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2015 Camden Conference

 

RUSSIA RESURGENT

February 20-22, 2015

The 28th Annual Camden Conference, Russia Resurgent, was presented live from the Camden Opera House, and live-streamed to the Strand Theatre in Rockland, and the University of Maine Hutchinson Center in Belfast, February 20 – 22. 2015.

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“An absolutely phenomenal experience!”
(Attendee)

“The group you gathered was absolutely first rate and I was deeply honored to have the chance to keynote for such a high-end event.”
— Matt Rojansky, Keynote Speaker

“These speakers accomplished more in a friendly debate by educating their audience and moving past their differences of opinions than our leaders do today.” (Attendee)

“Thank you for a truly riveting experience last weekend—I came away deeply impressed with the energy of the organizers and the audience.” — Constanze Stelzenmuller, Speaker

“It was an excellently well-planned and organized conference with a highly informed audience. I found it unusually stimulating.” — Daniel Treisman, Speaker

“This year’s Camden Conference [was] absolutely amazing…one continuous increasingly gratifying experience from beginning to end.” (Attendee)

Russia Resurgent gathered experts from Russia, China, Germany and the U.S. to offer in depth background and analysis on the Russian economy, its domestic and foreign policies, the crisis in Ukraine, and the role of history and Russian nationalism in the present circumstances. Lively presentations and discussions addressed the current situation and scenarios for the future of the Russian state and the balance of world order, and engaged the audience with diplomats and academics in a dynamic exchange.

Ambassador Nicholas Burns, Professor of the Practice of Diplomacy and International Politics at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, returned to moderate the Conference, inviting the audience to have ample opportunity to join in the conversation.

Russia was last a Camden Conference topic in 1994. At that time, after four decades of the Cold War, Russia was engaged in a controversial sell-off of its huge mineral resources; its population was in decline; and it had few friends and admirers. The ensuing decades saw a rapid rise in its economy, a stabilization of its population, and Russia again became a force to be reckoned with, now exemplified by Russia’s move last year into Crimea and the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.

The 2015 Camden Conference offered attendees a deeper understanding of the attitudes informing Russian actions, from the experience of Vladimir Putin to the historical and political forces that have created the current narratives.

CONFERENCE HIGHLIGHTS

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2015 Conference Highlights

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Schedule

Friday February 20, 2015

8 PM Welcome
Sarah Miller
President, Camden Conference

Introduction
Amb. Nicholas Burns, Moderator
Professor in the Practice of Diplomacy and International Politics, Harvard Kennedy School

Keynote Address
Matthew Rojansky
Director, Kennan Institute, Woodrow Wilson Center

Saturday February 21, 2015

8:45 AM Opening Remarks
Amb. Nicholas Burns, Moderator
Professor in the Practice of Diplomacy and International Politics, Harvard Kennedy School

9:00 AM Nina Tumarkin
Professor of History at Wellesley College
Associate, Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard University

9:30 AM Nikolay Petrov
Professor of Faculty of Politics at the Higher School of Economics, Moscow

10:00 AM Break

10:30 AM Daniel Treisman
Professor of Political Science, UCLA

11:00 AM Panel of Keynote and Morning Speakers

Lunch Break

1:30 PM Amb. Steven Pifer
Senior Fellow, the Brookings Institution

2:00 PM Constanze Stelzenmuller
Senior Fellow, Center on the United States and Europe, the Brookings Institution

2:30 PM Break

3:00 PM Lanxin Xiang
Professor of International History and Politics, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva

3:30 PM Panel of Afternoon Speakers

4:30 PM Adjourn for the Day

Sunday February 22, 2015

9:00 AM Thomas Graham
Senior Fellow, Jackson Institute for Global Affairs, Yale University Managing Director, Kissinger Associates

9:45 AM Fyodor Lukyanov
International journalist and political analyst. Editor in Chief of the journal Russia in Global Affairs

10:30 AM Break

11:00 AM Final Panel of All Speakers

12:30 PM Conference Adjourns

 

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CONFERENCE SPEAKERS

Matthew-Rojanski

Keynote Speaker:
Matthew Rojanski

Matthew Rojansky, Director of the Kennan Institute at the Wilson Center, is an expert on U.S. and Russian national security and nuclear weapons policy. His work focuses on relations among the U.S., NATO, and the states of the former Soviet Union, particularly Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and Moldova. From 2010 to 2013, he was Deputy Director of the Russia and Eurasia Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He founded Carnegie’s Ukraine Program, led a multi-year project to support U.S.–Russia health cooperation, and created a task force on the Moldova–Transnistria conflict. From 2007 to 2010, Rojansky served as executive director of the Partnership for a Secure America (PSA), where he orchestrated high-level bipartisan initiatives aimed at repairing the U.S.–Russia relationship, strengthening the U.S. commitment to nuclear arms control and nonproliferation, and leveraging global science engagement for diplomacy. Rojansky is a participant in the Dartmouth Dialogues, a U.S.–Russia conflict-resolution initiative begun in 1960.

Moderator:
R. Nicholas Burns

Nicholas Burns is Professor of the Practice of Diplomacy and International Politics at the Harvard Kennedy School and a Board Member of Harvard’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. He retired from the State Department in April 2008 after a distinguished career spanning 27 years. From 2005 until his retirement, Burns was Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs—the third-ranking position in the State Department—where he led U.S. negotiations with Iran, India, and Kosovo and supervised U.S. diplomacy in all regions of the world. Burns also was U.S. Ambassador to NATO and to Greece. He was the State Department Spokesman for two years and spent five years on the National Security Council (NSC) staff, including serving as Special Assistant to President Bill Clinton, focusing on the former Soviet Union. Under President George H. W. Bush, he was Director for Soviet (and then Russian) Affairs on the National Security Council.

