Pushkin House is pleased to announce the launch of its 2016 Russian book prize with a distinguished panel of international judges. The jurors include Mikhail Piotrovsky, director of the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg; Baroness Elizabeth Smith of Gilmorehill, founding trustee of the John Smith Trust; Geoffrey Hosking, emeritus professor of Russian history, School of Slavonic & East European Studies, University College London; Anne McElvoy, senior editor at the Economist; and Serhii Plokhy, professor of Ukrainian history at Harvard University.

Mikhail Borisovich Piotrovsky was born in Yerevan in 1944. His father, an eminent archaeologist, was Director of The State Hermitage Museum from 1964 until his death in 1990. Dr Piotrovsky was brought up in Leningrad, spent many hours in the Hermitage as a child, and studied in the Museum’s art history school. He graduated with honors from the Oriental Faculty of Leningrad State University, specializing in Arabic Studies, in 1967. He entered the Leningrad branch of the Institute for Oriental Studies as a research assistant in 1967, obtained a doctorate in history, and worked there until 1991. Following his father’s death he was invited, in 1991, to join the Hermitage staff as the First Deputy Director. In July 1992 he was appointed Director of the Museum.





Elizabeth Smith was created a peer in 1995 following the death of her husband, Rt Hon John Smith MP, who was the Leader of the Labour Party. Baroness Smith is a member of the board of several organisations with interests in Russia and FSU countries. She also has interests in culture and the arts and is the President of Scotland's national opera company, Scottish Opera as well as being Chairman of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Her other positions include being an Advisory Council Member of the Russo-British Chamber of Commerce; Vice Chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Russia; Governor of the English Speaking Union; Board Member of the Centre for European Reform and a Trustee of the Mariinsky Theatre Trust.



Geoffrey Hosking is Emeritus Professor of Russian History, School of Slavonic & East European Studies, University College London.  He is author of Beyond Socialist Realism:  Soviet fiction since Ivan Denisovich (1980), A History of the Soviet Union (3rd edition, 1992), and Rulers and Victims: the Russians in the Soviet Union (2007).  He edited a series of papers on 'Trust and Distrust in the Soviet Union' in the Slavonic & East European Review, vol 91, no 1 (January 2013).  Oxford University Press has recently published his book Trust:  a history.




Anne McElvoy is a former foreign correspondent and columnist. She began her career on the Times, covering east Germany, German unification, the Balkans and Russia before becoming Deputy Editor of the Spectator and Political Columnist of the Daily Telegraph. Most recently she was Executive Editor of the London Evening Standard and the newspaper’s political columnist. She joined The Economist in January 2011. Ms McElvoy also presents the BBC arts and ideas programme “Night Waves” and is a regular panellist on the BBC Radio 4 “Moral Maze” and BBC2 “Review Show”. She also makes political documentaries.






Serhii Plokhy is the Mykhailo Hrushevsky Professor of Ukrainian History at Harvard University and a leading authority on Eastern Europe. His book The Last Empire: The Final Days of the Soviet Union, won the 2015 Pushkin House Book Prize. Other books include Yalta: The Price of Peace and The Cossack Myth: History and Nationhood in the Age of Empires.




Now in its fourth year, the Pushkin House Russian Book Prize rewards the very best non-fiction writing on Russia. Worth £5,000 to the winner, the Prize was created to encourage public understanding and intelligent debate about the Russian-speaking world.

The Pushkin Prize has been funded since its creation with support from Waterstones, and this year received an additional generous donation from Douglas Smith and Stephanie Ellis-Smith to help increase its impact and encourage translation between Russian and English. 

Douglas Smith, author and winner of the inaugural award in 2013, said: “I am delighted to support the Pushkin House prize, to help promote public debate and to encourage strengthened exchange of ideas between the Russian and the English speaking worlds.”

James Daunt, Waterstones’ Managing Director, said: “We are very happy to continue our support for the Pushkin House Prize, which continues to grow in strength as a showcase for high quality books on Russia assessed by the best possible judges.”

Andrew Jack, co-chair of Pushkin House, said: “We are thrilled to have such a top calibre jury to select the best writing to promote intelligent Anglo-Russian understanding at such an important time.”

Submissions for the 2016 Prize are now closed. The shortlist will be announced in early March and the winner will be announced in April.