Vladimir Posner

The Monterey Initiative on Russian Studies (MIRS) invites renowned academics, diplomats, analysts and journalists from all over the world to speak to students at MIIS.  Each expert offers a series of presentations in Russian or English and a public seminar. MIRS participants can also meet one-on-one with leading thinkers in the field and participate in informal discussions.

Spring 2024


Sener Akturk

Sener Akturk

Sener Akturk is a professor in the Department of International Relations at Koç University (Istanbul, Turkey). Dr. Akturk’s research focuses on politics of ethnicity, religion, nationalism, geopolitical identities, Russian and Turkish politics. Dr. Akturk served as a postdoctoral fellow at the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies and a Visiting Lecturer at the Department of Government at Harvard University. 

Spring 2023


Joshua Yaffa

Joshua Yaffa

Joshua Yaffa is a contributing writer for The New Yorker. He is also the author of Between Two Fires: Truth, Ambition, and Compromise in Putin’s Russia, which won the Orwell Prize in 2021. For his work in Russia, he has been named a fellow at New America, a recipient of the American Academy’s Berlin Prize, and a finalist for the Livingston Award. Watch the recording. 

Listen to the podcast with Joshua Yaffa and Magnus Toren | A Big Sur Podcast 

Fall 2022

Presentations by Monterey Initiative in Russian Studies Visiting Experts:

Will Pyle new.jpg

William Pyle

Will Pyle is the Frederick C. Dirks Professor of International Economics at Middlebury College. He has recently held visiting research positions at CESifo in Munich and the Bank of Finland Institute for Emerging Economies (BOFIT). In 2014, he and his BOFIT colleague, Laura Solanko, won the Russian National Prize in Applied Economics for their research on Russian business lobbies. Will is now working on a long-term project relating to the effects of economic dislocation in Russia during the 1990s.  


Rebecca Mitchell

Rebecca Mitchell joined the faculty at Middlebury College in January 2016. She studied both music (piano performance) and Russian language and culture at the University of Saskatchewan (B.Mus.), Meadows School of the Arts, Southern Methodist University (M.Mus.), and Carleton University (M.A.), before devoting her life to the exploration of Russian/Soviet history. She teaches a wide range of courses on the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union, Marx and Marxism, and the intersections between music and power in history. Her first book, Nietzsche’s Orphans: Music, Metaphysics and the Twilight of the Russian Empire (Yale University Press, 2015), examines the interrelationship between imperial identity, nationalist tensions, philosophical ideals, and musical life in the final years of the Russian Empire (1905-1917). 

Beishenbai Zhunusov

Beishenbai Zhunusov

Beishenbai Zhunusov is an expert on International Relations and Security, with a special focus on Central Asia. Mr. Zhunusov served as the Head of the National Security of the Kyrgyz Republic, the Secretary of the Security Council, and Senior Advisor to the President of the Kyrgyz Republic on political and security issues. Mr. Zhunusov also worked as a Director of CARICC (UNODC) in Kazakhstan, where he led a number of high-level initiatives related to global security. He has advised governments and international organizations on efforts to enhance shared security throughout the Eurasian region and provided analysis on the most acute international issues.

Fall 2021

Presentations by Monterey Initiative in Russian Studies Visiting Experts:

Maria Buras

Maria Buras

Maria M. Buras is a linguist and journalist. She worked as the deputy editor-in-chief of the newspaper The Foreigner and as the editor-in-chief of the Kommersant-Science magazine. She led the public relations agency PR-Technologies and the Applied Communications Center. She authored articles in scientific and popular science publications and periodicals, as well as the book, Truth Exists: The Life of Andrei Zaliznyak through Stories of Its Participants


Yury Kruchkin

Dr. Yury Kruchkin is a professor in the Institute of International Studies at the Mongolian Academy of Science. He served as Secretary of the USSR General Consulate in Erdenet, Mongolia from 1981-1984. Dr. Kruchkin has also served as the Senior Referent to the Secretary of the USSR Embassy in Mongolia, as an Attaché of the Administration for Asian Socialist Countries at the USSR Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and as the Third Secretary of the USSR Embassy in Mongolia. Dr. Kruchkin is the Director of the Russian-Mongolian Publishing House “Agiimaa” and has written more than 25 books about Mongolia and Russian-Mongolian relations as well as Russian-Mongolian and Mongolian-Russian Dictionaries.

Vladimir Pozner

Vladimir Pozner

Vladimir Pozner is a veteran journalist, bestselling author, and documentary filmmaker. He is the host of the top-rated weekly current affairs program on Channel One, Russia’s largest television network. Named the “Voice of Moscow” by CNN, Pozner is a regular commentator on Russia and the history of the Cold War in Western media. Mr. Pozner has won multiple Soviet, Russian, and American awards, including three Emmy certificates, ten TEFY awards (the Russian equivalent of the Emmy) and several international awards. He is internationally recognized and ranks among the most respected people in the television profession in Russia today.

Elena Kostyuchenko

Elena Kostyuchenko 

Elena Kostyuchenko is a Russian investigative journalist and special correspondent for the Novaya Gazeta newspaper. In the past, Elena was embedded as a frontline journalist with both separatist and Ukrainian troops in Donbas. She also covered protests against the construction of a controversial highway through the Khimki Forest, exposed the ecological disaster of the Norilsk oil spill and profiled doctors fighting COVID-19 during the initial outbreak. 

Soldatov and Borogan
Soldatov and Borogan - authors and independent investigative journalists

Irina Borogan & Andrei Soldatov 

Irina Borogan & Andrei Soldatov are Russian investigative journalists, co-founders of Agentura.ru, a watchdog of the Russian secret services’ activities. Borogan and Soldatov have been covering security services and terrorism issues since 1999. They are authors of The New Nobility. The Restoration of Russia’s Security State and the Enduring Legacy of the KGB (PublicAffairs, 2010), The Red Web: The Struggle Between Russia’s Digital Dictators and the New Online Revolutionaries (PublicAffairs, 2015) and The Compatriots: The Brutal and Chaotic History of Russia’s Exiles, Émigrés, and Agents Abroad (PublicAffairs, 2019).