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Interviews
 
Lyudmila Ulitskaya

born February 21, 1943 

Lyudmila Ulitskaya is an internationally acclaimed modern Russian novelist and short-story writer who, in 2014, was awarded the prestigious Austrian State Prize for European Literature for her oeuvre. In 2006 she published Daniel Stein, Interpreter, a novel dealing with the Holocaust and the need for reconciliation between Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

 

Ulitskaya herself belongs to a group of people formed by the realities of the former Soviet Union, who see themselves ethnically and culturally as Jews, while having adopted Christianity as their religion.

Ulitskaya was born in the town of Davlekanovo in Bashkiria and grew up in Moscow where she received a degree in genetics from the Moscow State University. Having worked in the field of genetics and biochemistry, Ulitskaya began her literary career by joining the Jewish drama theatre as a literary consultant. Her first published short fiction appeared in 1990. 

Officer of the Legion of Honor.

 
Victor Erofeyev

born September 19, 1947

Born 43 years be­fore the col­lapse of the USSR, Vic­tor Ero­fe­yev be­came one of the most an­ti-so­vi­et wri­ters.

 

A pub­li­cati­on of his es­say “Mar­qu­is de Sa­de: sa­dism and the XXth cen­tu­ry” bro­ught him fa­me. In 1979, he pro­duced a scan­da­lo­us li­tera­ry al­ma­nac, “Met­ro­pol”, in which ma­ny im­portant So­vi­et wri­ters par­ti­cipa­ted. The al­ma­nac was put in­to cir­cu­lati­on via sa­miz­dat, to avo­id the So­vi­et cen­sors­hip. As a re­sult, Ero­fe­yev was ex­pelled from the Uni­on of So­vi­et Wri­ters and was ban­ned from pub­li­shing un­til 1988; al­so, for the sa­me re­ason, his fat­her who was a high-rank dip­lo­mat lost his job.

 

Ero­fe­yev’s most po­pular no­vel is “Rus­si­an Be­auty”, but al­so among his most re­mar­kable works are the fol­lo­wing: the auto­bi­og­raphi­cal no­vel “The Go­od Sta­lin”, the no­vels “Li­fe with an Idi­ot” which was tur­ned in­to an ope­ra by a fa­mo­us com­po­ser Alf­red Shnit­ke and "The Go­od Sta­lin". Al­most each his bo­ok pro­vokes scan­dals and he­ated de­bates. This hap­pe­ned al­so with “En­cyclo­pa­edia of the Rus­si­an So­ul” re­le­ased in 1999, which rep­re­sents the most cri­tical opi­ni­on of the Rus­si­an pe­op­le sin­ce Cha­adayev.

 

Be­sides his li­tera­ture ac­ti­viti­es, Vic­tor Ero­fe­yev fre­qu­ent­ly ap­pe­ars on Rus­si­an te­levi­si­on and ra­dio, whe­re, un­til re­cent ti­me, he has had his own prog­rams.

Alexander Kosolapov is an American-Russian artist known for his sculptures and paintings which conflate symbols of American consumerism with those from the Soviet Union and Russian Orthodox Church.

 

Born in Moscow in 1943, Kosolapov attended the Stronganov Art School in his hometown.

 

In 1975, the artist emigrated to the United States where he helped gather materials for the underground Soviet art magazine A-YA, and was introduced to the works of Andy Warhol.

As in his 1982 painting Lenin and Coca-Cola, in which Kosolapov juxtaposed a portrait of Vladimir Lenin alongside the iconic Coca-Cola slogan. “I was always drawn to social and informational products. I like posters, advertisements, comics, political slogans,” he has said. “I use the shared language of modern mass culture, addressed to an anonymous viewer.”

 

Kosolapov currently lives and works in New York, NY.

 

Today, the artist’s works are held in the collections of The Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, and the State Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow, among others.

 

2015

 
Marat Guelman

born December 24, 1960

Marat Gelman is a Russian collector, gallerist, and an op-ed columnist.