 

Nikolay-Petrov-Speaker

Nikolay Petrov


Nikolay Petrov
is a Professor in the Faculty of Politics at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow and a Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Fundamental Studies, Laboratory for Qualitative and Quantitative Methods of Analysis of Political Regimes. A noted political scientist and political geographer, he has contributed many articles to leading Russian and foreign media and is a regular columnist for the English-language Moscow Times. He is the co-author and editor of The Dynamics of Russian Politics: Putin’s Reform of Federal–Regional Relations, published in 2005, and co-editor (with Maria Lipman) of Russia 2025: Scenarios for the Future, published in 2013. Petrov is the former chair of the Carnegie Moscow Center’s Society and Regions Project. From 1990 to 1995, he was an adviser to the Russian Parliament. He is a graduate of the Geographical and Economics Faculty of Moscow State University and holds a PhD in Geography.

Steven-Pifer-Speaker

Steven Pifer


Steven Pifer
Steven Pifer is the Director of the Brookings Institution Arms Control and Non-Proliferation Initiative. He is also a Senior Fellow with the Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence, and with the Center on the United States and Europe in the Foreign Policy program at Brookings. A former Ambassador to Ukraine (1998 to 2000), Pifer had a long Foreign Service career that centered on Europe, the former Soviet Union, and arms control and security issues. Pifer had postings in London, Moscow, Geneva, and Warsaw, as well as on the National Security Council. He has frequently provided commentary and analysis on CNN, NPR, BBC, VOA, and Fox News. Pifer is coauthor of The Opportunity: Next Steps in Reducing Nuclear Arms, published in 2012. He is a board member of the American Academy of Diplomacy, a senior adviser to the U.S.–Ukraine Business Council, and a member of the Nuclear Security Working Group.

Constanze Stelzenmüller


Constanze Stelzenmüller
is the inaugural Robert Bosch senior fellow with the Center on the United States and Europe at the Brookings Institution. Previously, she was a senior transatlantic fellow with the German Marshall Fund of the United States, where she directed the influential Transatlantic Trends survey program. Her areas of expertise include: transatlantic relations; German foreign policy; NATO; the EU’s foreign, security and defense policy; international law; and human rights. Stelzenmüller is a governor of the Ditchley Foundation and a fellow of the Royal Swedish Society for War Sciences. She has worked in Germany and the United States; has been a frequent commentator on American and European radio and TV; and speaks English, French, German, and Spanish. She holds a doctorate in law from the University of Bonn, a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, and a law degree from the University of Bonn.

Tumarkin-Nina

Nina Tumarkin


Nina Tumarkin
is Professor of History at Wellesley College and a longtime Associate at the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard University. Her expertise includes current Russian cultural politics; comparative national memories of war; and official apologies for historical wrongdoings. In 1985, before President Reagan’s first summit meeting with Mikhail Gorbachev in Geneva, Tumarkin served as one of six “Soviet experts” who briefed the president and his staff. She is the author of several books, including The Living and the Dead: The Rise and Fall of the Cult of World War II in Russia (Basic Books, 1995), and Lenin Lives! The Lenin Cult in Soviet Russia (Harvard University Press, 1997). Her current research project is titled “Coming to Grips with the Soviet Past: The Politics of Historical Memory in Russia, 2005–2012.” She has lectured on many Wellesley alumni trips in Russia, Eastern Europe, and the Baltic.

Lanxin-Xiang-speaker

Lanxin Xiang


Lanxin Xiang
is Professor of International History and Politics at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, Switzerland. He previously was Associate Professor in the Political Science Department at Clemson University in South Carolina. During the year 2003–2004, Xiang held the Kissinger Chair of Foreign Policy and International Relations at the Library of Congress. He was a MacArthur Foundation Fellow in Germany in 1989 and an Olin Fellow at Yale University in 2003. Xiang has held chairs at Fudan University in Shanghai and China Foreign Affairs University in Beijing. He founded the Trilateral Forum, providing a venue for top-level policymakers to discuss China. He is a contributing editor for the publication Survival at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), London, and Dushu Magazine in Beijing. Xiang received his PhD from the Paul Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University.

Fyodor-Lukyanov-Speaker

Fyodor Lukyanov


Fyodor Lukyanov
is an international journalist and political analyst based in Moscow. Since 2002, he has been Editor in Chief of the journal Russia in Global Affairs, published by the Foreign Policy Research Foundation. He is Chairman of Presidium of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy, the oldest Russian NGO, providing expertise in security and foreign affairs. He is also a Presidium Member of the nonprofit organization Russian Council on Foreign Affairs. Lukyanov’s previous positions include Senior Editor, Department for Broadcasting to Northern Europe, “Voice of Russia,” on International Moscow Radio (1990–1993); International Correspondent for the newspaper Segodnya (1994–1997); Editor of the international desk of the Vremya MN newspaper (1997–2000); and Deputy Editor in Chief of the Vremya Novostei newspaper (2000–2002). A graduate of the philological faculty of Moscow State University, he is fluent in German, Swedish, and English, in addition to his native Russian.

