Russian language and culture in new Ukraine: a threat to avert or a treasure to cherish? Talk with Andrei Kurkov. 29 March, 7pm.

As Russia deployed a far-reaching information warfare against Ukraine and a whole arsenal of soft power tools in the aftermath of its military aggression, it reignited new questions about the role of Russian language and culture in shaping a new Ukrainian identity. The issue is complex and multi-layered: what role should Russian language play in contemporary Ukraine, as it is the language of an aggressor while a large chunk of Ukraine’s population speaks it daily? Should Ukraine embrace this fact further then fight against it? Should it encourage Ukrainian literature in Russian? Should one be worried this literature will be seized upon as a soft power tool and made a part of “Russian world” (“Russkiy Mir”) by the Kremlin? 

How should Ukrainian relate to the Russian imperial and then Soviet culture and the great Panthéon of Russian and Soviet cultural figures, so familiar to millions of Ukrainians who grew up with in Soviet times? 

Andrei Kurkov, Ukraine’s best-selling writer is often at the forefront of these discussions in Ukraine. He writes in Russian and mostly recently ruffled the feathers of many Ukrainian-speaking patriots, first with a suggestion to set up Ukraine’s Institute for Russian language, and then brimming with sarcasm at attempts to demonise Russian culture and some of its iconic figures.

DATE: 29 March 2018

TIME: 7pm

VENUE: Ukrainian Institute, 79 Holland Park

Admission: This event is now fully booked. If you wish to join waiting list please click here.

The talk will be held in English. Moderated by Marina Pesenti, Director, Ukrainian Institute London. 

The event will be followed by wine reception.


Andrei Kurkov is the author of 19 novels, including the bestselling Death and the Penguin, 9 books for children, and about 20 documentary, fiction and TV movie scripts. His work is currently translated into 37 languages, including English, Japanese, French, German, Italian, Chinese, Swedish and Hebrew, and published in 65 countries. Kurkov’s novels are “full of a sort of parodic wisdom that you would be foolish to take very seriously and even more foolish to take entirely unseriously,” wrote Daily Telegraph in 2013. He comments extensively on Ukraine in English- and French-speaking media.