Tuesday, 21 June 2016

American 'Citizen Diplomats' in Russia

Peace and Friendship Tour — June 15-30, 2016.

An unofficial group of 20 Americans, who disagree with the official US government policy, are conducting their own 'grassroots' citizen diplomacy in Russia for 2 weeks.

Volunteer American public figures, former government officials, teachers, doctors from Washington, Salem OR, San Francisco and New York, are traveling through Moscow, Crimea (Yalta, Simferopol, and Sevastopol), Krasnodar, and St. Petersburg.

Center for Citizen Initiatives peace tour in Crimea, ~20 June 2016.

The trip was organized by the Center for Citizen Initiatives (CCI), San Mateo, California, headed by Sharon Tennison, president and founder. CCI did similar trips in February to St. Petersburg, Moscow, and Volgograd; and in previous years. The CCI website states:
'Our chief objective will be to get a realistic understanding of Russia today, from students at their universities to policy makers in their offices. We will engage in informal discussions with Russian businessmen and women, NGO organizers, physicians, educators, working journalists and families in their homes. Dividing up in groups of four Americans each day, we will have different experiences which will later develop into a composite picture of what collectively we have learned.'
To unite Russians and Americans in Crimea, they are meeting local officials and citizens, will do a short tour of the South Coast, and swim for peace and friendship in the Black Sea at Yalta.

Among the 20 citizen delegates are:
Dr. Gould and 3 others probably joined after the list was published, bringing the total count to the 20 reported in the Russian news.

Col. Wright acknowledged:
'Sanctions policy never works, ...'; and 'I admire the courage of the Crimean people who despite all sanctions, they say that they will do what they see fit, and not what everyone wants from them.'
Raymond McGovern described the distorted view Americans have of Russia and stressed:
'It is very important for us to come here ourselves and to see and hear about events from their direct participants, because we can not fully rely on the information that we presented to the American media.'
'People shape our policy towards Russia seems to have no idea of ​​what threatens escalation.'
Elizabeth Murray added that 'in her country, there is no complete and objective information on how Crimeans live and what has changed in their lives over the past two years.'

The Crimean newspaper South-Yalta reported:
'Our American colleagues wanted to make sure that the Crimeans do not live under the pressure of the authorities [and] that it is their personal choice. They are very surprised to see just such Yalta, because their media show peninsula in a different light. Upon arrival in America, these public figures will share their experiences in the local press.'
Video reports should be posted at CCI, as they did for previous trips. See 21 videos, most aired on 'Present!', KMVT 15, Mountain View Community Television, Silicon Valley, California. The videos feature 1.5 hours with Vladimir Posner, who explains the danger of NATO aggression, American mistreatment, misunderstanding and other topics.

The Americans are following delegations to Crimea from France (June 2015), Israel (Feb 2016), Italy (May 2016), Germany (May 2016), China (May 2016), Greece and Iraq who were seeking business and trade relations, which initially confused some Russian reporters and is repeated in secondary reports.

Tennison is a 30-year citizen diplomat and advocate for peace with Russia, and owns an apartment in St. Petersburg. Though an advocate trying to help Russia, in February she was arrested and detained until Russian officials realized the CCI 'were Americans of goodwill just trying to find a way to build bridges with Russian citizens.'

Primary Russian News, 21 June 2016

Экс-аналитик ЦРУ в Крыму призывает к диалогу между РФ и США
(Former CIA analyst in the Crimea calls for dialogue between the Russian Federation and the United States)

Делегаты из США считают нарушением прав людей "блокады" Крыма
(Delegates from the United States considers a violation of the rights of people 'blockade' of the Crimea)

Делегация из США прибыла с деловым визитом в Крым
(The US delegation arrived on a business trip to the Crimea)

Американская делегация предложила создать общество дружбы Крыма и США
(The American delegation proposed to create a Crimea and US friendship society)

Американцы в Ялте устроят заплыв за мир и дружбу
(Americans in Yalta will swim for peace and friendship)

Полковник США в отставке: восхищаюсь мужеством крымчан
(A retired US Colonel admires the courage of Crimeans)

Правозащитница из США: мы не боимся санкций за посещение Крыма
(The human rights activist from the United States: 'We are not afraid of sanctions for visiting Crimea')

Общественница из США: в Крыму видны позитивные изменения
(Social activist from the United States: 'Positive changes can be seen in the Crimea')

Американская делегация восхищается мужеством крымчан
(The American delegation admires the courage of Crimean).

