Nikolai Zlobin

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Nikolai Zlobin
Nikolai Zlobin on Vesti FM. 03.28.2011.jpg
Nikolai Zlobin in 2009
Born (1958-03-01)March 1, 1958
Moscow, USSR
Education Moscow State University (PhD)
Occupation Political scientist. President of the Center on Global Interests in Washington, D.C.
Parent(s) Vasiliy Zlobin, Clara Zlobina

Nikolai Zlobin (Russian: Николай Васильевич Злобин; born 1 March, 1958) is a Russian political scientist, journalist and historian who has spent more than 20 years living and working in the United States. He is the author of more than a dozen books and more than 300 essays and articles on topics of 20th century history, Russian and American politics, and international security. Following a lengthy career in academia, Zlobin emerged as a leading commentator on U.S.-Russian relations. He currently serves as founder and president of the Center on Global Interests in Washington, D.C.

Early life[edit]

Nikolai Zlobin was born in Moscow on March 1, 1958, to a family of academics. His father was Vasiliy Ivanovich Zlobin (1919–2008), a World War II veteran and a distinguished professor of history at Moscow State University, where he taught from 1951 until 2008. Vasiliy authored a number of works on political history, World War II, and theory of political parties in Russia and the Soviet Union that were widely published in Russia and abroad. Zlobin's mother was Clara Konstantinovna Zlobina [neé Bondarenko] (1928–2003), a nuclear physicist at the Academy of Sciences of the USSR (presently the Russian Academy of Sciences).

Zlobin grew up in the famous “instructors’ building” that housed Moscow State University professors, located at the intersection of Leninsky and Lomonosovsky prospects. He attended School №14 (presently School №26), the same school where his daughter would later enter first grade. By Zlobin’s own account, he was a “hooligan” who did well on his schoolwork but consistently received poor grades for his behavior.[1]

Education[edit]

Zlobin completed his studies at Moscow State University. His undergraduate academic adviser was the prominent social historian Vladimir Drobizhev (1931-1989).

Academic work[edit]

From 1983–1993, Zlobin was an Assistant Professor and later Vice-Head of the History Department at Moscow State University. He later served as an adviser to Russian President Boris Yeltsin.[2]

Between 1995-1999 Zlobin was a visiting professor at Webster University, St.Louis.[1] Between 1993 and 2000, Zlobin also held various short-term positions as a visiting professor and research fellow at a number of universities and research institutions in the United States, including Georgetown, Stanford, American, George Washington and Harvard universities, as well as the Kennan Institute of Advanced Russian Studies at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.

At Webster University in St. Louis, Missouri Zlobin created the university’s first international communications program. During this time he completed research for a book that would become the first non-American assessment of U.S. President Harry S. Truman, whom Zlobin largely credited with shaping the Cold-War world.[2][3] In 2000, Zlobin published the first archival study on the preparation of Winston Churchill's 1946 "Iron Curtain" speech in Fulton, Missouri, which effectively announced the start of the Cold War.[4]

Zlobin also produced the first works on Russian political humor during the Gorbachev era. His articles on the topic, such as “Humor as Political Protest”[5] (1996), first appeared in the journal Demokratizatsiya, where Zlobin served as co-editor.

Nonprofit work[edit]

From 2001–2012, Zlobin was Director of Russian and Asian programs at the Center for Defense Information (later renamed the World Security Institute) in Washington, D.C. During part of this time he produced Washington ProFile, a Russian-language news digest of American news and analysis that was widely read in Russia (see “Media” below).[6]

In the fall of 2012, he founded and became President of the Center on Global Interests, a nonprofit research organization headquartered in Washington, D.C. While acknowledging the difficulties of opening a new think tank in an already saturated environment, Zlobin said his goal was to create an organization that would “go beyond Cold War thinking” to provide a strategic, long-term vision for U.S.-Russian relations.[7]

Awards and honors[edit]

Zlobin holds memberships in several prestigious expert associations. He has been a permanent member of the Valdai International Discussion Club since its inception in 2004[8] and, since 2008, a permanent member of the Yaroslavl Global Policy Forum. He has also received numerous teaching and research grants, including two MacArthur Foundation awards, two awards from the Truman Institute, and another from the Soros Foundation.[6]

Media[edit]

1990 - 2000[edit]

After his arrival in the United States during the 1990s, Zlobin was a regular contributor to Literaturnaya Gazeta, at the time Russia's largest-circulation newspaper, and to Nezavisimaya Gazeta, a leader in the newly independent Russian press. As a journalist he was able to meet with leading Western personalities, including Ross Perot, Jeane Kirkpatrick, Lech Walesa and Ralph Nader.[2] He has since met with numerous prominent experts and politicians, including six current and former U.S. presidents.

