Please see the programme for the next session below.
Winter-Spring Session (January-April 2017)
Exploring the organisation of Russian society in the emigration in Constantinople. For many it was merely a staging post on a journey further west. For some it was a business opportunity, for others a chance to forget the trauma of the recent past amid the colour of a new jazz age on the Bosphorus. In a whole range of different fields these new arrivals challenged the traditions of Ottoman society; they opened restaurants staffed by aristocrats, they brought the ballet and opera of the Russian Empire. Russian women scandalised and seduced the Turks in equal measure, confidently asserting new freedoms in public space, while the soldiers of the Russian army created from nothing miniature towns along the Dardanelles. It asks what these people brought with them, what impact it made on those there to witness their arrival, and it tackles their legacy in the new republic of Turkey, built by Ataturk in the wake of their passage. An illustrated talk with amazing, unforgettable pictures.
Edward graduated from Oxford University with first class honours in history, then spent a year working for the UN refugee agency UNHCR in Tbilisi, Georgia and travelling in Central Asia before completing a masters degree at the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard. He is currently finishing his training as a solicitor at Allen & Overy with a view to practising as a lawyer and continuing his historical research in the firm’s Istanbul office. He has given this talk twice elsewhere.
This is a drama documentary made for LWT, Granada films, WDR and Videofilm USSR. Boris Pasternak, discredited by Stalin, creator of the immortal Dr. Zhivago, was denied the Nobel prize by Khrushchev. Dr Zhivago was banned in the USSR until 1988. Only now can the story of Pasternak be told. The words of Pasternak are spoken by Robert Powell, with Imogen Stubbs as Lara and Olga.
Boris Pasternak – an outstanding poet and writer of the Soviet era.
Nicholas Kullmann. grandson of Maria Kullmann the founder of Pushkin House, is fluent in Russian, French and English. From 1986 he worked on a major series for Turner Broadcasting Systems called Portrait of the World USSR. He produced a Russia of One’s Own for Channel 4, a film set in New York, which follows the return of an emigre family to the USSR. This film was selected as the sole entry to the Grand Prix d’Italia in 1988. He has worked with the BBC for their programming in conjunction with the Millennium of the Russian Orthodox Church and on a series called Global Conflicts, analysing the superpower conflicts. In 1989 he produced a feature length dramatisation of the life of Boris Pasternak – a South Bank show special from Melvyn Bragg. He then became an adviser to Western and Russian companies, individuals and governments doing business with one another. Since then he has advised the British Government, the British Council, the Yeltsin Foundation and Bell Pottinger Communications. He is a member of the Royal Institute of International Affairs. Viewing followed by questions and answers re. the making of the film, the history of the original Pushkin House, and the Russian emigre community in London.
This lecture will discuss the long term reasons that contributed to the Russian revolutions of 1917. The powerful Tsarist state was confronted by economic and social change as it sought to maintain its position as a great imperial power. The abolition of serfdom in the 1860s brought fundamental changes to Russian society, while urbanisation accelerated the development of a middle class and brought millions of working people to Russia’s cities. The multi-national Russian empire faced
the challenge of nationalism from its population. The Romanov rulers of Russia were deeply reluctant to make political change, relying increasingly on oppression to sustain their power. Despite the monarchy’s attempts to portray itself as the natural rulers of the Russian empire, their position was increasingly weak and lacked real popular support, so that the Tsarist state became fragile and brittle, susceptible to revolt.
Peter Waldron is Professor of Modern History at the University of East Anglia. He has published widely on the history of Tsarist Russia: his books include Russia of the Tsars (Thames and Hudson, 2011), Governing Tsarist Russia (Palgrave 2007, and The End of Imperial Russia, 1855-1917 (Macmillan 1997). He is one of the editors for the four volumes on The Home Front in the major international collaborative project Russia’s Great War and Revolution (Slavica, 2016-17). His PhD. was on Stolypin.
In economics, one legacy of the Bolshevik Revolution was the idea of a command economy, largely state-owned government-controlled, in a permanent state of mobilization. What did Bolshevik leaders think they were doing when they built a command economy in the Soviet Union, and what did they hope to achieve? Where did they succeed and where did they fail? What explains the Soviet economy’s eventual collapse? After the collapse, what did the exposure of its inner secrets teach us about the inner workings of this system? In the light of the nostalgia with which many Russians now look to the past, might the Soviet type economy have a future?
Having just retired as professor of economics at the University of Warwick, Mark Harrison is a senior research fellow at the Centre for Russian, European and Eurasian Studies at the University of Birmingham. He was one of the first Western economists to work in the Russian archives following the fall of Soviet communism, His research has brought new knowledge about the Soviet economy into mainstream economics and international economic history, especially through projects on the two world wars. His work on Russia’s historical national accounts in wartime was recognized by the Alec Nove prize of the British Association for Slavonic & East European Studies (1998) and the Russian National Award for Applied Economics (2012). His current research is on state security, secrecy, and surveillance in the Baltic under Soviet rule. His latest book is “One Day We Will Live without Fear: Everyday Lives Under the Soviet Police State “(2016). Professor Harrison was recommended to us by Professor Philip Hanson as Britain’s pre-eminent expert on the history of the Soviet Economy.
This talk deals with the role of the USSR and the Russian Federation in the world economy and international trade for the period between the end of World War 2 and the present. It will cover the proportions allocated to different sectors of industry and trade, and throw some light on the influence of politics on the development of the economy and trade. This talk will be in English with some illustrations.
