Programme of the 18th Annual Meeting of the Valdai Discussion Club
Sochi, Russia
List of speakers

Programme of the 18th Annual Meeting of the Valdai Discussion Club

“Global Shake-Up in the 21st Century: The Individual, Values, and the State”

Sochi, October 18–21, 2021

October 18, Monday

15:30–15:40 Opening of the 18th Annual Meeting of the Valdai Discussion Club (watch live)

  • Andrey Bystritskiy, Chairman of the Board of the Foundation for Development and Support of the Valdai Discussion Club.

15:40–17:10 Session 1. Substitute for a World War or a Prelude to It? (watch live)

The COVID-19 pandemic has become a global shake-up. The source of the disease itself is extremely unpleasant, but it is not the most dangerous and destructive virus compared to those that have been encountered in history. However, the epidemiological force majeure coincided with an urgent need to change the existing order. And the pandemic provided the grounds to do this. Why was it such a turning point? And is the shock that the world experienced sufficient for building a new world order?


  • Celso Amorim, Foreign Minister of Brazil (2003-2010); Defense Minister of Brazil (2011-2014) (Brazil);
  • Tsogtbaatar Damdin, Member of the Parliament of Mongolia; Head of Mongolian Delegation, OSCE Parliamentary Assembly (Mongolia);
  • Thomas Graham, Distinguished Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) (USA);
  • Oksana Sinyavskaya, Deputy Director, Institute for Social Policy, National Research University Higher School of Economics (HSE);
  • Zhou Bo, Senior Fellow, Centre for International Security and Strategy, Tsinghua University; Expert, China Forum (China).


  • Andrey Sushentsov, Programme Director of the Valdai Discussion Club; Director, Institute of International Studies, MGIMO University.

19:00 The Valdai Award ceremony

October 19, Tuesday

10:00–11:30 Special Session. Presentation of the Valdai Discussion Club Report “The Age of Pandemic: Year Two. The Future Is Back” (watch live)

The future is back, and it is different for each one of us. After thirty years of progress, when everyone thought that the future had already arrived and it would always be the same, the era of predetermined outcomes in the ideological, economic, and institutional spheres ended abruptly. Countries shut down for quarantines in parallel, but each will lift restrictions in its own way. A time comes when each state or society becomes master of its own fortune. Or the master of misfortune, which, unfortunately, is also quite possible. A time of struggle for survival, selfishness that is not necessarily rational, situational reactions, and unstable relationships. How to make sure that humanity does not run wild and comes to a new balance? This question is addressed in the 2021 Valdai Report.


  • Marek Dabrowski, Professor, National Research University Higher School of Economics (HSE); Fellow, Bruegel (Belgium); Fellow, Center for Social and Economic Research (CASE) (Poland);
  • Thomas Gomart, Director, French Institute of International Relations (IFRI) (France);
  • Nelson Wong, Vice Chairman, Shanghai Centre for RimPac Strategic and International Studies (China);
  • Hasan Yalcin, Professor of Politics, Istanbul Commerce University (Turkey);
  • Lassina Zerbo, Executive Secretary Emeritus, The Preparatory Commission of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) (Austria).


  • Oleg Barabanov, Programme Director of the Valdai Discussion Club; Professor, MGIMO University; Professor, Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS).

12:00–13:30 Meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Sergey Lavrov

15:00–16:30 Session 2. The Quarantines and Their Repercussions: How Will People’s Fears Affect Humanity?

The pandemic has changed the way of life of billions of people on the planet, has become a shock for them. The breakdown of the usual way of life is always a psychological trauma, and when it is of a massive nature, the damage for society, the state, and the world can be very significant. What are the psychological implications of COVID-19? What are the similarities and what are the differences between this crisis and others that humanity has faced? Are there generational features of how such tipping points are experienced?


  • Alan Cafruny, Henry Platt Bristol Professor of International Relations, Hamilton College (USA);
  • Sergey Enikolopov, Head of the Division of Clinical Psychology, Mental Health Research Center;
  • Christopher Gerry, Head of Oxford School of Global and Area Studies, Associate Professor of Russian and Eurasian Political Economy, University of Oxford (UK); 
  • Bruno Maçães, Senior Advisor, Flint Global (UK); Minister of European Affairs of the Portuguese Republic (2013–2015) (Portugal);
  • Giorgio Nardone, Doctor of Psychology; Founder and Director, Center for Strategic Therapy (Italy).


  • Flemming Rose, Editor-in-Chief, Publishing Company Friheden (Denmark).