Мэр американского города поприветствовал симферопольцев
(The mayor of Simferopol welcomed the Americans)

Делегат из США рассказал, что американцы знают о Второй мировой войне
(A delegate from the United States said that the Americans know about World War II)

US Delegation Visiting Crimea to Promote Citizen-to-Citizen Dialogue, Sputnik International

В Крым приехали американские общественники [фото]
(American public figures arrived in Crimea [photo]), "Искра"

Member of US delegation says its visit of Crimea symbolically breaks sanctions, TASS.

Делегация из США встретится в Крыму со столичными властями (The U.S. delegation will meet with the Belarusian authorities in Crimea ), РИА Крым, 19 June 2016.

American Blogs

Russians Ask "Why Do Do You Demonize Us When We Are So Much Like You?". Center for Citizen Initiatives, 4 July 2016.

We Just Arrived Back From Russia, Center for Civil Initiatives (CCI), 2 July 2016.

Call for a National Debate on U.S. “Regime Change” Policy, Center for Civil Initiatives (CCI), 20 June 2016.

St. Petersburg, Moscow, and Volgograd, February 4-19, Center for Civil Initiatives (CCI), February 19, 2016.

Defender of Putin, Detained in Russia: American Activist Deemed U.S. 'Agent', Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty, 17 February 2016.

On the Ground in Russia, Huffington Post, 28 July 2015. — Summary of 2015 trip.

Russia Report on Putin, by Sharon Tennison, Johnson's Russia List, 21 April 2014

Books

The Power of Impossible Ideas: Ordinary Citizens' Extraordinary Efforts to Avert International Crises, by Sharon Tennison, 2012.

Discovering Soviet-West Cooperation. A Handbook on Soviet-West Bridge-Building Initiatives, by Koozma J. Tarasoff. First limited edition publication by Peace Train Foundation, Ottawa, Canada, October 1991.

9 comments:

  1. How amazing! As soon as some big wig, no matter if he is from military or government, gets an "ex" prefix he immediately changes his attitudes and policies towards Russian and Russian government. I have always been wondering why this happens.

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  2. I agree ...it is remarkable.

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  3. This is a wonderful idea! Does it take a woman to come up with something so obvious and sensible?

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  4. Excellent initiative! Does the government really represent the people or the corporations and arms industry?

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  5. Ian Prattis, Ottawa, Ontario23 June 2016 at 07:45

    Great initiative Koozma

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  6. Thank you. Ex CIA analyst Ray McGovern's revelations are striking.

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    1. Indeed, as a political activist, McGovern is a very interesting figure. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ray_McGovern

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  7. Sharon Tennison, San Mateo, Calif., USA11 July 2016 at 19:39

    Dear Koozma,

    Upon coming home from Russia, I found a package from you …. the beautiful book of your people and traditions. What an unexpected gift. It’s a masterpiece you have created; a history your collective members can hand down to coming generations. Thank you for sharing it with me, Koozma. Your collection of photos and stories, the history of leaving Tsarist Russia for Canada to build a place to practice non-violence and resist conscription––amazing. I knew nothing of this history — the fact that your people have kept their noble intentions down the generations is so inspiring.

    Your book stands on my buffet awaiting time to ponder its many pages. Many thanks to you and your clan for living lives of nonviolence and goodwill over the past century and half.

    With deep respect,
    Sharon Tennison, President, Center for Citizen Initiatives

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