The Civil Archipelago

“…Roginsky told me that the past few years have seen a proliferation of independent human-rights groups, media outlets, think tanks, academic departments, election watchdogs, and N.G.O.s not only in Moscow and St. Petersburg but all over the country. Because their efficacy is so limited, so circumscribed by the Kremlin, they do not constitute a true civil society; rather, they are an archipelago of islands in a vast sea, barely connected to each other and ignored, at best, by the political élite.”

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The article has it right. The most exciting thing to come out of the December 4th parliamentary election protests is an increase in Russia’s civil society.

The View From a Broad


Kristen Steagall – BA 2010 Russian and Eastern European Studies

I remember being given a book at Freshman orientation; it depicted a recent graduate’s experience starting an English language newspaper in Baghdad. At the time I saw this as an admirable and exotic feat but was rather flippant about reading it. Why should I care about this one man’s experience? Would he really have anything original to say? Anything more informative than what I could read in the newspaper?

“What I failed to realize at the time is that there is much to be learned from reading how others view and interpret the world.”

In many ways, this is the crux  of a liberal arts education. You learn about different viewpoints, how to interpret and synthesize said viewpoints and hopefully bring more understanding, tolerance and respect into our often dissident world. I should have read that book by the recent…

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