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Today’s episode is one that I was very excited about, but before I get into it, I want to offer a quick update on my recent trip to Berlin. Jeff Gedmin and I were joined by a few journalists as well as a number of Ukrainian, German, and Polish thought leaders to see how the West could come together to join forces in support of Ukraine. This is just…
 
I’m joined by Larry Diamond for a conversation on how our social media ecosystem amplifies extremist movements and empowers authoritarian regimes such as China, Iran and Russia. We discuss how our democracy at home relates to the fight for freedom abroad, the perverse incentives of today's social media ecosystem, Twitter’s fate, and how Russia’s wa…
 
She is fueling the people’s revolution! Masih Alinejad is fulfilling the promise she made to the mothers of murdered and jailed protestors who have stood up to the brutal Iranian regime. As hundreds of thousands take to the streets to demand the dictatorship’s end, Masih (despite an attempt to assassinate her in Brooklyn, New York) and the millions…
 
As Iran enters its fourth week of protests, Roya Hakakian joins Uriel Epshtein for a conversation on Iran and its place in the global battle between tyranny and freedom. They discuss the murder of Mahsa Amini, the irrationality of Iran's morality police, and how the situations in Ukraine and Iran are connected. Roya Hakakian is a writer, journalist…
 
Alejandro Gonzalez-Davidson was based in Cambodia as a foreign English teacher. Every time he rode out on his bike through the lush forests of Cambodia he noticed the disaster that was slowly but surely unfolding. He decided to speak out and his actions sparked the birth of Mother Nature Cambodia, an organization that today mobilizes citizens to st…
 
Jeffrey Gedmin joins Uriel Epshtein for a special conversation from Berlin, Germany. They have spent the week meeting with German lawmakers to make the case that Germany could be doing more to support Ukraine’s fight for freedom. In this conversation, they discuss whether German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s commitment to fight authoritarianism will be …
 
Evan Mawarire fled Zimbabwe in July 2016 after leading mass protests against the mis-governance of the Mugabe dictatorship. Thousands had spontaneously turned up at his court hearing demanding his release. Now after six months in exile Evan returned and was met with an immediate arrest at the airport. In this episode of Frontlines of Freedom Evan n…
 
“In a dictatorship everyone has a number, the only difference is when that number will come up.” This is how David Smolansky describes the life of people who live under authoritarian regimes. When David became the mayor of El Hatillo in Caracas Venezuela, he didn’t expect that he’d have to bury hundreds of young people in the city cemetery who’d be…
 
In this special episode of Winter is Here, Uriel and Garry take a step back to look at how we got here and how we can avoid the mistakes of the past. We highlight the importance of signaling mechanisms on the global stage, whether we can have an impact on Russian public support for the war, and how the Free World can deter Putin and other dictators…
 
Rios de Pie (Standing Rivers) is a citizen action movement that was started by four young friends in the nation of Bolivia. Torn by the environmental degradation of the Amazon forest by their own government, they come together to figure out what to do about it. The strategies they decided upon were unusual but they resonated and even ended up prote…
 
Uriel and Peter discuss the information war over Ukraine, how Putin’s propaganda shapes Russian public opinion, and how we can create a freedom-first narrative capable of overcoming Putin’s (and other would-be authoritarians’) “firehose of falsehoods.” Peter Pomerantsev is a Senior Fellow at the SNF Agora Institute at Johns Hopkins University and a…
 
In the last nine episodes we heard incredible accounts and experiences of struggles for freedom and democracy from across the world. We had the unique opportunity to be told things that these amazing people do not normally speak about. Through their narratives we re-lived their most fond moments of big and small victories and enjoyed the warmth of …
 
Whilst In the second trimester of her pregnancy, a woman is detained and kept in a soviet style gulag. Her husband is sent to a brutal labor camp. She gives birth to a son in captivity whose first encounter with life is imprisonment for the ‘crime’ of being born a Uyghur - like his father. Nury Turkel grows up with a deep sense of seeking freedom a…
 
