After a Decade of Success -- Peace Corps Completes Work in Russia

January 3, 2003

WASHINGTON, D.C., January 3, 2003—The government of the Russian Federation recently determined that Peace Corps programs are no longer necessary for its country and has communicated officially its intention to withdraw from the 1992 agreement between Russia and the U.S. for Peace Corps programs.

The Russian government expressed its gratitude for the assistance Peace Corps has provided through the work of the volunteers and said their work in Russia’s regions through the decade has been positive and useful. However, the government believes that many changes have occurred in Russia since 1992 and that the country has reached a point in its development that it has outgrown the need for Peace Corps programs.

Peace Corps is disappointed that the work of its volunteers will come to an end, but the agency respects a host country's right to make that determination. Following a decade of conducting successful programs in Russia, the Peace Corps will begin to phase down its presence in Western Russia and Russia Far East.

Peace Corps Director Gaddi H. Vasquez expressed appreciation to the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Education for support over the 10 years that Peace Corps volunteers have worked in Russia. Vasquez also expressed disappointment with comments made recently by a Russian official that suggested volunteers were engaged in intelligence gathering activities.

“Peace Corps volunteers serve to train men and women in their host countries and nothing more. The suggestion that volunteers are engaged in any information gathering that is not related to their volunteer work is groundless and irresponsible,” Vasquez said.

Since the signing of the agreement between the two governments in 1992, more than 700 Peace Corps volunteers have assisted the Russian Federation in such areas as Teaching English as a Foreign Language and business education. Currently, 19 volunteers serve in Western Russia and eight are conducting programs in Russia Far East. The two groups were scheduled to complete their service in summer 2003.

Since 1961, more than 165,000 volunteers have served in the Peace Corps, working in such diverse fields as education, health and HIV/AIDS education, information technology, business development, the environment, and agriculture. Peace Corps volunteers must be U.S. citizens and at least 18 years of age. Peace Corps service is a two-year commitment.

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