It is with deep honor and a heavy heart that I stand before you today. Yekaterina Yurievna made a lasting impression on me and so many others for her strength of character and her passion for her work. An expert in her field, Yekaterina Yurievna was also deeply committed to broadening cultural ties between Russia and the United States. It is thanks to her advocacy, and the efforts of the staff here at the Library for Foreign Literature, that the United States has our American Center here in the Library.
Beyond our Embassy community, Yekaterina Yurievna touched so many in the United States. Shortly after hearing the sad news I began to hear from those she touched, including expressions of condolences from the Librarian of Congress Dr. James Billington, Yekaterina’s close friend Ambassador Jim Collins, and former staff here at the Embassy. As our former Minister Counselor for Public Affairs Jeff Sexton wrote, Yekaterina Yurievna “faced her death with the same courage and determination with which she lived her life, and to the very end, she continued her great mission of bringing the best of Russia to the world and bringing the best of the world to Russia. Her death is a huge loss not just for all of us who knew her personally, but for everybody who cares deeply about maintaining an open and productive dialogue with Russia.”
On behalf of the U.S. Embassy and the people of the United States, I share our heartfelt condolences with you, Katya’s friends and colleagues, and with her family. Katya was an ardent defender of intellectual freedom, a talented scholar, and an effective cultural ambassador who will continue to inspire us all.
Let us hope to continue the noble work that Katya has started and remember her as she would have wanted to be remembered – as a champion of cultural understanding. We will miss her greatly.