Natalie M Smith visited Crimea, Moscow and St. Petersburg, Russia, as a delegate of the Center for Citizen Initiatives in May 2017. She has a Ph.D. in Russian literature and linguistics from the University of Texas at Austin and has traveled in the Russian Federation since 1995. CCI, the largest citizen diplomacy organization between the two nations, determined this year to carry out a first-ever “information-gathering” delegation of American citizen investigators who would travel to major Russian cities to learn what is happening in Russia – since many allegations are made in US mainstream media and few know whether it is truth or misinformation.
In Moscow, CCI delegates met with Mikhail Gorbachev, ballistics expert Vladimir Kozin, foreign policy expert Andrei Kortunov, journalist Dmitri Babich and TV celebrity Vladimir Pozner to discuss areas of US and Russian concern.
In Yalta, Simferopol and Sevastopol city officials, school children, Simferopol’s Rotary Club, university students, journalists and many others gave perspectives on Crimea’s 2014 referendum and Western sanctions, extended by the EU to 2018.
In St.Petersburg entrepreneurs, opposition politicians, and educators shared their hopes for more cooperative work in the future.
Sharon Tennison’s website further describes her work: