Fairbanks-Yakutsk, Sister Cities

Highlights of the Fairbanks-Yakutsk Sister Cities Relationship: 1987-present



  • Anastasia Bozhedonova of the Northern Forum visits Fairbanks. A nice reception is held.


  • 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. 



  • Yakutian ice carvers and Rotarians visit Fairbanks.


  • 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 relationship.


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 3 Pic 4 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.

Historic friendship

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.

About Us

The Fairbanks-Yakutsk Sister Cities group is a subcommittee of the Alaskan Russian Center, a non-profit organization that was set up in 2010 to support Alaskan exchanges with Russia. The officers of this group are Sam Helms, President, Don Lowell, Vice President, Mimi Chapin, Secretary.

All meetings are open to the public and will be announced in the news bulletin and the calendar on the site’s home page.

If you wish to be put on the mailing list for announcements, or want more information about Fairbanks-Yakutsk Sister Cities, please contact us.

Fairbanks Delegation Visits Yakutsk

Yakutsk Delegation Visits Fairbanks

Current Objectives

The Fairbanks-Yakutsk Sister City Committee is currently involved in planning for a 70th anniversary celebration of the Lend-Lease Program in conjunction with Yakutsk.

We are hoping that a delegation of performing artists will be able to come from Yakutsk to participate in the 40th Anniversary of Festival of Native Arts at the University of Alaska campus Feb. 21-23, 2013.

Leslye Korvola is planning a tourist trip to Yakutsk in the summer of 2013 that will travel west from Alaska to Yakutsk, avoiding the long distance flights through the East Coast and Moscow.

  • 20 Years!

    We are now working towards arranging a videoconference between the mayors of our two cities for sometime in late August, to commemorate the 20 years since the signing of the Treaty of Friendly Relations between Yakutsk and Fairbanks.  We hope to have a general meeting in early August.

    In December, Lena Lukhina-Shelt will be in Yakutsk with her husband, Bruce Shelt to give a Christmas concert.  As you may remember, this couple met twenty years ago on the Sister City Exchange!  I hope to join them in Yakutsk and hope some of you will be able to travel also.  A December visit -- a true sign of friendship for people of the north.  Look to this blog for more details!

     Catching up a bit on what's been happening, last December's video conference between the school children of Hunter Elementary School and elementary school students was a huge success!  Many thanks to Fawn Jelinek and her students, Elisabeth Kruger, who organized this, and Odin Miller who was in Yakutsk at the time and appeared at the video conference.  Channel 11 did a segment on their evening news about the exchange. Soon I will find a way to integrate some pictures from this exchange into the website.  December and January were busy with finding out what we needed to do to apply for the grant from the Foundation for Russian American Economic Cooperation (see above).

  • Youth Video Conferences

    Nov. 14, 2010

    At their October videoconference, the mayors agreed that youth groups would "meet" by Skype videoconference before the end of the year. These historic meetings have been confirmed as follows:

    Nov. 18,  7 PM (Fairbanks time) and Nov. 19 1 PM (Yakutsk time).  University students. On the Fairbanks side, the students will be from the Russian club at the University of Alaska.

    Dec. 2,   4 PM (Fairbanks time) and Dec. 3 10 AM (Yakutsk time). Elementary school students.  On the Fairbanks side, the group will be from Hunter Elementary School.

    Watch for further updates!!!

  • We're Published!

    This web site is up and running! Check out the many interactive features, learn about present-day Yakutsk, view pictures of past exchanges, add your comments and feedback.

  • Welcome Friends of Yakutsk!

    10/10/2010 Looking forward to the arrival of Ivan Negenblya, his wife, Olga Sidorova and interpreter Sergei Khatylykov.

    Mark your calendars for the potluck dinner at Don Lowell's house, October 14th, 5:30 PM and have a chance to meet with our guests and other friends of Yakutsk.

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