First Laureate of the Valdai Club Award
List of speakers

Academician Vitaly Naumkin became the first laureate of the Valdai  Award for his work to reach the truce in Syria. The Award Ceremony was held within the framework of the XIV Annual Meeting of the Valdai Discussion Club in Sochi.

On Monday, October 16, the Valdai  Award Ceremony took place in Sochi. The award, established in 2016, is given for a significant contribution to understanding and explaining the changes taking place in world politics. Vitaly Naumkin, academic director of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, became the first laureate. He was awarded for his work to reach truce in Syria. According to the decision of the Valdai Club Academy, Academician Naumkin will receive funding equivalent to 10,000 euros for any scientific research chosen by him.

Opening the ceremony, Andrey Bystritskiy, Chairman of the Council of the Valdai Discussion Club, spoke about the club's achievements since the last meeting in October 2016. He reminded that all year long the Valdai Club organizes events of different scale and thematic direction, both off-site and in Moscow. The number of Valdai Club experts is constantly growing and, as the Executive Director of the Club Nadezhda Lavrentieva said, it was decided to reward especially active experts with a special "Valdai Badge of Honour". According to her, the mini-ceremony for the Valdai badges awards will be held annually. This year badges were presented to Peter Dutkevich, Anatoly Lieven, Timothy Colton, Anatoly Torkunov, Igor Ivanov, Dmitry Suslov, Toby Gati, Richard Sakwa, Alexander Rahr, Jan Charnogursky, Alexei Miller, Gabor Stier, Feng Shaolei, Hans-Joachim Spanger, Timofei Bordachev , Sheng Shiliang, Nobuo Shimotomai, Orietta Moscatelli, Leonid Grigoriev, Alexei Mukhin and Artem Malgin.

After the badges awarding ceremony, the big Valdai Award nominees were presented. In addition to Vitaly Naumkin, they were the British historian Dominic Lieven, author of numerous works on the history of the Russian Empire, and American researchers Timothy Colton and Samuel Charap who were nominated for the Prize for their book " Everyone Loses: The Ukraine Crisis and the Ruinous Contest for Post-Soviet Eurasia ", dedicated to the crisis in Ukraine.

Fyodor Lukyanov, Research Director of the Valdai Discussion Club, told the participants of the ceremony about the procedure for selecting award nominees. According to him, the Academy of the Club, which was formed last year, was engaged in selecting of works - these could be scientific publications, series of public speeches, research or educational projects on topical issues of global development and international relations. The Academy includes thirty scientists, closely associated with the Valdai Discussion Club: they take an active part in expert discussions, are the authors of analytical articles and scientific materials of the Club. In total, 18 applications were submitted for the Award this year. Having examined them, the Valdai "Academicians" compiled a short list of the three works mentioned above.

According to Lukyanov, the Valdai Club Award is intended to support the serious researches that are necessary to understand the processes taking place in the world. "The need for such an understanding has multiplied because of the transformation of politics into a farce," he said. In a situation, when Russian hackers are accused of directing Pokemons to undermine the American democracy, as CNN reported, "it is our duty to support serious researchers," the Club's Research Director emphasized.

Following the results of the secret ballot, Fyodor Lukyanov announced the name of the laureate of the Valdai Club Award - 2017. Since Vitaly Naumkin was unable to attend the ceremony, the rector of MGIMO Anatoly Torkunov was entrusted to transfer the prize to the laureate.

"Vitaly Naumkin is organizing a big celebration this year, connected with the 200th anniversary of Russian Oriental studies," Torkunov said. - This is a huge event for all who are engaged with the East. I think that this award is very timely. Today the notion of Oriental studies and Vitaly Naumkin are absolutely inseparable. "

At the end of the ceremony, a special award was given to Richard Sakwa, British historian, member of the Valdai Club, who has been studying the political processes taking place in Russia for more than forty years.