On April 17, 2023, Ilya Budraitskis and Ilya Matveev—both of whom were forced to flee Russia to avoid arrest for their open opposition to Russia’s war against Ukraine—sat down with anthropologist Alexei Yurchak to discuss the war, its origins, and its implications. How, in retrospect, might we trace a red thread from the authoritarian neoliberalism of the early Putin era to Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine and its pronounced dictatorial turn? What does this new form of Russian authoritarianism at home imply for the rest of the world? How useful are existing concepts from Marxism and critical theory—imperialism, Bonapartism, fascism, ideology—for understanding the situation both locally and globally?

What follows is a transcript of the conversation, lightly edited for readability.

alexei yurchak: The first question I would like to address to both of you. You have written and spoken about the radical transformation of the political system in Russia...

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