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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

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

Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs
November 30, 2012


Inside this issue…

Featured Successes

New Nuclear Risk Reduction Center

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton performed the honors at a ribbon-cutting ceremony to inaugurate the newly modernized Nuclear Risk Reduction Center (NRRC) at the Department of State. The NRRC, and its counterpart at the Russian Ministry of Defense in Moscow, has been in continuous operation, 24-hours a day, since its inception April 1, 1988. 

  Date: 2012 Description: Secretary Clinton with Acting Under Secretary Gottemoeller at the NRRC ribbon-cutting ceremony. - State Dept Image  

Youth Hockey in Novogorsk

The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs’ SportsUnited Division, together with U.S. Embassy Moscow and the Russian Ministry of Sport, supported a bilateral ice hockey exchange program that sent 24 Americans – 10 boys, 10 girls, and 4 coaches – to Moscow, Russia from October 6 – 14 for ice hockey diplomacy. The teens and coaches, selected in coordination with USA Hockey, took part in clinics, lived and practiced alongside their Russian counterparts, and met several legends of Russian and American hockey.

The program was organized and supported by the Russian Ice Hockey Federation. This program reciprocated a 2011 program, when 24 Russian youth ice hockey players and coaches traveled to Washington, D.C. This recent program concludes a series of exchanges that have taken place over the last two and a half years under the auspices of the BPC’s Education, Culture, Sports, and Media Working Group, including exchanges between Russian and American youth athletes in basketball, beach volleyball, hockey and swimming. SportsUnited and Embassy Moscow are currently planning the next round of sports exchanges for 2013 and 2014.

    Date: 2012 Description: American and Russian ice hockey players meet with Alexander Ovechkin after his practice session in Moscow. - State Dept Image    

“#Spaso2012” Celebrates Election 2012

“Tweet” was the word at U.S. Embassy Moscow's election night party at Spaso House, the Ambassador's residence. The first floor of Spaso House became a massive Wifi zone, and the Embassy created a special hashtag - #Spaso2012 - for the event. Crowds gathered around a Twitterfall that broadcast constantly updated Tweets about the election from all over the world; more than 50 Tweets mentioned #Spaso2012.

Approximately 600 guests from government, business, education, NGOs, and media attended the election night party. Embassy Moscow hosted a mock election in which all attendees could participate.

Media coverage of the event was extensive. Radio station Echo Moskvy broadcast live from the party, interviewing Ambassador McFaul and notable guests. Local blogger Vitaly Ragulin posted a photo essay from the event on Echo Moskvy's web site. Photos from Moscow’s event showed up in The Guardian's best election photos of 2012.The Washington Post’s Election 2012 blog included coverage of the election night event.

      Date: 2012 Description: A Russian guest casts her ballot in the mock election. - State Dept Image      

One Tweeting guest summarized the mood of the crowd with her Tweet: “Had a great opportunity to meet interesting people, to discuss the election and reunite with FLEX alumni! Tonight was great!”

*NOTE: FLEX, the Future Leaders Exchange Program, provides scholarships for high school students (ages 15-17) from Eurasia to spend an academic year in the United States, living with a family and attending an American high school.

Business Development and Economic Relations

SelectUSA Investment Forum at Spaso House

On November 13, 2012, the U.S. Embassy in Moscow hosted a SelectUSA Investment Forum at the Ambassador's residence, Spaso House. Approximately 100 senior Russian business executives attended the event, including many members of the Russian Union of Entrepreneurs and Industrialists, a key partner of the event.

SelectUSA (, housed in the Department of Commerce, coordinates investment-related resources across U.S. federal agencies and is the single point of contact at the national level to help international and domestic firms grow and invest in the U.S. Russia is a priority country for SelectUSA investment attraction activities.

Investment promotion is a key element of the Business Development and Economic Relations Working Group (BDERWG), and Commerce Assistant Secretary Camuñez, the U.S. Coordinator for BDERWG, was a keynote speaker at the event.

The forum also featured remarks by U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, and a panel of tax, legal, and banking experts who discussed investing in the U.S.

