Lectures and Events

October 14, 2013 - Igor Munteanu,
Ambassador of Moldova to the US & Canada

Moldovan Igor Munteanu


University Marketing & Communications: Whitney Wilkinson

Written by: Megan Laurie

His Excellency Igor Munteanu, ambassador from Moldova to the United States and Canada, will speak to community members and UVU students Monday, Oct. 14 at 10 a.m. in the Sorensen Student Center, room 213a. Munteanu will address "Protracted Conflicts in the Ex-Soviet Space: How Moldova Deals with Its Politicized Regionalism."

"Moldova is a former Soviet nation which attracts great interest of both Russia and the EU, but for different reasons," said Rusty Butler, associate vice president for UVU International Affairs & Diplomacy. "The latter sees it as a kind of buffer state with former Soviet states and the former views it as an important ally on the east adjacent to the EU. The future of this highly charged region and the conflicts it engenders will be the subject of the ambassador's address to the UVU community."

Munteanu, a political analyst and journalist, has served as Moldova's ambassador to the U.S. since August 2010. Born Aug. 10, 1965, in Costuleni, a commune in Ungheni district, Moldova, Munteanu holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in communications and journalism from Moldova State University (1989). He earned his master's degree in political analysis and administration in 1992 from Romania's National School of Political and Administrative Studies and his law degree in 2002 from Free International University of Moldova.

From 1992 to 1994, Munteanu served as an adviser to the Office of the President of Moldova. In 1993, he helped found one of Moldova's first think tanks, the Institute for Development and Social Initiatives (IDIS) Viitorul. Three years later, he became executive director of IDIS Viitorul and served in this capacity until 2010. Munteanu also served as a senior expert for the institute, working on international and national research projects devoted to public policy elaboration, regional development, political research and comparative studies.

Click here for more information on Ambassador Munteanu and his country of Moldova.

Courtesy Visit

Ambassador Munteanu with Dr. Rusty Butler and UVU Senior VP, Ian Wilson

Meeting with Lt. Governor and other local leaders

Ambassador Munteanu meeting with Lt. Governor and other local leaders

LDS Children's Choir

Ambassador Munteanu with the LDS Children's Choir

June 3, 2013 - Muktar Djumaliev,
Ambassador of Kyrgystan to the US & Canada

Kyrgystan Muktar Djumaliev

Ambassador Of Kyrgyz Republic To The U.S. And Canada To Speak At UVU

University Marketing & Communications: Mike Rigert (801) 863-6807

Written by: Heather Wrigley, 801-863-8504

Muktar Djumaliev, the ambassador of the Kyrgyz Republic to the United States and Canada, will speak at Utah Valley University on Monday, June 3, about the challenges and opportunities presented by political reforms in Kyrgyzstan. The lecture will take place at 10 a.m. in the Sorensen Student Center, room 213B, and is free and open to students, faculty and the public.

“For well over a decade, UVU has cultivated strong ties with Central Asia,” said Rusty Butler, associate vice president for International Affairs & Diplomacy at UVU. “But of all the countries in that region none has had a longer and more amicable relationship with us than Kyrgyzstan.”

UVU has hosted many dignitaries, students and professors from the country, as well as headed up many delegations from Utah. Last December, a group of UVU students and faculty traveled to Bishkek to participate in a conference — the second time UVU students have done so.

Djumaliev graduated from Kyrgyz National University in 1994 and began working as a senior expert at the Department of External Economic Relations. He has a long history of representing Kyrgyzstan in international diplomatic work, including becoming the ambassador of the Kyrgyz Republic to the United Nations in 2004. In June 2010, he was appointed the first deputy chief of staff of the administration of the president of the Kyrgyz Republic.

Djumaliev now resides in Washington, D.C., where he has served as ambassador of the Kyrgyz Republic to the U.S. since December 2010 and as ambassador to Canada since April 2011.

The Kyrgyz Republic is s a former Soviet Socialist Republic. Located in Central Asia, it is bordered by Kazakhstan to the north, Uzbekistan to the west, Tajikistan to the southwest and China to the east. Its capital and largest city is Bishkek, with a population of approximately 875,000.

Meeting with UVU Staff and Friends

Ambassador Meets VP Ian Wilson, Director Baldomero Lago & Friend


The Ambassador Speaks at the 2013 Women in International Business Conference at Hotel Monaco

Hall of Flags

The Ambassador in the Hall of Flags with VP Rusty Butler & Dr. Baktybek Abdrisaev

Global Spotlight: Eurasia 2012-13

March 28, 2013 - Andrei Dapkiunas,
Ambassador of Belarus to the UN

BelarusAndrei Dapkiunas


University Marketing & Communications: Mike Rigert (801) 863-6807

Written by: Heather Wrigley, 801-863-8504

At 3 p.m., on March 28, 2013, Andrei Dapkiunas, Belarus’ ambassador to the United Nations, will lecture on “Dynamic Belarus and Its Challenges in Europe” at UVU. The event is sponsored by the Office of International Affairs & Diplomacy and The Center for Global & Intercultural Engagement and will take place on the fourth floor of the UVU Library, in the Timpanogos Room. It is free and open to the public.

“Belarus is a very distinctive European nation,” Rusty Butler, associate vice president for the Office of International Affairs & Diplomacy, said. “There is no Belarus Ambassador in the U.S. and visa versa, although each has a mission with a chargé d’affaires in their respective national capitals. Ambassador Dapkiunas is the highest ranking official of the country in the U.S. and his presentation on Belarus in Europe will be a historic and extremely informative event for the UVU community.”

Dapkiunas has been a member of Belarus’ Board of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs since 2002. He previously served in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as director of the Americas Department, head of the Office for the United States and Canada and assistant to the minister. Dapkiunas holds a doctorate in political science from Belarusian State University and a higher education diploma in languages from the Minsk State Institute for Foreign Languages. His knowledge of languages includes Belarusian, English, French, Polish and Russian.

He and his wife, Olga, have a daughter, Alena, and a son, Hleb.

Click here for more information on Mr. Dapkiunas and his country of Belarus.


Ambassador receiving honorary award and meeting UVU trustees

With LT Gov. Bell

The Ambassador and His Son with Lt. Governor Bell

Arches National Park

A Visit to Arches National Park

March 22, 2013 - Talaibek Kydyrov,
Ambassador of Kyrgyzstan to the UN

KyrgyzstanTalaibek Kydyrov


Talaibek Kydyrov was appointed Ambassador of the Kyrgyz Republic to the United Nations on November 19, 2010.

From 1992 until the present, Kydyrov served in various positions for Kyrgyzstan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, including Ambassador at Large, Permanent Secretary/First Deputy Minister, and Deputy Minister and Head of Consular Division. He also served as Director of Kyrgyzstan’s Regional Centre on Migration and Refugee Issues (2002-2005) as well as Director of the Bishkek Migration Management Centre (1999-2002)

He was a part-time lecturer in international law at Kyrgyzstan’s Juridical Academy from 2005 to 2008, and received degrees in law and foreign languages at Kyrgyz State University, where he also studied political science. He speaks Russian and English.

He was born in Kyrgyzstan on March 29, 1954, and is married.

Honorary UVU Professor Award

Receiving Honorary UVU Professor Award & Bestowal of Gifts by the Ambassador

Photo with UVU Faculty & Staff

Photo with UVU Faculty & Staff

A Conversation with UVU Faculty

A Conversation with UVU Faculty

November 21, 2012 - Conference on the Collapse of the Soviet Union


University Marketing & Communications: Mike Rigert (801) 863-6807

Written by: Baktybek Abdrisaev (801) 863-8351

The Utah International Mountain Forum along with Utah Valley University’s Office of International Affairs & Diplomacy and the Department of History & Political Science will host a three-session video-conference on Nov. 21 on the commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Soviet Union. It will be from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the UVU LI 120.

The event will consist of three roundtable discussions broadcast through Skype including “Views from Russia” with representatives from the Nizhny Novgorod branch of the Higher School of Economics in Russia and local nongovernmental organizations; “Views from Washington, D.C.” with Jack Matlock, a former U.S. ambassador to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), William Miller, a former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine and Alexey Semyonov, president of the Andrei Sakharov Foundation and other distinguished guests; and “Views from a New Generation of Leaders” that will include student leaders from the Moscow Higher School of Economics, Stanford University and UVU.

“This gathering gives quite a unique chance for students and faculty of UVU to learn more about the events which led to the creation of a new global order free from oppression and totalitarian thought 20 years ago. It is also an opportunity for them to take part in organizing and hosting a conference through a coalition of UVU student clubs and the Utah International Mountain Forum,” said Rusty Butler, associate vice president for International Affairs & Diplomacy at UVU. “We are also grateful to contributions by the Andrei Sakharov Foundation, which has been partnering with UVU for more than 7 years.”

The conference is free and open to students, faculty and the public.

Video Conference

Dr. Butler & Former ambassadors Jack Matlock and William Hill via Skype


Cooper Henderson, Center for American-Russian Engagement of Emerging Leaders & Student organizers

January 13, 2012 - Russian New Year's Party

RUSSIAN NEW YEAR'S PARTY 2012/Старый Новый Год 2012


Members of Utah's Russian community enjoy traditional Russian food


Ded Moroz & Snegurochka give away gifts


Snegurochka and Ded Moroz with the children


Member's of Utah's Russian community

December 1, 2011 - Russian University Agreement


University Marketing & Communications: Mike Rigert (801) 863-6807

Written by: Cheryl Kamenski (801) 863-6351

A newly-formed agreement between Utah Valley University and the Higher School of Economics, located in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, will allow for collaborative activities between the two universities beginning this summer.

UVU’s College of Humanities & Social Sciences signed a memorandum of understanding with the Russian university on Tuesday, Nov. 22, to build a relationship that promotes cultural and educational exchange and understanding.

“This is a first step toward having a robust and dynamic relationship with Russia for our students and faculty,” said Frederick H. White, associate dean of UVU’s College of Humanities & Social Sciences. “Our goal in working with the Higher School of Economics is to expand our activities beyond language instruction in order to offer an international experience from which the entire college can benefit.”

This effort begins in June when UVU will send a group of professors for a faculty development seminar to create new and innovative courses on Russia’s post-Soviet transformation. The following summer, UVU will offer a study abroad program at the Russian university so students can explore the material in an international setting.

“Once this hub is established, we plan to offer courses that will benefit students in history, political science, peace and justice, English and many more areas. To fully internationalize our curriculum, the College of Humanities & Social Sciences is integrating global perspectives into all of our courses,” White said.

Some of the proposed options include lectures offered over Skype to enable team-taught courses, new course and program development that takes advantage of the strengths of both universities, study abroad and research opportunities.

The Higher School of Economics, established nearly 20 years ago in Moscow to promote economic and social reforms in Russia through education, is a multi-discipline center of study and research, which has developed effective partnership relations with prestigious foreign universities, international programs and organizations, research consortia, foreign companies and transnational corporations.

