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Council to consider suspending links with Russian twin town over Ukraine

Published: 28 February 2022

Vigil for Ukraine in Exeter city centre

The City Council is considering suspending its civic relations with Exeter’s Russian twin town of Yaroslavl following the Russian Government’s invasion of Ukraine.

Council Leader Phil Bialyk read a statement of solidarity with the people of Ukraine, which was backed by members of the Council’s Executive on Monday.

A motion will now be debated by members of the full Council next week.

The Leader's statement also highlighted a number of measures he has taken since the crisis began, including writing to the Home Secretary to say Exeter is ready to support Ukrainian refugees forced to flee the country.

Cllr Bialyk said: “I am proud of my Ukrainian heritage and so you will not be surprised to hear that I have watched the unfolding news of the Russian government’s invasion with horror.

“I cannot stand quietly by and do nothing and so I wish to raise an urgent item for consideration at this evening’s meeting relating to the City’s on-going relationship with its Russian twinned city of Yaroslavl. 

“I have thought long and hard about this, particularly bearing in mind the friendship and good relationships we have enjoyed with the people in Yaroslavl. However, I cannot condone the actions of the Russian Government.”

The Leader said he would be recommending the following to the meeting of full Council next week:

  • That Exeter stands in solidarity with the people of Ukraine and the Council agrees to immediately suspend its civic relationship with Yaroslavl
  • That it be noted that the Leader of the Council has written to Vadym Prystaiko, the Ukrainian Ambassador to the United Kingdom offering the City’s support for the people of the Ukraine in these difficult times
  • That it be noted that the Leader of the Council has written to the Home Secretary advising her that Exeter has always been a City which welcomes refugees from all over the world in their hour of need, and it would support the acceptance of Ukrainian refugees and urges the UK Government to consider an urgent review into the criteria to be applied to those Ukrainian citizens who are seeking asylum in the UK
  • That appropriate arrangements be made, in cooperation with Inclusive Exeter, to extend and engage support for the Ukrainian community in Exeter

Members of the full Council will discuss the motion at its meeting on March 10.

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