Russian American Emigres Gather with Politicians to Celebrate Passage of Bill

Posted on Wed, Sep 09, 2009 at 13:51 pm

(Brooklyn, NY) – Hundreds of Russian-American émigrés yesterday joined Governor David Paterson, elected officials, New York Russian-speaking community leaders, representatives of various national and city non–profit organizations, and the press corps in a ceremonial signing of Russian Language Voter’s Bill at the Shorefront Y in Brooklyn, NY. The bill requires that, starting next year, all election materials be translated into Russian; currently materials are available in Spanish, Chinese, and Korean.

HIAS’ program, Civic and Voter Education Initiative (CVEI), an umbrella organization for more than 40 émigré organizations from the Russian-speaking community of New York, played an important role in this historic event. Since 2004, when the bill was first introduced by Assemblyman William Colton, CVEI has organized countless advocacy missions, town hall meetings; and other events to educate elected officials, government agencies, and the community at large about the importance of this bill.

“Our city has always prided itself on welcoming all who seek opportunity and refuge, and in evolving to meet the ever-changing needs of our population. This measure reflects a significant step forward in addressing the needs of our Russian-American residents,” said Sen. Kruger, who sponsored the bill in the State Senate.

“As the original sponsor of this historic legislation in the Assembly, I understood that voting represents one of the most sacred rights granted to all Americans,” said Assemblyman Colton. “With Senator Kruger’s strong leadership in the Senate and Governor Paterson’s signature, we have knocked down significant barriers that stood in the way between citizens and their democratic country. Together, we have paved the way for new Americans to become more engaged with democracy and assist them in making the most informed choice when they enter a voting booth.”

“As one of the hundreds of thousands of Russian-American New Yorkers, I praise Sen. Kruger for pursuing this legislation until it became reality,” said Alec Brook-Krasny, New York’s first Russian-speaking Assemblyman. “I commend him and all elected officials who worked as a team for breaking the wall of indifference toward the needs of Russian-Americans who were prevented from exercising their citizen’s rights due to the language barrier.”