The university is headquartered in Moscow and has locations throughout Russia. UVU’s agreement is with the school located in Nizhny Novgorod, which is the fifth-largest city in Russia and is the economic and cultural center of the vast Volga-Vyatka region.


Photo courtesy UVU Marketing & Communications (l-r): Frederick White, associate dean of UVU's College of Humanities & Social Sciences, shakes hands with Oleg Kozyrev, director of the Higher School of Economics - Nizhny Novgorod on Nov. 22 in Russia during the signing of an academic partnership between the two universities. Also pictured (wearing orange) is Natalia Gronskaia, vice-provost of Research and International Initiatives, and (in brown) is Tatiana Batischeva, director of International Programs. The woman just behind Oleg Kozyrev is Anna Blyakhman, vice-provost Academic of the School of Economics.

November 15, 2011 - Sergey Kislyak, Ambassador of Russia to the U.S.

Sergey Kislyak


University Marketing & Communications: Mike Rigert (801) 863-6807

Written by: Faith Heaton, (435) 691-3263

Sergey I. Kislyak, the ambassador of the Russian Federation to the United States, will be speaking at UVU on Tuesday, Nov. 15, about Russian relations with America. The lecture will take place at 4 p.m. in the UVU Library, room 120, and is free and open to students, faculty and the public.

“Rarely do universities have a diplomat of Russian Ambassador Kislyak’s stature lecture to students,” said Rusty Butler, associate vice president of UVU’s Office of International Affairs & Diplomacy. “We are deeply honored that on his way through Utah the ambassador has agreed to meet with our university community and engage us on critical U.S.-Russia issues.”

Kislyak graduated from the Moscow Engineering Physics Institute in 1973 and from the United Soviet Socialist Republic Academy of Foreign Trade in 1977. He has served as an employee of the foreign ministry of the Russian Federation Trade since that time.

Kislyak has a long history of representing Russia in international diplomatic work, including becoming the permanent representative of Russia to NATO in Brussels, Belgium, in 2003. He has also served as Russia’s deputy minister of foreign affairs for the past five years.

Click here for more information on Russia and Ambassador Kislyak

Speaking at UVU & with the Governor

Ambassador Kislayk speaking to UVU students & the Ambassador Kislyak with Governor Herbert


Written By:
Sierra Wilson

Not many years ago, just mentioning Russia or the USSR was enough to cause chills and goose bumps. Fears of communist spies, nuclear war and the death of democracy weren’t uncommon. Today, though some of the old fears may linger, U.S. relations with Russia have warmed up quite a few degrees.

As evidence of improved US-Russian relations, His Excellency Sergey Ivanovich Kislyak, Russian Ambassador to the United States, spoke at UVU Nov. 15 at 4 p.m. about hopes for continually improving cooperation between the U.S. and Russia in a number of spheres.

Kislyak began his visit with a short speech and then opened the floor for a Q-and- A session, saying he found Q-and-A sessions to be more interesting for both audiences and speakers.

One major topic of conversation was economics.

Kislyak stated that Russia now has a market economy. Later, he also noted that privatization in Russia is on the rise. In regards to the U.S., he explained that though U.S.-Russian trade amounts to billions of dollars, it is still very low. In fact, trade with Russia represents slightly less than 1 percent of the U.S.’s foreign trade, according to Kislyak.

Nevertheless, Kislyak noted that trade between the U.S. and Russia is growing. He also said while Russia is rich in oil and natural gas, the country is looking to diversify its economy.

The Russian government is “determined to make Russia more competitive,” Kislyak said.

One part of Russia’s plan for growth is joining the World Trade Organization. Russia has been attempting to join the WTO for approximately 18 years, according to Kislyak, and expects to finally be admitted this December. Kislyak stated that this should “significantly” increase U.S.- Russian cooperation and open the door for mutually beneficial opportunities.

One example of U.S.- Russian economic interaction Kislyak mentioned may surprise readers. The most popular car brand in Russia is Ford.

“We (the U.S. and Russia) cooperate more than we disagree,” Kislyak said.

However, Kislyak mentioned that Russia does not view a U.S. missile system in Central Europe as “benign,” a U.S. defense plan that has generated much international debate.

Other points Kislyak touched on included a general desire for “normalcy” along with “stability and predictability” in U.S.-Russian relations.

He also told the audience that Russia has freely allowed use of Russian land for the movement of U.S. troops in the current war in Afghanistan.

During the Q-and-A session, a student in the audience brought up U.S.-Russian space program cooperation. She recalled seeing Sputnik, the first artificial satellite, cross the sky. Kislyak stated that Russia and the U.S. are still cooperating in space endeavors. In fact, a Russian spacecraft carrying an American astronaut was launched only a few days ago. Kislyak said that the cooperation in the space field is “exemplary” and should be a model of cooperation to be applied in other areas.

At one point, the conversation got heated. A student in the audience asked Kislyak if Russia would join the U.S. in a military effort against Iran in the event that Iran obtains nuclear weapons. Kislyak replied that starting another war on shaky facts would be “ultimate stupidity.” He does not believe Iran has nuclear weapons or plans to attack and is not convinced of a major threat.

When student persisted, Kislyak asked, “So, you want to start a war?”

The young man continued to argue that Iran is a serious threat and eventually a moderator stepped in to move the Q-and-A session forward to other questions.

Later topics in the Q-and- A included a discussion of relations with Georgia and Chechnya. In regards to conflicts in Chechnya, Kislyak stated that “organized terrorist groups [there] have been exterminated.” Still, he expects that terrorism is not completely eradicated in that region.

Kislyak said that Russia has empathy for the U.S. regarding terrorism because Russians, too, have dealt with it. He noted that former Russian President Putin was the first to call President Bush after the 9/11 attacks.

“He’s a typical politician,” said Lisa Kharchenko, a student who hails from Russia attending the event.

She said he was able to say a lot without saying a lot. She explained that she saw him as skilled, especially as he was speaking English for the event. She said he was able to side-step controversial questions without being “rude or aggressive.”

Other students in attendance, such as Cameron Asbury and the co-presidents of the UVU Russian Club, were pleased with the event.

“[The event was] an unprecedented opportunity for students to engage with such a prominent member of the global community,” said John McClure, UVU Russian Club co-president.

November 14, 2011 - Dr. Asylbek Aidaraliev, President of the International University of Kyrgyzstan


Rector Aidraliev receiving an award & with Senator John Valentine

With Attendees

With Senator Valentine and ambassador Baktybek Abdrisaev & with Dr. Fred White and ambassador Abdrisaev

March 15, 2011 - Olexander Motsyk, Ambassador of Ukraine to the U.S.

Olexander Motsyk


Oleksandr Motsyk took over as Ukraine’s Ambassador to the United States on June 11, 2010.

Motsyk was born on May 3, 1955, in the village of Horodets Volodymeretskoho, in the Rivne region of the Ukraine. In 1981 he graduated from Kyiv State University’s School of International Relations, Department of International Law, as an English language interpreter and international law specialist.

Motsyk entered the diplomatic service while Ukraine was still part of the Soviet Union, via the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine (MFA), initially serving as Third Secretary, Consular Section, from July 1981 to May 1985. He then became Third and Second Secretary of International Organizations (May 1985 to April 1987); Second and First Secretary of the Personnel Department of the MFA (April 1987 to September 1990); and Director First Secretary of the Department of Treaties and Legal Affairs of the MFA (September 1990 to April 1992).

From April 1992 to August 1995, Motsyk served as Second and First Secretary, and Counselor, at the Permanent Mission of Ukraine to the United Nations in New York. From August 1995 to November 1997, he was Director and Chief-of-Control of the MFA’s Contractual and Legal Department. In November 1997, he was appointed Ukraine’s Ambassador to Turkey, a post he held for four years.

From September 1999 to November 2004, Motsyk was Ukraine’s Representative to the Black Sea Economic Cooperation. In Ukraine’s MFA, he served as Deputy State Secretary (November 2001 to July 2003), Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs (July 2003 to July 2004), and First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine on European Integration (July 2004 to February 2005).

From February to December 2005, Motsyk held the position of First Deputy State Secretary and First Deputy Head of the Secretariat of the President of Ukraine. He was then appointed as Ukraine’s Ambassador to Poland, a post he held until June 2010.

In addition to being ambassador to the United States, Motsyn represents Ukraine as its ambassador to Antigua and Barbuda.

Motsyk and his wife, Natalia, have two daughters. He speaks English, Russian and Polish.

Click here for more information on Ukraine and Ambassador Motsyk.

Source: allgov.com


Ambassador Motsyk becomes a UVU Honorary Professor & Motsyk with President Matthew Holland, Vice President Val Hale, and Associate Vice President Rusty Butler

September 1-3, 2010 - International Women's Symposium


University Marketing & Communications: Mike Rigert (801) 863-6807

Written by: Chelsey Richardson (801) 863-8504
For more information: Jessika Reed (801) 863-8897

Women around the world often face similar daily struggles how to care for their families while maintaining their careers and personal lives. On Thursday, Sept. 2, Utah Valley University will host its annual Women's Symposium, this year entitled Women's Perspectives from Around the Globe. Women leaders from Azerbaijan, Bolivia, Brazil, Israel, Kyrgyzstan, Liberia, and Malaysia will offer their perspectives on the unique challenges that women face in today's world.

These women are powerful leaders in their own right, said Rusty Butler, associate vice president for International Affairs & Diplomacy at UVU. They are former diplomats, professors, entrepreneurs and business women who put their lives on hold so that their husbands can serve their respective countries in senior diplomatic posts.

The speakers, wives of current and former consuls general and ambassadors to the United States, will explore the challenges, choices and opportunities they face in juggling home, family, careers and diplomatic life.

Susan Madsen, an associate professor of management with UVU Woodbury School of Business and a noted international women's leadership studies scholar, will join Tcholpon Akmatalieva, wife of former Kyrgyz Ambassador Baktybek Abdrisaev and a university professor, to moderate the symposium. In addition to participating in the panels, the visiting women will meet with Utah community leaders and businessmen.

I am thrilled be involved in this international symposium, said Madsen. We are extremely fortunate to have these influential women on our campus to discuss their own challenges, choices, and opportunities. These women represent countries throughout the world, and I am personally excited to hear their experiences from their own cultural perspectives with integrating work and life.

The symposium will be held from 10 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. in the UVU Library, room 120. It is co-hosted by the Office of International Affairs & Diplomacy, the Woodbury School of Business and the UVU Student Association.

Attendance is free and open to the public.

