Ivan Negenblya is passing his gifts (a book about Yakutia and his own illustrated book about the Alsib history) to Luke Hopkins, Mayor of Fairbanks.
From left to right: Nadya Noeva, interpreter, Yuri Zabolev, Mayor of Yakutsk, Lena Kalashnikova, city hall’s international relations department chief, Ruslan Timofeev, city hall’s youth affairs department chief, Kapitalina Alexeeva, active Yakutsk & Fairbanks relationship participant, Ruslan Vasiliev, city hall’s public relations department chief.
Today Yakutsk-based aviator-writer, Ivan Negenblya, who arrived with his wife, Olga, and Sergei Khatylykov, a worker of Yakutia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in Alaska yesterday, has participated in the live video conference arranged between mayors of Yakutsk and Fairbanks (North Star Borough).
Previously two mayors, Yuri Zabolev and Luke Hopkins, had two tele conferences. The first one took place on June 5th, 2010 (read the news story). One of discussed issues was Mr. Negenblya’s visit to Fairbanks in October 2010 for exhibiting his Alaska-Siberia WWII Air Route black-n-white historic photographs at the Arctic Aviation Experts Conference.
Today is October 12th, 2010 (according to Yakutsk time) and Ivan Negenblya appeared on the opposite side. During the video conference he acted as real people’s ambassador. In his speech he highlighted the milestones of two cities’ relationships, expressed two sides’ wishes. First of all, in regards to the restoration of the direct air connection between Yakutia and Alaska, as he felt the hardship of traveling to each other himself. The way from Yakutsk to Fairbanks via Vladivostok, Seoul and Seattle took almost 5 days.
Apart from Mr. Negenblya’s photo exhibit, two mayors discussed the near future plan and they decided to conduct four joint events:
1. To prepare and publish a book about the history of sister-cities’ relationships.
2. To prepare and publish a book with the complete history of the Alaska-Siberia WWII Air Route cooperation.
3-4. To arrange video conferences between schools and universities by the end of 2010.
The Fairbanks North Star Borough (USA) and Yakutsk (Russia) have had a 20 year sister city relationship. The program was very active in the beginning, but for the last ten years or so it has only been kept alive by personal contacts formed 20 years ago.
There are significant problems of distance since the air routes across the Bering Straits have fallen off. Nonetheless, the current Mayor of the Fairbanks North Star Borough, Luke Hopkins, is very supportive of sister city relation reanimation efforts, as is the Mayor of the City of Yakutsk, Yuri Zabolev.
In Fairbanks, the organization called the Alaskan Russian Center to promote exchange with Russia was formed, and Melissa Chapin is the secretary of this group. There is no a sister city commission at this point.
Melissa Chapin and the group lead by her are helping Mr. Negenblya with his visit and photo exhibition in Fairbanks.
See more photographs on my other project AlaskaSiberia.com.
I have been working on Mr. Negenblya’s photo exhibit in Fairbanks since summer 2009. It’s really great to see, when your idea is becoming true. This is like a big achievement. I am really happy about Ivan Efimovich and his first abroad travel. Keep in mind, he uses a wheelchair.
Ivan Negenblya and me are saying a lot of thanks to:
— Yakutsk Representative of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs;
— The Ministry of Foreign Relations of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia);
— Anastassia Bozhedonova, Yakutia’s representative in The Northern Forum Secretariat;
— Yakutia Airlines;
— Yakutsk City Hall, Fairbanks’ sister-city;
— Bichik Publishing House.