Russia looks to its future

A key advisor to the Russian President has analysed the country’s prospects in a University lecture.

Professor Igor Yurgens gave his thoughts during the annual Erickson Lecture, which was organised by the University’s Princess Dashkova Centre.

Opened in 2010, the Dashkova Centre provides for the study of Russia, its culture and language.


In this video, Professor Yurgens explains his views to Dr Luke March, Deputy Director of the Princess Dashkova Centre.

Russia outlook

In his lecture, ‘Modernisation in Russia: Things to Come, Things to be Overcome’, Professor Yurgens gave an overview of Russia’s recent history, concentrating on the Medvedev Presidency since 2008 and the consequences of Vladimir Putin’s probable return to the Presidency after March 2012.

Arguing that Russia’s main problems are resource dependency, corruption and the pervasive legacy of autocracy, he contended that the solution was a modernisation of the political and economic system, including the expansion of democratic procedures and citizen involvement.

While expressing disappointment at Mr Medvedev’s decision to stand aside for the return of Mr Putin, and strongly critical of aspects of Putin’s rule, Professor Yurgens argued that the recent electoral protests were the sign of an emerging Russian middle class that will continue to develop and articulate demands for peaceful democratic reform and overall modernisation.

Professor Igor Yurgens

Professor Yurgens is Chairman of the Management Board at the Institute of Contemporary Development ( INSOR), Moscow, which was launched by President Dmitri Medvedev in 2008 to encourage leading experts to develop policies important to Russia’s future.

Professor Yurgens is a Professor at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow and since 2001 has been vice-president of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs.

Erickson Lecture

The annual Erickson Lecture was established to mark the important 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 the ‘Edinburgh Conversations’, which established Edinburgh as a base for dialogue between Warsaw Pact and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) generals during the Cold War.

Centre of Excellence

The Princess Dashkova Russian Centre 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 opened in 2010, is the best-equipped Russian study centre in the UK and houses a library of Russian books, as well as other resources including access to Russian databases and television.

A top choice for Russian students

The University is one of the top 10 destinations for Russian students choosing to study in the UK, with almost 100 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 18th Century when Dr Robert Erskine, an Edinburgh alumnus, was appointed Chief Physician to Peter the Great and President of the Medical Chancery.