Following a call by Equality Illinois last week for Chicago to drop its sister city status with Moscow, the Chair of the Moscow Committee of Chicago Sister Cities International released a statement July 31 saying that it would be wrong to end the relationship.
"As Chair of the Moscow Committee of Chicago Sister Cities International, I share my deepest concerns with those around the world that have shed light on the discriminatory policies of the Russian government toward its LGBT citizens," said Committee Chair Aleksandra Efimova. "…As a person who has lived her life in both the United States and Russia, I firmly believe the best way I can effect change on this situation is to continue to keep relations open between Chicago and Moscow. I feel that ending the sister city relationship with Moscow will only further hurt the LGBT citizens of our sister city by isolating them from places like our own city of Chicago that embrace their rights as individuals."
She added that, "with an open dialogue and connection with Moscow, we are able to bring to them that which has made Chicago so great—respect for all its citizens and tolerance for diversity."
In an editorial in mid-July, Windy City Times called for Chicago to suspend the relationship. Chicago Sister Cities International is now part of World Business Chicago; its honorary chairman is President Barack Obama. The honorary chairman of Chicago Sister Cities is Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who is also the chairman of World Business Chicago. Chicago Sister Cities did not respond to a request for clarification about any specific strategies or timelines by press time.
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