Podcast Then & Now #18 – Teresa Cherfas in conversation with Leyla Latypova

30 April 2024

by Teresa Cherfas

Welcome to the eighteenth edition of our Russian-language podcast Then & Now with me, Teresa Cherfas. 


My guest today is Leyla Latypova, a journalist who works as a special correspondent for the English-language newspaper The Moscow Times. An ethnic Tatar from the republic of Bashkortostan, Leyla writes about politics and civil society in Russia’s regions and national republics.  In her work, she promotes and defends the rights of indigenous peoples and ethnic minorities in the Russian Federation. She now lives in Amsterdam. In this edition of “Then & Now,” we talk to Leyla about the war, about national movements and about the future of ethnic minorities in Russia – and of Russia in general.

This podcast was recorded on 25 April 2024.

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My questions include:

  1. Where were you when you heard President Putin’s announcement about the Special Military Operation in February 2022? What was your first reaction?
  2. What were your thoughts as to the future impact of the war on ethnic minorities in Russia?
  3. Why is it that a disproportionate number of conscripts from ethnic minorities in Russia’s regions serve in the Russian army – Buryats, for example, or Tatars?
  4. Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you born, what did your parents do, and do you have any key memories that have particularly shaped your life?
  5. Have there been times when you personally encountered Russian chauvinism or observed its impact on others in Bashkortostan?
  6. Do you sense an imperial mindset in Russian people? What do you attribute this to?
  7. What was your motivation when you decided to change your place of residence and move to another country? Was it related to Putin’s policies?
  8. How do you work as a journalist when you are located far from your sources?
  9. Tell me about the recent protests in Bashkortostan? After all, they were quite large-scale and yet little is known about them in the West.
  10. Do you think the war against Ukraine could be a catalyst for major changes in Russia?
  11. When people talk about the de-colonization of Russia, what does it mean?
  12. At the beginning of the war, many analysts believed that the logical outcome of the war would be the collapse of the Russian Empire. They see this as a process which began in 1917, continued in 1991, and has not yet been completed. They see the war against Ukraine as striking a kind of a death blow to the empire. In your view, is the further disintegration of the Russian Empire inevitable? How might the country look in the future?