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The Central and East European Coalition (CEEC) met on November 17, 2009 with Congressmen Dennis Kucinich (R-Ohio) and Thomas Price (D-GA), co-chairs of the newly formed House Russia Caucus, to discuss the goals and mission of the Russia Caucus, and to provide suggestions for a possible agenda.  While caucuses on many of the Central and East European countries already exist, this is the first caucus with a focus solely on Russia.
The body is meant to improve communication between Congress and Russia's lower house of parliament.  Recognizing the value of the CEEC members’ experience and knowledge of the region, Congressmen Kucinich and Price agreed to meet with the CEEC to discuss possible topics for the caucus agenda.  The CEEC is an assembly of 18 ethnic organizations representing 22 million Americans of Central and East European descent.
CEEC representatives discussed the following topics with the co-chairmen, in anticipation of the first meeting of the Russia Caucus, to be scheduled in a few weeks :

1. Economic coercion
Russia has used trade embargos, increased tariffs, slow-downs at entry points and other such means to affect the economic well-being of its neighbors.

2. Energy
An important Russian tool for leverage and coercion is the energy which it supplies to Europe.  In addition to attempting to establish a monopoly on delivery systems, Russia’s use of a divide-and-conquer gambit with Western European countries helps it achieve leverage through the supply of energy.

3. Spheres of influence
Russia’s claim to spheres of influence in the now-independent countries formerly under Soviet control is well-known and, although publicly repudiated in the West, still an issue of on-going concern.

4. Freedom to join organizations
The countries formerly under Soviet occupation and influence should have the right to join whatever organizations they deem desirable, including NATO, contrary to statements by the Russian government.

5.   Cyber security
Russia is strongly suspected as being behind the cyber attacks against the country of Estonia in 2007.  Since then, cyber attacks have taken place against Georgia, Ukraine, and elsewhere,  including the United States, which is under constant cyber attacks from a number of sources.

6.   Democratic principles
The Russian government’s support of democratic principles within Russia is insufficient; freedom of the press, free elections, the right to assemble, and minority rights have markedly deteriorated within Russia.

7.   Revision of history
Russia’s attempts to revise history to show past actions in a favorable light and to deny atrocities committed by the Soviet Union have multiple ramifications.


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