When Russian President Vladimir Putin astonished the world by invading Ukraine last year, Russian dissident journalist Elena Kostyuchenko was reporting at the time for a Moscow-based opposition newspaper that was shut down shortly following the invasion.
In her new book, "I Love Russia: Reporting from a Lost Country," Kostyuchenko, who is now in exile, explains her reporting journey and why she believes Russia needs to lose in Ukraine.
Kostyuchenko spoke to ABC News' Linsey Davis about the premise of the book. She also opened up about falling ill last October after what she claims was a poisoning attempt by the Russian state.
LINSEY DAVIS: Elena, thank you so much for coming on the show. So let's just start out with the idea of a lost country. Why do you refer to Russia as a lost country?
ELENA KOSTYUCHENKO: I believe we have two senses here. First, because I lost my country, and that's true. And second, because my country lost its way, and it's also very true.
DAVIS: This book really examines Putin's war and how it's really changed Russia's position politically, worldwide and its descent into fascism. But despite that global view, many Russians still seem to support Putin. Why do you think that is?
KOSTYUCHENKO: It's just hard to evaluate how many Russians really support war and really support Putin because right now, the expression of any negative attitude to war is criminalized, basically, in Russia. But we have some sophisticated sociological math that then they basically say that only 15% of Russia is supporting war, like extensively, and 15% of Russia are actively opposing the war, and the majority of Russians, like 70%, are just tolerating the war and what's happening because they basically feel helpless.
DAVIS: And to that point, last October, you felt very ill after receiving what you thought was a treatment. You ended up hospitalized and say that you were poisoned by the Russian state and the secret spy agencies, shadow spy agencies. First of all, are you okay now?
KOSTYUCHENKO: Thank you so much. I feel much better. All my symptoms [are] gone, except that I still get tired super easily. The opinion that I was poisoned was actually [the] opinion of my doctors, and after that, I approached the police. And [the] investigation still going on and I'm really looking forward to results of it.
DAVIS: How concerned are you about your health now?
KOSTYUCHENKO: I mean, I am concerned, because if [they] did use dichloroethane, it's not just toxic, but also it can cause cancer. I need to regularly check my state of health, and it's very annoying.
DAVIS: Do you fear any other potential retaliation against you?
KOSTYUCHENKO: I don't know. I believe this book can be a trigger, because it's on the topic what Putin likes less, I believe -- sources of true Russian people and story of Russia descending into fascism. But I hope it won't happen. Honestly, I think to try to kill a journalist is like the stupidest thing you can do, because we're just basically describing the reality, and if you don't like reality, journalists are not your problem.
DAVIS: In some of your previous reporting, you've talked about the indigenous communities in Russia's far northern area, and you write, "There are 700 Nganasan people left. They are the northernmost people on our continent. They have never been numerous. Yet 30 years ago, their numbers were nearly double – 1,300 souls." You reported on their culture, their language being eradicated. I'm wondering if you see some similarities with what's happening in Ukraine?
KOSTYUCHENKO: Well, we can find some similarities, but I believe it's still quite [a] unique nation and quite [a] unique situation, so we cannot really compare them. But we can definitely say that Nganasan culture was eradicated by Russian state for like centuries. And right now, we can see the result. It's just 700 people who are basically dying out. They already forgot their language and way. Some of them don't even consider themselves Nganasans anymore, and their way of living changed dramatically since Russia invaded their territories. And so I don't know. Does Putin have the same plans for Ukrainians? I believe we should ask him.