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Diplomacy in Action

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

Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs
October 31, 2012


Inside this issue…

Featured Successes

U.S. Ambassador McFaul Receives Nearly 200 Questions in inaugural Twitter Q&A

Embassy Moscow conducted its first-ever Twitter Q&A, featuring Ambassador Michael McFaul, on U.S.-Russia relations with the hashtag #AskMcFaul. He received nearly 200 questions on Twitter during the live event, answering several questions in real-time. Question topics included consular services, U.S. and Russian politics, bilateral issues, cultural programming, and regional and international relationships. Over the following days, many more answers were tweeted from the Embassy’s account, demonstrating the Embassy’s dedication to providing transparent information and staying connected to Russian citizens. Overall, Ambassador McFaul reached 362,831 accounts with his tweets.

The Storify summary is at

Date: 2012 Description: Ambassador Michael McFaul participates in first-ever Embassy Moscow Twitter Q&A. - State Dept Image

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Visits Russian Transpolar Flight Monument

Highlighting aviation cooperation, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov joined the Chkalov Cultural Exchange Committee (CCEC) for a visit to the Pearson Air Museum in Vancouver, Washington on September 20.

Date: 09/20/2012 Description: Deputy Minister Ryabkov visits Pearson Air Museum in Vancouver, Washington. - State Dept Image

Deputy Minister Ryabkov serves on the Russian Organizational Committee responsible for the celebratory events related to the 75th Anniversary of the first non-stop transpolar flight piloted by the famous Russian aviator Valery P. Chkalov. The CCEC is a non-profit organization whose purpose is to build peace and friendship, as well as cultural, educational, and business opportunities for the citizens of Washington, Oregon, and the Russian Federation.

Deputy Minister Ryabkov made a special trip to Vancouver to tour the Pearson Air Museum’s Transpolar Flight display and the Transpolar Flight Monument, as well the George C. Marshall House where General Marshall hosted the Russian aviators in 1937. He also met with the CCEC Board of Directors to discuss the activities of the 75th anniversary celebrations in Vancouver.

Mr. Ryabkov stated that he was impressed by the warmth and beauty of the City of Vancouver and was very touched by his visit to the Pearson Air Museum and the Transpolar Flight Monument. This was the first time Deputy Minister Ryabkov had visited the State of Washington.

Business, Economics, Energy, and Innovation

Mini-Tourism Trade Show

On September 4, the U.S. Embassy organized the official opening of “American Week,” an annual celebration produced by the Visit USA Russia committee, a partnership of private travel industry firms. The event is aimed at educating local travel agents on prospective U.S. travel for Russian tourists. “America Week” highlights U.S. travel destinations, available flights, hotels, attractions and more.

Date: 09/04/2012 Description: Ambassador McFaul promotes U.S. travel during press conference. - State Dept Image

The occasion was also used to announce an historic new visa agreement between Russia and the U.S. that introduces new, simplified U.S. visa procedures and extended, three-year visas for Russian travelers to the U.S., which came into force on September 9, 2012. The announcement of this agreement was made by U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, who was joined by Embassy Consular and Commercial colleagues for a press conference with Russian media representatives attending the event.

Commercialization Pathfinder

On September 17, CRDF Global (formerly the U.S. Civilian Research and Development Foundation ) launched the first phase of the Commercialization Pathfinder series – an on-line “Train-the-Trainer” session for 29 technology transfer professionals from several universities (Kazan Tech State, Altay Tech State, The National Research University, and the Higher School of Economics), the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Applied Physics, Rosnano, SkolTech and a regional innovation agency of Kaluga. The subsequent “Entrepreneurship Development” phase for a group of 200 scientists, university students and faculty will start at the end of October. All of the 29 participants of the current Train-the-Trainer session will be engaged as mentors during the subsequent Entrepreneurship Development session.

