Presidents Obama and Putin Meet in Mexico
On June 18, in connection with the 2012 G-20 Leaders’ Summit, President Barack Obama and President Vladimir Putin met in Los Cabos, Mexico. During their first meeting since President Putin’s election earlier this year, the two leaders discussed a wide range of international and bilateral issues. In remarks after the meeting, President Obama praised the Bilateral Presidential Commission as means through which issues of trade and commerce, science, and technology are all discussed at a “much more intensive level” between our two countries. The Presidents also released a joint statement that announced the creation of a new working group—on military-technical cooperation—and expansion of U.S.-Russia cooperation in the global fight against malaria.
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Presidents Obama and Putin met in Los Cabos, Mexico, on June 18. (Photo credit: Russian Presidential Press Service)
Secretary Clinton Visits St. Petersburg
The Secretary traveled to St. Petersburg, Russia, on June 28 where she led the U.S. Delegation to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation’s Women and the Economy Forum (WEF). During this event, participants focused on leadership and skills and capacity building, two main areas of the San Francisco Declaration on decreasing barriers to women’s economic participation, as they relate to innovation, STEM, entrepreneurship, and healthy lifestyles. The Secretary also met with Foreign Minister Lavrov as well as civil society leaders.
Foreign Minister Lavrov presenting Secretary Clinton with a gift. (Photo Credit: U.S. Department of State)
Energy Efficiency Trade Mission Visits Moscow and St. Petersburg
Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Francisco Sánchez led an energy efficiency trade mission to Russia, June 4-7. The U.S. delegation included representatives from 12 U.S. firms that offer a broad range of technologies to improve energy efficiency. The trade mission was a joint program of the U.S. Departments of Commerce and Energy. The itinerary included a market briefing, site tour and one-on-one business meetings in Moscow and St. Petersburg. U.S. companies met with Russian officials at the federal and municipal levels and private industry. Improving energy efficiency is a priority of the Russian government and greater opportunities for U.S. companies are expected as Russia implements new energy efficiency policies. (Business Development and Economic Relations Working Group)
U.S. and Russia Sign Protocol of Intent on Malaria Control
Under the auspices of the Health Working Group, a Protocol of Intent was signed on June 27 between the United States and Russia on cooperation in the global fight against malaria. The Protocol represents a commitment by both countries to work together to end preventable child deaths from malaria. The document was signed by Dr. Nils Daulaire, Director of the Office of Global Affairs at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and Russian Deputy Minister of Health Igor Kagramanyan at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) High Level Meeting on Health and the Economy in St. Petersburg. Cooperation on malaria control will entail training and capacity building, evaluation, operational research, and collaboration with other partners on global malaria control in third countries, including APEC members and in Africa. The President’s Malaria Initiative, an interagency effort led by the U.S. Agency for International Development and implemented together with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, will coordinate efforts on behalf of the United States. For Russia, the Ministry of Health and the Martsinovsky Institute of Medical Parasitology and Tropical Medicine of the Moscow State Medical University will serve as coordinators. (Health Working Group)
Dr. Nils Daulaire and Deputy Minister of Health Kagramanyan sign the Protocol. (Photo Credit: HHS)
Broadway Star Savion Glover Performs in Moscow
On June 7, Tony-award winning tap dancer and choreographer Savion Glover brought his “Bare Soundz” show to Russia as a highlight of the International House of Music’s “Festival Africa-America.” Glover’s program, which also included a master class at the Vinzavod Arts Center for 30 Russian professional dancers and a large audience, was co-sponsored by the U.S. Embassy and took place as a part of “American Seasons,” a year-long series of cultural programs. (Education, Culture, Sports, Media Working Group)
U.S. Business Executives Visit the Urals
The U.S. Department of Commerce Special American Business Internship Training (SABIT) program delivered the second part of the Presidential Management Training Exchange Program (PMT), sending four U.S. businesspeople to Yekaterinburg from June 17-July 1. The program, “Specifics of Doing Business in Russia,” was conducted by the Business School of Urals Federal University. The agenda included round tables with officials, workshops with the local business community, visits to joint ventures, individual meetings with Yekaterinburg companies, visits to trade shows, lectures on doing business in Russia, as well as business cases studies, assignments and team work. The June program in Russia followed the first phase of the PMT program which took place in the United States in fall 2011, when SABIT hosted two delegations of Russian professionals in the information technology and energy efficiency sectors for three weeks. (Business Development and Economic Relations Working Group)
Forum Provides Platform for Further Trade and Investment
Department of Commerce Assistant Secretary for Market Access and Compliance Michael Camunez met with senior Russian officials and Russian and U.S. business leaders during the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum to advance a bilateral trade and investment agenda, including through SelectUSA, a Foreign Direct Investment Initiative within the Commerce Department. (Business Development and Economic Relations Working Group)
Nuclear Energy and Security Co-Chairs Met in Moscow
On June 26, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman and Rosatom General Director Sergei Kiriyenko co-chaired the fifth Nuclear Energy and Nuclear Security Working Group meeting in Moscow. They signed the Fourth Action Plan for the Working Group, signed a Joint Statement on Research Reactor Conversion, and discussed opportunities and ideas for 2013. (Nuclear Energy and Nuclear Security Working Group)
Co-chairs of the Civil Society Working Group Continue Consultations
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Thomas Melia conducted a productive working visit to Moscow, June 13-15, with his Russian counterpart for the Civil Society Working Group, Ambassador Konstantin Dolgov.
The two co-chairs discussed cooperation within the framework of the Working Group in areas ranging from combating corruption, protecting children, addressing legal and illegal migration as well as trafficking in persons, and improving conditions in prisons. Melia proposed ways in which the U.S. and Russian governments—along with civil society—could broaden the dialogue on fostering a vibrant and independent civil society. Melia noted that he looks forward to a plenary session of the Working Group later this year. While in Russia, Melia also met with independent journalists and bloggers, human rights defenders, including LGBT activists, and other civil society figures. (Civil Society Working Group)
Child Protection Forum Held in Chicago
The Civil Society Working Group’s Child Protection Sub-Working Group met on June 26 at the University of Chicago’s Gleacher Center. The sub-working group co-chairs, Drew Oosterbaan, head of the U.S Department of Justice’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, and Pavel Astakhov, Children’s Rights Ombudsman for Russia, were joined for the meeting by Working Group co-chairs Melia and Dolgov. Nine guest civil society experts from the U.S. and Russia spoke on a wide range of child protection issues. Highlights included a presentation by Gus Paidousis of the AMBER Alert system, who said that to date 584 U.S. children have been saved by the alert system since it was implemented in the mid-1990s. While noting that differences in national infrastructure and child protection systems exist, the co-chairs agreed that the fruitful work of the sub-working group should continue, with a goal of strengthening child protection efforts in both countries. (Civil Society Working Group)
Ecologists Talk Sustainable Development
On June 5, USAID partner NGO Fund for Sustainable Development (FSD) organized a roundtable with ecologists from the Russian Academy of Sciences to discuss the state of environmental conservation and sustainable development. Participants concluded that progress has been made toward sustainable development at the local level, where communities are often compelled to reduce pressure on ecosystems by developing grassroots solutions for conserving natural resources. (Environment Working Group)
Baikal Trip Focuses on Public Recreation Projects in Protected Areas
