On September 30, 2019, The Valdai Club Award Ceremony was held in Sochi. This year, John Joseph Mearsheimer, R. Wendell Harrison Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago, became a laureate. The Valdai Club Academy celebrated his book: “The Great Delusion: Liberal Dreams and International Realities.”
There were 18 candidates who participated in the 2019 Valdai Award competition, five of whom were shortlisted. These included John Joseph Mearsheimer as well as William Hill (nominated for last year’s book “No Place for Russia: European Security Institutions Since 1989”), Sergey Karaganov (for his work on the role of Greater Eurasia in the changing world), Richard Sakwa (for a series of analytical articles on Russian foreign policy) and Sheng Shiliang (for his contribution to the development of communication links and platforms in Greater Eurasia).
The Valdai Club Academy, which was created in 2016, nominated the candidates and decided upon the short list of applicants for the Award. Fyodor Lukyanov, Research Director of the Valdai Discussion Club, thanked everyone who had taken part in the work of the Academy over the previous three years, especially its first chairman, Timothy Colton, Morris and Anna Feldberg Professor of Government and Russian Studies and the Chair of the Department of Government at Harvard University. This year, as chairman of the Academy, he was replaced by Academician Vitaly Naumkin, Scientific Director of the Institute of Oriental Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences.
According to the charter, the winner of the Valdai Award was selected through a secret ballot by a jury comprised of members of the Valdai Club Academy Council. Introducing the laureate, Fyodor Lukyanov noted that all the candidates were worthy, but the jury simply could not resist the intellect of a man he described as a living classic of the school of political neorealism, who had participated in a number of Club events and left an indelible impression.
The Valdai Discussion Club has attracted experts from various countries. Many of them have made great contributions to its scientific work. Every year since the creation of the Award, the Club, in addition to the main prize, has also awarded a special prize.
Andrey Bystritskiy, Chairman of the Board of the Foundation for the Development and Support of the Valdai Discussion Club, recalled that since 2016, five experts have received the Award for their contributions to the development of the Club. This year, the special prize was awarded to Feng Shaolei, Director of the Institute of Russian and Eurasian Studies at East China Normal University.
As part of the gala evening, the Valdai badges awarding ceremony, which has already become a tradition, was held by Nadezhda Lavrentieva, Executive Director of the Valdai Club Foundation. She said that since October of last year, the Club has held 13 events around the world, where more than 1,500 experts have participated - and this is in addition to several dozen expert discussions and seminars at the Club’s home in Moscow. This year, Valdai Club commemorative badges were awarded to representatives of India, South Korea, the United States and Russia.This year, the Valdai Club Award was presented for the third time. In 2017, Academician Vitaly Naumkin received the award for his work to achieve a truce in Syria. Last year, British historian Dominic Lieven received the honour. He is the author of works on the history of the Russian Empire and was awarded for his scientific contribution to the study of Russian history. Thanks to the Valdai Award, Dominic Lieven is currently working on his new book, due to be published next year. The work will be devoted to the emperors who ruled in Eurasia from the beginning of recorded history until the twentieth century.