June 01, 2015 // 3:30pm — 4:30pm
Despite the Soviet Union's commitment to atheism and secularization, religion remained a problem without a solution for most of the Soviet period--until, in 1988, it paradoxically returned to public life by invitation of the state itself. How did the regime's engagement with religion and atheism transform the Soviet Union's understanding of spiritual life? Dr. Victoria Smolkin-Rothrock will discuss how this Soviet legacy illuminates the ideological landscape of contemporary Russia.
May 12, 2015 // 11:00am — 12:00pm
During Vladimir Putin's presidency, the Middle East has been a major zone of Russian foreign engagement. As tensions between the West and Russia have grown due to the conflict in Ukraine, the Middle East has emerged once again as a potential playing field for geopolitical competition. Paul du Quenoy discussed how Russia interacts with the people and nations of the Middle East, illuminating Vladimir Putin’s complex and often paradoxical approach to the region since his seizure of Crimea in 2014.
May 11, 2015 // 11:00am — 12:00pm
After Russia’s annexation of Crimea, and the West’s introduction of economic sanctions, the Kaliningrad region has become a source of tension between Russia, NATO, and the EU. The region has staged tit-for-tat military displays by both Russia and neighboring EU and NATO members Poland and Lithuania. But while Russia is eager to project the image of Kaliningrad as a military stronghold and buffer against NATO expansionism, Kaliningrad’s real threat to European stability stems from its vulnerable exclave status and unclear economic relationship with the EU. This talk outlined the region's curious history, focusing on recent years when Kaliningrad has served both as a military outpost and a cultural bridge between Russia and Europe.
May 11, 2015 // 10:00am — 11:00am
This year’s annual parade commemorating victory in World War II is of particular significance, falling on the 70th anniversary of the end of the war, and at a time of tangible Russian isolation by fellow Europeans. In this Ground Truth Briefing, three experts comment on this historical moment in Western and Russian relations.
May 08, 2015 // 10:30am — 12:00pm
Private philanthropy is a relatively new area of activity in Russia. Russian corporate giving has grown since the early 1990s, with companies beginning to adopt charitable giving and social investment standards from their Western counterparts. More recently, private and family foundations have begun to appear, and middle class giving is also on the rise. Ruben Vardanyan discussed the trends and challenges of philanthropy in Russia; the role of private philanthropy; and infrastructure for the development of private philanthropy.
May 05, 2015 // 10:00am — 11:30am
From 2007 to 2014, Russia enjoyed unprecedented demographic success. The abysmal fertility rates of the 1990s were left behind and Russia experienced some of the the largest fertility improvements anywhere in Europe. With falling mortality rates and economic-growth driven immigration, Russia's decline in population ended, and 2013 actually saw a net increase in Russia's total population. However, the current economic crisis is leading to policies that will likely lead to a reversal of these gains. The speakers presented new data and forecasts for Russia's population, and discussed various related social policies.
Promoting Public Citizenship in the 21st Century: Russian and American Perspectives on Public Oversight of the State
April 30, 2015 // 2:00pm — 3:30pm
This discussion featured three Russian experts who have each spent time at the Wilson Center (with support from the U.S. Embassy, Moscow’s “Peer-to-Peer Program”). The panel compared the Russian and American experience and practice of public oversight. The results of their study include both expected and unexpected findings. For example, while U.S.-based organizations that work on government oversight are older and operate in a freer environment, there are areas where Russian groups and individuals are able to access state information faster and more reliably.
April 21, 2015 // 3:30pm — 5:00pm
Russian nationalism has been the victim of what is the essential tragedy of the Russian people: the Russian state tried to become an empire before the Russian people became a nation, and as a result, at no point has the country been a nation state. And while pro-Kremlin radical nationalists are increasingly important in Russian politics, their nationalist agendas have been largely co-opted by the state. The speakers discussed the crisis facing Russian nationalists and what the future may hold for them.
April 20, 2015 // 3:00pm — 6:00pm
May 2015 marks 70 years since the momentous victory of the allied forces in Europe. Victory was achieved only through enormous sacrifice and global cooperation amongst the allies. The Kennan Institute hosted a panel discussion of U.S.-Soviet partnership during the war. The panel was followed by a reception, sponsored by the Russian Embassy, to launch a month-long exhibit of archival photos that chronicle the U.S.-Soviet war effort.
April 16, 2015 // 8:45am — 3:30pm
Full video from all three panels as well as the keynote address are available here.