The history of the Consulate general
In view of an ongoing growth in bilateral Russian-American business, scientific, cultural and other relations, especially on a regional level, as well as an increasing number of Russian and U.S. citizens and expats residing in the other country, the Governments of the Russian Federation and of the United States of America agreed in 1992 to expand their respective consular presence on the territory of each other. In Spring of 1994 the U.S. Consulate General in Yekaterinburg became operational. At the same time, Russia, while facing unfavorable budgetary conditions, decided to freeze the opening of its new Consulate General.
Meanwhile, political and business leadership of the State of Texas supported by their Russian counterparts started lobbying both governments in favor of a Russian diplomatic mission in Houston. As the years went by the idea seemed more and more appealing. Texas proved itself as one of the biggest, most diverse and dynamic economies in the nation. It is a historic, well-established American and international center for the oil and gas industry. Houston Port - one of the largest in the world - is crucial to bilateral trade. Johnson Space Center is an integral part of the International Space Station program - both in terms of the joint ISS operation and crew training. Russian community in the area is rapidly increasing in numbers and its needs for consular services. In addition, Houston's remote location from the existing Russian missions in the United States impeded adequate coverage of all of the above.
Hence, in October of 2001 the two countries formalized the agreement on the establishment of the Consulate General of the Russian Federation in Houston through the exchange of diplomatic notes. The visit of President Vladimir V. Putin to Texas in November of the same year provided additional impetus to subsequent organizational steps undertaken by the Russian side. Following the Government Order # 174-p (February 12, 2003) the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation was given final green light to open its latest office abroad.
On May 9, 2003 the U.S. Department of State confirmed its consent to the appointment of Mr. Nikolay V. Sofinskiy as the first Consul General of Russia in Houston. He arrived in the City on November 7, 2003 heading a small advance team charged with finding a suitable location and making necessary arrangements to set up the mission, which opened its doors to visitors and became fully operational on August 4, 2004.
The Russian Consulate General in Houston is the national state office of international relations, which within its consular district (includes: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas) exerts vested responsibilities on behalf of the Russian Federation. The Consulate General is an integral part of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation. Its main goals and functions are:
- to protect the rights and the interests of Russia, its citizens and legal entities, to render them help and assistance;
- to promote trade, economic, cultural and scientific relations between Russia and the United States;
- to deliver in the consular district the official information about the internal and foreign policy of Russia, its socio-economic and cultural life;
- to provide visa and passport services in accordance with the Russian Law;
- to conduct within its power notary actionsпїЅ state registration of acts of civil status institution of custody or tutelage validation of documents;
- to participate in preparations for the intergovernmental exchanges and visits of the official delegations.