Vladimir Putin and the Future of Russia

Ideas in Action with Jim Glassman is a new half-hour weekly series on ideas and their consequences.

Vladimir Putin's recent announcement that he intends to become Russia's President yet again indicates he rules Russian politics with an iron fist. Could he lead the country back behind a new Iron Curtain?

Transcript

IDEAS IN ACTION with Jim Glassman

Vladimir Putin and the Future of Russia

JIM GLASSMAN:
Welcome to Ideas in Action a television series about ideas and their consequences. I'm Jim Glassman. This week: is Russia moving backwards? Vladimir Putin's recent announcement that he intends to become Russia's president yet again indicates that he rules Russian politics with an iron fist but does that mean that he will take the country back behind the iron curtain? Joining me to discuss this topic are; Matthew Rojansky, Deputy Director of the Russian and Eurasia Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; David Satter, Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute; and Clifford Gaddy, Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution. The topic this week: Putinism and the future of Russia. This is Ideas in Action.

ANNOUNCER:
Funding for Ideas in Action is provided by Investor's Business Daily. Every stock market cycle is led by America's never ending stream of innovative new companies and inventions. Investors Business Daily helps investors find these new leaders as they emerge. More information is available at Investors.com.

JIM GLASSMAN:
It's been 20 years since the end of the Cold War but what's old is new again in Russia. Vladimir Putin has announced that he will take over the presidency again. The corruption by the ruling class during Soviet times has become corruption by the new ruling oligarchy. The Obama administration is pursuing a reset, or normalization, of relations with Russia. Can Russia get back on track to developing its democracy? Cliff, could U.S. policy makers have predicted that Putin would once again seek the presidency?

CLIFFORD GADDY:
Oh absolutely that's been the discussion for the past four years; what role would Putin play, would he come back again? I think people have gone back and forth about whether he would let Medvedev serve out two terms and to some extent I think this is a surprise. Although by the time he made the announcement a couple of weeks ago I think the consensus was that Putin was not going to let Medvedev continue he was going to assume the presidency himself again.

JIM GLASSMAN:
So Matthew in your view is this a positive or a negative?

MATTHEW ROJANSKY:
Well it's neither exactly positive nor exactly negative. You have to remember Putin has been present all along. This isn't exactly a return of Putin from some limbo or some disappearance that he pulled for the last four years. He's been in the driver's seat. He's has the title of Prime Minister but he's been exercising many of the powers frankly that you expect the president to exercise and he'll go on exercising those powers. And so that says to me above all continuity; continuity for the U.S. Russia reset, cooperation on Afghanistan, nuclear cooperation, and all the things we've been doing all along. I expect those basically to continue.

JIM GLASSMAN:
And what about this reset? Are you sanguine about it? You think it's working? And is it really by the way a reset?

MATTHEW ROJANSKY:
Well I think it was a reset very much in Russian eyes. You know it was an American term but it was something that caught on with the Russians because they were the ones who felt that we needed to come through with some kind of air clearing. They thought of it in some ways as an apology. Things were getting very bad you know 2006, 7, 8, the Russia Georgia war, and I think this did enable a kind of new breath of fresh air for the relationship. I don't think that goes away. I think what changes is now you have a much more wary impression from the U.S. congress towards Vladimir Putin coming back as president. I think you're going to see a reaction from the United States. It is political season going into 2012 and I think the personal rapport that Medvedev and Obama had obviously isn't going to be repeated with Putin.

JIM GLASSMAN:
So even though you think this is a matter of continuity, it's not that big of change that-- at least politically to the United States the reaction may be that it is a change and not a change for the better.

MATTHEW ROJANSKY:
That's right. The essence of the business if you will stays the same between the U.S. and Russia but a lot of the outward trappings are going to look different.

JIM GLASSMAN:
David what's your view about the reset?

DAVID SATTER:
I thought from the very beginning that there was no need for any reset. The United States had not done anything wrong in its relations with Russia--

JIM GLASSMAN:
But we actually didn't invade Georgia did we?