June 6-8, 2010 - Andrei Dapkiunas,
Ambassador of Belarus to the UN

Andrei Dapkiunas with Franz Kolb


Ambassador Dapkiunas is Vice-President of the UN Economic and Social Council, ESOSOC, and President of the Executive Board of the UN Children's Fund, UNICEF. He was director of the Americas Department in the Belarus Foreign Ministry and assistant to the Foreign Minister. He has a doctorate degree in political science from the Belarus State University.

Ambassador Dapkiunas is an unassuming scholar and a gentleman in the best sense of the word, explained Rusty Butler, Associate Vice President for Diplomacy at UVU. We have become good friends over the years and he hopes to reinstitute former friendships with Utah. Butler also explained that after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Utah National Guard and the Belarus military were partners under the U.S. Partnership for Peace program. When U.S. funds were later withdrawn, the partnership did not continue.

Click here for more information on Mr. Dapkiunas and his country of Belarus.


Lectures to UVU students with UVU Staff and Faculty & with Utah Lt. Governor Greg Bell

May 12, 2010 - Bolotbek Sherniyazov, Kyrgyz Interior Minister

Bolotbek Sherniyazov with Sen. Valentine


The leader of last month's ouster of Kyrgyz President Bakiyev will participate in a roundtable at UVU, Wednesday, May 12, 10:30 a.m. in LA 107. The public is invited. The resulting uprising left nearly 90 people dead. Bakiyev is now wanted on criminal charges for the shooting of his own people.

Mr. Bolotbek Sherniyazov is first vice-chairman of the "Ata-Meken" party and a member of the interim government of Kyrgyzstan as acting Minister of Internal Affairs charged with bringing order back to the country. Kyrgyzstan is home to the strategically critical U.S. Manas Airbase which supplies the war in Afghanistan.

"This is a historic opportunity for UVU and the community to hear first-hand about last month's events in Kyrgyzstan," explained Rusty Butler, associate vice president of International Affairs & Diplomacy at UVU. "This will be Mr. Sherniyazov's only public appearance in the U.S. and demonstrates the school's cutting-edge involvement with Eurasia."

Mr. Shernyazov will share his views on where the country is going and the future of democracy there. The event is hosted by the UVU Office of International Affairs & Diplomacy and the Department of History and Political science.


Mr. Bolotbek Sherniyazov is one of the active members of the opposition forces who fought the regime of deposed President Bakiyev starting from 2006, when he resigned from his position as vice-Speaker of the Kyrgyz Parliament together with then speaker of the Parliament, Omurbek Tekebaev, leader of the "Ata-Meken" party. When "Ata-Meken" party was not allowed to have seats at the Kyrgyz Parliament in 2007 due to the rigging of the Parliamentary elections by the Bakiyev regime, Mr. Sherniyazov dedicated his time and energy to promoting the "Ata-Meken" party cause among the constituency all over the country. On April 6th, 2010 when the first uprising took place in Talas province of Kyrgyzstan, Mr. Sherniyazov was among its organizers. After the interim government came to power, Mr. Sherniyazov became acting Minister of Internal Affairs dealing with the problems of stabilizing the situation in the country by mobilizing law enforcement institutions. Mr. Sherniyazov will share his thoughts on the current situation in Kyrgyzstan, and prospects of restoring the path of political and economic reforms, including democracy-building in Kyrgyzstan and the role of the "Ata-Meken" party in all of those processes.


Written By: Matthew Joseph, UPP Contributor - Published 05/18/10

The April 6th and 7th uprising and subsequent ousting of the former Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev has led many in the Western United States, Utah in particular, to wonder just what direction this new interim government will go, and if this is the beginning of a vicious cycle of revolutions. Why specifically in Utah? Several institutions here, including Utah Valley University, (commonly abbreviated as UVU) have been establishing ties with Kyrgyzstan over the past 5 years.

The interim government, led by Roza Otunbayeva, former Ambassador of Kyrgyzstan to the U.S., has taken control of the nation ever since President Bakiyev fled the country. One of the interim government's senior officials, acting Minister of Internal Affairs, Bolot Sherniazov, recently came to Utah and gave a presentation at Utah Valley University.

Two years ago, several representatives of the "Ata-Meken" party ("The Mother land," translated from Kyrgyz), led by its Chairman Omurbek Tekebaev paid a visit to the US, mainly to Washington D.C. and Utah. Mr. Sherniyazov, who as a first deputy Chairman of the party was among the group, mentioned how the abundant hospitality their group found in Utah was very heartwarming and touching. During that visit, they met with many key figures in the State Senate, Administration, and UVU, and built ties of cooperation and understanding between the two mountainous regions of Kyrgyzstan and Utah. This may be the very reason why acting Minister Sherniazov came not to Washington D.C., but to Utah, seeking help and support for his nation. He stated that it is "because you are people of the mountains, just like us, and we have a lot in common, including the same mountainous mentality." Utah Senate President John Valentine (2005-2008) is among the people from Utah who have rigorously pushed and focused on building ties with the different states of Central Asia.

During the meeting with students and faculty of UVU, acting Minister Sherniazov recalled events in 2007, when their party won the parliamentary elections nationwide. Former President Bakiyev did not allow them to take their seats in parliament and replaced them with members of his own party, gaining the majority. This enraged the local population in many parts of Kyrgyzstan, as this was a direct breach of the constitution.

After the upheaval, Mr. Sherniyazov said that Mr. Omurbek Tekebaev, now deputy head of the government interim, became responsible for developing a new draft of the Constitution, aiming to change the political system in the nation to a Parliamentary system and to prevent the recurrence of a despotic ruler.

The guest of UVU continued to state that the people of Kyrgyzstan will conduct a referendum during the summer in order to approve a new draft of the Constitution, and that they are determined to have fair and transparent elections both to the Parliament and Presidency. Kyrgyz people tried to do that during more than 20 years, which has already resulted in deposing three rulers, when neighbors of Kyrgyzstan in Central Asia are still ruled by the only same persons. Mr. Sherniyazov said they will do whatever it takes to make sure that elections will be done according to the best practices existing worldwide. His main appeal for help directed towards the audience was for American oversight and monitoring experts to be sent to the elections in October 2010 to help ensure a fair election.

He informed the audience of his mission to deliver copies of a letter from the deputy head of the interim government, Omurbek Tekebaev, to a number of people in Utah and the Rocky Mountains states with an invitation to help draft the new Constitution, and monitor elections this coming October.

During the meeting between Sherniazov and Utah State Senator John Valentine, the Utah host was curious as to what events led up to the overthrow and deposition of former President Bakiyev, and what role acting Minister Sherniazov played in that process. Minister Sherniazov recalled that everything started when the opposition to the Bakiyev regime decided to organize meetings all over the nation (Kurultays) on April 7th, 2010 with protests against the worsening standard of living because of widespread corruption and nepotism. Authorities created obstacles for them, and in a remote province of Kyrgyzstan, named Talas, everything started when he was arrested before the meeting on April 6th by law enforcement, brought back to Bishkek, and imprisoned in a former KGB prison cell with other opposition leaders. However, demonstrators in Bishkek, angered by the incarceration of their leaders, stormed the KGB prison and released them. Then they stormed the governmental house, which caused the deaths of 86 people and left hundreds wounded when Bakiyev authorized the use of lethal force on the rioters. After Bakiyev's escape to the south of the nation, the interim government was created and Mr. Sherniyazov became acting Minister of Internal affairs.

When asked by one of the students why he decided to occupy his current position as acting Minister of internal affairs, Bolotbek Sherniyazov further emphasized the priority for the new interim government to make sure that law enforcement institutions will not be involved further in politics, and will serve the interests of the people of Kyrgyzstan, not the interests of the ruling elite.

Mr. Sherniyazov also met with Professor Cole Durham of BYU, who is one of the leading scholars on Constitutionalism in the U.S., as well as an advisor to OSCE on that matter. Professor Durham has helped to prepare drafts of Constitutions for a number of nations worldwide, including Iraq. Dr. Durham kindly agreed to be involved in the activities of the Constitutional commission, which is now preparing a draft of the Constitution for the referendum in the summer, and will monitor elections as well.

Senator John Valentine is also very eager to continue relations with Kyrgyzstan and strengthen already established ties with Kyrgyz legislators. He plans to visit Central Asia with a group of other Utah legislators in the fall and to be presented during the elections in Kyrgyzstan as a part of the group of monitors from Utah.

Jan 14-15, 2010 - Alexey Semyonov,
Director of the Sakharov Foundation

Alexey Semyonov


University Marketing & Communications: Erin Spurgeon, (801) 863-6807
Written by: Maryna Storrs (801) 863-8897
For more information: Rusty Butler (801) 863-8994

Alexey Semyonov, vice president and director of the Andrei Sakharov Foundation, and his wife Elizabeth will lecture on defense of human rights at UVU Jan. 14-15 as part of the University's Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemoration event. The Sakharov Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation and memory of Nobel Peace Prize-winner Andrei Sakharov, the promotion of his ideas and the defense of human rights.

Alexey Semyonov

"The visit of the Semyonovs is a recognition from the famous Sakharov Foundation of the maturity of UVU," said Rusty Butler, associate vice president for international affairs and diplomacy. "It will strengthen UVU ties with prominent, globally-known institutions in the promotion of human rights and democracy-building, and bring concrete benefits for the faculty and students of UVU for their professional and educational growth."

In addition to the lecture, Mr. Semyonov will moderate a session with renowned human- and civil-rights activist Elena Bonner, chair of the Andrei Sakharov Foundation and widow of Andrei Sakharov; Carl Gershman, president of the National Endowment for Democracy; and Bob Arsenault, president of the International League for Human Rights. They will discuss the role of King in the global human-rights movement. Semyonov also plans to comment during the screening of the documentary "In the Shadow of Sakharov" as part of the MLK commemoration.

On Thursday, Jan. 14 at 10 a.m. Semyonov will speak to the students on the "New dynamic in international relations between the United States and the CIS" (LA 110). On Friday, Jan. 15 at 3 p.m. Mrs. Semyonov will meet at a roundtable with the students and faculty of UVU (LA 118).

UVU has many ties with the Sakharov Foundation. Chair Elena Bonner was the honorary co-chair of the international conference "Women of the Mountains" hosted by UVU in March 2007 with support from the United Nations and the World Bank. Twenty-two nations sent 110 women leaders to that conference. Additionally, the Foundation will co-sponsor a new conference, "Women of the Mountains-2," with UVU.

The Sakharov Foundation will host a UVU intern in its Moscow, Russia office this summer. UVU student Joseph Matthew will leave in May for Moscow and other students may work with the Sakharov archives at Harvard University.

