The Anchorage Assembly unanimously approved a resolution encouraging the mayor to suspend the Municipality of Anchorage sister city relationship with Magadan, Russia.
The resolution calls on Mayor Dave Bronson to temporarily remove or cover any remaining municipal symbols of the Sister City linkage to Magadan, Russia officially displayed on municipal websites, buildings, flag poles or structures.
The municipality’s website devoted to the relationship, which is intended to foster peace, is at this link.
Anchorage and Magadan officially became Sister Cities in 1991; it’s Anchorage’s 6th sister city relationship.
Magadan is located in the Russian Far East in the Siberian taiga and has a population of about 100,000. It is a center for shipbuilding, fishing, and mining industries.
“During the Stalinist era, Magadan was founded as a penal colony – centered on the vast, productive mining operations upon the upper Kolyma River since farming was difficult due to its tundra landscape. Its proximity to the Pacific Ocean made for Magadan to thrive as a port city, all of these factors contributing to the population spike. Because of its port, shipbuilding and fishing are the major industries today with remnants of its gold mining past still present. The nearest major city is over 1,200 miles away by unpaved road, making Magadan largely isolated and self-dependent,” the city’s web page that is dedicated to the friendship explains.
“Magadan is a popular tourist destination today, in part because of its painful association with the Gulag forced labor camps of the Stalin era. In 1996, sculptor Ernst Neizvestny completed the Mask of Sorrow monument, which stands in Magadan commemorating those who died in the Kolyma labor camps during the Soviet purges. The Church of the Nativity is part of the diocese of Anchorage, Alaska, and ministers to the survivors of the labor camps.”
As of one year ago, over 100 cities around the country had sister city ties with Russian cities, but about 10 had already severed or suspended those ties.
The severed cities include Moscow (by Chicago and Santa Clara County), Stravropol (Des Moines, Iowa), Leningrad Region (state of Maryland), Voronezh (Charlotte, North Carolina), Saratov (Dallas) and Krasnodar (Tallahassee, Florida).
Suspended ties include Colorado Springs (Smolensk), Sarasota, Florida (Vladimir) and Norfolk, Virginia (Kaliningrad).
Juneau has a sister city relationship with Vladivostok. Fairbanks has a sister city relationship with Yakutsk. Homer’s sister city is Yelizovo, and Homer has a large Russian-heritage population of Old Believers.
A list from 2022 of sister cities with Russia, likely incomplete and not up to date, can be found at this Sand Diego Times link.