|Born||Vladimir Vladimirovich Pozner
April 1, 1934
|Alma mater||Moscow State University (B.S., Human Physiology, 1958)|
recorded December 2013
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Vladimir Vladimirovich Posner (also spelled Pozner; Russian: Влади́мир Влади́мирович По́знер; born 1 April 1934) is a Russian/French/American best known in the West for appearing on television to represent and explain the views of the Soviet Union during the Cold War. He was memorable as a spokesman for the Soviets in part because he grew up in the United States and speaks flawless American English with a New York accent.
Early life and education
Vladimir Pozner was born on April 1, 1934, in Paris to a Russian Jewish father, Vladimir Aleksandrovich Pozner, and a French Catholic mother, Géraldine Lutten. The couple separated shortly after his birth. When Vladimir was 3 months old he and his mother moved to New York City, where Géraldine's mother and younger sister lived. In the spring of 1939 Pozner's parents reunited and the family returned to Paris, France.
After the outbreak of World War II and the invasion of France the Pozners fled Paris in the fall of 1940, traveling via Marseilles in the Free Zone, Madrid, Barcelona, and Lisbon, before sailing back to America. The escape was partially financed by a Jewish family whose adult daughter traveled with the Pozners disguised as Vladimir's nanny.
Back in New York Vladimir attended Caroline Pratt's City and Country School and later Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan. Robert Hollander, an elementary school friend of Pozner, remembered him most vividly for "his capacities for, one, having extraordinarily attractive fantasies and, two, for getting the rest of us to believe them."
In 1946, with the advent of what later came to be called McCarthyism, Pozner senior began to have serious problems with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, because of his pro-Soviet views and correctly suspected cooperation with the Soviet intelligence services. The documents that conclusively proved the secret service connections of his father were published in 1996 in the US.
As a result, the Pozners intended to return to France, but Pozner senior was refused a French visa after being denounced to the French Foreign Ministry as a "subversive element" and a spy. So the Pozners moved in 1948 to the Soviet sector of Berlin where Pozner senior was offered a position with SovExportFilm, an international distributor of Soviet films. At some point Pozner junior claimed to have stayed behind in New York, attending Columbia College between 1950 and December 1953; however, there appears to be no record of him at Columbia; currently he tells of attending a Russian military-style high school in Berlin run by the Soviet Military Administration during that time.
Pozner began his career as "quote, unquote a journalist", unwittingly, according to Pozner, in a disinformation department of the KGB. In 1961 he was offered the position of senior editor with the English-language Soviet Life magazine. In 1967 he transferred to a sister publication, Sputnik, leaving it in February 1970 to become a host of the Voice of Moscow, a "propaganda radio program", according to RT, a television network funded by the Russian government.
Pozner worked as chief commentator for the North American service of the Radio Moscow network. In the early 1970s, he was a regular guest on Ray Briem's talk show on KABC in Los Angeles. During the 1980s, he was a favourite guest on Ted Koppel's Nightline. Pozner was the host of Moscow Meridian, an English-language current affairs program focusing on the Soviet Union; the show was produced by Gosteleradio, the Soviet State Committee for Television and Radio and broadcast on the Satellite Program Network. He also often appeared on The Phil Donahue Show.
In his Western media appearances Pozner was a charismatic and articulate apologist of some of the Soviet Union's most controversial foreign and domestic policy decisions. A master of tu quoque, he would frequently draw parallels and point out similarities between Soviet and Western policies as well as candidly admitting the existence of certain problems in the USSR. However, while stopping short of unequivocal endorsement and support, he nevertheless rationalized, among others, the arrest and exiling of Andrei Sakharov, the invasion of Afghanistan and shooting down of KAL 007, in his 1990 autobiography Parting with Illusions. Later, he wrote that some of the positions he had taken were wrong and immoral. In a 2005 interview with NPR's On the Media, Pozner spoke openly about his role as a Soviet spokesman, stating bluntly, "What I was doing was propaganda." Comparing his former role to that of Karen Hughes, the U.S. Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, he commented that, "You know, as someone who's gone through this and someone who regrets having done what he's done, and who spent many, many years of his life, and I think probably the best years of my life, doing something that was wrong, I say it just isn't worth it".
Despite his frequent appearances in the Western media and his near-celebrity status as the principal spokesman for the Soviet Union Pozner remained virtually unknown at home.
