Programme of the 15th Annual Meeting of the Valdai Discussion Club
List of speakers
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The 15th Annual meeting of the Valdai Discussion Club will be held in Sochi on October 15-18. This year’s topic is “Russia: Agenda for the 21st Century.” This is not accidental. At the forefront is Russia, its political and socio-economic prospects, social and cultural development, place in the emerging world.

Programme of the 15th Annual Meeting of the Valdai Discussion Club

October 15-18, 2018, Sochi


Monday, October 15

10:00-12:30          Tour of the Sirius Educational Centre: excursion and meeting with graduates on the topic “Technological Challenges and Russia’s Future”

15:30-15:40          Opening of the 15th Annual Meeting of the Valdai Discussion Club (Live broadcast at

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

15:40-17:40          Session 1. Presentation of the Valdai Discussion Club Annual Report “Living in a Crumbling World” (Live broadcast at


  • Yonov Frederick Agah, Deputy Director-General of the World Trade Organization

  • Timofey Bordachev, Programme Director of the Valdai Discussion Club; Director, Centre for Comprehensive European and International Studies, National Research University Higher School of Economics

  • Fu Ying, Vice Chairperson, The National People's Congress, Foreign Affairs Committee

  • C. Raja Mohan, Director, Institute of South Asian Studies (ISAS), National University of Singapore (NUS)

  • William Wohlforth, Daniel Webster Professor, Department of Government, Dartmouth College

  • Lassina Zerbo, Executive Secretary, Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO)


  • Fyodor Lukyanov, Research Director of the Foundation for Development and Support of the Valdai Discussion Club

19:00         Valdai Discussion Club Award Ceremony (Live broadcast at

Tuesday, October 16

10:00-12:00          Session 2. Tradition and Future: National Identity in a Changing World (Live broadcast at

What are the foundations of the contemporary Russia’s national identity, how do its tradition and history correlate with the challenges of today and, more importantly, of tomorrow? The reason why this topic was chosen for the opening session is that having a solid ideological and moral foundation is crucial for any country’s successful development amid the changes in the global context. Profound economic and communicational interdependence of the countries of the world is accompanied by growing ideological and cultural fragmentation, polarization within societies and between nations. In these circumstances, internal unity and self-confidence based on deep historical roots and moral compass, enable society to face external and internal challenges and proceed to the future.


  • Konstantin Bogomolov, Director, Lenkom Theatre (Moscow State Theatre named after Lenin's Komsomol)

  • Alexey Kasprzhak, Director, Artek International Children’s Center

  • Vladimir Medinsky, Minister of Culture of the Russian Federation

  • Mikhail Piotrovsky, Director, State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg

  • Natalia Solzhenitsyna, Public Figure


  • Ivan Krastev, Chairman, Centre for Liberal Strategies

12:30-13:30          Meeting with Alexander Fomin, Deputy Minister of Defence of the Russian Federation, Colonel General

14:30-16:30          Session 3. Culture as the Cornerstone and a Tool of Politics

Disputes over cultural policy are escalating into political clashes all around the world. As the process of globalization advances, culture has become the principal criterion by which peoples define their identity and position themselves in relation to the surrounding world. This is true of every country and society, but holds particular significance for Russia, a country of unusual diversity with a rich cultural heritage dating back centuries. Although, ideally, the principles of “a world without borders” and “the search for self-identity” should complement each other, in practice they have often come into conflict on cultural grounds. Russian cultural figures and representatives of government bodies - about the role that culture will play during the current period of change.


  • Leonid Bazhanov, Professor, Faculty of Communications, Media, and Design, Art and Design School, National Research University Higher School of Economics

  • Metropolitan Tikhon, Metropolitan of Pskov and Porkhov, Chairman of the Patriarch's Council for Culture

  • Olga Vasilyeva, Minister of Education of the Russian Federation

  • Evgeny Vodolazkin, Writer, Leading Researcher, Institute of Russian Literature (Pushkin House), Russian Academy of Sciences


  • Krzysztof Zanussi, Film director, President of Tor Film Production

17:00-19:00          Special session. Russia in the Middle East – Today and Tomorrow

The Syrian issue has been in the focus of the whole world for many years, but recently, thanks to Russia’s efforts, the impasse there seems to have been broken and light at the end of the tunnel appeared. Russia’s policy in the region is not only an example of major military-political and diplomatic success but also demonstrates how a country can positively shape the world order. 


  • Mustafa Aydin, Professor, Kadir Has University (Istanbul)

  • Amre Moussa, Secretary-General of the League of Arab States (2001-2011); Foreign Minister of Egypt (1991-2001)

  • Vitaly Naumkin, Academic Director of the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Oriental Studies, Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences

  • Seyed Kazem Sajjadpour, President, Institute for Political and International Studies (IPIS)


  • Jean-Marie Guéhenno, United Nations' Under-Secretary-General (2000-2008)

20:30-22:00          Special session. Eurasia – on the Path to the Future

This session is devoted to a fundamental rethinking of the direction of the country’s development as radical changes in the global balance of power prompt Russia to “pivot to the East.” Shifts in geo-economics are influencing geopolitics, such that Eurasia – according to its new, broader definition rather than the classical “heartland” concept on which it builds – is again becoming a crossroads of major outside interests. This opens up opportunities for Russia, but also carries risks. Part of this session includes the presentation of a Valdai Club book on Eurasian security released by a leading US publishing house.