Lecturing at UVU

Director Semyonov addressing UVU students and faculty

1998 - 2009 Archive

November 20, 2009 - Sergey Chernyshev, Director of TsAGI

Sergey Chernyshev


University Marketing & Communications: Erin Spurgeon, (801) 863-6807
Written by: Alex Strickland (801) 863-6351
For more information: Rusty Butler (801) 863-8994

Everything that has ever flown in space or high in the sky from the former Soviet Union and Russia came out of the ultra-secret TsAGI, the Central Aerohydrodynamic Institute. And at 11 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 20 in the new UVU Library lecture hall (LI120), the organization's director general, Dr. Sergey Chernyshev, will offer a glimpse into the formerly clandestine agency when he presents "UFOs, Space Craft and Flying Giants: Untold Tales of Soviet/Russian Aerospace Work."

Located near Moscow in the city of Zhukovsky, which was long shrouded in secrecy as the headquarters of Soviet and Russian aviation technology, TsAGI has no peer in advanced aerospace work. It has 65 wind tunnels, including one large enough to house a full-sized 757 and another capable of creating speeds of well over Mach 20, more than 20 times the speed of sound.

"No aerospace facility or combination of facilities in the world compares to TsAGI," said UVU Associate Vice President Rusty Butler. "I have toured this formerly secret facility and was shocked to learn of its capabilities and achievements. Having the director general lecture at UVU is a major coup for our school."

The lecture is sponsored by the UVU Office of International Affairs & Diplomacy, Institutional Advancement, and the College of Science & Health. It is free and open to the public.

Sergey with his family.

Sergei Chernyshev (second from the right) with his two sons and wife

Dr. Sergey Chernyshev spoke at UVU on the history and progress of Soviet/Russian aerospace. Dr. Chernyshev is the Director General of TsAGI, the Central AeroHydroDynamic Institute near Moscow, Russia. TsAGI is the world's premier air and space research facility with over 65 wind tunnels. All Soviet and Russian craft that have flown in the air or in space have come from TsAGI, civilian or military. Dr. Chernyshev spoke of current developments and research, including a new family of commercial aircraft now being studied. He stated that TsAGI has professional relationships with NASA in the U.S., the European Space Agency, and their counterparts in India, China, Japan and elsewhere.

October 2, 2009 - Elin Suleymanov,
Consul General of Azerbaijan in Los Angeles

Elin Suleymanov with UVU staff


On November 14, 2005, the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev appointed Elin Suleymanov as Azerbaijanís first Consul General to Los Angeles, California with personal rank of Envoy Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary. Prior to that he served as Senior Counselor at the Foreign Relations Department, Office of the President in Baku, Azerbaijan and as Press Officer of the Azerbaijani Embassy in Washington, DC. Before joining diplomatic service, Mr. Suleymanov worked with United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Azerbaijan and with the Open Media Research Institute in Prague, Czech Republic.

A graduate of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in Medford, Massachusetts, Mr. Suleymanov also holds graduate degrees from the Political Geography department of the Moscow State University, Russia, and from the University of Toledo, Ohio. Mr. Suleymanov speaks Azerbaijani, English, Russian and Czech languages.

To learn more about Azerbaijan, visit http://www.azconsulatela.org

H.E. Suleymanov meets with UVU faculty, staff, and students

H.E. Suleymanov meets with UVU faculty, staff, and students

April 13, 2009 - Murad Askarov, Ambassador of Uzbekistan to the UN

Murad Askarov


University Marketing & Communications: Erin Spurgeon, (801) 863-6807
Written by: Jay Hinton (801) 863-8504
For more information: Rusty Butler (801) 863-8994

Murad Askarov, Ambassador of the Republic of Uzbekistan to the United Nations, will lecture at Utah Valley University 10 a.m. Monday, April 13, in Woodbury Business Building room 131. He will be the first representative from Uzbekistan to speak on campus.

"Uzbekistan is a strategically important nation to the United States and its efforts against terrorism and narcotics that arrive from Afghanistan," said Dr. Rusty Butler, associate vice president for international affairs at UVU.

Prior to becoming the Ambassador of the Republic of Uzbekistan to the United Nations, Askarov was Chief of the Head Department for Analysis and Strategy of Foreign Policy in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (2006-2009). He also served as Second and then First Secretary in the same department (2005-2006), and he was Third Secretary in the Foreign Ministry's Policy Planning Group (2003-2005).

In addition, Askarov served as Head of Chancellery at the Embassy of Uzbekistan to the United States in Washington, D.C., (1999-2003). Prior to that he was Referent of the Treaty and Law Department in the Foreign Ministry (1997-1999).

Askarov earned a doctorate in political science and a master's degree in international relations from the University of World Economy and Diplomacy in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

The event is free and open to UVU students, faculty, staff and the public.

Click here to view The Daily Herald Article on Ambassador Askarov's UVU visit

April 7, 2009 - Yuriy A. Sergeyev, Ambassador of Ukraine to the UN

Yuriy A. Sergeyev


University Marketing & Communications: Erin Spurgeon, (801) 863-6807
Written by: Jay Hinton (801) 863-8504
For more information: Rusty Butler (801) 863-8994

OREM, Utah - Yuriy A. Sergeyev, Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the United Nations, will lecture at Utah Valley University on Thursday, April 9, at 11:30 a.m., in LI 120.

The lecture is free and open UVU students, faculty members and the public. However, seating is limited.

"The ambassador's visit to UVU provides an excellent and exciting opportunity for our students," said UVU assistant professor Geoffrey Cockerham. "It allows them to go beyond what they learn in the classroom and interact with an actual practitioner of international relations."

Sergeyev, the current permanent representative of Ukraine to the United Nations since 2007, has worked in the government of Ukraine in many capacities since 1992.

Since 2000, he has been the Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs (2000-01); Secretary of State of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (2001); Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Ukraine to France, Permanent Representative of Ukraine to United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (2001-03) and Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the United Nations (2003-07).

Sergeyev, who is fluent in English and French, received his doctorate from Taras Shevchenko Kyiv State University in 1981. After receiving his doctorate he was an assistant Docent at the Philological Faculty at Taras Shevchenko Kyiv State University from 1981-1992.

March 27, 2009 - Turkic World Governance Conference


University Marketing & Communications: Erin Spurgeon, (801) 863-6807
For more information: Rusty Butler (801) 863-8994

Inquiring minds visiting UVU for the Turkic world governance conference this week will be greeted by Governor Huntsman, Senator Bennett, UVU (Interim) President Liz Hitch and numerous other officials, from locally and abroad. This event marks the first segment of a three-part symposium, which will start at UVU then travel to Washington, D.C., and Kyrgyzstan.

The conference, titled "Traditions of Rule of Law, Good Governance and Consultative Government in the Turkic World," brings together faculty, students, scholars and officials to explore governance traditions and trends as they relate to Turkic regions and the western world.

In addition to world-class political discussion and presentations from the likes of Dr. Frederick F. Starr, chairman of the Institute of Central Asia and Caucasus at John Hopkins University, and Senator John Valentine, former president of the Utah State Senate, senior UVU political science students will be presenting papers on governance issues pertaining to the conference subject matter. Students with the winning papers will be awarded a trip to Central Asia (first place) and Washington, D.C. (second through fourth places) to take part in similar events and research on the topic.

"This conference will give our students more chances to continue with scholarly research," said UVU visiting professor at history and political science department Dr. Baktybek Abdrisaev. "This is just the first step to be involved more, to get in more deeply and work more professionally."

The conference begins tomorrow, Friday, March 27, in the UVU Library Auditorium and will run from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. For more information on the conference, contact the UVU Office of International Affairs & Diplomacy at (801) 863-8897. This event is made possible by a grant from the UVU Center for Engaged Learning.


The Central Asia-Caucasus Institute at SAIS, Johns Hopkins University, with co-sponsors, Embassy of the Kyrgyz Republic, the Uyghur American Association, and the Utah Valley University invite you to:

"Yusuf of Balasagun: 11th Century Political Philosopher from Present-day Kyrgyzstan"

Featuring Dr. S. Frederick Starr, Chairman, CACI, SAIS; Dr. Rusty Butler, Associate Vice-President, International Affairs and Diplomacy, Utah Valley University; three winners of a contest on Yusuf of Balasagun's Kutadgu Bilig; and an Uyghur historian (TBA)

Wednesday, 10 June, 2009, 5 to 7 PM

The Rome Auditorium, Rome Building, 1619 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20036

Yusuf Has Hajib of Balasagun (11th century ) was the first major writer in any Turkic language and the author of a classic guide for rulers, Kutadgu Bilig, which has just been republished by the Utah Valley University and the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute. Yusuf, who lived at the time of the Karakhanid dynasty, resided at one if its capitals, Balasagun, on the Kyrgyzstan-Kazakhstan border. His book is a compendium of early Turkic thinking about politics and society. It is written in a language most closely resembling modern Uyghur, but which resonates with all the Turkic languages today.

This Forum will present the new publication. Featured speakers will be Dr. S. Frederick Starr, Chairman, CACI, and Dr. Rusty Butler, Associate Vice-President, International Affairs and Diplomacy, Utah Valley University; additional, brief remarks will be offered by three UVU undergraduates, winners of an essay contest on the subject of the Yusuf of Balasagun's book. An expert on Uyghur history (TBA) will also comment.

The Central Asia-Caucasus Institute is the primary institution in the United States for the study of the Caucasus, Central Asia and the Caspian Region. The Institute, affiliated with Johns Hopkins University-SAIS, forms part of a Joint Center with the Silk Road Studies Program, affiliated with the Stockholm-based Institute for Security and Development Policy. Additional information about the Joint Center, as well as its several publications series, is available at www.silkroadstudies.org.

March 12-22, 2009 - Vitaly Churkin, Ambassador of Russia to the UN

Vitaly Churkin


University Marketing & Communications: Erin Spurgeon, (801) 863-6807
Written by: Jay Hinton (801) 863-8504
For more information: Rusty Butler (801) 863-8994

Vitaly Churkin, the Russian Federation Ambassador to the United Nations, will lecture at Utah Valley University's Timpanogos Room located in the Library on Monday, March 16, from 10 a.m. - 11 a.m.

"We and other universities [in the state] have been trying to get a Russian Ambassador here for over a decade," said Dr. Rusty Butler, associate vice president for international affairs at UVU. "We are very fortunate to have him coming to UVU."

Churkin replaced Andrey I. Denisov in May of 2006 as the current Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the U.N. Prior to his most recent assignment he was a Russian Federation Ambassador-at-Large to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (2003-06) as well as Russian Federation's Ambassador to Belgium (1994-1998) and Canada (1998-2003).

"To have a man of this stature is, our course, a huge opportunity for us at the university and for our students, faculty and others to dialogue with him directly," Butler said.

Churkin, who is fluent in Russian, French and English, is also the chairman of the Senior Officials of the Arctic Council.

Churkin is a 1974 graduate of the Moscow State Institute of International Relations. In 1981 he earned a doctorate in history from the USSR Diplomatic Academy.

The event is open to UVU students, faculty members and the public.

Click here to read the Daily Herald's article about ambassador Churkin's UVU visit

Click here to learn more about ambassador Churkin and Russia

November 16-20, 2008 - Nicolae Chirtoaca,
Ambassador of Moldova to the U.S.

