The overarching question imparting urgency to this exploration is: Can U.S.-Russian contention in cyberspace cause the two nuclear superpowers to stumble into war? In considering this question we were constantly reminded of recent comments by a prominent U.S. arms control expert: At least as dangerous as the risk of an actual cyberattack, he observed, is cyber operations’ “blurring of the line between peace and war.” Or, as Nye wrote, “in the cyber realm, the difference between a weapon and a non-weapon may come down to a single line of code, or simply the intent of a computer program’s user.”
On January 17, 2021, opposition figure Alexei Navalny returned to Russia after having been poisoned by the Soviet-era nerve agent Novichok, likely at the hands of Russian security services. Arrested immediately upon arrival, an unbowed Navalny released a YouTube video on “Putin’s Palace", which has already been viewed over 50 million times.
Please join the Intelligence Project and Russia Matters for a conversation with investigative journalists Yevgenia Albats and Shaun Walker on the implications of Navalny's return and detention, and what it means for the future of Russian politics.
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. Since 2004, Albats has hosted Absolute Albats, a talk-show on Echo Moskvy, the only remaining liberal radio station in Russia.
Albats was an Alfred Friendly Press Fellow assigned to the Chicago Tribune in 1990, and a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University in 1993. She graduated from Moscow State University in 1980 and received her MA and Ph.D. in Political Science from Harvard University in 1996 and 2004, respectively. She is a member of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) since its founding in 1996. Albats taught at Yale in 2003-2004. She was a full-time professor at Moscow’s University — The Higher School of Economics, teaching the institutional theory of the state and bureaucracy, until 2011 when her courses were canceled at the request of Kremlin. In 2017 Albats was chosen as an inaugural fellow at Kelly’s Writers House and Perry House at the University of Pennsylvania. In 2019 — 2020 she taught authoritarian politics at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
Currently she is a Senior fellow at Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard University, working on her new book. Albats is the author of the four independently researched books, including one on the history of the Russian political police, the KGB, whose graduates are running the country today. She has a daughter and resides in Moscow, Russia.
Shaun Walker is a foreign correspondent for The Guardian based in Budapest. He spent more than a decade reporting from Moscow. His book The Long Hangover: Putin's New Russia and the Ghosts of the Past was published by OUP in 2018.