A group of 49 Russians is in DC as part of a US-funded exchange program to witness American democracy in action. Just one problem: There's very little action right now. "This step, to shut down the government, is inconceivable," says one Russian journalist. "French people are said to be the most freedom-loving [people]. Even the French wouldn’t be able to do such things." Ouch. Ironically, the Open World Leadership Center, which runs the exchange, still has enough of its $8 million annual funding to keep the Russians here, despite the shutdown, reports the Washington Post. It just doesn't have a lot to show them.
They haven't been able to organize many meetings, because so many staffers are furloughed. They haven't been to the museums, because they're closed. And their lectures are taking place in an Embassy Suites, rather than the Library of Congress. One Russian teacher jokes that DC is actually running surprisingly well without a government—a situation really more akin to socialism than democracy. "Maybe you will come to communism soon!” he says. “No government ... but people are still managing!”