Business Networking at Spaso House

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Commercial Service in Moscow held its annual business networking reception on September 27 at the Ambassador’s Residence, Spaso House. Ambassador McFaul and Senior Commercial Officer McCaslin gave remarks to the approximately 300 guests on the importance of bilateral trade. They provided examples of successful trade promotion events in Russia and the U.S. this past year, while noting that increasing the stakes we have in each other's economic prosperity adds ballast to the overall U.S.-Russia relationship.

Strong Russian Presence at 2012 MINExpo

Russia's mining industry, which comprises 30% of the country's GDP, is a leading sector for U.S. trade and investment and there is strong demand for U.S. mining equipment and technology. Russia had its largest showing ever at the MINExpo 2012 in Las Vegas, NV September 24 – 26. More than 180 Russians participated as official International Buyer Program (IBP) delegates to the quadrennial exhibition presenting the latest mining industry technologies. Chelyabinsk Region Governor Mikhail Yurevich led the Russian delegation, and was the special guest of honor at a dinner hosted by the U.S.-Russia Business Council on September 25.

Environment, Science, Health, Culture and Education

Unveiling of Adams Memorial

On September 15, Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM) Sheila Gwaltney unveiled a memorial stone for Louisa Catherine Adams – daughter of the first United States Minister (Ambassador) to Russia and later the sixth president, John Quincy Adams, and Louisa Catherine Johnson Adams.

On August 11, 1811, Louisa was the first American born in Russia and she was the first American to pass away there, 13 months later, on September 15, 1812. Buried at Smolenskoye Lutheran cemetery in St. Petersburg, her gravestone had long ago disappeared.

After 16 years of efforts often led by various U.S. diplomats or spouses stationed in Russia and with the support of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) as well as contributions from Russians and Americans, a new stone was placed in the area of the cemetery where historians believe Louisa's body rests.

DCM Gwaltney and Igor Lonsky, Deputy Chair of the Committee for External Relations of the City of St. Petersburg unveiled the stone. DAR representatives then placed a wreath while a local music conservatory student sang a 19th century American funerary hymn. The ceremony closed with a poem written and read by Consul General Bruce Turner and a reading from John Quincy Adams' dairy.

The memorial to Louisa Catherine Adams acts as a tangible reminder of the long-standing, deep ties between Russia and the United States. The story of the joy of her birth and the sadness of her death is a universal one for Russians and Americans alike.

Date: 09/15/2012 Description: Deputy Chief of Mission Sheila Gwaltney lays a flower on the Louisa Catherine Adams memorial stone. - State Dept Image

U.S. Expert Mentors IT Start-Up Hopefuls

Information Technology is one of the most rapidly growing economic sectors in St. Petersburg, attracting some of the region's best and brightest young minds. At an event called “Hack Day Meets Garage 48,” the Consulate’s Public Affairs Section was able to tap into this audience by hosting the visit of Gagan Biyani, the president and founder of Udemy, an online learning platform that allows instructors to host courses. Mr. Biyani is also a contributing writer to “TechCrunch.”

One of the most eagerly anticipated IT events on the St. Petersburg calendar, “Hack Day Meets Garage 48” united more than 300 young IT professionals and entrepreneurs for two days, September 15 and 16. During the course of this weekend, teams developed software solutions or applications they hoped would appeal to investors.

Mr. Biyani mentored several of the teams, helping them refine their ideas and advising them on their pitch to investors. He also shared his own experiences as a successful young IT entrepreneur. In addition to “Hack Day Meets Garage 48,” Mr. Biyani visited a few of St. Petersburg's IT business incubators and met with members of the AmCham Telecommunications and Information Technology Group. Mr. Biyani's visit went far to promote greater understanding and ties between Russians and Americans.

St. Petersburg Hosts First U.S.-Style Public Art Festival

Consul General Bruce Turner and Public Affairs Officer Steve Labensky participated in the September 20 opening activities of St. Petersburg's first “International Public Art Festival: Art Prospect.” Based on the U.S. model of street art festivals, “Art Prospect” transformed a small portion of urban space running along Liteiny Prospect – a main artery in the heart of St. Petersburg – into a series of interconnected indoor and outdoor galleries, installations and performance spaces.