Zlobin was one of the first observers in the West to report on the growing influence of organized crime in Russia, which was initially thought to jeopardize his return to the country. After his article, "The Mafiacracy Takes Over," was published in The New York Times in 1994, Zlobin’s father reportedly called and told his son, "I love you, but don't come back."[2]

From 1993–2013, he served as an original executive co-editor of Demokratizatsiya: The Journal of Post-Soviet Democratization, an international scholarly journal focused on the contemporary transformation of the Soviet successor states.[9] Initially launched at American University, the journal developed into an editorial project linking U.S. and Russian scholars and secured the support of the Helen Dwight Reid Educational Foundation, headed at the time by former Reagan adviser Jeane Kirkpatrick. It continues to be published today by the George Washington University in Washington, D.C., under Managing Editor Robert Orttung.[10]

2000 - present[edit]

From 2000–2004, Zlobin was the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Washington ProFile, an independent digest of American news and analysis delivered to international readers on a minimal budget.[9] According to Zlobin, the idea for the project arose from his frustration that his Russian friends, despite having significant access to factual information, still had little understanding of the real America. Within several years of its existence Washington ProFile was distributed weekly to more than 20,000 Russian-language subscribers, and to a similar number of Chinese readers, in more than 100 countries worldwide.

In 2003 the digest was listed as the second-most cited American-based news agency in the Russian mass media after CNN. The Washington ProFile advisory board included the future U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, then an Associate Professor at Stanford University, who called the news outlet “the perfect kind of low-tech democracy assistance."[11]

In the early 2000s, Zlobin became a columnist for the daily newspaper Izvestia, and from 2009–2012 he wrote a column for the Russian online journal Snob.ru.[12] He also served on the Expert Board of the Russian news agency RIA Novosti from 2005 until its liquidation by the state in 2014. Since 2008, he has been a permanent columnist for the newspapers Vedomosti and Rossiyskaya Gazeta, and frequently blogs for Echo of Moscow.[13] His editorials have also appeared in the New York Times, International Herald Tribune, Washington Post, Financial Times, Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune, among other publications.

Zlobin is a frequent radio and TV commentator in the United States and Russia. From 2008–2009 he hosted a weekly radio show on the Russian station Silver Rain. Since 2010, he has co-hosted the weekly radio show “Direct Contact” [Rus: «Прямой контакт»] with Russian journalist Vladimir Solovyov on Vesti-FM. He also appears as a frequent guest on BBC and on the Russian political talk-show “The Duel” [Rus: «Поединок»].

Books and other publications[edit]

Early works[edit]

Zlobin co-authored the first non-communist high school history textbook used in Russia and other post-Soviet republics. After moving to the United States, he wrote the first study by a foreigner of U.S. President Harry S. Truman.

America—What a Life![edit]

After writing a number of bestselling works on Russian and international politics, Zlobin developed a wide commercial following with the publication of his two volumes chronicling everyday life in the United States: America—What a Life![14] (2012) and America: Bane of Heaven (2013).[15] Written during a period when the United States were being cast in a negative light by Russian state media, the books sought to acquaint ordinary Russians with the America beneath its “ideological blanket” by meticulously documenting the customs and daily features of life in the country, from American eating habits to the phenomenon of the teenage babysitter.[16]

The first book was an immediate bestseller in Russia and was praised by The New York Times then-Moscow Bureau Chief Ellen Barry, who described the author as “suggesting, in his soft way, that Russian leaders would benefit from understanding what Americans are like.”[16] In an atypical show of interest toward a foreign-language work, The New York Times also translated and published select excerpts from the book on its website.[17] The book and its sequel have yet to be translated into English.

Selected books[edit]

  • «Америка: исчадие рая»[15] (America: Bane of Heaven). Moscow: Eksmo, 2013.
  • «Америка: живут же люди!»[14] (America—What a Life!). Moscow: Eksmo, 2012.
  • «Противостояние. Россия. США»[18] (Standoff: United States-Russia) (Foreword by Alexander Voloshin;Comments by Vladimir Solovyov). Moscow: Eksmo, 2009.
  • «Второй новый миропорядок: Геополитические головоломки»[19] (The Second New World Order: Geopolitical Puzzles). Moscow: Eksmo, 2009.

Co-authored books[edit]

  • «Русский вираж: куда идет Россия?»[20] (The Russian Turn: Where Is Russia Headed?). With Vladimir Solovyov. Moscow: Eksmo, 2014.
  • «Путин—Медведев. Что дальше?»[21] (Putin—Medvedev: What’s Next?). With Vladimir SolovyovMoscow: Eksmo, 2010.
  • «В кулуарах Вашингтона: умонастроения истеблишмента США в годы второго срока президента Джорджа Буша (2005-2008)»[22] (In Washington’s Corridors of Power: The Mindset of the American Elite During George W. Bush’s Second Term, 2005-2008). With Lev Belousov. Moscow: Stepanenko, 2009.
  • International Communication: A Media Literacy Approach,[23] with Art Silverblatt. New York: M. E. Sharpe, 2004.

