Discover the New Russia: League of Women Voters Travel Journal
May 13, 2009
For the past four years the League of Women Voters has hosted delegations of Russians in the U.S. as part of the Open World Leadership Center. Now, members, staff and friends of the League have an opportunity to discover Russia for themselves. From May 11 - 23, 2009 a League delegation of nine will travel throughout Russia to the cities of Moscow, Kaluga, and St. Petersburg.
Day 1 - Arrival in Moscow
The League's delegation arrived in Moscow on May 12, 2009. The delegates were welcomed to Moscow during an evening meeting with Open World representatives and alumni, American Councils for International Education, representatives from the Women's Social Democratic Congress, and a Deputy of the Moscow City Council. During this meeting the delegates had the opportunity to discuss elections processes and women running for elected office. The discussion invited interesting comparisons between the experience of Russian and American women and men who seek elected office. Tomorrow the group will tour the city and then meet with representatives from City Hall.
There were some last minute changes in the schedule on Wednesday, so the delegation did not hold any official meetings. They took this opportunity to tour Moscow, stopping at St. Basil's Cathedral and other major sights. The group also toured the private collection of famous Russian artist Illya Galzonov. They ended the day with a folk dance concert.
The delegation spent Thursday meeting with government officials and NGO professionals. The day began at the Moscow City Duma, where the Chairman, Vladimir Platonov, and several Duma deputies discussed voting and elections processes, taxes, women's political involvement, and civic engagement with the delegation. Chairman Platonov presented Zaida Arguedas, Deputy Executive Director, with a framed picture of Moscow. Ms. Arguedas presented the Chairman with officials greeting from LWVUS President, Mary Wilson. In the afternoon the delegation participated in a roundtable with women's organizations. There was a lively discussion about the different avenues through which women can access political life in Russia and how it compared to the work of women's groups in the U.S. After the roundtable the entire group participated in a reception and concert of folk music. Members of the League's delegation all participated by playing traditional Russian instruments.
On Friday the delegation met with Anna Koshman, Executive Director of AIRP, United Independent Newspaper Publishers, and her colleague Maria Eismont, Program director of Eurasia Media Program. The discussion focused on quality of journalism in the U.S and in Russia. Following this meeting the delegation toured the Kremlin territory before departing for Kaluga. In Kaluga, a city of 350,000 located south of Moscow, the delegates were greeted very warmly by their host families.
Over the weekend the delegation spent time getting to know their host families and touring the city of Kaluga. The delegation toured three nearby historic monasteries in addition to learning about Kaluga's strong history in astronautics. All five of the host families have participated in Open World programs throughout the U.S.
The delegation began the day meeting with Alexander Ivanov, Chief of the Kaluga City Duma. Mr. Ivanov participated in the Open World program in Worcester, MA in 2005. During this meeting the delegation discussed local elections and the current projects of the Kaluga City Duma. The delegation then spent time at a local public school that has a strong focus on English language studies. The day concluded with a visit to the city's television station where the delegations discussed the role of women in politics and journalism with the Deputy Chief of the station. Then the Chief of the station, Alexander Barkov, led the delegation on a tour of the facilities. Mr. Barkov also participated in the Open World Program in Worcester withhttp://Mr.Ivanov. Tomorrow the delegation will depart the Kaluga and travel on the overnight train to St. Petersburg.