The Interpreter is a non-profit online news site providing translations of Russian and Ukrainian media, news updates and analysis of Russia’s wars at home, in Ukraine, and in Syria.
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.
Throughout the first years of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, The Interpreter was among the 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 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, and in academic papers.
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, in October 2015, 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.
The Interpreter was funded by Radio Liberty/Radio Free Europe from 2016-2017. We lost our funding with the start of the Trump Administration. Since then, our writers have worked on a volunteer basis, so we appreciate your donations. We have been fortunate to have some media partners who have helped distribute our material; currently we are partnered with CodaStory, a single-issue web platform that puts a team of journalists on one crisis at a time and stays with it, providing unique depth, continuity and understanding to events.