WASHINGTON (June 29, 2020) – This month marks 30 years since William Loiry’s arrival in Moscow, where he was instrumental in facilitating the economic transition of the Soviet Union.
Loiry grew up during the Cold War and was concerned about the possibility of a thermonuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union. When the Soviet Union began opening under President Mikhail Gorbachev, Loiry’s plan was to promote peace through business. “If you are a Soviet businessman and I’m helping you make American dollars, you’re not going to want to shoot me,” Loiry stated.
In 1990, Loiry published the first U.S.-Soviet business guide, which became widely used in both the Soviet Union and the United States.
Loiry traveled throughout the Soviet Union, promoting his business guide, becoming the first American thousands of Russians had ever met, and one of the few Americans to meet Russian President Boris Yeltsin in Red Square. In July 1990, Loiry became the first American to visit Saratov, a city on the Volga River. Having served as President of the Tallahassee (FL)-Krasnodar Sister City Program in 1989, he also spent time learning about the culture and economy in Krasnodar during his visit in 1990. Loiry also visited both eastern and western Siberia as well as Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan.
After meeting with many business leaders throughout the Soviet Union, Loiry opened an office in Moscow with supporting offices in the United States. Throughout the four years that followed, Loiry brought hundreds of Soviet oil executives, bankers, and other business leaders to the U.S. to understand American business, get a taste of American culture, and to see American democracy at work. The trips included visiting the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, meetings on Capitol Hill, and even experiencing Disney World in Florida.
“These four years were crucial in making sure the new democracies in Russia and the other former Soviet countries did not go back to an authoritarian state, which was a threat to the United States,” said Loiry. “My work in creating peace through business shows that people-to-people diplomacy can make a significant difference.”