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David Satter: Never Speak to Strangers and Other Writing from Russia and the Soviet Union

February 16, 2021 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

Please join the Fletcher Eurasia Club for a virtual conversation with expert David Satter. He will discuss his latest book Never Speak to Strangers and Other Writing from Russia and the Soviet Union (2020). Satter will also speak about the recent poisoning and jailing of Russian anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny. The event is supported by the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, which presented Navalny with its 2021 Dissident Human Rights Award. Please make sure to register via myFletcher to participate in the event on Zoom.

David Satter is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, a fellow of the Foreign Policy Institute of Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, and a long-time observer of Russia and the former Soviet Union. Satter graduated from the University of Chicago and Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar and earned a B.Litt degree in political philosophy. He worked for four years as a police reporter for the Chicago Tribune and, in 1976, he was named Moscow correspondent of the London Financial Times. He worked in Moscow for six years, during which time he sought out Soviet citizens with the intention of preserving their accounts of the Soviet totalitarian system for posterity. Satter has written three books about Russia: It Was a Long Time Ago, and It Never Happened Anyway: Russia and the Communist Past (2011); Age of Delirium: the Decline and Fall of the Soviet Union (2008); and Darkness at Dawn: the Rise of the Russian Criminal State (2003).

David Satter arrived in the Soviet Union in June 1976 as the correspondent of the Financial Times of London and entered a country that was a giant theater of the absurd. After 1982, he was banned from the Soviet Union but allowed back in 1990, and finally expelled in 2013 on the grounds that the secret police regarded his presence as “undesirable.” From 1976 to the present, he saw four different Russias, which differed from each other radically while remaining essentially the same. From 1976 to 1982, the Soviet Union was at the height of its world power and its people were in thrall to an absurd ideology. With the advent of Gorbachev’s perestroika, the Soviet population was liberated from the ideology and the state hurtled to its inevitable collapse. When independent Russia emerged from the wreckage, the failure to replace the missing ideology with genuine moral values led to Russia’s complete criminalization.

The articles in this unique collection are a chronicle of Russia from the day David Satter arrived in the Soviet Union until the present. Emigres from the states of the former Soviet Union often despair of their inability to convey the true character of their experiences to the West. Penetrating the veil of Russian mystification requires effort and the ability to understand that seeing is not always believing. The Russians have created an entire false world for our benefit. This collection reflects David Satter’s 40-year attempt to see them as they are.


February 16, 2021
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
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Fletcher Eurasia Club