May 29 to June 16, a team of U.S. specialists traveled to the Baikal region to discuss public recreation projects and infrastructure development. The trip was supported by USAID and the U.S. Forest Service. The American experts also conducted two days of training in Irkutsk for managers of seven nature reserves in the Baikal region, sharing best practices in managing tourism and recreation in protected areas. (Environment Working Group)
Tuberculosis Focus of Visit to United States
During June 9-16, a group of 14 Russian tuberculosis experts from Ulyanovsk, Tambov, and Moscow traveled to the United States to attend a USAID-supported workshop at the office of Partners in Health in Boston. Participants learned how to better allocate tuberculosis funding to ensure effective treatment, both in-patient and out-patient. Separately, nine USAID grantees working in tuberculosis control gathered on June 5 at a meeting hosted by the University Research Company in Moscow to share updates on current projects, discuss existing challenges, and coordinate future activities. (Health Working Group)
Russian Lab Experts Travel to Maryland as part of Quality of Medicines Program
U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP) sent a delegation of Roszdravnadzor (Russian Pharmaceutical Supervisory Agency, RZN) staff, made up of six heads of regional Roszdravnadzor laboratories, to Rockville, Maryland, to visit USP headquarters, the USP Reference Standards laboratory, and to learn more about USP’s work, June 25-29. This visit will contribute to the success of the USAID-funded Promoting the Quality of Medicines program. (Health Working Group)
FDA Training in Good Clinical Practice Begins in Moscow
On June 18, representatives of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) started the last segment of a three-phase training program in Good Clinical Practice for 32 participants representing the RZN, its territorial bodies, and ethics committees of universities and medical schools. Acting RZN head Elena Tel’nova noted in her opening remarks that the trainings are conducted in accordance with the Letter of Intent between RZN and FDA signed in May 2010 and thanked her U.S. colleagues for sharing their knowledge and expertise with the Russian experts. She noted the recent meeting she and her colleagues had in Washington, D.C., on June 12 with FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg and stated that there is great opportunity for future collaboration. (Health Working Group)
U.S.-Russia Opera Exchange Impresses
On June 15, Moscow’s Vishnevskaya Opera Center hosted a gala concert featuring young U.S. opera singers from the (Placido) Domingo-Thornton Young Artist program, based in Los Angeles, and Russian opera singers from the Vishnevskaya Center. The gala was the culmination of a week of master classes conducted by four American coaches with the Russian and U.S. vocalists, who worked together to polish their skills. After the gala, the U.S. group traveled to St. Petersburg for further musical collaboration and another concert with students from the St. Petersburg Conservatory. The Vishnevskaya/Domingo exchange was made possible by a grant from the U.S. Embassy and was a part of “American Seasons.” (Culture Sub-Working Group)
Gala concert at the Vishnevskaya Opera Center. (Photo Credit: U.S. Embassy Moscow)
Grammy-nominated Cajun Band Delights Russian Audiences
Louisiana Cajun band “Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys” toured Russia in early-June. They performed for an hour before an audience of approximately 800 Russians at the Usadba-Jazz Festival, Russia’s largest outdoor annual music festival. The next day, the Playboys played for the audience of the International Jazz Festival in Chelyabinsk, and on the final day of their Russian tour, they performed at the U.S. Embassy. Few Russians are familiar with anything Cajun, and “Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys” provided a wonderful introduction to this uniquely American musical genre. The U.S. Embassy organized and funded the band’s tour as a part of “American Seasons.” (Culture Sub-Working Group)
Independent Film Festival Hits Moscow
On June 23-28, The Lone Star Film Society, the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation, U.S. Embassy Moscow, and the city of Fort Worth presented a series of New American Independent Cinema at the 34th Moscow International Film Festival. (Culture Sub Working Group)
U.S.-Russia Meeting on Fuels Engagement
On May 14-17, U.S. European Command Director of Logistics, Rear Admiral Andy Brown, hosted the Russian Defense Ministry’s 25th Institute of Chemical Sciences fuels delegation in Germany. The U.S. and Russian team explored the possibility of strengthening energy security and equipment interoperability between their nations through a memorandum of understanding and a fuel-only Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement implementing arrangement. Both parties agreed to draft, staff, and obtain senior leadership approval of a memorandum of understanding to establish future bilateral goals in the area of fuels interoperability and to chart progress toward these goals. (Military Cooperation Working Group)
