Masha Gessen - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Masha GessenBornResidenceNationalityOccupation

Masha Gessen at the 6 Moscow International Book Festival, 2011

(1967-01-13) 13 January 1967 (age 47)Moscow, Soviet Union
New York City, USA[1]
Russian, American
Journalist, author

Maria Alexandrovna Gessen, better known as Masha Gessen (born 13 January 1967), is a Russian and American journalist and author.

Early life[edit]

Gessen was born into an Ashkenazi Jewish family in Moscow. In 1981 Gessen moved with her family to the United States.[2] She returned in 1991 to Moscow.[2] She holds both Russian and US citizenship. Her brothers are Keith Gessen, Daniel Gessen and Philip Gessen.[citation needed]


Gessen is openly gay and an activist for the rights of sexual minorities. She served as a member of the board of directors for the Moscow LGBT rights organization "Triangle" from 1993 to 1998.[3]

She has written on LGBT rights and Russian affairs. She writes in both Russian and English, and has contributed to The New Republic, New Statesman, Granta, Slate and Vanity Fair, and US News & World Report.

Her 2012 book The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin is a political biography of Vladimir Putin, whom she describes as a dictator.[4]

Gessen covered Pussy Riot and their punk rock protest against Putin in her 2014 book Words Will Break Cement: The Passion of Pussy Riot. [5]

She was dismissed from her position as the chief editor of Russia's oldest magazine, Vokrug Sveta on 1 September 2012 after she refused to send a reporter to cover a Russian Geographic Society event featuring President Putin, claiming that it had become a mouthpiece of Putin's government.[6][7]

In September 2012, Gessen was appointed as director of the Russian Service for Radio Liberty, a US government funded broadcaster based in Prague.[8][9] Shortly after her appointment was announced and a few days after Gessen met with Russian President Vladimir Putin, more than 40 members of Radio Liberty's staff were fired. Radio Liberty also lost its Russian broadcasting license several weeks after Gessen took over. Gessen's role in both of these events is unclear but has caused controversy.[9]

In December 2013 she moved to New York to avoid legislation in Russia that bans "homosexual propaganda".[10][11]

On 31 March 2014, Gessen wrote an op-ed piece in the Washington Post on Putin's speech to the Duma[12] in which she expressed concern that "Russia is remaking itself as the leader of the anti-Western world".[13]

Personal life[edit]

Gessen has two children: a boy Vova and a girl Yolka; both are US citizens. Vova was born in 1997 in Russia and was adopted by her from an orphanage in Kaliningrad. Yolka was born to her in the US in 2001. In 2004 she was married in the US to Svetlana Generalova, a Russian citizen who was also involved in the LGBT movement in Moscow.[3][14] She is however opposed to the existence of marriage at all, and advocates for the fundamental change of the institution of marriage, including her three children being legally able to have five parents. [15]


See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ abJoanna Smith Rakoff. Talking with Masha Gessen. Newsday, 2 January 2005.
  3. ^ abBiography of Maria Hessen.(Russian)
  4. ^Stephen Romei (18 May 2012). "Putin the elected dictator is doomed, biographer claims". The Australian. Retrieved 18 May 2012. 
  5. ^National Public Radio (United States). 8 January 2014 .  |title= The "Pussy Riot" Arrests, and the Crackdown That Followed
  6. ^Amos, Howard (10 September 2012). "Vladimir Putin,Animals (News),Endangered species (Environment),Wildlife (Environment),World news,Conservation (Environment),Environment,Russia (News),Europe (News),Birds (environment)". The Guardian (London). 
  7. ^Gessen, Masha (10 September 2012). "Flying Putin, Fired Editor". The New York Times. 
  8. ^"Radio Liberty Hires Gessen". The Moscow Times. 17 September 2012. Retrieved 5 January 2013. 
  9. ^ abCohen, Ariel; Helle Dale (December 13, 2012). "How to Save Radio Liberty". The Heritage Foundation. Retrieved 5 January 2013. 
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^ "Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly" 12 Dec 2013
  13. ^ "Russia is remaking itself as the leader of the anti-Western world" (Gessen) 31 Mar 2014
  14. ^Семья Генераловых (участники ОСВВП), «Эхо Москвы», 09.06.2002.(Russian)
  15. ^[1]

External links[edit]

NameGessen, Masha
Alternative names
Short descriptionAmerican journalist
Date of birth13 January 1967
Place of birthMoscow, Soviet Union
Date of death
Place of death