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Open World Hosts Russian Leaders for Election and Media Program
October 28, 2004

For Immediate Release

Russian Delegates Observe American Democracy Firsthand
By Witnessing Election Process

Washington, DC – Thirty-eight Russian government and media leaders are visiting the United States Oct. 27–Nov. 6 to learn about the U.S. election process and American campaign coverage on a professional exchange sponsored by the Open World Leadership Center. The Russian delegates include award-winning broadcast journalists and political columnists, regional and municipal officials, local election committee members, and government press officers.

After a two-day briefing session in Washington, DC, the Russians will divide into small delegations according to their professional backgrounds and depart to eight different cities across the country: Atlanta, GA; Baltimore, MD; Louisville, KY; Moorhead, MN; Portland, OR; Reno, NV; Rochester, NY; and Saratoga Springs, NY. While in their host cities they will discuss election coverage with TV and print journalists, meet with elected officials and political party activists, and watch demonstrations of voting procedures by county election officials, among other activities. Local hosts for the delegations include League of Women Voters chapters and international visitors organizations.

On Election Day, Nov. 2, as millions of citizens head to the polls, the Russian delegates will get a firsthand look at the American democratic process. They will visit polling places throughout the day and watch the returns come in that evening at news stations and election night gatherings.

Open World Executive Director Geraldine Otremba said, “This visit is a great opportunity for the Russian delegates to see our democracy in action. Our Russian guests will be interacting directly with local politicians, elections officials, political party representatives, journalists, and ordinary voters as they play their various roles in the electoral process.”

Below are some of the highlights of the delegations’ local programs:

· In Rochester, delegates will meet with U.S. Rep. Louise M. Slaughter to discuss her congressional career and the election;
· In Portland, the Russians will visit the Multnomah County Republican Party headquarters for a demonstration of their phone bank operation;
· In Baltimore, delegates will visit the Baltimore Sun on Election Day for an inside look at how reporters are preparing to cover the election results;
· In Atlanta, the Russian delegates will meet with Libertarian and Green party representatives to hear ideas beyond two-party politics;
· In Louisville, delegates will discuss news coverage with a producer at the local Fox television station.

Notable delegates include Aleksandr Pirogov, editor-in-chief, publisher and founder of the Voronezh Review; Andrey Ostrov, press secretary for the governor of the Tomsk region; Vasiliy Balditsyn, editor-in-chief of Stavropol Pravda; Mariya Ponomareva, assistant to State Duma Deputy I.V. Savelyeva; political journalists Irina Gordiyenko and Yana Serova of Novaya Gazeta; and Svetlana Ioshina, chair of the Zheleznodorozhny District Election Committee in Yekaterinburg.

Open World is a unique, nonpartisan initiative of the U.S. Congress designed to build mutual understanding between the United States and participating countries. 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.

The Open World Leadership Center has awarded grants to administer this election-themed exchange to the Academy for Educational Development, an independent, nonprofit organization committed to solving critical social problems throughout the world; Meridian International Center, a nonprofit institution that promotes international understanding through the exchange of people, ideas, and the arts; the National Peace Foundation, an organization strengthening the foundations for peace building, peace education and conflict resolution by promoting democratic justice through partnerships, intercultural exchanges and citizen networks; and the USDA Graduate School International Institute, which facilitates the exchange of knowledge and skills through a wide range of educational, exchange and observational study programs.

For more information on the upcoming visit, please contact Dara Klatt at The PBN Company at 202-466-6210. For more information on the Open World Program, please visit