Nicolae Chirtoaca and Utah Business Leaders


University Marketing & Communications: Erin Spurgeon, (801) 863-6807
Written by: Britnee Nguyen (801) 863-8504
For more information: Rusty Butler (801) 863-8994

Ambassador of Moldova, Nicolae Chirtoaca, will be speaking to students at Utah Valley University on Nov. 17 from 9 to 9:50 a.m. in Liberal Arts (LA) 219. He will be addressing the Moldovian perspective of the transition into democracy in Eastern Europe and the threats and challenges of security and peace building in Eurasia. The lecture is free and open to the public.

"Ambassador Chirtoaca has graciously agreed to share insights on his own country's transition to democracy," said Loretta Palmer, associate vice president of undergraduate research and international program at UVU. "There can be no better way to understand our global community's challenges than to discuss them with individuals, such as the ambassador, who live and work with these issues daily."

Chirtoaca became an Ambassador of Moldova to the United States in 2006. Chirtoaca previously served as director of the European Institute for Political Studies in Moldova, the Euro-Atlantic Center of Moldova and the Invisible College of Moldova. He has also served as senior state advisor to the prime minister, press secretary of the government, vice chairman of the Liberal Party and state advisor to the office of the President.

"As a multi-cultural educational community, UVU welcomes individuals such as the Ambassador of Moldova who offers us the opportunity to learn more of the rich ethnic history of this east European country whose traditions are centuries old," Palmer said.

Click here to view ambassador Chirtoaca's Power Point Presentation from his lecture at UVU

Click here for more information on ambassador Chirtoaca and his country of Moldova

Ambassador and Mrs. Chirtoaca speaking at UVU

Ambassador and Mrs. Chirtoaca speaking to UVU faculty and students & with UVU administrators and faculty

Ambassador and Mrs. Chirtoaca speaking at UVU

Ambassador with Lt Governor and with Mrs. Chirtoaca at Delicate Arch in Southern Utah

May 24-29, 2008 - Dr. Kanybek Osmonalievich Osmonaliev,
Kyrgyz Director of Religious Affairs

With Dr. Kat Brown


  • 1977 → Graduated from the Osh Pedagogical University of the Kyrgyz Republic as a teacher of physics
  • 1979-1992 → Worked on different positions at the Osh Pedagogical University of the Kyrgyz Republic
  • 1992-1994 → Assistant Professor, Department of Physics of Semiconductors and Insulators, Kyrgyz State National University
  • 1994-2002 → Rector of the Technological University ìDastanî in Kyrgyzstan
  • 2002-2005 → Deputy Director on Science, Agency on Science and Intellectual Property under the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic
  • 2005-2007 → Deputy Minister of Education of the Kyrgyz Republic
  • 2007-2008 → Minister of Education of the Kyrgyz Republic
  • Jan. 2008 - Present → Director of the State Agency on Religious Affairs under the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic


  • 1987 → PhD on Physics-Mathematics (Candidate of Sciences) from the University of Tartu (Estonia)
  • 2000 → Doctor of Physics-Mathematics from the Kyrgyz Academy of Sciences
  • 2001 → Professor of the Kyrgyz State National University
Law and Religion Mini-conference at BYU Law School

Law and Religion Mini-conference at BYU Law School

Dr. Osmonaliev

Dr. Osmonaliev with Senator John Valentine & Dr. Rusty Butler in traditional Kyrgyz attire with Dr. Osmonaliev

April 9-12, 2008 - Oleh Shamshur, Ambassador of Ukraine to the U.S.

Oleh Shamshur


On April 9-12, 2008, Ambassador Oleh Shamshur visited Salt Lake City (Utah) to open the Honorary Consulate of Ukraine in Ukraine headed by US businessman and a long standing friend of Ukraine Jonathan Kevin Friedman.

Ukraine's Ambassador met with Utah's Attorney General, Gary Herbert, to discuss economic and humanitarian cooperation between Ukraine and Utah. A particular emphasis was also placed on the International torch-relay march to commemorate millions of victims of the Ukrainian Holodomor (famine-genocide) of 1932-33. This symbolic candle will travel the United States in the month of May, and Salt Lake City will be one of the recipients of this unquenchable flame.

Oleh Shamshur also met with the leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day and Brigham Young University and gave a lecture at UVU on the future of Ukrainian-American relations.

Oleh Shamshur became ambassador of Ukraine to the United States on Jan. 24, 2005. Ambassador Shamshur previously served as deputy minister of foreign affairs (2000-04), head of the European Union Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (2003-04), and minister-counselor at the Ukrainian Embassy to the Benelux countries (1998-2003). In addition, he was deputy chairman of the State Committee for Nationalities and Migration of Ukraine, as well as a member of the President's Commission on Citizenship (1996-98), and secretary and counselor at the Ukrainian Mission to the United Nations and other international organizations in Geneva (1993-96).

Ambassador Shamshur was also a visiting scholar at the University College in London (1993), and he held various posts at the Institute of Social and Economic Problems of Foreign Countries at the Academy of Sciences in Ukraine, including director of programs (1981-93).

Ambassador Shamshur graduated cum laude from the Taras Shevchenko Kyiv University's Department of International Relations and International Law, and he holds a doctorate from Kyiv University. He also completed a post-graduate course at the Academy of Sciences in Ukraine. Ambassador Shamshur speaks English, French and Russian and is married with one daughter.

Ambassador Shamshur at UVU

Ambassador Shamshur at UVU

With Lt. Governor Herbert and Hon. Consul Friedman

With Lt. Governor Herbert and Hon. Consul Friedman

January 23-26, 2008 - KUT, a Musical Family From the High Mountains of Kyrgyzstan



The traditional music of Kyrgyzstan is coming to UVSC as part of a Rocky Mountain tour. The haunting melodies and exciting rhythms of this ancient music will be performed by the award-winning ensemble, KUT (pronounced ìkootî) on Thursday, January 24, at 1 p.m. at GT 416. On Friday, January 25 at 12.45 p.m. they will perform at Timp View High School and on Friday, January 25 at 7 p.m. in the Orem Public Library. The tour of KUT is sponsored by UVSC Office of International Affairs, UVSC music department and Vista 360°, a non-profit organization from Wyoming dedicated to fostering cooperation between mountain people around the world.

The purpose of the tour is to introduce American audiences to this specific kind of music, which evokes the mountains and nomadic way of life of the Kyrgyz people. The primary purpose of KUT's visit to UVSC is interaction with the students from the music department.

"This event represents a unique opportunity for our students and faculty at UVSC," said David Fullmer, UVSC orchestra director. "Experiences in ethnomusicology (non-western musical traditions and practices) are important for our students in this global society. Discovering this can help us relate to the broader human picture."

KUT was formed in 2000 and have received numerous awards at music and folklore festivals in Kyrgyzstan during the past six years. The word, 'KUT', means spirit, soul or life force in the Kyrgyz language. KUT is a family ensemble made up of a husband, wife and three sons. They are a shepherd family based in the village of Bokembaeva in northern Kyrgyzstan. The husband and wife also direct the village music school. They are extremely accomplished musicians who play all the instruments of the region and are dedicated to the preservation of their traditional music.

Accompanying the KUT tour will be an exhibit about life in Kyrgyzstan and a trunk show and sale of Kyrgyz handicrafts.

The tour includes seven concerts, as well as several school programs and jam sessions with local musicians.

KUT will be performing in Bozeman, MT; Sheridan, Wyo; Eden, Utah; Orem and Salt Lake City, Utah; Elko, NV; and Jackson, Wyo.



KUT is a family ensemble made up of a husband, wife and three sons, aged 6 to 19. They are a shepherd family based in the village of Bokembaeva on the shore of Lake Issyk-Kul in northern Kyrgyzstan. The husband and wife also run the village music school. They are extremely accomplished musicians who play all the instruments of the region and who have a calling for the preservation of their traditional music.

The oldest son, who is currently a student at the national music conservatory, is dedicated to re-discovering/ re-creating some of the lost songs of the Kyrgyz 1,000-year old tradition, of which only fragments survive. He builds and plays some of the oldest musical instruments in the world (including several which were designed to be played on horseback). They are warm and engaging performers and teachers who will make a strong connection to our audiences. They are also lovely and gracious people who will be excellent artist ambassadors' for their country.

We have selected KUT because we think this talented family will appeal to audiences in the Rocky Mountain region. The young musicians are charismatic and multi-dimensional, adept with many kinds of music. They will be very interesting and accessible to other young people. Their parents are teachers as well as musicians: they will be comfortable working in the schools in each of our tour sites. As a shepherd family, they will also have much in common on a personal level with audiences in agricultural communities and at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, where the audience includes many ranchers.

KUT as formed in 2000 and, since then, have received numerous awards at music and folklore festivals in Kyrgyzstan.

KUT plays instruments that are unique to the Kyrgyz people, but closely related to the musical traditions of Mongolia and Kazakhstan. Several of the instruments were originally designed to be played on horseback. The instruments include string instruments, flutes and drums.


Akylbek Serkebaev (father) plays komuz, kyl kyiak, temir ooz komuz and the chopo choor. He is also a vocalist and epic singer.

Anara Serkebaeva (mother) plays kyl kyiak, komuz, temir ooz komuz, jygach and the ooz komuz. She is also a vocalist.

Nurbek Serkebaev (eldest son) plays komuz,kyl kyiak,temir, jygach, ooz komuz, choor, sybyzgy, chogoino choor and the chong chogoino choor. He is also a vocalist.

Adilet Serkebaev (second son) plays the komuz, choor and guitar. He is also a vocalist.

Kuttubek Serkebaev (third son) plays temir ooz komuz, asa taiak and the dool, He is also a vocalist.


  • International Festival in Osh, in 2000 (televised nationally)
  • International Festival in Talas, 2001 (televised nationally) KUT received 1st prize.
  • International Festival "Talas tanshyit" in Talas,2002, Akylbek Serkebaev was awarded 1 prize.
  • International festival in Bishkek,2004 Akylbek Serkebaev was awarded 3rd prize.
  • Kyrgyz Republic Festival in Bishkek, 2005 KUT and Akylbek got 2nd prize.
  • International Festival AT Chabysh in Barskoon,2005 and 2006. Featured artists at festival celebrating traditional culture

This is just a sample list. KUT is a participant and winner of many music,folklore and other competitions in Kyrgyzstan.


November 14, 2007 - Soviet Art in Conflict

October 25, 2007 - Abdujabbor Shirinov,
Ambassador of Tajikistan to the U.S.

Abdujabbor Shirinov


Abdujabbor Shirinov, ambassador of Tajikistan to the United States, will speak at Utah Valley State College Oct. 25 at 10 a.m. in LA 107 as part of the ambassador lecture series.

