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Diplomacy in Action

U.S.-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission: January Newsletter on Upcoming and Recent BPC Events

Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs
January 27, 2012


Featured Successes

U.S. Deputy Secretary Burns Visits Moscow

Deputy Secretary Burns participated in meetings in Moscow, January 16-17, with Foreign Minister Lavrov, his Steering Group co-Chair Deputy Foreign Minister Ryabkov as well as officials from the Kremlin, the Prime Minister’s Office, and the Foreign Ministry. Deputy Secretary Burns reviewed the considerable progress in our bilateral relationship over the past three years and discussed how we might continue to expand on this success in 2012 and beyond.  (Steering Group)

Ruth Orkin Exhibit Opens in Moscow

A retrospective of pioneering U.S. photographer and filmmaker Ruth Orkin’s work opened at the Lumiere Brothers Gallery in Moscow in December as part of the “American Seasons in Russia” yearlong series7 of cultural programs. Orkin was an award-winning photojournalist and filmmaker, perhaps best remembered for her iconic 1951 photograph “An American Girl in Italy.” The exhibition includes 50 of her photographs, reflecting different periods of her work, and has attracted thousands of visitors so far. (Education, Culture, Sports, and Media Working Group, ECSM WG)

Date: 2012 Description: Former U.S. Ambassador Beyrle speaks to visitors at the Orkin exhibit opening in Moscow. © U.S. Embassy Moscow photo
Former U.S. Ambassador Beyrle speaks to visitors at the Orkin exhibit opening in Moscow. (Photo Credit: Embassy Moscow)

Culture and Society

Yekaterinburg Treated to Walter Rosenblum and “Manhattan NonStop” Photo Exhibits

Consulate General Yekaterinburg, working with the Yekaterinburg Museums of Fine Art and Modern Art, arranged for two photo exhibits during the 2011-2012 holiday season. The Walter Rosenblum exhibit—featuring Rosenblum’s best work of World War II as well as of the New York City area—was visited by an estimated 1,000 Russians daily. “Manhattan Nonstop,” which includes the work of Yekaterinburg’s best known photographer Eldar Ziganshin, was the first major opening of the New Year. (ECSM WG)

Date: 2012 Description: Visitors view the ''Manhattan Nonstop'' Photo Exhibit. © Consulate General Yekaterinburg photo
Visitors view the “Manhattan Nonstop” Photo Exhibit. (Photo Credit: Consulate General Yekaterinburg)

American Shelves Open in the Polar North

The BPC funded a grant to build “American Shelves” in four widely used libraries in the polar north. Each packet of books supports ESL teachers through a common set of activities. Consulate General Yekaterinburg coordinated the opening with a traveling photo exhibit sponsored by the “American Seasons in Russia.” To complement local efforts, Consulate General Yekaterinburg purchased new Kindle accounts complete with thousands of free English language e-books. The e-library program will begin early next year in a coordinated campaign with the “American Shelves” sponsors. (ECSM WG)

Date: 2012 Description: Opening Ceremony of ''American Shelves.'' © Consulate General Yekaterinburg photo
Opening Ceremony of “American Shelves.” (Photo Credit: Consulate General Yekaterinburg)

Young Diplomat’s Day in Yekaterinburg

The U.S. Consulate General in Yekaterinburg invited international relations students from Ufa, Chelyabinsk, and Perm in December to participate in a two-day program designed to turn high achieving students into honorary American diplomats. The popular program included a lunch with Consul General Mike Reinert and one-on-one meetings with U.S. diplomats. Participants were briefed on the BPC and charged with supporting U.S.-Russian relations by sharing their experiences with peers and friends at home. A television crew from South Urals State University accompanied the students and broadcasted field reports back to Chelyabinsk. (ECSM WG)

Date: 12/2011 Description: Consulate General Mike Reinert discusses the Bilateral Presidential Commission. © Consulate General Yekaterinburg photo
CG Mike Reinert discusses the BPC. (Photo Credit: Consulate General Yekaterinburg)


Russian Federal Customs Service Official Meets with Second Line of Defense Program

On December 12, 2011, First Deputy Head of the Russian Federal Customs Service (FCS) Vladimir Malinin traveled to the U.S. for meetings with representatives of the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Second Line of Defense (SLD) program. The SLD and FCS recently concluded a joint project that equipped all 383 FCS border crossings with radiation detection equipment. Malinin also visited Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico to meet with technical representatives as well as view the radiation portal monitor test-bed located there. (Nuclear Energy and Nuclear Security WG)

English-language Version of Administrative Arrangement to the 123 Agreement Signed

Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman and Rosatom Director General Sergei Kiriyenko held the third annual plenary session of the Nuclear Energy and Nuclear Security Working Group via teleconference. In the course of the event, the two signed the English-language version of the Administrative Arrangement to the 123 Agreement and approved the Fourth Action Plan outlining proposed activities of the sub-groups for the next year. (Nuclear Energy and Nuclear Security WG)

Nuclear Protective Training Center Opens in Gorelovo, Russia

Together with a Department of Energy (DOE) delegation, St. Petersburg Consul General Bruce Turner took part in the official commissioning ceremony of the Russian Interior Ministry Internal Troops (MVD IT) training center located in Gorelovo, Leningrad Oblast. The January 16 opening of the Gorelovo training center is a result of the successful cooperation of DOE, Rosatom, and MVD IT. The center trains protective force personnel responsible for security at nuclear sites in Russia. (Nuclear Energy and Nuclear Security WG)

Commerce, Energy, and Agriculture

Russian Trade Mission Travels to Austin, Texas and San Diego, California

A Russian delegation composed of owners of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), conducted a December 5-10, 2011 trade mission sponsored and organized by the DOE. During the visit, Russian companies had a chance to meet with their counterparts involved in green building construction, equipment manufacturing, waste treatment, alternative energy production, and innovative smart grid developments. DOE and the U.S. Foreign Commercial Service are planning a reciprocal trade mission of U.S. businesses to Russia in summer 2012. (Energy WG)

Date: 12/05/2011 Description: The Russian small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) trade mission. © U.S. Embassy Moscow photo
The Russian SME trade mission. (Photo Credit: U.S. Embassy Moscow)

Customs Regulations Best Practices Seminar

On December 15-16, 2011, the Russian Trade Representative in Washington, DC, held a best practices seminar for a visiting delegation of Russian customs experts, with the support of the Business Development and Economic Relations Working Group. The seminar included officials from the U.S. Court of International Trade, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and the U.S. Department of Justice; those experts shared their experiences in regulating and administering U.S. customs laws and regulations. (Business Development and Economic Relations WG)

Russian Senators Meets U.S. Department of Agriculture Staff

On December 15, 2011, Foreign Agricultural Service Acting Administrator and BPC Agriculture Working Group Coordinator Suzanne Heinen met with Russian Senators Vladimir Plotnikov, Aleksey Chernyshev, and Bato-Zhargal Zhambalnimbuev in Washington, DC. Discussion centered on the U.S.-Russia Business Council Forum on Russian Agribusiness in Omaha, Nebraska, which the Senators had attended earlier in the month as well as the possibilities for further agricultural cooperation between the two countries, such as farmer-to-farmer exchanges and food security collaboration. (Agriculture WG)

Health and Sciences

Nanotechnology Experts Exchange Views Digitally

Nanotechnology experts focused on key projects such as the proposed Joint Center for Nano-Bioscience, a project on synthetic diamonds and project on biscrolled catalytic yarn textiles (for highly efficient, yet inexpensive, thermal energy harvesting applications) at a December digital video conference. The Nanotechnology Sub-Working Group further discussed cooperation with international organizations, including nanotechnology standardization, and mechanisms for joint funding and researcher exchange. (Science and Technology WG)

S&T Memorandum of Understanding Signed Dr. John Holdren, U.S. Science and Technology Working Group co-chair and Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, met his fellow BPC co-chair Russian Minister of Education and Science Andrey Fursenko, in Washington, DC, December 15. The meeting generated a signed MOU between the U.S. National Science Foundation and the Russian Ministry of Education and Science which aims to establish a cooperative framework with which to support U.S. and Russian scientists and engineers. For more information on the MOU, please click here. (Science and Technology WG)

Environment Working Group Co-Coordinators meet in Washington

Co-coordinators U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Reifsnyder and Nuritdin Inamov, Director within the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, met in Washington, DC on January 17 where they discussed a wide range of issues, including black carbon, Beringia Days, polar bears, and possible areas of future cooperation such as joint efforts to combat e-waste. Reifsnyder also introduced Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Larry Gumbiner, who will be the Working Group’s acting co-coordinator during part of 2012. (Environment WG)

Russians Study Protected Areas Management

In December 2011, five Russians experts traveled to the United States through the International Visitor Leadership Program to learn about public involvement in the management of national parks and other protected natural areas. The group visited the headquarters of the U.S. Forest Service, the National Park Service, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service before continuing on to sites in Washington State, New Mexico, Minnesota, and New York. At Bosque del Apache National Park in New Mexico, the group learned how retirees, students, and others volunteer their time to assist the park’s full-time staff in day-to-day operations. As public involvement and collaboration in natural resource management are relatively new concepts in Russia, members of the delegation plan to introduce a model of public involvement through local field-tests. (Environment WG)

