The Russian Trace in California: Orthodox Indians, Renowned Cabernet and Cryptocurrency
Hate campaigns against the Russian English-language TV channel RT continue in the US.
First, under the threat of criminal prosecution, RT was forced to register as a foreign agent. And on Thursday, journalists were denied accreditation in Congress just because RT is a foreign agent now.
According to the TV channel’s editor-in-chief, Margarita Simonyan, the Congressional accreditation revocation automatically blocks access to numerous other information sources.
Margarita Simonyan, RT editor-in-chief: «In the US, it means much more than in Russia. Not only does this deprive you of access to information, but on the basis of this accreditation, you are then given various other accreditations and, in general, access at all».
The State Duma is already preparing a relevant response for American media outlets in Russia. It's a forced measure.
Senator Alexei Pushkov issued a reminder that the Ministry of Justice recently sent notices to nine American media outlets, including Radio Liberty, Voice of America, and Current Time TV channel, about the need to register as foreign agents. Now, obviously, they’ll be deprived of accreditation in the State Duma, which will significantly complicate obtaining information from other governmental bodies. It wasn’t our choice.
Russians are a peaceful people. I’m sure that Americans can also judge by those who live in the USA. And there are more than 3 million Russians there. Many are successful.
Our own correspondent, Alexander Khristenko, will report from California about Russians in America.
The building of the Catholic Church of the Acheiropaeic Image of Virgin Mary of Guadalupe in San Francisco was empty for 20 years before it was bought by a Russian venture fund, which invests in innovations. So, business angels and start-up patrons appeared in the former church. Now, high-tech representatives meet and discuss possible breakthrough projects here.
Today, to the sounds of the oldest organ in California, which is played by both musicians and AI, there’s a presentation of a sort of Book of Genesis for Bitcoin Cryptocurrency.
January 12, 2009. The first transaction. «And they began to mine one by one, and people got amazed one by one».
Another confirmation that technology works wonders. 6 years ago, 1 bitcoin cost 1 dollar, today more than 11 thousand dollars. And in relation to this, they talk more and more about Russia.
Pavel Cherkashin, GVA Ventures Managing Partner: «Despite the fact that Russia isn’t such a large economy on the global level in terms of volume when compared to China, the EU, and the US, but due to the fact that historically, specialists with engineering experience came to this world of cryptocurrencies, and a huge number of such specialists accumulated in Russia, Russia unexpectedly became one of the world centers in the crypto economics field, sales of digital assets via the Internet, blockchain technology, mining, etc. If we don’t lose this potential now, there’s a big chance of becoming an important world center for such an economy».
Many programs created by Russian developers became known to the whole world. A service for creating and storing notes called Evernote, the Prisma application, in which photos are edited by artificial intelligence. In Silicon Valley, startups get the investments they need, and recently from Russia as well.
Victor Orlovsky, FortRoss Ventures Managing Partner: «The task is to bring technologies and innovations to Russia. We’re looking for such companies and together with Sberbank, we invest in them as a fund, and then these startups become our partners. They come to Russia and we open the doors to Russia for these companies».
In the history of such technology interpenetration in California, Russia left a special mark.
In the Napa Valley, where the best American wine is produced, there’s a monument to a Russian craftsman. Andrey Chelishchev is considered one of the founders of Californian winemaking. In the late 1930s, the Russian nobleman Chelishchev introduced new technologies and turned an unremarkable local wine into the California Cabernet known all over the world. This scientist, technologist, philosopher, who was respectfully called maestro, invented new ways of fermenting and storing the drink. No one could outdo him in wine tasting. Ripe grapes, as dreamer Chelishchev said, smell like the hand of a woman who has just taken off her glove.
His grand-nephew, American director Mark Chelishchev, made a movie about his famous ancestor.
Mark Chelishchev, director: «Well, of course, he was Russian. One of his greatest achievements, in the opinion of his son and many others, was that he opened the door and left it open. He shared information. Today, many people say that this is our idea, our secret, don’t steal it. And his idea was to spread information, he wanted winemakers to make wine even better, better than his technology, and to develop the entire industry».
Film frames: «Andrei Chelishchev, who fought in the White Army, was seriously wounded in Crimea, left his homeland in the ranks of the Russian army of Wrangel. He found himself in France and then moved to the US, where he was invited to work. Economic interest was one of the main reasons why Russians came to this continent at first».
Here began the history of Russian California, even before the creating of the state itself. In 1808, the first expedition arrived at these shores on two ships, Kodiak and Saint Nicholas, under the direction of the Russian-American company’s adviser, Ivan Kuskov.
Soon he, along with the first 25 settlers from Russia, founded the Ross fortress, which is now called Fort Ross in English.
Russian settlers supplied Alaska with food, traded furs with China, defended the local Indians of the Kashaya Pomo tribe from Spanish colonists. The symbol of their protection was an allies medal, a copy of which, as well as a welcoming letter from Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to the representatives of this people, were handed out by the Russian ambassador Anatoly Antonov. They, in turn, gave him a sacred medallion of the Kashaya Pomo tribe, having performed a special rite. Fort Ross was the final point of the ambassador’s big trip around California, during which he gave a speech to Stanford students and the Council of World Relations experts and spoke about the need to restore an equal dialogue between Moscow and Washington, although so far there are only hostile actions aimed at Russia.
Antonov examined the outside of the building of the captured consulate in San Francisco. The State Department refused to give him permission to go inside without explanation.
Washington was the first to compose sanctions lists on Russians, Moscow reacted in kind. Former ambassador Michael McFaul is also on the response stop list because he deliberately worsened bilateral relations, as explained in the Foreign Ministry.
Michael McFaul, former US ambassador to Russia: “I miss Russia a lot. I love Russia, I lived there for several years, I have hundreds, maybe thousands of Russian friends. As you know, I’m now on the sanctions list, I asked Ambassador Antonov to help me with this. Maybe you'll ask him later what he can do".
This particular case, as it seems, vividly reflects the fact that it’s necessary to change the general approach.
In Silicon Valley, Anatoly Antonov met with the Russian-American IT business representatives, who found it more difficult to work because of sanctions and the crisis in the relations between the two countries.
Anatoly Antonov, Russia’s Ambassador to the US: «Representatives of American business, at least those with whom I met, unequivocally stated that they weren’t going to leave Russia. The main problem, and, by the way, we feel this problem in Washington, in our embassy, and colleagues in our permanent mission feel it, too, as I believe, is the lack of predictability regarding possible actions by the US administration».
They felt this unpredictability in the Californian high-tech company GridGain, which has more than 100 employees in Moscow and St. Petersburg. For example, Russian investors they invited used to receive an American visa in a week, and now it can take months.
Dmitry Setrakian, GridGain co-founder: «Despite the fact that we’re an American company, we see ourselves as a company with Russian roots. We spend a lot of time in Russia, and the product is mainly developed in Russia».
Despite the difficulties, the company counts only on the development of business in Russia.
Abe Kleinfeld, GridGain director: «I learned not to listen to the news. In Russia, the level of talent is incredible, capitalism is safe and sound. Specialists are the same as those whom we can hire here if not better».
California is known for its visionary entrepreneurs who’re able to look into the future. Many people in Silicon Valley believe that, despite broken official contacts on many issues, economic and technological ties between the two countries' businesses will only grow stronger. And this is an additional reason for politicians to sit down at the negotiating table.
Alexander Khristenko, Nikolai Kostkin, Alexander Korestelyov and Andrei Putra, Vesti News of the Week, Silicon Valley, San Francisco, USA.