We discuss what inspiration we can draw from Ukraine’s fight for its survival and what we can learn from Abraham Lincoln about defending liberalism as we square off against political extremism. John Avlon is a Senior Political Analyst and anchor at CNN and the former editor-in-chief and managing director of The Daily Beast from 2013 to 2018. He is …
 
In 2001 a large group of refugee teenagers is rescued from the horrendous war between Sudan and the freedom seeking South Sudan. Many of them now orphaned, had started life as six year old child soldiers who had normalized burying their age mates - dead from starvation, disease and sometimes combat. Peter was keen as a young man to see a free Sudan…
 
Uriel and President Toomas Hendrik Ilves discuss cybersecurity, what the Free World can learn from Estonia, and whether one can enjoy Russian culture even as the specter of Russian authoritarianism looms over Europe. After a career as a diplomat and journalist, Ilves led Estonia’s Social Democratic Party in the 1990s, before serving as Foreign Mini…
 
As the Chinese military opened fire on the peaceful protestors in Tiananmen Square on June 4th 1989, thousands died and many were arrested. On the government’s published list of twenty one identified organizers, Zhou Fengsuo was named as the fifth most wanted person. Following his arrest, he was kept in a prison and handcuffed day and night for thr…
 
This week, in a special edition of Winter is Here, Uriel Epshtein moderates a panel on the state of the NATO alliance, how far members should go to help Ukraine defend itself against Russia, and what its role will be to counter authoritarianism in the future. Former US Secretary of Defense General James Mattis and French Admiral Edouard Guiallaud j…
 
Few people understand how much bravery it took Cassidy Hutchinson to testify better than Lt. Col. Alex Vindman, who sacrificed his own military career to come forward after Trump tried to blackmail Ukrainian President Zelenskyy. Now, Alex rejoins Winter is Here to discuss what gives people the bravery to come forward, what might come out of January…
 
When the Khmer Rouge (Communist Party of Kampuchea led regime) decreed a complete reset of the nation of Cambodia, everyone who was deemed educated was killed in a brutal genocide. Mu Sochua survived because her parents sent her out of the country - that was the last time she saw them. After 20 years in exile and with her own daughters in tow, Mu S…
 
After serving as one of the most celebrated mayors in the city of Caracas in Venezuela, Leopoldo Lopez begins to demand a better form of national governance from the presidency of Nicolas Maduro. Inevitably Leopoldo finds himself arrested and due to his popularity, he is held in solitary confinement in a military prison for four and half years. Wha…
 
In this week’s episode of Winter is Here, Sen. Heidi Heitkamp joins Uriel Epshtein to discuss the urban-rural divide and the impact it has on democracy in the US and around the world. Heidi Heitkamp is a former Democratic senator from North Dakota who served from 2013 to 2019. She is the president of the Renew Democracy Initiative’s board, and the …
 
What does it take to defy Chinese autocracy? It takes a 14-year old who refuses to accept the subjugation of his people. Sunny Cheung was an ordinary Hong Kong high schooler when he first stepped up to defy the Chinese Communist Party. That decision led him on a journey that has become his life mission. We talk about devoting one’s life to a cause …
 
Next to the word ‘Relentless’ in the dictionary should be Masih Alinejad’s picture – the Iranian woman who has championed daring campaigns and protests against oppression of women by the Islamic republic of Iran. As a young girl, Masih refused to accept that it is illegal for women to ride bikes, sing in public or swim in the river. One day her mot…
 
In this week’s episode of Winter is Here, Bill Kristol joins Garry Kasparov and Uriel Epshtein to discuss how Putin’s war in Ukraine, Trump’s impeachment, and the January 6th hearings are connected and what we can do to get people to care about defending freedom domestically and internationally. Bill Kristol served as Chief of Staff for Vice Presid…
 
