During the interim, I took a trip to Russia (at no taxpayer expense) to meet with their Chairman of the Committee for Culture of the Russian State Duma, Stanislav Govorukhin (pictured above). The Russian government is interested in various “heritage sites” within the United States, including some right here in Washington. In fact, one of the places we talked about was on Washington’s Pacific coast near the town of Forks. A monument to commemorate the 1808 shipwreck of a Russian sailing vessel near Rialto Beach will soon be completed now that the final portion of funding was secured in the state’s 2013-2015 capital budget.
I learned that their main interest is in the first USA-Russia transpolar flight by their cultural hero, Valery Chkalov, which originated from a site in Russia and ended at Pearson Field in Vancouver, Washington, in 1937. Chairman Govorukhin and I talked about creating a small museum near the site dedicated to Chkalov’s flight and relocating some of their original documentation there and to nearby Washington State University’s Vancouver campus.
I’ve also met twice with the Russian consul general and ambassador-at-large on developing this project, and I’m very much looking forward to continuing the good work we’ve begun.