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; take the door between "Грамотный кофе" ("Literate coffee" cafe) and "Библиотека" ("Library"). 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

March 2, 7 pm

'The Role of an American Citizen Services Officer - You Can't Make this Stuff UP!'

Richard Hanrahan

"...I will discuss the role and responsibilities of the American Citizen Services unit at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow and how the Embassy assists U.S. citizens in Russia. I will also talk a little about my career with the U.S. Department of State."

Richard Hanrahan joined the U.S. Department of State in November of 2002. His first assignment was in New Delhi, India, where he was a Line Officer in the Immigrant Visa Unit, the Nonimmigrant Visa Unit, and the American Citizen Services Unit. Richard then served in Kyiv, Ukraine in the Nonimmigrant Visa Unit and in the Political Section. He has also served overseas in Baghdad, Nicosia, and Calgary. Richard served domestically in the Office of International Health and Biodefense.

Richard has been assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Moscow since July of 2016 and heads the American Citizen Services unit.

Prior to joining the Foreign Service Richard worked as a Biostatistician at Abbott Laboratories in North Chicago, Illinois. He is a graduate of the Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois and the University of Washington in Seattle, Washington.

Suggested donation: 200 roubles

February 9, 7 pm

'American Indians after Columbus'

Dr Oksana Danchevskaya

The lecture will give a short account of the most important events of American Indian history and American-Indian relations, and an overview of the major aspects of Native American cultures and religion. You will also hear the true stories of some of the long-ago romanticised American Indian figures and learn about the present-day life of the native population of North America - which, in most cases, differs from common stereotypes.

Dr. Oksana Danchevskaya, an Associate Professor of Moscow State Pedagogical University, specialises in American Indian Studies, Cultural Studies and Cross-Cultural Communication. She is the author of several books including 'American Indians in the U.S. Socio-Cultural Policies in the Late XXth - Early XXIst Centuries' and 'Native American Mythology in Modern American Literature', university courses along with 'History and Culture of North American Indians' and more.

Suggested donation: 200 roubles

Attention! This ELE lecture will take place NOT in the main hall of Chekhov cultural center as usual but in the Chekhov's library reading room on the 2nd floor (back to metro "Chekhovskaya", go under the arch and through the tunnel to the yard, pass Chekhov cultural center, go on ~20 meters, enter the brown metal door, go upstairs to the second floor).

January 26, 7 pm

'How to Be a Coffee Aficionado'

Daniel Brooks

This lecture will be about where coffee comes from, the differences between the kinds of coffee grown in various regions around the world, how coffee is roasted and ways to prepare coffee at home. Overall coffee consumption trends will also be described briefly. The outcome will be hopefully to show the audience how to become coffee aficionados.

Daniel Brooks has been in the coffee business since 1995. He was General Manager for Tchibo GmbH starting in 1995 and was also CEO with Tata Global Beverages. In addition, he held general manager roles with Supervalu and Nabisco and has done business in the CIS, Europe, US, Asia and Latin America.

Suggested donation: 200 roubles

Attention! This ELE lecture will take place NOT in the main hall of Chekhov cultural center as usual but in the Chekhov's library reading room on the 2nd floor (back to metro "Chekhovskaya", go under the arch and through the tunnel to the yard, pass Chekhov cultural center, go on ~20 meters, enter the brown metal door, go upstairs to the second floor).

January 12, 7 pm

"The Art of Revolution" - the creative contribution to Russia's improbable eruptions 1905-30.

Ross Hunter

Earlier ELE presentations have shown how revolutions can only happen when many well known necessary preconditions are in place. This presentation hypothesises that the events of the revolutionary period were both aided and made possible by insurgent and iconoclastic innovations in all the arts. Russia rushed from generally follower to astonishing leader - avant garde - in fine art, theatre, ballet, music and literature between (about) 1880 and (precisely) 1932.
This is an unproven theory, and is presented to ELE for your critical analysis.

Ross Hunter
Experienced schoolmaster. Serially failed retiree. A dozen years in Moscow on and off. Now helping to set up ESS Lefortovo, a new bilingual school. Amateur (art) historian; recreational cyclist, French wine/goats' cheese taster, magazine feature writer.

Suggested donation: 200 roubles

December 22, 7 pm

'20 years of financial education and financial experience: what's a Canadian CFA doing in Moscow?'

