Elena Kostyuchenko - Reporting From A Lost Country

Franke Institute for the Humanities, Regenstein Library S-102, 1100 E. 57th St.

To be a journalist is to tell the truth, and telling the truth almost got Elena Kostyuchenko killed. In March 2022, as a correspondent for Russia’s last free press, Novaya Gazeta, Kostyuchenko crossed the border into Ukraine to cover the war. It was her mission to ensure that Russians witnessed the horrors Putin was committing in their name. She filed her pieces knowing that should she return home, she would likely be prosecuted and sentenced to up to fifteen years in prison. Yet, driven by the conviction that the greatest form of love and patriotism is criticism, she continues to write.

Her book I Love Russia: Reporting from a Lost Country collects her unrelenting attempts to document her country as experienced by those whom it systematically and brutally erases: village girls recruited into sex work, queer people in the outer provinces, patients and doctors at a Ukrainian maternity ward, and reporters like herself. 

The book stitches together reportage from the past fifteen years with personal essays, assembling a kaleidoscopic narrative that Kostyuchenko understands may be the last work from her homeland that she’ll publish for a long time—perhaps ever. It exposes the inner workings of an entire nation as it descends into fascism and, inevitably, war. She writes because the threat of Putin’s Russia extends beyond herself, beyond Crimea, and beyond Ukraine. We fail to understand it at our own peril. Here is Russia as it is, not as we imagine it. The result is a singular portrait of a nation, and of a young woman who refuses to be silenced.

Kostyuchenko will be joined in conversation by Prof. Ania Aizman of the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures.

Presented by the Seminary Co-op, CEERES, the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures, and the Pozen Family Center for Human Rights.

If you cannot attend in person, click here to register for Zoom.