US Ambassador to Russia John Tefft. Source: Anton Denisov / RIA NovostiAnton Denisov / RIA Novosti
The U.S. Embassy in Moscow regrets what it describes as a unilateral decision by the Russian government to close the embassy’s American Center at the State Library of Foreign Literature in Moscow, said U.S. Ambassador John Tefft.
"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", he said in the statement posted on the embassy’s official website.
However, director of the Library Vadim Duda said that they are interested in continuing the work of the American cultural center and had not planned to close it, "but we must transfer our engagement in accordance with the requirements of the law of the Russian Federation."
"The library cannot maintain the existing agreement on funding the American center,” he said. "That's why we asked our American partners to develop a new contractual relationship, the relevant requirements of Russian law.”
The decision comes nearly a year after Russian authorities canceled 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,” said Tefft.
The American Center, which opened in 1993, is a cultural center that provides materials and reference services based on a U.S. library model and hosts daily cultural and educational programs.
The Moscow Center is the largest and oldest American Center in Russia. In the last year alone, the American Center hosted over 400 cultural and educational activities and welcomed over 50,000 Russian visitors.
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