Director, Russia Matters Project; Assistant Director, U.S.-Russia Initiative to Prevent Nuclear Terrorism, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs
Simon Saradzhyan is the founding director of the Russia Matters Project at Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. Mr. Saradzhyan also helps advance the center’s U.S.-Russia Initiative to Prevent Nuclear Terrorism. His research interests include international arms control, counterterrorism, and foreign, defense, and security policies of Russia and other post-Soviet states and their relations with great powers.
Prior to joining the Belfer Center in 2008 as a full-time research fellow, Saradzhyan had worked as a researcher, consultant and journalist in Russia for 15 years.
As a reporter, Saradzhyan covered a number of milestone security events in Russia on the ground, including the October 1993 coup and the 1999 apartment bombings in Moscow. As an editor at The Moscow Times, he led coverage of dramatic events in Russia such as the Dubrovka and Beslan hostage-taking crises. He also worked as Moscow correspondent for Defense News and Space News. He has contributed scores of news articles to other publications, ranging from the Times of London to Nezavisimoye Voyennoye Obozrenie, earning a certificate of merit from the commander of the Russian Strategic Missile Forces for his coverage of Russia's military affairs.
While in Russia, Saradzhyan also served as a senior fellow at the East West Institute and worked as a consultant for the United Nations and World Bank. As a researcher, he was the first in Russia to catalogue the threat of nuclear and radioactive terrorism posed by the North Caucasus-based terrorist groups and outline recommendations on how to reduce this threat in a paper published at the Belfer Center in 2002. He also initiated the first ever joint threat assessment of nuclear terrorism by U.S. and Russian experts published by the Belfer Center in 2011.
Saradzhyan is the author of a number of scholarly papers, articles, and book chapters on counterterrorism and arms control, including "Russia: Grasping Reality of Nuclear Terror," published in the Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science; "Russia's System to Combat Terrorism and Its Application in Chechnya," published in the “National Counter-Terrorism Strategies” of NATO Security through Science Series; "Russia's Non-strategic Nuclear Weapons in Their Current Configuration and Posture: A Strategic Asset or Liability?" and "Russia's Support for Zero: Tactical Move or Long-term Commitment?" published by the Belfer Center.
In his capacity as an expert at the Belfer Center on post-Soviet space, Saradzhyan has published op-eds in Foreign Affairs, Financial Times, Washington Post, Boston Globe, and The National Interest as well as in leading Russian and Armenian journals. He has appeared on BBC, CBS, NPR, and Al Jazeera as well as on Russian radio and television stations to comment on Russia’s foreign policy, the conflict in Ukraine and other issues.
Saradzhyan has testified in person and via video-link at hearings on nuclear terrorism and violent extremism at hearings held at the U.S. House of Representatives and Canadian Senate.
Saradzhyan has also presented his research at various international conferences, including the European Union Institute for Security Studies' annual conference and the EastWest Institute's annual Worldwide Security Conference. He co-founded and served as the first president of Harvard Club of Russia in 2004-2006. Saradzhyan earned a Masters in Public Administration at the John F. Kennedy School of Government in 2002.