The Foundation began work on the monument to Pushkin in 1999, the 200th anniversary of the poet's birth. In 2000 the monument was unveiled on the grounds of George Washington University. The statue, the work of the famous Russian sculptor Alexander Burganov, was presented as a gift to the U.S. capital from Moscow. Immediately afterwards, foundation members began thinking about erecting a monument to an American poet in Moscow. They consulted with the Library of Congress and decided on Walt Whitman. This work was recently finished in cooperation with the Russian Peace Foundation. The statue of Walt Whitman was also carved by Alexander Burganov and has already been placed near the humanities faculty of Moscow University on Sparrow Hills as a gift from the city of Washington to the city of Moscow. The statue is scheduled to be unveiled in mid-October by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
The gala in Washington will be devoted to the creation of a sort of poetry-bridge between the capitals of the two countries. The list of those scheduled to speak includes Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak, the foundation's honorary director, U.S. Under Secretary Judith McHale, and Jim Leach, Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities. The popular American opera singer Carmen Balthrop will perform romances to poems by Pushkin and Whitman. And the foundation will present its annual award for the most significant contribution to the promotion of American-Russian cultural cooperation. This year's recipient is the poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko. The evening's guest of honor will be the sculptor of the two monuments, Alexander Burganov.
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