1st Jul, 2022

Coventry Conservatives back Ukrainian group's calls for city's Russian twinning link with Volgograd to be suspended

THE COVENTRY Conservatives are backing calls for the city’s twinning relationship with Volgograd in Russia to be suspended.

The request has been made by the Coventry branch of the Association of Ukranians in Great Britain in response to the ongoing atrocities being committed by Russian forces.

The group said several links to Russia had been suspended to show solidarity with Ukraine, including a theatre tour of the Russian State Ballet and the City of Culture stopping an event linked to Volgograd.

It added several UK cities had also suspended twining and friendship arrangements with cities in Russia, including Glasgow with Rostov and Manchester with St Petersburg.

Coventry has been twinned with Volgograd, formerly known as Stalingrad, since 1944. The link goes back to the Second World War when both countries stood up to Nazi aggression.

Because Coventry prides itself as the City of Peace and Reconciliation and twinning relationships are often with people and communities rather than governments, there are some who believe the twinning arrangement should remain.

City councillors have been criticised by some in recent years for going to Volgograd because of their nation’s government’s actions.

Coun Gary Ridley, the leader of Coventry Conservatives, has written to the city council leader saying the situation is ‘deeply regrettable and not one of our choosing’ and he is promising to force a vote on the issue if a decision is not taken quickly.

Coun Ridley added: “Russia has brought barbarism back into our world.

“In this country, we stand up to bullies, we don’t look the other way.

“Suspending the twinning arrangement is just one simple, and proportionate, step we could take to show the world we stand with Ukraine and against aggression.

“It would show that our sympathy is with the innocent men, women and children who are being indiscriminately shelled.

“Across the globe Russia is righty becoming a pariah state.

“If we are inconsistent in that approach it will damage our reputation as a city of peace and reconciliation, and I fear they’ll use it for propaganda purposes.

“In any case, after the latest violence and human rights breaches, how can Coventry continue to have a ‘business as usual’ relationship with them?”

Deputy Leader of the Conservative Group, Coun Peter Male, added: “I recognise there are many Russians who do not agree with their government but reasoning with Putin doesn’t work.

“The western world has to take a strong, and united stand, against Putin’s war.

“It’s incredibly naive to think that we can use the link to challenge Russia on their human rights abuses – and there’s no evidence our city’s leaders have tried in the past either.”

The issue of weather to suspend the link or maintain it is due to be discussed at a meeting of the ruling Labour Group on Coventry City Council on Monday, March 7.

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