 

The former Director of PERMM contemporary art museum in Perm. The Deputy Director of Channel One (Russia) from June 2002 to February 2004. A political consultant, a co-founder of the Foundation for Effective Politics, and a member of Russia’s Public Chamber (2010-2012 convocation).

Marat Guelman was born on 24 December 1960 in Chişinău. His father is the writer and playwright Alexander Isaakovich Gelman. Upon finishing high school 34 in Chişinău in 1977 Marat Guelman went on to study at Moscow Electrotechnical Institute of Communications while working as a mechanic and a sceneshifter at Moscow Academic Art Theater, Sovremennik and Mayakovsky Theater. 

 

He started his career in arts as a collector,however, having made poor choices for his first collection due to lack of experience he had no choice but to acquire the skills of selling artworks thus becoming the first art dealer in the USSR. In 1990, upon finishing his contemporary art studies abroad, he put together a collection of Ukrainian art, which became the core of South Russian Wave exhibition, shown in 1992, which caught the attention of the publicity and resulted in major feedback. Guelman himself describes his path into art and his career in art as a series of accidents. However, he believes this flexibility and open-mindedness in taking chances to be even more important for success than determination.

 

In 1990 Guelman opened his gallery, one of the first Russian private contemporary art galleries. The gallery worked until 2012, changing a few names during its 20-year-long history. The history of Guelman Gallery more or less depicts the history of contemporary art in post-Soviet Russia. 

 

In 1995 Guelman became one of the creators of the Foundation for Effective Politics (FEP), along with Gleb Pavlovsky and Maxim Meyer.

 

In 2014 Guelman moved to Montenegro to implement cultural projects in this country. That was also the year when Dukley European Art Community residency program was launched by Neil Emilfarb, Petar Cukovic, and Marat Guelman.

Oleg Radzinsky

born July 11, 1958

Oleg Radzinsky was born in Moscow to a family of well-known Soviet literati: his maternal grandmother, Lia Geraskina was one of the most frequently published Soviet children’s writers. His paternal grandfather, Stanislav Radzinsky, was a well-known Soviet playwright and a famous translator.

His mother, Alla, was an actress and an author, and his father, Edvard, is one of the most prominent Soviet/Russian playwrights and historians working today.

 

Upon graduating from Moscow University in 1982, he tried to escape the literary path fate had wrought in his genes and decided to become a dissident.

He was arrested by the KGB and sentenced to six years of maximum security imprisonment and internal exile. He served his term in the infamous KGB Lefortovo prison and then in Siberia, where he worked as a logger. He was pardoned in 1987.

Oleg emigrated to America and – to his surprise – learned that neither loggers nor Russian literature specialists were in high demand in New York City.

After a stint as a Wall Street capitalist he published his first book, a collection of short stories titled A VISIT, in 2000. His next book, the novel SURINAM (2008), became a best-seller in Russia. THE OBSERVER was published in 2014 by AST under the title AGAFONKIN AND TIME.

 

He has just finished  another book, a memoir of his Soviet youth and his imprisonment. Oleg lives in London with his wife and four children.

 
Sofya Abbott
 

born March 29, 1980

Oleg Radzinsky

born July 11, 1958 / Moscow

Oleg Radzinsky, son of Russian writer, historian and playwright Edvard Radzinsky, is a former investment banker turned writer.

 

He graduated from Moscow State University with a degree in Russian Literature and Language. In 1982, he was arrested by the KGB and subsequently convicted on charges of anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda. He was released in 1987 and shortly after emigrated to the United States. 

Upon having obtained a graduate degree from Columbia University in International Finance and after many years working on Wall Street, Radzinsky returned to Moscow to serve as Chairman of the Board of Directors of Russian’s largest Internet company, Rambler Media Group, in 2002. He remained in this post until 2006.

 

He currently resides with his family in London.

