Mayor Weinberger and Burlington-Yaroslavl Program Announce Next Steps for Sister City Relationship


149 Church Street | Burlington, VT 05401 | (802) 865-7272 


Press Release

March 14, 2022

Contact: Jordan Redell,

Oliver Carling,



Mayor Weinberger and Burlington-Yaroslavl Program Announce Next Steps for Sister City Relationship

Official diplomatic government relationships remain suspended indefinitely in response to Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and Burlington-Yaroslavl Sister Cities Program will continue direct citizen to citizen engagement


Burlington, VT – Last week, Mayor Weinberger met with several board members of the Burlington-Yaroslavl Sister Cities Program (an independent non-profit), as well as former mayors Bob Kiss and Peter Clavelle, to discuss next steps for the relationship between Burlington and Yaroslavl, Russia, and to coordinate efforts between the City and the Program moving forward.


Mayor Weinberger released the following statement:


“I continue to stand with mayors from around the world in protesting Russian aggression by suspending the formal, diplomatic Sister City relationship with the City of Yaroslavl.  President Putin’s assault on innocent civilians and Ukraine’s sovereignty threatens the safety of millions and the stability of global order and must be condemned in the strongest possible terms.  We will consider resuming this relationship when there is an acceptable resolution of the conflict in Ukraine.


“At the same time, I fully support the Burlington-Yaroslavl Sister Cities Program’s efforts to maintain citizen-to-citizen communications and relationships with friends in Yaroslavl during this period of terrible conflict.  It is my hope that such efforts can play a useful role in maintaining the exchange of views and information between the cities, even as President Putin attempts to fully control the flow of information to Russians about the war in Ukraine.  I am grateful that so many Burlingtonians remain committed to this Sister City relationship and continue to make the effort highly impactful and meaningful to many here and in Russia.


“Even when the City’s formal relationship resumes, perhaps years from now, there should be greater attention going forward to the ways in which Russia’s authoritarian leadership has directly impacted Burlington-Yaroslavl relations.  We should continue to decry the ongoing imprisonment of Yaroslavl’s duly-elected Mayor, Yevgeny Urlashov, and take steps to ensure that future interactions between the City of Burlington and City of Yaroslavl bring attention to the importance of free dissent and an independent media in our system of municipal government, liberties that have been brutally suppressed by Putin's government in Yaroslavl and throughout Russia."


Oliver Carling, President of the Burlington-Yaroslavl Sister Cities Program, released the following statement:


“We understand Mayor Weinberger’s reasons for suspending municipal government-to-government ties with the City of Yaroslavl and share his condemnation of the invasion of Ukraine by the national government of Russia.  The Putin regime’s conduct of the war, including the targeting of civilians and destruction of cities, is shocking and heartbreaking, and we appreciate the need to send the strongest possible message through our political institutions.


“At the same time, the Burlington-Yaroslavl Sister Cities Program, Inc., is a non-profit organization, not a municipal entity, and operates according to its mission under the supervision of an all-volunteer board.  We will continue to promote communication and people-to-people connections with the residents of Yaroslavl, as we have done for 34 years.  Many of us in Burlington have dear friends in Yaroslavl.  Our friends include teachers and students, doctors and librarians, musicians and small business owners.  We should continue to talk to our friends, near and far, in this time of crisis.


“In wartime there is always a temptation to vilify ordinary citizens perceived as representing the aggressive regime.  We must maintain a clear distinction between the Russian government and the people of Russia, many of whom oppose the war and live in fear of their national government.  It is dangerous for Russians to speak out, independent media have been silenced, and young men are at risk of conscription.  A new law says that reporters can be imprisoned for 15 years for factually reporting on the war in Ukraine.  In standing with Ukraine and opposing the war, we believe that keeping channels of communication open with our friends in Yaroslavl is more important than ever.”


The City of Burlington will continue to support cultural exchanges with an annual $2,000 contribution to the organization.





Jordan Redell

Chief of Staff

Office of Mayor Miro Weinberger

City Hall | 149 Church Street

Burlington, VT 05401

Pronouns: she, her

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Please note that this communication and any response to it will be maintained as a public record and may be subject to disclosure under the Vermont Public Records Act.

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