If you remember the Rwandan genocide of 1994, you will want to listen to this awe inspiring conversation. I talk with Carine Kanimba, the daughter of Paul Rusesabagina, the Hotel Rwanda hero who saved thousands of people by hiding them in the hotel where he worked. Bizarrely, Rusesabagina is today tortured and unjustly imprisoned in Rwanda. Carine …
 
We’re excited to launch Frontlines of Freedom, RDI’s newest podcast, hosted by Pastor Evan Mawarire, our Director of Education. Pastor Evan Mawarire is a Zimbabwean democracy activist who led the This Flag protest movement, mobilizing millions and ultimately contributing to the fall of Robert Mugabe’s regime. Mawarire survived imprisonment and tort…
 
Before beginning to describe this week’s episode, I’d like to announce that the Winter is Here podcast and James’ Democracy brief will go on a 2-week hiatus from May 23rd until June 6th as we will be joining my co-host Garry for the Oslo Freedom Forum in Norway and other promising meetings in Europe. However, while we’re gone, you can listen to RDI…
 
Bret Stephens is a New York columnist. He won a Pulitzer Prize for commentary at The Wall Street Journal in 2013, was previously editor in chief of The Jerusalem Post, and is known for his sharp, contrarian takes. He is the author of America in Retreat: The New Isolationism and the Coming Global Disorder" (2014). He joins Uriel to offer his take on…
 
Timothy Snyder is a professor of history at Yale University and a permanent fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna. One of the most prominent historians of Eastern Europe, he speaks five and reads ten European languages. His many books, including Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin (2010), On Tyranny (2017), and The Road to U…
 
Laure Mandeville is a senior reporter at the center-right Le Figaro, the largest national French newspaper where she hosts a weekly page on intellectual debates around the world and has served as the bureau chief in Moscow and Washington. She is also the founder of the Tocqueville Conversations on the future of democracy and has recently published …
 
Tom Tugendhat is a member of the British Parliament and the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee. He is also a Lieutenant Colonel in the Territorial army and has served in Iraq and Afghanistan in addition to having been the principal advisor to the Chief of the Defense Staff (IE: the Professional Head of the British Armed Services). Listen to …
 
Pastor Evan Mawarire is the founder of the #ThisFlag Citizen Movement in Zimbabwe, which brought millions of people onto the streets to confront corruption, injustice, and poverty, and was ultimately instrumental in unseating Robert Mugabe. In 2016, Evan was named the African of the year by the Daily Maverick newspaper of South Africa and one of th…
 
Leopoldo Lopez is one of the most prominent Venezuelan opposition leaders. For openly challenging dictators like Chávez and Maduro, he was sentenced to 13 years in prison. He famously turned himself in and ended up spending 3 years in a military prison, and 2 under house arrest. During the 2019 uprising against Maduro’s regime, Lopez escaped house …
 
Bill Browder is the founder and CEO of Hermitage Capital Management, which was the investment adviser to the largest foreign investment fund in Russia until 2005, when Bill was denied entry to the country and declared a “threat to national security” as a result of his battle against corporate corruption. His colleague, tax lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, …
 
On this episode of Winter is Here, we welcome former poker world champion and decision scientist Annie Duke. Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has all of us wondering how you can make good decisions when the stakes are astronomical. We dive into the psychology of decision making with lessons that apply as much to daily life as to geopolitics. And with a …
 
We’re bringing you a special episode of Winter is Here this week where Uriel speaks with Ukrainian Colonel Oleksandr Gain out of Kyiv. Colonel Gain offers a more personal take on Russia’s invasion of his country and insight on Ukraine’s response based on his 20+ years in the Ukrainian military. As this conflict rages on, RDI is committed to bringin…
 
World War III is upon us—in fact, it has already begun. We are doing our best to keep you informed by launching a new podcast, moving our newsletter onto Substack, and offering guest contributions from experts such as my partners on RDI’s Board. For more than a decade, Vladimir Putin has waged war on the civilized world of international law, democr…
 
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