"Ambassador Shirinow will speak on economic opportunities in his country," said Maryna Storrs, coordinator of international affairs at UVSC. "He'll also speak on his country's role in Central Asia and the Tajikistan government's relationship with the United States."

Shirinov has held positions as department head at Tajik State University, director of the settlement department of the National Bank, first deputy chairman of the executive board of the Joint-Stock Commerce Agro-Industrial Investment Bank, first deputy chairman of the National Bank, chair of the committee for State Financial Control and first deputy director of the Agency for State Finance Control and the Struggle Against Corruption.

He was appointed ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary of the Republic of Tajikistan to the United States Feb. 1, 2007.

Click here for more information on the ambassador and his country of Tajikistan.

September 17, 2007 - Zamira Sydykova,
Ambassador of Kyrgyzstan to the U.S.


Zamira Sydykova, the United States ambassador from Kyrgyzstan, will be visiting Utah Valley State College campus from Sept. 15 to 18. As part of her visit, she will be lecturing Sept. 17 at 10 a.m. in LA 107.

"We have several ambassadors come throughout the year," said Aliia Kodzhoshalieva, international affairs assistant. "We have a great relationship with Kyrgyzstan and we enjoy every time Zamira Sydykova comes."

Sydykova was a member of the journalism faculty at Moscow State University and shortly after the dissolve of the Soviet Union, founded Kyrgyzstan's first independent newspaper, Respublica. Through the years, she fought for a free press in Kyrgyzstan and was thrown in prison because of it. Authorities also attempted to close the newspaper.

In 2000, she was awarded the Courage in Journalism Award by the International Women's Media Foundation for her accomplishments, and was appointed Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the USA and Canada in March 2005.

For more information, contact international affairs at (801) 863-7191. The lecture is free and open to the public.

Click here for more information on the ambassador and her country of Kyrgystan.

March 8, 2007 - 1st International
Women of the Mountains Conference


Thursday, March 8 2007

8:00 - 8:30 a.m. Opening remarks and greetings

  1. President William A. Sederburg, UVSC
  2. Dr. Danielle Butler, Chair of the Organizing Committee of the Conference & Honorary Consul General of the Kyrgyz Republic
  3. Elena Bonner, Honorary Co-Chair of the Organizing Committee of the Conference, Chairperson, Andrey Sakharov Foundation
  4. Lt. Governor of Utah, Gary Herbert

8:30 - 9:10 a.m. Keynote addresses

  1. H.E. Ana Vilma de Escobar, Vice President of El Salvador
  2. H.E. Joe Shirley, President of Navajo Nation

9:10 - 10:10 a.m. Plenary Session: "Gender Initiative of the Mountain Partnership and Rocky Mountain States"

  1. "The Mountain Partnership and Gender Equality in Mountain Areas" Dr. Douglas McGuire, Coordinator of the Mountain Partnership Secretariat, UN-FAO, Rome
  2. "Mountain Women: Sustainability and Livelihoods" Dr. Jane Pratt, Deputy-Chair of the Organizing Committee of the Conference, President and CEO of the Mountain Institute (1994 - 2002), USA
  3. "A Utah Vision for Cooperation with Gender Initiative of the Mountain Partnership" Dr. Rusty Butler, Principal Co-Organizer of the Conference, Associate Vice President for International Affairs, UVSC

10:20 - 11:05 a.m. Plenary Session: "International and Federal Institutions and Initiative of the Rocky Mountain States on Women's Issues"

  1. "Intersectoral Governance and Public Program Implementation: The Role of Women's Organizations" Dr. Alexey Tikhomirov, Chief of Transition Economies Unit, DPEPA/DESA, United Nations.
  2. "Women in Mountainous Areas in Eastern Europe and Central Asia" Dr. Sattar Sarosh, Senior Economist, Lead PRSP Advisor/ECA Gender Coordinator, Poverty Reduction and Economic Management, Europe and Central Asia, The World Bank
  3. "Transforming the Future in All Communities" Dr. David Gehrenbeck, Country Desk Officer, Kyrgyz Republic, Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs, U.S. Department of State

11:05 - 11:25 a.m. Feature Presentation:

  1. "The Pivot of Nations: Establishing New Ways to Explore How Variations in Women's Status Affect State Behavior and Security" Mr. Matt Steamer, Dr. Valerie Hudson, The Women Stats Project Lead Research Assistant, Women's Research Institute, Brigham Young University

11:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. - Movie presentation:

  1. "Learning Through International Service" Joel Bradford, Assistant Professor, Environmental Management, UVSC

12.00 - 1.30 p.m. Lunch with keynote address

  1. The Governor of Montana Judy Martz (2000-2004)

1:30 - 2:35 p.m. Plenary Session: "Implementation of the Goals of Gender Initiative: Diversity of Views"

Ambassadorial Round Table:

  1. His Excellency, Dr. Alexander Sallabanda, Ambassador of Albania to the USA;
  2. Her Excellency, Mrs. Zamira Sydykova, Ambassador of Kyrgyzstan to the USA, Member of the Organizing Committee of the Conference;
  3. His Excellency, Mr. Madhu Raman Acharya, Ambassador /Permanent Representative of Nepal to the United Nations;
  4. His Excellency, Dr. Meret Orazov, Ambassador of Turkmenistan to the USA;
  5. Mr. Gonchig Ganbold, Consul General and Counselor of the Mongolian Embassy in Washington DC
  6. "Women in the Mountain Societies of Central Asia" Dr. Frederick F. Starr, Chairman, Central Asia and Caucasus Institute, John's Hopkins University, Washington, DC

2:40 - 3:00 p.m. Presentation:

"Modern Legislative and Executive Branch Responses to Human Trafficking" Brett Tolman, United States Attorney for Utah

3:00 - 4:50 p.m. Panel Sessions

Panel#1: Transmitting Family Values, Heritage & Culture

    1. "Socio-Economic, Political and Gender Situation of Tribal Areas: Women of Sulaiman Range -PAKISTAN" Rana Riaz Saeed, Chief Coordinator, Development Advocates and Lobbyists, Karachi, Pakistan
    2. "Men, Work and Parenting in Kenya" Lenah Boyani Kebaso, Intern at Winrock International Nairobi Office with African Women in Leadership, Agriculture and Environment (AWLAE-NET) Programme
    3. "Impact of Pukhtunwali on the Lives of Women in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan" Samina Rehman, Visiting lecturer in Logic & Philosophy of Science, Institute of Biotechnology, University of Peshawar, Pakistan
    4. "Mormon Samplers: Teaching Traditional Values" Dr. Jessie Louise Embry, Associate Director, Charles Redd Center for Western Studies, Brigham Young University
    5. "Gender Analysis of Women's Position in Enlarged Many-Generation Families of Tyan-Shyan Mountain: Districts of the Fergana Valley in Republic of Uzbekistan" Gulnora Ganieva, PhD, Senior research fellow, Institute of History of Republic Uzbekistan Academy of Sciences
    6. "What are the Effects on Tribal College Student Attitudes and Performance of a New Mastery Based Instructional System: A Case Study of the Northern Cheyenne Women" Dr. Carol Ward, Associate Professor, Sachiko Jensen and Raechel Lizon, Master's program, Sociology Department, Brigham Young University.
    7. "Transmitting Culture by Preserving Women's History" Lamb Connie, Women's Studies Librarian and Adjunct Curator of Women's Manuscript Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah
    8. "A Comparison of Women's Rights Brought About by War and by More Peaceful Means in the Mountainous Countries of the Middle East and Central Asia" Dr. Robert F. Norton, Adjunct Faculty of Psychology, Utah Valley State College
    9. "Individualist Trends in Collectivist Societies" Dr. Lia Tsuladze, Assistant Professor of Sociology at I. Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University, Currently Junior Faculty Development Program (JFDP) Fellow at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor
    10. "Jiddu Krishnamurti and a Social Theory of Violence" Dr. Jon Moore, Assistant Professor of Geography, UVSC

3:00 - 4:50 p.m. Panel Sessions:

Panel#2: Health of Women & Children

      1. "Hidden Discomfort: The Right to a Denied Pleasure, Traditional Expectations and Current Needs" Michela Zucca, Centro di Ecologia Alpina, Italy
      2. "Beyond Statistics to Stories" Donna L. Greenwood, RN,MSN, Associate Professor, Department of Nursing, Carroll College, Helena, Montana
      3. "Pregnancy, Child Birth and the Newborn: Neglected Issues in Mountain Communities" Ranju Pandey, Director, MSP Era (Pvt.) Ltd, Nepal
      4. "Trailers, Pickups, and the Northern Pacific Railroad: Constructing Homes in Yellowstone National Park" Armstrong Melanie, Department of American Studies, University of New Mexico
      5. "We are family- The Global Orphan Crisis" Jini L. Roby, Associated Professor, School of Social Work, Brigham Young University
      6. "Women in Bolivia and Healthy Housing" Consuelo Fernandez Manchego, President-Founder, Association Vamos Bolivia
      7. Haplogroup-associated differences in neonatal death and incidence of low birth weight at elevation: A preliminary assessment. Joel E. Myres, BA, College of Medicine, University of California, Irvine, Michael Malan, BS, Department of Microbiology, Brigham Young University, Joseph B. Shumway, MD, MPH, School of Medicine, Saint Louis University, Mark J. Rowe, PhD, Food Science and Nutrition Department, Brigham Young University, Erol Amon, MD, School of Medicine, Saint Louis University and Scott R. Woodward, PhD, Department of Microbiology, Brigham Young University
      8. "Socioeconomic Environment of Women's Life in Altay Region and Utah: Prospects for Cooperation Under the Umbrella of Sustainable Mountain Development" Irene Gratz, Independent expert, Orem, Utah
      9. Additional paper: Anaemia in young girls: the silent killer of the Central Himalayas, Racha Singh and Vijay Shanker Choudhary, Documentary film-makers, India

3:00 - 4:50 p.m. Panel Sessions

Panel#3: Economic Issues of Women & Children

      1. "Empowering Rural Women for Sustainable Livelihoods Through Natural Resource Management in Garhwal Himalaya, Uttaranchal, India" Bhagwati Uniyal, V.P. Uniyal and Vinod K. Bhatt; Wildlife Institute of India
      2. Improving the Livelihoods of Women in Mountain Areas in Ghana" Rose Ackah, Executive Director, Women and Youth Forum for Sustainable Development (WYFSD)
      3. "Women and Community-Building in an Energy Boomtown" Dr. David R. Wilson, Assistant Professor of History and American Indian Studies, Utah Valley State College
      4. "Empowering Grass Roots" Women in the Management of Agro-Enterprises: Reflections from Indian Central Himalaya (ICHR) Regionî Dr. Anjali Bahuguna, Dr. M.C. Sati, Professor Economics, H.N.Bahuguna Garhwal University, Srinagar Garhwal, Uttaranchal, India
      5. "Earthquakes and Social Vulnerability: Toward a Perspective on Women and Their Families in Mountain Communities of Central Asia" Jennifer Hamilton, Department of Geography, University of Montana; Sarah Halvorson, Department of Geography, University of Montana
      6. "Wage Disparity and Other Women's Issues in Wyoming" Teresa de Groh, Wyoming Council for Women's Issues
      7. "Impacts of Tourism on the Lives of Mountain Women from the Himalayas" Yankila Sherpa, President of the Federation of Women Entrepreneurs Association of Nepal
      8. "Women and Modernization in the Lake Titicaca Basin" David Clark Knowlton, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Anthropology, Utah Valley State College

5.25-6.15 p.m. Plenary Session:

Summary of the panel Co-Chairs about results of paper presentations

6:30 - 8:00 p.m. Dinner, keynote address

-The Governor of Utah Olene Walker (2003-2005)

- Presentation of the exhibition "Women of the Mountains" by Hermine Dreyfuss


For more information please visit www.womenofthemountains.org.

