Cross-border cooperation is important, says Marina Kovtun, Governor of Murmansk, in Northwestern Russia. But only with “constructively tuned” representatives of the West.
Only three days after her meeting with top representatives of neighboring Norwegian region of Troms, the Governor of Murmansk went to Moscow to take part in a Foreign Ministry session on cross-border cooperation.
There was a rapid shift of attitude. While Kovtun after her meeting with Troms County leader Willy Ørnebakk in a tweet underlined that the Norwegian region is a “strategic partner” and that cooperation between the regions is “efficient”, she in Moscow lashed out against the neighboring West.
According Kovtun, her speech in Moscow addressed the need to resist “falsification of historical facts” and the “russophobic” policy of the West.
“In the meeting in the Council of Russian Regional Leaders at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, I spoke about the protection of Russian interests abroad [and] counteraction against falsification of historical facts under the conditions of russophobic Western policies”, a tweet from the Governor reads.
Bolstering pro-Russian sentiment
The regional Murmansk government later issued a note which says that the participants in the meeting had underlined the importance of inter-regional cooperation and dialogue. However not with everyone, but only with the “representatives of the Western community who are constructively tuned towards Russia.”
The meeting in Moscow was chaired by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who underlined that Russians living abroad should be more included in the inter-regional cooperation and that they can play a crucial role in countering falsification of history.
Efforts to enhance the role of patriotism and war history in cross-border cooperation with neighboring Norway and Finland are from before being enrooted in regional policy. In a Murmansk government session late 2017, regional Minister of Economic Development Elena Tikhonova made clear that regional municipalities with cross-border friendship relations with towns abroad are to promote “objective historical and accurate information about Russia, including its role in the victory over nazism.”
A Coordinated Council on Development on International and External Economic Relations will follow up the work, the regional government informed. Instrumental in the work will be the Shield Foundation (“Fond Shchit”), Minister Tikhonova confirmed. The foundation was established in 2007 and has an objective “to help military servicemen in special units, disabled and families of soldiers killed in local wards and military conflicts”, the organization’s website reads.
Related stories from around the North:
Canada: NATO wants to keep the Arctic an area of low tensions, Radio Canada International
Finland: Russia-Finland trade gains momentum after years of decline, The Independent Barents Observer
Norway: Sanction-hit Northerners place hopes in Norway-Russia business talks, The Independent Barents Observer
Russia: Murmansk Governor Marina Kovtun loses ground in international affairs, The Independent Barents Observer
Sweden: Should Gov be able to call on Finns if Sweden attacked?, Radio Sweden
United States: American fighter jets intercept Russian bombers outside Alaska, Alaska Public Media