Daniel-Treisman

Daniel Treisman

Daniel Treisman is Professor of Political Science at UCLA and a research associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research. His work focuses on Russian politics and economics and comparative political economy. Educated at Oxford and Harvard University, he has published four books and numerous articles in leading political science and economics journals. He has also served as a consultant for the World Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. In Russia, he is a member of the International Advisory Committee of the Higher School of Economics and a member of the Jury of the National Prize in Applied Economics. He has been a Guggenheim Fellow and a visiting fellow at both the Hoover Institution and the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna. His most recent book, The Return: Russia’s Journey from Gorbachev to Medvedev (2011), was named one of the Financial Times’s “Best Political Books of 2011.”

Thomas Graham

Thomas Graham

Thomas Graham is a managing director at Kissinger Associates, focusing on Russian and Eurasian affairs. He was Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Russia on the NSC staff from 2004 to 2007 and the National Security Council’s Director for Russian Affairs from 2002 to 2004. Prior to that, he served as the State Department’s Associate Director of the Policy Planning Staff. From 1998 to 2001, Graham was a Senior Associate in the Russia/Eurasia program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. From 1984 to 1998, as a Foreign Service Officer, he had two tours of duty at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, where he served as head of the political/internal unit and acting Political Counselor. Between Moscow assignments, he worked on Russian and Soviet affairs on the State Department’s Policy Planning Staff and as a policy assistant in the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy.

Elena Poptodorova

Elena Poptodorova

Elena Poptodorova is our special Guest Panelist. Elena Poptodorova has served as Bulgarian Ambassador to the United States since 2010, having held the same position from 2002 to 2008, a period in which Bulgaria joined NATO and the European Union. In the interim, she led the Security Policy Directorate at Bulgaria’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and served as Ambassador-at-Large for the Black Sea Region. Although Ambassador Poptodorova began her professional life as a diplomat, she was also involved in politics in the 1990s as a member of Parliament, serving on the foreign policy, national security, radio and TV, human rights and agriculture committees. She was awarded degrees in English, Italian and international relations in Bulgaria and also studied at Leeds University in England and the University of Siena in Italy. She is currently deputy chair of the Board of Trustees of the American University in Bulgaria. She speaks English, Italian, French and Russian, in addition to her native Bulgarian.

 

 

RESOURCES

In preparation for our 28th Annual Camden Conference, Russia Resurgent, the Program Committee recommends the following books, films, websites and readings. An asterisk* denotes that the author is a confirmed speaker at this year’s Conference.

OR DOWNLOAD CURRENT BOOKLIST
RECOMMENDED READINGS

I. POLITICS and PUTIN

Mr-Putin-Operative-In-The-Kremlin

Mr. Putin: Operative in the Kremlin

Hill, Fiona and Gaddy, Clifford.

Brookings Institution Press, 2013

Acclaimed, particularly as a guide for policy makers, in this book Russian experts Fiona Hill and Clifford Gaddy answer the question, “Who is Mr. Putin?” Drawing on many sources, including their own personal encounters with him, they argue that there are, in fact, several ‘real’ Putins. His outlook has been shaped by many influences – a combination of his archetypical Russian mentality, his very close reading of Russian history and literature, his own early life and KGB training, his time in East Germany, his experiences in St. Petersburg in the 1990s, his early days behind the scenes in Moscow, and his time at the helm of the Russian state. Understanding his multidimensional nature is and should be important for U.S. and other policymakers trying to decide how to approach and interact with him.

ISBN: 978-0815723769

Russia-2025-book

Russia 2025: Scenarios for the Russian Future

Lipman, Maria and Petrov, Nikolay.*

Palgrave Macmillan, 2013

Two major Russian experts – Maria Lipman (Chief Editor of Pro et Contra, journal of the Moscow Carnegie Center) and Nikolay Petrov (Professor of Higher School of Economics Research Institute), analyze the Russian economy and politics, while also offering development scenarios for the next decade. Experts are impressed by the depth of analysis and its comprehensive review of the reality of contemporary Russia. (From Russia Direct’s “Top 10 Books about Russia Published in 2013”)

ISBN: 978-1137336903

Politics in Russia

Politics in Russia, 7th Edition

Remington, Thomas.

Pearson Education, Inc., 2012

Thomas Remington, of Emory University and the Davis Center at Harvard, has written the most widely used authoritative text on how the Russian Federation is governed. He is a member of the Camden Conference and a summer resident of Northport.

ISBN: 978-0205005796

putin russia book

Putin’s Russia

Politkovskaya, Anna.

Henry Holt Company, LLC, 2007

Politkovskaya, murdered in Moscow in 2006, was a fiercely independent and critical investigative journalist, writing about the war in Chechnya, corruption, and the character of Vladimir Putin.

ISBN: 978-0805082500

man-without-a-face-book
The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin

Gessen, Masha.

Riverhead Books, 2013

Gessen, a journalist, has her own critical interpretation of Putin and his rise to power.

ISBN: 978-1594488429

the return russia journey

The Return: Russia’s Journey from Gorbachev to Medvedev

Treisman, Daniel.*

Simon and Schuster, 2011

Treisman argues that, as in other countries, the policies followed by Russia’s leaders are shaped by economic circumstances and public opinion.

ISBN: 978-1416560722


II. HISTORY

Part of Europe-Akunin

Part of Europe. History of the Russian state. From its origins to the Mongol Invasion

Akunin, Boris.

AST, 2013

Akunin (Grigory Chkartishvili), is a leading Russian intellectual, author of the Erast Fandorin historical detective novels and a filmmaker, essayist, and translator from Japanese. This volume presents his historical interpretation of Russia.

Lenin's Tomb-Remnick

Lenin’s Tomb

Remnick, David.

