This is a blog for use in both of my HIS 241 and HIS 242 Russian history survey courses at Northern Virginia Community College.

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25 September 2011

Nicholas Riasanovsky in memoriam

Professor Nicholas Riasanovsky (1923-2011), long time professor of Russian history at the University of California, Berekey, died earlier this year--yes, I agree, that sometimes it takes news a long time to reach me.  He was one of the key figures in the development of Russian history studies in the US, as his graduate students filled positions everywhere in American universities, and everyone used his popular History of Russia, now in its eighth or ninth edition.  Here is the link to the New York Times obituary and one from UC Berkely.  I met him once in the 1980s when he visited the University of Virginia.  I do not recall really speaking with him at all; what I do recall was that he was a passionate sports fan and insisted that he attend a UVa soccer game while he was there.  He later wrote up some notes for me about how he got interested in Russian history as a field of study.

24 September 2011

The Return of Putin

There are headlines everywhere about the decision of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and Russian President Dmitrii Medvedev to flip-flop positions.  That means that Putin would again become president, and then Medvedev would become prime minister when their current terms are up.  See for example,
Putin to Run for Presidency in 2012.  There is also a lot commentary, for example, Analysts' View:  Putin to Return to the Kremlin.  Again, this is not really surprising, since Putin is the real force in Russian politics, and he is going to stay the main force; whatever formal political position he holds.  It is also clear that there is currently no one who has any sort of mandate to challenge him--that person would also have to be especially brave.  This also means that Russia, much like the US, is kind of stuck in a holding pattern--although for different reasons that what is happening in the US--and that critical socio-economic challenges to both societies are not going to be resolved in the upcoming next few years.

02 September 2011

Russia, Exxon and the Arctic

The NPR headline reads
Exxon In Multibillion-Dollar Russian Arctic Deal.  I wonder if Exxon studied the experiences that Shell had in working with the Russians on the huge Sakhalin Island project.