           Date: 2012 Description: U.S. Department of Commerce Assistant Secretary for Market Access and Compliance Michael C. Camunez.  - State Dept Image           

The main business forum was preceded by a private lunch with major Russian industrialists hosted by Ambassador McFaul and Assistant Secretary Camuñez. Attendees included senior executives from LUKOIL, GAZ Group, Mechel Mining, ESN Group, Siberian Coal Energy Company, TMK Group, Magnitogorsk Steel Plant, EuroChem and others.

BDERWG Co-coordinators Meeting

On November 12, Commerce Assistant Secretary Michael Camuñez, the new BDERWG co-coordinator for the United States government, met with his Russian counterpart, Deputy Minister of Economic Development Alexey Likhachev. The participants discussed the proposed 2013 – 2014 BDERWG workplan, which focuses on facilitating trade and expanding two-way investment, and promoting joint efforts to improve the Russian business climate and leverage Russia’s WTO accession for mutual benefit.

Business and Trade Mission Supports Expansion of Two-Way Trade

Embassy Moscow’s Foreign Commercial Service (FCS) recruited and led a business delegation of seven Russian importers and buyers interested in packaging equipment to Pack Expo in Chicago from October 26 – 31, 2012. The Russian companies had matchmaking appointments with U.S. companies exhibiting at the expo. FCS Moscow conducted one-on-one meetings with U.S. exhibitors interested in exporting to or expanding their presence in the Russian market.

Sociology Professor Shares U.S. Experience on Global Entrepreneurship

The eminent University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) professor of sociology, Ivan Light, visited St. Petersburg November 5 – 9 and spoke with faculty and students at several of St. Petersburg's most prestigious universities, including the Higher School of Economics, the European University, Smolny College of the St. Petersburg State University, and the University of Economics and Finance.

Professor Light's many publications are quite well known in Russian academic and business circles. Audiences eagerly listened to his presentations on topics such as “middleman minorities in business structures,” “mobilizing and swapping resources for entrepreneurship: theory and practice,” and “global entrepreneurship and transnationalism.”

Professor Light gave an interview with the weekly magazine “Gorod 812,” focused on comparisons and contrasts between Russian and American approaches to business ethics and globalization.

Education, Culture, Sports, and Media 

Maya Azucena Brings R&B to Russia

American Rhythm and Blues singer Maya Azucena and her band had a triumphal two-week tour of Russia from October 25 to November 7, funded and organized by the Public Affair Section of U.S. Embassy Moscow as part of the BPC’s Education, Culture, Sports, and Media Working Group.

                 Date: 2012 Description: Maya Azucena performs with Russian saxophonist Nikolay Vintskevich during her Russian tour. - State Dept Image                 

The band performed in Irkutsk at the Jazz on Baikal Festival as well as in Kursk, Oryol, and Voronezh as part of the Jazz Province Festival.

In Moscow they played outstanding shows at the Igor Butman Club and the Ambassador’s residence, Spaso House, where Azucena inspired the audience to dance.

In addition to these large public concerts, the ensemble performed for a predominantly disabled audience at the Preodoleniye Rehabilitation Center, participated in a children’s vocal competition, and conducted a workshop for young Russian musicians.

The American group had many opportunities for musical collaboration with Russian musicians, including a folk choir in Kursk.

A Bi-National Dialogue on the U.S. Election

Russian and American international affairs graduate students joined in a lively exchange of perspectives on the recent American presidential elections and the future of the U.S. – Russia bilateral relationship thanks to a videoconference hosted by the U.S. Embassy’s Information Resource Center. Prominent faculty members Andrew Bennett of Georgetown University and Tatiana Shakleina of Moscow State University of International Relations moderated the event entitled, “The U.S. Election: A Bi-National Dialogue.” 

                     Date: 2012 Description: International Relations students at Georgetown University & MGIMO discuss the U.S. elections. - State Dept Image                     

In addition to the graduate students gathered at the two universities, the event drew online viewers and webchat participants from throughout Russia. The event was covered by print and photo journalists and live-tweeted by Embassy staff.