Date: 09/20/2012 Description: Public Affairs Officer Steve Labensky participates in International Public Art Fesival: Art Prospect. - State Dept Image

Over the course of four days, thousands of visitors explored courtyards, parks, parking lots and storefronts to enjoy art works created by a group of 18 prominent or up-and-coming American and Russian contemporary visual and performance artists. The artists also participated in several workshops.

The festival was organized in partnership with the New York-based organization Art in Odd Places and received financial and logistical support from Embassy Moscow and the Consulate General in St. Petersburg. The event received widespread media attention with stories appearing on several St. Petersburg television channels, in most local newspapers and on many news and information Internet portals.

American Jazz Musicians Debut in the Famed Mariinsky Concert Hall

On September 25, the Brubeck Brothers Quartet brilliantly performed pieces from their repertoire of contemporary and classic jazz and blues at the Mariinsky Theater Concert Hall in St. Petersburg. They were the first American jazz musicians ever to perform in this famed venue.

Date: 09/25/2012 Description: The Brubeck Brothers Quartet and their Russian friends perform at the Mariinsky Theater Concert Hall. - State Dept Image

After a tour de force performance of original pieces during the first part of the evening, the Brubeck Brothers Quartet was joined by two Russian musicians: Vladislav Lavrik (on the trumpet) and Maxim Rubtsov (on the flute) from the Russian National Orchestra. The resulting American-Russian collaborations were stunning, eliciting prolonged applause by the many jazz devotees in the audience, including the Consul General and his guests (a blend of city officials and prominent local jazz musicians such as David Gloloscheykin and Gennady Golshtein).

The performance was covered by AFISHA magazine, Radio St. Petersburg and Radio Russia. The St. Petersburg Jazz community expressed the hope that these legendary musicians would return to St. Petersburg soon.

The St. Petersburg concert was the last stop on the Quartet’s ten-day tour of Russia which also included stops in Moscow, Samara, and Yefremov. In Moscow, the Brubeck Brothers Quartet played together with the Russian National Orchestra at the Tchaikovsky Hall in Moscow on September 17 and on September 22 at the Great Hall of the Moscow State Conservatory. The renowned Russian jazz musician Igor Butman appeared with the quartet much to the delight of the audience.

The tour was conducted under the auspices of the Bilateral Presidential Commission and made possible by financial and logistical support from Embassy Moscow and the U.S. Consulate General in St. Petersburg.

Filmmaker Henry Corra in Yekaterinburg

In October, acclaimed documentary filmmaker Henry Corra visited Yekaterinburg. Corra, whose powerful films follow people struggling with real issues - alcoholism, cancer, war - resonate with people worldwide. Henry Corra will show four of his films as part of the international Rossiya film festival, including one of his most well-known films, The Disappearance of McKinley Nolan. Corra is the first American special guest for the 23-year old film festival.

Oscar-Winning Directors Showcase “Undefeated” and American Culture

The Show US! film festival was held in Moscow September 6 – 9, with follow-on screenings in Kazan and Yekaterinburg.

Documentary filmmakers TJ Martin and Dan Lindsay attended numerous screenings of their film, the 2011 Oscar-winning documentary “Undefeated,” which chronicles the struggles of a high school football team as they attempt a winning season after years of losses, gave presentations at schools, and gave media interviews. At each stop, they took many questions from enthusiastic audience members eager to learn about life in America and the important social and cultural issues raised by this film.

In its third year, Show US! provides Russian audiences with an opportunity to see American documentary films that most likely would not otherwise be available in Russia. The films treat diverse topics and present alternative perspectives on American society and culture.

The event was organized in partnership with the American Film Showcase based at the University of Southern California and Moscow-based event organizer Cool Connections.

Snowday 'A Capella' Group Tours Yekaterinburg and Chelyabinsk

The group, Snowday, which sings a range of hits from classic doo-wop to modern pop, reached a sweeping audience as they performed at local grade schools, universities, concert halls, and an orphanage. Their master classes filled university lecture halls, and they were special guests on a TV morning show.

