On Monday, December 3, Center senior reporters John Christie and Naomi Schalit met in Augusta with four visitors from Chechnya and representatives from the Holocaust Human Rights Center of Maine.
Christie and Schalit spent an hour talking about the Center’s work and more generally about the relationship between the press and the government in Maine and the United States. The Chechens, in turn, spoke about the press in their country, where news organizations are run by the government, and asked many questions about whether there was government censorship in the U.S.
“I came away impressed with the determination of Chechens to stabilize their homeland in the face of such a tragic recent history,” said Christie. “It was yet another reminder to appreciate the freedom and peace we have in this country.”
The Chechens — Khampash Khavshbukharovich Aydamirov, Assistant to the Speaker, Chechnya Parliament; Aslan Lechiyevich Ismailov, News Producer, News Agency, “Groznyy-Inform”; Aslanbek Sulimovich Ismailov, Deputy Director of Administrative Services, Chechnya Parliament and Zarman Amkhatovna Makhadzhiyeva, Coordinator, Regional Human Rights Organization, “Niyso” – were visiting Maine under the auspices of the American-Caucasus Work Group, the Holocaust Human Rights Center and the University of Maine Augusta.
The entire trip was organized by the Open World Leadership Center, which is dedicated to “assisting the Congress in its oversight responsibilities and on conducting exchanges that establish lasting professional relationships between the up-and-coming leaders of Open World countries and Americans dedicated to showcasing U.S. values and democratic institutions.”