Young Russian leaders visit Coast for cultural detente

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) –It’s a good time for détente, and Gulfport is in the middle of it all.

This weekend, young Russian politicians are getting the royal treatment from Gulfport officials. They are part of the exchange group called The American Council of Young Political Leaders, and hope cultural learning will enlighten future leaders.

But even as the young Russian leaders enjoyed their tour of Gulfport, some worried about having their faces shown on camera – worried the trip could have bad implications in their home country.

Still, they understand the importance of the trip.

“The relations between Russia and the United States right now are in their lowest point,” said delegate Yuri Sharov through an interpreter. “We hear this both from politicians on both sides and diplomats who are saying that it’s been at its lowest point since Cuban missile crisis.

Sharov is a member of the Just Russia political party and represents a hopeful future.

“We’re so young, we’re between 25 and 35 years of age,” Sharov said. “It means we are the future generation of politicians who are going to be decision makers.”

Gulfport is hosting the trip, which includes stops in Washington D.C., Baltimore, and Jackson.

The goal of the ACYPL, which is more than 50 years old, is to understand political as well as civil society. It’s something former delegates from the Coast understand well.

“It’s a wonderful organization,” said Rep. Hank Zuber. “It opens your eyes up to different cultures, different ways of life and most importantly, from my perspective, it stressed to me how much we have in common.”

Gulfport Mayor Billy Hewes was also a delegate.

“We’re trying to create new ambassadors every day,” he said. “When you travel and when you broaden your horizons – your perspectives. Iit fosters a better understanding, not just early in their careers but hopefully down the road as they rise and get involved in their community and country.”

Source:  WLOX