Date: 2012 Description: Members of Snowday pose for a photo after one of their performances. - State Dept Image


Arms Control and International Security Working Group Co-Chairs Meet

Acting Under Secretary Rose Gottemoeller met her BPC Arms Control and International Security Working Group counterpart Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov in Moscow September 7 for consultations. Gottemoeller and Ryabkov later both made remarks at the Center for Energy and Security Studies 2012 Moscow Conference on Nonproliferation.

Military Cooperation

U.S. Commanders Meet With Russian Counterparts, Students, and Educators

Lieutenant General Mark P. Hertling, Commanding General, U.S. Army Europe, travelled to Moscow September 23 – 25 to meet with Mr. Kishelev, Chief of the Russian Ministry of Defense’s Main Directorate for International Cooperation, and Combined Arms Academy (CAA) Commandant Major General Aleksey Samolkin. He conducted discussions with CAA faculty and students on professional development, combat experiences and future security threats, highlighting the need for shared responses to shared threats.

Lieutenant General David H. Huntoon, Superintendent, US Military Academy (USMA) was in Moscow September 27 – 28 to visit the USMA equivalent, the Moscow Higher Military Command School within the Combined Arms Academy, and met with Yekaterina Priyezzheva, Chief of the Russian Ministry of Defenses’ Education Department to discuss service academy initiatives.

Air Staff Consultations

U.S. and Russian Air Force representatives met September 20 – 21 at the Marshall Center in Garmisch, Germany to discuss implementation of 2012 activities and shape engagements for the 2013 Work Plan.

International Military Police (MP) Regimental Senior Leader Conference

Moscow Garrison Commandant Major General Seleznev led the Russian delegation to the conference, held at Ft. Leonard Wood from September 17 – 22. The delegation included Colonel Singilevich (MP Director of Training & Education and Strategic Planning), Commander Martynov (MP Leader Development) and Major Smushko (Interpreter). The delegation focused Russian MOD efforts to build a new MP organization along the lines of the U.S. model.

International Festival of Brass Bands

The United States Navy 7th Fleet Band Pacific Ambassadors ensemble participated in the International Festival of Brass Bands from Seoptember 14-18 in Sakhalin Oblast.


From October 1 – 4, USDA’s Agricultural Research Service held a U.S.-Russia Workshop on Aquaculture and Fish Health in Seattle, Washington, which was made possible through State Department funds under the BPC’s Agriculture Working Group.

The workshop was divided into three fora: Emerging and Established Diseases; Disease Surveillance, Diagnostics, Prevention and Control; and Synthesis of Fish Health Management and Implications for the Future.

The Russian scientists came from a variety of locations – the Far East, Western and Central Western, and Southern regions. U.S. scientists represented the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Department of Commerce (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) and Department of the Interior (U.S. Geological Survey).

Date: 10/01/2012 Description: Participants of the U.S.-Russia Workshop on Aquaculture and Fish Health. - State Dept Image

Participants noted that both countries face similar threats and must develop systematic plans for responding to their aquatic species’ diseases. Opportunities were identified for future collaborative development on diseases in sturgeon, salmon, and trout. Participants agreed that joint risk analysis and open management of disease outbreaks would afford experts in both countries the chance to build experience and expertise in dealing with disease outbreaks. Participants identified an additional joint need for full development and implementation of a National Aquatic Animal Health Plan, including developing opportunities for the United States, Russia, and possibly Canada to work together on such plans.


In August 2012, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Moscow Country Office accompanied two Russian Federal Drug Control Service intelligence analysts to San Antonio, Texas, to participate in a two week intelligence analysis course. The program was hosted by the DEA’s Office of Training and the DEA’s San Antonio District Office. Topics covered included the use of charting software, telephone analysis software, open source research, and strategic and tactical report writing.

