Exeter severs link with Russian twin town
Exeter City Council has voted to suspend the civic relationship with its Russian twin city, Yaroslavl.
Councillors met on 10 March to discuss Exeter’s link to the Russian municipality and voted unanimously to revoke the formal relationship. The motion was put forward by the City Council’s leader, Phil Bialyk, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“We need to send them a big message that this is just not acceptable.”Councillor Phil Bialuk
Exeter has had a formal twinning relationship with Yaroslavl since 1989. The Russian city is 160 miles north-east of Moscow and has a population of over 600,000. The twinning of European towns and cities began after World War Two to help unite Europe and contribute to peace development.
On the decision to suspend the relationship, Mr Bialyk, who is of Ukrainian heritage, said: “We cannot condone the actions of the Putin government or any civil authority outside of Moscow which is in effect an arm of the Putin regime.
“To be brutally honest, I am disappointed we have had to break this link but not disappointed so far with the actions we are taking, we need to send them a big message that this is just not acceptable.”
Exeter follows a number of other towns and cities in England that are suspending their twinning relationships with Russian municipalities. In the last week, Durham, Manchester, Nottingham, and Doncaster, among others, have cut ties with their Russian partners.
Plymouth, Devon’s second city, confirmed last week they will not be revoking the link with their Russian city of Novorossiysk.
The news comes as the UK government has asked the British public to house Ukrainian refugees in the biggest refugee crisis in Europe since World War Two – around 2.2 million people have fled Ukraine so far.