This weekend Oxford experienced numerous protests in solidarity with Ukraine against the Russian invasion. Over 4000 km away in Perm, Oxford’s twin city in Russia, protests have also broken out. People there have also spoken in support of Ukraine.
Karen Hewitt is the chairman of the Oxford Perm Association. She is also a professor at Oxford University and an honorary Professor at Perm State University. She has revealed the Association’s stand against the invasion: “Appalled at Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine.”
In Perm, members of the Oxford Perm Association have also been in protest, “Supporting [the Ukrainians] in their outrage and grief.” These protests have joined the call, “Not in My Name” (taken from Boris Johnson’s statement “I do not believe this war is in your name.”) Similar protests have been taking place across Russia.
Oxford made its first contact with Perm in 1989, founding voluntary links in 1991. The two cities have been officially twinned since 1995.
Links between the two cities are not restricted to the university. Participants involved in this connection span to Oxford City, Oxfordshire County, Sobell House Hospice as well as to Perm City administration, Perm Hospice and Perm-Oxford Organization.
Perm is Europe’s most easterly city. It is located 900 miles east of Moscow. On the outskirts of the Ural Mountains, it is surrounded by forests and the Kama River runs through it. With 1.2 million inhabitants, it is Russia’s sixth largest city. In addition, it is a key Russian centre of art and culture. Of particular, note it has three universities, the famous Tchaikovsky Opera and Ballet Theatre and the renowned Perm Museum of Contemporary Art.
The Oxford-Perm connection has usually been limited to social and cultural exchange. The Oxford Perm Association organizes events between Russia and England. For example the association has hosted group exchanges between Oxford University and Perm State University. In addition, volunteers have run events such as dancing, sports tournaments, art displays and journalism conferences across all ages.
This encouragement of cross-cultural exchange and interest is key in raising awareness and support. The society was quick to comment and express their stance on the current war in Ukraine. Standing in solidarity with those in Perm is critical to the association strengthening and maintaining their strong ties to this city and its inhabitants.
Image: A. Savin via Wikimedia Commons