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Arkady Babchenko

2017 Speaker - Russian writer, journalist, and former soldier

Asia-Pacific and South Asia

Arkady Babchenko is a Russian writer, journalist, and former soldier. Babchenko first started writing to cope with his experiences fighting in the Chechen Wars as a young conscript. His memoir, “One Soldier’s War,” is an unglorified account of the desperation, apathy, and fear experienced by conscripts on the war front. After he was discharged in 2000, Babchenko became a journalist and a war reporter. A vehement critic of Russia’s military campaigns, he covered the 2008 Russian-Georgian war and denounced Russia’s war with Ukraine and involvement in Syria. He also co-founded the literary almanac, “Art of War,” a social project that provides a creative outlet for veterans seeking rehabilitation from the trauma of war through writing. Branded as a “national traitor” by the Russian government, Babchenko is one of the most influential bloggers in Russia and has received PEN and Frontline Club awards for his writing. In 2017 Babchenko faced an intimidation campaign for one of his Facebook posts and left Russia after his family received excessive threats. He continues to provide social commentary via his blog, Journalism Without Intermediaries.