Welcome to English Language Evenings II


English Language Evenings is an independent, open, public English-language lecture forum in Moscow, having hosted more than 250 meetings and ~180 different speakers since starting in 1998.

Meeting usually twice a month from September/October to late May, ELE hosts (mostly) native English speakers, often prominent and/or interesting individuals from Moscow's greater English-language and/or foreign-resident community, visitors, et al, giving lectures on topics of their own choosing.

Among the PURPOSES of ELE is the providing of an intelligent-intellectual evening in Moscow in English, the presentation of a wide variety of topics and speakers, and the promotion of more personal contacts between the speakers and Russians in Moscow. ELE is, in the context of Moscow, a kind of distant descendent of the Lyceum Movement started in 19th century America, and a direct one of "Penny University" in Santa Cruz, California.

All visitors, Russians and "expats" are welcome!

Notifications on ELE activities


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The Hosts

The HOSTS of ELE II are John Harrison, Editor of Moscow Expat Life, artist, Brit and Oksana Danchevskaya, a Cultural Studies specialist and an Associate Professor at Moscow State Pedagogical University.

The founder of ELE Stephen Lapeyrouse has moved on to further activities in Lexington, Massachusetts. Stephen is the author of "Towards the Spiritual Convergence of America and Russia", "В поисках "Американской мечты" - Избранные эссе", and his website can be found at AmericanReflections.net.


ELE has now hosted 250+ meetings with ~180 SPEAKERS from many countries: from astronauts to adventurers, ambassadors and attaches of various embassies; Fulbright scholars; visiting and resident professors; well-known Moscow journalists (from the Moscow Times, Moscow News, Russia Journal, etc.) and international TV and radio correspondents (BBC, VOA, Sky News); social activists; heads of institutions (e.g. AmCham, Moscow Carnegie Center, Amnesty International), and just interesting individuals, et al, on a wide variety of lecture topics. To view a full list of previous speakers/lectures, click here.


Lectures, travelers, writers, adventurers, et al! If you would like to give a public lecture in Moscow, contact the hosts of ELE II. Contact: harrisonjohng@icloud.com


Lectures are held in the Chekhov Library/Cultural Center Strastnoi Bulvar 6 Moscow (Just north of the Metro Chekhovskaya street exit -- somewhat across from the large cinema at Pushkin Square -- look for the "6" on the building; go through the tunnel/arch to the back side of the building. Take the first gate/door immediately as you exit the tunnel.) Click here for map!

Here you can find a link to Chekhov Library web site, and this is a link to Library page on Facebook


Meetings are usually, but not always, Fridays, so pay close attention to dates! Lectures usually start at 19:00, followed by Q&As, discussion, comments, etc; and ending about 21:00.

A Selection of Publications on ELE activities

English Language Evenings on Wikipedia

David Wansbrough's Pages

Passport Magazine on Solzhenitsyn talk

The article in Moscow Expat Life magazine 'The Chekhov Library: A Mission of Freedom'

The 20th season, 2017/2018

Previous Lectures

October 6, 7 pm

Chekhov Library/Cultural Centre,
Strastnoi Bulvar 6 Moscow

'The Life of a Foreign Correspondent in Russia and Current US-Russia Relations'

Fred Weir

Fred Weir is a Canadian journalist who lives in Moscow and specializes in Russian affairs. He is a Moscow correspondent for the Boston-based daily The Christian Science Monitor, and for the monthly Chicago magazine In These Times. He has been a regular contributor from Moscow to The Independent, South China Morning Post and The Canadian Press. He was also for 20 years the Moscow correspondent of Hindustan Times an Indian, English-language, daily newspaper based in Delhi. Weir is the co-author, along with David Michael Kotz, of Revolution from Above: The Demise of the Soviet System, published in 1996, which provides a new interpretation and research for the disintegration of the USSR.

Weir studied Russian and Soviet history at the University of Toronto. He lived on a kibbutz in Israel in 1973-74, traveled extensively around the Middle East, the USSR and Eastern Europe, before choosing to move to the Soviet Union to live and work as a journalist in 1986. He married Mariam Shaumian, a Russian-Armenian, in 1987. They have two children: Tanya, born in 1988, and Charlie, born in 2000.

Suggested donation: 200 roubles

September 22, 7 pm

Chekhov Library/Cultural Centre,
Strastnoi Bulvar 6 Moscow

'Legal and Business English'

Luke Conner

This lecture will provide a brief guide to the English language within the context of English legal history, the legal system in England and Wales, and the U.K. constitution. It also includes some pointers for future legal draftsmen and those working with legal letters and contracts in the English language.

Luke Conner, an English qualified solicitor and runs his own law firm here: Conner & Co.

Suggested donation: 200 roubles

September 8, 19:00-21:00

Chekhov Library/Cultural Centre,
Strastnoi Bulvar 6 Moscow

'Why Am I In Russia'

Simon Green

Executive English teacher Simon Green will be talking about why he chose to live in Moscow rather than London, and what are the advantages here compared to living and working in his native country. What does he miss about good old "Blighty?"