DAVID SATTER:
No. Not only that the United States is a rule by law country and it's not appropriate for a country that's ruled by law to reset its relations with a country that's lawless on the basis of the lawless country's definition of what's appropriate. Many of the things that the Russians do they do out of their own self interest not as a favor to the United States but they would very much like us all to interpret what they do in their own interest as a favor for which we should be grateful. And in return for which we should exercise a measure of self-censorship about the real state of Russian society. That's the essence of the reset. The acceptance by the Obama administration of those terms of reference.

JIM GLASSMAN:
Actually let me just go back to Matt because you mentioned a few things where the Russians are cooperating such as Afghanistan and there may be others, certainly not Syria, I don't think Iran, but are those simply matters-- things that Russians are doing their own self interest they would have done anyway but they're kind of pretending as David says to be nice to us?

MATTHEW ROJANSKY:
I think the key is there were a lot of things that were in Russia's self interest and in U.S. interests for the past four or five years that simply weren't happening because there was so much bad blood. There had been a lot of just negative rhetoric flying back and forth and once that was cleared away it was relatively easier to move forward on things like the nuclear treaty and cooperation on Afghanistan that basically both sides wanted. That doesn't mean though that we have some kind of fundamentally new cooperative relationship. I don't think we'll undo what we've achieved at this point but I don't see the United States and Russia kind of building big new accomplishments.

JIM GLASSMAN:
The Russians have been engaging in a lot of really bad behavior by any kind of normal moral standard and are we kind of encouraging that or at least not discouraging it? Or should it even be a matter of interest to us in our foreign policy?

CLIFFORD GADDY:
It should be a matter of interest but it has to be balanced with other interests. I don't think-- I mean I have a lot of criticisms of the current administration and in many respects including aspects of the relationship with Russia but I think it's unfair to say that we've swept all of this under the table, that we've turned a blind eye to crimes and so forth. It's a matter of balancing interest and that's what the reset was all about it. It was I think as Matthew kindly suggested it's a bit of pretence. It's a face saving measure for both sides. Locked in a confrontational sort of a situation you know both sides as Matthew said had important issues they'd like to deal with and by calling this a reset you say ok let's just temporarily pretend that these issues that we were in confrontation about maybe we can put them aside and let's get down to real issues. But that doesn't mean that either side thought that this was drawing a blank slate, that we're not going to remember grudges and protest and complaints on either side, and they continue to come up.

JIM GLASSMAN:
But the Russians, Matt, continue to be somewhat provocative. I mean Europe is having its own issues. Putin proposed this Eurasian Union to counter the EU. I mean how likely is that to come about and is that the reestablishment of kind of an iron curtain for the rest of Europe?

MATTHEW ROJANSKY:
It in a sense may be Putin making his own bed, right? This is a guy who's laying out a vision that is fundamentally not that appealing to a lot of post Soviet states in the neighborhood. It's not even that appealing to many Russians. But you know with respect to this conversation we've been having you can't forget what came before the last five years as well. From a Russian perspective the United States has not only not been neutral towards Russia but has meddled in ways that have been harmful. Since 1991 and the fall of the Soviet Union we were in Russia mucking around trying to transform their economy in ways that the Russian people perceive as having hurt them very badly.

JIM GLASSMAN:
And what about that? What is the view of the Russian people? And the implication of what you were saying earlier is you know gee the Russian people would really like our moral support on issues on democracy.

DAVID SATTER:
The unfortunate reality is that the democratic consciousness of Russia is at such a low level at the present time and the exhaustion as a result of the economic hardships of the 1990s is such that most of Russian people are indifferent to these moral issues. But that's not a reason why the United States should tailor its positions to that mentality. There's a lot of confusion here--

JIM GLASSMAN:
Can I just interrupt? Are they indifferent to the corruption?

