American Seasons in Russia: In late June, the U.S. will ramp up cultural exchanges with our Russian partners, highlighted by the upcoming "American Seasons in Russia." The name “American Seasons” is a tribute to Sergei Diaghilev and his efforts at the beginning of the last century to introduce Russian culture to Europe. Starting in 1906, Diaghilev spearheaded an endeavor to bring the best of Russian music, dance, and art to the European stage; a project he called “Russian Seasons” in Paris. “American Seasons” is designed to bring a similarly wide spectrum of cultural offerings to the Russian public in order to introduce them to contemporary artists from the United States. Taking its cue from Diaghilev’s love of ballet, “American Seasons” starts with a tour by a troupe whose name has become synonymous with contemporary American dance: the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Visual artists’ works will also be featured in exhibitions such as the upcoming Annie Leibovitz exhibit at the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts. “American Seasons” will conclude with performances by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in Moscow and St. Petersburg next April. Get more detail on Embassy Moscow’s website
June 6-18: Science and Technology Cooperation: Two scientist-entrepreneurs and two technology transfer professionals from Russia will travel to Boston to showcase their expertise and receive commercialization training as part of their participation in a travel grant program sponsored by the Civilian Research and Development Foundation’s (CRDF) Basic Research and Higher Education (BRHE) Innovation program.
June 14-18: Energy Working Group: Following the signing of a Smart-Grid Partnership MOU between the cities of San Diego and Belgorod, a delegation from the city of San Diego and the San Diego Gas & Electric utility company will travel to Russia. The delegation will meet with officials from the city of Belgorod and from the Russian Interregional Distribution Grid Company (MRSK) to develop a joint plan for implementing initial smart-grid projects.
June 18-19: Continuing the longstanding tradition of U.S.-Russia hockey competition, the Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations (EMERCOM) will play the Fire Department of New York City (FDNY) in a game of hockey, followed by the Legends of the USSR team challenging a team of FDNY and NHL alumni. The event commemorates the events of 9/11 and proceeds will be donated to charity.
June 21-22: A Russian delegation headed by Russian Security Council Deputy Secretary Klimashin and General Sherstyuk will visit Washington, DC for consultations on cybersecurity. This meeting is a follow-up from a U.S. delegation of cybersecurity experts meetings in Moscow in February.
June 22: Science and Technology Cooperation: CRDF President and CEO Cathy Campbell and Minister of Education and Science Andrey Fursenko will sign an MOU in Moscow on science and technology cooperation. They will also discuss the development of potential projects, including scientist and academic exchanges programs and joint research projects.
June 23: Counternarcotics Working Group: Gil Kerlikowske, the Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) will travel to New York to join the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime Director Yuri Fedotov and the Russian Federal Drug Control Service Director Victor Ivanov to release the UN’s World Drug Report. Kerlikowske and Ivanov will conduct a bilateral meeting following the release event, in which they will discuss the recent successes in U.S.-Russia counternarcotics cooperation and hold a dialogue on future Working Group activity.
June 25-July 1: Business Development and Economic Relations Working Group: Originally scheduled forApril, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) will host a delegation of Russian Ministry of Economic Development (MED) officials, mayors, and NGO representatives in Pittsburgh and Detroit. The delegation will meet with local officials, federal government representatives, NGOs, and the business community to exchange expertise on industrial restructuring, local economic development, and small business.
June 27-July 1: Emergency Situations Working Group: The Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations (EMERCOM) is inviting an international team of experts to observe and assess a live field exercise and disaster simulation as it seeks to meet the highest standards of the United Nation’s International Search and Rescue Advisory Group (INSARAG). With the INSARAG classification, Russia will be better able to coordinate disaster assistance with other responders, and will be recognized by recipient countries as having state-of-the-art procedures and practices. Representatives from the United States Agency for International Development’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA) will participate as observers, and a member of L.A. County’s Search and Rescue team will serve as one of the classifiers. Learn more about INSARAG
June 27-July 15: Science and Technology Cooperation: The 10th annual English Language Intensive Training for Young Scientists (ELIT) will take place in St. Petersburg. The ELIT program is designed to improve the ability of young Russian scientists to interact with their international colleagues by improving their English language skills. Participants are undergraduate and post-graduate students from the 20 university-based Research and Education Centers of CRDF Global's Basic Research and Higher Education (BRHE) Program.
