John Reuther's page

John Reuther will speak about his path from progressive politics in the US, through graduate studies outside the official exchange program at Moscow State University in 1968-70, and on to the world of trade and commercial real estate in both Soviet and then post-perestroika Russia from 1978 to the present.

Reuther will recall his unusual experiences at MGU during the Vietnam war, the interest taken by representatives of the intelligence agencies of both sides while Reuther represented a US trading company in Moscow during 1978-81, and will reveal the very unique way he generated construction financing for Moscow real estate development during 1988-90, not to mention how $50 million of German Democratic Republic Communist Party funds were mysteriously deposited on an account set up in the name of one of his Moscow JV companies, which ultimately led to the fall of the GDR Communist Party leadership.

Ted Kennedy and John Reuther Michigan Democratic Party Dinner 1974

Senator Robert Kennedy, Victor Reuther and John Reuther 1968

John Reuther on break while working on the trench silo wall Vigrin lands student construction brigade 1969 Kazakhstan

Reuther was raised in a family of social activists and trade union leaders who marched arm in arm with the Kennedys and Martin Luther King in the struggle for social justice and equal rights in the United States, much of which family history has been documented in a new film “Brothers on the Line” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OBaimkJhrnc), directed and co-produced by Reuther’s son Sasha (New York Times film review: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/10/movies/brothers-on-the-line-sasha-reuthers-film-on-the-uaw.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0).

John Reuther’s father Victor and uncle Walter spent 1933-35 working at the Gorky Automobile Plant in the USSR, which experience led to John -- after graduating from Cornell University and two years Masters study in US-Soviet Relations at American University’s School of International Studies – to spend 1968-70 as a graduate Russian language student at Moscow State University, including being a member of a Virgin Lands summer student work brigade in Kazakhstan.

President John F. Kennedy signing bill in front of Walter Reuther and other supporters, Photo credit Joseph Mileger, Embassy Life International

Martin Luther King Jr. and Walter Reuther speaking to press, Wayne State University Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs photo

Egyption Prime Minister Abdul Nasser and Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru with Walter Reuther

There followed a period of political activism during which Reuther worked in the campaigns of progressive US Democratic candidates, ending in Reuther’s own campaign for US Congress from Michigan in 1974. But the time Reuther spent at MGU drew him back to Moscow, where he was Chief Moscow Representative of a US trading company during the cold war period of 1978-81.

John Reuther - top row on right - student Virgin Lands construction brigade Kazakhstan 1969

Reuther later frequently traveled to Moscow in the mid-1980s as Director of the Committee on US-Soviet Relations of the International Center for Development Policy, which independent think-tank brought together US and Soviet political and academic experts in an effort to resolve regional conflicts, in which the USSR and the US were militarily supporting opposite sides. His most fascinating delegation was to Afghanistan in early 1988 during the ongoing Soviet Afghan military conflict with a joint delegation led by several former US ambassadors on one side and a Soviet Academy of Sciences team headed by Yevgeny Primakov on the other.

Later in 1988, Reuther joined the US-Soviet joint venture “Perestroika JV”, ultimately becoming General Director of this Moscow based commercial real estate development JV. Conflicts within the leadership of “Perestroika” led to Reuther and several colleagues leaving the JV and forming a competitive company in Moscow, which work Reuther continues to this day.

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