Women of the Mountains

May 13-17, 2006 - Meret Orazov,
Ambassador of Turkmenistan to the U.S.

Meret Orazov


Meret B. Orazov became ambassador of Turkmenistan to the United States on Feb. 14, 2001.

Ambassador Orazov, a noted scientist, founded a program between Texas A&M University Faculty of Business and Management and Magtymguly Turkmen State University in 1998. He also worked with the European Union to establish in-service training for personnel in areas of economics and management. In addition, he has established research collaborations with universities and scientific centers in eight nations. From 1983 to 1992, Ambassador Orazov held a number of leading posts in government and academic organizations, including the office of vice prime minister, minister for foreign economic relations, as well as assistant professor and dean of the International Relations Department at Magtymguly Turkmen State University.

Ambassador Orazov, who has published more than 120 scientific papers and five treatises on economics, has received numerous awards for his work in science and technology.

At a luncheon with UVSC faculty

At a luncheon with UVSC faculty

Park City, Utah

The Ambassador and his wife in Park City, Utah

February 5-8, 2006 - Hafiz Pashayev,
Ambassador of Azerbaijan to the U.S.

Hafiz Pashayev


UVSC hosted the Ambassador of Azerbaijan H.E. Hafiz Pashayev on February 5-8, 2006. Dr. Pashayev enlightened UVSC history and political science students on his country's history, economy and globalization. He said that Azerbaijan is little known to the U.S. and that his primary role as an Ambassador is to educate U.S. citizens about Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijan is located between the Caspian Sea and the Black Sea and is surrounded by Armenia, Georgia, Russia, and Iran. Azerbaijan has a long history of defending its independence. Historically, the country was under influence of three major empires: Russian, Persian and Ottoman. However, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Azerbaijan was one of the first republics to proclaim independence from the old regime.

Unfortunately, at the present time, Azerbaijan is not entirely free from occupation. Its south-west region called Nagorno-Karabakh is occupied by Armenia, its neighbor country. Besides the problem of occupation, which covers 20 percent of Azerbaijanís territory, the country is experiencing difficulties providing for its refugees.

According to Armeniapedia, today Nagorno-Karabakh is a de-facto independent state calling itself the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, with its own democratically elected government and a market economy. It is closely tied to the Republic of Armenia and uses its currency. Successive Armenian governments have resisted internal pressure to unite the two, fearing reprisals from Azerbaijan and the international community, which still considers Nagorno-Karabakh part of Azerbaijan.

To find out more about Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict, visit the Foreign Policy section on Azerbaijan embassy's website: www.azembassy.us.

Despite of the geopolitical conflict within its borders, Azerbaijan is doing exceptionally well economically. International Monetary Fund forecasts a 38 percent growth in country's GDP for 2006. The main asset of the Azerbaijani economy is oil extracted from the Caspian Sea. Azerbaijan was the first country to explore oil on the sea and Baku was the first capital in the world to produce oil. One of the major accomplishments of Azerbaijan is a strategic pipeline - Baku-Georgia-Turkey-Mediterranean Region - which bypasses the Russian territory thus diminishing the country's dependence upon the Russian Federation.

Even though Azerbaijan has a plethora of energy resources, its government plans to further diversify the economy. Dr. Pashayev reminded students that oil can bring challenges as well as blessings to the country's prosperity. On one hand, because of oil, Azerbaijan attracts a lot of foreign investors, on the other hand, because of oil, other countries attempt to impose their influence making Azerbaijan not very stable politically. Presently, Azerbaijan is investing heavily into building the infrastructure that can attract foreign investors. Key business development areas in Azerbaijan are oil and gas, construction materials, food processing and agriculture (Azerbaijan has 9 different climates), transportation, tourism and health. Azerbaijan is planning to establish the Silk Route - the transportation corridor between East and West that will benefit the country immensely.

Ambassador Pashayev with Political Science Students and UVSC Administrators

Ambassador Pashayev with Political Science Students and UVSC Administrators

On UVSC Campus and with Utah Governor Huntsman

Ambassador Pashayev on UVSC Campus and with Utah Governor Huntsman

October 24-29, 2005 - Count Nikolai Tolstoy - Writer and Historian

Nikolai Tolstoy, who is the head of the senior branch of the Tolstoy family and a stepson of the well-known British writer Patrick O'Brian (author of the famous naval series Master and Commander), lectured at UVSC during the week of October 24-29, 2005. A distinguished writer and a historian himself, Tolstoy published a book Patrick O'Brian: The Making of the Novelist, the first of two volumes of a biography of his step-father, who died in 2000.

UVSC students had a chance to hear unique and never-before published stories about the life of Patrick O'Brian and about the making of the movie "The Far Side of the World" based on Master and Commander series and starring Russell Crowe.

Nikolai Tolstoy


Deseret Morning News: October 30, 2005
Written By: Elaine Jarvik

He's a Tolstoy. Like Shakespeare and Rockefeller and Huntsman, the name brings with it a certain cachet. And a certain burden.

If you're a Tolstoy, a distant cousin of the famous Russian author Leo, it's important to live up to the name, not just use it to your advantage, says Count Nikolai Tolstoy. If your name is Tolstoy and you're related to the long line of Russian aristocrats and artists, "you should earn your own way," he says. Like his famous long-dead cousin, Count Tolstoy is a writer. Born and reared in England after his family was forced to flee the Russian Revolution, he is chancellor of the Monarchist League and a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. In 1987 he received an International Freedom Award from the U.S. Industrial Council Educational Foundation for his "courageous search for the truth about the victims of totalitarianism and deceit."

All these honors, and more, are listed on Tolstoy's Web site, along with this surprising title: adjunct professor at Utah Valley State College. This past week he was in Orem as a visiting scholar in the college's Institute of International Affairs. He hopes to return next spring.

Tolstoy's association with UVSC began in the early 1990s, at the invitation of then-President Kerry Romesburg, who also offered to host Tolstoy's Web site because at home in England, Tolstoy was embroiled in a fierce legal battle. "Let an English judge try forcing an injunction on an American university," Romesburg told Tolstoy.

The legal battle, which Tolstoy describes in perfect British understatement as "some little problems," began when he was sued for libel by Lord Aldington and ordered to pay $1.5 million in pounds in 1989. Tolstoy had criticized the Harold Macmillan government for the forced repatriation of war prisoners after World War II, a move that had sent tens of thousands of Russians and Yugoslavians into Stalinist gulags (prisons.) Tolstoy also wrote a pamphlet specifically accusing Lord Aldington of war crimes, and it was this pamphlet that led to the libel charge.

Tolstoy contested the libel award, and in 1998, after the European Court of Human Rights ruled it was a violation of Tolstoy's freedom of expression, Lord Aldington agreed to a much smaller sum. The whole ordeal made Tolstoy a cause celebre, but it also has kept his book, "The Minister and the Massacres," off most British library shelves. For a time during the protracted lawsuit, Tolstoy was too caught up in the legal fight to write books. Before then he had been a prolific writer of histories about World War II, Stalin, Arthurian Legends and 24 generations of Tolstoys. After the suit was finally settled, he took up writing again and recently published a biography of his stepfather, Patrick O'Brian, author of "Master and Commander."

The count is the heir of the senior line of the Tolstoy family in the male line and is related to the author of "War and Peace" through a common ancestor in the 1700s. It's a distant relationship, but, as Tolstoy says, "we're not a big family," so "we all regard each other as cousins." He is British by birth and upbringing, but his heart is "always with Russia." Besides, he says, "it would be strange, or ridiculous, to be a Tolstoy and not a Russian." His mother, who was British, divorced his father when Tolstoy was 4. His father then married a Russian woman of whom Tolstoy wasn't particularly fond. So it was kind of an unhappy childhood, he says. He can relate to his kin Leo's famous first line of "Anna Karenina," another of the Russian author's celebrated novels: "Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."

Still, he doesn't agree with his cousin's implication that happy families are dull. He and his own wife, Georgina, and their four children have been very happy, he says. "I'd say a happy family is much more interesting than an unhappy one. You're freer to develop your potential in a happy family. In an unhappy family you tend to use up so much of your energy."


Daily Herald: October 28, 2005
Written By: Anna Chang-Yen

Textbooks, novels, historical works, the first diary recorded in Russia -- they all are the work of Nikolai Tolstoy's ancestors. But perhaps the distinction that draws the most attention is the fact that his grandfather's cousin was Leo Tolstoy, author of "War and Peace" and "Anna Karenina."

Nikolai Tolstoy, who also is the step-son of novelist Patrick O'Brian, told attendees at a reception in his honor at Utah Valley State College on Thursday that his family enjoys a legacy of literature and creativity. Sometimes, he said, the connection leads to confusion. At the premiere of the Russian film "War and Peace," Tolstoy was seated at a table with dignitaries including a young Russian actress. The actress ignored him for most of the night, he said, but after he was introduced, she asked, "Why didn't you tell me you were the screenwriter?"

Tolstoy has written British history books and novels and is the senior Tolstoy family member in the world. He holds the family heirloom, the Cross of Saint Spyridon, given by Czar Vasily the Blind in the 1400s to his ancestor Andrei, the first to have the Tolstoy name. He also is an adjunct professor at UVSC and has visited the college three times to lecture. Rusty Butler, assistant vice president for international affairs, said Tolstoy is one of the most famous Russian names in America, and described Tolstoy as "what I call the true European gentleman."

Tolstoy visited campus this week to discuss his newest book, "Patrick O'Brian: The Making of the Novelist" the first of two volumes of a biography of his step-father, who died in 2000. He described O'Brian, the author of the "Master and Commander" series of novels about the 18th-century British navy, as "quite a difficult and eccentric character." He said O'Brian once was lucky to escape serious injury when he fell off of a ladder on which he had braced a harpoon. And when he decided to knock down a wall using dynamite, a piece of stone narrowly missed Tolstoy's mother's head. "I was nearly orphaned." Tolstoy came to know O'Brian only after he turned 18, because his mother, Mary, had deserted the family and was barred under British law from contacting her children after she remarried.

