Press Release

13th March 2002

Closed Cities

The term "closed cities" sounds mysterious - how can a whole city be "closed"? In the days of the Cold War, the greatest advances in scientific research were made in such cities, away from the prying eyes of the West. Now the closed cities are appearing on the map - literally and metaphorically - and contact is being established by such people as scientists and academics.

The British-Russian Society has already had a talk on one such city and looks forward to a broader outline at the next meeting on 26 April 2002. The first talk was entitled "Ekaterinburg and Birmingham: Two cities - one strategy?" It was given by Dr Elena Denezhkina, our Chair, who is the Project Manager for the RACE Project (Russia: Adviser to the City of Ekaterinburg.) This project is funded by the DFID and is based at the School of Public Policy, University of Birmingham. The emphasis of the project is on helping the Ekaterinburg authorities to use the experience of other cities (including Birmingham) to formulate and implement their own policies. Birmingham and Ekaterinburg have many features in common - population, industry, social problems - and Birmingham has overcome many of the problems which Ekaterinburg faces at present. Ekaterinburg is perhaps better known here as Sverdlovsk, the city where the family of the last Tsar was assassinated. Located on the boundary with Siberia, it was a closed city until 1991.

The forthcoming talk on 26 April 2002 is entitled 'Introducing Local Democracy to Closed Military Towns in Russia'. It will be given by Noel Hibbert, the Managing Director of Democon Consulting Ltd since 1999, who has been actively involved in the Former Soviet Union/CIS since 1987. At present Democon Consulting is working with the EU in introducing local democracy into a small number of the 1,250 Closed Military Towns in Russia. Many of these towns are home to ICBM missile and biological warfare sites, and their communities have little experience of the wider Russia or the rest of the world. Democon is assisting their fledgling new municipal authorities to develop a democratic culture and ethos amongst these far-flung communities.

Further details about the talk on 26 April, and about the British-Russian Society are obtainable from secretary@britishrussian.org.uk or the British-Russian Society website at http://www.britishrussian.org.uk. (sponsored by Netmail http://www.netmailweb.co.uk)

Heather Haslett (Secretary of British-Russian Society)

For further information contact Heather Haslett

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