Mo i Rana cuts ties with Petrozavodsk over mayor who left for the war

The former mayor of the Karelian capital is fighting in Ukraine in the Akhmat battalion, which is accused of war crimes.
October 22, 2023


The Norwegian city of Mo i Rana has terminated its sister city ties with Petrozavodsk, the capital of the Russian region of Karelia. The decision was taken at an October 17 meeting of the city council, local daily Rana Blad reports.

City council members voted unanimously to end the sister-city relationship. The reason was that the former mayor of the Karelian capital, Vladimir Lyubarsky, went to fight in Ukraine in the summer. He joined the Akhmat battalion, which is essentially the personal army of Chechnya’s head, Ramzan Kadyrov.

Vladimir Lyubarsky. Photo from his personal page on VKontakte

“Following the news in the media that the mayor of Petrozavodsk has enlisted in the controversial Akhmat battalion, a Chechen army unit suspected of being behind several war crimes in Ukraine and in Chechnya, the municipality of Rana ends its friendship agreement with Petrozavodsk with immediate effect,” council’s decision reads. Reporters note that it was adopted without any discussion.

The Akhmat unit, which Lyubarsky joined, has been fighting in Ukraine since the beginning of the full-scale invasion. Its fighters have been accused of kidnappings, torture, and murder. In 2022, a video appeared on the Internet where Russian soldiers torture, castrate and kill a Ukrainian prisoner of war. A journalistic investigation established that Akhmat fighters were involved in this. In August 2022, Ukraine’s Security Service, the SBU, reported that the commander of the Akhmat special squad was suspected of mass murders. And on June 17, a video of an interrogation of a Russian prisoner of war appeared online, where he talks about how “Kadyrov’s men” raped women and children.



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