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WRITER: PANKHURY BATRA
CONTACT: LOIS GRAY
International Programs
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 335-2026
e-mail: lois-gray@uiowa.edu

Release: July 10, 2002

CIVIC Hosts Russian Visitors To Learn About Grassroots Democracy

Learning about grassroots democracy and constituent outreach are several of the goals of seven Russian political figures who are visiting the local community Thursday, July 11, through Tuesday, July 16, as guests of the Council for International Visitors to Iowa Cities (CIVIC). The visit is organized through a Freedom Support Project for Russia. There will be a picnic for people to meet and welcome them on Saturday, July 13, from to 5 to 8 p.m. at Shelter 1, Upper City Park.

The Russian visitors are Anatolity Nikolayevich Dubovskiy, Alla Aleksandrovna Frolova, Semen Semenovich Ivanov, Maksim Eduardovich Ostikov, Vladimir Pavlovich Kritskiy, Nelya Viktorovna Lebedeva, and Andrey Petrovich Pavlov. Three interpreters will accompany them.

The main purpose of the program is to learn about citizen participation in the political process as an effective means of harnessing the power of constructive criticism to effect change and assure stability in the government. The program will cover many specific topics including the making of public policy, understanding federalism, the U.S. democratic process in general, grassroots methods of citizen involvement in elections and also the media's role in promoting a grassroots democracy. More specifically, they will discuss American laws governing candidates running for office, the election process, ways of reforming it, observe election campaigning, responsibilities of American political parties and how they function at various levels.

During their stay, the Russian visitors will meet with public advocacy groups, local and democratic activists including Iowa City Mayor Ernie Lehman, CIVIC and community leaders, and grassroots political activists. They will also visit the Amana Colonies, attend an event with Tipper Gore on Sunday, and join members of the Johnson County League of Women Voters for lunch Monday. Following the lunch, they will visit the district office of Rep. Jim Leach to learn about constituent services.

Theses visitors were invited to the United States under the auspices of the Department of State's International Visitor Program and will be hosted by CIVIC.

CIVIC is a community organization of volunteers "serving and hosting international visitors as a means to promote international understanding on a person-to-person basis," said Tom Baldridge, the organization's executive director. Every year CIVIC volunteers help arrange programs for 60 to 100 visitors from around the world. Since its inception in 1985 CIVIC has hosted more than 900 visitors, representing more than 120 countries.

CIVIC is part of UI International Programs, which consists of a number of offices, centers, degree programs, academic programs, research projects and services. Organized under the associate provost and dean for International Programs, these units serve to further internationalize the campus and community and promote global scholarship, research and teaching.

For more information about CIVIC or a complete itinerary of the visitors from Russia, contact Baldridge at (319) 335-0351 or Jeanne Cadoret, CIVIC board president, at (319) 644-2746.