DAVID SATTER:
The corruption that they see around them they understand and they're not indifferent to that. Unfortunately a system has evolved in Russia through which millions of people participate in the corruption and they take it for granted. One of the ways in which the present regime tries really to delude the population is by convincing them that the corruption that exists in Russia is actually typical of the rest of the world as well.

JIM GLASSMAN:
Is that convincing?

DAVID SATTER:
Up to a point. First of all because people want to believe it and second of all because they feel helpless.

JIM GLASSMAN:
These two are shaking their heads.

MATTHEW ROJANSKY:
Russians go to the west all the time now. That's one of the basic freedoms that Russians have today that really the government doesn't interfere with in any meaningful way is freedom of travel. An increasing number of Muscovites and St. Petersburgers and folks at least in major cities have got the resources to do it and they vacation all the time in the west. So they know what it's like over here. They don't like the fact that Russia doesn't compare and they hate the corruption. But remember Russia's been living with it for hundreds of years. So they're also realistic. If they feel they have a choice between sliding back into the chaos of the 1990s when they were living in poverty and their parents and grandparents were selling family heirlooms on the streets and people couldn't feed themselves and they weren't getting paid and accepting the constraints that Putin puts on things and a sort of day to day grind of corruption; given that choice if that's the only choice it's clear which way they'd go. I think that's the problem.

JIM GLASSMAN:
The internal moral issue in Russia is just the killing of journalists. I mean it's incredible. There's no country in the world where there's-- has been this many as far as I know killings of journalists who are simply trying to do their job.

CLIFFORD GADDY:
Yeah. Well that's--

JIM GLASSMAN:
Does that bother people and if it bothers people is it more bothering the young or the old or nobody?

CLIFFORD GADDY:
--Clearly bothers some people and probably a lot of people but as for the generational issue I think you know to some extent I think that's exaggerated. There used to be a common refrain among people in the west when they would observe that things in Russia-- Matthew was referring to the 1990s when we the U.S. was so heavily involved in trying to reshape politics and economics in the country and when things would not go the way we wanted we always would fall back on this refrain that well when the new generation comes up it'll be different. These are the old people that grew up under the Soviet system. I think that was a misperception and I think a lot of us who know Russians and know Russia would-- have noticed how the young people aren't growing up in a vacuum they're growing up in an environment that's shaped by the experiences of their parents and their grandparents. Young Russians very sensitive to issues about World War II, which we always associated with the older Russians, that they remembered the war. And that means that there are a lot of-- you know if you sort of strip away a veneer that many younger Russians might have because they're watching the internet, they're watching-- they're on the internet, they're traveling abroad as Matthew said, you find that a lot of times they behave and think remarkably like their parents and grandparents did.

JIM GLASSMAN:
Do you agree with that?

DAVID SATTER:
Well yes I mean the problem is that the older generation grew up under communism, the younger generation grew up under gangsterism and the problem is that both experiences had the effect of breaking down individual moral responsibility. And in this respect I don't see an improvement in the younger generation in Russia. This is a very sad thing. In fact as crazy as it may seem that communist system at least in its later stages-- it was deluded, it destroyed people's freedom, it limited their possibilities, but it had elements of unselfishness about it that were encouraged. And those elements of unselfishness and sort of mutual assistance under the impact of the kind of criminal takeover of the country in the 90s and under Putin it became worse, was destroyed. So what you have is a population in which the sense of personal conscience has been severely undermined and even those communist habits of kind of mutual assistance no longer exist.

JIM GLASSMAN:
So we're yearning for some aspects of the communist--

DAVID SATTER:
--Not seriously--

JIM GLASSMAN:
Matthew--

MATTHEW ROJANSKY:
I just can't accept-- maybe speaking as a spokesperson of my generation, I have many Russian friends who have come up since 1991-- I just can't accept this amount of pessimism. People talk about a lost generation I don't think that's right either. You have to remember that Russians have got a lot more outlets today than they ever had during the communist era, frankly even more than in the 1990s and you do see freedom of expression coming through online. You see a lot more innovation and entrepreneurship, something else you didn't see during the soviet era. And I think there will be a tipping point. I think there will be a time when my generation has enough wealth, enough stake, enough to lose, and I think that they will be willing to act out against the corruption, against the oppression that they see around them, and protect those things.