"My mother was completely devoted to Patrick," he said, noting that she typed 51 of his novels and was his "best critic." O'Brian had lukewarm success for most of his career, but his "Master and Commander" series gained popularity in his later life and was made into a movie starring Russell Crowe in 2003. Although historical movies are often "from a historian's point of view, too dreadful for words," Tolstoy said, he called "Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World" a brilliant film.

Dudley Hagen of Arlington, VA, who was attending the reception while visiting a friend and professor at UVSC, said he had read all 20 of the "Master and Commander" novels -- twice. He asked Tolstoy how, on a modest income, O'Brian was able to research the topic and write with such accuracy. "He had simply mastered that period to such an extent that I felt as bewildered as I probably would if I could be transported there in a time machine," he said.

O'Brian had little education, but he was fascinated with the 18th-century British navy, and writing about the subject "just came to him instinctively," Tolstoy said. "That was one of the extraordinary things about him." He read every available book written in the 18th century about the navy, and referred to an 18th-century version of the Encyclopedia Britannica. "He read the books, then turned his back on them and wrote."

2004 - Slavic Festival

September 27, 2004 - President and Mrs. Askar Akayev,
President and First Lady of Kyrgyzstan


UVSC was the first higher education institution in Utah to host a head of state. The visit was arranged through the Utah-Russia Institute by Rusty Butler and his wife Danielle Butler, who is the Honorary Consul General to Kyrgyzstan in Utah.

UVSC’s Ragan Theater doors were opened that Monday to welcome students, faculty, staff and community members for a commemorative ceremony.

The First Lady of Kyrgyzstan, Mairam Akaeva, accepted an Honorary Doctorate degree of Humane Letters from UVSC for all of her humanitarian, scientific and educational efforts directed to the betterment of Kyrgyzstan as well as of the world in general.

President Akaev accompanied the First Lady; however, he insisted that all attention should be centered around her.

The doctorate ceremony was followed by an upscale reception where Mrs. Akaeva presented her new book Hope Has No Night. The memoir depicts Kyrgyzstan’s transition from a republic of the former Soviet Union to an independent state. UVSC assisted in publishing the book in English and those who are interested in reading a copy can always find it in the UVSC library.

Newsletter about the visit can be found here.

With Governor Walker and Honorary Doctorate

The first lady of Kyrgyzstan with Utah Governor Olene Walker & Receiving an honorary doctorate from UVSC

UVSC Speech, Utah Kyrgyz

Speaking to UVSC administrators and faculty & President Akayev with members of the Utah-Kyrgyz community

2003 - Utah-Russia Days

2002 - Utah Russia Days

Utah-Russia Days 2002

Russia Days set to Celebrate Culture

The Daily Herald
Written By:
Jared Cowley

OREM -- The fifth annual Utah Russia Days event will conclude this weekend with the Russia Days festival and a fireside. The festival will be in the outdoor courtyard at UVSC and will run from 10 a.m. until 2 p. m. Saturday. The fireside, featuring speaker Michael Kelley, a former mission president of the Moscow Mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, will be at 7 p.m. Sunday in the north chapel of the Orem Institute building.

This will be the second year of existence for the festival part of Utah Russia Days. The festival debuted last year at Thanksgiving Point and attracted over 3,000 people. Amy E. Barnett, coordinator of international affairs for the Utah-Russia Institute, said the festival should draw at least that many people again this year.

"We've done a lot more this year to get the word out," she said. "Last year was successful because people were visiting Thanksgiving Point for reasons other than the festival and decided to walk through and see what we were doing. This year, we've done a lot more advertising and are hoping people have planned this in advance as part of their weekend."

Returning for this year's festival entertainment will be the BYU Folk Dance Ensemble and the UVSC/BYU Russian Choirs. New talent this year includes The Russian Performance Group; pianists Marina Panina and Ludmila Gudnina playing classical selections from Russian composers Rachmaninoff, Tchaikovsky and Mussorgsky; and an encore presentation of the Russian fairy tale puppet show, "Ivan and the Firebird."

The festival will also have booths representing various cultural and humanitarian groups with displays, information and Russian souvenirs to purchase. There will also be Russian cuisine available, provided by the Dengins, Cafe on Main and the UVSC Russian Club. "There will be tons of Russian food available," Barnett said. "That's what everybody has been calling us about. We will have a very large variety of authentic Russian cuisine at the festival. It will really appeal to the Russian community or anybody who has ties to Russia."

Barnett said the festival will be a great opportunity for people to learn about a faraway country at a location close to home. "I want Russia Days to become one of those foreign festivals that people look forward to for the great food, wonderful entertainment and feeling of culture," she said. "Our entire purpose is to broaden people's knowledge and understanding."

Utah-Russia Days 2002

From Top Left to Right: URI’s Rebecca Whitmer shows one of the puppets to an admiring fan, Dr. Tom Rogers after
 his Russian Literature lecture, A curtain call for the cast
of “Ivan and the Firebird,” Consul Lizun, son Andrey with Rusty Butler, BYU International Folk Dancers, The Russia Performing Group
 from Salt Lake City, BYU Folkdancers teach Russia dances to the Crowd, BYU Russian Choir performing a Russian Liturgy, Windy Hank, UVSC Russian Club Pres.
 narrates an encore presentation of the
 puppet show “Ivan and the Firebird”

1999 - Utah Russia Days

Our Russia Days 1999 celebration included numerous cultural events focused on encouraging understanding and exposure of the people of Utah to the beauties of Russian Culture.

Archbishop Dmitri, accompanied by Father Gorshkov, visited Utah as the personal emissary of His Holiness, Patriarch Alexy II. He gave numerous lectures on "The History of the Russian Orthodox Church" and "The Impact of the Fall of Communism on the Church." Archbishop Dmitri met with students and faculty at the University of Utah, Brigham Young University and Utah Valley State College. He also lectured at the Prophet Elias Greek Orthodox Church in Salt Lake City and attended Liturgy at the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church.

"An Evening of Russian Culture: Celebration of Pushkin's 200th Birthday" was a highly successful activity held at Border's Book Store in Murray on October 29, 1999. Nearly one hundred people packed in to participate in the event. The Brigham Young University Russian Choir performed several popular Russian Folk songs. Their performance set the stage for the colorful dances of the International Folk Dance Ensemble. The audience thoroughly enjoyed the energetic performance and the stage was set for the eloquent lecture of Russia's own Victoria V. Michailova. She discussed the life and times of Aleksandr Pushkin and shared with an enthused audience the beauty of his work.

Our other Pushkin Celebration was held at the Borders Book Store in Crossroads Mall in Salt Lake City. This event included Russian music as well as an interactive lecture by BYU Professor Tom Rogers on "The Poetry and Life of Aleksandr Pushkin". By the end of the evening, Professor Rogers had members of the audience reading Russian poetry! All who attended were enlightened by the event.

The Pysanky class was held at Utah Valley State College on September 8, 1000. Ingrid Hersman, a resident of the Salt Lake area was kind enough to donate her time, expertise and supplies and teach members of the community how to make the beautiful Ukrainian eggs that so exemplify Eastern European culture. Each participant made several beautiful eggs and thus took home a piece of Russian culture.

1998 - Utah Russia Days

Utah-Russia Days 1998


A concurrent resolution of the legislature and the governor designating the week of june 12 as "RUSSIA DAYS IN UTAH"; and urging the citizens of Utah to celebrate exchanges of culture, the arts, commerce, and political dialogue between the Russian federation and the state of Utah.

Be it resolved by the Legislature of the state of Utah, the Governor concurring therein:

Whereas, the Ambassador of the Russian Federation, the Honorable Yuli M Vorontsov, met in Utah with the Honorable Michael O. Leavitt, Governor of the State of Utah, and with members of the Utah State Legislature in 1997, and

Whereas, the above named representatives of Utah and the Russian Federation discussed means of closer cooperation and greater friendship between their respective sovereign States, and

Whereas, many commercial, educational, cultural, religious, and governmental entities in the State of Utah have ongoing enterprises, relations, and exchanges with corresponding entities in the Russian Federation, and

Whereas, these entities wish to continue and expand their relations with the Russian Federation, and

Whereas, the State of Utah believes that ongoing friendly relations in the spirit of mutual respect and understanding will help further a stable democracy and economy in Russia, as well as greater understanding in both the State of Utah and the Russian Federation, and

Whereas, the citizens of the Russian Federation and the State of Utah share common values and goals of friendship and cooperation based on mutual respect and trust, and

Whereas, we share a deep appreciation for both our noble heritages, and while springing from distinct histories, our cultures were conceived and nurtured in trial and hardship, and

Whereas, both our peoples have a profound respect for thrift, industry, the work ethic, self-reliance, culture, education, and the arts, and

Whereas, June 12 is celebrated as a national holiday in Russia as the "Declaration on State Sovereignty of the Russia Federation," Russian Independence Day:

Now, Therefore, be it Resolved that the Legislature of the State of Utah, the Governor concurring therein, designate the week of June 12 1998 as "Russia Days in Utah."

Be it Further Resolved that the Legislature and the Governor urge the citizens of Utah to celebrate exchanges of culture, arts, commerce, and political dialogue for the mutual benefit, understanding, and uplifting of our peoples.

Be it Further Resolved that a copy of this resolution be sent to the United States Department of State, the Embassy of the Russian Federation, the Consulate General of the Russian Federation in San Francisco, the Russian-American Chamber of Commerce, the State Board of Regents, the Governor's Office for Community and Economic Development, the On-Site Inspection Agency, the Utah-Russia Institute, and the members of Utah's Congressional delegation.

Utah Senator Valentine, Utah
Governor Michael Leavitt and
Russian Consul General Yuri Popov.


-Passed by unanimous vote on February 20. 1998 by the State Legislature
-Passed by unanimous vote on February 20, 1998 by the State Senate
-Signed by Governor Michael O. Leavitt on February 20, 1998


Governor Michael O. Leavitt

Governor of Utah
Salt Lake City

Subject: Days of Russia

Dear Governor Leavitt:

I would like to welcome your initiative of conducting 'Days of Russia', which clearly demonstrates the desire of the citizens of the State of Utah to contribute to the development of the diverse humanitarian, cultural, scientific and economic ties between the Russian Federation and the USA. I consider this as a good sign of further enhancement of the partnership relations between our countries.

I hope that 'Days of Russia' in Utah will allow citizens of this State to get to know Russia better, will stimulate exchanges in both countries achievements, and will become an important step in strengthening friendship and mutual understanding of the Russian and American people.

With best regards,

B. Yeltsin

Moscow, Kremlin
4 June 1998
No. Pr-787