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Kotlas Mayor's Visit Big Success

Delegation at the Morning Sentinel

The Kotlas delegation poses with Morning Sentinel reporter Amy Calder. Mayor Shashurin is seated at right. Photo by John Engle. Click the photo to enlarge it.

As most of you already know, the Kotlas Committee arranged a visit to Waterville in June by Alexandr Shashurin, mayor of Kotlas. He was accompanied by Andrei Bralnin, his administrative assistant; Andrei Palkin, a Kotlas businessman; Vladimir Piskurev, a Moscow assessor; and Yevgeniy Gribov, the delegation's translator and facilitator. The visit was conceived of as a way to interest the present Kotlas administration in the Waterville connection, and at the same time give them something tangible to take home and use in any way they saw fit.

The challenge came in making up a program that was of interest to both city administrators and businessmen. Sticking to our original theme of Economic Development, we tried to schedule an equal number of meetings with local governmental agencies and local businesses. With this in mind the delegation visited City Hall, the Kennebec Council of Governments, Central Maine Growth Council, state Economic Development officials in Augusta and the like. But it also saw a nice cross section of businesses including L.L.Bean, First Park, Bacon's farm in Sidney, and Hammond Lumber.

Kotlas Delegation in Boston

The Kotlas Delegation in Boston.

We were encouraged to expose our guests to as much culture as possible, both with a small "c" and a capital "C". Two major trips, one to the coast and one to Boston were very well received, as was a visit to the State Museum in Augusta. And many of you were involved in the public receptions or in the "culinary culture" events, the potluck supper, the lakeside barbecue, the lobster dinner and the ice cream social.

We feel the program went very well, and the sponsoring organization, Open World, has also indicated it was very pleased with our efforts. How did our Russian guests feel about coming here? To paraphrase a letter of thanks written by Andrei Bralnin on behalf of Mayor Shashurin: "We are sincerely grateful for our stay in our sister city of Waterville. Owing to your efforts, the friendship between our cities continues to grow stronger. We are becoming closer to one another, and will have a deeper understanding between us in the future. Please give our best wishes to the citizens of Waterville and we look forward to new meetings with you with pleasure."

Biographical Sketches of Our Guests

Shashurin at Camden

Aleksandr Shashurin poses, with Camden harbor in the background. Photo by John Engle.

Aleksandr Shashurin is head of administration, or mayor, of Kotlas. He served in that capacity since his election in December 1996. Economic development has been a priority for his administration: the city is trying to convert its economy from the centralized, state-run, Soviet model to free market, private enterprise. Shashurin's administration has also seen the completion of the first automobile bridge across the Northern Dvina at Kotlas and the conversion of the city's centralized heating system from coal to natural gas. He was previously mayor of Vychegodskiy, a Kotlas suburb, for six years. Fifty years old, he is married and has a 20-year-old son and a 17-year-old daughter. For relaxation, he likes to fish.

Andrei Bralnin is the Deputy Head of Administration, or deputy mayor, and is head of the Economic Planning Department for the city of Kotlas. He has served in those capacities since December 2001. He previously worked, at different times, for two Kotlas banks. He is 31 years old, married, and father to an infant daughter. He loves to play tennis and is fascinated by baseball. Bralnin returned to Waterville in September 2006 with the medical delegation.

Andrei Palkin is owns a sawmill and a building materials business. He is a local contractor who builds apartment buildings for private occupation and ownership. He also exports lumber to the United States. Palkin is typical of the growing group of entrepreneurs engaging in private enterprise in Kotlas and contributing to the economic growth of the city. He was formerly chief engineer and general director at the Kotlas Woodworking Combine. He is 46 and is married. He has two children, both boys, ages 17 and 11.

Vladimir Piskurev is an assessor with "expertise of special objects and investments." He previously served in the Soviet and Russian navies. Now 36 years of age, he is married and is the father of a boy, 10, and a girl, 15. He has traveled to various European nations, including Turkey, Spain, Italy, Denmark, Finland, Great Britain, and France for business and pleasure. He lives in Moscow.

Gribov at Pemaquid

Yevgeniy Gribov on the rocks at Pemaquid. Photo by John Engle.

The youngest member of the delegation, Yevgeniy Gribov served as its facilitator and translator. He is the only member of the delegation to have visited the United States previously. Fluent in English, he first came to the U.S. as a high school exchange student through the Future Leaders Exchange program. He has guided at two previous Open World delegations to the U.S. He is currently a consultant to a St. Petersburg law firm and is a lecturer at St. Petersburg State University of Economics and Finance. He is 27 years old and single.

(The preceding articles were taken from the August 2004 Bulletin From The Kotlas Connection Chairs by Phil Gonyar and Herb Foster.)