Rotary Global History



 A New Rotary District is Born in Russia


PDG Jon Eiche, Rotary District 5890

Houston, Texas



After 15 years of existence, 48 Rotary clubs in Western Russia were united into the newest Rotary district in the Rotary world—District 2220. I was privileged to be a part of this historic ceremony by representing my Rotary District 5890 and serving as the Conference Co-Chair at the 12th Annual Rotary in Russia Conference in Moscow, Russia. The conference was attended by approximately 400 Rotarians and Rotaractors from over 18 countries of Europe, North America, Asia and Australia.  In my view, this conference will be looked upon by Rotary historians as a seminal event in the development of the worldwide Rotary movement.  But this is only the beginning of the next chapter of Rotary in Russia.



A great deal of credit must be given to those who worked diligently for the previous fifteen years in the training and development of Rotary clubs over the whole of Russia from St. Petersburg in the west to the Kamchatka peninsula in the East.  It is difficult for an American to understand the vastness and the complexities of the country now known as the Russian Federation.  Until now, development of the Rotary clubs in Russia has been the responsibility of four Rotary districts: clubs in the area of St. Petersburg in District 1430 (Finland), clubs in the area of Moscow in District 2350 (Sweden), clubs in the area of Volgograd in District 2370 (Sweden) and clubs from the Ural Mountains to the Pacific Ocean in District 5010 (Alaska and the Yukon Territory).  The sheer geography of the territory could place the continental United States side by side two and one half times inside the boundaries of the Russian Federation.


The creation of this new district was the culmination of a process that took shape over a number of years.  Past Rotary International Director Jorma Lampen from Finland deserves much of the credit for the development of the clubs in western Russia.  And each of the governors from the three  districts (1430, 2350 and 2370) that included the Rotary clubs in western Russia have spent countless hours over the last fifteen years in providing support, training and counsel to the clubs which now make up the new District 2220.


As a student of Russian and East European affairs for over 40 years, I have encouraged the senior leaders of Rotary International for several years to consider the creation of a single district made up of the clubs in western Russia, because language and cultural differences have slowed the growth and effectiveness of the Rotary movement in western Russia.  Traditional districts in Rotary are made up of more clubs and a higher membership number than clubs in western Russia.  But the geography and the need to create a national identity for Rotary in Russia were major considerations in the analysis of the future possibilities for growth.  A plan of action for the expansion and growth of Rotary in western Russia was presented, and last year, the Board of Directors of Rotary International decided that it was time for the Rotary clubs in western Russia to stand on their own feet as an equal partner with the remaining 529 districts in the world.  And so, on the morning of June 17, 2006, RI President Carl-Wilhelm Stenhammar installed Andrei Danilenko as Governor of the newly created District 2220.


Rotary International President Carl-Wilhelm Stenhammar installs Andrei Danilenko as the first Governor of District 2220.


Many senior Rotary dignitaries were on hand to view and participate in the inaugural ceremonies of the new district.  Governors Britta Wallgren (District 2350), Per Gunner Volberg (District 2370), Kaapo Pulkkinen (District 1430) and Skip Cook (District 5010) gave welcoming remarks to the assembled crowd.  Past Rotary International President Rick King, current Vice-President of RI Serge Gouteyron, and Director Bob Stuart attended the entire conference, which lasted for two days.  At the conclusion, many gifts and banners were exchanged with the new governor.



PDG Jon Eiche of District 5890 exchanges banners with newly installed Governor Danilenko of District 2220 of  Western Russia.


The New District

District 2220 includes 48 Rotary clubs in western Russia grouped around three major population centers: St. Petersburg in the northwest region, Moscow in the central region and Volgograd in the southern region.  Governor Danilenko has selected seven Assistant Governors that will assist him in the development and expansion of the Rotary movement in western Russia.  The leadership of the district will move from the Moscow area to the southern area next year under Governor-elect  Anatoly Voloshin from the Rotary Club of Togliatti.  In 2008-2009 the district will be led by DGN Vladimir Vasilkov from the Rotary Club of St. Petersburg The creation of this new district will face many challenges in the near term that are unique in nature to a traditional Rotary district.  The membership of most of the clubs is small ranging from 10 members to a high of 47 members.  However, the territory for the district is quite large (roughly ˝ of the continental United States).  And they are in a country that is still suffering tremendous economic hardships.  The conference was focused on the needs and prospects for the expansion of the Rotary movement in Russia. 


Conference Program

The first plenary session of the conference had presentations on the historical development of Rotary in Russia over the past 15 years.  The second plenary session dealt with the special needs of the new district as they applied to the Russian social experience.  Youth programs are especially important in the new district, which has some very strong Rotaract clubs throughout both eastern and western Russia.  About 25% of the conference attendees were Rotaractors.  One of the highlights of the conference was a mini-concert by the winners of the musical competition for talented youth by the Moscow-Renaissance and Moscow-International Rotary Clubs.



This young violinist was one of three winners of the musical competition and has traveled extensively in Europe because of this Rotary project.