JIM GLASSMAN:
Should Putin take note of the Arab Spring?

MATTHEW ROJANSKY:
Yes he's taking note of it and it's not only the Arab Spring. I think he's looking at the turmoil on the streets of Greece and in the periphery of the Euro Zone, and he sees a budget crisis, he sees the writing on the wall in his own country. He knows that oil and gas revenues are going to plateau. At the same time he's got the same baby boom generation that we have in the west is retiring and they're going to need social services and they're going to need medical care, and he's not going to be able to keep up with it. And when he can't, when Russians aren't getting the day to day and the stability that they expect, I think that's when you hit a tipping point.

JIM GLASSMAN:
And what about social media?

MATTHEW ROJANSKY:
Social media will always play a kind of a triggering role, a catalytic role.

JIM GLASSMAN:
But are the Russians making the same kinds of attempts that he Chinese have in trying to control social media?

MATTHEW ROJANSKY:
I think the Russians are very realistic in this sense. They try to fight it on its own grounds. In other words they try to make the United Russia Party as social media savvy as any other political movement and to some extent it is. But they know that they can't control the Internet.

JIM GLASSMAN:
Cliff, Russia's now the world's largest producer of oil. As Matt says you know prices could plateau and all these oil revenues could certainly level off but you have said that the Russian economy in fact has become too dependent on oil. What do you mean by that?

CLIFFORD GADDY:
It's basically become addicted to oil but this began already during the Soviet period in the sense that an addict requires not just the same amount of a substance, of drugs or-- to satisfy the cravings but continually more. And the way that worked in the Soviet Union was the oil and gas rents made it possible to develop a whole structure of the economy locating factories in places-- cities and places that no free market economy with freedom of movement and freedom of choice and private property would have done. But you end up with huge cities not just of 20 or 30 thousand people but sometimes of a half a million, even a million or more--

JIM GLASSMAN:
What are examples of these cities?

CLIFFORD GADDY:
These cities that are scattered in a chain basically all across the Urals in western Siberia. What would have happened if there had been not a command state run economy, a planned economy, but a free economy, and yet you inherit that from the Soviet period and you have to-- to maintain political and social stability you have to support these cities, these factories, and during the global economic-- global financial crisis this is where the money was devoted to preserving jobs in these large factories. And so Russia's actually been incredibly stable, it has a low, a relatively low unemployment rate compared to western Europe or Eastern Europe. Down the road it has a major problem to face because as we were just mentioning these oil prices are not likely to continue to soar, though nobody has a clue what's going to happen to oil prices in the future. If they were to plateau that would probably be a relatively positive outcome. They may even go down and at that point there are some really critical choices that have to be made. We've had eight-- Russia had eight years before 2008 of a real boom, windfalls, everybody could be happy. Everybody could be satisfied. I think the next decade, the next eight to ten years, it's going to be a completely different story. And at some point not maybe tomorrow, not next year necessarily, but at some point in these coming years they're going to have to face some real tradeoffs, some real crunches.

DAVID SATTER:
Oil is fundamental to the Russian economy, it's fundamental to the budget, it's fundamental to Russian exports. Oil is unreliable in the long run. Severe drop in the price of oil will create an immediate fiscal crisis in Russia.

JIM GLASSMAN:
So Matthew what should the U.S. be doing? I mean an unstable Russia-- I guess in one sense we-- some people might be happy if Putin gets into trouble, but an unstable Russia probably is not very good for the United States. So is there something that we could be doing to promote the kind of stability that would counter these predictions?

