Harriman Spends Thanksgiving in Moscow and Siberia, Tackling Tough Research Problems and Engaging in Track Two Diplomacy through the Stanford U.S.-Russia Forum

Friday, February 9, 2018

We are proud to announce that two members of the Harriman Institute community are part of the Stanford U.S.-Russia Forum’s 2017-18 U.S.-Russia delegation that travelled to Moscow and Tyumen in November 2017. Drawing from diverse linguistic, cultural, and professional backgrounds, delegates work to solve real-world problems while also fostering bi-national dialogue.

Tinatin Japaridze (MARS-REERS BA/MA '19), a Georgian-born, Russian-bred Master’s student, working on a policy initiative for US-Russia relations through the prism of cultural and citizen diplomacy, is a delegate in the Conflict and Cybersecurity Working Group. Based on meetings and consultations with both Russian and American experts and government officials in Moscow, Tyumen, New York, and Washington, D.C., her group’s proposed recommendations center on coordination in the area of cybersecurity as a tool to help dissipate current tensions while also fostering cultural understanding, effective communication, and stronger ties for greater future cooperation and improved relations, not only between the state actors but also among their respective citizens.

Alexis Lerner, Visiting Scholar at the Harriman Institute and a Ph.D. candidate in Political Science and Jewish Studies at the University of Toronto, serves as the delegation’s Director of Research. Since 2016, Alexis has overseen the program’s eight unique research projects and over 60 scholars from around the world. In her own research, Alexis studies the topic of co-optation and dissent management in authoritarian and hybrid states, focusing on the political trajectories of federal-level candidates across the post-Soviet region.

The delegation is composed of eight working groups. During their trip, the delegates conducted high-level meetings and interviews with the Governor of Tyumen, leaders from the State Duma and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and with experts and executives across academia and the private sector. In Tyumen and its neighboring town Yalutorovsk, the delegation engaged in cultural diplomacy, touring local start-up, creative, and energy companies, before ending the week at a local youth center.

Delegates presented their research at the Higher School of Economics before a full conference hall that included attendees Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich, HSE Dean Sergey Karaganov, and Skolkovo Vice President Alexei Sitnikov.

This coming April, the delegation will meet once again, this time at Stanford University, where they will present their scholarly findings alongside academic and policy leaders like Sec. William Perry, Sec. George Shultz, Ambassador Michael McFaul, Francis Fukuyama, and Condoleezza Rice. In celebration of the organization’s ten year anniversary, the delegation will then travel to Washington, D.C., where they will meet with the Russian Ambassador, as well as with American politicians and institutions working on US-Russia relations.

The Stanford US-Russia Forum, demonstrating the potential for successful US-Russia partnership through scholarship and dialogue, is a special initiative of the Preventive Defense Project at Stanford University’s Freeman Spogli Institute.

*Photo: Tinatin Japaridze (left) and Alexis Lerner (right) in front of a Lenin statue in Siberia