Diva Brings American Masters to Moscow

World famous opera singer Jessye Norman received a standing ovation following her performance at Stanislavsky Musical Theater in Moscow as part of the “Queens of Opera” Festival. Ms. Norman’s virtuoso performance showcased a repertoire called “Great American Maestro” that included songs by George Gershwin and Duke Ellington, and pieces made famous by Ella Fitzgerald. The event was attended by Prime Minister Medvedev and his wife Svetlana.

BPC support was announced at the beginning of the show and the concert was followed by a reception, at which Ambassador McFaul gave remarks. Over the next two years, the “Queens of Opera” Festival will bring several internationally renowned opera singers to Moscow and hold a gala finale in the Kremlin.

Largest-Ever Delegation of U.S. Universities Meets Record Number of Prospective Students in Moscow and St. Petersburg

On the eve of International Education Week (November 12 – 16), 27 U.S. universities presented the full range of opportunities offered by American higher educational institutions to audiences in Moscow and St. Petersburg. The first-ever EducationUSA Fair in Russia’s second largest city brought together 600 students interested in international education. In Moscow, EducationUSA hosted a pavilion at the largest-ever “Education & Career” fair, held at the premier location next to Red Square, Gostinyy Dvor.

Out of 40,000 students, teachers and parents who attended the fair over three days, 1,300 visited the U.S. pavilions for consultations and discussions, and many attended special follow-on presentations at the EducationUSA Center. 20 Competitive College Club members assisted the university representatives with their Moscow tour, including outreach visits to Russian universities. Deputy Chief of Mission Sheila Gwaltney hosted a reception in the delegation’s honor, which recognized the valuable role of participating universities in promoting U.S. education, and gave them a unique opportunity to network with their Russian colleagues.

Filmmaker Discusses Tolstoy’s Legacy

Documentary filmmaker Sara Winter has produced films on author Leo Tolstoy's estate, Yasnaya Polyana, on a walk she did retracing Tolstoy's steps from Moscow to the estate (120 miles/193 kilometers), and on the dedication of a Leo Tolstoy/Hadji Murat monument in Dagestan. During her two-day speaker program in Russia, Ms. Winter showed and discussed the films with students and teachers of English at the Tula Pedagogical University, with pupils at School No. 3 in Tula, at the Russian State Humanities University in Moscow and at the American Center in Moscow. All the presentations included lively Q&A sessions that touched on Professor Winter's interest in Tolstoy and the significance of Tolstoy in America more generally. Professor Winter also did several interviews about her work with radio and print media.

11th Annual English Language Education Innovation Conference

Sixty leaders in the field of English language teaching and learning in Russia met at the Orlyonok Black Sea Educational Facility for the eleventh annual English as a Foreign Language (EFL) Umbrella Conference. The participants spent four days reviewing the past year’s professional development programs for Russian teachers, discussing successes and missed opportunities, and brainstorming cooperative projects for the future. A concurrent program for 90 students gave participants in the conference an opportunity to observe classes, work with the students directly, and give feedback to teachers.

Unique in its format and results, the ESL conference brings together practitioners and opinion shapers in the EFL field and generates concrete results: several projects originally conceived at previous conferences are used widely across Russia. The English Language Office at U.S. Embassy Moscow designed and organized this year’s Umbrella Conference in conjunction with Russia’s National Association of Teachers of English.

Bilateral Creativity During National Novel Writing Month

Embassy Moscow hosted a live U.S. – Russia videoconference and discussion on the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) initiative, in which writers across the globe challenged themselves to complete 50,000-word novels during the month of November. The discussion featured American authors and NaNoWriMo organizers Nancy Kelley and Tim Peacock, who discussed how participating in this experiment has changed them as writers.

The program brought together American and Russian creative writers and allowed for first-hand communication between the writers and the audience, whether in-person or virtual.

Vladivostok Discovers New Edges of Jazz

The Primorye Regional Philharmonic Hall hosted the 9th Annual International Jazz Festival in Vladivostok November 8 – 11. U.S. Consulate Vladivostok continued its long-running support of American participants in the festival, as American jazz musicians demonstrated the diversity of the genre and musical aspects of U.S. culture.

The trio of harpist Edmar Castaneda, trombonist Marshall Gilke, and percussionist David Silliman captivated audiences through a fantastic combination of folk music weaved into Latin-American jazz rhythms.

