Press release on the first meeting of the Foreign Ministry’s interdepartmental working group for preserving Russian historical and cultural heritage in the United States

May 26, 2017

On May 25, Moscow hosted the first meeting of the Foreign Ministry’s interdepartmental working group for preserving Russian historical and cultural heritage in the United States.
According to the Regulations on the Working Group, this deliberative body has been established under the Foreign Ministry for coordinating efforts to strengthen Russian-American cultural and humanitarian ties, to preserve and upgrade Russian-related memorial sites and heritage landmarks in the United States, and to help utilise their potential for advancing interests concerning Russian foreign policy.
The interdepartmental working group primarily aims to strengthen cooperation between institutions of state authority and local governments, non-profit and commercial organisations, representatives of the public involved in preserving Russian historical and cultural heritage abroad; to define priority areas of joint activities with due account of the Russian-US interstate relations; to draft proposals on streamlining bilateral cultural and humanitarian ties and preserving, restoring, upgrading and popularising Russian-related memorial sites and heritage landmarks in the United States; to implement specific promising projects in this area; to maintain the required contacts with foreign partners.
The working group is headed by Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov. Its First Deputy Chairman is Director of the Russian Foreign Ministry's Department of North America Georgy Borisenko, and its Deputy Chairman and Head of the Coordinating Expert Council is Deputy Director of the Foreign Ministry's Department of North America Alexey Korzhuyev.
The group includes representatives of the Federal Assembly, Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Industry and Trade, Federal Archival Agency (Rosarkhiv), State Archive of the Russian Federation (Gosarkhiv), Federal Agency for the Commonwealth of Independent States, Compatriots Living Abroad, and International Humanitarian Cooperation, Federal Agency for Scientific Organisations, Moscow Government, Vologda Region, Yakutsk City Hall, Transneft, Renova and Sovcomflot companies, Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of US and Canadian Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of World History, All-Russia State Library for Foreign Literature, State Museum of Oriental Art, Foreign Ministry’s Moscow State Institute of International Relations, Diplomatic Academy, Russian Geographical Society, Russian Military History Society, Russky Mir (Russian World) Foundation, Russian Academy of Art, Solzhenitsyn House of Russia Abroad, Rossiya Segodnya International Information Agency, Interfax News Agency, Association of Russian Diplomats, Chkalov International Memorial Charitable Foundation, and other organisations, as well as specialised Foreign Ministry departments.
During their first meeting, the members of the interdepartmental working group conducted a detailed discussion on the format of Russian involvement in celebrating memorable dates concerning Russian-American relations this year , including the 210th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations, the 200th anniversary of the arrival of a Russian squadron in Hawaii; the 150th anniversary of the Alaska Purchase Treaty, the 80th anniversary of the legendary flight of the crew led by Valery Chkalov from Moscow across the North Pole to the city of Vancouver, Washington, as well as annual events at Fort Ross Historic State Park — the site of the first Russian settlement in California.
The meeting participants conducted a comprehensive inventory of current efforts to study and preserve the Russian heritage in the United States and to maintain and expand contacts on this range of issues with the American side. They approved Transneft’s extended concept of the Fort Ross Dialogue socio-political and business forum stipulating its annual meetings at Fort Ross and Stanford University in the United States and also in Russia. Pskov and the Izborsk museum-fortress, which has twin-town relations with Fort Ross, will host the first Russian round between May 29-30, this year.
The interdepartmental working group’s members decided to examine promising initiatives in various areas, including expanded Russian cultural and humanitarian presence in Alaska; expanded inter-archive cooperation; the digitalisation, with the help of Russian experts, of documents about Russia’s contribution to developing the North American continent being stored at American state archives and archives of the Orthodox Church in America and making them publicly available; expanding US exhibitions on the legendary flights by Valery Chkalov’s crew and other outstanding Soviet aviators; preserving Russian cultural values from personal collections of famous Russian and Soviet cultural figures (Nicholas Roerich, Vladimir Mayakovsky, Sergey Rachmaninoff and others), as well as those of prominent emigrants, in the United States or repatriating them; and establishing cooperation with US museums and research agencies. The participants paid particular attention to the importance of popularising knowledge about “Russian America” in Russia and also discussed possibilities for posting thematic materials at libraries and open spaces in Moscow, in the public transport, etc.
President of the Russian Academy of Art Zurab Tsereteli's information on building and unveiling an international cultural-recreational complex and the monumental installation Birth of the New World in Arecibo, Puerto Rico, evoked great interest.
Representatives of organisations implementing cultural and humanitarian projects in the United States can email messages regarding cooperation with the interdepartmental working group to its executive secretary Yelena Agalakova at: [email protected].