17:00–18:30 Session 3. A Closed Society and Its Friends. Who Needs Freedom and Why?

The phrase “'Freedom is the appreciation of necessity” has acquired a new meaning. The need to restrict freedom is voluntarily accepted by the majority of the global populace. And with the departure of the immediate epidemiological danger, the expediency of non-freedom will not end. Where is the border beyond which the authorities' desire to control everything ceases to be natural? And what are the mechanisms of effective responsibility of the authorities in conditions when the state of emergency turns into a routine?


  • Alexander Filippov, Professor, Faculty of Humanities, Head of the Centre for Fundamental Sociology, National Research University Higher School of Economics (HSE);
  • Arvind Gupta, Co-Founder, Digital India Foundation (India);
  • Ivan Krastev, Chairman, Centre for Liberal Strategies (Bulgaria); Permanent Fellow, Institute for Human Sciences (Austria);
  • Kubatbek Rakhimov, CEO, Public Foundation “Applicata - Center for Strategic Solutions”; Former Adviser to the Prime Minister of the Kyrgyz Republic (2019-2020) (Kyrgyzstan);
  • Xu Sitao, Chief Economist, Partner of Deloitte China (China).


  • Yana Leksyutina, Professor, School of International Relations, Saint-Petersburg State University.

19:30–21:00 Special Session. Russia and Europe – What Went Wrong? Presentation of the first book of the Valdai Academic Series

Relations between Russia and Europe after the end of the Cold War provide a unique material for analyzing not only the bilateral situation, but also the fate of the liberal world order in general. The Russian-European relations clearly demonstrate why the order, which gave such hopes for the establishment of a stable and international system, found itself in a serious crisis more than two decades after its generally recognized triumph. Presentation of the book by Timofei Bordachev and discussion of the problems raised in it.


  • Timofei Bordachev, Programme Director of the Valdai Discussion Club; Academic Supervisor, Centre for Comprehensive European and International Studies, National Research University Higher School of Economics (HSE);
  • Anatol Lieven, Senior Fellow, Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft (USA);
  • John Mearsheimer, R. Wendell Harrison Distinguished Service Professor of Political Science, University of Chicago (USA);
  • Nathalie Tocci, Director, Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI) (Italy); Honorary Professor, University of Tübingen; Pierre Keller Visiting Professor, Harvard Kennedy School (USA);
  • Xiang Lanxin, Professor, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (Switzerland); Director, Institute of Security Policy (ISP), China National Institute for SCO International Exchange and Judicial Cooperation (China).


  • Piotr Dutkiewicz, Professor of Political Science, Director, Centre for Governance and Public Policy, Carleton University (Canada).

October 20, Wednesday

10:00–11:30 Session 4. The Environment: Russia’s Response to a Common Challenge

The climate has become a leitmotif of world politics, and Russia is no exception. The country is actively discussing how Russia will participate in global efforts to counter climate change. Another thing is also clear – these efforts are widespread, but not universal. Each state or groups of states will try to use the environmental and climatic topic in the interests of restructuring their own economy and maintaining competitiveness. But this does not negate the global nature of the challenge and the interest in solving it for all countries without exception. The session is dedicated to the principles and guidelines of the Russian climate policy.


  • Ruslan Edelgeriev, Adviser to the President of the Russian Federation; Special Presidential Representative on Climate Issues;
  • Sergey Gulev, Corresponding Member of Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS); Head of Sea-Air Interaction and Climate Laboratory (SAIL), Institute of Oceanology of Russian Academy of Sciences (IORAS);
  • Andrey Guryev, CEO and Chairman of the Management Board of PJSC PhosAgro, Member of the Board of Directors of PJSC PhosAgro;
  • Oleg Kharkhordin, Professor, Political Science Department, European University at Saint Petersburg; Chairman of the Board, EUSP Endowment Fund;
  • Yakov Kuzyakov, Head of Soil Science of Temperate Ecosystems Department, Agricultural Soil Science Department, Georg August University of Göttingen (Germany).


  • Ryan Chilcote, Special Correspondent, PBS NewsHour (UK).

12:00–13:30 Meeting with the Mayor of Moscow Sergey Sobyanin

15:00–16:30 Session 5. What to Fight for? Intellect as the Prime Object of Competition in the 21st Century

What is the main asset in the 21st century that is being fought for? At different times, these were territories, mineral deposits, labour force, transport routes, sometimes even ideological orientations. Now there is a battle for technological primacy, which means intellect, information and the ability to innovate in the broadest sense: from socio-cultural to military. What is the content of this truly "hybrid", nonlinear competition?