                              Date: 2012 Description: Harpist Edmar Castaneda. - State Dept Image                              

Another festival highlight was American beat boxer Yancarlos Sanchez, who broke all jazz and beat box stereotypes by combining the two genres into a unique performance.

                               Date: 2012 Description: Beat box performer Yancarlos Sanchez. - State Dept Image                               

Besides providing such outstanding performances, participating American musicians met with music students and local media.

American Graphic Novelist at "Boomfest"

The commercially successful and critically acclaimed American graphic novelist, cartoonist, and writer Jessica Abel participated in “Boomfest 2012,” an international comic festival held in St. Petersburg from September 25 to October 2. During her visit, she participated in several panel discussions, gave master classes, mentored emerging artists and authors, worked with children, and attended exhibitions, screenings and presentations. She also spoke at two American Corners on the history of American comic books.

Cartoons and graphic novels are becoming increasingly popular in Russia and Ms. Abel's visit, which was organized under the auspices of the Bilateral Presidential Commission, not only advanced a general appreciation for these media, but also emphasized the significant contributions American artists and authors have made in these areas.

Philosopher Carlin Romano Charms Audiences in Northwest Russia

Professor Carlin Romano, a renowned American writer and professor of philosophy at Ursinus College and the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg School for Communication, was the keynote speaker at an international conference on “Liberal Education in Russia and the World” at the Smolny College of St. Petersburg State University. Dr. Romano also presented his most recent book "America the Philosophical" at the School of Philosophy of St. Petersburg State University.

Dr. Romano also gave a talk on “Why Philosophy Matters to Business” at the Consul General's Residence to a crowd of nearly one hundred members of the elite Context Club, an interdisciplinary discussion group principally for business people.

During his visit, Professor Romano traveled to Arkhangelsk, where he participated in several panels at an American studies conference hosted by Russia's new Northern Arctic Federal University.

                                    Date: 2012 Description: Pomorye TV interviews Carlin Romano at the American Corner in Arkhangelsk. - State Dept Image                                    

American Film Music Fills St. Petersburg's Philharmonic Hall

The St. Petersburg State Symphony Orchestra and the Female Choir of the Rimksy-Korsakov Musical College joined together for an engaging performance featuring theme music from contemporary American films. Among the works performed was Danny Elfman’s theme for “Dark Shadows” and pieces by Wojciech Kilar, including his theme for Francis Ford Coppola's “Dracula.”

                                     Date: 2012 Description: The St. Petersburg State Symphony Orchestra and the Female Choir performing American cinematic music. - State Dept Image                                     
Ali Savino Discusses the Role of Social Media in U.S. Political Campaigns

As part of its comprehensive programming on the U.S. presidential election, Consulate St. Petersburg invited Ali Savino, co-founder of the Center for Independent Media and a Democratic Party campaign advisor on social media, to St. Petersburg to discuss the role of social media in political campaigns. Ms. Savino shared her thoughts with several groups of journalists, students, academics, Internet entrepreneurs, politicians and others during her two-day visit. Her principal message was that through social media candidates can easily, efficiently and economically target specific audiences with tailored messages while bypassing traditional media.

                                       Date: 2012 Description: Ali Savino speaking at St. Petersburg State University's School of Journalism. - State Dept Image                                       

Advancing the Rights of the Disabled: Gaining Access to Cultural Spaces

Consulate St. Petersburg invited Betty Siegel to Russia to participate in the October 25 international conference on “Integration of Disabled People Into Information and Social-Cultural Spaces.” Ms. Siegel, who is responsible for disability access issues at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., consults on access issues for numerous cultural institutions throughout the United States.

During her keynote address, Ms. Siegel stressed the need to accommodate the disabled in cultural institutions as audience members, performers, and as employees. In addition to her participation at the conference, Ms. Siegel met with city officials from St. Petersburg as well as directors of several significant cultural institutions, including the Presidential Library, the Russian Museum, and Saint Isaac's Cathedral. 

Scott Turow Takes St. Petersburg and Moscow by Storm

Famed American novelist and lawyer Scott Turow engaged Russian audiences ranging from senior scholars to young readers of American fiction. Mr. Turow visited the flagship store of St. Petersburg's largest bookstore chain, Bukvoyed Na Vosstanoya, and local universities.

