Why an award from Russia could complicate my life

More devious minds might see the choice of a Briton and a journalist as a ploy to banish the negative publicity surrounding the enforced departure from Russia of the BBC’s Sarah Rainsford, writes Mary Dejevsky

Thursday 21 October 2021 21:30
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<p>Those attending what is called the ‘Valdai Discussion Club’ came to be seen as friendly to Putin</p>

Those attending what is called the ‘Valdai Discussion Club’ came to be seen as friendly to Putin

In many, but not all, of the past 18 years, I have been one of several dozen foreign Russia specialists invited to spend a few days listening and talking to Russian counterparts from different walks of life.

The meetings, which began as a one-off effort to improve relations, have evolved into something more like an international conference, offering a rare opportunity to meet leaders in a variety of fields, as well as officials and politicians.

Last year’s (virtual) conference included a session with those pioneering Russia’s Covid vaccine effort. This year, there have been panels on different aspects of the pandemic, on 30 years since the Soviet collapse, on the city of Moscow (with the mayor), and on Russia’s approach to climate change in the run-up to Cop26.

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