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Irina Prokhorovas Faith in Ethical Evolution

If censorship begins even in one discipline, inevitably it will lead to everything being censored...

Published: April 2, 2014 (Issue # 1804)

  • In the 20 years since Irina Prokhorova launched the New Literary Observer journal, she has become a prominent figure in both Russias literary and political scene.

  • Prokhorova works closely with her brother, Mikhail Prokhorov, above, across various political and charitable projects.
    Photo: Igor Tabakov / SPT

  • Prokhorovas eloquence and intelligence has made her a popular host and guest on both radio and television.
    Photo: Strelka Institute / flickr

In 1992, as the remnants of Soviet society disintegrated around her, a woman with no business experience decided that the time was ripe to found the new nations first independent literary journal.

Of course it was absolutely crazy at that time. Even most of my friends said, Who needs such a thick, professional academic journal in 1992, who is going to read it? Irina Prokhorova recalled with a laugh.

But for Prokhorova, 58, the privation and hardships of that time were only half of the story. The other half was an extraordinary exhilaration and sense of freedom that now, finally, anything was possible.

More than 20 years later, the journal the New Literary Observer has blossomed into a thriving publishing house, and Prokhorova is a prominent figure not only on Russias literary scene, but in philanthropy and politics as well.

Her televised debate representing her brother, billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, during the 2012 presidential campaign pitted her against Vladimir Putins surrogate, Nikita Mikhalkov. Prokhorovas eloquence and intelligence left the famous movie director admitting that if it was she who was running, his vote would go to her.

In January this year, Prokhorova stepped up as leader of her brothers Civil Platform party. While the move into politics may seem an unusual leap to some observers, for Prokhorova it is simply an extension of the work that she has been doing all along.

We still have a mission to enlighten, she said. The idea of human freedom and independence, a new relationship between society and the government, fundamental ethical and philosophical principles this is the foundation on which everything else is built.

Despite her many titles and lofty ambitions, when Prokhorova welcomed reporters from The St. Petersburg Times into her office, casually dressed and holding her electric tea kettle in hand, it was clear that this is a woman of few pretensions.

Perhaps it is this lack of affectation that has earned her popularity as the host of two programs: the talk show Value System on RBC television and Culture of the Everyday on Komsomolskaya Pravda radio.

Or, perhaps, it is her passion for the values themselves, which underlie all of her cultural and political activities.

It was the desire to promote grassroots social movements that led to the creation in 2004 of the Mikhail Prokhorov Foundation, which supports cultural projects in neglected regional communities.

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Friday, Oct. 31

Put your grammar and logical thinking to the test in a fun and friendly environment during the British Book Centers Board Game Evening starting at 5 p.m. today. The event is free and all are welcome to attend.

Saturday, Nov. 1

The men and women who dedicate their lives to fitness get their chance to compete for the title of best body in Russia at todays Grand Prix Fitness House PRO, the nations premier bodybuilding competition. Not only will men and women be competing for thousands of dollars in prizes and a trip to represent their nation at Mr. Olympia but sporting goods and nutritional supplements will also be available for sale. Learn more about the culture of the Indian subcontinent during Diwali, the annual festival of lights that will be celebrated in St. Petersburg this weekend at the Culture Palace on Tambovskaya Ul. For 100 rubles ($2.40), festival-goers listen to Indian music, try on traditional Indian outfits and sample dishes highlighting the culinary diversity of the billion-plus people in the South Asian superpower.

Sunday, Nov. 2

Check out the latest video and interactive games at the Gaming Festival at the Mayakovsky Library ending today. Meet with the developers of the popular and learn more about their work, or learn how to play one of their creations with the opportunity to ask the creators themselves about the exact rules.

Monday, Nov. 3

Non-athletes can get feed their need for competition without breaking a sweat at the Rock-Paper-Scissors tournament this evening at the Cube Bar at Lomonosova 1. Referees will judge the validity of each matchup award points to winners while the citys elite fight for the chance to be called the best of the best. Those hoping to play must arrange a team beforehand and pay 200 rubles ($4.80) to enter.

Tuesday, Nov. 4

Attend the premiere of Canadian director Xavier Dolans latest film Mommy at the Avrora theater this evening. The fifth picture from the 25-year-old, it is the story of an unruly teenager but the most alluring (or unappealing) aspect is the way the film was shot: in a 1:1 format that is more reminiscent of Instagram videos than cinematic art. Tickets cost 400 rubles ($9.60) and snacks and drinks will be available.

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