A great deal of time during the conference was devoted to breakout sessions using panel discussions on topics relating to use of the mass media, promoting a positive image of Rotary, Rotary Foundation grants, youth programs and development of  relationships with clubs all over the world.  I was the moderator of a breakout session on the Development of International Contacts by Russian Rotary Clubs.  This session was attended by Rotarians from over 15 countries.  It was interesting to note how many countries have had longstanding relationships with the Rotary clubs in Russia and have developed formal Inter-Country Committees with Russia.  One of the first such committee was begun by France and Germany in 1950.  It has since expanded to include most of the countries of Europe, the Middle-East and some countries of Africa.











The use of Inter-Country Committees offer opportunities for strengthening the effectiveness of Rotary clubs in Russia.


Throughout the conference I was approached by Rotarians from around the world to encourage the development of joint projects with all Rotary clubs in Russia and to promote the creation of an Inter-Country Committee between North America and Russia.


At the Sunday plenary session, delegates were briefed on the recently approved 3-H Grant for the establishment of Health Fair Centers in several key population centers of Russia.  This project was developed by District 5010 based on the experiences of conducting health fairs in Siberia.  This concept offers great possibilities for presenting a positive image of Rotary to the general population and to improve the establishment of good health practices by Russians.


After the wrap-up of the conference, delegates were invited to the opening ceremony of the All-Russian Equestrian Sports Championship for Physically Challenged People.  The ceremony was held at the  Planernoe Sports  Facility.  This facility is the Olympic Training Facility for Equestrian Sports north of Moscow and houses about 500 horses.



Parade of Disabled Children at the opening ceremony  of the All-Russian Equestrian Sports Championship for Physically Challenged People.



The horse “Beslan” wears a horsecloth with the Rotary emblem together with the emblem of the two donors, the Franco-Russian ICC and the Rotary Club Moscow Renaissance.


Cultural Activities

Throughout the conference delegates were treated to some of the aspects for which Russia is famous.  The entertainment at the banquet on Saturday evening included a performance by young people in contemporary dance, and at the concluding luncheon on Sunday, a troup of Russian senior citizens dressed in native costume performed some of the traditional Russian dances.














Russian Youth Dancers






















Traditional Russian Dance Troup


Friends of Rotary in Russia

The Friends of Rotary in Russia is an ad-hoc committee made up of Rotarians from over 18 districts in the United States and more than 12 countries in Europe and Asia.  The goals of this organization have been to promote a spirit of cooperation and understanding among these clubs and districts with the growing Rotary movement within Russia. The Friends of Rotary in Russia, through contributions from Districts 5450,5790, 5890,6840, and 7620  assisted with the operational expenses of this conference held in Moscow.  And many Rotaractors from eastern Russia received financial assistance from District 5010 to make the long trip to attend this conference.  Plans are now underway to change this committee into a Rotary Inter-Country Committee using the European model.


Next Steps

The future of the effectiveness of the Rotary movement in Russia lies in the ability of Rotary clubs throughout Russia to attract commitment from clubs and districts in all parts of the world that are interested in international cooperation.  This can be fostered through Friendship Exchanges, the use of Rotary Fellowships, Group Study Exchanges, Twin-Club affiliations and joint World Community Service projects.  For this reason a conference is being planned to take place at Rotary International Headquarters from May 26-28, 2007.  The focus of the conference will be to develop the organizational structure for a North America-Russia Inter-Country Committee.  Interested participants from Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia will also be invited to attend.  There will be a special pre or post conference meeting for Rotaractors.


While the agenda is still in the early stages of development, it is anticipated that sessions will be devoted to the development of an organizational structure, methods to identify major collaborative World Community Service projects in educational and humanitarian fields, membership development and expansion, younger generations programs, Rotary Foundation programs, Friendship, GSE and Youth Exchange Programs.


I am asking members of the Friends of Rotary in Russia and other interested Rotarians in North America to approach their sitting Governors and request that they or another Rotarian in their district be appointed as District Representative to a North America-Russia Inter-Country Committee for a period of three years.  These District Representatives will act as advisors to their District Governors on matters relating to cooperative activities between their district and it’s clubs with districts or clubs in the whole of the Russian Federation.  Representatives should be willing to attend the Chartering Ceremony in Evanston from May 26-28, 2007, and will sign the charter for their District Governor.  Because the organization and functioning of such committees are the independent activities of Rotarians, Inter-Country Committees function at no cost to Rotary International.  Therefore, I am also asking each district interested in becoming a Charter District to commit  $2,000 of seed money from their district reserve funds to help with the startup expenses, the first year budget for the committee and operational expenses for the Evanston conference.  Charter districts will receive a copy of the original charter suitable for framing for their historical files.


I hope to produce an informational brochure about the conference in time for the Zone Institutes to publicize this effort, but I am counting on each of you to give wide dissemination of this information to your circle of Rotary friends.  If you have questions regarding the establishment of the North America –Russia Inter-Country Committee or the conference, please feel free to contact me by e-mail or telephone.


I remain yours in Rotary service,

PDG Jon Eiche, Rotary District 5890

Houston, Texas


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