Radzinsky is the author of the novels Surinam and Agafonkin and Time and two short story collections, Visiting and Ivan’s Freedom. Agafonkin and Time was long-listed for the Russian Booker Prize, short listed for the Arkady and Boris Strugatsky Prize, and won the New Horizons Award.

In October 2018 the publisher Corpus, a division of AST Publishing House, released Radzinsky’s autobiography, Accidental Lives, as well as a new edition of Surinam. Agafonkin and Time has been translated into English but has not yet been published. A French translation of Surinam is in the works.

Vitaly Mansky

born December 2, 1963

​​​​​​​Born in 1963 in Soviet Ukraine, Vitaly Mansky is one of the most prominent contemporary Russian documentary directors and producers. Highly prolific, he has directed more than thirty films, including a trilogy on the lives of three Russian Presidents, Gorbachev, Yeltsin and Putin. His films have been shown all over the world and have received more than 100 awards in Russia and abroad. He is also the founder and president of Artdocfest, a festival of creative documentary films in the Russian language. Threatened in his own country, he has been living in Latvia since 2014.

In 2000 Manskiy was the first one to institute the National Prize "Laurel", and in 2006 he became Director General of this award that is handed for the best documental films; and then Manskiy became one of the founders of the guild of "Non-fiction cinema and television of Russia". In 2009 together with Eldara Razanov, Aleksey German, Aleksandr Sokurov, Yuriy Norshteyn... founded alternative Russian Film Union. 

Vitaly Manskiy is the Prize-winner of the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs Awards, of the medal of the Russian Rosaviakosmos "Golubaya Planeta" (Blue Planet); he is Academician of the Cinema Academy "NIKA", the member of the Russian Cinema Academy "TEFI", Academician of the Eurasian Academy of Cinema and Radio.

 

Deputy Chief of Russian Film Union, General producer of National Film Award "Lavrovaya Vetv" (Laurel Branch), President of documentary film festival "Artdocfest". President of the Moscow Documentary Films Festival "ARTDOKFEST"

 
 
Zinovy Zinik

 born 16 June 1945

Zinovy Zinik is a Russian-born British novelist, short-story writer and essayist.

A native of Moscow, Zinik studied art at one of the city's art schools and later studied geometrical topology at Moscow State University. He also attended a school of theatre criticism run by Moscow theatre magazine Teatr.

 

At the beginning of the 1960s, Zinik became a close friend and associate of the conceptual artist Alexander Melamid. In his early writing, Zinik was influenced by his older friends and mentors, Alexander Asarkan (1930-2004), a mail-artist and theatre critic; and Pavel Ulitin (1918–1986), who used cut-ups technique in his avant-garde prose.  

 

In 1975, Zinik was stripped of his Soviet citizenship with his emigration to the West. For a year he worked as a theatre director for a student theatre group at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Then in 1976, he was invited to contribute to BBC radio and since 1977, he has permanently lived and worked in London, writing in English as well as in his native Russian. He became a British citizen in 1988.

 

Zinik was one of the first Russian authors of his generation who chose to depict the lives of his compatriots outside Russia. The ambiguities of émigré existence, cultural dislocation, estrangement and the evasive nature of memory have become not only the main topic of Zinik's prose, which includes novels, short stories, essays, lectures and radio broadcasts, but also his ‘literary device’. Zinik's eighteen books of prose published since his departure from Russia dwell on the dual existence of bilingual immigrants, religious converts, political exiles and outcasts – from habitués of Soho (Mind the Door, 2001) to the sect of Jewish Muslims in Istanbul (Yarmulkes under the Turbans, 2018).

Zinik has taught creative writing at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel; Wesleyan University, Ct, USA; University of Denver Co. USA; Columbia University, NYC, USA. He regularly contributes to BBC Radio, the Times Literary Supplement and other periodicals. Until 2011, Zinik had been the freelance editor and presenter of his "West End Radio Review" for the BBC World Service in Russian and, until 2018, the UK Editor of the satirical quarterly Artenol (New York).

