tv Andrei Soldatov and Irina Borogan The Compatriots CSPAN November 2, 2019 9:10am-10:16am EDT
covered several authors on this topic, many of whom were hostages as well. to watch these programs online, visit booktv.org and the type iran hostage book in the search box at the top of the page. and tomorrow live at 8:30 a.m. eastern, stuart eizenstat from the carter administration and iran hostage john limbert join american history tv and c-span's "washington journal" to take viewer calls and tweets. that program will be simulcast on c-span and c-span3. >> good afternoon, everyone. welcome to today's seminar book talk and conversation. my name's alexander cooley, i'm currently director of the herriman institute here at
columbia university, and it is a great pleasure to welcome back our guests, co-authors irina boar began and andre sold to have who will be talking about this book just out called "the compatriots." irina and andrei are cofounders of -- [inaudible] authors of "the red web" previously, a history of russia's internet, governance of the internet, and then also the excellent book "the new nobility," which was on looking at russian security services. so this, i guess, is the third part of the trilogy -- [laughter] and we're, we're so excited that you're, that you're here with us today. the -- i think just a couple of issues.
one is we are filming this, so just a note to the audience as you engage and ask your questions, we'll can can you to identify yourself -- we'll ask you to identify yourself, and everything here is on the record in terms of the discussion. and then the, two, just in terms of format we'll start off with some general questions that i'll ask our co-no, sir, and then we'll segment -- co-authors and then we'll segment into more of a q and a format. and, of course, there are copies of the book here which irina and andrei will happily sign for you after the event. welcome back. welcome to new york. i feel like this is the scene for so much of what is going on, but, irina, tell us a little bit about what motivated you to write this book at this particular point in time. >> thank you very much, alex, for having us here. i have to say that you contributed a lot for the research for this book, because
you participate in the conference on exile. not on russian exile, just central asian exile and -- [inaudible] and i really use this time for research for our book. so maybe we would have lost a part of our research here in new york, so thank you very much. and it was very surprising decision for us to write the book, a new book on immigration because we always have been as far from this issue as only could be. and because no one from our family immigrated, including aunties, uncles and dozen of cousins, nobody.
you know that alex told you that our two books, one of the russia security sources and another of the kremlin on the internet. and we didn't know what to do next because most of our journalistic career we have been covering politics, security services, and we also reported from the conflict zone. but we had nothing to do with immigration because is an issue that's left behind, the issue that's left in the past because, i don't know, because people -- borders got opened, and people
could travel, could freely come into the country, and also they can, they can leave the country easily. but every year -- of course, reintroduce political integration of even 20 years ago when -- [inaudible] came to power and he started to expel people from the country, his political opponents. it was russian oligarchs who was in charge of russian independent media, tv channels and newspapers. and the first -- was with expelled into -- expelled from the country into asylum. but at the same time, we didn't see this issue as defining for
the russian politics and for the russian security sources. but it get worse and worse. and two years ago it was found that we need to say something because the russian, because political exile, independent politicians, journalists and other people who could pose any dissent to the kremlin, they became so issue. and kremlin -- [inaudible] so massive to them. i don't know, it became, i don't know, it became very important for the russian psychology to understand the cup. and after -- the country. and after --
[inaudible] political opponents abroad, including spying, intimidation and each poisoning. after that it became a political factor, and it became, it transformed the security service or maybe forced them to remember old transition. and it also transformed political conscience in russia because people are so frightened and so panicked over all these matters including poison. and security sources are so, this is very brutal. and i don't know, so -- to get back to -- [inaudible] so we decided to start working
on the book on immigration. that's why we did. >> it's so interesting because the book itself is this absolutely intriguing mix of detailing some of the developments in postrevolution their russia with some of -- post-revolutionary russia. , and andree take us through what you've discovered, what are some of the similarities and differences in these two different eras of dealing with the exiled emigre issue. call it an issue, or yeah. >> yeah. because we started finding out some surprising things. for instance, we have some strange contradiction here. on the one hand, the kremlin has been pushing people out of the country saying they pose no political threat, they are completely unimportant. and once these people come to the west, the kremlin gets
upset. [inaudible] and we didn't get it. we didn't understand why these people all of who by no means the most popular politicians in the country, and we are talking about oligarchs or journalists, politicians, but till the most popular -- but still the most popular live -- [inaudible] but nevertheless, the kremlin obviously and visibly gets upset that a these people -- [inaudible] and we try thed -- tried to understand the roots of this obsession. and what we found out is that right from the beginning from the revolution, the kremlin was obsessed with the idea and with the memory that in 1917 a small bunch of people -- actually, emigres, political exiles, completely unimportant back then -- supported by foreign
funding got back and took over this mighty russian empire. the most powerful, back then, political security service. and nobody could guarantee that this kind of thing couldn't happen again. of course, we understand that very historical and many factors contributed to the revolution. and probably some people still believe and people we spoke to in the security services, they really believe that lenin was an agent of the german general staff. of course we understand it's not an explanation, but it's a perception. particularly in the kremlin. but once upon a time, a small group of people, exiles, could actually change the political regime in the country. and the problem here is that right from the beginning the
