Main PageAbout UsParticipantsGrantees/HostsAlumniMedia/News
Press Articles
Press Releases
Calender of Events
Photo Gallery
Russian Elections Officials Visit Capital Region to Examine U.S. Electoral Process
October 15, 2004

For Immediate Release

Washington, DC — Three elections officials and a party activist from Russia will spend Oct. 16–24 in Albany, Glens Falls, Lake George, Queensbury, Saratoga Springs, and Schenectady examining the U.S. electoral process on a visit sponsored by the Open World Program. Topics of special interest to the Russians include campaign finance, media campaign coverage, and methods of resolving disputed elections.

Managed by the independent Open World Leadership Center at the Library of Congress, Open World enables emerging political and civic leaders from Russia and other participating countries to observe U.S. democracy and free enterprise in action while building professional ties with their American counterparts.

The Russian Open World delegation coming to New York will meet with elected officials, elections officers, journalists, and political scientists across the Capital Region. The Capital Region Rotary (District 7190) will conduct the delegation’s professional program, which was planned by Rotarians Karen Swaim Babin and Fred Carvin.

Highlights of the Russians’ Capital Region agenda include reviewing voting procedures with Warren and Washington county elections officials; holding discussions with some of the area’s leading political journalists; participating in an “Election 2004” workshop with Union College political science professors and students; meeting with state officials, the mayors of Glens Falls and Saratoga Springs, and Queensbury elected officials; visiting the Democratic and Republican campaign headquarters in Albany; and attending a “meet the candidates lunch” at the Rotary Club of Glens Falls.

The Open World delegates are Mirkasim Arifullin, a top United Russia party official in Ulyanovsk Region, in the Volga area (the pro-presidential United Russia party has a significant majority in the State Duma); Soslan Bitsiyev, who heads the legal department of the elections committee of North Ossetia (the North Caucasus republic that was the site of the Beslan tragedy); Anatoliy Kushner, a district elections official in Ulyanovsk city and a consultant to the Ulyanovsk branch of the Russian Network Party for Support of Small and Medium-Sized Business; and Aleksandr Shcherbakha, head of the information systems group for a district elections committee in Omsk, in western Siberia, and a youth activist.

Homestays with local Rotary members will introduce the Russian delegates to American family and community life. Rotary International, the parent organization of Rotary District 7190, has played a major role in hosting Open World exchanges since the program began in 1999.

Open World is a unique, nonpartisan initiative of the U.S. Congress that builds mutual understanding between the emerging leaders of participating countries and their U.S. counterparts. The program also exposes visitors to ideas and practices that they can adapt for use in their own organizations. More than 8,000 Russian Open World participants from all of the country’s 89 regions have visited all 50 U.S. states since the program began in 1999. Open World also recently initiated pilot exchanges with Lithuania, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan.

Open World delegates range from members of parliament to mayors, from innovative nonprofit directors to experienced journalists, and from political party activists to regional administrators. The program’s administering agency, the Open World Leadership Center, is an independent legislative branch entity with offices at the Library of Congress.

For more information on the New York visit, please contact Fred Carvin at 518-793-4381 or George Felcyn at The PBN Company at 202-466-6210. For more information on the Open World Program, please visit