Statement by U.S. Ambassador John F. Tefft
The U.S. Embassy in Moscow deeply regrets the Russian government’s unilateral decision to close the Embassy’s American Center at M. Rudomino All-Russia State Library of Foreign Literature in Moscow. The Library recently terminated the formal agreement for Embassy support of the Center, informed us of its intention to replace the American Director of the Center, and its intent to take full control of all of the Center’s activities.
This unfortunate move by the Russian government ends over 22 years of U.S.-Russia cooperation at the American Center in the Library of Foreign Languages. The American Center has built deep and strong connections between the people and cultures of Russia and the United States. The Center served as a focal point of American culture, history and literature in Russia’s capital, and also hosted countless high-level American visitors as speakers including astronauts, actors, athletes, academics, political figures, and authors. In the last year alone, the American Center hosted over 400 cultural and educational activities, and welcomed over 50,000 Russian visitors.
This unfortunate Russian government decision comes nearly one year after Russian authorities cancelled the largest U.S.-Russian educational exchange program – the Future Leaders Exchange (FLEX) Program. These latest unilateral steps further call into question the Russian government’s commitment to maintaining people-to-people ties between the Russian and American people, which continued even during the Cold War and other complicated moments in our countries’ long history.
The United States remains committed to exchanges and programs that promote cultural ties and mutual understanding between the Russian and American people, and remains committed to continuing the important work of the American Center in Moscow.