In this episode: From Russia With Soundcheck continues with a look at the political Russian performance art collective Pussy Riot: While the members of Pussy Riot were serving their sentence in a labor camp, journalist Masha Gessen painstakingly researched the social and political conditions that led a group of otherwise “ordinary” young women to stage a protest that galvanized Russian society. Gessen talks about Pussy Riot and the book Words Will Break Cement.
Then, Jason Isbell -- a former member of Drive-By Truckers -- landed on many best of 2013 lists with Southeastern, an album filled with emotion, regret and one super-bad night in a Super 8. Isbell has since gotten sober -- and married the singer and fiddler Amanda Shires. The duo perform in the studio.
And: Mike Bloomfield is rock's greatest forgotten guitar hero, says Rolling Stone's senior editor David Fricke. Fricke reflects on Bloomfield's lasting legacy, as documented in a new box set.
First of all, they're not a band, they're an art collective. Masha Gessen, author of Words Will Break Cement: The Passion Of Pussy Riot, talks about the group's creation, agitation, incarceration and newfound freedom.
Journalist Masha Gessen looks at Pussy Riot's arrest and the recent release of two members of the band. She also discusses Vladimir Putin as a leader, gay rights in Russia, and the lead up to the Olympics in Sochi. She's the author of Words will Break Cement: The Passion of Pussy Riot and The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin.
Moscow-based journalist Masha Gessen talks about how Vladimir Putin, a low-level KGB operative, ascended to the Russian presidency. She argues that Mr. Putin has destroyed years of progress and made his country a threat to its own people and to the world. The Man without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin tells how he was handpicked as a successor to Boris Yeltsin, and how his popularity soared even as he seized control of media, sent political rivals and critics into exile or to the grave, and dismantled the country's fragile electoral system, concentrating power in the hands of his cronies.
Vladimir Putin has been called the accidental president. Putin, Russia's current prime minister, is in the midst of campaigning for his third presidential term, but his name was hardly known until 1999, when then-President Boris Yeltsin plucked the former KGB officer from obscurity and thrust him into the Russian spotlight. Russian voters will decide Putin's presidential fate at the polls this weekend, and a new book by journalist Masha Gessen exposes the secrets behind the meteoric rise of the man who has changed the course of Russian history. Gessen chronicles Putin's story through the story of modern Russia, exploring the leader's complicated relationship with the United States and with Russian business and media.