Forum Panel Dissects Russian Political Challenges as the Winter Olympics Begin

February 7, 2014

Pictured (From L to R): Jill Dougherty, Kevin Ryan, Alexandra Vacroux, and Simon Saradzhyan

The many political challenges facing Russia as the Winter Olympics begin were the focus of discussion Thursday night (February 6) at the John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum. A panel of experts, each of whom has extensive knowledge of Russian history and current affairs, exchanged perspectives on the nation's complex political landscape, and the many thorny issues now clouding U.S.-Russian relations -- from accused spy, Edward Snowden's temporary asylum in Moscow to American concerns over security arrangements for the Winter Games.

The panelists included retired U.S. Army Brigadeer General Kevin Ryan, research director of the Kennedy School's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs; Simon Saradzhyan, fellow and assistant director, Initiative to Prevent Nuclear Terrorism, Belfer Center; and Alexandra Vacroux, executive director, Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, Harvard University. The discussion was moderated by Jill Dougherty, former foreign affairs correspondent for CNN and spring 2014 fellow, Harvard Kennedy School's Shorenstein Center on the Media, Politics and Public Policy.

The event was sponsored by the Institute of Politics.

Photo Credit: Martha Stewart

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"The Olympic Games in Sochi are important, not only for Putin’s personal pride, but for the Russian nation’s prestige. I hope they are a huge success, because that can help move Russia beyond its feelings of inferiority to be a more constructive partner." -- Kevin Ryan