The Anchorage Assembly on Friday suspended the municipality’s sister city relationship with Magadan in Russia’s Far East in protest of Russia’s unprovoked war in Ukraine.
The action comes more than a year after Russia invaded Ukraine and Gov. Mike Dunleavy called on Alaska cities to cut these ties. The Anchorage Sister City Commission recommended the suspension.
Assembly member Daniel Volland pushed for the resolution to suspend the relationship.
“I have been asked by constituents, ‘Why are we flying the Russian flag from municipal property, when Russia has been accused of war crimes, and while Anchorage is welcoming Ukrainian refugees fleeing their war torn homeland?’” he said. “What political message does that send to them?”
The resolution passed in a 10-0 vote.
Anchorage has six other sister cities. Its relationship with Magadan started in 1991. The sister city commission says the partnerships are “meant to foster mutual respect and goodwill.”
Assembly members emphasized that this is a suspension, and not a permanent break-up. They intend to reinstate the relationship at some point after hostilities have ended.
They also noted the action is a reaction to the Russian government and military, not the people of Magadan.
The resolution calls on Mayor Dave Bronson to temporarily remove or cover official symbols of the Sister City connection to Magadan from municipal properties and websites.
The mayor’s acting Chief of Staff Mario Bird said the mayor is aware of the Sister Cities Commission’s position on Magadan. He said the office will discuss the resolution and come to a policy decision.
A version of this played out differently in Juneau last year. The Capital City’s Assembly narrowly voted down a similar measure to suspend its sister city relationship with Vladivostok, Russia, because the tie is meant to promote peace and prosperity through citizen diplomacy.
Sister Cities International, the nonprofit that facilitates these relationships, had also urged against cutting these ties.