Sarasota could shun Russian sister city Vladimir
A Sarasota commissioner wants to officially sever ties with Vladimir, Russia, Sarasota's sister city since 1994, in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
Driving the news: Commissioner Hagen Brody said he would seek the city commission's approval to terminate the relationship at a meeting Monday, per the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.
- Continuing the relationship is "tantamount to condoning the conduct of the government that represents them," Brody wrote.
Why it matters: The Sister Cities International mission is to "promote peace through mutual respect, understanding, and cooperation," and severing those ties sends a message.
- The program encourages cultural exchanges — like online chess tournaments and this video tutorial from Vladimir on how to make a Christmas angel.
What they're saying: "(I)f in some small way severing our tie further isolates their country in the eyes of some of its own citizens and conveys that their national government's actions are the cause — then we should act," Brody wrote in a statement posted to Facebook.
- While praising the program's mission, Brody said cutting ties was a "moral imperative" because the Russian government had "shattered" any "mutual respect."
The other side: "Trying to cancel a connection that is pro-peace and pro-cultural understanding is the worst move possible," said Miriam Kramer, the president of Sister Cities Association of Sarasota, per the H-T.
Meanwhile, across the Bay, St. Petersburg Mayor Ken Welch said his city is supporting Ukraine but will maintain its relationship with its namesake Russian sister city.
The big picture: Cities across the country — from Norfolk, Va., and San Jose, Calif., to Chicago — are examining their Russian sister-city relationships.
Flashback: Longtime Tampa Bay Times readers may recall Ben's story about similar sister-cities tensions when Russian teens descended upon the hills of eastern Tennessee.
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