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English Interpreter for Mikhail Gorbachev
The principal English interpreter for Mikhail Gorbachev and Soviet foreign minister Eduard Shevardnadze, Pavel Palazchenko participated in all US-Soviet ministerial and summit meetings and talks leading to the end of the Cold War. Read More >
His memoir My Years with Gorbachev and Shevardnadze: The Memoir of a Soviet Interpreter, published by Penn State Press in 1996 and is still in print, chronicles his time as the right-hand man of one of the most powerful men of the 20th century from 1985 to 1991.
Since 1992, he has served as head of international and media relations for the International Foundation Socioeconomic and Political Studies, a non-governmental organization more commonly known as The Gorbachev Foundation. He also serves as an analyst, spokesperson, interpreter and translator, as well as the president of the Russian Translation Company.
The author of multiple books on the value of language, he published Learn by Comparing: An Unsystematic Dictionary of English Compared to Russian in 1999, in which he addresses trends in the political, diplomatic, and journalistic usage of the English language. His second book in the triad, My Unsystematic Dictionary: Russian-English, English-Russian, was published in 2001 and provides information, insight, and cultural observations on the linguistic twists and turns that lie between the English and Russian languages. Finally, Unsystematic Dictionary – 2005, was published that titular year and expands upon the previous book.
Since 1987, Palazchenko has consistently published articles on international politics, US-Russian relations, arms control, and related topics in multiple Russian and international newspapers.
Today, he continues to do freelance interpretation work at international conferences and for various clients including the United Nations, the Council of Europe, the Marshall Center, the Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the Renaissance Capital.
Born on March 17, 1949, in Monino (an urban locality of Russia’s Moscow region), Pavel Palazchenko graduated from the Maurice Thorez Institute of Foreign Languages in 1972 and the United Nations Language Training Course at the same institute in 1973.
Based on personal knowledge of and involvement in the process of ending the Cold War, Palazhchenko describes the interaction of US and Soviet leaders as they moved from confrontation to trust and cooperation. He analyzes the current state of US-Russian relations and tries to identify what went wrong and why, and what could be done to mend the relationship that remains crucial to a better world order.
The two leaders could not be more different in their background and ideology. They had a rocky start as the Cold War was reaching its peak. Nevertheless, by working patiently together they were able to overcome the legacy of decades of mistrust and become partners in ending the Cold War and starting the process of reducing the huge stockpiles of nuclear weapons. What are the lessons to be learned from that unique relationship? Can Russia and the United States benefit today from the experience gained during those years of unprecedented transition? The talk, which includes a slide show of US-Soviet summits, all of which Palazhchenko attended, aims at clarifying those questions.
Russia and the United States have not been able to build on the remarkable achievement of working together to end the Cold War. The potential of their relationship to benefit both nations as well as world peace has not been realized. What happened? Should one side be blamed for the multiple problems that have recently grown worse? Is there still a chance to avoid a new Cold War? Those are challenging questions that need to be addressed urgently. Though Palazhchenko does not have all the answers, his perspective as someone who was closely involved in changing the nature of US-Soviet relations in the 1980s could help in a search for solutions.
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