We are extremely grateful to Michael Borshchevsky’s Company Inter TV Ltd., which is a very generous supporter of the Great Britain-Russia Society.
Michael Borshchevsky spent ten years in the 1950s and 1960s in the field of rocket engineering, then some 25 years as a researcher in the Academy of Sciences of the USSR, and as a lecturer in the Universities of Moscow and Leningrad. His subjects were Sociological and Economic research in regional and urban development. Since the late 1980s Dr. Borshchevsky has been in private business as President of the first Anglo-Soviet Trading House, as Chairman of the International Corporation “United Europe”, sole representative of the Association of the Russian banks abroad with the head office in London, visiting Professor at Westminster University, and the last 15 years as Managing Director of Inter TV Ltd UK (4 Russian speaking channels worldwide). He is Editor in Chief of the international magazine “Herald of Europe” (in English), a member of the Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House) and a full member of the International Academy of Radio and Television. 1958 – Diploma in Engineering, 1968-Diploma in Sociology, PhD in Sociology & Economics. Over 120 publications in Russian and English.
An assessment from a former Soviet citizen with enormous experience in many areas.
Natasha Dissanayake has spent some 20 years researching for her book on this subject, written in Russian (may be on sale at the meeting) and there are some 20 different sections in her book covering major aspects of the Russian presence in London from the 16th century to the present day, and featuring a wide range of Russian characters: members of the imperial family, aristocrats and Bolsheviks, diplomats and churchmen, musicians, painters and people of the theatre, writers and scientists, soldiers, sportsmen and even spies. Fortune favoured some Russians, while others had to meet sterner destinies. For some London was a temporary home, others lived here until the end of their lives. However, almost none of the Russians escaped the problems of adapting to the way of life in the new country, to its traditions and language. All the above is presented not as an academic study, but as a collection of stories based on research, interviews, observations, published and unpublished memoirs and wider literature.
A Muscovite born and bred, taught Russian Language and Literature at a High School in Moscow. Then worked as an Editor at the Progress Publishing House. Came to live in England in 1972. Taught Russian in schools and colleges. Then did the Blue Badge Guide course. Interpreted for the Bolshoi, Mariinsky and other companies on their tours of Britain. Was writing about ballet for ballet magazines, the London Courier and other publications.. From 1990 to 1998 travelled almost non-stop to Russia, Kazakhstan and other countries interpreting for petroleum companies. Working as a Blue Badge Guide Natasha started researching about Russians living in London, which resulted in her massive book, planned to be published in the autumn of 2016.
Natasha Dissanayake always gives us brilliant talks.
In the Soviet Union, the more visible an institution was, the less power it wielded. Parliament, in the shape of the Soviets, was a facade. Government ministers were only as powerful as their standing in the Communist Party allowed; the Party Politburo’s decision-making process was itself concealed behind many screens. It was nonetheless essential in the Cold War for Western governments to know as much as possible about who the main players were and how decisions were reached. For this the Foreign and Commonwealth Office had a small staff of expert analysts. This talk offers a personal perspective from one of them, who worked in the Research Department of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Russian Secretariat of the British Embassy in Moscow in the 1960s and 1970s. It will also touch on similarities and changes in the post-Soviet period.
Martin Nicholson learnt Russian as a national serviceman and studied at Cambridge University, and at Moscow State University as a post-graduate student before joining the Foreign Office Research Department in 1963. He did two tours of duty at the British Embassy in Moscow in Soviet times, and was for seven years adviser on Soviet and Russian affairs in the Cabinet Office before returning to the Moscow Embassy as Minister-Counsellor, from where he retired in 1997. After retirement he worked on Russian regional Affairs at the International Institute of Strategic Studies and on the Russia and Eurasia Programme at Chatham House. His talk is based on the third volume of his memoirs Activities Incompatible. Memoirs of a Kremlinologist and a Family Man 1963-1971 (www,amazon.co.uk).
2017 marks the centenary of the Russian Revolution. It is hard to justify another event which has so shaped today’s Russia and today’s world. It gave birth to the Communist system which at one point ruled one third of humanity, provoked the rise of Naziism and the Second World War, and stood as global opponent to the West through the 40 year Cold War. In Tony Brenton’s recently published book “Historically Inevitable? Turning points of the Russian Revolution” a group of distinguished historians identify key moments in the revolution, and reflect on how things might have gone differently. In this talk Sir Anthony will assess what was, and was not, genuinely “inevitable” about the revolution, and will explore the parallels between 1917 and the 1991 collapse which gave us the Russia of today.
Sir Anthony Brenton, who last addressed us in 2010, was a British diplomat for over 30 years. He served in the Arab world, the European Union, Washington DC (through the 9/11 crisis and its aftermath) and twice in Moscow, the second time, from 2008 to 2012, as British Ambassador. In the Foreign Office he held responsibility for a number of key international issues including the United Nations, Human Rights, Global Climate Change and the International Criminal Court. He has written an earlier book “The Greening of Machiavelli” on international environmental politics; he is an Honorary Fellow of Wolfson College Cambridge and a regular commentator on Russia and other international topics. We hope to have either hardback or paperback copies of “Historically Inevitable? Turning points of the Russian Revolution” on sale at the meeting – at a special reduced price to members.