  • Tsogtbaatar Damdin, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Mongolia

  • Piotr Dutkiewicz, Director and Professor, Centre for Governance and Public Management, Carleton University, Ottawa

  • Evgeny Gavrilenkov, Professor at Higher School of Economics

  • Hamid Karzai, President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (2004-2014)

  • Alexander Kozlov, Minister for the Development of the Russian Far East

  • Tan Sri Rastam Mohd Isa, Chairman and Chief Executive of the Institute of Strategic and International Studies (ISIS), Malaysia


  • Bruno Maçães, Secretary of the State for European Affairs in Portugal (2013-2015)

Wednesday, October 17

10:00-12:00          Session 4. Economics for a New Development Philosophy

Russia’s key challenge is to achieve a high growth rate. Most experts acknowledge that the relative weakness of the Russian economy is the main factor limiting the country’s development – both in the international arena, where economic strength has become an important criterion for status, and on the domestic front, where it guarantees long-term development. Not only is the balance of the world’s economic powers and capabilities shifting, but ruthless competition – sometimes to the point of economic warfare – is also causing changes to the very institutions that govern global affairs. What to do when protectionism and economic pressure become the norm, when isolationism leads to stagnation, but openness and growing interdependence turn from assets into liabilities? And what to do when an increasingly complex situation renders the “liberalism vs. dirigisme” debate meaningless? What is the optimal role of the state under such circumstances? Officials will discuss this with members of the business and scientific community at this session.


  • Ilya Klyuyev, President of the Cluev Jewellery House

  • Maxim Oreshkin, Minister for Economic Development of the Russian Federation

  • Oleg Sirota, Head of the Union of Russian Cheese Makers, Farmer-Cheese Maker

  • Boris Titov, Presidential Commissioner for Entrepreneurs’ Rights


  • Xu Sitao, Chief Economist, Partner, Deloitte (China)

12:30-13:30          Meeting with Maxim Akimov, Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation

14:30-16:30          Session 5. The Demands of Society and Responses by the State

Societal structures, priorities, and demands are changing rapidly, posing serious challenges to those in authority and forcing them to modify their ideas about what constitutes “correct” policy. A number of countries have attempted to discredit this trend by labeling it as “populism.” Such efforts, however, will prove futile at halting what has become a worldwide process. Russia is no stranger to this problem, but it proposes a different model for interacting with society. The state must become more attentive to the demands of society. In addition, the demands themselves are becoming more complex – both in terms of structure (due to educational and demographic changes as well as migration), and in terms of citizens’ ability to influence state policy. Technologies are expanding those possibilities, and the demand for information transparency forces the state to be much more responsive.


  • Anton Alikhanov, Governor of Kaliningrad Oblast

  • Mikhail Blinkin, Director, Institute for Transport Economics and Transport Policy Studies; Acting Dean, Professor Vysokovsky Graduate School of Urbanism

  • Nyuta Federmesser, Director of the Moscow Center for Palliative Care Founder at VERA

  • Elizaveta Oleskina, Director of the Charity Fund for Assistance in Ageing and People with Disabilities “Starost v Radost”

  • Yuri Vasiliev, Special Correspondent, “”


  • Jill Dougherty, CNN Correspondent

16:45-17:45          Meeting with Tigran Sargsyan, Chairman of the Board of the Eurasian Economic Commission

18:00-19:30          Special session. War of the Future: What should We Prepare for? (Live broadcast at

Russia holds leading positions in the military sphere. Therefore, experts have been looking closely at its operation in Syria: not only in the context of Russia’s military capabilities, but also in terms of general evolution of warfare. At the Valdai Club’s special session, prominent specialists in the sphere of military research and international security will discuss what kind of conflicts can be expected in the future and how the states will react to them. 


  • Andrey Frolov, Editor-in-chief of the “Arms export” magazine.

  • Thomas Gomart, Director, French Institute of International Relations (IFRI)

  • Arvind Gupta, Director, Vivekananda International Foundation (VIF)

  • Stanislav Kuznetsov, Deputy Chairman of the Executive Board of Sberbank

  • Andrew Monaghan, Director of Research on Russia and Northern European Defence and Security at the Oxford Changing Character of War Centre at Pembroke College

  • Richard Weitz, Director and Senior Fellow, Center for Political-Military Analysis, Hudson Institute


  • Andrey Bezrukov, Associate Professor, MGIMO University

21:00-22:30          Special session. My View of Russia. Conversation with Valery Gergiev, Artistic Director of the Mariinsky Theatre


  • Flemming Rose, Writer and Journalist

Thursday, October 18

08:45-09:00          Meeting with Yang Jiechi, Member of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist party of China and Director of the Office of the Foreign Affairs Commission of CPC Central Committee

09:00-11:00          Session 6. Foreign Policy in Uncertain Times: Pursuing Development in a Changing World

The Valdai Club has explored this topic at each of its last three meetings. Participants will seek to understand international events in order to visualize the world order that might emerge in the coming decades. What challenges could these changes pose for Russia’s development? How can and should Russia influence the formation of that world order to make it better suit not only Russia’s security interests, but also its ability to ensure social stability and economic development?


  • Sergey Karaganov, Dean of the School of World Economics and International Relations, National Research University Higher School of Economics; Honorary Chairman of the Presidium of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy

  • Andrey Kortunov, Director General of the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC)

  • Vyacheslav Nikonov, Chairman, Committee on Education and Science at the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation; President of the Fund "Politics"

  • Alexander Orlov, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Russian Federation to the French Republic (2008-2017), Executive Secretary of the Russian-French Forum Trianon Dialogue


  • Kancho Stoychev, President of Gallup International Association

11:15- 12:15         Meeting with Sergey Lavrov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation

14:00-16:00          Plenary session (Live broadcast at