The Russian Spectrum

I launched The Russian Spectrum in May 2013 with the aim of making translations from the Russian press available to audiences in the West; a kind of English-language Inosmi, if you will.

The archive of most translations from the short-lived The Russian Spectrum translation project in 2013 can be accessed here, while a list of the more significant ones made by myself are linked below:


History of The Russian Spectrum

One of the things I came to realize in my Russia blogging career is that many Western journalists have a structurally skewed outlook on Russia. They hang with English-speaking liberals in Moscow, and come to see the messy and complex realities of Russian politics as a Manichean battle between Darth Putin and Padawan Navalny. And this is what they end up reporting to their Western audiences.

As a result, the opinions of the 60%+ of Russians who support Putin tend to be glossed over, when they are not dismissed as the delusions of “sovok” troglodytes; meanwhile, worldviews that are perpendicular to pro-Western “liberalism” and pro-Kremlin “patriotism,” such as Communist and nationalist currents, might as well not exist as far as the Western media is concerned. The ultimate result is that Western journalists end up portraying Russian politics as a morality fairytale that, on the whole, fails to reflect the true scope, creative flair, and ideological diversity of public Russian debates.

I realized that one of the easiest and most cost effective methods for making these alternate views accessible to Anglophones is to simply translate articles from the Russian media, which is far more diverse and combative than it is generally given credit for. This is where The Russian Spectrum comes in.

I first raised the idea at the World Russia Forum in Washington DC in May 2012, and later expounded upon at at this blog. Soon afterwards, I began The Russian Spectrum, a project aimed at providing a broad and ideologically representative sample of translations from the Russian media and blogosphere into English. This way, Anglophone readers could decide for themselves the true state of the Russian political debate for themselves – not to mention answer the subsidiary question of whether the Russian media really is as “unfree” as in Zimbabwe, as Freedom House claims.

But the ship of idealism foundered upon the shoals of reality. In its conception, the Russian Spectrum was a full-time undertaking, requiring a group of permanent translators to produce a comprehensive daily range of translations. Unsuccessful at securing funding, I eventually had to pull the plug on The Russian Spectrum. All its posts were moved to Da Russophile, of which the best are listed below; at least a sliver of its vision – access to a certain strand of the Russian political debate during the transitory 2012-13 period – can live on.