Volume Thirteen, 2020-2021


Roman Koropeckyj (Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Languages & Cultures)

Managing Editor
Lydia Roberts (Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Languages & Cultures)

 Assistant Editor
Michael Lavery (Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Languages & Cultures)

Editorial Assistant
Meagan Ford (Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Languages & Cultures)

Online Editor
Susan Bauckus (Center for World Languages)

 Undergraduate Advisor
Yelena Furman (Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Languages & Cultures)

Editorial Board
Michael Lavery, (Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Languages & Cultures),
Dane Michael Reighard (Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Languages & Cultures),
Peter Winsky (Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Languages & Cultures), 
Melanie Jones (Comparative Literature),
Lydia Roberts (Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Languages & Cultures)


Lydia Roberts, Managing Editor

View Introduction

Beyond Fort Ross: Defining Russia's Impact on California

Hannah Bennet, University of California, Los Angeles

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    This paper examines the influence of Russian colonial involvement on nineteenth-century California and the areas in which this influence contributed to the state’s development. Russian imperial presence in California was an extension of previous colonization in Siberia and Alaska and lasted from 1812 to 1841. Russia’s California territory centered around Fort Ross, a colonial settlement focused on commercial and agricultural activity. Russian influence, however, extended beyond the settlement itself. Interactions between Russians and native Alaskans at Fort Ross affected the linguistic culture and oral histories of local Indigenous peoples. Russian presence catalyzed the construction of other sites, including several missions and the San Francisco Presidio, by spurring the Spanish (and later Mexican) governments to solidify ownership of the territory through colonization. Furthermore, Russian presence inspired place names—the Russian River, for instance—which are still in use today. Russian voyages to California allowed for early scientific classification of native plants and brought expanded knowledge of California’s natural features to Europeans. Fort Ross and its history would also become recurring themes in California literature, with both real and fictional Russians appearing in works from the 1870s to the 1950s. This paper thus argues that the Russian colonial presence in nineteenth-century California, both independently and through interaction with Spain and Mexico, made small but consequential contributions to the state’s development by impacting indigenous culture; prompting construction of forts, missions, and other structures; establishing place names; deepening scientific knowledge of the region; and inspiring literary traditions within the state.

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Cracking the Code: Russia's Cyber Assault on Liberal Democracy

Leanna Kramer, University of California, Los Angeles

  • View abstract
    This paper examines the Russian Federation’s widespread use of cyber tactics in the United States, EU countries (specifically the U.K. France, and Germany), and in the former Soviet republics of Estonia, Georgia, and Ukraine. In the past decade, Russia has emerged as an aggressive cyber actor, rapidly developing its technology to conduct low-cost but effective attacks domestically and internationally. The Kremlin utilizes hacking, document leaks and disinformation campaigns to undermine liberal democracy by disrupting state sovereignty and electoral integrity, which enables the Kremlin to assert itself as a global power by maintaining influence in the former Soviet Union, undermining Western alliances, and substantiating President Vladimir Putin’s increasingly authoritarian policies.

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The Eastern Threat: Understanding and Counteracting Russian Cyber Activity in the Baltics

Conor McDonald University of California, Los Angeles

  • View abstract
    The rise of cyber warfare in the twenty-first century has added an unprecedented level of complexity to the relationship between Russia and the Baltic nations of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. Through the use of denial of service attacks, which prevent a nation’s internet and software from working as they should, the Russian Federation is able to greatly restrict Baltic technological capabilities and hinder them from attaining full and complete security from Russian influence. This prohibits Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania from gaining full sovereignty in a post-Soviet world. This paper argues that, due to its previously unimaginable combination of anonymity and efficacy, cyber warfare has almost entirely replaced conventional conflict as the most prevalent and recurring threat faced by the Baltics today. This paper further argues that cooperation between the Baltic states and NATO can defend against cyber warfare, particularly by developing artificial intelligence warning systems and reducing the anonymity associated with foreign attacks.

