The Valdai International Discussion Club was set up in September 2004 by RIA Novosti, the Council for Foreign and Defense Policy, The Moscow Times newspaper, and the magazines Russia in Global Affairs and Russia Profile.
The club owes its name to the location of its first meeting, which took place at the Valdai holiday hotel on Lake Valdai on September 2, 2004.
The club’s first conference, “Russia at the Turn of the Century: Hopes and Realities,” was held in September in the city of Veliky Novgorod, and received warm reviews from the experts and journalists in attendance. At the end of the conference, Russian President Vladimir Putin added to the prestige of the event by receiving the foreign guests at his Novo-Ogaryovo residence in the Moscow suburbs.
In September 2005, the club convened its second meeting, not in a conventional hotel or conference center, but on board the comfortable ship Alexander Radishchev, cruising between Moscow and Tver. Its title “Russia in 2005 – Political Kaleidoscope” was apt, the meeting being devoted to the diversity of Russia’s political and socio-economic landscape.
Discussions centered on issues surrounding Russia’s democratic development, the arrangement of its political order and its future on the global stage, as well as major points of international cooperation. Governor Dmitry Zelenin hosted the meeting in Tver and briefed participants on the development of his region. In Moscow, President Putin again welcomed the participants.
The club’s third conference, in 2006, “Global Energy in the 21st Century: Russia’s Role and Position” was devoted to energy security – the main issue on the agenda of that year’s G8 summit in St. Petersburg. Its meetings took place in Moscow and Khanty-Mansiisk, where the participants met with experts in the field, high-ranking government officials and executives from major energy companies.
The up-coming, and fourth meeting, “Russia at the Crossroads: the Search for Self-Identity,” will be held on the eve of the 2007 parliamentary elections and the 2008 presidential race, widely discussed by experts and politicians in Russia and abroad. The venues this year will be Moscow and Kazan, where the participants will take part in a busy program of meetings, discussions and cultural events. The guests will be received by President of Tatarstan Mintimer Shaimiyev.
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