November 25, 2014

Students Meet Russian Politics Expert

Students Meet Russian Politics Expert
February 27, 2012

On Tuesday, Feb. 21, four students from political science professor John Williams’s class on Russian politics attended an invitation-only breakfast and talk at Washington University’s Murray Weidenbaum Center on the Economy, Government, and Public Policy. Though this was their first time meeting the speaker, Dr. Thomas Remington of Emory University, the students were already familiar with his “voice” because he’s the author of one of their textbooks, Politics of Russia.

One of America’s top experts on Russian politics, Remington spoke on the upcoming Russian presidential election to a mixed group of scholars and lay Russia-watchers. The Principia students were the only undergraduates at this insider briefing.

A frequent visitor to Russia, Remington shared his on-the-ground perspective about these final weeks leading up to the March 4, 2012, election. The title of his talk, “Internet Hamsters, Office Plankton, and the Fight for the Middle Class: Russian Presidential Election Preview,” aptly captured the back-and-forth flavor of the political climate there. The phrase “Internet hamsters,” for example, is one that Vladimir Putin, the current prime minister, coined to describe those protesting his bid for a third term as president. Instead of spurning the term, however, protesters have made it their own, describing their move from the Internet to the streets as proof that they’re now out of their “cages.”

But no matter how serious (or clever) the protests are, few (if any) expect them to change the outcome of the elections. “Putin will be elected,” Professor Williams says, “but not by the margins he enjoyed in the past.”

Fortunately for our students, Remington’s talk came five weeks into Principia’s term, so students had spent enough time with his textbook to be able to follow his talk just fine and also ask some excellent questions. After the event, they spoke privately with Remington for a short time and even posed with him for a picture. (From the left, in the photo above, are Katlyn Straub-Mugana, Sarah Butson, Dr. Remington, Madeline Grendel (holding the textbook Remington wrote), and Cameron Douglas. Professor Williams took the picture.)