Pulitzer prize-winning journalist’s lecture filled up the Weston auditorium

Image: Pete Stevens

[Carolin Simon | Contributing Writer]

Apparently, UH’s chancellor, The Hon Marquess of Salisbury, made a good decision nine months ago when he invited award-winning journalist, Anne Applebaum, to talk at his annual lecture. “Putin: A Great Strategist or a Great Improvisator?” drew in a diverse audience, ranging from representatives of various County Councils to UH students.

In an interview before the lecture, the journalist said, “I will be discussing one of the most underrated problems of our time, namely the problems of a revanchist Russia.” Her talk covered Putin’s goals and fear of open criticism and Western democracy. One of the Russian President’s overall goals is to “delegitimise the West as a source of inspirations for Russians,” Applebaum said.

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Image: Pete Stevens

According to Applebaum, Putin is playing with the idea of an invasion to generate fear. She said that by hinting at the fact that he might march into the Baltic States and by buzzing air spaces, Putin forces the West to ask the question of whether the NATO would become active. His strategy is to demonstrate Western weakness. A breakdown of the EU would not be too hard to imagine, Applebaum said, and concluded, “He pushes on open doors.”

Even though Applebaum thinks that options for the West are limited, she named a few such as sanctions, building up defences and reinforcing the NATO. “We need to be clear what our rules are,” she said and emphasised a need to reinforce our institutions, democracy and media.

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Image: Carolin Simon

Applebaum has worked for several British, as well as other countries’, newspapers and is currently working as a columnist for the Washington Post and the Online Magazine Slate. She extensively covered the topics of communism and the development of civil society in Central and Eastern Europe in her writing. From 1988 – 1991 she reported the collapse of the Soviet Union for the Economist magazine. In 2004 she won the Pulitzer Prize in non-fiction for her book Gulag: A History, which, based on archives, memoirs and interviews, lays open the Soviet concentration camp system and daily life in the camps.

Applebaum visited UH for the first time for the Chancellor’s Lecture and was welcomed at a fully booked event. The Chancellor’s Lectures take place annually and are a series of free public lectures. For last year’s lecture, the Chancellor had invited Matt Ridley, claimed to be one of Britain’s most read controversialists. The lectures are also available online on iTunes.


Pulitzer prize-winning journalist’s lecture filled up the Weston auditorium