Russian Activist and Journalist Masha Geesen Will Speak at Lafayette College

Masha Gessen is author of ‘The Man Without a Face,’ a biography of Vladimir Putin

Masha Gessen, a Russian author, activist, and New York Times blogger, will deliver two free lectures at Lafayette College on Monday, March 11.

At 12:15 p.m., Gessen will discuss her unauthorized biography of Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Gendebien Room of Skillman Library. The Man Without a Face is the chilling account of how a low-level, small-minded KGB operative ascended to the Russian presidency and, in an astonishingly short time, destroyed years of progress and made his country once more a threat to her own people and to the world.

Gessen, currently the director of Radio Liberty’s Russian Service, experienced this history firsthand while working as a journalist in Moscow and draws on information and sources no other writer has tapped.

Attendance is free and open to the public. The talks are part of Skillman Library’s Banned Books Discussion.

Her second talk “The Anatomy of a Crackdown: The Laws, Slogans, and Practices of the New Russia” takes place at 4:15 p.m. in Kirby Hall of Civil Rights, Room 104.

Since Vladimir Putin reclaimed the office of president in May 2012, the Russian government has imposed a series of increasingly repressive measures—including the trial of the punk band Pussy Riot, the targeting of foreign NGOs, and the introduction of homophobic laws—aimed at limiting civic activity and media freedom. Gessen will address how these measures work, and what effect have they had on Russian society.

Gessen’s previous books include Dead Again: The Russian Intelligentsia after Communism (1997), Ester and Ruzya: How My Grandmothers Survived Hitler’s War and Stalin’s Peace (2004); Blood Matters: From Inherited Illness to Designer Babies, How the World and I Found Ourselves in the Future of the Gene (2008); and Perfect Rigor: A Genius and the Mathematical Breakthrough of the Century (2009). She has written for The New Republic, Granta, Slate, Vanity Fair, and U.S. News and World Report, among other publications. She currently contributes a weekly entry to the Latitude blog at The New York Times.

Gessen’s visit is sponsored by Skillman Library; the Russian and East European studies program; the  departments of history, English, government and law, film and media studies; the Office of Intercultural Development, Hillel Society, and gender and sexuality programs at Lafayette College.


Kathleen Parrish
Associate Director of Media Relations
Lafayette College
Communications Division
Easton, PA 18042

1 Comment

  1. Vladimir says:

    Turmoil Over America’s Radio Voice in Russia
    The mass firing of Radio Liberty journalists prompted a protest by human-rights activists in Moscow. By JOHN O’SULLIVAN

    “I want to do a kind of journalism that no one is doing at the moment. I would describe it as normal journalism,” Masha Gessen told the Moscow Times shortly after her appointment. “Something that’s not polemical, like opposition media, and something that’s not controlled by the Kremlin.” In practice this journalism has turned out to be softer news features in which liberty is likely to mean sexual liberation (with illustrations) rather than “political” aspects of human rights.

    Five years ago when young Russians were alienated from politics, there might have been a case for Radio Liberty to take that approach. But other news outlets are doing such journalism in Moscow today—with Mr. Putin’s blessing. As for normality, well, normal journalism in an environment of worsening authoritarianism surely includes the kind of “opposition media” that Ms. Gessen disdains.


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