 
Alexander Shaburov

born December 2, 1965

The Blue Noses, an artistic duo consisting of Alexander (Sasha) Shaburov and Vyacheslav (Slava) Mizin, was founded in 1999.

 

The group is known for their satirical and ofttimes provocative works, which encompass photographs, videos, and performances that parody and critique Russian society, art, politics, and religion. Using decidedly low-tech methods in their artistic endeavors, their works are often marked by black humor and some have labeled them as modern-day yurodivy, street people who, during medieval times, were believed to both insane and touched by God.

Alexander Shaburov was born in Sverdlovsk Oblast in 1965, and graduated from Sverdlovsk Art School in 1985.

 

After graduation, he worked for a time as a mortuary photographer, but later shifted his focus in creating art, due to his conviction that art should flow from the everyday situations. This is expressed in works such as My daily route from home to the bus-stop, in which he photographed his usual 15 paces, or in project Tooth Repair, documenting a trip to the dentist – and according to pictures, it may well have been his first trip to the dentist ever.

 
Alexey Plutser-Sarno

born July 9, 1962 

Alexey Plutser-Sarno is a famous Russian artist, author of dictionaries and encyclopedias, ideologist of the art group Voina (The War).

He was born in Moscow in the family of Yuri Nikodimovich Plutser-Sarno (1931-1996), the designer of the first space solar panels.

 

Studied in literature class at L. I. Sobolev at the Moscow experimental school-gymnasium № 1567.

He served in the armed forces in a separate special battalion of the Northern fleet. After the army, he worked as a restorer of architectural monuments.

 

In 1992, he graduated from the historical and literary Department of the faculty of philosophy of the University of Tartu. Worked as editor-in-chief of various Newspapers and magazines: "Moskovsky Dvorik", "My capital", "KU", "Social-Democrat", "Blue Phantom", etc. In 2003-2004-host of the intellectual talk show " Black square "(ATV, TV channel"Culture" [2]). In 2004, he worked as a presenter of the "Phrase of the week" section of Radio Liberty.

 

In 2010, in connection with the beginning of the arrests of members of the art group "The War" emigrated from Russia. Currently lives in Jerusalem.

 
 
Mikhail Khodorkovsky

born June 26, 1963

Mikhail Khodorkovsky is an exiled Russian businessman, philanthropist and former oligarch, now residing in London. In 2003, Khodorkovsky was believed to be the wealthiest man in Russia, with a fortune estimated to be worth $15 billion, and was ranked 16th on Forbes list of billionaires.

In October 2003, he was arrested by Russian authorities and charged with fraud. The government under Russian president Vladimir Putin then froze shares of Yukos shortly thereafter on tax charges. Putin's government took further actions against Yukos, leading to a collapse of the company's share price and the evaporation of much of Khodorkovsky's wealth. In May 2005, he was found guilty and sentenced to nine years in prison. In December 2010, while he was still serving his sentence, Khodorkovsky and his business partner Platon Lebedev were further charged with and found guilty of embezzlement and money laundering; Khodorkovsky's prison sentence was extended to 2014.

After Hans-Dietrich Genscher lobbied for his release, President Vladimir Putin pardoned Khodorkovsky, releasing him from jail on 20 December 2013.

Upon being pardoned by Putin and released from prison at the end of 2013, Khodorkovsky immediately left Russia and was granted residency in Switzerland. In 2015, he moved to London. In December 2016, a court unfroze $100m of Khodorkovsky's assets that had been held in Ireland.

 

In 2014, Khodorkovsky re-launched Open Russia to promote several reforms to Russian civil society, including free and fair elections, political education, protection of journalists and activists, endorsing the rule of law, and ensuring media independence.

He has been described by The Economist as "the Kremlin's leading critic-in-exile".

Leonid Nevzlin

born September 21, 1959

Leonid Nevzlin is an Israeli philanthropist and publisher.