In addition to these appearances, Mr. Turow discussed the American judicial system and the life of an attorney in the United States with students at the University of Economics and Finance's Faculty of Law, and focused on creative writing with English philology and creative writing students at Herzen Pedagogical University.

                                           Date: 2012 Description: Scott Turow speaks to students during his visit to Russia. - State Dept Image                                           

Russian Internet Journalist Reports Live on U.S. Elections from Chicago

A senior correspondent for, one of Russia's most popular Internet news and information portals, reported live on election night from President Obama’s campaign headquarters in Chicago. In the United States on a Foreign Press Center “Election Night Embed” program, Kseniya Potiva, visited various polling stations and provided continuous updates for her readers in Russia.

Americans Perform at “International Week of Conservatories” Music Festival

On November 7, students and faculty from Wichita State University School of Music performed before a capacity audience in the Glazunov Hall of the famed St. Petersburg State Conservatory.

                                             Date: 2012 Description: Students and faculty from Wichita State University School of Music on the Glazunov Hall Stage. - State Dept Image                                             

Their performance was part of the 12th International Musical Festival “International Week of Conservatories.” Judging from the prolonged ovation and numerous requests for encores, their performance was a great success. On November 9, they gave an equally well received concert at St. Petersburg State Technical University. Before and between performances, they taught master classes for Conservatory students and young musicians.

Adding to the American contribution to the event, renowned American conductor Semyon Bychkov was granted the honor of being the closing conductor at the festival. Mr. Bychkov conducted the Grand Symphony Orchestra and Choir of the Conservatory Theater.

Russian Students Engage in Discussion of U.S. – Russia Relations

On Tuesday, November 13, David Kostelancik, Director of the Office of Russian Affairs at the U.S. Department of State, spoke with more than 200 students at St. Petersburg State University's School of International Relations at Smolny. Among other topics, he discussed the current state of U.S. – Russian relations and the expectation for continuity in U.S. policy vis-à-vis Russia during the second Obama administration.

                                                Date: 2012 Description: Office Director Kostelancik speaks to students. - State Dept Image                                                

American and Russian Jazz Musicians Perform Together at the Philharmonic Hall

On November 15, American and Russian jazz musicians performed together before a sold-out crowd at St. Petersburg's Bolshoi Zal Philharmonic Hall. The American performers included vocalist J.D. Walter, bassist Eddie Gomez, and drummer Willie Roberts. The event was held in honor of the 50th birthday of one of Russia's finest jazz pianists and composers, Andrey Kondakov, who, along with several other St. Petersburg jazz musicians, played alongside their American guests.

Khabarovsk Youth Theater Stages Plays by American Teenagers

In mid-November, the Khabarovsk Youth Theater presented a production of “Atlantis,” a play by American teenagers. The production comes as a result of the theater’s cooperative relationship with the Young Playwrights Theater in Washington, D.C.

After reviewing dozens of scripts, seven were eventually chosen and then, through a grant from the Russian Union of Theater Experts, the Khabarovsk Youth Theater launched an international theater project entitled “Children Write for Theater.” The stories and scripts developed by American teens were translated into Russian and staged in this performance called “Atlantis.” The uniqueness of this show is that along with professional actors, young Russian teenagers play leading roles. The show addressed numerous questions that children and teenagers face while growing up.

Journalists Gather in Washington

The third session of the BPC Sub-Working Group on Mass Media held sessions at the U.S. Institute of Peace and the Newseum in Washington, D.C. The group held productive sessions on the Business of Media; the Evolving Practice and Profession of Journalism; and New Media Technologies. The group also visited the Washington Post, and finalized plans for its young journalists exchange program. 

                                                    Date: 2012 Description: Attendees of the BPC's Mass Media Sub-Working Group. - State Dept Image                                                    

Science and Technology

Science Workshop Addresses Climate Change and Hydrologic Modeling

U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientists met with counterparts at the State Hydrological Institute (SHI) in St. Petersburg and the Hydrometcentre (HMC) in Moscow. The scientific exchanges focused on climate change and streamflow monitoring operations and analysis. SHI Director Vasily Georgievsky’s research on streamflow trends in response to climate change is similar to USGS research. The USGS participants benefited from SHI’s extensive experience with Siberian wetlands hydrology and with river and lake ice hydrology, while HMC scientists plan to apply U.S. experience and research to their work in the Volga River basin and Black Sea region. 