July 5-July19: Education, Culture, Sports, and Media Working Group: Partnering with USA Basketball, the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) will send 20 American boys and girls, ages 14-17, and 4 coaches to Moscow and St. Petersburg for a two-week sports exchange program. This program is the fifth sports exchange under the Commission, and is the follow-on exchange to the May 2010 basketball program that brought 20 Russian youth and their coaches to the Washington, DC area.
July 6-8: Business Development and Economic Relations Working Group: The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) and the Department of Commerce will host a delegation from the Russian government to exchange expertise on standards issues and technical regulations, particularly in the construction, chemistry, and food industries. The delegation, led by the Russian Ministry of Industry and Trade, will also hold consultations at the National Institute of Standards and will meet U.S. private sector industry representatives.
July 12-22: Environment Working Group: Daniel Reifsnyder, the State Department’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Oceans, Environment, and Science Bureau will lead an environmental delegation to Russia. In conjunction with the Russian Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MNRE), he will attend the Russian-American Pacific Partnership (RAPP) taking place in Kamchatka. He will also travel to Vladivostok and Khabarovsk to advance ongoing U.S. – Russia environmental cooperation in the Russian Far East.
On May 26, President Obama and President Medvedev met on the margins of the G-8 meeting in Deauville, France. The Presidents issued joint statements on priority bilateral issues, including cooperation on counterterrorism and aviation security, liberalization of the visa regime, and our commitment to enhanced ties between native populations in the Bering Strait region. Commission Coordinators Secretary Clinton and Foreign Minister Lavrov issued a joint report on the BPC’s activity and announced new Commission Working Groups on Innovation and Rule of Law. The Presidents also took the opportunity to highlight recent Commission achievements, including Memoranda of Understanding on joint polio eradication efforts, biomedical research and HIV/AIDS cooperation, and the Smart-Grid Partnership Program between Belgorod and San Diego. See the BPC’s webpage dedicated to the Deauville meeting.
June 6-7: Civil Society Working Group: On June 7, 2011, Michael McFaul, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Russia and Eurasia for the National Security Staff, and Vladislav Surkov, First Deputy Head of the Russian Presidential Administration, hosted the third plenary session of the Civil Society Working Group in Washington D.C. The co-chairs and both government and NGO members of the four Sub-Working Groups (Prison Reform, Migration, Child Protection, and Anti-Corruption) reported on progress in their discussions and cooperation over the past year, and had the opportunity to discuss their issues with and seek input from the Working Group as a whole. Michael Posner, the State Department’s Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL) participated in the meetings and offered reflections on the intersection of national security and human rights in remarks and discussion over lunch. The Working Group meeting concluded with a reception hosted by Assistant Secretary Posner, during which representatives from the NGO and think tank community beyond the Working Group discussed the day’s events with Working Group members.
Prior to the Working Group plenary session, the Sub-Working Groups conducted site visits and meetings on June 6th as described below.
Prison Reform Sub-Group: Building off a successful prison visit the previous week (described below) sub-group co-chairs Mary Mitchell, Deputy Assistant Attorney General with the Department of Justice, and Vladislav Tsaturov, Deputy Director of the Russian Federal Corrections Service, led their sub-group on a visit to the Montgomery County Correctional Facility (MCCF), a pre-trial and short sentence detention center. The delegation was hosted by MCCF director Arthur Wallenstein and Warden Robert Green, who led them on a tour of the facility and led a frank dialogue on prisoner healthcare, cell size, recreation, and inmate violence, among other topics. Main topics of interest included: prison oversight and transparency, where participants stressed the role of NGOs in prison reform and monitoring; classification of prisoners, where prisoners’ health concerns are balanced with the need for security; the development of universal prison standards; and re-integrating prisoners back into society, a problem faced by Russians and Americans alike. Emphasizing the importance of legislation in prison oversight, the U.S. participants explained the U.S. Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA) and the role it plays in U.S. prisons. The meeting concluded with the delegation agreeing that each system had its strengths and weaknesses and further cooperation will be of interest to both sides. During the June 7th plenary session, the sub-group proposed broadening participation to include more U.S. and Russian NGOs engaged in prison reform issues.
