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Summary of remarks by Zhanna Reid at the panel “Russian-Americans and Russia’s Movement for Change: Community Organizing 2.0”, Columbia University, Nov. 9, 2012

We believe there are many of us – American Russians, Russian-speaking intelligentsia – who can effectively interact and communicate across the world, who have open minds, friendly attitude, who  can make their contribution, to promote   the growth of democracy, rule of law and civil society in Russia. We can assist open-minded Russians with European values in their struggle for the rule of law.

What we can start with:

1.establish communication via Internet

when our volunteers would go online in the social networks, blogs, civil organizations websites  etc., to provide Russians with free of propaganda and many-sided information. Needless to say Russian mass media – main  TV and radio channels  are being censored. There is mistrust in  Russian authorities as well as mistrust in democracy values. People are disappointed  and disoriented.

Main subjects  to discuss:

a)    anti-Americanism in Russia . After a short break (1990-s up to early 2000-s) the anti-American wave is back to Russia. Though many  American patterns came into a daily life in Russia, anti-American sentiments are high among all generations and groups of society. According to the independent Levada Center all-Russia poll performed in March 2010, 73% of Russians believe the USA to be “the aggressor” , striving to take “all countries in the world under it’s control”; only 8% see the country as a“defender” of peace, democracy and order in the world”. Popular idea“:Americans are looking forward to Russia’s collapse to capture Russian natural resources, to enslave us” Unfortunately even those Russian activists who believe in the rule of law and have democratic values support this idea. We can discuss this issue, giving examples of our own lives in the US, so that they can make difference between the truth and

b) how democracy  works in the countries with European values, how it works in the US, sharing our own experience. Democracy is a very important subject now, when  a big mistrust in democratic values is widely  in Russia.Though Russia  has democratic institutions,  they usually don’t  function in the democratic way. We can share with them ways Americans stand for  their civil rights, key factors that make democratic institutions work here in the US.

c) ways development of market economy and free  competition works

d) American society experience of fight racism and xenophobia, in the fight of minorities for their rights.

2. Next step can be developing Independent online media  and  social network for Russian speaking people

3.Arrangement of  traditional   communication means   such as  bilateral contacts,   professional   or student delegations exchanges  promotes more  opportunities for citizens of both Russia and USA, to get better understanding of each other’s values.

Discussion

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