Vintage Books, 1994

Perhaps the best account of how and why the Soviet Union collapsed. Remnick was the Washington Post Moscow correspondent; he is now editor of The New Yorker.

ISBN: 978-0679751250

Russia and the Soviet Union-Thompson

Russia and the Soviet Union: A Historical Introduction from the Kieven State to the Present

Thompson, John M.

Westview Press, 2012

Comprehensive, balanced, up to date, engaging, and deftly written, Russia and the Soviet Union may be the best brief history of Russia available today.” — Donald J. Raleigh, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

ISBN: 978-0813346960

Revolutionary Russia-Figes

Revolutionary Russia, 1891-1991

Figes, Orlando.

Metropolitan Books, 2014

Figes, a British historian, provides an excellent survey of the Russian revolution and the Soviet Union. His book covers diplomacy and international affairs as well as internal developments. In his view, Communist ideology and the revolution shaped Russia throughout the Soviet era.

ISBN: 978-0805091311

A History of Twentieth Century Russia-Service

A History of Twentieth Century Russia

Service, Robert.

Penguin Books, 1999

“Always well-informed and balanced in his judgments, clear and concise in his analysis. . .Service is extremely good on Soviet politics.” – Orlando Figes, Sunday Telegraph
“A fine book. . .it is a dizzying tale and Service tells it well; he has none of the ideological baggage that has so often bedeviled Western histories of Russia.” – Brian Moynahan, Sunday Times

ISBN: 978-0300192377

The First Socialist Society-Hosking

The First Socialist Society: A History of the Soviet Union from Within, Second Enlarged Edition

Hosking, Geoffrey.

Harvard University Press, 1997

Hosking explores the impact of Soviet socialism on people’s lives, an emphasis often overlooked in books about Soviet high politics and diplomacy.

ISBN: 978-0674304437

It Was A Long Time Ago-Satter

It Was a Long Time Ago and it Never Happened Anyway: Russia and the Communist Past

Satter, David.

Yale University Press, 2011

Satter argues that Russia has failed to come to terms with its communist history, and this explains much of what we see in Russian behavior today.

ISBN: 978-0300111453

 

III. ECONOMY AND ENERGY

Russia’s Capitalist Revolution: Why Market Reform Succeeded and Democracy Failed

Aslund, Anders.

Peterson Institute, 2007

The central paradox about contemporary Russia is why capitalism has taken root, but democracy has not. Anders Aslund provides a crisp, comprehensive, and compelling answer. “Russia’s Capitalist Revolution will become a classic overnight, the standard by which all future books on the last two decades of Soviet and Russian history will be judged.” – Michael McFaul, director, Center on Democracy, Development, and Rule of Law, Stanford University.

ISBN: 978-0881324099

Petrostate-Goldman

Petrostate: Putin, Power, and the New Russia

Goldman, Marshall.

Oxford University Press, 2010

This may be Goldman’s best book, and that’s saying a lot. Goldman explains why and how Russia has again emerged as a global power. The answer is oil. At inflated prices, it leads directly to inflated national aspirations and further down the road to dangers of a totally unpredictable nature.” – Marvin Kalb, former Moscow bureau chief for CBS News.

ISBN: 978-0195398632

Wheel of Fortune-Gustafson

Wheel of Fortune: The Battle for Oil and Power in Russia

Gustafson, Thane.

Belknap Press, 2012

“Thane Gustafson is the master expert on Russia’s vast oil and gas industry. He tells the story of the past two decades as the hydrocarbon-rich Eurasian giant has sought, in fits and starts, to shuck its Soviet past and become a normal, modern nation, integrated into the global economy.” – Strobe Talbott, President, Brookings Institution.

ISBN: 978-0674066472

 

 

IV. FOREIGN POLICY

Limits of Partnership-Stent

The Limits of Partnership: US-Russian Relations in the 21st Century

Stent, Angela.*

Princeton University Press, 2014

Stent was adviser to Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush and is Director of the Center for Eurasian, Russian and East European Studies at Georgetown.

ISBN: 978-0691152974

Post-Imperium-Trenin

Post Imperium: A Eurasian Story

Trenin, Dmitri.

Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2011

Trenin, a Russian at the Carnegie Endowment, argues that Russia seeks influence but not the re-creation of empire. He analyzes Russian relations with Europe, China and Central Asia. Trenin was a speaker at an earlier Camden Conference.

ISBN: 978-0870032486

Arms for Uncertainty-Cimbala

Arms for Uncertainty: Nuclear Weapons in US and Russian Security Policy

Cimbala, Stephen.

Ashgate Publishing Co., 2013

Lest we forget, Russia remains the only country that can destroy the U.S. in thirty minutes. Russia is also a central partner in curbing proliferation.

ISBN: 978-1472409850

Russian Foreign Policy-Gvosdev

Russian Foreign Policy: Interests, Vectors, and Sectors

Gvosdev, Nikolas K. and Marsh, Christopher.

Cq Pr., 2014

Gvosdev, of the Naval War College, and Marsh, of the Army School of Advanced Military Studies, analyze Russian foreign policy, with historical background, by looking in the various directions from Moscow.

ISBN: 978-1452234847

Russia's Foreign Policy-Tsygankov

Russia’s Foreign Policy: Change and Continuity in National Identity, 3rd Edition

Tsygankov, Andrei P.

Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2013

Tsygankov traces three views of Russian foreign policy, West, Eurasia, and Euro-East, competing for influence since the demise of the Soviet Union.