MATTHEW ROJANSKY:
I think the answer is very straightforward and that is that Russia can no longer withdraw behind some kind of wall. You know you referred to it as a new iron curtain; you can call it Eurasianism rather than a Euro Atlanticism. I think Russia's got to be part of the system. As Cliff pointed out it inevitably is economically and so politically it's got to be part of that system. It's got to be playing by the rules. You know as David was talking about that does mean holding them accountable to international standards that they've signed up to, democratic standards, human rights. But if Russia is part of a global system and the United States leads that system today, for better or for worse, it's on us to keep Russia as part of this system and as a player. I think if we do that then we have an opportunity to see things move stably even if that means big change at least it's going to happen in a gradual and a non cataclysmic way.

JIM GLASSMAN:
So what does that mean specifically? Does that mean bringing Russia into other organizations?

MATTHEW ROJANSKY:
WTO.

JIM GLASSMAN:
Ok WTO.

MATTHEW ROJANSKY:
It means WTO to start with.

JIM GLASSMAN:
World Trade Organization. Or what about kind of putting more pressure on Russia to behave in a way that would be considered responsible by the community of nations such as taking an important role in pushing back against Syria?

MATTHEW ROJANSKY:
Yeah absolutely. I think pressure is appropriate most of the time. I think the challenge with it is; is it going to work? And so you have to make sure that when you put pressure on Russia you're focusing on an argument that they understand, that's focused on your own interests so they get why you want that thing to happen. Not just telling them well we thing democracy is good in the abstract so be more democratic. That doesn't make sense to them. Say we want rule of law because it protects our citizens and our companies when they trade with you. That's a message that makes sense. And hold them to their commitments; you signed up to this deal, we signed up to this deal, you want us to observe our end, you observe your end.

JIM GLASSMAN:
Cliff.

CLIFFORD GADDY:
I think the reality is we have very little in the way of levers against Russia right now. And you're absolutely right that it would be best for Russia, for Russia's development, for the whole world's development, if Russia were integrated into both the economic and the political global structure. But I think the reality is that the Russians are quite willing to risk not being-- at least Putin is quite willing to not join it. Now to pull back from this I think the Eurasian Union idea is part of that. He's been very critical of the idea of joining WTO. He's sort of said past weekend we can kind of take it or leave it. And people don't believe that but I think you should. I think you should believe--

JIM GLASSMAN:
And that's part of this kind of oil-- partly because oil's centricity doesn't really make any difference? You now all we do is sell oil.

CLIFFORD GADDY:
Partly that and partly the sense that frustration with what the west, what the United States in particular, can do for Russia. That doesn't mean he has an answer. He's gone to-- he's in China right now. Putin is.

JIM GLASSMAN:
This seems to bring us back to what we were talking about in the beginning about the reset. It seems like if you're doing a reset at the very least you should be creating the environment in which Russia would entertain becoming this responsible member of society.

MATTHEW ROJANSKY:
But remember Russia's preferences and Russia's attitudes here both on the part of the people and the leadership still matter and I agree with Cliff that we don't have a lot of direct levers that we can apply but remember things have changed very dramatically. Yes you still have a kind of Soviet mentality on the part of some people, you have a kind of Russian exclusivism, Russian exceptionalism, but combined with that at the very same time you have a CEO mentality in Putin's own mind as well as certainly a lot of the oligarchs and the folks who control the government.

JIM GLASSMAN:
What do you mean by CEO mentality?

MATTHEW ROJANSKY:
Business mentality, bottom line they look at the profit and loss and they say does it profit us to be a part of this system, to trade with these guys over in Europe and the United States and China and when they want to do that it's because it profits Russia and I think that's going to be the case for WTO.

JIM GLASSMAN:
Let me finish up by going to David first about what's going on in Russia that you might consider good, or that Americans might consider good, and bad?

