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Talk: Hope, Tragedy or Myth? How does modern Russia see the Revolution?


A disaster best forgotten; a moment in history that produced remarkable new ideas; a global event worthy of national pride? Our panel considers the different ways the Revolution and its legacy are regarded by the Russian government, among historians and writers, and by people of different generations. What aspects of the Soviet past are being embraced and which rejected? 

With writers and journalists Boris Akunin, Mary Dejevsky, Arkady Ostrovsky and Mikhail Zygar. Chaired by Bridget Kendall.

Enjoy food and drink purchased from the Knowledge Centre Bar from 18.00 and after the event until the Bar closes at 22.00. 


Boris Akunin is the pen name of Grigory Chkhartishvili, who was born in the Republic of Georgia in 1956. An essayist, historian, playwright and translator he is best known as the author of crime and historical fiction and compared to Gogol, Tolstoy and Arthur Conan Doyle. His books featuring the nineteenth-century detective Erast Fandorin have sold over eighteen million copies in Russia alone and include The Winter Queen, The Turkish Gambit, Murder on the Leviathan, The Death of Achilles, and Special Assignments. Akunin also created crime-solving Orthodox nun, sister Pelagia.  He lives in London.

Mary Dejevsky is a writer and broadcaster. She is a former foreign correspondent in Moscow, Paris and Washington, and a special correspondent in China and many parts of Europe. She is a member of the Valdai Group, invited since 2004 to meet Russian leaders each autumn. She is a past honorary research fellow at the University of Buckingham and contributed the introductory essay to The Britannica Guide to Russia.

Arkady Ostrovsky is Russia and Eastern Europe editor for The Economist and previously Moscow Bureau Chief, reporting on the annexation of Crimea and the war in Ukraine among many other subjects. He is the author of the 2016 Orwell Prize winning book The Invention of Russia: The Journey from Gorbachev’s Freedom to Putin’s War and regular contributor to radio and television programs around the world, including the BBC and NPR. He also writes on and translates theatre.

Mikhail Zygar is a Russian journalist, writer and filmmaker, and the founding editor-in-chief of independent Russian news TV-channel, Dozhd, providing an alternative to State-controlled media. Zygar is also the author of the book All the Kremlin's Men: The History of Putin's Russia, based on interviews with politicians from Putin's inner circle. The book has become a best-seller in Russia. Zygar also leads a team of young historians on Project1917 a major Russian social media project that uncovers primary and often little-known sources from the Revolution year, and publishes them daily.

Bridget Kendall is the first female Master of Peterhouse College, Cambridge University and previously the BBC’s award winning Diplomatic Correspondent. She was the BBC’s Moscow correspondent during the collapse of Communism in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, has twice interviewed President Putin and maintains a close interest in Russia and East/West relations. She is also presenter of The Forum for BBC radio. Her new book The Cold War: Stories from the Big Freeze accompanies a landmark BBC Radio 4 series, and is a meticulously researched account one of the furthest-reaching and longest-lasting conflicts in modern history, seen through the eyes of those who experienced it first-hand.

Please note, this event takes places at the British Library, 96 Euston Rd, Kings Cross, London NW1 2DB.

Tel: +44 (0)1937 546546