On the initiative of Mehdi Sanaei, CEO of the Institute for Iran-Eurasia Studies and former Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the Russian Federation, and in partnership with St Petersburg University, a popular science portal dedicated to Iran has been created.

The aim of the project is to provide a Russian-speaking audience with information not only about Iranian history and culture, but also about contemporary Iranian policy, economy, and society. At the same time, the Russian language is seen in a broader perspective, as a means of communication not only for people living in Russia, but also around the world: from Central Asia and the Caucasus to Europe and the countries of North and Latin America. The portal focuses on the contemporary development of Iran and its cultural relations with the world.

As a partner on the Russian side, St Petersburg University joined the working group to create the encyclopaedia on 25 July 2021, when a memorandum of understanding was signed, with the participation of: Mehdi Sanaei, CEO of the Institute for Iran-Eurasia Studies; Nikolay Kropachev, Rector of St Petersburg University, Corresponding Member of Russian Academy of Sciences; Mahmoud Nili Ahmadabadi, Rector of the University of Tehran; and Russian and Iranian scientists.

St Petersburg University is represented by: Rector Nikolay Kropachev; Sergey Andryushin, Deputy Rector for International Affairs; Artem Andreev, Director of the Centre for the Study of the Islamic Republic of Iran of St Petersburg University; and Ekaterina Pischurnikova, Deputy Director of the Centre; Professor Mikhail Pelevin, Head of the Department of Persian Philology; Zarine Dzhandosova, Head of Department of Central Asia and Caucasus Studies; Olga Iastrebova, Associate Professor in the Department of Persian Philology; Ekaterina Pischurnikova, Assistant Lecturer in the Department of Persian Philology; and Sofia Useinova, Assistant Professor in the Department of Philosophy and Culture of the Orient. In addition to St Petersburg University staff, the project also involved experts in Iranian studies from leading Russian academic institutions: Alexey Khismatulin, Leading Research Associate in the Institute of Oriental Manuscripts of the Russian Academy of Sciences; Pavel Basharin, Head of the Department of Iranian Studies of the Russian State University for the Humanities; Lana Ravandi-Fadai, Head of the Oriental Cultural Centre at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences; and Anastasiia Smirnova, a doctoral student in the Institute of Oriental Manuscripts of the Russian Academy for Sciences.

’There is currently a need for a concise encyclopaedia on contemporary Iran for a Russian-speaking audience. This need is particularly evident given the growing interest in the study of Iran among the Russian-speaking population, as well as the growing attention of Iranians towards Russia, post-Soviet countries, and the Russian language,’ the project description says.

’Here are a few arguments for the exceptional importance of this project. Firstly, today there are not many examples of cooperation between two leading universities in Russia and Iran. Secondly, a mass reader often gets acquainted with information about Iran on resources not related to the country itself and may therefore encounter, for example, a biased point of view on this or that historical event. In this case, a bilateral committee of Russian and Iranian experts is involved in preparing the content,’ said Artem Andreev, Director of the Centre for the Study of the Islamic Republic of Iran of St Petersburg University.