Innovation Working Group Meets in the Hypercube

The U.S. – Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission’ Innovation Working Group held its second meeting at the “Hypercube” in Moscow, the first completed building of the Russian government’s flagship innovation project, Skolkovo.

                                                       Date: 2012 Description: The Hypercube. - State Dept Image                                                       

U.S. Co-Chair, Undersecretary for Economic Growth, the Environment and Energy Robert Hormats, said he was enthusiastic about U.S. – Russia collaboration under the Working Group and noted that partnership on innovation strengthens U.S. – Russian relations. Russian Co-Chair, Deputy Prime Minister Vladislav Surkov, expressed optimism for the work of the group and stressed the value of the Innovation Working Group’s collaborative efforts in moving the Skolkovo initiative forward.

At the end of the day, the State Department’s Special Representative for Commercial and Business Affairs, Lorraine Hariton, and Russia’s Deputy Minister of Economic Development Oleg Fomichev, the co-coordinators for the Innovation Working Group, signed a joint work plan. The plan details concrete steps to further develop ongoing cooperation in three main areas: the legal framework for innovation, cooperation on innovation centers and regional innovation clusters, and the development of commercialization chains.

Nuclear Energy and Nuclear Security

Sub-Working Group on Civil Nuclear Energy Cooperation Holds Mid-Year Tech Review

The sub-Working Group on U.S. – Russian Civil Nuclear Energy Cooperation, under the Auspices of the BPC’s Nuclear Energy and Nuclear Security (NENS) Working Group, held its mid-year technical review via video teleconference between Washington, D.C. and Obninsk, Russia.

The meeting was chaired by the U.S. and Russian Technical Coordinators, Andrew Griffith of the U.S. Department of Energy and Valery Rachkov, the Scientific Director of the Institute for Physics and Power Engineering. The meeting was also attended by the U.S. and Russian leads for the various technical elements under the Working Sub-Group.


Environment Working Group Experts Meeting

The BPC’s Environmental Working Group of the held a High-Level Experts Meeting on October 31st. The three-hour meeting was jointly chaired by Daniel Reifsnyder, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Environment, and Nuritdin Inamov, Head of the International Cooperation Department of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.

The assembled experts discussed ongoing collaborative projects and charted new initiatives for 2013. The agenda included a wide range of cooperation in areas such as combating wildlife trafficking; promoting sustainable forestry; improving park and protected area management; sharing best practices in hazardous waste clean-up, including in the environmentally sensitive Arctic region; collaboration on climate change issues; and symbolically linking U.S. and Russian National Parks in the Bering Straits region (Beringia).

Projects slated to begin in the coming months include joint Environmental Protection Agency work with Murmansk Technical University and the city of Murmansk to monitor and reduce Black Carbon emissions from diesel sources, and a visit to Russia by U.S. specialists to share best practices in hazardous waste management under the Superfund and Brownfields projects, which will include a field visit to sites in Nizniy Novgorod. Superfund and Brownfields projects are complimentary programs designed to clean up contaminated locations.

American Teens Win Third Prize at International Forestry Competition Moscow

Two U.S. high school students, Emily Barnett and Tyler Myers, traveled to Russia to present their field research project, “The Effects of Fire and Forest Thinning on the Biodiversity of Understory Plants in the Lake Tahoe Basin,” at the 9th Annual International Junior Foresters’ Competition. Their project won Third Prize among 52 projects presented by students from around the world. The Head of the Russian Federal Forestry Agency, V.N. Maslyakov, presented their prizes to them.

The competition is hosted annually by the Russian Federal Forestry Agency, and brings together youth from nations around the world to promote and reward young scientists for their interest and efforts in the environmental field and encourage international dialogue concerning forestry issues. This year, close to 100 students from 35 countries took part. This was the first time the United States participated in the competition.

