The Interpreter Joins RFE/RL

December 23, 2015

We are proud to announce that, starting January 1, 2016, The Interpreter will be a special project of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

Founded in May 2013, this online journal set out with the modest goal of translating articles from the Russian press, the better to lower the language barrier that separates journalists, analysts, policymakers, diplomats and interested laymen in the English-speaking world from events taking place inside the Russian Federation.

Little did we realize then that The Interpreter would devote as much energy to covering what the Russian Federation got up to outside of its own borders.

We have grown into a leading real-time chronicle and analysis resource on all aspects of the crisis in Ukraine. Every day since violence first erupted in Kiev’s Independence Square, The Interpreter’s Ukraine live-blog has documented a revolution that became a war on European soil, often breaking news stories about Russia’s annexation of Crimea, its maskirovka insurgency in the Donbass, its cross-border shelling of Ukraine, the downing of MH17, and the Minsk II “cease-fire.”

Our work has been cited in news outlets all over the world, by presidents and ambassadors.

Under the generous patronage of the Institute of Modern Russia (IMR), the magazine was allowed to evolve organically into a more journalistic enterprise, while still adhering to its core remit of being an “Inopressa in reverse.” We owe everything to the incredibly supportive team at IMR, and particularly to Pavel Khodorkovsky, who saw the potential and urgency of this project two and a half years ago.

The Interpreter translated into English two major reports on the alleged corruption behind the Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014; the first co-written by the Leonid Martinyuk and Boris Nemtsov, the latter of whom was brutally assassinated in Moscow a year later; the second by Alexey Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation.

We also published two internationally discussed stand-alone studies, “The Menace of Unreality,” a look at contemporary Kremlin disinformation and propaganda, and “An Invasion by Any Other Name,” a near-comprehensive history of the Kremlin’s “dirty war” in Ukraine that relied heavily on what Russian investigators and activists had uncovered about their own government’s deception.

Then, three months ago, Russia intervened in Syria. Under the pretense of going to war against ISIS, Vladimir Putin has tried to prop up a flailing ally in the regime of Bashar al-Assad, targeting mostly non-ISIS targets and killing scores of civilians. So The Interpreter launched another news channel dedicated to covering yet another ambiguous Russian war, in three different languages.

Given the magazine’s trajectory, a partnership with RFE/RL makes perfect sense.

A longtime “surrogate” for a free press where such is denied or underdeveloped, RFE/RL has produced some of the finest reporting and commentary on Russia, from the latest corruption scandals in Moscow and the legal persecution (or worse) of the Bolotnaya protest movement to the prevalence of North Caucasian jihadists joining the ranks of ISIS. Given the dire state of independent Russia media, portals such as RFE/RL are more necessary now than at any time since the end of the Cold War.

And given our overlapping interest, we could not be more excited to start 2016 as an outpost of a venerable news organization.