For years, good podcasts about Russia or Ukraine were slim pickings.
Today, sadly, there is increased interest, as people across the world try to make sense of Russia’s war and its spillover across the wider region.
We collected some of the podcasts we find most useful – by the people who follow Ukraine, Russia, Central Asia and the South Caucasus closely. The list features a mix of history, analysis and current affairs reporting that shifts between high-level analysis and grassroots perspectives.
Check them out below – English-language podcasts are first, with two in Russian and one in Ukrainian below.
Researcher Sean Guillory has been podcasting about Russia for so long it hurts.
For anyone who’s followed Russia and the region over the past decade, Guillory’s blogs and podcasts have been invaluable, tying together academic expertise and a deep interest in history with a search for a realistic left-wing conversation about the former Soviet Union. Now, his long-term project has been relaunched as The Eurasian Knot, and it rocks.
State of Ukraine
NPR is really good at audio, and the US semi-public broadcaster brings all of its talent to showcasing what Ukrainian society is going through as a result of the Russian invasion.
Expect a mix of brilliant human stories, breaking news and fresh analysis from some of the best radio-reporters out there.
Next year in Moscow
Travelling across Europe, journalist Arkady Ostrovsky interviews Russians who left the country after the invasion of Ukraine. Opposition lawyers, activists, high-flying media types and regular professionals all feature in this series – as do their struggles for a better country.
Voices from the diverse states that make up Central Asia are chronically underplatformed in the western media – something we at openDemocracy seek to change.
The Majlis podcast, run by US-funded RFE/RL, similarly draws on some of the best (and friendliest) experts out there to understand domestic politics, the role of China, the relationship with Afghanistan and much more across this vast, beautiful region.
Feminists about War
Feminist Workshop, a Ukrainian feminist organisation, recently released a whole podcast series about the experience of Ukrainian women in wartime: from serving in the army, becoming refugees or displaced, grassroots activism and arguments about why Ukraine’s resistance is just.
It’s visually very cool, and if you want subtitles (it’s in Ukrainian), just click on the subtitles button in the bottom right corner.
The Story of Belarus
It has taken a lot for the world to wake up to Belarus: falsified protests, mass protests, unparalleled police violence and support for the Russian invasion. But now everyone agrees the country is important, it’s a good time to learn about Belarus’ recent history. This podcast does just that.
Bear Market Brief
Bear Market Brief has simply some of the best insights on the Russian economy and its rocky road through the invasion of Ukraine. Come for a realistic, inside track on how Russian companies and the government are operating during wartime – which always focuses on the data!
Meduza’s podcast in English focuses on the best expertise out there on Russia today, digging deep into the war and its consequences for society. If you’re following Russia’s war on Twitter, you’ll probably recognise some of the most insightful accounts commenting on current events.
EurasiaNet’s reporting on Central Asia and South Caucasus is second-to-none, and here their top-notch journalists explain the latest political, diplomatic and economic news from Central Asia.
Our next recommendation is in Ukrainian and Russian, but we think it’s so important that it’s worth learning both languages for it.
Sirens is run by Graty, a Ukrainian media outlet that focuses on the country’s justice system. Here, some of the best Ukrainian journalists take listeners to sites directly affected by Russia’s invasion – and talk you through how Ukrainian prosecutors and judges are processing Russia’s war. Bonus: check out a selection of Graty’s work in English here.
This podcast highlights the perspectives of people from Russia’s non-Russian republics, like Kalmykia, Buryatia, Sakha, Tuva, Altai. Using interviews and audio messages from listeners, Republic Speaking guides you gently through Russia’s indigenous landscapes. It’s a must listen – albeit only in Russian.
You can also check out our other recommendations – for example, on newsletters.
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