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A Monthly Culture Matrix For the Cosmopolitan Traveler

Spy Affair

Available on Wondery / Podcasts

The fact that we know—or can Google—what happened to Maria Butina, the red-haired Russian who conspired to act as a foreign agent in the U.S. in 2018, does not detract from this podcast hosted by Celia Aniskovich (Fear City: New York vs. The Mafia, How to Fix a Drug Scandal). Everything about Butina’s story invites exploration—even after her arrest, when she pled guilty but now maintains her innocence—and Spy Affair gets into it, untangling the web of sex, deception, the F.B.I., and the N.R.A. which Butina expertly wove. Crucially, the podcast also features interviews with Butina herself, recorded from prison in Virginia and, later, via video from Moscow. Spy Affair has all the trappings of a great Cold War spy story, plus the shock factor that comes from realizing how recently it all went down. —J.V.

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