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"The Russian Academic Union in Bulgaria" was founded in March 2004 and was registered in the Sofia court as a community with non-profit activity. The Union is the successor of the "Russian Academic Union in Bulgaria", which existed between 1925 and 1944. Members of the Union are either physical persons - current or ex-citizens of USSR or Russia or their inheritors, who have been doing academic work on the territory of Bulgaria, or juridical, who help with the realization of the society goals regardless of their nation or registration places.

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Participants in the project within the Knowledge Partnership European Programme in Sofia

For three days now the Russian Cultural and Information Centre (RCIC) has been accepting guests the participants in the Steps Towards Active European Citiz?nship project under the Knowledge Partnership European Programme. The project aims to study the processes of adjustment and integration of the Russian-speaking citizens, the ways of strengthening their social and labour activity as well as to identify the forms for the fulfillment of their personal, social and economic and cultural goals.

All participants in the projects were Russian compatriots from Belgium, Great Britain, Germany, Greece, Latvia and Finland. The Russian Academic Union, which actually prepared in full the Sofia meeting, was the Bulgarian partner.

The programme of the meeting was drafted in such a manner, so that the participants could get familiarized with the life of the Russian Diaspora abroad and the culture and history of the country itself. The main issue, discussed at the meeting, was about the integration of the Russians in their new countries of residence.

In the morning of 24 May there was an excursion around Sofia. According to the participants in the meeting, it was very interesting, fascinating and exhausting due to the organizer, RCICs assistant Olga Damyanlieva. The festive situation in the town could not but influence the mood of our guests.

The very conference was unveiled in a modernly equipped conference hall by the Centres Director Victor Vassilievich Bazhenov, who described in brief the cooperation of Rossatroudnichestvo [Russian Cooperation] with Russian immigrants and wished the participants useful and interesting activities.

Marina Dadikozyan, Chair of the Coordination Council of the Organizations of Russians in Bulgaria, addressed the participants.

The second to make a statement at the conference was Nadya Nikolova-Deme, Director of the European Programmes and Projects Department of the Sofia Municipality, who familiarized the participants with the results of the Open Cities study. The purpose of this project is to develop updated policy and strategies in the field of economic and social integration of immigrants (of the first and second generation) from the point of view of enhancing the competitiveness and the economic development of the cities and extension of their cultural diversity.

Interestingly enough, the information, provided by Nadya Nikolova-Deme, was complemented by the statement of Irina Krusteva, representative of the Information Centres of the European Fund for Integration of Third-Country Nationals, who spoke about the operation of these centres in Bulgaria.

The report of the Deputy Executive Director of the Fund for Support and Protection of the Rights of Compatriots Living Abroad, Vladimir Pavlovich Ivanov, provoked huge interest. The Fund has the task of protecting our compatriots in case of violation of their rights on the basis of international law and the law of the countries of their current residence. Such violations are not rare in the modern world and the Funds resources will help resolve these problems.

The second day began with a visit to the National Museum of History, where the participants in the conference got familiarized with Bulgarias history and the excellent exhibits in the museum including, of course, the Thracian treasures.

After returning from the museum, the participants in the meeting saw the magnificent photo exhibition Russian Immigrants in Bulgaria arranged by the Russian Academic Union in Bulgaria, jointly with RCIC in Sofia.

The representative of the community of the Bessarabian Bulgarians in Bulgaria, Lana Moumdjieva (previously an employee of the Agency for Working with Expatriate Bulgarians and, currently, a senior expert at the Agency for Support of Small and Medium-sized Business) made a presentation of the Bessarabian Bulgarians, their way of living and folklore and the peculiarities of their life in Ukraine and Moldova. The report underscored the need of more detailed study of the re-emigrants from the former Soviet Republics in Bulgaria. Unfortunately, such studies are not made at the current stage.

The information about the successful Russians was highly interesting. Svetlana Tyutyundjieva, editor of the Russia Today paper told some of these success stories. Our compatriot Vladimir Sorokin, having toured all countries in the world with his bicycle, told about his trips while showing many pictures and video.

The working part of the conference ended with a statement of Sergey Rozhkov, Chair of the Russian Academic Union in Bulgaria and Associate Professor at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. In his report The Russian Diaspora in Bulgaria in the Mirror of the National Statistics in Bulgaria, based on statistical data from 1897 (the first population census) to 2011 (the latest census) in Bulgaria, Rozhkov demonstrated that the Russian ethnos has its characteristic features and, unlike the general belief, it diminishes and loses its identity. He drew the conclusion that the Russian Diaspora in Bulgaria is turning into a trans-national community. It was decided that the Russian Embassy to Bulgaria and the representation of Rossatroudnichestvo could be familiarized with these data given that they show interest.

The participants spent the last day in Plovdiv, where they took pleasure in walking along the quiet streets of the Old City. In the evening they entertained themselves in the Merry Village folk restaurant, which offered traditional Bulgarian cuisine and a folk programme.

Contact details:

Email : rasb@mail.ru

Tel: 00 359 2 9681835

Address: 1113, 12, Nikolai Haitov Str.,

Sofia, Bulgaria