ISBN: 978-1442220010

Russia's Arctic Strategies-Laruelle

Russia’s Arctic Strategies and the Future of the Far North

Laruelle, Marlene.

M.E. Sharpe, 2013

A timely and important book. As the ice melts, Russia has been making a major effort to promote the Northeast Passage as a trade route between Asia and Europe and to secure claims to undersea resources. The Arctic has been neglected in U.S. policy, and is now finally receiving some attention.

ISBN: 978-0765635013

V. SOCIETY and CULTURE

Russians-book

Russians: The People Behind the Power

Feifer, Gregory.

Twelve, 2014

Feifer is a top young journalist who knows Russia from the inside out.

ISBN: 978-1455509645

Natasha's Dance-Figes

Natasha’s Dance: A Cultural History of Russia

Figes, Orlando.

Picadore, 2003

Beginning in the 18th century with the building of St. Petersburg and culminating with the Soviet regime, Figes examines how writers, artists, and musicians grappled with the idea of Russia itself. Skillfully interweaving the great works of Dostoevsky, Stravinsky, and Chagall with folk embroidery, peasant songs, religious icons, and all the customs of daily life, Figes explores the spirit of “Russianness” which outlasts rulers and regimes. (Adapted from Publisher’s remarks).

ISBN: 978-0312421953

The Winter Queen-Akunin

The Winter Queen

Akunin, Boris.

Random House Trade Paperbacks, 2004

Akunin’s Erast Fandorin’s historical detective novels set in late Tsarist times have made him a celebrity in Russia. Winter Queen stars the naive but eager Fandorin as a young investigator with the Moscow police. Why would a university student shoot himself in the middle of the Alexander Gardens? Fandorin sets out to find the answer and soon lands in the middle of a far-reaching international conspiracy. Akunin contrasts the comical innocence of his hero with the decadence of Moscow aristocrats idling in gambling clubs while the winds of revolution begin to blow. (Adapted from Booklist)

ISBN: 978-0812968774

The Russia Reader-Barker

The Russia Reader: History, Culture, Politics

Barker, Adele and Grant, Bruce, eds.

Duke University Press Books, 2010

This big collection of short pieces, mostly by Russian authors, includes essays, documents, reflections on daily life throughout Russian history, and some important bits from the Russian literary canon.

ISBN: 978-0822346487

The Portable Twentieth-Century Russian Reader-Brown

The Portable 20th Century Russia Reader

Brown, Clarence, ed.

Penguin Books, 2003

Much of the best of early 20th century Soviet writing is represented in this anthology, including Blok, Mayakovsky, Bulgakov, Pasternak, Mandelstam, Akhmatova, Shalamov, Solzhenitsyn and others. Start with Tolstoy’s enigmatic story Alyosha the Pot.

ISBN: 978-0142437575

Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking-von Bremzen

Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking: A Memoir of Food and Longing

von Bremzen, Anya.

Crown, 2013

Funny, delightful journey through the various episodes of the workers’ paradise, told from the kitchen of a Russian-Jewish family. From dinner table conversations and Soviet cookbooks, von Bremzen explains what Rodina, the Soviet Motherland, was really all about.

ISBN: 978-0307886811

VI. RUSSIA AND THE NEIGHBORS

Ukraine:

The History of Ukraine-Kubicek

The History of Ukraine

Kubichek, Paul.

Greenwood, 2008

This book offers a current, concise, and analytical history of the Ukraine. Kubicek, a professor of political science at Oakland University, takes an interesting, informative look at how Ukrainian politics has evolved, and its development as a nation. (From Publisher’s remarks)

ISBN: 978-0313349201

Crisis in Ukraine-Rose

Crisis in Ukraine

Rose, Gideon, ed.

Council on Foreign Relations, 2014

Crisis in Ukraine sets the intellectual stage for understanding the turmoil in Eastern Europe, what is really at stake, and what will come next. The arguments presented span the ideological spectrum, and the authors include a range of leading experts from several disciplines and countries, including Yuliya Tymoshenko, Alexander Motyl, Orlando Figes, Kathryn Stoner, Daniel Treisman, Brian Taylor, Kathleen McNamara, and more. (From Publisher’s remarks).

ISBN: 978-0876095850

Caucasus:

 

The Caucasus-de Waal

The Caucasus: An Introduction

de Waal, Thomas.

Oxford University Press, 2010

“This is the definitive text for anyone interested in this complex region. De Waal describes the deep roots of current conflicts, and his analysis of the present situation is right on target. It should be required reading for anyone involved in Caucasian affairs.” – Richard Miles, former U.S. Ambassador to Azerbaijan and Georgia.

ISBN: 978-0195399776

Black Garden-de Waal

Black Garden: Armenia and Azerbaijan Through Peace and War

de Waal, Thomas.

NYU Press, 2004

“Never have all the twists and turns, sad carnage, and bullheadedness on all sides been better described – or, indeed, better explained . . . Offers a deeper and more compelling account of the conflict than anyone before.” – Foreign Affairs

ISBN: 978-0814719459

Georgia-Jones

Georgia: A Political History Since Independence

Jones, Stephen F.

I. B. Taurus, 2012

“This impressive book represents a substantial achievement. It presents a rare but desperately needed and fresh analysis of contemporary Georgia. The author has unusually perceptive eyes that see through the stock categories and clichés that shape so much commentary and analysis about Georgia. I don’t know of any other treatment of Georgia (or its neighbors) that is as thorough.” -Dr Michael Reynolds, Associate Professor, Princeton University.

