US-Russia Civil Society Working Group met in Washington

The first session of the US-Russia Civil Society Working Group took place in Washington on January 29, 2010.  Last year, when the U.S. President Barack Obama met with Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev in Moscow, our governments decided to set up the U.S.-Russia Civil Society Group as part of the top-level U.S.-Russia Commission. During  the meetings in Washington last week, Russia was represented by the First Deputy Chief of Staff of President Medvedev, Vladislav Surkov, and the USA – by the White House Top Adviser on Russia, Michael McFaul. The agenda of the working group’s first session included the fight against corruption and crimes against children. The Russian officials admitted that the USA has a vast experience in the area of protection of children’s rights and find it remarkable how the US authorities “forced” the food, tobacco, alcohol and entertainment industries to be more responsible towards children in their country. However unfortunately the same industries don’t behave in the same way in what they consider developing markets. They thought Russia could benefit from the US positive experience and suggested to hold a conference to discuss these matters.  The issues of international adoption and kidnapping of children by one of the divorced parent were discussed. (Source: ASI and The Voice of Russia)