Bart Redford
Center for Russian, East European & Eurasian Studies

Noted Ukrainian scholar to speak on collapse of Soviet Union

Tue, 03/03/2015

LAWRENCE — A Harvard professor of Ukrainian history and leading authority on Eastern Europe will present "Who Killed the Soviet Union? Revisiting the Fall of the USSR" next week at the University of Kansas for the Ukrainian Studies 2015 Palij Lecture. 

Serhii Plokhii, Mykhailo Hrushevsky Professor of Ukrainian History at Harvard, will deliver the lecture at 7 p.m. Monday, March 9, in the Malott Room of the Kansas Union. He will also give a talk at noon Tuesday, March 10, in 318 Bailey Hall as part of the Center for Russian, East European & Eurasian Studies (CREES) Brownbag Lecture. Both events are free and open to the public.

Plokhii has lived and taught in Ukraine, Canada and the United States. He has published extensively in English, Ukrainian and Russian, and for three consecutive years (2002-2005), his books won first prize of the American Association for Ukrainian Studies. His most recent book, "The Last Empire: The Final Days of the Soviet Union," recounts the dizzying rush of events that preceded the dissolution of the USSR, including the August Coup and the final meeting in late 1991, where the Soviet Union’s death warrant was signed by the leaders of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus.

The book draws on recently declassified documents as well as interviews with the key figures involved in these historic events. The Telegraph describes "The Last Empire" as “intimidatingly thick, but beautifully written and studded with such pithy quotations, along with excerpts from Bush’s diary, the memoirs of the participants and contemporary news sources. They provide an insight, both compelling and sobering, into how random the whole process of dismantling the world’s biggest country was.”

“Professor Plokhii brings unparalleled expertise to our understanding of the current developments in and around Ukraine, grounding it in pioneering historical research," said CREES Associate Director Vitaly Chernetsky. "His 2011 book 'Yalta: The Price of Peace' became an international best-seller that fundamentally altered our understanding of the global post-World War II order. His latest book, a detailed closeup on the year 1991 and the unfolding collapse of the Soviet Union, sheds invaluable new insights on one the most fateful events of recent world history.”

Copies of "The Last Empire" will be available for purchase after the lecture.

CREES offers one of the leading programs in Ukrainian studies in the U.S. It includes all levels of Ukrainian language study as well as courses in Ukrainian history, politics and culture. The CREES Palij Family Fund supports the annual visiting Palij Lecturer focusing on Ukrainian studies and provides the annual Ukrainian Studies Prize for an outstanding student specializing in Ukraine. KU also offers an intensive summer study abroad program focusing on Ukrainian language and culture in Lviv, Ukraine. 

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