Students and faculty hold “Putin Panel” discussing ongoing issues surrounding Russia and Eastern Europe

Photo by Eva Littman

Photo by Eva Littman

Photo by Eva Littman

Students gathered in Northrup on Thursday, Feb. 19, to watch the “Putin Panel” take place. The panel consisted of three students and Bruce Holl, professor of modern languages and literatures. Each speaker contributed to shape the full perspective of the current situation in Russia under Vladimir Putin.

Junior Nikita Chirkov along with Travis Wentworth, organized the panel. Chirkov wanted the panel to help others better understand the events occurring in Russia and Ukraine.

“There have been a lot of people that have been asking us a lot of questions, particularly when it comes to the Ukrainian crisis,” Chirkov said. “So we just wanted to give the historical and political background to help people have the tools to understand what’s going on.”

The panel covered multiple topics including the current economic situation in Russia, how Putin came into power, as well as the different political systems in place. Additionally, the panel aimed to show those in attendance different sides of the media other than the news coverage in the United States.

“It’s not just what you hear here in American media, you have to go a little bit deeper than that,” Chirkov said.

Travis Wentworth also covered the topic of news and media during part of his talk in the panel.

“When you look at this situation, there are many filters at play. A lot of times in our news we don’t really hear about Ukraine that much. We hear about all the big stuff happening,” Wentworth said.

Wentworth discussed that coverage in the U.S. frequently tends to only cover larger events and does not use multiple sources when covering the Russia Ukraine topic.

“You have many other sources of media and then you have the West perspective: BBC, CNN, FOX, anything from the United States. We see on our side the American side all the different ways the media can twist things for certain advantages,” said Wentworth.

Professor Holl later went on to speak about how outspoken media outlets get much of the attention but they do not make up the entirety of the news in Russia.

“Many Russian news programs and talk shows which I watch regularly do support the policies of the Russian government no doubt about it,” Holl said. “But other programs and certainly many Russian websites provide a greater variety of opinion.”

Many students in the audience came for extra credit in different classes and also to understand the other side of the Russian story. First year Sean Madlem was among the students in attendance.

“I found it interesting to get the Russian point of view and a little bit of background in media as well as the different political party system there,” said Madlem. “It was interesting to get a more in-depth view but a lot of the stuff they said reaffirmed my opinions from reading and following economic reports.”

Chirkov and Wentworth have high hopes for more discussion around the subject in future panels.

“I think the last panel went pretty well and all the members are kind of excited about possibly doing another one,” Chirkov said. “I feel like panels like this of this nature that are student-run and organized, I feel like it’s a great way to move forward an argument when it comes to the sphere of universities.”

While the situation in Ukraine continues, the panel opened up room for new perspectives and started conversation about the issues occurring in Russia.