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Nadezhda Azhgikhina is a longtime journalist, vice president of the European Federation of Journalists, and a member of the Russian Writers Union, Russian PEN, and the Gender Council of the International Federation of Journalists. She has coordinated international projects on  journalists’ rights and freedom of the media, as well as culture and gender, under the auspices of UNESCO, UN WOMEN, ILO, WHO, OSCE, and other institutions.

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Kommersant - Deputy Foreign Desk Editor

Elena graduated from Moscow State University in 2005 and later went on to get her Ph.D. in History. Elena is an alumna of PIR Center’s 2012 Summer School. From 2003-2006, she worked as a correspondent for the Germany desk and as a radio broadcast host for the Russian government’s radio broadcasting service Voice of Russia. She has also been a correspondent for the newspaper Moskauer Deutsche Zeitung, the wire service EurActiv, and the magazine Russian Newsweek. Elena’s professional interests include cyber security and diplomacy, arms control and disarmament, and Russian foreign policy in general. She speaks Russian, English and German. Member of the Sustainable Partnership with Russia (SuPR) Group since 2009. Member of the PIR Center EKS Working Group on International Information Security and Global Internet Governance since 2012. Member of the Executive Board of the PIR Center. Member of the Board of the Council on Foreign and Defense Relations (SVOP).

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PIR Center - Director of Russia and Nuclear Nonproliferation Program

Mr. Margoev is the director of the Russia and Nuclear Nonproliferation Program at PIR Center. His research interests include WMD nonproliferation and Russian foreign policy, U.S.-Russian dialogue on the Iranian nuclear program, Russian-Iranian cooperation, and Russian-Georgian relations. He speaks English and Persian.

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Independent Radio Producer

Charles Maynes is an independent radio producer/journalist based in Moscow. A frequent contributor to PRI/BBC’s The World, his work has also been featured on This American Life, 99% Invisible, Radiolab, and BBC Radio 4 among other programs and podcasts. Most recently, Charles co-produced Spacebridge, a documentary podcast series about the joint U.S.-U.S.S.R. citizen diplomacy movement for PRX/Radiotopia’s “Showcase” documentary series. He has been the recipient of a Third Coast International Audio Award (2009) and a Prix Marulic gold prize (2017) for audio documentary. He is originally from Washington DC.

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Joe Orrach Performance Project 

Joe Orrach is an actor, dancer, singer and solo artist who has performed with Joan Baez, Bob Hope, the Smothers Brothers, and the Cookie Monster. Joe grew up a Puerto Rican street kid who went into boxing, became the US Air Force Welterweight Champ, then gave up the fight game to become a tap dancer. He was discovered by Gregory Hines and went on to dance with all the greats. His show, “In My Corner,” tells his story at the Odyssey Theater in LA with tap shoes, boxing gloves, and a 3-piece jazz trio. Visit his website for more information. (Host: Tim Carpenter). Joe is also a teacher specializing in story telling as a creative means to sel-expression and self-discovery. Joe brings his story telling training to the Whom Do We Trust Conference once again in 2019.

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University of California, Berkeley - Alfa Fellowship

Melissa is a PhD student in political science studying comparative politics and international relations. Her research looks closely at trends of increasing authoritarianism and the impact shifts in authoritarian institutions is having upon society at the local and national level. This particular project seeks to examine the recent restructuring of Russia's Law on Education and establishment of presidential cadet schools as a by-product of that law. I hope to study the effect these institutions are having upon state-society relations in the Russian Federation and what their creation means in terms of changing policies within the central government. Prior to coming to Berkeley, Melissa held a junior consultancy position with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and was an Assistant Editor for journal Asian Security. She received a B.A. from Whittier College in International Relations and History and an M.Sc. from the University of Oxford in Russian and East European Studies.

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Interpreter & Debate Coach

Artem Samarsky started his career at Echo of Moscow in St. Petersburg radio station in 2010. After participating in several international programmes, including an internship at the Canadian Parliament, he became involved with St. Petersburg debating community, winning a number of major Russian debate tournaments. With a master's degree in legal interpreting and translation from St. Petersburg State University, Artem currently works as an interpreter, heads an English-speaking British Parliamentary Debate Club at the Herzen University and works as a debate coach.

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KSENIA SEMENOVA, CBDO at Cindicator. A journalist by training, Ksenia has more than 15 years of experience in PR and marketing, and almost seven years of business development expertise at media, edutech, and fintech companies. She leads a variety of business development initiatives at award-winning fintech company Cindicator. Ksenia is one of the core personalities responsible for collaborations and strategic partnerships on Cindicator’s predictive analytics platform and for its asset management entity. As a member of Cindicator Executive Committee, she plays a crucial role in strategic business planning and spreading Cindicator’s business around the globe.

Her expertise lies in the blockchain, Hybrid Intelligence (wisdom of the crowd + AI), innovative ecosystems and healthy communities with the power to change the world. Ksenia speaks at leading blockchain and AI events, including Money20/20 (US), BBVA Open Summit (Spain), AI and Data Science in Trading (US), Hong Kong Blockchain Week (HK), World Crypto Con (US) and CHAINERS Blockchain Week (South Korea). She is an avid business traveller and communicator, spreading ideas about a better future for the symbiosis of technology and human beings and methods for achieving citizen diplomacy around the globe.



Maria (Masha) Vorontsova established IFAW’s office in the Russian Federation in 1994, then initiated a campaign which led to a ban on the winter den hunt of hibernating bears. She helped expand the Orphan Bear Cub Rehabilitation Center, which has rescued, rehabilitated and released more than 170 orphan bear cubs back to wild.

Masha has also led campaigns resulting in the ban on the White Sea white coat harp seal hunt and the Sea of Okhotsk beluga hunt, as well as contributing to an increase in penalties for poaching of tigers and several other Red Book of Russia species.

As part of IFAW’s efforts to save the critically endangered western gray whale, Masha’s team helped ensure that off shore oil and gas pipelines were constructed around, rather than through, crucial feeding grounds near Sakhalin Island. They continue to work to prevent the construction of a third oil platform.

Masha has acted as advisor to Russian MPs, working to promote animal welfare on a political level. In Moscow she helped establish an animal clinic and shelter in cooperation with the organization Tess and local authorities, which provides spay/neuter surgery and works to address the homeless dog and cat situation in the city.

A recognized expert, Masha has been a member of the Russian Federation and IFAW delegations to international conferences including CITES, CMS and IWC. She is regularly interviewed by newspapers and magazines, and is filmed or consults on documentaries for major outlets such as Discovery and National Geographic.

Masha Vorontsova
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