Background Information

Note: the "Friends and Partners" services can be viewed on the Internet at the following two addresses:

Introduction to "Friends and Partners"

Through a variety of information and communications service distributed across Russia and the U.S.,, "Friends and Partners" demonstrates how the rapidly growing Internet, itself rooted in the Cold War separating our nations, can be used by and between our countries to promote education, economic development, joint research initiatives, new exchange programs, and new partnerships. Its framework of services link together information on our nations' histories; our art, music, literature and religion; educational and scientific resources; business and economic services and opportunities; geography and natural resources; and our languages - as well as opportunities for communicating, traveling and working together. The result is a dynamic, evolving information resource that promotes active exchange between individuals and organizations in our countries, and provides a common 'meeting place' for communications.

Although still relatively new - established in January, 1994 - its activities have been well received and heavily used. Its information services now comprise one of the more active Internet servers today with the number of accesses doubling every 4-6 months and with current activity exceeding one million accesses monthly. It has received a number of awards and honors including a recent rating as one of the top 30 sites on the Internet. It has received funding from NATO, the US State Department, the International Science Foundation, Sun Microsystems, and other organizations. The Friends and Partners initiative has been featured in several international conferences including a recent Gore/Chernomyrdin meeting held in January 1996 in Washington, DC.

Because Friends and Partners provides a framework of information and communication services, the project has tried to enable others - with specific areas of interest and expertise - to function as providers of information and communication services to more focused constituencies. This has led to a number of affiliated WWW servers and email servers by which these groups share information and communicate.

Examples of these include the Center for Civil Society (supporting a community of non-governmental organizations (NGOs)), Friends and Partners in Space (devoted to joint space activities), the FP Legal Server, "Healthy Partners" (devoted to medical/health issues collaboration), Russian Life Magazine, GlasNews, The Global University, Project Harmony (including programs involving children's exchange), Alliance of Universities for Democracy, and many others. It is precisely by distributing responsibility to such organizations (and supporting them in their efforts) that the project can meet the needs of the various constituencies comprising the overall Friends and Partners community.

The over 1.2 gigabytes of information on F&P now includes such items as a six year full-text-searchable archive of Radio Free Europe/OMRI postings; daily news updates from a variety of media resources on Russia/NIS activities; a large funding information base, information on art, music, history, telecommunications and many other information resources and searchable databases. More central to the F&P mission, however, are the several communications services - including several email listservers (with a total of more than 5,000 subscribers), the "Coffee House" bulletin board, and the F&P Chat Room.


Friends and Partners brings a number of important organizational and experiential resources to this project. These are briefly described below.

Organizational and Personnel Resources

The project has a unique organizational base in that all activities are coordinated by two offices located 5,000 miles apart one in Pushchino, Russia - the other in Knoxville, Tennessee. The two staffs now have 3+ years of experience working together - providing a proven track record, knowledge and experience working on joint U.S.-Russian initiatives. The Friends and Partners Support Center in Pushchino, created by a grant from the U.S. State Department, is housed within the Office of Grants and Research Development within the Institute of Biochemistry and Physiology of Microorganisms (Russian Academy of Science). The staff, directed by F&P co-creator Natasha Bulashova includes a programmer, engineer, and writer/translator.

Friends and Partners is supported in Knoxville from the Center for International Networking Initiatives - established in 1995 as a direct outgrowth of the F&P project. The staff, directed by F&P co-creator Greg Cole, includes an administrative assistant, programmer, network engineer, translator, and student assistant. This staff also has three years experience creating and supporting the Knoxville-Oak Ridge Regional Network (KORRNet) - a large and successful civic network involving several hundred organizations and many more users. The knowledge and experience working with this initiative is proving useful in planning civic networking in Russia.


The F&P Center in Pushchino has been provided with a Sun SPARC 5 computer (by grant from Sun Microsystems, Inc.) and a Sun SPARC 2 workstation (by grant from International Science Foundation). The F&P Center in Knoxville uses a Sun SPARC 10 workstation (upgraded via grant from Sun Microsystems) and a Linux workstation (by grant from Esper Systems, Inc.).

Community Resources

Our most helpful resource is the community of individuals and organizations who function as information providers and managers of various communications services on Friends and Partners. There are over 100 such within the overall F&P community. Also, the over 5,000 subscribers to various email listservers and the many thousands of occasional users of F&P provide an incredibly large, extensive, and invaluable human network which we will draw upon for the civic networking project.

The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be ignited. - Plutarch

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Invitation for Partnership
Application Guidelines
How to Use this Site

Project Description
Additional Background
Civic Networking
Civic Networking in Russia?
Project Goals
Work Plan

Project Activities

RCNP Activities (1998-1999)

US-Russian CivNet Workshop

RCNP Second and Third Stages Project Activities(1999-2001)

Sergiev Posad

Interesting Stories

US-Russian CivNet Workshop 2002
Sunday, 1-st day
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Precedents in Russia
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Civic Networking Info
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1996 Friends and Partners
Natasha Bulashova, Greg Cole
Please visit our Russian mirror site of CIVNET-Russia.

Updated: 1999-08-

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