Volgograd Place opened in the British Coventry

On the 9th of November, the Russian flag fluttered in the sky above Coventry City Hall – on that day, the new infrastructure object called Volgograd Place was inaugurated in the city. Timed to coincide with the 75th anniversary of the first twinning relations (established between Volgograd and Coventry themselves), the event was dedicated to the Remembrance Day annually celebrated in Great Britain.

Let us be reminded that the first friendship agreement concluded in 1944 between the Soviet Stalingrad and the British Coventry laid the foundations for the international twinning movement and became the starting point of Volgograd’s activities as the Center of People’s Diplomacy. Today, 75 years later, Volgograd has more than 40 twin and partner-cities all over the world with which it sustains continuous friendly relations and cooperation in culture, sport, education and economics.

Coventry, our first twin-town ever, has always stood out in this regard. In 1944, they raised money for Stalingrad and sent it to the ruined city along with the Coventry Tablecloth bearing the embroidered names of 830 British women and the words “Better a small help than a lot of pity.” The tablecloth is currently preserved in the “Stalingrad Battle” panorama museum. In 2009, on the occasion of the 65th anniversary of the twinning relations between our cities, Volgograd artisans, in their turn, prepared a Stalingrad Tablecloth and sent it to the residents of the British city as the return gift, which is now stored in Coventry Cathedral.

Within the frame of the celebrations dedicated to the 75th anniversary of our friendship, a joint concert by Russian and British musicians, singers and dancers was held in the Albany Theater in Coventry in the end of October. Volgograd was represented by the well-renowned “Volzhanochka” Children Folk Dance ensemble and the opera singer Yana Besiadynskaya, Coventry – by the students of Maria Dunham’s ballet school. Volgograd residents, too, could enjoy the performance via a teleconference and say hello to the people from their twin-town. Altogether, the event in question united more than 500 participants from both sides.

No later than in the end of October, the Right Worshipful Lord Mayor of Coventry Cllr Linda Bigham visited Volgograd and took part in the 6th “Dialogue on the Volga” International Forum of People’s Diplomacy.

And now, Volgograd Place has opened in Coventry city center. The Acting Chair of Volgograd City Council Mr. Vladlen Kolesnikov, who represented our city on the official inauguration ceremony, pointed out that Volgograd and Coventry’s joint projects have united several hundreds of Volgograd people – school and university students, artists, officers of Center of People’s Diplomacy. Because the moving force behind the cementing of friendship between our cities and countries – both 75 years ago and today – have always been the people themselves.

“And I would like to sincerely thank all those who made this possible: the City of Coventry, the Russian Embassy in the United Kingdom, and all the civic community of your city,” said the Council’s Spokesman. “This day is yet another proof that the friendship between our cities is continuing to grow and develop, and that we have ahead a whole lot of projects carried out together in a variety of spheres.

Yet another ceremony timed to coincide with the anniversary of twinning between Volgograd and Coventry, was the ceremony of assigning to Volgograd the Coventry Award of Merit .

Remarkably, this is the first occasion that this award is assigned by Coventry citizens to a city as a whole. Traditionally, the Award of Merit is given to separate persons for achieving outstanding results in various spheres and their high ideals of citizenship.

Photos: www.markradfordphotography.co.uk

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