Travel: Citizen Initiative Delegation (Moscow, Russia)

Travel Dates: April 1 – 16, 2017

Please see the message from the Center for Citizen Initiatives below:


You Can Have a Role in Rebuilding Relations and Trust between the U.S. and Russia

Dare to make a difference!  We invite you to apply for the first-ever Mega Delegation of up-to-100 American citizens who will travel to Russia in April of 2017 to hold hundreds of discussions with Russians from all walks of life in 10 regions throughout Russia. Too many travelers go to Moscow, spend a few days, talk with a limited number of people set up for them and come back to America with a very limited point of view. Hence this trip will guarantee that we are exposed to multiple points of view and get them documented with surveys and notes from discussion groups in far-flung north-to-south and east-to-western regions.

We will investigate both countries’ perspectives on why the relationship deteriorated to this place again––and what it will take to rebuild equitable relations and trust between these two nuclearized Superpowers.  And hopefully, the spectre of Nuclear War … or surrogate wars of any kind may be avoided in the future.

We citizens have the opportunity to be the human links during this extremely critical juncture––and make no mistake, the situation is extreme and it is critical.  More than ever, we need to have “ears to the ground,” listening and fact-checking assumptions and exaggerations relative to both countries. We need to comprehend both sides of the issues that have grabbed the angst of today’s policy makers. We need to understand the assumptions and major stick points regarding Syria, Iraq, Libya, Iran and China that divide our leaders––then use our voices nationwide and worldwide to call for sane alternatives.  Future outcomes and solutions need to be open, honest and fair to all countries concerned.

As 2017 begins, we can organize the following:

1)  American citizens need to travel to Russia to make independent analyses of Russia, Russian people, Russia’s interests and points of view––and return home to educate on how to work toward and promote reasonable solutions for both countries. We need to create public awareness and public discourse regarding how to create a sustainable future for us all.
2)  Russian citizens and public figures need to travel to American cities to share their concerns and perspectives for rebuilding constructive relations and accommodating to each others’ politics and needs.
3)  Stop Cold War II demonizations and narratives which feed fears across both nations;
4)  Rebuild citizen and VIP human connections within both populations as rapidly as possible.
5)  Provide “truthful information”––refrain from fake news, rumors, disinformation and fabrications.

•  Travel daybooks in which to keep trip info, including diary space to record contacts, ideas and interactions.
•  Educational materials and metro maps for each city visited.
•  Russian cultural norms that are different from American norms.
•  Simple greetings and phrases in Russian language.
•  How to interact with Russians in numerous types of formal and informal occasions.
•  Surveys in Russian and English.
•  Discussion formats and how to ask and respond to difficult questions and situations.
•  Introductory travel cards to hand out (most Russians you meet will provide business cards).
•  Name tags (English and Cyrillic) to remember each others’ names and to wear during meetings.
•  Educational materials daily via email on hot topics between our countries.
•  A copy of The Power of Impossible Ideas: Ordinary Citizens’ Extraordinary Efforts to Avert International Crises, published in 2012, re CCI’s successful citizen diplomacy work from 1983 — 2010.


MOSCOW:  The full group will meet with and question Moscow journalists, alternative media, officials who support the Putin administration, politicians who oppose Putin’s policies, hopefully former Secretary General Mikhail Gorbachev and TV icon Vladimir Pozner, NGO leaders, business and professional persons, educators and university students. We hope to attract a videographer to travel with the group. Want to learn to use Moscow’s metro system? We can teach you so you can venture out on your own.  As a full group we will do traditional outings on occasion: such as take the metro to the Center for a walking tour to experience Red Square, St. Basils and the renovated centuries-old architecture in downtown Moscow.  We will dine in restaurants in the shadows of the ancient Kremlin walls. If travelers wish to visit a museum, palace or ballet, we can make the arrangements for you ahead of time.

REGIONAL CITIES:  Leaving Moscow, the travelers will split into 10 smaller groups of Americans going to 10 outlying Russian regional cities (all around a million population) for in-depth interactions with counterpart professionals, local officials, new political party leaders, journalists, local Rotary clubs, business owners, NGO organizers, educators, university students, schools and TV interviews. For those with special interests such as Russian Orthodoxy, multi-religion regions, classical arts, etc., experts can be arranged. Travelers will have introductory cards in Cyrillic, surveys in both languages, interview questions in both languages, and PR materials. Local interpreters will be with the groups in each of the cities. We hope to arrange home visits for all delegates while in the regional cities.

ST. PETERSBURG:  The full group will meet in St.Petersburg to share their experiences in the 10 regional cities. We will brainstorm how to use their experiences and insights upon return home. Meetings with St.Petersburg citizens for additional idea sharing will be organized.  Travelers will get an overview of Russia’s famous cultural capital and its historic arts. Ballet, opera, symphony and museum tickets can be arranged in advance for those who desire them. The great ballet and opera halls are somewhat expensive; but performances in smaller halls are excellent and inexpensive. We can arrange the former early prior to travel, and provide lists and directions to the smaller performances at the time.

We fully expect that this April 2017 trip will reveal the next steps to start rebuilding relations between Americans and Russians at many levels. This happened in the 1980s during a far more heavily controlled USSR––and with an equally resistant American public.


•  Travel dates will likely be April 1 – 16, but may shift a bit in order to secure VIP appointments, such as former Secretary General Mikhail Gorbachev, TV icon Vladimir Pozner and other notables.

•  The trip will be modestly-priced, hopefully suitable to accommodate even a few university students which we hope to attract. Consider sending your son or daughter, grandson or granddaughter––if so, they will be grateful to you for a lifetime for this unique experience.  Hotel rooms will cost on average around $60 to $90 (single or double) per night.  Restaurants remain reasonably priced to date, since the currency rate favors the US dollar. Should some travelers require high-end hotels, they can be arranged. Trip costs will be worked out in early January.

•  If you have food allergies or intolerances, share them. We will print out a card in Cyrillic for you to give to waiters. They will show what foods on their menus you can eat.  I recently took a woman to Russia who is allergic to eggs, dairy products including butter, nuts and wheat. She had a card printed out, restaurants were helpful and she survived!

•  We will use GoToRussia, a private travel company out of Atlanta and San Francisco, with whom we have previously worked. We respect their integrity and “going-the-extra-mile” for our travelers. They will arrange Visas and will handle all travel from JFK to Russian cities and back to JFK.  CCI will handle all in-country activities privately with the assistance of our former CCI Russian Office Directors, alumni and interpreters.  All travel elements within Russia will be carried out on private basis.

TRIP FOLLOW-UP INTENTIONS:  Post travel, participants will receive a questionnaire to help us gather distilled impressions and ideas.  Often after such travel, new ideas and social inventions surface belatedly. Some are quite important so we want to capture them if possible. An inter-group email newsletter will be initiated along with a “Bank of Ideas.”  We plan to create a database of all the Russians the group meets, to which you will have access.

The future of the world is too important to leave up to politicians 
with no direct experience with Russia.


Some of the April travelers will travel to Washington to meet with U.S. Congress members and “think tanks” following the trip.  Members will be apprised of what we learned throughout Russia––including Russians’ perceptions toward the Baltic countries, Ukraine, Crimea and war-ravaged Islamic states not far from their borders––including their perceptions of U.S. relations and Russia’s leadership. We hope to expand Congressional contacts during this critical year ahead.

If you think you may be able to travel on this first-ever “mega trip with a mission,” 
please email us at:  
We will send you an application form and additional information
Also please feel free to ask questions.