U.S. staff shows the Russian delegation some of the tactical fuel handling equipment used by the U.S. Air Force at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. (Photo Credit: U.S. Air Force)
U.S. and Russian Delegations Discuss Military Education and Language Training
The Defense Relations Training, Education, and Human Resources Sub-Working Group met in St. Petersburg on June 7-8. Director for Officer and Enlisted Personnel Management in the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD), Lernes Herbert, led the U.S. delegation and the Director of Education in the Russian Ministry of Defense (MOD), Yekaterina Priyezzheva, on the Russian side. The Russian delegation addressed recent education and training reform efforts within the MOD, training Russian contract service members for enlisted and officer specialties, language training, and also gave an overview of the Russian Naval Academy. The U.S. participants provided the Russians with an overview of the three U.S. Service academies and spoke about opportunities for English-language training for international military personnel. Both sides discussed possibilities for military academy cadet exchanges. (Defense Relations Working Group)
Two Sides Exchange Information and Best Practices on Veterans’ Benefits
The Social Welfare Sub-Working Group held its third meeting in St. Petersburg, June 9-11, with delegations led by Peter Verga (OSD Policy Chief of Staff), Jerilyn Busch (Director, Military Compensation Policy, OSD Personnel and Readiness) and Igor Savenko (Deputy Director, Department of Financial Planning, Russian MOD). Discussions included benefits for service members, veterans, retirees, and their families; centralized payroll systems and databases; and centralized pension support. The meeting included a site visit to the Slavyanka Housing Complex outside of St. Petersburg, which includes 5,000 housing units built for the MOD in the past year. (Defense Relations Working Group)
Afghanistan-Pakistan Sub-Working Group Meet in Germany
The United States hosted a Russian delegation for a meeting of the “AFPAK” Sub-Working Group at the NATO School in Oberammergau, Germany on June 27. Discussions centered on a U.S. overview of the International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF) Military Campaign Plan and the Northern Distribution Network but also touched on military, governance, development challenges and successes, and counternarcotics. (Military Cooperation Working Group)
Consulate Yekaterinburg Participates in Oil and Gas Conference
On June 7, Consul General Mike Reinert delivered a presentation entitled “U.S. Energy Policy in Russia” to the Yamal Oil and Gas 2012 international conference held in Salekhard. Conference participants included senior Yamalo Nenets officials, representatives of Russia’s oil and gas industry, and international oil and gas services experts. U.S. company Baker Hughes was a major sponsor of the conference. The Yamalo Nenets region produces more than 90 percent of Russia’s natural gas, and conference participants actively discussed ways to produce and export even more gas using new technologies that work under Arctic conditions.
English Language Event Takes Place in Vladivostok
Kay Westerfield, an English Language Specialist, and Toni Hall, a Senior English Language Fellow, held an “English for Specific Purposes” (ESP) promotional event on June 21. Westerfield’s presentation focused on the benefits of ESP teaching from the individual level to the national level. In opening remarks, Consul General Sylvia Curran thanked them for their dedication to teaching English in Russia. For activities, several Russian students took turns on stage displaying their English language abilities; acts included singing songs, playing music, and even a comedy sketch.
Creative Multimedia Workshop in Kirov
Bloggers and journalists from the Kirov region attended a June 12-19 workshop to learn how to create effective multimedia news stories based on local and community issues. The workshop was conducted by IREX under the USAID-supported Promoting New Media and Convergence program. Trainees also learned how to promote multimedia stories through social media; other workshop topics include distributed journalism, field work skills, project planning, and tactics for working with social media audiences.
