A delegation of legislative aides from the Russian Federation arrived in Washington, D.C., on July 15, 2002, for high-level meetings with their counterparts in the White House, Administration officials, Congressional leaders, interest groups, and others. Sponsored by the Open World Program of the Center for Russian Leadership Development at the Library of Congress, the July 15-25 visit was organized by The Center for Democracy.
Alexander Kuvakin, Sergey Livishin, and Vladimir Lozbinev are Deputy Directors of the Internal Policy Office of the President of the Russian Federation, responsible for advancing the President's legislative initiatives in the Russian Parliament. The Internal Policy Office also works to strengthen cooperation between the executive and legislative branches of government and to provide an effective liaison for the President with representatives of political parties and civil society organizations.
The fourth member of the delegation, Andrey Gorlenko, is Vice President of the Moscow-based Foundation for the Development of Parliamentarism in Russia. Established in 1994, the Foundation provides information services and legislative support to committees, political parties, and individual deputies in the Russian Parliament by drafting legislation, providing independent analysis of bills and laws, and conducting political and economic forecasting. It also works to foster cooperation between Russian and foreign parliamentarians.
The delegation will begin their program on July 17 with meetings with former Congresswoman Barbara Kennelly, President of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, and Congressman Benjamin Cardin to discuss the U.S legislative process, the role of lobbying in that process, and interaction between the U.S. executive and legislative branches.
The Center for Democracy has arranged additional meetings for the delegation with Senator Chuck Hagel; Senator Carl Levin; Congressman Roy Blunt; Congressman Charles Taylor; former Congressman Bob Livingston; Librarian of Congress James H. Billington, Chairman of the Center for Russian Leadership Development's Board of Trustees; Nicholas Calio, Assistant to the President and Director for Legislative Affairs at the White House; CNN Analyst Bill Schneider; Paul Kelly, Acting Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs at the Department of State; House Parliamentarian Charles Johnson; staff of numerous House and Senate Committees; Legislative Counsels in the House and Senate; The Heritage Foundation; Common Cause; and others. The group will also sit in on the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee's markup of Homeland Security Department legislation.
The delegation's visit to the United States comes at the close of a busy spring parliamentary session in the Russian Federation marked by the Kremlin's active involvement. A total of 61 bills related to land, military, pension, and tax issues were passed by the State Duma (the lower house), many of which originated with President Putin. Likewise, Parliament's upper chamber, the Federation Council, closed on July 10 by passing 26 laws, including several landmark bills on bankruptcy, alternative civil service, trade in agricultural land, small business taxation, and pension reform. One of the most noteworthy bills passing both chambers allows the sale and purchase of agricultural land in Russia for the first time since 1917. A controversial bill on combating political extremism was also approved by both chambers.
This visit will provide these leading Russian political experts with an opportunity to exchange views with their U.S. counterparts on current legislation in both countries; the role of the executive branch, parliamentary committees, interest groups, and lobbyists in the legislative process; and other issues related to democratic governance.
Previously known as the Russian Leadership Program, the U.S. Congress-sponsored Open World exchange is designed to foster mutual understanding between the United States and the Russian Federation and to further the process of building democracy and a market economy in Russia. The Center for Democracy is a bipartisan, nonprofit organization that works internationally on issues of democratic governance and the rule of law. The American Councils for International Education: ACTR/ACCELS is managing the logistical and administrative aspects of the legislative aides'visit on behalf of Open World.