Medvedev tours Silicon Valley, seek investors
SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Russian President Dmitry Medvedev arrived in the Bay Area around 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday. He was met by former Secretary of State George Shultz and California first lady Maria Schriver. He was then headed out to a meeting at the Fairmont Hotel with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and then to dinner at Shultz's house, but it's his interest in Silicon Valley that brought him to the Bay Area.
Medvedev is here because he wants to establish contacts and attract investments for a Russian version of Silicon Valley to be built on the outskirts of Moscow.
Medvedev was scheduled to sit down to dinner with one of the pioneers of Silicon Valley, former Secretary of Defense Bill Perry. Early Tuesday afternoon, Perry spoke with ABC7 about the future meeting.
"He is here in Silicon Valley to get some sort of feeling for what led to the success story here and whether there are some elements of the success here that can be replicated in Russia," said Perry.
Perry said there no question there's a strong emphasis on science and engineering in Russia. A Russian cruiser docked in the San Francisco Bay currently is testament to Russia's technological sophistication, but it is also a reminder that not very long ago the Soviet Union was an adversary.
"Well, during the Cold War, we all feared that Russia was too strong," said Perry.
Now, Perry said the larger concern is that Russia may be too weak.
"There is nothing that is scarier than a nation that is in some sense failing and incidentally possessing 10,000 nuclear weapons. So for that reason, we're very much concerned for a successful Russia," said Perry.
Medvedev plans to visit with leaders of Google, Cisco, Apple and Twitter. Before former President Bill Clinton appointed him secretary of defense, Perry was himself a high tech CEO. The Stanford grad founded ESL Incorporated, supplying software to the U.S. military and intelligence agencies. ABC7 asked him what advice he would give Medvedev.
"I would say open up your society more, that's what could lead more than anything else to the environment which creates people seeking new ideas, being willing to take a risk in business," said Perry.
Perry added the second necessary ingredient is a well established rule of law.
"In the United States and Silicon Valley when an investor invests in a company, there are a whole set of laws and regulations which he can count on being enforced and today that's not true in Russia," said Perry.
Perry said that without openness and confidence in the law, high tech investors will not be wanting to invest in Russia.
At the Fairmont Hotel, on his first visit to the U.S., the Russian president said he viewed California's various climates and landscapes from his plane.
"It's fantastic and the weather keeps changing every two or three minutes. So it's a new picture every time," says Medvedev.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger explained that his boyhood idols were Russian Olympians.
"Since I was a 15-year-old kid, I actually admired the great lifters of Russia: Yuri Vlasov, Zhabotinsky, Alexeyev, and the list goes on and on. They were motivators for me," said Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
President Medvedev emphasized his desire to build a high tech hub in Russia similar to Silicon Valley.
"I would like to have my visit to be translated into full-fledged relations and to be translated into cooperation with those companies," said Medvedev.
The governor also acknowledged Medvedev's desire to achieve a world free of nuclear weapons and mentioned former Secretary of State George Schultz's recent documentary "Nuclear Tipping Point."
To kick off relations, a group of Russian companies called Renovo signed an agreement to help preserve an old Russian settlement founded in 1812, at Fort Ross state park, in Sonoma County.
"The first white people to come to California in that part of the country were the Russians," said Ruth Coleman, the California state parks director.
After that it was an exchange of gifts. President Medvedev gave the governor a hand-carved humidor for his cigars and the governor gave a pair of alligator skin Lucchese cowboy boots.
Wednesday morning, after the Russian president tours Cisco and meets with Silicon Valley leaders, he will then head off to Stanford where he'll give a speech at 4 p.m. Then he will get on a plane and fly to Washington D.C.
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