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Dealing with Putin

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How do you negotiate with the Russian president Vladimir Putin? In this evening we are looking for the answer. Kremlin-watcher Michel Krielaars - a former correspondent in Moscow and now head of the books-department of the Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad will moderate the programme. Guests are the influential Russian journalist and activist Oksana Chelycheva, Mikhail Shishkin - one of the most important contemporary Russian novelists and Adriaan Jacobovitzs de Szeged, former diplomat for the Dutch government. To negotiate with Putin, you need not only know about negotiation techniques, but also about the power-balance in the Kremlin, and about the way Russian media function. But it is just as important to get to know the Russian soul. For this we consult Russia's rich literary heritance.

Oksana Chelycheva (Russia, 1968) is a journalist and human rights defender. Since 2003 she has been covering the situation in the North Caucasus being the editor of the Russian-Chechen Information Agency established by the Russian-Chechen Friendship Society. After the organization was banned in Russia, being one of the first victims of the anti-extremism legislation, the work has continued by moving the legal entity of the Russian-Chechen Friendship Society to Finland. In 2008 Chelysheva had to stay in Finland, due to the never-ending threats. She has been contributing to Novaya Gazeta, Svobodnaya Pressa, as a journalist covering a broad range of HR problems starting from the right of the people for the cultural and architectural heritage, to the situation in the armed conflict-affected North Caucasus as well as politically motivated reprisals against NGOs and activists of the movements in opposition to the Kremlin. Chelysheva is the author of the book "I have been followed in the streets" published in Finland by INTO in 2013 and a co-author of the "International Tribunal for Chechnya" legal study published in 2009 by Sputnik Oy in Finland. In 2014, at the Writers Unlimited Festival in The Hague, she was awarded the prestigious Oxfam Novib PEN Award for Freedom of Expression.

Mikhail Shishkin (Moscow, 1961) is one of the most prominent names in contemporary Russian literature. The author of four widely acclaimed novels – Pismovnik (2010), Maidenhair (2005), Taking of Izmail (2000) and Larionov´s Memoirs (1994), Shishkin is admired as a refined stylist whose fiction engages Russian and European literary traditions and forges an equally expansive vision for the future of literature. Born in Moscow in 1961, Shishkin has worked as a teacher and journalist. His novels have earned him the three most prestigious Russian literary awards: the Russian Booker Prize in 2000, the National Bestseller Prize in 2005, and the Bolshaya Kniga (Big Book) Prize in 2006 and 2011. His works have been translated into thirty languages.

Adriaan Jacobovits de Szeged (1935) served 34 years in the diplomatic service of the Netherlands. His positions included Secretary in the Moscow embassy, permanent representative to the United Nations in New York, director-general of political affairs of the foreign ministry at The Hague, permanent representative on the North Atlantic Council(NATO) in Brussels, and, in his final position, ambassador to the United States, from 1993-1997. Since his retirement as a diplomat, he has served on the Board of the Netherlands Institute of International Relations, as a member of the Advisory Council on International Affairs to the Dutch government and parliament, and as special representative of the European Union for Moldova.

Michel Krielaars (Amsterdam, NL, 1961) studied history and Russian at the University of Amsterdam. He worked as a publisher and as Eastern Europe editor for Dutch public television current affairs programmes. From 2007 to mid-2012 he was Moscow correspondent for the Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad. Krielaars has written three novels, a short-story collection, and various books on Russian history. Among the latter is Ooggetuigen Van De Russische Geschiedenis In Meer Dan Honderd Reportages (Eye Witnesses to Russian History in More Than One Hundred Reports), which he co-wrote with Barbara Driessen. In 2014 Het brilletje van Tsjechov (Through Chekov's Glasses) was published, a report of his travels through Russia in the footsteps of the famous author. Since June of 2012 he has headed the book-review section of NRC Handelsblad.

This evening is in English. It is organised by Writers Unlimited in co-operation with The Hague Central Library, and with support of the Municipality of The Hague. Curated by Tom Dommisse.