Simon has lived in Moscow for over 15 years and has been an English teacher for 8 of them. He was educated in one of the finest private schools in the UK and was also a chorister in Canterbury cathedral. He is widely travelled, having visited some 74 counties and lived in around 20. His hobbies include music (I played the piano and flute), sport, writing, cooking (I cook at dinner parties, specializing in Indian cuisine) and wining and dining.

Suggested donation: 200 roubles

The 19th season, 2016/2017

May 19, 7 pm

Chekhov Library/Cultural Centre,
Strastnoi Bulvar 6 Moscow

'The History of the International Oil Industry'

Doran Doeh

Doran was educated in London and Oxford, and advises on virtually all areas of law relating to energy and natural resources including a very wide range of corporate and financing transactions.

May 5, 7 pm

Chekhov Library/Cultural Centre,
Strastnoi Bulvar 6 Moscow

'It takes a fool to praise Fools and Folly, but... '

David Wansbrough

The role of idiots, the naive, and the innocent, and their humour in changing how we see reality.

April 21, 7 pm

Chekhov Library/Reading Room,
Strastnoi Bulvar 6 Moscow

'The Big Questions'

David Wansbrough

Please note! This lecture will be held in the Chekhov Library Reading Room the door for which is ~20 metres further into the yard from Chekhov Cultural Centre where we usually meet. The entrance will be sign posted clearly from 6.30 pm that evening.

April 7, 7 pm

Chekhov Library/Cultural Centre,
Strastnoi Bulvar 6 Moscow

'The Last of the Mohicans Is Still Alive'

Andrew Wiget

From time to time, television presents us with stories and images of American Indians and other indigenous peoples. How should we think about such stories? What does it means for us as contemporary Euroamericans that indigenous peoples continue to exist in our societies? The presentation will compare the histories and present status of American Indians and Siberian indigenous peoples. Along the way, the presentation will take up the ways in which indigenous peoples have shaped our most fundamental concepts, like culture, nature, society, tradition, ethnicity, modernity and progress.

Andrew Wiget is Professor Emeritus from New Mexico State University, where he taught for 28 years. For most of that time he worked as a folklorist among American Indian tribes. In 1992, he began working with his wife and colleague, Olga Balalaeva, among the indigenous Khanty people of western Siberia, a work that continues up to the present. For the past several years, he has lectured at the Ethnology Chair of the History Faculty at Moscow State University.

March 31, 7 pm

Yablochkova str, 12-C, Saint-Petersburg,
Sportivnaya metro station, Unix Education Center

'The Effect of Russian Culture on Foreigners Living in Russia'

John Harrison

March 24, 7 pm

Chekhov Library/Cultural Centre,
Strastnoi Bulvar 6 Moscow

'Learning To Fly In Russia'

Michael Gibson

Learning to fly has been a dream ever since I was a teenager. On waking up one morning to discover my teenage son flying in Air Force trainers, I realised it was now or never. 'Now' meant learning in Russia, a country with a bright and illustrious aviation history as well as some of the world's most legendary aircraft. It also meant learning to fly the Russian way in specific Russian flying conditions that arguably make Russian pilots the best in the world. I will take you on a flying journey and show how flying is nothing short of a miracle - a miracle that 3 billion people who fly annually, take for granted.

Michael has worked as a Creative Director in the Russian advertising and communication industry for over 20 years. He created many large scale TV campaigns for brands like Nescafe, Visa, MrProper. He is a regular speaker on branding and creativity. He is married to Naira and has one son Davide.

March 10, 7 pm

Chekhov Library/Cultural Centre,
Strastnoi Bulvar 6 Moscow

'Buddhist statues and architecture, and what they mean.'

Ross Hunter

Ross was the Founding Head, EIS Moscow, Malvern College Qingdao, China. Retired several times; now Founding Development Director 'The English School of Sciences', Lefortovo, Moscow. He describes himself as an addicted traveller, and has visited over 50 countries. Married to Sue (Art and PE teacher, Boarding House Mum, artist, Churchwarden), children working in Nice and London. His interests: Travel, Art History, especially Russian 1880-1932; Buddhist art and iconography; cycling & swimming; restoring old houses; chainsaw gardening; books - reading, writing, colouring in. He holds an MA (Cambridge) in Geography.

Lecture by Omar Saif Ghobash, the UAE Ambassador to the Russian Federation, was postponed to a later date!

February 24, 7 pm

Chekhov Library/Cultural Centre,
Strastnoi Bulvar 6 Moscow

'Mithra-The Saviour. The Succession of the Sacred Saviours throughout Human History.'