This changed in the mid-1980s, when Pozner co-hosted several bilateral, televised discussions (or "spacebridges") between audiences in the Soviet Union and the US, carried via satellite. These were initially produced with Helene Keyssar at the University of California, San Diego. They included "Moscow Calling San Diego: Children and Film" (with Mike Cole), "Remembering War" (May 7, 1985, with Fred Starr). Later programs included "Citizens Summit I - Leningrad/Seattle" (December 29, 1985) and "Citizens Summit II: Women to Women - Leningrad/Boston" (May 20, 1986) - both with Phil Donahue. The programs marked a dramatic turning point in Pozner's career, garnering him instant renown and wide popularity and acclaim from domestic audiences in the USSR. He was promoted to the position of "political observer of Central Television", the highest journalistic rank at Gosteleradio, and started to work on programs that were broadcast domestically. However, in 1991 Pozner was asked to resign after being quoted voicing his support for Boris Yeltsin over Mikhail Gorbachev.
Later that year Pozner received an offer to work with Phil Donahue and moved to the United States. From 1991 to 1994 they co-hosted Pozner/Donahue, a weekly, issues-oriented roundtable program, which was aired both on CNBC and in syndication. While living in New York, Pozner regularly commuted to Moscow to tape his programs that aired in Russia.
He returned to Moscow in 1997, continuing his work as an independent television journalist.
In 1997, Pozner founded the School for Television Excellence («Школа телевизионного мастерства») in Moscow to educate and promote young journalists.
For many years during the Cold War, Vladimir Pozner delivered the nightly "Radio Moscow News and Commentary" program on the North America Service with his signature greeting, "Thank you and good evening".
Pozner was the host of several shows on Russian TV, among them the US-Soviet space bridges, "Mi" (translated "Us"), "Vremya i Mi" ("The Time and Us"), "Voskresnyi Vecher s Vladimirom Poznerom" ("Sunday Night with Vladimir Pozner"), "Chelovek v maske" ("A Man in the Mask"), "Vremena" ("Times"). Most of these followed a talk show format, with varying numbers of guests and varying degree and manner of audience participation.
Since 2004 Pozner has been contributing his time as the host of "Vremya Zhyt' !" ("A time to live!"), a series of talk shows about the problem of HIV/AIDS. The programs are produced and broadcast by regional television stations and focus on addressing the local challenges that exist in different parts of Russia.
In the documentary film "Lugovoy, pervy podozrevaemy" [Lugovoy, the first suspected] about Andrey Lugovoy, suspected to be the killer of Alexandre Litvinenko, Pozner makes important statements, such as: KGB-agents were taken for heroes in the Soviet Union, like James Bond in England (http://video.yandex.ru/users/doskado6/view/185/#).
In 2008 Pozner, with Ivan Urgant and Brian Kahn, released "Odnoetazhnaya Amerika" ("One-Storied America"), a 16 episode travel documentary based on the 1937 book "Little Golden America" by Ilya Ilf and Yevgenyi Petrov.
Pozner and Urgant also collaborated on a subsequent projects: "Tour de France", "Their Italy", "German conundrum", "England generally and particularly", "Jewish happiness", set to air in 2010, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016 respectively.
He has a lively and unconstrained style of hosting, often firing poignant off-the-cuff remarks at his guests. He frequently comments on how this or that political or economic decision, presently at issue in his show, could affect the common people of Russia.
In his last year at Moscow University (1958) Pozner married Valentina Tchemberdji, a fellow student at the department of Philology. Two years later they had a daughter, Katia. They divorced in 1968.
Around the time of his divorce Pozner met his second wife, Ekaterina Orlova, while they both worked for Novosti Press Agency's Sputnik magazine. They were married for 35 years. Orlova, an accomplished journalist in her own right, was a co-founder of the Pozner School for Television Excellence.
Pozner holds 3 citizenships: French - by birth, Russian (initially, Soviet) - presumably by descent and US - obtained in the early 1990s by naturalization. In 1968, while attempting to renounce his French nationality so that he could visit France without fear of prosecution for failure to serve in the Algerian War, he was formally notified by the Soviet Foreign Ministry that his Soviet passport, initially granted to him in 1950, at 16, was issued in error, and that he in fact was not a citizen of the USSR. Much to Pozner's amusement this also technically invalidated, among other things, his membership in the CPSU, his marriage and divorce, propiska and his rank of lieutenant in the reserves.
Pozner is a fan of tennis and baseball. In 1992 he co-founded The Moscow Dummies (Московские Чайники, lit. the Moscow Teapots, see "chainik" for the term), an amateur baseball team. He is a cigar aficionado. He also collects turtle figurines and fountain pens. He enjoys playing charades.
