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"Grazhdanin Politolog": a Way of Life, and Not Just a Line in CV

The rapidly developing educational project “Grazhdanin Politolog” held its fifth anniversary season of discussion meetings this summer. The managers team is not going to stop on the achieved results and plans to broaden the horizons. We will tell about the history of the project, its audience and relevance in modern realities in this article.

How did it start?

Mikhail Komin, a graduate of HSE's Political Science programme, can rightly be considered the "founding father" of “Grazhdanin Politolog”. He was the one who came up with the idea of creating this project. Then the idea was also picked up by now graduates of the Higher school of Economics Kirill Shamiev and Victoria Poltoratskaya. They created a kind of "Foundation" of the project – set goals, determined the direction of development, created the so-called corporate culture and began to implement the project. A new generation of "citizens" headed by Ruslan Valiev, Victoria Zdorovilova, Ivan Smirnov and Gleb Balchidi now actively build on over the "foundation" new floors and preparing for the opening of the sixth season of the “Grazhdanin Politolog”.

What is the main concept of the project?

The core idea of this project is the scientific popularization of political science. The organizers aim to show how theoretical concepts explain specific political events, and on the other hand, to make these explanations available to anyone interested in Politics, Economics and other Social Sciences.
Anyone can listen to lectures and discussions of famous Russian scientists about the current problems of Russia and the world for absolutely free, as well as participate in exciting political science interactivity at the end of each “lesson”. If you are interested in social and political events, you should definitely join us.

Lecturers within the framework of the project are the researchers and teachers of the best Russian schools of Political science: the HSE and EUSP, Russian Academy of national economy, St. Petersburg state University.

As part of the study of this project, we interviewed the main organizers – Ruslan Valiev, Victoria Zdorovilova, Ivan Smirnov and Gleb Balchidi. We also asked Maria Yakovleva – she is a SMM-manager of this project. During the conversation, we touched upon such issues as the importance of the project for the organizers themselves, as well as modern youth. They were asked about the opportunities to become part of the team and the prospects for the development of “Grazhdanin Politolog” in the future.   

What does “Grazhdanin Politolog” mean to you?

Ruslan : Talking about what this project means to me, I would first like to say what it meant to me before, while I was not a member of it. Until then, I only heard about it once and thought, "Well, that's a great line in the CV". Of course, when you organize something above the usual student level, the employer will appreciate it. And when I became a part of our team, a member of a small family, I realized that it is much more than a line in the resume. This is a project that is aimed at some specific goal and you see how this goal is being implemented bit by bit. You're enlightening others. Through your actions connect the two extremes: we - the students and academics, practitioners, and experts in particular scientific fields. You become a “bridge” between them and feel something unimaginable when you organize meetings, run, having time to sit down just a couple of times for a meeting with discussions. This is a way of life, not just a line in the resume. I think everyone will confirm it.

Victoria : The most beautiful thing about this project for me is the people I work with. The atmosphere that we create together, the atmosphere of mutual assistance. If something happens, I can count on my friends and they can count on me. They will overturn the mountains, but will help, do not leave a person in trouble.

And how “Grazhdanin Politolog” can be interesting for people?

Ruslan : Well, first of all, we're cool! Now it is really the order of the day to attend such student meetings. Even if you do not understand anything in the social Sciences, in any case, you will catch something interesting and exciting for yourself. Secondly, it is a way to spend the evening – not just to watch TV or read a book, but to enjoy the debate of experts on certain issues that have come a long way in this or that area, which is even difficult to imagine. Thirdly, it is a way to enrich yourself with a new stream of knowledge and to show them in some discussion that will suddenly arise, for example, on the couch with relatives (laughs). Another incentive is to drink tea or coffee, walk around the city on the way to our meeting.

Maria: We are waiting for everyone to attend our lectures, because, firstly, they are devoted to "pressing issues", which are discussed from different points of view; secondly, all participants can participate in the discussion, ask questions to speakers or express their opinion on the problem; thirdly, lectures are often held in the bar "Bakalavriat", where you can combine business with pleasure: breakfast pancakes or coffee; fourth, the most active participants of lectures we reward with crumpled souvenirs, because it is always nice to receive gifts:)

Gleb: The aim of the project is to provide high-quality, relevant analytics on important social and public issues. We want to give some timely analysis of what is happening now. We want to involve scientific expertise.

How to become a part of your "citizens" team?

Ruslan : It's complicated. A person should have an aspiration, a goal. We are looking for initiative guys. We carry out a set when we need people. How I got there? When I was on 1 course, I simply came to the meeting, then followed the group and saw the ad for the set after some period of time. Applied and passed! Remember that we are not some “closed circle”, we always treat like a Mad Hatter in Wonderland, offer tea and to join us.

Ivan : It is necessary, of course, to do a number of tasks, in particular, to write a motivation letter. Also solve the case, with any situation related to the organizational problem. As for the qualities that we want to see in the new participants is the experience of organizational activity, it is also the ability to work in a team, openness to productive dialogue, academic writing skills, enthusiasm, willingness to take up the solution of some problems.

How do you see the future of a “Grazhdanin Politolog”?

Ruslan: I want the project to grow. We want to increase the audience and shift the segment. Now our audience is mostly students, and our goal is people over the age of 25. Another goal is to find speakers. Real professionals are also quite difficult to be found. The third component is the expansion of the project to Moscow. Now it is St. Petersburg. We are also knowable in other regions. Our dream is to grow up and hold discussions in the capital, too. We are ready to work on the development of the structure.

Gleb : There is a common opinion, if something does not develop, it dies or degrades. We plan to develop further, the project of this kind always has a certain track, and even several ways of development. We want to do schools, workshops, seminars, for certain reasons, at the moment we cannot act on this track, but we are planning and actively looking for sources of funding.

Ivan: Our plans are ambitious. First of all, we want to have a large permanent place. For instance, New Holland. Good way to attract more people.


“Grazhdanin Politolog” is an interesting, dynamically developing project with a multi-profile bias. It provides versatile development and just a good time in the company of friends and well-known experts of social Sciences leading universities of St. Petersburg. If you visit at least one meeting of “Grazhdanin Politolog”, you will understand that political science is not boring, and scientific discussions are the lot of not only experts, but also ordinary people. Moreover, as required by the present, you will learn to form your point of view on relevant issues, already having a good theoretical basis.

“Grazhdanin Politolog” opens a new season in November, so be sure to come to the “Bakalavriat” bar, “Tochka Kipeniya”, library of Growth and Career, HSE and to listen to the opinion of experts on topical issues, and do not miss the opportunity to participate in the discussions themselves.

Text by
Ekaterina Srebrodolskaya

Anastasiia Vanchurina
Anna Melnichuk
Oksana Semenikhina