DAVID SATTER:
Good part is that there are many brilliant people in Russia. There is political debate in the country. It's immeasurably freer than it was under the Soviet Union. Bad part is the country's heading for a systemic crisis. The forces moving in that direction appear to be so fundamental it's hard to see how a country can avoid it. Under those circumstances there isn't a lot that the United States can do to change the internal dynamics in Russia. The only thing the United States can do is abandon the pretence, call things by their proper names, speak honestly and truthfully not only to the government to the Russian people. If the Russian people don't appreciate it now under conditions of a future crisis they will appreciate it because nothing is worse than the idea, than the conviction, that their government is a bunch of crooks and the west is totally complicit. That is not something that in the long run is going to be helpful especially under conditions in which the country's heading for a very foreseeable crisis. We just don't know when.

JIM GLASSMAN:
Matthew same question.

MATTHEW ROJANSKY:
Best thing that's happening in Russia and the United States is more Russians in America and in Europe and more Americans and Europeans in Russia than at any time in history. And the bad thing is corruption. Corruption is costing Russia more today than it has any time including in the Soviet period.

JIM GLASSMAN:
So it's worse today than it was in the Soviet period?

MATTHEW ROJANSKY:
It's worse today and it's getting worse.

JIM GLASSMAN:
Cliff.

CLIFFORD GADDY:
The best thing that has happened, it's not necessarily still happening to a great extent, is that Russia has-- Russia and Russians have regained a sense of dignity, self respect, and a sense that the rest of the world looks at them with some degree of respect. And that's important for their own self-esteem. The bad thing is that I think that is not continuing right now and there's a huge degree of cynicism. There was hope maybe several years ago. The hope has declined, has diminished, and cynicism has grown, which I think contributes to the idea that nobody is going to help me. We have to help ourselves so every man, every woman, for themselves. These are all-- it's a type of mentality that's not conducive to positive development in the future and this last announcement by Putin that he is simply going to come back, that all the decisions are made at the top, that there's no prospects for rejuvenation of the leadership, all of these things contribute to the idea of what's the point? You know, what's the point? A lot of Russians think about, not necessarily act on it, but think about just leaving the country.

JIM GLASSMAN:
Thank you Cliff, thank you David, and thank you Matthew. And that's it for this week's Ideas in Action. I'm Jim Glassman, thanks for watching. Keep in mind that you can watch Ideas in Action whenever and wherever you want. To watch highlights or complete programs just go to ideasinactiontv.com or download a podcast from the iTunes store. Ideas in Action because ideas have consequences.

ANNOUNCER:
For more information visit us at ideasinactiontv.com. Funding for Ideas in Action is provided by Investor's Business Daily. Every stock market cycle is led by America's never ending stream of innovative new companies and inventions. Investor's Business Daily helps investors find these new leaders as they emerge. More information is available at investors.com. This program is a production of Grace Creek Media and the George W. Bush Institute, which are solely responsible for its content.


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Featured Guests

Clifford Gaddy

The Brookings Institution

Clifford Gaddy, an economist specializing in Russia, holds a joint appointment as fellow in the Brookings Institution's Foreign Policy Studies and its Global Economy and Development program. He is also a founding member of Brookings' Center for Social and Economic Dynamics. His forthcoming book, Russia’s Addiction: The Political Economy of Resource Dependence (co-authored with Barry W. Ickes of Pennsylvania State University), examines the role of oil and gas in Russia’s domestic economy and in its foreign political and economic strategies. Gaddy and Ickes are also collaborating on another book, Bear Traps: Pitfalls on Russia’s Road to Sustainable Economic Growth, in which they will be analyzing the fundamental challenges that Russia faces in the areas of education, demography and health, physical capital accumulation, and productivity growth.

Gaddy’s earlier books include The Siberian Curse: How Communist Planners Left Russia Out in the Cold (co- authored with his Brookings colleague Fiona Hill), a study of how territorial misallocation of industry and people burdens today’s Russian economy; Russia’s Virtual Economy (with Barry Ickes), which analyzes the nature and evolution of the post-communist economic system in Russia; The Price of the Past: Russia's Struggle with the Legacy of a Militarized Economy; and Open for Business: Russia’s Return to the Global Economy (with Ed A. Hewett).

