On June 2, 2015 we 20 American travelers split into groups of four and traveled by metros or taxis with student guides to different parts of Moscow. Our videographer Mel Van Dusen, Merlin Miller, organizer of a new political party from Tennessee, Charles Heberle, retired military who worked at the Pentagon and NATO and I went to see an old acquaintance with whom I’d kept up for over 30 years.
Back in 1984 a group of us got an appointment to Moscow’s U.S.-Canada Institute, a quite prestigious ‘think tank’ that was considered the most liberal in the Soviet Union. To our surprise a quite young, blonde-haired young man introduced himself as Andrei Kortunov. He was decades younger than others in this prestigious institute. Obviously bright and comfortable in his position, he seemed warmly predisposed to all things American unlike others we had met. Andrei was interested in getting to discuss issues off and on with citizen diplomats from the U.S. During the Gorbachev and Yeltsin years I watched his career take him to positions of responsibility wherein he remained the same logical, open, helpful personality he exhibited from the beginning.
Today Andrei is the Director General of the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC) and the President of the New Eurasia Foundation (FNE). He is still as down to earth, modest and as hesitant-to-be-sharp as was the fair-haired young man we met at around age 20. One thing noted this time, he seems weary now from dealing with the heavy issues of his position—-yet is as always the consummate gentleman. Mel pushed him with questions that finally brought out his feelings on a number of issues related to the US-Russia relationship.
Come along with us and meet Andrei. Opening scenes include the recently built pedestrian walkway over structures in downtown Moscow. We finally arrived at the new building that houses RIAC. Upon entering we passed through a gallery of magnificent paintings of 19th century Russian leaders. The environment was quite classical. Further into the building we navigated rooms of books, publications, researchers and on into Andrei’s office. This video segment was over an hour and was edited down to 13 minutes.
We hope this brief clip gives you insight into the thinking of most Russians in Andrei’s age group today. He is now somewhere around 50 years old.