methods used by and adopted by the russian security services were influenced by this perception, by the idea that nothing but the emigres pose the biggest political threat to political stability in the soviet union and later in russia. and they have some fascinating examples. for instance, of course, substantial was obsessed with trotzky, and he was obsessed with him even after he was killed. for instance, in january 1941 -- and back then the second world war had started, and france was already invaded and only five months before the soviet union gets attacked by the germans. in january 1941s moscow center, headquarters of the russian intelligence, sent a secret cable to new york to the chief of the soviet intelligence
station here urging him the intensify the struggle against -- [inaudible] so in the meddle of the war -- in the middle of the war, they still believed that a small group of people in new york could pose a substantial and fundamental challenge to the political regime. and unfortunately, very few things changed even after stalin's death. and we describe it in the book that the methods and the ideas and perceptions of the security services are still there. they still believe that political exiles could actually pose some threat. it's really surprising because if you look at this history of the russian immigration, political immigration, of course, you can see that it's actually could be, you know, an exposition of what could be done could not be done from the outside to political regime in a country like russia. and now in 2019 we sort of
assess the effectiveness of the meds. and -- methods. and we can see the -- they tried almost anything. they sent bolsheviks, when they challenged to the west, they got them killed -- [inaudible] they engaged in propaganda. when the army got involved in military conflicts, for instance, spain, they spend soldiers there. when the war started, second world war, is some of them took the side of the enemy and participated in the war fighting the soviet army. when the cold war started, again, they engaged in all kinds of -- from propaganda to espionage. and they try to change the public opinion here in the west. they stage if rallies, manifestations. and to be honest, almost nothing
actually worked. it was a history of failures. the russian immigration became famous for becoming completely incapable of building any political organization. to much of despair of americans who actually believed in this idea like josh can not. again, we have the story in the book. one day the russian immigration could actually produce something in terms of political organization gd which could actually produce -- [inaudible] can and to be honest, right until the end of soviet rule, nothing came out of it. such a big and still is such a big figure for the russian dissident movement, once he started building his own organization, resistance international, actually it was a complete disaster. but only one thing actually
worked. when the russian ares smuggled their books to the west, these books had a tremendousfect on the public here. -- tremendous effect. the one thing which probably worked was books. we have stalin's daughter, just a few examples. and that's actually the challenge. what happens now is, of course, we found ourselves in completely different situation because we have the borders open. and people could move freely out of the country and in the country. and only now we have this new phenomenon, we have the russians here in washington and london and european capitals -- [inaudible] and aspiring to have a say about the politics of these countries towards russia. it makes lot of americans very uncomfortable because it looks like interfere in a way.
and, of course, it actually produces a completely hysterical reaction from the kremlin. so this is something new in addition to the books. and this is a new situation we have here. but the method the russian security services still use target these individuals and target individual organizations. very much inspired by the previous examples and previous experiences of stalin and soviet intelligence. >> so interesting. so one of the fascinating things about the book is that a lot of, a lot of the actions and a lot of the networks and the intrigue takes place in our very city, new york. and so, irina, you mentioned that you undertook some research while you were here last time. of i'd be curious, both of you, tell the us a little bit about new york as a setting. why has it had this appeal for russian exiles in the past, what
have been some of the networks and different activities here? and, you know, what does new york mean to, you know, the russian exile scene, if we can use that word? >> new york is quite surprising place talking about the russian immigration back in 20s and '30s because everybody knows that after the revolution expect civil war, russian immigrated to paris, to istanbul, to europe but not to new york because -- [inaudible] not to the united states because it was too long way from russia. and, but when the --
[inaudible] started. [inaudible] on russian white immigration, it was the primary goal for the security services at time. they started operating extensively in this area and us p tan bull -- at the same time in the late 20s when stalin expelled trotzky from the country, trotzky two emigrated to europe, and then he got to mexico. but a lot of his supporters was in new york and in the united states because russian immigrants who emigrated not because of -- it wasn't the white immigration -- it was people who immigrated because --
the policy to the jews in russia. and they came to new york, and they got sympathizers of the russian revolution. and some of them were stalinists, but a lot of them were -- [inaudible] and when trotzky came to mexico, a lot of people, a lot of communists, the headquarter of their communist party of the united states was here in new york. it was a beautiful old -- [inaudible] in downtown, and you see this beautiful building. and the whole communist party of the united states bought the building, and they, there was a very intensive activity inside this building and also across
russia everything is very high arc gill. the reason is with the resolution. they did not want to give the russian embassy in washington. but he wanted to have some sort of compromise. to open an office in new york to help or represent the sort of interest in the united states. the office was used for propaganda. a kicked out. but that actually has an area of the intelligence agencies.
