Scott Blacklin, arrested last month for marijuana possession in Atlanta, returned to his job as president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Moscow, saying he deeply regretted his "adolescent" act and expressing gratitude to the organization-s directors, who refused to accept his letter of resignation.
Blacklin handed in the resignation letter following his arrest at Atlanta-s Hartsfield International Airport on Oct, 27, when customs officials found 13 grams of marijuana in his underwear.
The 47-year-old, who was back at work Tuesday, told The Russia Journal that he felt energized by the faith that members had shown in him.
"I am gratified that thanks to the confidence among the board and members, we can move forward and continue to work well for the business community that we serve here," Blacklin said. "Having said that, I just wish I had chosen a different way to get this type of endorsement."
He said he would not wish the turmoil he had endured over the past few weeks on his worst enemy. "It was just a very adolescent act. I spent a couple of days on vacation [in the Netherlands] and became a teenager. I have profound regret about that. This has been a life-changing time for me."
Blacklin was invited to make a statement about his actions before the board meeting Nov. 15. Following this, 24 of the 26 members spent about an hour and a half discussing his resignation.
In that statement, Blacklin talked of the steps he was taking to address the issue. He also spoke of the plans the chamber has for the New Year and how it can move forward.
Bruce Bean, chairman of the board, told members in a statement that Blacklin would continue to serve as president of the chamber with the complete support of the board.
Bean refused to reveal the number of votes in favor or against the rejection of the resignation or to give any reasons for the board-s decision. He also declined to give an outline of what had been discussed.
"Everyone agreed that we would not discuss what happened at the meeting," he said. "There was much consideration and discussion, and the board determined not to accept the resignation.
"It was obviously a very difficult experience for Scott and a tough experience for the chamber to go through for the past two weeks, and now it is behind us."
Blacklin, who has been president of Amcham since 1997 and previously worked for companies such as Westinghouse and Motorola, said he had not had any idea of how the meeting would turn out.
"I believe this whole process reveals good governance by the chamber. If there is a crisis or a foolish action, that person needs to take responsibility for that, then submit themselves to the policy of the board.
"The important issue here is that, in all cases, the rule of law is being followed. American law is being adhered to. I have not denied anything. The process that governs the American chamber is being followed."
Once he submitted his resignation, Blacklin did not attend any public functions, although he was asked to deal with some administrative aspects, such as the strategic plan and the budget.
His case is due to be heard before a court in the United States in the middle of December. Blacklin has arranged to be tried in absentia and could receive an additional fine. The U.S Customs Service has already fined him $500.
Blacklin was stopped at the airport when a search dog indicated he might be carrying drugs. He had made a stop over in the Netherlands while on his way to Atlanta to attend a U.S and Russia Business Council meeting.
Committee members contacted after the news of his arrest praised the work Blacklin had done as Amcham president in representing American and Russian business interests.
Speaking on his first day back at work, Blacklin said: "I feel deeply energized. I am very grateful for the faith that has been shown. I feel like I want to pay back the people that have demonstrated this faith in my leadership.
"There will be embarrassing moments perhaps, but I feel we will be able to overcome them. I have always been happy to serve the chamber, and the chance I have to serve it again moves me greatly."
Ryan Dodd of Vinlund trucking service and the Amcham transportation committee chairman said the decision had been surprising but rational and non-political.
"I thought they were going to use it as something political because they would not have the courage to keep him at his job," he said.
"It reflects the fact he has done such a good job. I totally support the decision."
Dodd, who said he knew Blacklin when he was at Motorola, said people were surprised by Blacklin-s actions but were willing to overlook the matter. He added: "I don-t think it is going to affect the chamber at all."