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Syria as Russian Proxy State: Countering US Interests in the Middle East

Naomi Kisel, University of California, Los Angeles

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    This paper examines Russia’s involvement in the Middle East through its relationship with the United States, particularly the conditions that led to Russian military intervention in Syria during its 2015 civil war. By leveraging its influence in Syria, Russia has attempted to upset the “unipolar” system led by the U.S. and reclaim the power that former leaders Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin ceded in the 1980s and 1990s. After outlining the historical underpinnings of the relationship between Russia and Syria, this paper chronicles its evolution from 2005 to 2018. Examining the development of the Russia-Syria relationship sheds light on Russia’s position in the region and its success in countering U.S. goals; Putin has used this relationship to strengthen ties with Iran and establish himself as a broker in regional diplomacy, intervening in both the Iran nuclear deal and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

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Putin and Patriarch Kirill's Mutually Advantageous Relationship and its Effect on the Russian Federation's Growing HIV Epidemic

Melissa Miller, University of California, Los Angeles

  • View abstract
    Despite the vast majority of countries today seeing a decline in new HIV diagnoses, Russia has one of the world’s highest new HIV infection rates. Though the growing number of new HIV infections in Russia is certainly influenced by a number of factors, this paper argues that, in an effort to secure their grasp over Russian society, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Kirill, Patriarch of Moscow and all Rus' and Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church, have engaged in closer relations, resulting in Putin’s adoption of a more conservative and anti-Western policy agenda. This close relationship has resulted in the implementation of numerous policies that have limited necessary HIV/AIDS-related resources that could educate, protect, and treat Russians who are susceptible to infection. This paper argues that Putin has strengthened his relationship with the Russian Orthodox Church in an effort to garner support from Patriarch Kirill’s base, which has resulted in conservative and nationalist policies, namely the 2010 Drug Rehabilitation Program, the 2012 ban on “foreign agents,” and the 2013 ban on “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations among minors,” that have contributed to the growing HIV epidemic in the Russian Federation by limiting HIV education and effective medical treatment.

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Images of Women in the Works of Ivan Turgenev

Stephen J. Pastoriza, Bowdoin College

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    This essay examines the significance of the visual arts in depicting women in Ivan Turgenev’s novellas “Asya” and “First Love” and novel Spring Torrents. Each story features a male narrator who recollects a powerful but fleeting attraction to a young woman. In retelling the story of his lost love, each invokes well-known paintings that connect his beloved's physical beauty to the paintings' broader context, often mythical or religious. Expanding on a topic that previous scholars have mentioned only in passing, this paper demonstrates how references to paintings frame the narrators' recollections of their failed relationships and convey their emotional and psychological transformation. In Spring Torrents, Dmitrii Sanin compares the beautiful Gemma Roselli to both Cristofano Allori’s formidable Judith with the Head of Holofernes and Raphael’s seductive La Fornarina. In “Asya”, narrator N. N. relates the title character to the dynamic female figure at the center of Raphael's Triumph of Galatea while in the throes of infatuation, and to a humble statue of the Madonna after his affair fizzles to nothing. In “First Love,” Vladimir Petrovich recalls his first love, Zinaida, comparing her seduction (by the narrator's father) to the painting Malek-Adel Carrying Off Matilda. Marking the beginning and ending of each brief infatuation, these paintings are pivotal to shaping the narrative in each story and suggest new interpretations of the power dynamics in Turgenev’s portrayals of sexual attraction.

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The Beauty in the Epileptic: Dostoevsky's Illness and its Mark on his Characters

Katherine Smith, University of British Columbia

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    In nineteenth-century Russia, epilepsy was interpreted as both a sacred illness and demonic possession. Expanding on this contradiction in terms of the connection that Dostoevsky drew between morality and aesthetics, this paper examines Dostoevsky's reported experience of epilepsy and how he translates the illness differently in the characters of Prince Myshkin (The Idiot, 1868–1869) and Smerdyakov (The Brothers Karamazov, 1879–1880). Simple, perceptive Myshkin has the qualities of a holy fool and pursues ideal beauty (divine beauty associated with all of “man’s noblest ideals and aspirations”). To underscore his goodness, Dostoevsky ascribes to the character a moment of ecstatic and divine bliss just before his seizures that is akin to what the author himself experienced. A decade later, Dostoevsky represented a demonic type of epilepsy in the character of Smerdyakov, who does not experience bliss before his fits. Smerdyakov, whose moral-aesthetic disintegration is signaled by his lack of faith in the divine and the pleasure he takes in violence, pursues the second, lower order of beauty: the sensuous, monstrous beauty in Sodom. Dostoevsky shows that the line between the two sides of epilepsy is malleable; epilepsy gives Smerdyakov the potential to understand divine beauty, but his refusal of this potential condemns him. For his part, although Myshkin experiences bliss in his seizures, onlookers perceive them—and consequently him— as demonic, ultimately forcing Myshkin to retreat from Russian society.

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