The Gainesville / Novorossiisk Sister City Program was founded in 1982 when the Gainesville City Commission unanimously resolved to invite the people of Novorossiisk to begin a “long standing friendship and association” with the city of Gainesville.
The resolution was hand-delivered to Novorossisk, where it was enthusiastically received by city officials. Thus began the first U.S. / Soviet sister city relationship initiated at the community level, without the help of national governments.
Since then, numerous delegations from Gainesville have visited Novorossiisk, led by mayors David Coffey, Jim Painter, Tom McKnew, Cynthia Chestnut, Bruce Delaney, Courtland Collier, Mac McEachern and Jean Chalmers, and Alachua County School Board Chair Barbara Gallant. The delegates have always been warmly received in private homes and in tours of industries, schools, hospitals, recreational facilities and other social institutions.
Exchanges of children’s art, dancers, musicians, photo exhibits and videotapes have been successfully completed, and a PBS documentary, “Ask Your Sister City To Dance,” filmed during one of the visits to Novorossiisk, was broadcast throughout Florida.
The Gainesville / Novorossiisk Sister City Program has been internationally recognized for its pioneering “citizen diplomacy” in establishing relations between American and Russian cities.
Novorossiisk (also spelled Novorossiysk) is a city in southern Russia, the main Russian port on the Black Sea, in Krasnodar Krai. It is one of the few cities honoured with the Soviet title of the Hero City. Population: 281,400 (2005 est.); 246,900 (2004 est.); 232,079 (2002 Census).
Novorossiysk was founded in 1838 as a base for the Black Sea Fleet and replaced the Turkish fortress of Sujuk-Qale or Soğucak, which had commanded the site since 1722. From August 26, 1918 until March 27, 1920 it was the principal centre of Denikin’s White Army. In 1942, the town was occupied by the Wehrmacht, but a small unit of Soviet sailors defended one part of the town for 225 days, until it was liberated by the Red Army on September 16, 1943. Heroic defense by the Soviet sailors retained possession of the city’s bay, which prevented the Germans from using the port for supply shipments. Novorossiysk was awarded the title Hero City in 1973.