Gaddy earned his Ph.D. in economics from Duke University. He has held various teaching and research positions at Duke, Georgetown University, and Johns Hopkins University. He has traveled widely in Russia and been a guest scholar at various research institutes in the country, including the Institute for Economic Forecasting (Moscow), the Kostroma Agricultural Institute, and the Perm Technology Research Center. In the mid-1990s he was an advisor to the Russian finance ministry and regional governments on issues of fiscal federalism for the U.S. Government’s Tax Reform Oversight Project for Russia.

Matthew Rojansky

Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Matthew Rojansky is the deputy director of the Russia and Eurasia Program at the Carnegie Endowment. Rojansky is responsible for advancing the Program’s strategic priorities, ensuring operational support for resident and visiting experts, and managing relationships with other Carnegie programs, partner institutions, and policy makers. An expert on U.S. and Russian national security and nuclear weapons policies, his work focuses on relations among the United States, NATO, and the states of the former Soviet Union.

From 2007–2010, Rojansky served as executive director of the Partnership for a Secure America (PSA). Founded by former Congressman Lee Hamilton (D-IN) and former Senator Warren Rudman (R-NH), with a group of two dozen former senior leaders from both political parties, PSA seeks to rebuild bipartisan dialogue and productive debate on U.S. national security and foreign policy challenges.

While at PSA, Rojansky orchestrated high-level bipartisan initiatives aimed at repairing the U.S.–Russia relationship, strengthening the U.S. commitment to nuclear arms control and nonproliferation, and leveraging global science engagement for diplomacy.

Rojansky is a participant in the Dartmouth Dialogues, a track 2 U.S.–Russian conflict resolution initiative begun in 1960.

Prior to PSA, Rojansky clerked for Judge Charles E. Erdmann at the United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, the highest court for the U.S. military. He has also served as a consultant on the Arab–Israeli conflict and as a fellow at Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Cooperation.

He is frequently interviewed on TV and radio, and his writing has appeared in the International Herald Tribune, Jerusalem Post, and Moscow Times.

David Satter

Hudson Institute

David Satter, a former Moscow correspondent, is a long time observer of Russia and the former Soviet Union. He is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and a fellow of the Foreign Policy Institute of Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS).

Satter was born in Chicago in 1947 and graduated from the University of Chicago and Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar and earned a B.Litt degree in political philosophy. He worked for four years as a police reporter for the Chicago Tribune and, in 1976, he was named Moscow correspondent of the London Financial Times. He worked in Moscow for six years, from 1976 to 1982, during which time he sought out Soviet citizens with the intention of preserving their accounts of the Soviet totalitarian system for posterity.

After completing his term in Moscow, Satter became a special correspondent on Soviet affairs for The Wall Street Journal, contributing to the paper's editorial page. In 1990, he was named a Thornton Hooper fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute in Philadelphia and then a senior fellow at the Institute. From 2003 to 2008, he was a research fellow at the Hoover Institution. In 2008, he was also a visiting professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He teaches a course on contemporary Russian history at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced Academic Programs.

Satter has written three books about Russia: It Was a Long Time Ago and It Never Happened Anyway: Russian and the Communist Past (Yale, 2011); Age of Delirium: the Decline and Fall of the Soviet Union (Knopf, 1996; paperback, Yale 2001); and Darkness at Dawn: the Rise of the Russian Criminal State (Yale 2003). His books have been translated into Russian, Estonian, Latvian, Czech, Portuguese and Vietnamese. Age of Delirium is also being made into a documentary film by the Russian director, Andrei Nekrasov in a U.S.-German- Ukrainian joint production.

Episode Clips

Russia Excerpt: A Dim Democratic Spirit

David Satter discusses the current lull in Democratic sentiment among Russia's young people.

Russia Excerpt: Reasons for Optimism

Matthew Rojansky does not believe Russia's future is dark and believes young Russians are optimistic.

Russia Excerpt: The Oil Curse?

Clifford Gaddy Warns that Russia's over reliance on oil as a sole economic driver could have serious consequences.