On April 18-22 Atlas’s Russian program InLiberty.ru held a seminar in the beautiful city of Odessa, Ukraine despite major travel restraints due to the volcano in Iceland. Several participants and speakers were unable to attend (including Professor of Russian Literature and Cultural History at Oxford University, Andrei Zorin). But as they say, “the show must go on” – and in this case it did with great success. The event, titled “Ideological Stereotype: Social Mythology in the Post-Soviet Societies,” included in-depth study of nationalism and the treatment of minorities in Russia, the foundational pillars of free societies and the nature of violence. Seminar participants screened the yet-to-be-released film “Russia 88,” which takes a critical look at xenophobia in Russia by focusing on the skinhead culture in Moscow.
Anna Krasinskaya, editor of InLiberty.ru and organizer of the seminar reported from Odessa:
“Travel to Odessa was greatly disrupted by the volcano, but all in all, the event was a success. We expected 43 participants and 30 were able to attend (most of them arrived by train). Two speakers out of four could not come so we restructured the first day of the event to work as a Socratic discussion: we carefully examined the reading materials that the participants read beforehand and had in-depth discussions. One of the speakers, Professor Chandran Kukathas (London School of Economics), was there with us, so he took care of another lecture that day and it caused a long conversation afterwards. Yuri Kuznetsov was an excellent moderator and really pulled the event together when it seemed like the whole thing might suffer due to travel difficulties. The following two days went as planned. We managed to run the seminar well under the awful circumstances. Actually the absence of some speakers on the first day challenged participants to speak up and discuss more – which was very encouraging.”