Iliyana Nedkova

12 June 2020. The National Day of Russia. It was exactly a year ago when the Friends of Pskov new website was ‘inaugurated’. To mark the occasion, together with Friends of Pskov’s fellow member Alexander Miller, I attended the Reception at Edinburgh’s Merchants House hosted by the Consul General of the Russian Federation, the Deputy Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament and one of the Arctic Convoy veterans.

A year later, amidst the global COVID-19 pandemic, the invitation to celebrate Russia Day came over a video conferencing platform. It was an invitation to join another official inauguration. The new Russia – UK Twin Cities Foundation, initiated by Olga Lawson from the Friends of Volgograd Association in Coventry officially came into being. This is an initiative no longer telling a tale of just one pair of twin cities, of Coventry and Stalingrad (now Volgograd) who invented the concept. This is the foundation set up to connect us all. To mark the occasion, together with Meg Luckins – one of the founding members of the Friends of Pskov Association, I attended the Russia Day Forum facilitated by Olga. A Zoom room packed with others like us who have strong and long-standing links with Russia including Plymouth and Novorossisk, Canterbury and Vladimir, Exeter and Yaroslavl, as well as Coventry and Volgograd.

Meg and I were pleased to share how our link between Perth and Pskov had started and developed over the years to even include Tartu – Pskov’s twin city in Estonia. How our plans for a Twin Cites Festival on 4 December 2020 in Perth were fast changing in the pandemic lockdown. It was encouraging to hear that all attending the Russia–UK Twin Cities Foundation Forum would be keen to join us whatever shape our twin cites festival celebrating the 30th anniversary of the signing of the twinning agreement between Perth and Pskov would eventually take.

Of particular interest was the general view that all the links need the support of young people and it was fitting that we heard from young Oleg in Volgograd about his experience of the twinning – and how very hot it was in Volgograd that day! A great opportunity to get together and we hope it will be possible to continue to keep in touch while allowing for the next generation of twin cities ambassadors to emerge! We were also pleased to celebrate Russia Day 2020 with publishing an exclusive story here from Pskov’s own Daniil reminiscing about his visit of Perth when he was a young child.