The University has opened a new Russian study centre, the first of its kind in Britain.
The Princess Dashkova Russian Centre, which officially opened on 19 October, will provide a base for Russian research.
It is the first centre supported by the Russkiy Mir Foundation to open at a British University. The Foundation, which is similar to the British Council, promotes Russian culture around the world.
The Centre, which officially opened on 19 October, is the best-equipped Russian study centre in the UK.
It houses a library of Russian books, as well as other resources including access to Russian databases and television.
Dr Lara Ryazanova-Clarke, Senior Lecturer in Russian and Convener of the Research Centre for Study of Russian in Context, has been appointed Director of the Centre.
The Princess Dashkova Russian Centre is the first of its kind in Britain. It will help Edinburgh reaffirm itself as a centre for Russian language research and a centre for exchange between Russia and the UK.
Dr Lara Ryazanova-Clarke
Director of the Princess Dashkova Russian Centre
Dr Vyacheslav Nikonov and Dr Lara Ryazanova-Clarke discuss Edinburgh and Russia’s historic ties and plans for the future.
The Centre is named after Princess Ekaterina Dashkova, one of the leading figures of the Russian enlightenment.
Princess Dashkova lived in Edinburgh from 1776 to 1782 while her son attended the University.
While in Edinburgh Princess Dashkova lived at the Palace of Holyrood House and was close friends with several of Scotland’s brightest enlightenment thinkers.
These included William Robertson, Adam Smith, Hugh Blair and Adam Fergusson.
On returning to Russia she was appointed Director of the Russian Imperial Academy of Sciences in St Petersburg.
She was the first woman in the world to lead a national science academy and founded the Imperial Academy of the Russian Language.
In 1783, as Director of the Imperial Academy of Sciences, she awarded William Robertson, Principal of the University of Edinburgh, with the honorary degree of Doctor of Sacred Theology.
The launch of the Princess Dashkova Russian Centre was marked with the annual Erickson Lecture, delivered by Dr Vyacheslav Nikonov.
Dr Nikonov is Dean of History and Political Science at the International University in Moscow and Executive Director of the Management Board of the Russkiy Mir Foundation.
He delivered a lecture titled “How Crisis has Changed the World” on 19 October.
Dr Nikonov's long career in Russian and Soviet politics and government includes serving as the Deputy Chairman of President Yeltsin’s re-election campaign; speechwriter for the Communist Party of the Soviet Union Central Committee; and assistant to the Chief of Staff, Office of the President of the USSR.
The annual Erickson Lecture was established to mark the seminal contributions to military history and analysis made by Professor John Erickson while Professor of Defence Studies at the University of Edinburgh.
Professor John Erickson is best known for establishing Edinburgh as a base for dialogue between Warsaw Pact and Nato generals during the Cold War.
The University is one of the top 10 destinations for Russian students choosing to study in the UK, with more than 70 students currently enrolled at the University.
Russian students who choose Edinburgh are following in the footsteps of figures such as Igor Tamm, winner of the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1958, who studied in Edinburgh before the First World War.
The University’s association with Russia dates back to the start of the Eighteenth Century when Dr Robert Erskine, an Edinburgh alumnus, was appointed Chief physician to Peter the Great and President of the Medical Chancery.
This article was published on May 6, 2011