ISBN: 978-1845113384

The Insurgency in Chechnya-Schaefer

The Insurgency in Chechnya and the North Caucasus: From Ghazavat to Jihad

Schaefer, Robert W.

Praeger, 2011

“A remarkable book … Col Schaefer’s book does a fine job in summarizing the breadth and depth of the conflict, and making the latest military thinking about insurgencies accessible, while steering clear of polemic or bias. This book tells you a lot about the Caucasus. And also about the brainpower assets of the American military.” — The Economist

ISBN: 978-0313386343

Central Asia:

Great Games Local Rules-Cooley

Great Games, Local Rules: The New Great Power Contest in Central Asia

Cooley, Alexander.

Oxford University Press, 2012

Cooley’s book offers the most lucid and well-written account to date of America’s ten-year involvement in Central Asia. -Ahmed Rashid, New York Review of Books

ISBN: 978-0199929825

The Fight for Influence-Malashenko

The Fight for Influence: Russia in Central Asia

Malashenko, Alexey.

Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2013

“Central Asia is a key region for Russian security, and also significant for Russia in both the economic and cultural sense. Malashenko mentions the reduction of Russia’s influence in Central Asia after the collapse of the Soviet Union and considers the interaction between Russia and Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.” (From Russia Direct’s “Top 10 Books about Russia Published in 2013”).

ISBN: 978-0870034114

RECOMMENDED FILMS

Films

I. HISTORY & POLITICS

211 Anna

An examination of Russian journalist and human rights activist Anna Politkovskaya’s death while covering the Chechen conflict and President Vladimir Putin.

The Mirror

Andrei Tarkovsky, the acclaimed master of Soviet cinema, takes a moving and personal turn with this striking meditation on life in Russia during the bleak days of WWII. It is not just the display of a film director at the peak of his unique powers. As an homage to the innocence of childhood, it tells an enigmatic tale that is both gripping and horrifying.

The Last Bolshevik

Based on the life and work of the Russian film director Alexander Medvedkin, The Last Bolshevik is a tribute from one filmmaker to another. An archeological expedition into film history that reveals new cinematic treasures, the film prompts a reflection on the relation between art and politics in the former Soviet Union. The film captures the commitment, energy, struggles, illusions and disillusions of a believing, but naïve, Bolshevik.

 

2. CONTEMPORARY DOCUMENTARIES

My Perestroika

My Perestroika follows five ordinary Russians living in extraordinary times — from their sheltered Soviet childhood, to the collapse of the Soviet Union during their teenage years, to the constantly shifting political landscape of post-Soviet Russia. Together, these childhood classmates paint a complex picture of the dreams and disillusionment of those raised behind the Iron Curtain.

The Condemned

This documentary takes viewers into the hidden world of one of Russia’s most impenetrable and remote institutions: Penal Colony 56, a maximum security prison exclusively for murderers. Deep inside the land of the gulags, this is the end of the line for some of Russia’s most dangerous criminals – 260 men who have collectively killed nearly 800 people. The Condemned is unlike any prison documentary seen before: a unique and startling insight into inscrutable minds and the dark and forbidding world they have been condemned to.

Khodorovsky

The true rags-to-riches story of Mickhail Khodorkovsky, the former Russian oligarch who spoke out against state corruption, only to be arrested and convicted on transparently false tax and embezzlement charges.

Khrushschev Does America

The story of the unconditional, no-holds-barred tour of America by Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, leader of World Communism and America’s arch-enemy, during 13 sun-filled days in the fall of 1959.

Olga To My Friends

In the Russian part of Lapland, some 1,800 kilometers (1,100 miles) north of Moscow, winter temperatures dip down to the negative double digits. It’s as white as the eye can see here, and there’s hardly a human being to speak of. Here, Olga lives in a simple dwelling under a think layer of snow. She watches over the rations and vehicles of the reindeer herders, who won’t return until spring. This year, she spent 177 days by herself, with only a cat to keep her company. Olga is the only woman in the reindeer brigade, and the work isn’t without its dangers. Food often gets stolen, she once came face to face with a bear, and was run over by a herd of reindeer, but Olga feels right at home here.

Children of the Left

The compelling story of five children whose parents were members of the American Communist Party in the 1950s, this film offers an unusually intimate perspective on Cold War politics and on the New Left of the 1960s. Among those who recount their coming-of-age stories are ’60s rock musician Country Joe McDonald, Eugene Dennis Jr., whose father was head of the Communist Party, and journalist David Horowitz, who is now a leading spokesman for Neo-Conservatism.

Russia’s Open Book: Writing in the Age of Putin

Co-directed by Paul Mitchell and Sarah Willis to include.
DVD available
A production of Intelligent Television and Wilton Films, Russia’s Open Book premiered nationally on PBS in December, and the film is now streaming online. Hosted by actor, author, and activist Stephen Fry, Russia’s Open Book celebrates contemporary Russian authors as they carry on one of the world’s greatest literary traditions. Contemporary authors are interviewed extensively in the film, with contributions from their literary critics, publishers, and peers. Excerpts from their recent works are brought to life by vivid animated sequences created exclusively for the film – with Fry providing dramatic readings in English.

Putin, Russia and the West

A four-part British documentary television series about the relationship between Vladimir Putin’s Russia and the West, this was first shown in January and February 2012 on BBC Two. Director, Paul Mitchell.

Vladimir Putin began his career as a top Russian spy. But as President he made himself a valued ally of the West. How did he do it? And what made Washington and London then turn against him? For the first time, Putin’s top colleagues – and the Western statesmen who eventually clashed with him – tell the inside story.