Child Protection Sub-Group: Group co-chairs Andrew Oosterbaan of the Department of Justice’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, and Pavel Astakhov, Russian Presidential Ombudsman on Children’s Rights led the sub-group on a site visit to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). Russian and American NGOs were joined by various government representatives on a tour of NCMEC led by the organization’s President, Ernie Allen, who detailed the process and technology used to report, track, and detain suspected offenders. Follow-on discussions focused on how NGOs can work more effectively with law enforcement agencies in the area of child protection, how corporate support can enhance missing persons and awareness campaigns, and how NGOs can work with internet providers and websites to report and remove illegal content. Underscoring the success of cooperation in the area, Mr. Oosterbaan cited an exchange between U.S. and Russian forensic professionals of cutting edge computer software which has been used to obtain thousands of sex offender convictions in the United States. The meeting concluded with an NGO members’ discussion of topics for the Child Protection Forum to be held in Ulan Ude, Russia, in August.
Pavel Astakhov (left) at NCMEC with Ernie Allen (middle) and Andrew Oosterbaan (right). (Photo Credit: Russian Ombudsman on Children’s Rights)
Migration Sub-Group: Group co-chairs Ambassador Luis CdeBaca of the State Department’s Office on Trafficking in Persons, and Yekaterina Yegorova, Deputy Director of the Russian Federal Migration Service, led the group’s morning discussions regarding ongoing sub-group work and future joint projects at the Migration Policy Institute. The group then visited Mount Vernon, Virginia, where they engaged in a dialogue on forced labor in U.S. history, and concluded the day with a visit to the Arlington Asylum Office to observe the U.S. asylum application and interview process. Discussion focused on migration’s role in economic policy, working with employers to reduce illegal migration and labor trafficking, and working with community and non-governmental organizations to combat xenophobia. U.S. and Russian participants also exchanged expertise and ideas for creating policy for recruiting highly skilled migrants, as well as outreach campaigns to ensure migrants know their full range of rights in their receiving country.
Anti-Corruption Sub-Group: Group co-chairs Brooke Darby, Deputy Assistant Secretary for the State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, and Yuriy Lyubimov, Deputy Minister of Justice, led a meeting of their sub-group at the Department of State. Participants discussed best practices to counter corporate corruption and how public-private partnerships can be used to increase accountability. Participants stressed the importance of U.S. and Russian civil society cooperation outside of government channels as a means to create transparency and build and trust between American and Russian companies. In concluding the meeting, U.S. and Russian participants agreed that the agenda moving forward should include information technology transparency, whistleblower protection, transparency in procurement, and judicial accountability.
Civil Society Working Group: As part of the Prison Reform Sub-Group, a delegation of Russian human rights activists from Russia's public monitoring committee and NGOs active in prison reform, including several attorneys, visited Washington, DC, from May 23 to 27 to exchange expertise on successful strategies to improve conditions in pretrial detention and prison facilities. The group met with U.S. NGOs on effective advocacy for prisoners' rights, access to legal counsel, and the protection of vulnerable groups, such as juveniles, immigrants, and prisoners with mental and physical disabilities. The group visited the Baltimore City Detention Center to learn how a large pre-trial facility is managed in the U.S. They also met with Department of Justice Civil Rights Division prosecutors who enforce the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act, which is aimed at protecting the constitutional and federal statutory rights of persons confined in state and local detention and prison facilities. The group also interacted with U.S. Senate and House Committee representatives to learn about Congress’s advocacy role on detention and human rights issues.
St. Petersburg International Economic Forum: From June 16 to 18, St. Petersburg hosted the 2011 International Economic Forum, attended by government and business leaders from around the world. The U.S. was represented by Ambassador Miriam Sapiro, Deputy U.S. Trade Representative. Lorraine Harrington, the State Department’s Special Representative for Business and Commercial Affairs also attended.
Energy Working Group: On June 9, 2011 U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu and Russian Minister of Energy Sergey Shmatko co-chaired the second plenary meeting of the Energy Working Group in Moscow. The co-chairs agreed to support continued cooperation for several projects in joint research and large-scale energy efficiency, including a project on biofuel research and a Smart-Grid sister city pilot project between Belgorod and San Diego. Secretary Chu and Minister Shmatko noted the success of the working group and discussed potential ways to expand cooperation. Sub-groups on energy efficiency, energy security, and clean energy technology each reported on the progress of implementing joint activities. Read the Smart-Grid MOU between San Diego and Belgorod on the BPC Deauville Page.
Defense Relations Working Group:
Health Working Group:
Emergency Situations Working Group:
Business Development and Economic Relations Working Group:
Science and Technology Cooperation:
Education, Culture, Sports, and Media Working Group: As the summer comes into full swing and the "American Seasons in Russia" approaches, U.S.-Russia cultural exchanges are at an all time high. Some highlights are: