819: Splinter Sale Shows


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Keith Gessen returns from Donetsk with reports of war, revolution and foreign provocation in Eastern Ukraine.


Keith Gessen: “I mean, if we just look at who the president is, it’s an oligarch who replaced the previous oligarch. So to celebrate this as a great achievement of people’s democracy is pretty hard to do. But maybe it was a step in the right direction. I don’t know…”

The headline of Keith Gessen‘s new London Review of Books report on Ukraine – Why Not Kill Them All? – is the only deliberately provocative language you’ll find in his report, or this interview. Everything else is cautious, fair and honest about an incredibly complicated subject – which actually seems pretty provocative if you’re reading the simplistic news coming from either side of this conflict.

Keith talks with Chuck about Ukraine’s long history of fractured borders, identities and allegiances, how the rise of Ukrainian nationalism caught most of the West by surprise, and the roles of the US and Russia in fueling tensions and guiding actors in the 21st century’s most dangerous proxy-war.

Keith Gessen in a journalist and founding editor of the magazine n+1. His essay Money appears in the collection Happiness: Ten Years of n+1.

Keith on Twitter

Interview transcript via AntiDote