Selected articles (in English)[edit]

  • “Russia: Regaining its Position as a Leading World Newsmaker.”[24] Valdai Discussion Club. Aug. 7, 2013.
  • “The New World Order.”[25] International Journal. Vol. 63, No. 2, Spring 2008.
  • “Limited Possibilities and Possible Limitations.”[26] Russia in Global Affairs. No.1, Jan-March, 2005.
  • “Iraq in the Context of Post-Soviet Policy.”[27] Mediterranean Quarterly. Vol.14, No.2, Spring 2004.
  • “The United States, Russia, and the New Challenges.”[28] Demokratizatsiya. Vol.11, No.1, Winter 2003.
  • With Michael J. McFaul. “A Half-Democratic Russia Will Always be a Half-Ally to the United States.”[29] Demokratizatsiya. Vol.9, No.4, Fall 2001.
  • “‘New Russian’ Humor.”[30] Demokratizatsiya. Vol.8, No.3, Summer 2000.
  • “The Writing on the Wall.”[31] Demokratizatsiya. Vol.5, No.3, Summer 1997.
  • “Will Russia be Crushed by its History?”[32] World Affairs. Vol.159, No.2, Fall 1996.
  • “Humor as Political Protest.”[5] Demokratizatsiya. Vol.4, No.2, Spring 1996.
  • “Country of Eternal ‘Pregnancy.’”[33] Demokratizatsiya. Vol.3, No.2, Spring 1995.
  • “Finita La Comedia?"[34] "If Democracy is to Survive, Yeltsin Must Learn to Compromise."[35] Demokratizatsiya. Vol.2, No.2, Spring 1993
  • Edited. “From the Archives: Thirteen Documents from the Secret Archives of Iosif Stalin.”[36] Demokratizatsiya. Vol.1, No.4, Fall 1992.
  • Edited. “From the Archives: Installing Soviet Power in the Caucasus.”[37] Demokratizatsiya. Vol.1, No.3, Summer 1992.
  • “Perestroika Versus the Command-Administrative System.”[38] Demokratizatsiya. Vol.1, No.2, Spring 1992.
  • “The Command-Administrative System in Russia: The Historical Legacy.”[39] Demokratizatsiya. Vol.1, No.1, Winter 1992.

Political stance[edit]

"Polar-less" world theory[edit]

In the early 2000s Zlobin proposed the theory of a so-called “polar-less” world, later outlined in The Second New World Order (2009), according to which the modern system of global politics is neither centered on two superpowers as it was during the Cold War, nor around multiple centers of power (a concept known as multipolarity). Instead, the "polar-less" world would have no dominant centers of power as states grew increasingly dependent on each other to address global challenges. The theory subsequently caught the attention of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, at the time Russia's ambassador to the United Nations, who called it a compelling new argument in international relations.

Disintegration of state sovereignty[edit]

Following the 2011 Libyan war, during which the UN Security Council approved a Western military intervention in Libya, Zlobin observed that the traditional concept of state sovereignty that emerged from the 1648 Peace of Westphalia was gradually becoming obsolete. Citing the growing number of military and humanitarian interventions carried out in foreign countries, Zlobin posited the end of Westphalian sovereignty, characterized by the principle of non-intervention, that had until then governed the international system.[40] He has also promoted the creation of new principles of global security, replacing those with a regional approach with a new system of international institutions.

Zlobin has stated on numerous occasions that the process of the Soviet Union's collapse has not yet reached its conclusion and will continue to take place as new international borders are formed within the post-Soviet states. He has also said there is a danger that Russia may break apart into several states, and supports the elimination of internal national borders within the Russian Federation.

2008 Russian-Georgian War[edit]

Following the 2008 Russian-Georgian war, Zlobin was one of the few American political experts to openly support the independence of Abkhazia. Rejecting the notion that Abkhazia was a Russian puppet state, Zlobin argued that Abkhazian independence instead coincided with Russian interests by hindering Georgia’s accession to NATO.[41]

Corruption in Russia[edit]

Zlobin is a harsh critic of Russian policy despite being known to frequently interact with many of the country’s high-ranking officials. He has written widely about corruption within the country's political and business elite and has said that the absence of an effective judicial system is the main threat to Russian stability.[42] In 2011, he described the Russian system as being run by “secretive and highly influential clans, without the consent of which no important economic or political decision in the country can be made or implemented.”[43] Zlobin concluded that the return of clan politics to Russia was corrupting both the domestic system and the global institutions in which Russia took part.

