Podcast: Then & Now #3 – Teresa Cherfas in conversation with Lev Gudkov

17 March 2023

by Teresa Cherfas

Welcome to the third episode of our new Russian-language podcast Then & Now with me, Teresa Cherfas.  

After the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022 everything, everywhere, suddenly looked different. That day was a watershed. Guests on the Then & Now podcast are people for whom February 24 became a defining moment, dividing their lives into before and after the war.

Today’s guest is Lev Gudkov, a sociologist and research director of the analytical Levada Centre, Russia’s leading independent polling organisation. He is also editor-in-chief of the journal The Russian Public Opinion Herald. Lev Dmitrievich has worked at the Levada Centre since its founding, initiated by Yury Levada in 2003. After the death of Yury Levada in 2006, Lev Dmitrievich became the director of the Centre. In September 2016 the Levada Centre was designated as a ‘foreign agent’ organisation, a move which at the time Lev Gudkov said amounted to ‘political censorship.’ In 2021 Denis Volkov became director of the Levada Centre and Lev Gudkov became research director.

This recording took place on 16 March 2023

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My questions include:

  • How did you react to the news on February 24th last year?
  • How soon after the start of the war, did you start to do a new survey? What questions were asked?
  • Has the Centre’s methodology changed in the new reality, in which one can get jail time for criticising government policy or the Russian army?
  • Is there a difference between the approach to surveys in authoritative countries like Russia or Belarus and liberal democracies like the USA and Western European countries?
  • Who is to blame? If society, in what way?
  • Where do you see the roots of today’s totalitarian worldview in Russia?
  • Is there hope for a younger generation?
  • Do Russians feel morally responsible for the deaths of Ukrainians and the destruction of Ukraine?
  • How do you see the near future of Russia?

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