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Regular version of the site

Assistant Secretary of State of the United States Answers Questions from HSE Students in Nizhny Novgorod

On October 13th, 2011, Michael Posner, Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor of the United States, and Thomas Melia, his Deputy, met students and lecturers from the HSE, Nizhny Novgorod.

The students were interested in all kinds of problems – from the American experience of fighting corruption to the problems of freedom of speech on the internet.

According to Michael Posner, the internet makes communication between people who cannot meet each other in person much easier; it promotes a free exchange of opinions among people who have different views. The limitations for internet translation of some materials are inevitable in any civilized society; the USA has such limitations, but in the era of digital technology it is impossible to limit the distribution of ideas. At the same time, in response to a question about WikiLeaks, the guest mentioned that ways for business, the government and ordinary people to communicate through protected channels, maintaining privacy, should be ensured.

Answering a student’s question about the timetable of the pullout of American troops from Afghanistan, Michael Posner said that the transfer of power to the Afghani authorities turned out to be more complex than expected, and the hasty withdrawal of troops from the country could lead to Taliban power being restored. The Assistant Secretary of State reminded the audience of the shared position of Russia and the U.S. in the war on terrorism. ‘Anyone who commits terrorist acts should be prosecuted’, he emphasized.

In response to a question about the Jackson-Vanik Amendment which limits trade relations between Russia and the United States, Michael Posner said that Congress is discussing the possibility of changing this amendment in relation to Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organization. ‘We are very interested in Russia becoming a WTO member’, the Assistant Secretary of State emphasized.

During a personal meeting between M. Posner and Oleg Kozyrev, Director of the HSE branch in Nizhny Novgorod, the American diplomat was shown around the latest university laboratory – the International Laboratory of Algorithms and Technologies for Networks Analysis, headed by Panos Pardalos, Professor at the University of Florida. Mr. Posner was impressed by the international contacts of the Higher School of Economics and mentioned that they not only help to develop both fundamental and applied science but have a positive effect on the development of intercultural communication and assist in promoting democratic values.

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