Meetings with Putin[edit]

Zlobin has personally met with Russia’s leaders on numerous occasions, often within the framework of the Valdai Discussion Club. For example, in 2005, he was given a signed memo by Vladimir Putin stating that the latter wouldn’t run for president in 2008 and would not change the constitution in order to allow himself to run for a consecutive third term. In 2008, Zlobin asked Putin how long the latter was planning to remain prime minister; Putin replied that he would remain in that post as long as “God wills."

In 2009, in response to Zlobin’s question about whether he would compete with Dmitry Medvedev in the 2012 presidential elections, Putin announced that he and Medvedev would not run against each other but would rather “sit down and talk it over.”[44] Medvedev confirmed these words shortly thereafter.

In the fall of 2011, Putin was asked by Zlobin why his political system was unsuccessful at generating young political leaders. Putin declared that the leaders were there, although he couldn’t name anyone but Dmitry Medvedev as an example. During a Q&A with then-presidential candidate Vladimir Putin in February 2012, Zlobin raised the question of why Russia had no political allies in the world. Putin gave a vague reply that the fact that the 2014 Winter Olympics were voted to take place in Russia proved that Russia had “many allies."

Dmitry Medvedev's presidency[edit]

In 2012, Zlobin was one of the few experts to reach a positive assessment of Dmitry Medvedev's term as president (2008-2012), and was criticized by his colleagues around the world for this as a result. While pointing out Medvedev’s failure to implement an ambitious domestic agenda, Zlobin argued that Medvedev pursued a more effective foreign policy than his predecessor by making Russia “an active participant in the creation of a new world order, instead of defending the old one,” as Putin had done.[45]

WikiLeaks[edit]

Zlobin was mentioned multiple times in a 2008 document published by WikiLeaks, in which he was described as a U.S.-based political expert with connections to Russia's ruling United Russia party. According to the document, Zlobin had come to the conclusion that the Putin-Medvedev tandem "works."

Personal life[edit]

Zlobin was a track and field athlete during his undergraduate years at Moscow State University. He passed the standard for Master of Sport of the USSR in the 100-meter race, the equivalent of a Nationally Ranked Player.

He is married and has one daughter. He has been previously married and divorced several times.

Zlobin is an avid art and antique collector, calling the hobby “a form of intellectual challenge.” He has said that after retiring from public life, he would like to open his own antique salon.[46]

Quotes[edit]

  • “Americans often say that the Russians are too emotional. If they celebrate something, they do it so that the neighbors won’t know what hit them […] If Russians are sad, their grief is bottomless and their sadness appears global. Americans see Russians as a people of extremes.” — America—What a Life! (2012).[47]
  • “[In America,] you can’t suddenly show up at a friend’s house in the middle of the night with a bottle of vodka, to talk over your problems and seek support. Russians solve problems when they reach a critical point—that is our national style. Americans try to keep things from getting to a critical point.” — America—What a Life! (2012).[47]
  • “The intellectual weakness of the Russian and Western political elites, unable to correctly assess the fundamental changes brought about by the collapse of Communism and the breakup of the Soviet Union, was among the main reasons behind the present crisis in the world order.” “Limited Possibilities and Possible Limitations.”[26] (Russia in Global Affairs, 2005).
  • “The Soviet Union used to be an autocratic country with a Communist ideology in which nobody believed. Today it is an autocratic country with a democratic ideology in which nobody believes.” — The New York Times, Letter to the Editor, Aug. 16, 1998.[48]
  • “Political satire developed and evolved along with the Communist system […] More than anything, the author was life itself in the USSR—with its incredible stupidity, its hypocrisy towards reality, and its silly propaganda machine.” “The Writing on the Wall.”[31] (Demokratizatsiya,1997).
  • “The faces on the political chess board in Russia gradually will cease to be real politicians.” “Country of Eternal ‘Pregnancy.’”[33] (Demokratizatsiya,1995).

References[edit]

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  2. ^ a b c d "Russian Unorthodox". 22 October 2006. Retrieved 7 October 2014. 
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  14. ^ a b "Amerika .... Zhivut zhe liudi !: Nikolai Zlobin: 9785699558339: Amazon.com: Books". Retrieved 7 October 2014. 
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  20. ^ Соловьев Владимир Рудольфович,Злобин Николай Васильевич. [http://www.labirint.ru/books/437481/ "�нига "Русский вираж. Куда идет Россия?" - Соловьев, Злобин. Купить книгу, читать рецензии - ISBN 978-5-699-73222-7 - Лабиринт"]. Labirint.RU. Retrieved 7 October 2014.  replacement character in |title= at position 1 (help)
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  42. ^ http://n-zlobin-eng.livejournal.com/7955.html[permanent dead link]
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  46. ^ "Николай Злобин". snob.ru. Retrieved 7 October 2014. 
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  48. ^ https://www.nytimes.com/1998/08/16/magazine/l-my-boris-301388.html

External links[edit]