Soon after arriving in College Park, MD, for his fellowship earlier this fall, Kirill Tanaev sat down with CISSM to discuss his background and goals for his visit.
What attracted you to the ISKRAN Visiting Scholar Program at CISSM?
I was attracted to this program for two reasons in particular. First, CISSM is a well-known organization in the international security field and as soon as I realized that I would have an opportunity to work, study, and conduct my research at CISSM, I decided to take a chance and apply. Secondly, I believe that this program will not only give me great opportunities to work with some of the best experts in the field of international relations, but will also allow me to enhance my understanding of the United States as a country. From my point of view, this type of educational and cultural exchange facilitates mutual understanding, which is quite possibly the most important thing for improving relations between countries.
Tell us about your educational and professional background?
Right now I am pursuing my post-graduate accreditation at the School of World Politics and International Security at the Institute of USA and Canada at the Russian Academy of Sciences (ISKRAN), specializing in Russian-American relations. Previously, I graduated from the International Department of the School of Journalism at Moscow State University.
My professional background is mostly in journalism, working for several Russian media outlets over the past five years. I’ve tried to gain an understanding of how Russian media systems work as a whole, so I’ve held quite a wide range of media related jobs. I started my career as a part-time correspondent for a print version of the magazine, TimeOut Moscow, and after working there for some time, I transferred to its internet department. I then found a job as a program editor at the radio outlet, Mayak — the largest station in Russia. After my time at Mayak, I transferred to the TV channel, Russia 24, which is the biggest news channel in my country. I’ve spent the past 2 years at Russia 24 performing both editor and correspondent duties for several different programs. I’ve also spent some time researching an array of TV and internet related topics for the Modern Media Research Institute.
What are your current research interests?
Currently, my main research interest centers around Russian-American diplomatic relations through the lens of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the nuclear agreement recently negotiated between the P5+1 and Iran. I plan to write my thesis on this topic because it is such a historic document with great significance, on several different levels, for both the Russian Federation and the United States.
How does your educational and professional background apply to your studies at the University of Maryland?
Well, it is my first time in the United States, so I would actually say that, right now, my background and skills in journalism and human interaction are proving most useful to me. These skills allow me to find common ground with people from different cultural backgrounds, which is helpful for settling in to my new situation here. And I think taking the time in the beginning to make these new relationships is very important. Maybe I am finding it easy because people are just very friendly here. Actually I am leaning towards the latter explanation. Also, I think all of the training I’ve received at ISKRAN allows me to be on the same level as students at the School of Public Policy and CISSM, which is extremely important as well.
What do you hope to achieve during your time here?
While in the U.S. I hope to work with specialists from CISSM and learn from their expertise, as well as take advantage of the resources offered by the University of Maryland. I think this will help me to gain access to new materials and improve my understanding of the ways in which the US government operates as a whole and deals with the JCPOA in particular. Of course, I do not plan to limit my focus here to just one topic. I think that the courses I’m enrolled in will significantly broaden my knowledge and understanding of international security problems. I also believe that my interaction with other students will be quite beneficial.
What are your first impressions of the United States and Washington DC?
I can’t say anything in particular about the US just yet. I would say that for now I am enjoying comparing the capital in which I was born, Moscow, and the capital of the United States. And this is not about one city being better or worse; it’s about these two cities being so different in all aspects. I find the differences very amusing.