 

Born in Moscow, he made his fortune during the 1990s and the early 2000s in banking and oil business. He was also a senator – member of the Upper Chamber of the Russian parliament - and shortly before he moved to Israel in 2003, he served as the President of the Russian State University for Humanities.

 

Leonid's involvement in Jewish life as a donor started in the 1990s, and in 2001 he became a President of the Russian Jewish Congress. He continued and expanded this work after he arrived in Israel. He has served on the Board of Governors of the Jewish Agency for Israel, and the Board of Trustees of Keren Hayesod, an official fundraiser for Israel.

 

In 2005, along with former Yukos partners, he established the NADAV Foundation - a non-profit organization supporting projects in Jewish studies and education, Israel-Diaspora relations, and Jewish peoplehood. 

 

Leonid is a Chairman of the Builders of the Museum of the Jewish People and a board member at the Reichman University (Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya), Israel's first private university. 

 

Since 2011, Nevzlin has been a shareholder and a board member of Haaretz, Israel's leading newspaper. He is also a founder and publisher of Liberal, a reputable, Hebrew-language monthly magazine and Detali (Details), an Israeli Russian-language news and analytics website.

 
 
Igor Tzukanov

born June 26, 1962

Igor Tsukanov was born in 1962 in Moscow.

 

In 1992 he set up the CentreInvest Group, a financial services company headquartered in Moscow with offices in New York, London and Kiev, which he ran as the CEO and President for 15 years.

 

Currently Igor Tsukanov is Chairman of the Tsukanov Family Foundation (“TFF”), a UK-based charity supporting education, culture, and the arts in Russia and around the world.

 

For years the TFF has worked with leading Russian museums. Igor Tsukanov was involved in drafting the first sponsorship program for the TRETYAKOV GALLERY (Moscow) that has been running successfully for the last 20 years.

 

The TFF owns one of the world’s largest collections of post-war Russian art, which can be found at www.tsukanovartcollection.com. The collection has been built up since 2000 with the major focus on the period 1960-1990. It features such artists as Kabakov, Bulatov, Vassiliev,Masterkova, Nemukhin, Rabin, Plavinsky, Tselkov, Zlotnikov, Komar and Melamid, Kossolapov, Sokov and many others. In 2016 the TFF donated 10 artworks from its collection to the CENTRE POMPIDOU (Paris).

 

In addition, Igor Tsukanov is a member of the Development Committee of Eton College (UK), the Board of Trustees of the Moscow Multimedia Art Museum, International Council of Pompidou Centre, the Honorary Board of Directors of the Royal Opera House.

 

Tsukanov also previously served as a member of the Russian and Eastern Europe Art Committee of the TATE MODERN Museum and the Board of Directors of the Hermitage Foundation (USA). 

Lev Rubinstein

born February 19, 1947 

Lev Rubinstein is a Russian poet, essayist, and social activist.

Born in 1947, Lev Rubinstein was a major figure of Moscow Conceptualism and the unofficial Soviet art scene of the 1970s and 1980s.

 

While working as a librarian, he began using catalogue cards to write sequential texts. He described his “note-card poems,” as a “hybrid genre” that “slides along the edges of genres and, like a small mirror, fleetingly reflects each of them, without identifying with any of them.”

 

His work was circulated through samizdat and underground readings in the “unofficial” art scene of the sixties and seventies, finding wide publication only after the late 1980s.

 

Now among Russia’s most well-known living poets, Rubinstein lives in Moscow and writes cultural criticism for the independent media. His books in English translation include Here I Am (Glas, 2001), Catalogue of Comedic Novelties (UDP, 2004), and Thirty-Five New Pages (UDP, 2011). In Compleat Catalogue of Comedic Novelties (UDP, 2014), his note-card poems appear in their entirety for the first time.

