The Shalvi/Hyman Encyclopedia of Jewish Women

Features thousands of biographic and thematic essays on Jewish women around the world. Learn more

Masha Gessen

b. January 13, 1967

by JWA Staff
Our work to expand the Encyclopedia is ongoing. We are providing this brief biography for Masha Gessen until we are able to commission a full entry.

Journalist Masha Gessen at the 2011 Moscow International Book Festival. Photo courtesy of Rodrigo Fernandez via Wikimedia Commons.

Years of covering Putin’s regime in Russia made journalist Maria Alexandrovna “Masha” Gessen uniquely qualified to point out uncomfortable parallels between Putin’s leadership style and that of President Trump. Gessen immigrated to America in 1981, but returned to Russia in 1991 to work as a journalist. While in Moscow, she was often harassed as one of the few openly gay public figures, and served on the board of the LGBT rights group Triangle from 1993–1998. She rose to become editor in chief of Vokrug Sveta, a popular science journal, but was fired in 2012 after refusing to cover a Putin event she felt was propaganda. In 2013 she returned to America and wrote for The New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, Slate, and many others. She has written many books about the current political climate in Russia, including Dead Again: The Russian Intelligentsia After Communism (1997) Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin (2012), and Words Will Break Cement: The Passion of Pussy Riot (2014). She also wrote Ester and Ruzya, (2004), which examines the forces that shaped 20th-century Russia through the lives of her two grandmothers. After the 2016 election, Gessen published articles and gave interviews on how to recognize and resist attempts by the Trump administration to silence the press and the public, based on what she had seen in Putin’s Russia.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Masha Gessen." (Viewed on February 4, 2023) <>.


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