Alexei VASILIEV


Alexey Vasiliev is the Director of the Institute for African Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) (1992-).
Fellow of the RAS (Academician , full member of RAS) (2011-).
Special representative of the President of the Russian Federation for contacts with the leaders of African states (2006-2011).
Member of the International Security Section of the Security Council of the Russian Federation.
Professor (1991-).
Editor-in-chief of Asia and Africa Today journal (1998-).
Chairman of the RAS Scientific Council for the problems of economic, socio-political and cultural development of African countries.
Member of the Foreign Policy Council of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Honored science worker of the Russian Federation (1999).
Laureate of the Tarle Prize of the RAS (2003).
Recipient of state awards: the Orders of Honour and Friendship, various medals.

Over the five decades of academic, literary and journalistic work, A. Vasiliev has published 40 books, including revised editions and translations, and more than 900 articles in Russian and foreign academic journals, not counting several hundred interviews given to Russian and foreign TV and radio channels. He has been the chief editor of about 50 monographs, including the two-volume Encyclopedia of Africa. His works have been translated into English, German, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, Arabic, Farsi, Bulgarian, Danish, Hungarian, Latvian, Estonian, and Armenian.

A. Vasiliev has done research on a number of fundamental problems of social and political history of Arab countries in the modern and contemporary periods, as well as on problems of international life, the role of religion in politics, social changes in Middle Eastern countries, and the role of ethno-psychological factors in the social life of Arab countries.

He was the first in the Soviet Union/Russia to have studied the phenomenon of Wahhabism on the basis of the works of its founder, Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab.

His principal work is the fundamental History of Saudi Arabia, revised and expanded translations of which are available in Arabic and English. It is the first work to carry out research on the social, economic and political history of this country for the period of two and a half centuries on the basis of the widest range of currently available sources in Arabic, Turkish, English, French, Italian, German, and Russian, including materials from Russian and Soviet archives. The analysis of the evolution of the Arabian society during this period allowed to make a number of conclusions of international importance.

A. Vasiliev’s latest work – King Faisal of Saudi Arabia: Personality, Faith and Times – is devoted to the role of personality in the historical process, the significance of religion and the spiritual foundation in shaping the political course of the state. The book was also published in English and Arabic and is currently being translated into Chinese.

A. Vasiliev has also developed the theory of Islamic reformation in the period of the crisis of Arab-Ottoman feudalism, specific features of pre-capitalist Middle Eastern society, and the specific development of capitalism and market relations and evolution of the socio-political structure of Arab countries.

In collaboration with Vladimir Kukushkin and Alexander Tkachenko, he prepared a comparative analysis of the privatization process in Russia, Central Asia states and Arab countries.

A. Vasiliev has pioneered the analysis of a number of socio-economic problems of Africa, in particular the assessment of the nature of the African society as multidimensional, patron-client, and combining patriarchal and traditional elements with modern ones. (The monographs Africa: The Stepchild of Globalization and Africa and the Challenges of the XXI Century).

A. Vasiliev has made an important contribution to the study of the policy of the USSR/Russia in the Middle East, as well as of international relations in that region with due consideration of the oil factor. A special place among the works of A. Vasiliev is occupied by the monograph Russian policy in the Middle East: From Messianism to Pragmatism, which has been translated into Arabic and English, as well as the books Egypt and the Egyptians, The Bridge Across the Bosporus, The Persian Gulf in the Epicenter of the Storm, The Difficult Pass, The Roots of Tamarisk, in which scientific analysis is combined with journalistic presentation.

Among his first publicistic works is the book Rockets over the Lotus Flower. Vietnam during the War – an outcome of a two-year stay in Vietnam as a correspondent of the Pravda newspaper.

In recent years, many of his works have been dedicated to the revolutionary events in the Arab world, as well as the analysis of religious extremism and the historical roots of terrorism. Along with N. Petrov, he is the compiler and co-author of the book Recipes of the Arab Spring.

In addition to directing the Institute for African Studies, A. Vasiliev is engaged in a number of other academic and organizational activities. He oversees the work of the Centre for Civilisational and Regional Studies, directs the preparation of the series History of African Countries and Religions in Africa and of reference books for African countries, and serves as the chief editor of the periodicals Works and Scholarly Notes of the Institute for African Studies.

His professional knowledge is used in the Presidential Administration and the Government of the Russian Federation, in both houses of the Federal Assembly and the Russian Foreign Ministry. For a period of time A. Vasiliev worked part-time at the Foreign Policy Planning Department of the Foreign Ministry.

A. Vasiliev has established extensive international scientific contacts and business ties with foreign academic and political circles, where he enjoys the reputation of a respected historian, political scientist and experienced diplomat. He served as the special representative of the President of the Russian Federation for contacts with the leaders of African states in preparing G8 summits. He takes part in the work of various international scientific forums, including those sponsored by UNESCO and the Pugwash movement. He is often invited to lecture at universities of Russia, the US, the UK, Italy, France, Switzerland, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, and Oman. A. Vasiliev has command of Russian, English, Arabic and French.

A. Vasiliev was a scientific adviser of 12 young scholars, some of them from Arab and African countries, who earned their Ph.D.s at the Institute for African Studies.

A. Vasiliev was born in Leningrad (St. Petersburg) on April 26, 1939, in a family of a civil servant. In 1956 he enrolled in the USSR Ministry of Foreign Affairs' Moscow State Institute of International Relations. He also studied as a probationer at Cairo University (1960-1961). In 1962 he graduated from the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (Oriental Department) and was assigned a job of assistant political commentator at the editorial office of the Pravda newspaper. In 1967 he was sent to Vietnam as Pravda’s own war correspondent, traveled to guerrilla controlled zones in Laos. In 1969-1971 he continued to work at the newspaper in Moscow, occasionally leaving for assignments in foreign "hot spots".

In 1971-1975 A. Vasiliev was Pravda’s own correspondent in Ankara responsible for Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan and the countries of the Arabian Peninsula. He also traveled to Syria to provide coverage of the 1973 Arab-Israeli War. In 1975-1979 he was Pravda’s own correspondent in Cairo responsible for Egypt, Libya, Sudan, Ethiopia, and Yemen. In 1979-1983 he worked in Pravda’s central office as a columnist on international relations.

From his first days in the Pravda newspaper A. Vasiliev combined journalism and literary work with purely academic research. In 1966 he completed a post-graduate extra-mural program at the Institute of Oriental Studies and defended his thesis entitled Wahhabism and the First Saudi State in Arabia. In 1981 he defended his doctoral thesis entitled The Evolution of the Socio-Political Structure of Saudi Arabia in 1745-1973 at the same institute.

In 1983 A. Vasiliev was appointed Deputy Director of the Institute for African Studies of the USSR Academy of Sciences. In 1992 he was elected Director of the Institute and since then has been repeatedly re-elected to office.

Assistant Director of the Institute for African Studies - Svetlana POLUNINA
Tel.: (+7 495) 690-63-85
E-mail: dir@inafr.ru