 
 
Alexander Delphinov

born September 30, 1971

Larissa Itina

born March 25, 1960

Cultural entrepreneur, producer, Larissa Itina was born in Moscow in 1959, lived there until 30 years old. In 1990 she moved to Germany together with her family, where her husband got a postdoctoral position. She lived there for the following 23 years, continued to work as a computer professional, changing many working places from Heidelberg University to the computer centre of the State of Hesse. 

Beside her main professional occupation, she taught Russian to adults, organized exhibitions of Israeli artists in Germany and Italy, concerts and literary evenings. Having moved to London in 2012, she turned this hobby into her main occupation, becoming the founder and director of the ARCC Anglo Russian culture club. 

ARCC is an independent non-profit club that aims to bring Russian and British public in London together, presenting Russian (by which we mean the former Soviet) culture in its multicultural manifestation and showing British culture to Russians, promoting mutual understanding and friendship.

 

ARCC presents literary, musical, theatrical, film programs, inviting interesting guests from around the world. Zinovy Zinik, Vera Pavlova, Tatyana Voltskaya, Lev Rubinstein, Sergey Gandlevsky, Igor Irtenev, Alla Bossard, Linor Goralik, Dmitry Vedenyapin, Dmitry Vodennikov, Larisa Miller and many others participated in the ARCC literary evenings, Gasan Guseynov, Andrey Plakhov, Svetlana Aleksievich, Vladimir Paperny gave talks, ARCC invited guests from Theatr.Doc and collaborated with offwestend theaters and actors in London, organizing performances and readings. 

 
 
Psoy Korolenko

born April 26, 1967

Psoy Korolenko is a pseudonym of a Russian Jewish songwriter and performer by the name of Pavel Lion.

Pavel Lion is also a slavist with a Ph.D. in Russian literature. His pseudonym comes from Vladimir Korolenko, Russian writer, whose works are subject of Pavel's research.

Psoy performs his own and others' songs, accompanying himself to keyboard instruments. Experimenting with quite various song traditions he sings in about six or seven languages, most frequently in Russian, Yiddish, English and French.

Psoy tours extensively beyond Russian borders, particularly in the United States, Europe and Israel. His music is popular both with adults (especially linguists) and teenagers. He rewrites many songs, and also has translated some songs from Russian to Yiddish. He has collaborated with such musicians as Julian Kytasty, Michael Alpert, and Daniel Kahn & The Painted Bird.

Mikhail Fedosyuk

born January 04, 1948

Mikhail Fedosyuk is a Professor at The Department of Comparative Analysis of Languages​ of Lomonosov Moscow State University. 

He belongs to the scientific school of systemic linguistics, the main setting which is not just to describe languages, but also to uncover their identity with the size and degree of homogeneity of language groups and, respectively, with the mentality of speakers of these languages. 

Fedosyuk's works show that the Russian language was formed as the language of a language group, which has, on the one hand, large dimensions, and on the other — uniformity. The large size of the Russian language team suggests a high probability of its use in the communication of people who do not have almost any specific General knowledge. At the same time, the homogeneity of the language group implies that Russians traditionally perceive any of their interlocutors as people who share their goals, values and assessments. Russian is not only a complex language compared to English, for example, but also features of Russian communication such as the high emotionality of Russian speech, the attitude even to an unfamiliar interlocutor as a close relative, in communication with whom you want to help, but there is no need to observe the rules of etiquette, the desire not to acquaint the interlocutor with your point of view, but to force him to share it at all costs.

 
 
Andrey Sidelnikov

born Julyl 3, 1975

Andrey Sidelnikov political activist, head of the public movement "Speak louder!", member of the coordinating Council of the Free Russia Forum

The son of famous ice hockey player and Olympic champion Alexander Sidelnikov, Andrey was born in Moscow in 1975.

He received a legal education, was a leader of the public movement "It’s Time", was forced to leave Russia and became a political refugee in connection with the case of Alexander Litvinenko. since 2007 he has been living in London.

 

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