- Pozner, Vladimir; Helene G. Keyssar (1990). Remembering War: A U.S.-Soviet Dialogue. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-505126-1.
- Pozner, Vladimir (March 1991). Parting With Illusions: The Extraordinary Life and Controversial Views of the Soviet Union's Leading Commentator. HarperCollins. ISBN 978-0-380-71349-3.
- Pozner, Vladimir (February 1992). Eyewitness: A Personal Account of the Unraveling of the Soviet Union. Random House. ISBN 978-0-679-41202-1.
- Pozner, Vladimir; Brian Kahn; Ivan Urgant (2008). Odnoėtazhnaia Amerika (in Russian). Zebra E. ISBN 978-5-94663-604-9.
- "Ideas For Tomorrow - Vladimir Pozner". Cleveland Clinic Foundation. Retrieved 2013-03-29.
- "Yanks for Stalin". Russian Archives. Retrieved 2007-11-01.
- Levine, Daniel (1990-04-08). "Vladimir Pozner's School Days". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-07-14.
- Corry, John (1987-06-17). "Posner, 'Not Your Average Russian'". New York Times. Retrieved 2007-11-01.
- Kostelanetz, Richard. "Vladimir Pozner in Moscow (1982-87)". Retrieved 2010-07-16.
- "Details of V. Aleksandrovich Pozner ("PLATON") and his U.S.A. contacts" (PDF). National Security Agency, Venona project files. Retrieved 2010-10-07.
- "Sizing up of possible new recruits" (PDF). National Security Agency, Venona project files. Retrieved 2010-10-07.
- Batashov, Andrey (1999-04-05). Я узнал кличку отца - Каллистрат [I found out my father's code name - Kallistrat] (in Russian). Ogonyok. Retrieved 2010-07-14.
- Dobson, Elizabeth (1999). "Soviet Propaganda Machine". Red Files. Episode V. Interview with Vladimir Pozner, Russian Television Commentator. Public Broadcasting System. Retrieved 2013-12-13.
When I started working at Novosty Press agency I worked in a department that was called the Department of Political Publications. It was my first job as quote, unquote a journalist. ... [T]his department was actually a KGB department. ... I'd been working in a department that produced dis-information..
- "Prominent Russians: Vladimir Pozner". RT Russiapedia. TV Novosti. 2005–2011. Retrieved 2013-12-13.
- Koppel, Ted (2004-12-09). "Vladimir Pozner (1980)". ABC News Nightline. Retrieved 2013-12-13.
- Schneider, Steve (1985-08-25). "Cable TV Notes: Filming Iranians and Russians - What's Allowed". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-11-01.
- Goodman, Walter (1990-03-04). "Radio Moscow's New York Accent". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-11-01.
- "The Messenger Is the Message". On the Media. 2005-10-07. Retrieved 2007-11-01.
- Corry, John (1986-01-04). "TV: A Soviet-Donahue Summit". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-11-01.
- Keyssar, Helene (1994-06-01). "Space bridges: the U.S.-Soviet Space Bridge Resource Center". PS: Political Science & Politics. Retrieved 2010-07-21.
- "Phil Donahue". archive.is.
- Совет учредителей Академии российского телевидения рассмотрит кандидатуру Михаила Швыдкого на пост президента организации. [The Board of Founders of the Academy of Russian Television will consider Mikhail Shvydkoy for the position of president] (in Russian). Echo Moskvy. 2008-11-08. Retrieved 2010-07-14.
- "Brasserie Chez Géraldine" (in Russian). Retrieved 2010-07-14.
- Ilya Ilf, Eugene Petrov (1937). Little Golden America. New York: Farrar & Rinehart.
- "Pozner show". Channel One. Retrieved 12 July 2010.
- "Vremena show". Channel One. Retrieved 2007-11-01.
- "Hochschule für Musik und Theater Hamburg, Musik und Gender im Internet" [The Hamburg University of Music and Theatre, Music and Gender on the Internet] (in German). Retrieved 2010-10-03.
- Московские Чайники [The Moscow Dummies] (in Russian). Retrieved 2010-10-03.
- Maximov, Andrey (2008-05-11). Личные вещи [Personal effects] (in Russian). Channel 5. Retrieved 2010-07-16.
- Shumskaya, Marina (July–August 2005). "Interview with Vladimir Pozner" (in Russian). Pen World. Retrieved 2010-07-16.
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