Ukrainian-Russian crisis: why did Edinburgh become twinned with the capital of Ukraine Kiev?

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The cities signed an agreement in 1989, making Kiev Edinburgh’s eighth sister city.

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This was before the collapse of the Soviet Union, when Mikhail Gorbachev carried out major reforms.

At the top of the Kurgan there is the city coat of arms of Kiev, denoting the twinning of the cities.

The then head of the Edinburgh Council, Mark Lazarovich, and his Labor council colleague Leslie Hinds, then in charge of twinning, traveled to the USSR to discuss the proposed partnership.

The capital has already established twin cities with Munich, Nice, Florence, Dunedin, Vancouver, San Diego and the ancient Chinese city of Xi’an.

Ms Hinds recalls: “It was recognized that we do not have sister cities in this part of the world. This was before the fall of the Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union.

“We went to Moscow – it was January, and it was frosty, I remember. Then we went to Kiev, met with the mayor, and then there was a signing.

“This happened because Kiev was the same capital as Edinburgh, and there were many similarities between the two cities.”

Edinburgh and Kiev are important historical and cultural centers. Both have World Heritage Sites and are popular destinations for tourists.

The twinning led to exchange visits, school connections and business opportunities.

And some of the young people who suffered from the 1986 accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant near Kiev were brought to Scotland to rest.

Ms Hinds said: “We wanted the sister city in the Soviet Union to cross that border and forge these bonds of friendship, support and teamwork.”

It was also important for the Ukrainian community in Edinburgh. Many Ukrainians came to Scotland after World War II, and Edinburgh has the largest Ukrainian community in the country. And since 1964, there has been a Ukrainian public center in the capital, which brings people together to enjoy Ukrainian holidays, Independence Day and Ukrainian music, dance and poetry.

Ukrainians also erected two memorials on Calton Hill – a plaque commemorating Volodymyr the Great, the first king who brought Christianity to Ukraine, and a memorial stone dedicated to the Holodomor, the Soviet famine of 1932-1933 that claimed millions of lives in Ukraine.

Lord Provost Frank Ross joined the city’s Ukrainian community to celebrate 30 years of Ukraine’s independence in August.

He wrote on Thursday to the mayor of Kiev, pledge Support and solidarity of Edinburgh.

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