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Home > Projects > Twentieth Anniversary > Kotlas Delegation

Kotlas Delegation Enjoys Visit

The Kotlas delegation poses by the "Welcome to Waterville" sign at the foot of Main Street. From left to right are Oleg Zakhozhiy, Anastasia Avilkina, Eduard Avilkin, Sergey Melentyev, Tatyana Pyatina, Lyuba Zinovkina, Pavel Sukhanovskiy, Irina Reznichenko, Zina Yegorova, and Arina Pavlova. Click the photo to enlarge it. Photo by Gregor Smith.

By Gregor Smith

"I must say that the first step in this amazing project was taken by the American side. Thus it is fitting that on the twentieth anniversary, the celebration is on American soil."

So said Kotlas mayor Sergey Melentyev in addressing some 65 Waterville area residents at a public reception in the REM Forum on Wednesday, June 23. Twenty years earlier, on June 20, 1990, two former mayors, Viktor Zverev of Kotlas and David Bernier of Waterville, had signed a proclamation declaring Kotlas and Waterville sister cities. Now Melentyev and nine other Kotlas residents were in town to celebrate that anniversary.

Besides the current mayor, the 2010 delegation included the deputy mayor, his teenage daughter, the head of the railroad department, an air traffic control systems engineer, and five current or retired school teachers. The teachers were all members of the Waterville Committee, the sister city committee in Kotlas, and one of them, Zina Yegorova, was also a member of the original delegation.

During their ten-day stay, this year's visitors toured downtown Waterville, the Hathaway Creative Center, Colby and Thomas Colleges, and state capitol and Old Fort Western in Augusta. The public officials also toured the Waterville police and fire departments and Guilford Rail facility on College Avenue, and the teachers visited the Redington Museum and the Alfond Youth Center. All the delegates tasted lobster, spent a day at Acadia National Park, enjoyed an American cookout with hotdogs and hamburgers, and engaged in various individual activities, including shopping, with their host families.

Besides the public reception, the visit included two other official functions: a reception with Waterville mayor and Republican gubernatorial candidate Paul LePage and other city officials Tuesday morning in the Waterville City Council Chambers and the presentation of a replica of a Soviet commander's watch to local World War II veteran Frederick Berard at the Waterville VFW Hall that afternoon. The delegation also presented official letters signed by all the members of the Waterille Committee and former mayor Viktor Zverev.

The delegation's visit was the capstone to a series of events organized to mark the twentieth anniversary. Other events in the series include an adult education course in contemporary Russian cinema in March and April, exhibits of Russian arts and crafts at The Center and the Winslow Public Library from April to June, and June; and the showing of two Russian films during the Maine International Film Festival in July.

Back at the reception, Mayor Melentyev concluded his remarks, saying, "I congratulate all the people who made this twenty years possible, and I trust that the future is in good hands when I look around this room and see all the small children." We have no doubt that twenty years from now, those children will be celebrating forty years of sister city ties.

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