In September 2012, the DEA Moscow Country Office traveled with senior representatives from the Russian Federal Drug Control Service, Russian Federal Customs Service, and the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs, to Miami for a tour of two counter-narcotics facilities. In Florida, the participants visited the DEA Miami Field Division, and received presentations on the structure and operation of DEA operations in southern Florida. The group also traveled to Key West, where participants were provided a tour and presentation on the operations of the Joint Interagency Task Force – South (JIATF-S). JIATF-S is a joint military and civilian operation, which brings together resources to target and interdict significant drug flows from South America to the United States.

Defense Relations

The Training/Education/Human Resources Sub-Working Group met in Colorado Springs October 12 – 13. The meeting was chaired by Lernes Hebert (Principal Director, Military Personnel Policy, Office of the Secretary of Defense) and Yekaterina Priyezzheva (Chief, Education Directorate, Ministry of Defense).

The Sub-Working Group’s discussions focused on planned cadet exchanges between U.S. Service academies and Russian counterpart institutions and establishing a Foreign Military Sales (FMS) training case for U.S. military courses. The Russian delegation also received briefings and a tour of U.S. Air Force Academy facilities.

Related to this meeting, a Russian delegation (consisting of a faculty chief from Voronezh Air Force Academy and two cadets) participated in the U.S. Air Force Academy's International Week, October 15-19.

The Logistics Cooperation Sub-Working Group is scheduled to meet in Moscow October 30-31. Discussions will focus on supply-chain management information systems, fuel operations to support the force, and professional Development of Military Logistics Officers.

Emergency Situations

The U.S.-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission Working Group on Emergency Situations, and the 16th Meeting of the Joint U.S.-Russia Committee on Cooperation in Emergency Management, took place in Vladivostok, Russia on October 8. The meeting brought together Vladimir Puchkov, Minister for Civil Defense, Emergencies and Elimination of the Consequences of Natural Disasters, and Timothy Manning, Deputy Administrator for Protection and National Preparedness for the Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) for talks on disaster forecasting, the exchange of best practices, and joint training.

In Other News…

American Actress Wins Award at Vladivostok International Film Festival

During the 10th Vladivostok International Film Festival – American actress Jocelyn Jensen won Best Actress Award. The festival featured 10 American films. American producer Josh Mandel and director Pip Khodorov conducted master classes for young filmmakers. Special guest of honor Daryl Hannah presented her film and conducted press conference and meetings with the general audience. Russian-American actress, model, ballet dancer and film director Sofya Skaya presented her film “White Swan” at the closing ceremony. Rock Brynner, son of Yul Brynner, handed the Yul Brynner prize to the young and most promising Russian actress, Sasha Petrova.

American Urban Planner Shares Expertise

Prominent U.S. urban planner and professor of City and Regional Planning at the University of Pennsylvania, Vukan Vuchic, paid a three-day visit to St. Petersburg to share his expertise on creative solutions for urban traffic problems. Dr. Vuchic met with over 100 students at the Architectural Building University and dozens more at the Leontief Centre of the Higher School of Economics. In both cases, he presented a lecture on "Modern Urban Transport Planning in the U.S. and Other Countries" and engaged his audiences in a lively Q and A.

During Dr. Vuchic also met with St. Petersburg's Vice Governor to discuss Dr. Vuchic's suggestions for easing traffic in and around St. Petersburg. In addition, he attended the "Baltia 2012" conference for city planners to engage his professional peers., St. Petersburg's principal internet news and entertainment portal interviewed Dr. Vuchic. He also participated in a roundtable discussion with journalists from the Baltic Media Group.

Events Calendar

September 18 – October 22: The Lumière Brothers Gallery in Moscow’s Red October arts complex hosted an exhibition of 100 photographs by American photographer Howard Buffett.

October 4 – 10: The “Tizer” jazz band held concerts in Vladivostok and Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk.

October 6 – 14: A group of 20 young U.S. ice hockey players and their 4 coaches traveled to Moscow for a sports exchange program, organized by “Sports United.”

October 8: The Annual Meeting of the Emergency Situations Working Group took take place in Vladivostok.

October 9: The U.S. Department of Commerce and Harvard University hosted a webinar for representatives of the Ministry of Economic Development, the Higher School of Economics and the Association of Russian Regions.