Bashir Arshadi

February 10, 7 pm

Chekhov Library/Cultural Centre,
Strastnoi Bulvar 6 Moscow

'Sailing Through Russia'

Maxine Maters and John Vallentine

This lecture is the story of how Maxine and skipper John sailed through Russia from the Arctic to the Black Sea, in the first foreign-flagged vessel to traverse Russia's Volga and Don rivers. For more info visit the website sailinginrussia.org
Maxine Maters is an ex-publisher of The Moscow Times.

January 27, 7 pm

Chekhov Library/Cultural Centre,
Strastnoi Bulvar 6 Moscow

'East vs. West from point of view of a long term British expat'

This lecture will be delivered by Luc Jones, a successful British expat, who is the author of the popular book: 'Why Russians Don't Smile.'

January 13, 7 pm

Chekhov Library/Cultural Centre,
Strastnoi Bulvar 6 Moscow

'Human Spaceflight: Should we leave earth?'

Professor Rupert Gerzer

Professor Gerzer is one Germany's eminent scientists and has moved to Moscow about a year ago. He is currently the Provost (Prorector) of Skoltech, a new University at the Skolkovo Innovation Center.

Professor Gerzer was the Director of the Institute of Aerospace Medicine of the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and Professor and Chairman of the Institute of Aerospace Medicine in Aachen, Germany, from 1992 until 2015.

December 16, 7 pm

Chekhov Library/Cultural Centre,
Strastnoi Bulvar 6 Moscow

Green Building (r)evolution in Russia - An Englishman's contribution to a greener Russia

Guy Eames, General Director of Green Building Council Russia

December 9, 7 pm

Chekhov Library/Cultural Centre,
Strastnoi Bulvar 6 Moscow

'Stand Up and Boast'

David Lowder is the headmaster of the 'English International School' in Moscow.

Stand up and Boast is about self-confidence, self-esteem and how we as individuals tend to be very modest and shy and don't overly promote ourselves when we should. So how can we change this approach? Can we project our skills to other people without being perceived as being arrogant? How do we identify what skills we have?

November 25, 7 pm

Chekhov Library/Cultural Centre,
Strastnoi Bulvar 6 Moscow

'Habsburg Lessons for Europe'

His Excellency, the Ambassador of Austria, Dr Brix

Apart from his outstanding diplomatic career, Dr Brix has a doctorship in European politics of the 19th and early 20th century, with a particular interest in the decline of empires in Europe.

November 11, 7 pm

Chekhov Library/Cultural Centre,
Strastnoi Bulvar 6 Moscow

The impact of culture on geopolitics.

John Harrison, M.A., Msc.

This lecture will aim to identify the importance of culture in geopolitics. Such a discussion is not new. Thucydides wrote about: 'modes of life,' Mamdani discussed: 'Culture Talk'. With the rise of modern day 'security theory' however, culture has not, (it is argued) been given appropriate attention. The Copenhagen School identified the 'societal' as being as important as other aspects of security, and discussed 'securitisation' through the speech act, which, as will be pointed out in the lecture, is only possible with the support of localised culture. As a case study, John Harrison researched the change in political orientation of western expatriates living in Moscow over time.

October 28, 7 pm

Chekhov Library/Cultural Centre,
Strastnoi Bulvar 6 Moscow

"Recurring themes on contemporary Surrealism"

Lucio Giuliodori, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Aesthetics, Moscow State Pedagogical University, Faculty of Arts

The lecture aims to explore some of the main concepts exposed by surrealist painters. Being the only Avantgarde still alive, Surrealism is nowadays a very eclectic and active movement which still hasn't found what is (was) looking for: the unconscious. This perennial search is what makes it deeply interesting, philosophically and socially. The lecture will then go through the essential entanglement between psychoanalysis and art featuring the ontological matrix of this kind of art: an ineluctable thirst of inner knowledge.

October 14, 7 pm

Chekhov Library/Cultural Centre,
Strastnoi Bulvar 6 Moscow

'The Getting of Wisdom'

David Wansbrough

September 30, 7 pm

Chekhov Library/Cultural Centre,
Strastnoi Bulvar 6 Moscow

'The Art Of Stand Up Comedy'

Steven Foreman

Steven Foreman came to Russia 7 years ago. One of his main activities here is hosting the Moscow Comedy Bar once a week on the Arbat. He, and Russian guest comedians he introduces do Stand Up Comedy routines, a fairly new genre in Russia, in English.

How is Brit humour accepted here? How does Russian humour work from the point of view of a foreigner? What is the difference between British humour and Russian humour? Is humour as important or less important here? How do you make Russians laugh? How do you survive on a stage with hard eyes demanding a laugh? These are all themes that Steven will hopefully talk about on the 30th.

September 16, 7 pm

Chekhov Library/Cultural Centre,
Strastnoi Bulvar 6 Moscow

'To Animals, We Are The Devil Incarnate'

James Hogan

James Hogan, a London-based animal welfare campaigner, will lecture on what William Ralph Inge might say about our treatment of animals in the 21st century if he were able to come back today and review how animals are faring in the world now, nearly 100 years since Dean Inge first spoke those words in 1920.

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