  • Meir Brand, Vice President, Google Inc (USA);
  • Kong Dan, President, CITIC Foundation for Reform and Development Studies (China);
  • Anastasia Likhacheva, Deputy Dean for Research, Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs; Director, Centre for Comprehensive European and International Studies, National Research University Higher School of Economics (HSE);
  • Shailesh Nayak, Director, National Institute of Advanced Studies (India);
  • Ruslan Yunusov, Head of Rosatom’s Project Office for Quantum Technologies and National Quantum Laboratory.


  • Augusto Lopez-Claros, Executive Director, Global Governance Forum (Switzerland).

17:00–18:30 Session 6. Russia and the World: The National Idea in a Global Context

The world is undergoing a socio-cultural transformation. The time of universal ideologies is over, while cultural and ethical pluralism in the international arena is a reality. A purely economic approach, when profit is the criterion of success, does not work. Technology raises thorny questions about human existence. Within the Western world, value-based approaches are becoming more radical, if not revolutionary. China is systematically promoting its culture. In Russia, a discussion is unfolding about the philosophy of development of the country and the world, here it is customary to call it the national idea. How does Russia see the processes of ideological transformation of the world? How does it compare to our values? And what contribution is the country ready to make to world progress?


  • Irada Ayupova, Minister of Culture of the Republic of Tatarstan
  • Konstantin Bogomolov, Director; Artistic Director, Moscow Drama Theater on Bronnaya;
  • Andrey Volos, Writer; Professor, Maxim Gorky Literature Institute;


  • Andrey Bystritskiy, Chairman of the Board of the Foundation for Development and Support of the Valdai Discussion Club.

19:30–21:00 Special Session. Thirty Years of a New Eurasia – Results and Prospects

Thirty years after the USSR collapse, the countries that emerged on its ruins mark this anniversary in different ways. One thing unites them: everyone is entering a new stage of development. A radical change in the international context, changes in the structure of societies, a change in political generations ... On the one hand, Eurasia is no longer a single "Post-Soviet Space"; different countries and regions have their own paths. On the other hand, it is precisely this circumstance that clearly emphasized how active interaction is necessary for countries and regions to solve problems - not general ones, but those of their own.


  • Umid Abidkhadjaev, Director, Institute for Forecasting and Macroeconomic Research under the Ministry of Economic Development and Poverty Reduction of the Republic of Uzbekistan;
  • Alexey Dzermant, Director, Centre for the Study and Development of Continental Integration Northern Eurasia; Senior Researcher, Institute of Philosophy of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus (Belarus);
  • Alexander Iskandaryan, Director, Caucasus Institute (Armenia);
  • Rakhim Oshakbaev, Head of the Center for applied research TALAP (Kazakhstan);
  • Mark Tkachuk, Leader of "Civil Congress" Political Party (Moldova).


  • Timofei Bordachev, Programme Director, Valdai Discussion Club; Academic Supervisor, Centre for Comprehensive European and International Studies, National Research University Higher School of Economics (HSE).

October 21, Thursday

10:00–11:30 Session 7. Russia as a Solution. What Did the Shocks Teach Russia and How Is This Useful to the World?

Russian history is full of dramas, many of which have caused powerful shocks. The most recent historical period is no exception: just a couple of decades ago, the country was teetering on the brink of not even losing influence, but disappearing from the world map. However, Russia has always managed to overcome the most acute crises and return to leading positions. This is a painful experience, but it is very useful in an era of global shake-up. Russia demonstrates a high degree of resilience, and this not only opens up opportunities for the country itself, but also offers them to the world, both as an example of certain solutions, and as a relatively calm haven.


  • Valery Fyodorov, Director General, Russian Public Opinion Research Center (VCIOM);
  • Sergey Karaganov, Academic Supervisor, Dean of the Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs, National Research University Higher School of Economics (HSE); Honorary Chairman of the Presidium, Council on Foreign and Defense Policy;
  • Tigran Khudaverdyan, Deputy CEO, Yandex Group of companies;
  • Maxim Oreshkin, Aide to the President of the Russian Federation.


  • Raghida Dergham, Founder and Executive Chairman, Beirut Institute; Columnist, The National, Annahar Al Arabi (Lebanon).

11:30–13:00 Open Discussion (watch live)


  • Alexander Rahr, Senior Fellow, WeltTrends Institute for International Politics; Scientific Director, German-Russian forum.

17:00 Plenary session (watch live)