October 8 – 12: Environment Protection Agency representatives attended a workshop on the oil and gas industry in Moscow.

October 8 – 12: U.S. Geological Survey and Roshydromet held a workshop on the topic of “Streamflow Trends in the United States and Russia In Response to Climate Change.”

October 10 – 12: BPC sub-Working Group on Media took place in Washington, D.C., bringing together American and Russian journalists to discuss trends and challenges in the media.

October 10 – 11: The Russian State Duma and the American-Russian Cancer Alliance organized a ‘For a Healthy Life’ Forum in Kazan.

October 13: Discover America in Yekaterinburg, jointly supported by the BPC and an Innovation Fund grant.

October 14 – 28: Joint project with Primorye Regional Philharmonic Hall: American oboe player Andrea Ridilla conducted master classes and performs two concerts of the classical music “From the New World”

October 17 – 19: The U.S. National Academies of Science and the Russian Academy of Sciences held a joint conference on black carbon in Moscow.

October 12 13: The Training, Education, & Human Resources Sub-Working Group met at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.

October 14 – 20: A delegation from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) was in Moscow; the trip will include the first meeting of the co-chairs of the Climate Science Subgroup co-chairs.

October 17 – 19: The Annual Joint Coordinating Committee Meeting of the NOAA-RAS MOU in the Area of World Oceans and Polar Regions was heldin Silver Spring, MD.

October 17 – 19: U.S. Geological Survey and Roshydromet met in Moscow to discuss overlapping interests in flood science – stream flow monitoring, modeling, forecasting, and inundation mapping.

October 18 – 22: San Diego-based 15-member Mariachi band performed in concerts in Vladivostok, Slavyanka, and Ussuriysk.

October 20: The famous American opera singer, Jessye Norman, performed a jazz program at the Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Theatre.

October 22 – 24: The U.S.-Russia Business Council, a strategic partner and active participant in the Business Development and Economic Relations Working Group, hosted its annual meeting in Atlanta, Georgia.

October 23: The Lumière Brothers Gallery in Moscow’s Red October arts complex sponsored an exhibition of the works of American photographer Steve Schapiro.

October 25: Commercial Service Russia and the CS Design and Construction Team conducted a Webinar on “Opportunities in Russia Related to the 2018 World Cup.”

October 25 26: Skolkovo, Rusnano, Russian Venture Company in coordination with the U.S.-Russian Innovation Working Group held a conference in Silicon Valley, CA.

October 26: American pianist Robert Levin performed with the “Musica Viva” Chamber Orchestra at Tchaikovsky Hall.

October 29 30: U.S. Undersecretary Hormats and Russian Deputy Prime Minister Surkov led the second meeting of the U.S.-Russia Innovation Working Group in Moscow

October 22 – 30: Two delegations from the Russian Agency for Housing Mortgage Lending met with counterparts at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and Ginnie Mae.

October 30 – 31: The Logistics Cooperation Sub-Working Group met in Moscow to discuss supply-chain management information systems, fuel operations to support the force, and professional Development of Military Logistics Officers.

November 7: Orpheus Chamber Orchestra at the Moscow House of Music, Svetlanov Hall.

November 13: Ambassador McFaul will host a SelectUSA Investment Forum to promote the U.S. as an attractive investment destination to potential Russian investors.

November 21 – December 5: Film Director Milcho Manchevskiy will be in Moscow for the first cycle of the BPC film exchange.

November: Yekaterinburg will host a six-person woodwind group from the Naples, Italy naval base in early November.

November: Vladivostok International Jazz Festival in Vladivostok and Nakhodka.

December 4 – 6: St. Petersburg will host the “Ways to Reduce Infant Mortality due to Infectious and Parasitic Diseases: The Russian Experience” forum.

December 11 – 13: Office of National Drug Control Policy and the Russian Federal Drug Control Agency will hold the 7th plenary session of the Counternarcotics Working Group in Boston, Massachusetts.

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