Date: 2012 Description: Emily Barnett and Tyler Myers shown in the middle. - State Dept Image

The students’ participation in this competition is part of an ongoing collaboration between the US Forest Service and the Russian Federal Forestry Agency as part of the BPC’s Environment Working Group.

Illegal Logging Study Tour

The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) implemented a U.S. – Russia exchange program under the Environment Working Group on forest law enforcement and timber theft investigation. The delegation from Russia included seven forestry, law enforcement, and policy specialists who visited Washington, D.C. and Washington State to examine U.S. approaches to forest law enforcement and timber theft investigation.

The visit complemented U.S. efforts to inform stakeholders in Russia about the U.S. Lacey Act, which prohibits trade in wildlife, fish, and plants that have been illegally taken, transported or sold; highlighted and explored relevant timber theft case studies that demonstrate law enforcement, investigation, and prosecution processes in the U.S.; and discussed relevant technologies that can enhance law enforcement efforts to address and deter illegal logging.

Date: 2012 Description: Timber Sale specialist Jana Carlson demonstrates USFS tree marking techniques to the Russian delegates. - State Dept Image

Technical Cooperation Improves Trail Network Information at Lake Baikal

Three U.S. Forest Service (USFS) representatives traveled to Irkutsk, Russia, to work with The Great Baikal Trail Association, a local NGO, on the design of public information materials aimed at both local and international tourists hoping to hike along the shore of Lake Baikal. The USFS specialists’ visit provided an opportunity to exchange ideas, methodologies, and practices related to development of interpretive and informational materials (brochures, trail maps, websites, and signs).

The Great Baikal Trail Association, one of the USFS’s closest partners in the Baikal region, is celebrating their 10-year anniversary of working to promote local sustainable development through low-impact eco-tourism throughout the Baikal region.

In Other News…

Young Diplomats Day

The U.S. Consulate in Yekatenrinburg welcomed 10 new “employees” for its Young Diplomats Day. The participants were selected due to exceptional essays submitted during an American Center contest, titled, “The America I Discovered.”

                                                                     Date: 2012 Description: U.S. Consulate Yekaterinburg's newest officers. - State Dept Image                                                                     

The students functioned as diplomats for the day, beginning with a morning briefing with the Consul General. Students interacted with the full breadth of the Consulate’s offices from the Political, Economics, and Consular Sections, to the consulate’s Regional Security Office.

Short video:

Paralympic Skier Inspires Moscow Audience

Medal-winning paralympic skier Chris Waddell participated at an Embassy-organized event at Moscow’s Preodolenie rehabilitation center. The center provides treatment for patients with disabilities caused by spinal cord and other paralyzing injuries.

                                                                       Date: 2012 Description: Chris Waddell. - State Dept Image                                                                       

Waddell gave a presentation about his ascent of Mount Kilimanjaro, which he made using a specially designed handcycle. In sharing his experience with roughly 20 patients, Waddell emphasized the theme that “it's not what happens to you… it's what you do with what happens to you.” 

                                                                        Date: 2012 Description: At the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro. - State Dept Image                                                                        

Events Calendar

November: Yekaterinburg hosted a six-person woodwind group from the U.S. Naval Base, Naples, Italy, in early November.

November: Vladivostok International Jazz Festival in Vladivostok and Nakhodka.

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

December 4 – 6: The Health Working Group will participate in the “Ways to Reduce Infant Mortality due to Infectious and Parasitic Diseases: The Russian Experience” forum taking place in St. Petersburg.

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.

December 12: An exhibition from the National Veterans Art Museum in Chicago will open in St. Petersburg at the Russian State Museum of Political History. The exhibition will run through the end of January.

December 13 – 15: The Aristocrats will perform at the Primorye Regional Philharmonic Hall, Vladivostok, Club-Restaurant “Shiber,” Vladivostok, and at the Music Club “Cat & Clover,” Nakhodka.

December 22 – 25: The Lehrer Dance Company will perform at the Primorye Regional Philharmonic Hall, Vladivostok and the Kamchatka Regional College of Arts, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy.

January 2013: The U.S. Forest Service will host four Russian researchers studying invasive forest pests.

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