the main station in the united states was always here in new york. you have some stations there too. this was the center of the activities. they have the agape headquarters in new york. it has elevated the state in terms of the officer stationed here in new york. many of the political organizations of the that russian immigration. they moved to new york. they see what might happen to them after the war. and what might happen to them. they moved the headquarters for new york.
they also moved to new york. you got the mix of the southwest and second here in new york trying to build some political organizations. mostly it was a big disaster. and maybe just one more question before we throw it out. what i find really fascinated in some of your analysis is yes there is a lot of detail here about opposition activities and some of the barriers and challenges in challenges but there are also stories here about individuals who become wealthy or successful but they also maintain loyalty or at least try to maintain those contacts. the picture that emergent -- emerges here. it is much is much more complex than exiles from a
authoritarian system. there is different kinds of people playing different kind of roles. i'm wondering especially in accounts of controlling the media as one of these clinical things. what is the relationship between with immediate wars and they have become privatized. in concern about those living in exile. how does that issue involved. a very big part of the book. and it was a big question for us to be honest. for many years in the united states the politicians like george kennan.
they thought at the end of the day when the soviet union would collapse they need to go and see and maybe help. the hope inside of russia. we can all build something like that. there is a special statement about that. they have some people that were getting back. they decided not to get back and it was a disaster. some descendents of the first wave of immigration mostly, they sort of discovered that
now because the count is open there is some new opportunities. they speak language they understand it. they can come from their knowledge of both worlds and they can open the gate between russia and the west. it's kind of an interesting thing. as part of the book they have the foreign investment. and then the second one with the russian money to the west. i also want to see in the country. this is a process by
this different generation of russian immigration. for this process they calculated that brilliantly. >> we have these types of things. to open the gates american investments. two russia and one of the brilliant guys. a descendent of immigration. he was so prominent that he understood that these guys actually could be really helpful not only in terms of
there is no way they could actually put pressure on him. unfortunately it did not work out this way and in a few years jordan was also expelled from that. independent coverage. in 2002. into there. putin got angry. he said we need to get rid of these guys. it's interesting that it's still a very big supporter of putin.
and the pro-government media. has days were numbered. i think it is a very good story to see how he has the role of his people. >> let's go ahead and open it up for questions. please wait for the microphone to come to you. in the mac coming towards you right now. i am with the center of global affairs. i was wondering. you start out chapter three talking about putin is very interested in controlling
that. i was wondering how where the russian security forces using these organizations now. the thing is, you are absolutely right. it's a very interesting topic as we all know they have invested invested a lot. it has a very special meaning. and from the soviet union time for the immigrants that shoulder their loyalty. of course we know that a lot of that builds up in the
organizations all over the world. these organizations our sometimes visible. and some others of the state. they sort of try to be visible on the streets. we tried to understand how these organizations could be used and how they are used by the service. in the past we knew that things like we wanted to know how these organizations could be used. the best study could be 2016.
in the russian interference. we did not find any, and looks like the networks were already there. they were never really operated by the kremlin. it is quite interesting why we have propaganda. we have almost everybody one of the things is probably because the online activity. and personally they were absolutely sure that it would be impossible that they are so good that they could be. that's exactly what happened.
organizations. it's a huge array of organizations. for the base recruitment. for the russian intelligence. it has not been activated. all that we have. the people who are caught. they are professionals. they are sensitive of the russian spies. sometimes it doesn't mean that this recruitment it will never be used in the future.
>> i am a graduate of the harriman. it was the russian institute. i'm a historian. there are a lot of people in your book that i knew but there is one name that was missing and i go back to the 1960s i notice he is noticed he is not in your book. he was a friend of mine in munich he was a friend of mine in munich he was working at radio liberty i met him when he was very young and i was very young.
he stayed there from 1966 to 1986 when he went back to the soviet union. of course. to us we have a choice. we had two guys that almost had similar careers and they ended up in the russian institutes. both of them were training with american diplomats. both of them turned out to be agents of the kgb be.
it would be impossible to put everybody in the book. we've we just chosen one guy. when it goes back to the soviet union. it was a very interesting story. but it was not, he was not a sales guy. and just when you have that. it doesn't mean that one story is more interesting than another. his reader was very active with time. what's going on with him and how it happened. i don't know. we decided not to use the story because the book is limited. but is a fascinating story.
