Do you sometimes have the feeling, that although you know and have met people from all over the world, you miss really understanding how they live? To broaden the international aspects of the IAA and to bring understanding among the different continents, every issue the Mār Šiprim Newsletter will pay special attention to one specific location where the Near-East is being studied. The insight will be achieved by conducting an interview with both a student and a scholar from that specific country. For our first issue we have chosen a country which, though great in size and a major contributor to knowledge, remains somewhat incomprehensible to most of us: Russia. We are guided in unravelling its mystery by Ksenia Somova, a student at St. Petersburg and by Dr. Leonid Kogan of the Russian State Humanitarian University.