 

3. FILMS BY MARINA GOLDOVSKAYA

A Bitter Taste of Freedom

In her quest to uncover the wrongdoings of the Russian authorities, Anna Politkovskaya inspired awe in some and fear in countless others. An investigative journalist for Moscow’s liberal Novaya Gazeta, she was often the only spokesperson for victims of the Chechen War. Hers was a lonely voice, yet loud enough for the entire country to hear. It was too loud. At age 48 she was assassinated. This documentary is based on Anna’s conversations with filmmaker Marina Goldovskaya, Anna’s former university professor and personal friend. Shot over a period of 20 years, this exclusive footage creates an incredible story of a woman who consciously gave her life for her convictions.

Solovki Power

Marina Goldovskaya’s 1988 Solovki Power is of historical importance for what it shows to have been and for the way it demonstrates the degree of self-examination going on within the Soviet Union at the time. This remarkable documentary is about the prison camp said to have been the prototype for all of the gulags that came after, though its life was comparatively short (1923-1939). Called a “special service camp,” Solovki was on the largest island in the Solovetsky archipelago in the White Sea.

4. FILMS ON RUSSIAN BALLET, MUSIC & ART

Ballets Russes

This is a lovingly and confidently made documentary that brings to life an era of unequaled artistic excitement. Heart-wrenching, riveting and thoroughly entertaining, Ballets Russes unwinds like a historical thriller, laying bare the politics, rivalries, tremendous egos, and creative appetites that produced two of the world’s greatest ballet companies.

Ballerina

Ballerina is a portrait of five Russian ballerinas from the Mariinsky Theatre (also known as the Kirov). Superstars like Nijinsky, Baryshnikov and Pavlova established the reputation of Russian dancers as the best in the world. The five dancers profiled in this revealing film are tough, insightful and exceptionally talented; onstage they reveal no hint of the sweat, pain and hard work of the rehearsal studio. From Swan Lake to Romeo and Juliet, from the backstage studio to performing on stages around the world, Ballerina captures the sublime beauty of ballet, in all its resplendent glory.

New Years Eve in St. Petersburg: Mariinsky Theater

The soloists and ballet of the Mariinsky Theater present a New Year’s Eve Concert in Saint Petersburg, performing excerpt From Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty, Saint-Saens The Dying Swan , and Rossini’s Il Viaggio a Reims. Valery Gergiev conducts the Orchestra of the Mariinsky Theater.

Dancing for Mr. B – Six Balanchine Ballerinas

This documentary includes film of some of the works Balanchine choreographed, as well as reminiscences of some of his dedicated dancers. His troubled personal life is only glancingly alluded to. The focus of this documentary is on his transcendent artistry.

Nutracker Story

Nutcracker Story is a dazzling new film about one of the world’s most popular ballets performed by the artists of the Royal Ballet Covent Garden and Mariinsky (Kirov) Ballet. It returns to the original fairytale and explores a magical childhood world of dancing snowflakes, giant Christmas trees and sinister rats. Nutcracker Story is narrated by Simon Russell Beale and features principal dancers of the Royal Ballet, Covent Garden and The Mariinsky (Kirov) Ballet. Valery Gergiev, the celebrated musical director of the Mariinsky Theatre, conducts Tchaikovsky’s famous score.

White Nights

Nikolai Rochenko (Barishnokov) is a Russian ballet dancer who defected to the West. As the dancer attempts a flight to freedom, a malfunction forces the plane to land in Russia. The KGB reports his injuries are so severe that he must remain in treatment. In reality, they want him to stay in Russia and take him to his apartment where an American who defected o Russia keeps an eye on him. Rochenko, however, is not about to give in and is determined to escape.

Sacred Stage

Set against the backdrop of the magical White Nights Festival in St. Petersburg, Sacred Stage features the best in Russian symphonic music, ballet and opera at Russia’s premier theater–the Mariinsky, also known as the Kirov. The Film explores how the theater has somehow maintained its artistic excellence through war, revolution and the collapse of Communism, and what it has meant to Russian and Soviet culture. It also looks at the life and work of Maestro Valery Gergiev, artistic and theater director at the Mariinsky, and captures the excitement of his world – a world populated with artists, socialites, financiers, politicians and celebrities.
Narrated by Emmy Award-winning actor Richard Thomas, Sacred Stage tells the astonishing story of the Mariinsky’s survival, illustrated with stunning performances from the opera and ballet, as well as candid interviews with luminaries, scholars and performers.

Hermitage Revealed

The State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg is one of the largest and oldest museums in the world holding over 3 million treasures and boasting more curators than any other art institution. To mark the momentous occasion of its 250th anniversary the museum opened its doors for the filming of Hermitage Revealed – a cinematic event that is a must-see for all fans of art, architecture and the culture and history of Russia. The film includes interviews with the Hermitage’s director Mikhail Piotrovsky, museum curators, as well as the architect Rem Koolhaas, and the British artist Antony Gormley.

Russian Ark

In 2002, the Hermitage was the subject of this critically acclaimed historical drama. Set in the Winter Palace and consisting of a single 96-minute shot using a Steadicam, Russian Ark is a example of virtuoso filmmaking. An unnamed narrator wanders through the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg. The narrator implies that he died in some horrible accident and is a ghost drifting through the palace. In each room, he encounters various real and fictional people from various periods in the city’s 300-year history.

