Columbia University in the City of New York

Harriman Institute

A headshot of Anna Narinskaya.



The Last Word: Defendants’ Final Statements as the Opportunity for Free Speech in Russia
Reserve Your Seat Register for Zoom Webinar Watch on YouTube

Location Note

1219 International Affairs Building
420 W 118th St, 12th Floor

This is a hybrid (in-person/virtual) event. Registration required for attendance. Please note that all attendees must follow Columbia’s COVID-19 Policies and Guidelines. Columbia University is committed to protecting the health and safety of its community. To that end, all visiting alumni and guests must meet the University requirement of full vaccination status in order to attend in-person events. Vaccination cards may be checked upon entry to all venues. All other attendees may participate virtually on Zoom or YouTube.

Please join the Harriman Institute for a lecture by Anna Narinskaya. Moderated by Mark Lipovetsky.

In recent years and, particularly, in recent months in Russia, a distinct oral/literary genre has re-emerged — the “final statement” of a defendant.   Paradoxically, the “cage” in a court room (in today’s Russia, the accused are put in a bullet-proof glass booth) appears as the only remaining place where a person can still speak freely. Thus, it can be said, without exaggeration, that the courtroom, where people are tried for dissent, is a last bastion of freedom of speech in today’s Russia.  And the voices that reach us, despite the obstacles, help the external world to understand the conditions in which people live under Putinism. We explore the final statements delivered by women. Women’s resistance is directed not only against the political system in today’s Russia, but also against the patriarchal way of life, which support this system. Because of this, women are more vulnerable and, as a result, their political statements frequently are more radical than their male counterparts’.  A lonely female voice stands up against the omnipresent violence.

Anna Narinskaya is a Russian journalist, curator, documentary filmmaker and playwright. She has worked in Russia’s most influential media since the late nineties, notably as a special correspondent for Kommersant newspaper, covering cultural and social issues, and as a literary editor. After Russia annexed Crimea, censorship intensified and the media, linked to the state and big money, could no longer afford freedom of expression. Narinskaya then moved to fully independent media. She worked at «Novaya Gazeta” daily and the Dozhd TV channel. At the same time, she began curating exhibitions. Her best known projects include: “200 hits a minute. Typewriter and consciousness of the 20th century”, (Moscow, 2015.Winner of Intermuseum Prize), “Last address. Commemorating repressions in today’s Russia”, (Moscow 2018, Berlin 2019). “Find a Jew. Soviet Jews as a social and cultural Phenomenon”,  (Moscow, 2020 Short listed for Innovation Prize), Museum of Joseph Brodsky (St Petersburg 2020, short listed for Art Newspaper Prize). Anna Narinskaya is author of documentaries: “Find a Jew. In Search of Hidden Identity in the USSR”(2022), “Rock, Paper, Scissors. Film about Books and Freedom” (2023). In the summer of 2022, after Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Anna Narinskaya left the country. She now lives in Berlin. In December 2022, her play “The Last Word” (about women-political prisoners in today’s Russia) was premiered on the stage of the Gorki Theatre in Berlin.


Event Video