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Russian AntiĖDrug Abuse Activists Study Western Pennsylvania Prevention And Treatment Programs
September 22, 2005

For Immediate Release

Washington, DC ó Three NGO leaders and a medical school administrator from Russia will spend Sept. 24ĖOct. 2 studying drug abuse prevention and treatment in Greenville, Mercer, Sharon, Hermitage, and Slippery Rock, PA, on the congressionally sponsored Open World Program. The Russian experts will brainstorm anti-drug strategies and treatment methods with elected officials, police chiefs, DEA and narcotics agents, and school and public health officials. HIV/AIDS education will also be a focus of the exchange, which the Greenville Rotary Club is conducting for Open World.

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 experience U.S. democracy and civil society while building professional ties with their American counterparts. Rotary International has been a major hosting partner for Open World since the programís inception in 1999.

In Greenville, their host city, the Russian delegates will explore school-based anti-drug programs with Greenville High School Principal John Ziegler and Hermitage Middle School teacher Ray Olsen; meet with students at Keystone Adolescent Center, a residential treatment facility; and discuss narcotics investigations with an agent of the Pennsylvania Attorney Generalís Drug Task Force.

In Sharon (Sept. 30), scheduled highlights include meeting with a representative from U.S. Sen. Rick Santorumís office, state Sen. Bob Robbins, and state Rep. Rod Wilt; discussing drug issues with Mayor David Ryan and Police Chief Tom Burke; learning about assessment, treatment, and referral systems available through Sharon Regional Health Systemís and UPMC Horizonís substance-abuse programs, and attending a panel discussion by halfway house residents.

In Mercer (Sept. 28), the team will review county drug treatment programs with County Commissioner Michelle Brooks; examine drug enforcement with Mercer County Court of Common Pleas Judge Thomas Dobson and District Attorney James Epstein; observe a criminal hearing for a drug offender; tour the county jail; and hold talks with a state trooper and a Mercer County Behavioral Health Commission case manager.

Other highlights will include visits to Slippery Rock University (Sept. 27), to discuss drug counseling and social work training with faculty and meet with the Russian Club, and to Jackson Center (Sept. 29), to study state health department drug and AIDS treatment programs.

Delegate Aleksandr Balykov heads the Khvalynsk branch of the No to Alcoholism and Drug Addiction (NAN) Foundation, established in 1987 in Moscow during perestroika. Yelena Belevich is a project manager at the St. Petersburg branch of the British-based EveryChild organization, where her activities include conducting seminars and workshops on HIV/AIDS, and building NGO and community networks. Natalya Lebedeva serves as assistant director for academics at Yaroslav Mudry (Yaroslav the Wise) Novgorod State University Medical College, in Nizhniy Novgorod. She launched a volunteer program at the college aimed at combating juvenile drug addiction in her historic city. Psychologist Viktoriya Mushnikova is the deputy director of the Dialogue Center, a regional NGO headquartered in the Siberian city of Irkutsk that focuses on strengthening families.

Homestays with Greenville Rotarians will introduce the Russian delegation to American family and community life.

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. It also exposes delegates to ideas and practices they can adapt for use in their own work. Founded in 1999 with a focus on Russia, the program expanded in 2003 to include pilot exchanges with Lithuania, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan. Delegates range from members of parliament to mayors, from innovative nonprofit directors to independent journalists, and from political party activists to regional administrators. More than 9,800 Open World participants have been hosted in all 50 U.S. states. The programís administering agency, the Open World Leadership Center, is a legislative branch entity with offices at the Library of Congress.

For more information on the Pennsylvania visit, please contact Bill Kirker of the Greenville Rotary Club at 724-588-9613 ext. 1349 or Open World Program Manager Lewis Madanick at 202-707-8943. For more information on Open World, please visithttp://www.openworld.gov.