The Desert of Forbidden Art

True story of Igor Savitsky who helped art survive in a time of oppression. During the Soviet era artists who did not conform to the standards of Soviet realism were sent to mental hospitals, gulags or even killed. Savitsky rescued over 40,000 works by forbidden artists, and created a museum in a remote area in Uzbekistan far from Moscow and the KGB. The collection is a mix of Russian avant-garde art and a folk style unique to the area – European modernism with Islamic motifs.

‘Ilya and Emilia Kabakov: Enter Here

The celebrated conceptual artist Ilya Kabakov, now 80, has spoken extensively about the “total installation,” an art form that can bear some resemblance to a meticulously dressed movie set. The art critic and filmmaker Amei Wallach confront Kabakov’s work head-on in a dynamically shot 2013 documentary that journeys into the Soviet past as it is remembered and reworked by Kabakov and his wife and partner, Emilia.

One Day in the Life of Andrei Arsenevitc

Through film clips, journal entries, and personal musings, this is renowned French filmmaker Chris Marker’s homage to his friend, the great Russian filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky, who died in 1986.
With behind-the-scenes footage of Tarkovsky obsessively commanding his entire crew (including famed Bergman cinematographer Sven Nykvist, during the filming of a complicated sequence from his final film The Sacrifice), and candid moments of Tarkovsky with friends and family as he is bedridden but still working on the editing of his final film, it is a personal and loving portrait of one of the world’s greatest filmmakers.

 

5. RUSSIAN CLASSICS

Battleship Potemkin

Considered one of the most important films in the history of silent pictures, and possibly Eisenstein’s greatest work, Battleship Potemkin brought Eisenstein’s theories of cinema art to the world in a powerful showcase for his emphasis on montage, his stress on intellectual ideas, and his treatment of the masses – instead of the individual – as protagonist. The film tells the story of the mutiny on the Russian ship Prince Potemkin during the 1905 uprising.

1984 / Crime and Punishment

1984 – A fine and stunning screen adaptation of George Orwell’s prophetic 1948 novel about a world in which the government completely controls the masses by controlling their thoughts, altering history and even changing the meaning of words to suit its needs. This was Richard Burton’s final film. Crime and Punishment is a modern day adaptation of Dostoyevsky’s classic novel about a young student who is forever haunted by the murder he has committed.

Anna Karenina

This lustful adaptation of Tolstoy’s brilliant and influential novel stands as one of the finest film versions ever conceived.

Anna Karenina – Keira Knightly

Keira Knightly and Jude Law dazzle in director Joe Wright’s visually enchanting new version of Leo Tolstoy’s epic love story.

Dr. Zhivago (Two-Disc Special Edition)

Boris Pasternak’s acclaimed novel could not have been portrayed more beautifully on screen than in this epic film by David Lean. The bitterly cold landscape of Russia in the winter contrasts sharply with the fires burning within the characters. Omar Sharif and Julie Christie are magic together.

The Brothers Karamazov

The Brothers Karamazov is a 1969 Soviet film based on the novel by Russian author Fyodor Dostoevsky. An object lesson illustrating the absolute difference between good and evil, a father and four sons, one illegitimate, come to terms with their differing characters.

War & Peace

Director King Vidor superbly condenses Leo Tolstoy’s brilliant epic novel into 208 minutes of viewing time. He successfully captures the flavor of Russia at war and peace from 1805, when Napoleon engaged the armies of the Russian and Austrian Empires, to his invasion of Mother Russia, and Moscow itself, in 1812. The focus is on the social, political, and military upheavals of this period in Russia, with some philosophy thrown in.

The Idiot

The Idiot, an adaptation of Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s 19th century masterpiece about a wayward, pure soul’s reintegration into society is updated by Akiri Kurosawa to capture Japan’s postwar aimlessness — and, finally, public indifference. Today, this looks ever more fascinating, a stylish, otherworldly evocation of one man’s wintry mindscape.

RUSCICO

(A Source of Russian classics on DVD)

 

5. OTHER FILMS

Night Watch

Set in contemporary Moscow, Night Watch (Nochnoi Dozor), the dark forces battle the super-human “Others” of the Night Watch, whose mission is to patrol and protect. But there is constant fear that an ancient prophecy will come true: that a powerful “Other” will rise up, be tempted by one of the sides, and tip the balance plunging the world into a renewed war between the dark and light, the results of which would be catastrophic. The film is the first installment of a trilogy based on the best-selling sci-fi novels of Sergei Lukyanenko entitled Night Watch, Day Watch and Dusk Watch.

Stalker

This film is arguably Tarkovsky’s best film (and the last one made completely under the auspices of the USSR), and a film that gets inside your head and your soul. The plot is rather simple. An alien force lands on Earth, and then leaves. The area where they landed is a vast wasteland where the laws of physics are suspended. It’s been dubbed the zone (or 3OHA in Russian). A stalker (not the current definition), a writer, and a professor venture into the zone, where there is a room that will grant you your most inner wishes. Now, it’s not what you ask for, it’s what you really desire.

RECOMMENDED WEBSITES

Websites

Eurasia-Daily-Monitor

Eurasia Daily Monitor

News and analysis with a focus on Russia and its neighbors.

Johnson-Russia-List

Johnson’s Russia List

Comprehensive news and opinions about Russia from both Russia and the West.

Radio-Free-Europe

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

U.S. funded radio since 1949 broadcasting in 21 languages to Russia, Eurasia, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Russia-Profile

Russia Profile

News source from RIA Novosti, Moscow.

RT

Russia Today

Russia’s official international website and television network.

The-Moscow-Times

The Moscow Times

Moscow’s English language daily newspaper

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