More than 250 Russian nationals and Americans joined together to celebrate Russia Day at a black-tie gala at the Chicago Cultural Center on Thursday, June 14.
Hosted by the Moscow Committee of Chicago Sister Cities International, chaired by Aleksandra Efimova and Prince Piotr Galitzine, the
event honored Russia’s national holiday, which is celebrated on June 12 and commemorates the day in 1990 when the Russian parliament formally declared sovereignty over Russia. This is only the second year that Russia Day has been celebrated in Chicago, and the first year the event included a black-tie gala.
Sergey I. Kislyak, the Ambassador of the Russian Federation to the United States, gave the keynote speech of the evening, highlighting the
importance of strengthening the relationships between the United States and Russia and focusing on the similarities between Chicago and Moscow.
Other speakers included Mr. Galitzine, chairman of TMK IPSCO, a Russian company with offices in Downers Grove; Alexander Tseitline, vice
president of technology and research of the Russian-owned company NLMK USA; and Mike Rehwinkel, president and CEO of EVRAZ North America.
Ms. Efimova acted as the host, and said she felt overwhelming pride for both countries at the event.
“It was absolutely a great success,” Ms. Efimova said of the event. “I was so pleased to be able to introduce Russian culture to so many
Americans, and to inspire Russians to have a sense of pride in our homeland.”
In addition to the speaches, the evening also included an elegant dinner featuring authentic Russian food, as well as performances by the
Campanella Children’s Choir, which sang Russian songs; The Joffrey Ballet Academy, performing a piece from Cinderella; The Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Ryan Opera Center performing a selection from Eugene Onegin; and 75 members of the Chicago Master Singers, who will be traveling to St. Petersburg at the end of June.
The Moscow Committee presented donations to the Campanella Children’s Choir, as well as to several World War II veterans from both the Russian and American sides.
“I truly hope Russia Day encourages people of all countries to see the commonalities between each other and fosters collaboration among
Russians and Americans to promote peace and economic growth,” Ms. Efimova said.
Mr. Tseitline said his company, NLMK USA, which is the U.S. arm of a Russian-owned steel company, is an example of the benefits of two countries working together.
“Thanks to the Moscow Committee of Chicago Sister Cities, events like these are bringing our countries closer together through understanding of common values that bind us,” he said. “I hope to see an even bigger Russia Day next year.”
Mr. Galitzine agreed that the Russia Day celebration was a success. “All the work that went into the Russia Day events would have been worth it if everyone had just gone home at the end with only a grain more understanding for, and interest in, Russia,” he said. “As it turned out, the reaction of our guests and participants was off the charts. The goodwill and gratitude for putting on such an event was palpable!”
Chicago Sister Cities International coordinates programs and projects with Chicago’s 28 sister cities and is committed to promoting Chicago
as a global city, developing international partnerships and networks, and sharing best practices on a city-to-city basis.
Since its inception in 1960, Chicago Sister Cities International has built bridges between the people of Chicago and its international neighbors to achieve greater mutual understanding and to strengthen civic, economic, and cultural ties. Chicago has been a sister city with Moscow since 1997.