Date: 12/2011 Description: Russian environmental experts visit Bosque del Apache National Park, an important location for migrating geese from Wrangel Island, Russia. © Photo courtesy of Vera Ovcherenko, Delegation Participant
Russian environmental experts visit Bosque del Apache National Park, an important location for migrating geese from Wrangel Island, Russia. (Photo Credit: Vera Ovcherenko, Delegation Participant)

Other Related Events

Ural Boeing Manufacturing Recognized for Charitable Activities

On December 21, 2011, Ural Boeing Manufacturing received an award from the Sverdlovsk Oblast government as the region’s foreign company most active in charitable activities in 2011. Boeing received the award for a broad range of works, including support to local education programs and schools for children with disabilities. The awards ceremony was officiated by acting Sverdlovsk Governor Anatoliy Gredin and attended by many regional leaders in government, business, academia and the media. It received extensive electronic and print media coverage. Ural Boeing Manufacturing was nominated for the award by the U.S. Consulate in Yekaterinburg. In 2010 and 2011, U.S. manufacturer Boeing completed several deals with Russian airline companies for approximately 100 aircraft worth close to $10 billion. Vice President Joe Biden, who was on hand in Moscow during one of the sales, applauded the fact that the deal with both create high-tech jobs in Russia as well as sustain more than 10,000 jobs in the United States.

Civil Society Partnership Program Awards First Grants

On January 18, the U.S.-Russia Civil Society Partnership Program (CSPP) announced the winners of its first grant competition. Out of 33 proposals for projects to promote peer-to-peer exchanges between Russian and American civil society organizations, 15 winners were selected. Each will receive a grant of up to $3,000, to be used to lay the groundwork for larger projects in areas including education, environmental issues, community development, anti-corruption, and child protection. These projects mirror BPC priorities and respond to recommendations developed at CSPP’s first annual conference held in November 2011 in Moscow. Each project will be implemented by at least one Russian and one U.S. partner organization; among them are U.S. and Russian universities, environmental NGOs, and human rights organizations. Applications for the next round of larger grants are due April 30, 2012. More information about the selection process and schedule is available on the program web site:

Calendar of BPC Upcoming Events

January 21: The Aeolians of Oakwood College will perform Choral music from the Baroque to the Contemporary, with a focus on American Gospel Music, at the House of Music in Moscow.

January 23-27: A Defense Technology Cooperation Agreement Meeting will take place in Geneva, Switzerland.

January 28-February 14: Eight Russian theater professionals will visit Washington, DC, Baltimore, Chicago, San Francisco, and New York to study techniques for engaging young audiences.

Late-January: The third meeting of the U.S.-Russia Reactor Conversion Working Group will take place in Moscow.

February 2-3: The Play “Town. A History,” co-produced by New York’s Studio Six and the Chekov Festival, will be at the Mossoviet Theater in Moscow.

February 4-11: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service meetings with Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and other Russian agencies and NGO institutions will discuss bilateral activities to be conducted under Area V of the 1994 U.S.-Russia environmental agreement.

February 6: The “Vek Amerikanskoi Musiki” will be broadcast on Radio Orpheus.

February 8-9: The initial meeting of the Rule of Law Working Group co-chairs Attorney General Eric Holder and Minister of Justice Alexander Konovalov will take place in Washington, DC.

February 11: Conductor Marlon Daniel and soloists Darnell Ishmel and Lori-Kaye Miller will perform with the Tatarstan Symphony Orchestra in a concert of American symphonic music in Kazan.

February 15-16: U.S. Air Force Academy faculty will visit the Russian Federation Military Aviation Engineering University. A reciprocal visit is planned for March.

February 19-20: U.S. pianist Joyce Yang will perform a program centered on Brahms and Rachmaninov at Tchaikovsky Hall in Moscow.

February 22: Counterterrorism Working Group Coordinator Ambassador Benjamin and his new Counterterrorism Working Group counterpart, Alexander Zmeyevskiy, will meet for the first time in Switzerland.

February 29: National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Administrator Bolden and Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) Head Vladimir Popovkin will hold a Space Cooperation Working Group meeting in Quebec, Canada, on the margins of an International Space Station Heads of Agency meeting.

February 21-23: Visit by Russian experts to Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Consortium for Advanced Simulation of Light Water Reactors.

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