if they have some money or some people. or some resources. it completely changed because now it's a russian church abroad is a part of the church in moscow. we use it by the pro- kremlin groups. these kind of things can be assessed because there's so many different lines that might be used. it's clear it's tens of millions of dollars. we need to have some data.
at also offers plausible deniability. >> very interested in berlin in the station there. there was a big operation there. maybe some of you know the name martha dodd. he was brought back in tried in the trials. that was the end of alexander. i was interested with what you found out. they interviewed all of the people early on. there was a lot of archives in the public library.
if you have looked at him. what they wanted to do. to make it in a way with the family story. they became extremely important here in the u.s. the experiences was an absolutely defining thing. hi guy who was involved in the nation of squaw ski. during the war he was the chief of the new york intelligence station. it's a fascinating story.
they became a big family of russian spies. if they want to focus on these two people because to us it was an embodiment of the choices and methods used by the russian intelligence. it was kind of a conventional spy. after the civil war. loved by his superiors and he was sent to new york to take home the networks of american
communists. he was so loyal he actually ruined the whole thing. they have some stupid meanings. in many networks built by those people. it was a completely different thing. in of course he have this experience during the civil war. he was extremely smart and he was always used in that situation. he was finally touched by the
intelligence because that is what alters the war. in our book we try to explain the choices they have back then they have the conventional methods in figure not very smart but extremely different disciplines. you are still praised by your superiors. he will actually help to kill that. he was in charge of that. he spent many years in prison. he lost his job. that was an interesting
understandable. how do they perceive their activities. what happens there is more than the russian intelligence. what is the russian society that they've got. that was the idea. let's take a couple more here. >> we need you for the microphone recording. >> my name is susan short one. the former russian citizens being poisoned.
i don't understand why they are being poisoned. can you please explain that in the background. i just had a question about maybe you have this in the book. do you have the estimate of how many people integrated over the last five or ten years from russia into which countries. >> i immigrated here at my parents 30 years ago. my understanding as that for a while the secret services were
pretty will integrated. i was wondering if you could talk about that more. to what extent do they see the mission. what is their ideology. and what do they see as their mission. i will try to combine the first one. in the first one in the lassen about the church. we have the several people poisoned. they've all kinds of people that live there. when he visited moscow.
once he visited moscow he was poisoned twice. the interesting thing is that when you have these people poisoned but they're still alive. he you have the picture in the mind there are brutal obviously. why are they doing this. i also had this question also. but when i spoke to people for our book they played a very big role with that. it was quite interesting that everybody the end of the interview when you have this. the very last question was about the gal that was poisoned in the uk. the problem here is that you might think it was all incompetence.
part of the right church. people just get the message. you need to follow those. >> they decided not to put a number of russian immigrants in there. it was so quite different. impossible to be sure that they are accurate. they can be sure how many people immigrated from russia. the russell authorities. they can have another citizenship to be registered.
if it was maintained by the immigration service. i can't remember right now the exact number who got citizenship to them. it's 200 thousands of people. and most of them immigrated there. many of them just pay money for that. the second citizenship. [indiscernible] like the russian revolution or something like that. the united nations when it put
and they are not real immigrants . >> the final thing. i think it was provided by that use. the number of applications. as the record number in 1994. it is about 200,000 people. they still have a russian citizenship. you cannot actually count them. they are constant professionals. you have covered a tremendous
amount in this talk. we wish you all the best with the book. we will sign copies following this event. we wish you the best on the u.s. book to her. [inaudible conversations] book tv has coverage of the recent boston book festival beginning today at 2:00 p.m. eastern is common to say in the area of gun violence that we need more research.
that is not in urban gun violence. american foreign policy. it goes back a long way. it doesn't begin last week. knowing what it was actually trying to accomplish there. the environment right now we are powering air-conditioners with coal. we cite all of these in the communities of color. but nuclear plants can produce electricity without all of those pollutants. and the keynote talk by ben crump. states like florida and tennessee. one out of every five black men are convicted felons and they are very similar if this
trend continues in the next 25 years it would be one out of every three black men in america. they are convicted felons. here are some of the current best-selling nonfiction books. they detail the efforts made by uppers to stifle the reporting. and then rachel maddow argues that it has weakened democracies around the world. in the body a guide for occupants. and wrapping up the best
nonselling books. of how we missed read strangers words and actions. you can watch them online at book tv.org. >> sharon robinson here is the cover of the book. a memoir of 1963. >> they have the privacy that my parents were seeking. it was in a predominantly white community. we integrated our neighborhood and our schools.