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Russian Judges to Study U.S. Judicial System in Montgomery on Open World Program, Meet Governor and Mayor
June 10, 2005

For Immediate Release

Washington, DC – Four Russian judges will visit Montgomery June 11–17 on the Open World Program to examine U.S. legal principles and practices. Chief U.S. District Judge Mark E. Fuller, Middle District of Alabama, will host their study trip, with assistance from U.S. District Judge Myron H. Thompson and the Rotary Club of Montgomery. Managed by the Open World Leadership Center, an independent agency located at the Library of Congress, Open World is the only exchange program in the U.S. legislative branch, and its four-year-old rule of law program is the largest U.S.-Russia judicial exchange.

Through Open World’s rule of law program, Russian jurists get an inside look at the U.S. judicial system and develop ties with the U.S. judges who organize their professional programs. Participants not only learn about U.S. judicial procedures, but also gain insight into how our political system promotes judicial independence and the rule of law. The Russian delegates traveling to Montgomery are especially interested in reviewing U.S. approaches to the adversarial system of law, jury trials, and juvenile justice, all relatively new concepts in post–Soviet era Russian jurisprudence.

Chief Judge Fuller has structured the Russians’ schedule so that they will be briefed on judicial procedures by their U.S. counterparts, and then see these procedures in practice during actual court proceedings. U.S. Magistrate Judge Susan Walker is coordinating the team of federal and state judges who will lead the briefings and host court observations. Also on the agenda are meetings with Gov. Bob Riley, Montgomery Mayor Bobby Bright, state Supreme Court justices, the U.S. Attorney, the Federal Public Defender, and court officers, and a tour of the federal prison at Maxwell Air Force Base. The Russian judges will attend Rotary functions and get a taste of the national pastime at a Biscuits game.

Montgomery’s Open World visitors are Judges Kharet Bors (Takhtamukay Provincial District Court, Adygeya Republic), Elena Kononova (Zheleznogorsk City Court, Kursk Region), Svetlana Kravchenko (Vidnoye City Court, Moscow Region), and Nikolay Panyukov (Kimovsk City Court, Tula Region). Judge Bors also serves on the body that qualifies judges for Adygeya Republic, and Judge Kononova sits on the Kursk Region Council of Judges, a judicial policy-making body.

Reports Librarian of Congress James H. Billington, Open World’s board chairman, “The value of Open World’s rule of law exchanges to the Russian jurists and their U.S. host judges has been affirmed at the highest level of both nations’ judiciaries, most recently in March, when U.S. and Russian Supreme Court justices and senior U.S. judges met during an Open World–sponsored visit to discuss rule of law issues, judicial reform in Russia, and future cooperation.

The Open World Program enables emerging political and civic leaders from Russia and other countries to work with their U.S. counterparts and see American-style democracy in action. More than 9,000 participants from all 89 Russian regions have stayed in all 50 U.S. states since Open World began in 1999. Open World also has exchanges with Lithuania, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan.

Open World delegates range from members of parliament to mayors, from innovative NGO directors to independent journalists, and from regional administrators to political activists. Visit themes include economic development, women’s leadership, and local governance.

Federal host judges for Open World’s rule of law program are recruited and assisted by the International Judicial Relations Committee of the U.S. Judicial Conference and the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. Rotary International, the parent organization of the Rotary Club of Montgomery, is one of Open World’s main hosting partners.

For more information on this visit, please contact Debbie Hackett at 334-954-3616 or George Felcyn at 202-466-6210. For information on Open World, please see