hosted "Absolute Albats," a talk-show on Echo Moskvy, the only remaining liberal radio station in Russia. Albats is the author of four independently researched books, including one on the history of the KGB. Albats has received numerous awards and fellowships and is currently the inaugural International Institute Distinguished Faculty Fellow at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. She graduated from Moscow State University in 1980, and received her PhD in Political Science from Harvard University in 2004.
Trudy Rubin is a Visiting Fellow at Perry World House and the foreign affairs columnist for The Philadelphia Inquirer. In 2019, Ms. Rubin received the Overseas Press Club of America’s Flora Lewis award for Best Commentary on International Affairs. In 2001 and 2017 she was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in commentary. She is the author of Willful Blindness: The Bush Administration and Iraq. Prior to joining The Inquirer, she was Middle East correspondent for The Christian Science Monitor and staff writer for The Economist. In recent years, she has written from China, Russia, Ukraine, Iraq, Syria, Turkey, Egypt, Lebanon, Israel, the West Bank, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kashmir, Britain, France, Italy and Germany. She is a graduate of Smith College, where she received her B.A., and the London School of Economics, where she earned her M.Sc. (Econ).
Ambassador Alexander ("Sandy") Vershbow is the Wolk Distinguished Visiting Fellow at Perry World House and a Distinguished Fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Center on Strategy and Security in Washington, D.C. He was Deputy Secretary General of NATO from 2012 to 2016, the first American to hold that position. A career diplomat since 1977, Vershbow served as US Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs (2009-2012), U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Korea (2005-2008), U.S. Ambassador to Russia (2001-2005) and U.S. Ambassador to NATO (1998-2001). He also held numerous senior positions in Washington, including Special Assistant to the President for European Affairs at the National Security Council (1994-97) and State Department Director of Soviet Union Affairs (1988-91).