Highlights of the Fairbanks-Yakutsk Sister Cities Relationship: 1987-present
- Mayor of Yakutsk, Aysen Nikolaev, extends an official invitation to Mayor Luke Hopkins, of the Fairbanks North Star Borough, to visit Yakutsk during the national holiday and solstice festival of yhyakh, June 29-30, 2013.
Aysen Nikolaev, new mayor of Yakutsk, holds a videoconference with Mayor Hopkins.
- Georgeson Botanical Garden honors ties with Russia and Sister Cities has a booth.
- Leslye Korvola visits Yakutsk for the summer solstice festival, yhyakh, and is warmly welcomed back to the university. She shares her thoughts in a public meeting.
- Videoconference between the Mayor of Yakutsk, Aysen Nikolaev, and Mayor of the Fairbanks North Star Borough, Luke Hopkins. Ongoing planning for official delegation from Yakutsk to visit Fairbanks late in 2013. A reciprocal visit from Fairbanks is discussed. Expansion of this website is also a shared goal, with hopes to include Sakha language content.
- A photo exhibition in Yakutsk celebrating the Sister Cities is organized, to include photo contest.
- Claudia Fedorova, our old friend from Yakutsk's North East Federal University, visits Fairbanks and old friends.
- Engineers planning the construction of the bridge across the Lena River visit the permafrost tunnel in Fairbanks and are received by the mayor.
- Bruce and Lena Shelt and Terry and Mimi Chapin visit Yakutsk for a busy round of school visits, meetings and a Friendship Concert.
- A videoconference between the mayor of Yakutsk and the Mayor of Fairbanks is held. Several articles appear in newspapers in Yakutsk.
- Sister Cities participates in Fairbanks International Friendship Day with an informational booth.
- All-day event "Fairbanks-Yakutsk: Rekindling the Friendship" features art exhibit, silent auction, performances and speeches. It is a fund-raiser and send off event for Bruce and Lena Shelt, our Sister City couple, and Mimi Chapin to visit Yakutsk.
- The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner writes an excellent story on the sister cities' relationship.
- Video conferences held between university and elementary school students.
- Historian/writer Ivan Negenblya visits Fairbanks with photos taken during the Lend-Lease Program (WWII), attends 2010 Aviation Experts' Conference accompanied by wife Olga Siderova, interpreter Sergei Khatylykov, and Anastasia Bozhedonova of the Northern Forum. Sister Cities Committee hosts visits and meetings, including a mayors' videoconference and a potluck dinner.
- Ed Clark visits Yakutsk and attends the first videoconference between Mayor Luke Hopkins
and Yakutsk Mayor Yuri Zabolev.
- The celebration of the 65th anniversary of the end of WWII is marked by
honoring the Lend-Lease Project that joined Fairbanks and Yakutsk in common war
efforts. [ Pic 1 ]
The former President of the Sakha
Republic, Mikhail Nikolaev, now Vice President of the Russian Federal Duma, visits
Fairbanks and encourages the Sister Cities group to revitalize their
Personal contacts formed by Fairbanks citizens during
the early exchanges continue, and limited exchanges are organized by various groups.
Some efforts to renew the relationship are thwarted by considerations of distance
and time: the travel route has changed. The Northern Forum of
Anchorage continues to encourage Alaskan exchanges with the Sakha Republic. [ Pic 1 ]
The Anchorage based American Russian Center sets up
the Sakha-American Business Center in Yakutsk. For the next several years they
coordinate exchange programs and training in business skills throughout the Sakha
Republic and the Russian Far East.
For the next few years, a group called Interior Sister
Cities, with the help of the mayor’s office, organizes exchanges. Teachers,
contractors, missionaries, artists, architects, newspaper reporters, scientists,
professors, school children, and business owners form part of these groups. The
Fairbanks Sister Cities Program is one of the most robust sister city programs in
the United States. Contacts made during these visits give rise to large conferences
and business tours, courses and exchanges of specialists. [ Pic 1 ]
A Treaty of Friendly Relations is
signed between the two cities. The text is in three languages: English, Russian, and Sakha. Friendships
deepen as the two cities exchange information. The University of Alaska Fairbanks sets up a
student and faculty exchange program with Yakutsk State University. Active exchanges
continue until 2006.
[ Pic 1 Pic 2
Pic 3 Pic 4 ]
First Citizen Exchange. Yakutsk sends over a
plane with about 40 delegates , returning to Yakutsk with about forty Fairbanksans
citizens. A sergey, or traditional hitching post, a Sakha symbol of hospitality is
set up at the Carlson Center. [ Pic 1 Pic 2
Pic 5 ]
A three-member delegation headed by
Mayor Juanita Helms attends a Sister Cities International convention in Tashkent,
USSR, followed by 36 hours in Yakutsk. Later that summer, a three-member delegation
from Yakutsk, headed by Mayor Pavel Borodin, visits Fairbanks.
Citizens of the Fairbanks North Star Borough
approach Mayor Juanita Helms about forming sister city relationships. With the
melting of the “Ice Curtain” across the Bering Straits, residents of many cities in
Alaska wish to learn more about, and trade with, the Russian Far East and Siberia.
Eventually Yakutsk, in what was then the USSR, is chosen as a sister city for the
Fairbanks North Star Borough.
Fairbanks and Yakutsk first established ties when they were major airfields along the route of the Lend-Lease Program. During the years 1942-1945, this joint US-Soviet program ferried airplanes and other war materials through Fairbanks, Alaska and Yakutsk, Russia to the Russian front. Soviet pilots came to Fairbanks to pick up the planes and ferry them on through Russian air space.