URI Professor Nicolai Petro to discuss Ukraine at Russian seminar

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Petro expected to meet President Vladimir Putin

KINGSTON, R.I. – Oct. 21, 2014 – Ebola is dominating the headlines today, but other international crises are still in the news, including the war in Ukraine. University of Rhode Island political science professor Nicolai Petro will get a front-row seat to the world’s political theater when he meets with global leaders this week in Russia.

For the second year in a row, Petro has been invited to speak at the Valdai Discussion Club, a meeting of 100 world leaders, scholars and journalists Oct. 22-24 in Sochi, Russia.

An expert on Ukrainian and Russian history, Petro is expected to talk about the war in Ukraine, experiencing a shaky ceasefire. He will also hear comments from Russian President Vladimir Putin, who will speak Oct. 24.

The topic of this year’s 11th annual gathering is called, “The New World Order: New Rules or No Rules?” Speakers will focus on whether the global community should develop ground rules for world politics – or allow itself to drift into chaos.

More than 200 foreign leaders, academics, policy analysts and journalists attended last year’s meeting. For the first time, President Putin’s speech was televised live. In an unusual move, he also participated in a question-and-answer session that lasted three hours.

Petro is expected to hear Putin’s speech this year. The URI professor is available for phone interviews with the press while he is at the seminar. He can be reached at 011-380508302381. His Skype address is nicolaipetro. His email is nnpetro@gmail.com.

There is an 8-hour plus time difference in Russia.

Last year, Petro lived in Odessa, Ukraine for a year on a Fulbright research grant to study the role of the Russian Orthodox Church. He commented extensively to the international and national press about the Ukrainian war.

Petro received his doctorate in foreign affairs in 1984 from the University of Virginia. From 1989 to 1990, he was an International Affairs Fellow of the Council on Foreign Relations and served as special assistant for policy in the Office of Soviet Union Affairs in the U.S. Department of State, as well as a temporary political attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow.

While in the Soviet Union he monitored local elections in central Russia, Belarus, and Latvia. From 2001 to 2002, he returned to Russia privately to work as a staff consultant to the municipal research and training center Dialog and as an advisor to the mayor of the Russian city Novgorod the Great. He joined the political science department at URI in 1991.

He has won numerous awards, including a Thornton D. Hooper Fellowship at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, and research awards from the National Council for Eurasian and East European Research. Two years ago, he was invited to advise the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on its “Scenarios for the Russian Federation” initiative.

His articles have appeared in many newspapers and journals, in both the United States and Russia. He is also the author or editor of eight books, including Crafting Democracy: How Novgorod has Coped with Rapid Social Change, The Rebirth of Russian Democracy: An Interpretation of Political Culture, and Russian Foreign Policy: From Empire to Nation-State, co-authored with Alvin Z. Rubinstein.

Pictured above: Nicolai N. Petro, 56, of Kingston, a professor of political science at the University of Rhode Island who will participate in a conference in Russia attended by Russian President Vladimir Putin and other world leaders.