Participants in USAID’s Judicial Program Honored by Russia’s Council of Judges
In late May, four U.S. federal judges and an employee of USAID/Russia were awarded medals by the Russian Federation Council of Judges during its 20th anniversary. They include U.S. District Judges Michael Mihm, Paul Magnuson, George Marovich, and Lloyd George, as well as USAID/Russia’s Senior Rule of Law Advisor Patrick Murphy. All five were active in USAID-funded programs of cooperation between the U.S. and Russian judiciaries which began in the 1990s and extended over many years. The Council of Judges is the highest non-court judicial body in the Russian Federation, with members elected by the judiciary and representing the courts of general jurisdiction, arbitration courts, and the Constitutional Court. Judges Mihm and Magnuson, after their work in the judicial cooperation programs, have become Board members of the U.S.-Russia Foundation. All four U.S. judges were also active as hosts of Russian judges under the Open World exchange program.
ABA Rule of Law Partnership Project in Nizhny Novgorod and Voronezh
On June 28-29, the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative, through its Rule of Law Partnership Project, conducted trainings in Nizhny Novgorod and Voronezh. The Nizhny Novgorod training will focus on pro bono legal aid; the Voronezh training will be a writing workshop for journalists and press officers who cover rights issues.
Legal Roundtable Convened
The American Bar Association/Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) on June 8 convened a roundtable of legal experts in Moscow to discuss human rights programs in Russian law schools. Participants agreed on the need to incorporate human rights issues in all courses taught at law schools, including civil law, constitutional law, municipal law, philosophy, economics, and ethics. They also agreed that special human rights courses, which cover international human rights protection, gender issues, discrimination and other topics, are needed.
June 30-July 7: Eli Yamin Blues Band performs at the Usadba Jazz Festival in St. Petersburg, as well as in Krasnoyarsk and Abakan.
June 30-July 13: “Between the Lines” Writing Program takes place at the University of Iowa.
June-August 2012: More than 80 U.S. students will study Russian in Kazan, Ufa, or Vladimir through the Critical Language Scholarship Program, an eight-week program that increases language fluency and cultural competency.
July 2-5: A series of U.S. music events titled “Salut, America!” with participation of USAFE Five Star Brass Band will be held in Yekaterinburg to celebrate Independence Day.
July 2: The Enhanced Missile Defense Sub-Working Group will meet in Brussels with delegations led by Under Secretary of Defense for Policy James Miller and Deputy Defense Minister Anatoliy Antonov.
July 4: Spaso House Independence Day Celebration in Moscow
July 7-20: Through the Sports Sub-Working Group, 20 Russian students and their coaches will travel to California for a youth beach volleyball program.
July 9-10: The Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology will hold the 2nd Research Center Proposer’s Conference at Skolkovo.
July 9-20: The art exhibit “American Icons in Jars” will open in Vladivostok.
July 12: The Chief of the Russian General Staff, General of the Army Nikolay Yegorovich Makarov, will visit Washington, D.C., to participate in a Military Cooperation Working Group meeting with the Chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey.
July 12-15: A speaker from the U.S. Mission will join Innoprom in Sverdlovsk Oblast, Russia’s largest exhibition of innovative industrial technologies from around the world.
July 14-27: A group of 20 U.S. Youth Sports Envoys will travel with their coaches to Russia on a swimming-focused exchange program.
July 15-25: A U.S. delegation from the Missouri Botanical Gardens will visit Altai, Siberia, to exchange information regarding plant conservation while working with the Central Siberian Botanical Garden.
July 17-20: In Moscow, the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Ministry of Education will host a workshop on geological hazards (earthquakes, volcanoes, and tsunamis). Participants will identify areas where U.S.-Russia cooperation on disaster risk reduction can improve.
July 18-August 2: Two U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials will travel to visitor centers in Baikalsky Reserve to share expertise on the designing and retrofitting centers.
July 26-August 1: San Diego-based Mariachi Band will travel to Vladivostok and Nakhodka.
July 27-29: A U.S. museum expert will attend the Pilorama Civic Forum / Perm 36 GULAG Memorial.
July 29-August 9: U.S. choreographer and dancer Gabriel Francisco-Medvin will teach hip hop and street dance at the International Summer Dance Laboratory in Chelyabinsk.
August: A new Tuberculosis Center of Excellence will be opened by University Research Company in Saratov.