PLUS ELE's 20th Anniversary Party

Neil Withers

Neil Withers CFA is a Canadian who was sent here for a three year banking project in 1997 - and after the financial crisis in '98 decided it was much more interesting to stay. Toronto is very nice, but a bit boring; most of the big decisions have already been made there. Neil is also President of the CFA Association Russia, part of a global professional organization whose mission is to improve financial markets for the benefit of investors and society.

Neil will give a perspective (from a Canadian point of view) of what financial professional education is and how financial culture and capital markets have changed and are developing in Moscow.

After the lecture, ELE will be celebrating not only the fact that it still exists, Christmas and the New Year, but also the club's 20th Anniversary! You are very welcome to attend and bring your friends, but we ask if you come, can you can kindly contribute to the evening's proceedings by bringing a bottle of wine (better two) and some food (home cooked if possible). Moscow may never be the same!

Suggested donation: 200 roubles

December 15, 7 pm

'Legacy of Revolutions'

Doran Doeh

This wide ranging lecture will take a comparative look at the English, American, French and Russian revolutions, as we are now in the centenary year following the Russian revolution.

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.

Suggested donation: 200 roubles

December 8, 7 pm

'The International Space Station (ISS)'

Kevin Mellett

Fifteen different countries are represented in ISS Program. Its greatest accomplishment is as much a human achievement as it is a technological one - how best to plan, coordinate, and monitor the varied activities of the Program's many organizations.

Construction, assembly and operation of the International Space Station requires the support of facilities on the Earth managed by all of the international partner agencies and countries involved in the program. The ISS Program brings together international flight crews, multiple launch vehicles, globally distributed launch, operations, training, engineering, and development facilities; communications networks, and the international scientific research community.

Kevin entered the US Air Force after graduating College in 1982, worked on Space Launch Systems in California. He joined NASA at Kennedy Space Center in Florida in 1990, worked on Space Shuttle and International Space Station. He moved to Moscow in 2015.

Suggested donation: 200 roubles

December 1, 7 pm

'Global Health Challenges in the 21st Century.'

Nina Murray

Nina Murray will talk about global health challenges broadly, and how global health trends may affect individuals.

Nina Murray is responsible for supporting U.S.-Russia cooperation in public health and medical research. Prior to serving in Moscow, she worked in Toronto, Canada, and Vilnius, Lithuania. Before joining the diplomatic services, she worked as a grant writer for the Core for Applied Genomic and Ecology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. In this capacity, she helped secure more than one million dollars in NIH and USDA research funding for the Core's research projects. She is also a literary translator from the Russian and Ukrainian languages, and a poet.

Suggested donation: 200 roubles

November 17, 7 pm


John Rosser

This lively talk will centre around the newly branded term 'Impact Investing' and how (on a global basis) Impact Investing will be transforming societies, economies & businesses whilst possibly also solving some of the most deep-seated social and environmental challenges of our time, including climate change. John will be leading an interactive discussion of how Russia will be participating within the global community in this regard, and what this directly means for all of us.

John Rosser is one of the world's leading authorities on impact and sustainability investment issues, including smart cities, climate change and sea level rise. He has spoken at several leading conferences around the world during the past decade, including alongside former president Bill Clinton and, separately, on request of the government of Chile.

Suggested donation: 200 roubles

November 3, 7 pm


David Morley

David, who is a true Yorkshire man will be telling all about Britain's largest county.

All are welcome (even if you are from Lancashire).

Suggested donation: 200 roubles

October 20, 7 pm


Mike Gibson

What do you do when your oldest friend rings and says, 'I have 70,000 bottles of Lemonade in my basement - Help!'. The answer is invest. Joris had for many years fantasized about making Lemonade, but like most fantasies, Mike never expected it to actually happen. What ensued was a Lemonade journey of fizzy discovery, as Joris with help from Mike, and neither with any experience in the soda business created the WOSTOK brand, based on Soviet iconography. Next year they aim to sell 5 million bottles in 19 countries. As for that first 70,000 bottle - they were delivered by students using skate boards to every local bar, cafe and restaurant. That was Kreuzberg, Berlin, 2009. Since then Wostok has gone a long way, and what a ride it's been.

Michael has worked as a Creative Director in the Russian advertising and communication industry for over 20 years. He created many big 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.

Suggested donation: 200 roubles

October 6, 7 pm

'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

'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

'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

'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

'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

'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

'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

'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

'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

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

Bashir Arshadi

February 10, 7 pm

'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

'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

'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

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

'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

'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

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

"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

'The Getting of Wisdom'

David Wansbrough

September 30, 7 pm

'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

'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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