With Lectures, Books and Samovars, Center for Russian Culture Aims to keep U.S., Russia Ties Strong

Submitted on Monday, 6/16/2014, at 1:29 PM

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Whether it’s a lecture by an Amherst alumnus who’s a top authority on Russia or a reading of poems by leading Russian poets, the Center for Russian Culture at Amherst College has stuck to its mission despite sometimes chilly official relations between Russian and the United States.

“Our philosophy is to promote better understanding and establish more informed relations between the two countries,” said Stanley Rabinowitz, professor of Russian at Amherst and director of the Center.

That tradition continued on a recent Monday, with a lecture by Andrew Kuchins ’81, Director and Senior Fellow of the Russia and Eurasia Program at the Center for Strategic and International Affairs in Washington, D.C.

From Russia with Love

Professor Awarded One of Russia’s Top Civilian Medals

Professor William Taubman is presented with the Russian medal of  the Order of Friendship

Hon. Andrey K. Yushmanov (left) presents Professor William Taubman with one of Russia’s top civilian medals.

By Emily Gold Boutilier

One of my favorite things about editing Amherst magazine is that sometimes the job is unpredictable. On Monday, in between writing about students who edit Wikipedia and approving an illustration on the economics of dueling, I heard that William Taubman, the political science professor who won a Pulitzer for his biography of Nikita Khrushchev, would soon receive one of Russia’s top civilian medals. Two days later, I found myself in the same room as an important Russian official. Who would have thought?

The Russian official, the Hon. Andrey K. Yushmanov, is consul general of the Russian Federation in New York. He’d traveled to Amherst to formally present Taubman with the medal, known as the Order of Friendship. Russian Federation President Dmitry Medvedev decreed that the medal be awarded to Taubman—the Bertrand Snell Professor of Political Science—for “a great contribution to the development of cultural ties with the Russian Federation, including the preservation and popularization of Russian language and culture.”

Professor of Russian Jane A. Taubman

Khrushchev kin allege family honor slurred

William C. Taubman, Bertrand Snell Professor of Political Science, commented on allegations that the son of former Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev was a traitor in this widely circulated Associated Press piece.

Work in Progress

By Emily Gold Boutilier After spending 20 years on his book Khrushchev: The Man and His Era, which won a 2004 Pulitzer Prize, William Taubman, the Bertrand Snell Professor of Political Science, had to decide what—if any—major work to tackle next. The Khrushchev project had been “frustrating and maddening,” he says, “but, ultimately, very satisfying.” So he decided to write another biography—on another Soviet leader.