On 19 July 2004, the Latvian delegation finished its visit of Magadan, a city in the far North East of Russia. The delegation, headed by Normans Penke, Latvia-s Ambassador to the Russian Federation, included Kristine Vagnere, Head of the Secretariat of the Minister for Special Assignments for Society Integration Affairs, and Elita Gavele, First Secretary of the Latvian Embassy in Russia.
The visit coincided with the tenth anniversary of the Magadan Latvian Society, founded in August 1994, and the celebration of 65th anniversary of the city of Magadan.
The Latvian delegation met with the Governor of the Magadan Oblast, Deputy Governor dealing with issues of nationality policy, Mayor of the City of Magadan and the Head of the Culture Board of the Magadan Oblast. Heads of the Magadan administration expressed a wish to find a sister city in Latvia, despite the difficulties presented by the enormous distance between Magadan and Latvia.
One of the topics discussed at the meetings - some of them took place in the Magadan Latvian Society - was funding for the Latvian Culture Week, which the Latvian Society plans to hold from 19 to 24 December 2004. The Magadan officials affirmed their continuing support of this event and the activities of the Latvian Society.
Although the Latvian Society in Magadan is small, its members expressed their hope that a teacher of Latvian could come to teach the Latvian language both to children and adults in Magadan and that the expenses would be covered from Latvia's state budget.
Head of the Culture Board of the Magadan Oblast proposed to hold in Magadan an exhibition of works by Latvian artists and in Latvia an exhibition of works by artists from Magadan; this could become the beginning of a regular cooperation between Latvia and this distant region of Russia.
In all official meetings, the Latvian delegation repeatedly heard compliments about the Magadan Latvian Society and its active participation in the local cultural life and all festivals and celebrations held in the city and oblast. In particular, the local authorities praised Andrejs Ozols, head of the Latvian Society, for his personal contribution and active work. The Magadan administration received information about projects, sponsored by the Latvian Society Integration Fund, to assist the Magadan Latvian Society; one of the projects will provide help for the organisation of the Latvian culture week.
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