OPINION: The Russian Cultural Lobby No One Talks About


Spencer Vida, Opinions Editor

Founded in 1992, there was a group called the American-Russian Cultural Cooperation Foundation (A.R.C.C.F.) that focused on the cultural cooperation between the United States and Russia that organized events such as galas, concerts, and exhibitions.  According to the web archive and tax filing data, the group was dissolved in 2020.  Also according to their website archive data, the site was up for sale between December 29, 2019, and October 30, 2020.

The group had organized major events at the Russian Embassy, the Kennedy Center, the Library of Congress, the Corcoran Gallery, and Capitol Hill. “Among the honorary chairs of A.R.C.C.F.’s events were the U.S. and Russian presidents as well as leaders of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. Attendees at A.R.C.C.F.’s celebrations and galas have included First Ladies, the U.S. Vice President, the Russian Prime Minister, as well as members of the U.S. Cabinet, Senate, and House of Representatives” (Wikipedia). Some of these honorary chairmen included President George H.W. Bush in 2012 and President Bill Clinton in 2013.

Since 1992, the group received sponsors from companies such as C.N.N. inc., Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Campbell Soup Company, PepsiCo Inc., The Coca-Cola Company, Chevron Corporation,  Chevy Chase Bank, Exxon Mobil Corporation, and Eli Lilly & Co.

The sponsors most likely funded the lobby either during the time of the pro-western president, Boris Yeltsin, or the time before Vladimir Putin became unfriendly to the west. Putin’s unfriendliness towards the U.S. came out of Georgia’s Rose Revolution in 2003 and Ukraine’s Orange Revolution in 2004 and 2005 as protestors were financed and trained by western N.G.O.s as well as eastern N.A.T.O. expansion, which disrupted Russia’s sphere of influence and lead to fears of a possibility of a coup of Russia itself by western forces.

The American-Russian Cultural Cooperation Foundation is not highly discussed in American media. The group was mentioned twice by the Russian government controlled, cultural news outlet, Russian Beyond which did articles on two important A.R.C.C.F. group members: Alexander Potemkin and James Symington.  The group was mentioned in the American press by Breitbart, where they talked about the Democratic politician Claire McCaskill’s donation to the group, which Breitbart remarked had Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak as its honorary chairman. The story is also mentioned by ProPublica, but only to list its yearly tax filings.