This double panel is structured around the notion that Russia’s historical involvement in Iran is as longstanding and pervasive as it is understudied. Instinctive anti-colonialists, Iranians continue to be very much exercised about what they consider the wholly negative, devious and even destructive interference of the British in their country’s affairs over the past two centuries. Yet they are hardly aware of the fact that, throughout the nineteenth and twentieth century, the Russian presence in especially northern Iran was far more invasive and consequential than that of the British. Indeed, they would be startled to hear and unwilling to accept that, in some ways, the British presence may even have prevented a more drastic Russian role in Iran's affairs.
Each of the papers deals with an aspect of the intensive encounter between Russians and Iranians between the early Qajar period and the fall of the Pahlavi dynasty by considering the activities of Russians in Iran. Some of the papers concentrate on a single person, a diplomat, or an adviser and agent, using biographical information about the official in question as a prism to highlight a political or diplomatic facet of Russo-Iranian relations. Others take a more structural approach by analyzing an aspect of the military and economic entwinement between the two countries. Yet others take on Russia’s artistic legacy in Iran. Together they paint a rich tableau of the multifaceted role Russian nationals have played in modern Iranian history.