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FEDERAL WAY, Wash. – In a first for the Washington Credit Union League, the president of an-ag based credit union in Russia paid a visit to the headquarters here as part of an economic and trade exchange by a Russian delegation arranged by the Foundation for Russian American Economic Cooperation. “Our meeting proved to be an excellent forum for exchanging ideas and gaining a broader understanding of the Russian economic culture and credit union system,” said John Annaloro, president/CEO of the League who hosted the 10-member Russian entourage led by Alexander Sorokin, president of Regional Agricultural Credit Union of Cheylyabinsk. During the Feb. 15 visit, the Russian group met with the League staff and also got a separate first-look at U.S. CU operations at BECU, Seattle. The delegation, touring business sites in the Seattle area during its three week visit of the Seattle area, engaged in a round-table discussion with Annaloro and League staffers on the the similarities and differences of CU systems with Sorokin expressing particular interest in adopting the NCUA-type insurance guarantee. Sorokin said member trust in financial institutions remains a particular problem but the concept might be tried first on a regional basis in Cheylybinsk. Sorokin also described services offered by his Russian CU as including loans, savings accounts, legal consulting and auditing. RoxAnne Kruger-Monahan, senior vice president of the League and liaison to the Washington Credit Union Foundation, described to Sorokin the Foundation’s programs in reaching out to women, minorities and small businesses that are often underserved by other financial institutions. Annaloro told the Russian group that U.S. CUs “have some envy” of the higher savings rate at 8% that certain Russian CUs seem to enjoy.

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