As Russia emerges from its season of elections and protests, frustrations and hopes, the real question is not what the next government will do, but where Russian society is heading to.
At the end of November 2011, a week before the parliamentary elections, journalists, sociologists and political analysts alike unanimously were pointing out the total public apathy and the absence of civil society in Russia. In a fortnight however, a protest movement emerged and kept growing, reaching its culmination in March 2012, during the Russian presidential campaign. Why could neither experts, nor authorities predict such a political disturbance? How has the social activism accumulated and formed in the depths of Russian society? What are the perspectives and challenges that Russian society is facing in its struggle with an authoritarian regime?
Irina Prokhorova is a literary critic and cultural historian (PhD); founder and editor of the “New Literary Observer” magazine and owner and director of the publishing house with the same name in Moscow. Over the past decade, and until today, Prokhorova was actively engaged with philanthropy. In 2004, following her initiative, the Prokhorov Fund was established, to support contemporary Russian culture. She was honoured by the Government of the Russian Federation for New Literary Observer magazine (2002), and received the Liberty Prize for her contribution to the development of Russian-American cultural relations (2003). In 2005, Ms. Prokhorova became Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (France), and a laureate of the Andrey Belyi prize for literature (2006).
During the past presidential elections in Russia Prokhorova became actively involved in the campaign of her brother, the entrepreneur Mikhail Prokhorov. During the campaign, she spectacularly won a debate against famous filmmaker and Putin supporter Nikita Mikhalkov, an event that gained her wide popularity across the country and beyond.
|Ivan Krastev, Chair of the Board, Centre for Liberal Strategies, Sofia; Permanent Fellow, IWM
In cooperation with Die Presse and the Austrian Federal Ministry of Finance