A New York Times expose into Bernie Sanders’ late 80s’ efforts to chum up to the Soviet Union is downplayed by his campaign.
In the late 1980s life-long socialist Bernie Sanders—who was Mayor of Burlington, Vermont at the time—worked with Russian counterparts to establish a “sister city” in the Soviet Union.
Unknown to him at the time, reported the New York Times last week, was the fact that “his desire for friendship meshed with the efforts of Soviet officials in Moscow to ‘reveal American imperialism as the main source of the danger of war.'”
The Times’ report explains how Sanders, who Burlington’s mayor during the time of Perestroika, worked hard to establish ties with the Soviet city of Yaroslavl.
When, in 1988, a Sanders-led Burlington delegation to Yaroslavl was not enough to convince Moscow to allow the two cities to become “sister cities,” Bernie Sanders “offered glowing reviews in public and ratcheted up his lobbying effort in private.”
“Throughout their negotiations with Burlington City Hall,” reports the New York Times, “Yaroslavl officials were coordinating their messaging with Soviet officials in Moscow.”
Despite the evidence that Sanders was a seemingly-willing tool of the Soviets’ propaganda machine, the Sanders campaign has tried to downplay it.
“Mayor Sanders was proud to join dozens of American cities in seeking to end the Cold War through a Sister Cities program that was encouraged by President Reagan himself,” a Sanders campaign spokesman, Mike Casca, said in a statement. “The exchange between Burlington and Yaroslavl, which continues to this day, confirmed Sanders’s long held view: by meeting face to face, we can break down the barriers and stereotypes that exist between people and their governments.”
The Times article goes on to explain that, in July 1988, when Moscow approved the Yaroslavl-Burlington sister city pact, “Sanders sent an electronic message to a Soviet cosmonaut, Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space and the head of the Union of Soviet Societies for Friendship and Cultural Contacts, thanking her for ‘expediting this process.’”