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    Amid Controversy, Florida to Celebrate Russian Heritage

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    While several cities in Florida are being asked to suspend their “sister city” relationships with Russian cities in protest of Russia’s law banning the promotion of “non-traditional” relationships to minors, that’s not stopping the state from moving ahead with plans for its first ever Florida Russian Heritage Month.

    WASHINGTON, October 7 (RIA Novosti) – While several cities in Florida are being asked to suspend their “sister city” relationships with Russian cities in protest of Russia’s law banning the promotion of “non-traditional” relationships to minors, that’s not stopping the state from moving ahead with plans for its first ever Florida Russian Heritage Month, a local news website has reported.

    Scheduled to take place in the state capital of Tallahassee in January, Florida Russian Heritage Month is the brainchild of Eman Vovsi, a Russian immigrant who works as an analyst for the Florida Department of State database.

    Organizers hope Russian Heritage Month will showcase Russian culture and promote Russian-American peer-to-peer relations. Vovsi said he wants to honor Russian contributions to the state, but also explore deeper issues, wfsu.com reported.

    "I don’t want to sound like—I don’t know—a beauty contest star or anything like that, but that's seriously what we’re talking about: how to make our world better, how to live happy, how to raise families and children, how to cooperate, not to confront," he told the website.

    The planned celebration in Tallahassee will take place amid controversy surrounding the city’s ongoing “sister city” relationship with Krasnodar.

    The gay rights group Equality Florida sent letters to the governments of Tallahassee, Sarasota, Orlando, St. Petersburg and Gainesville, asking them to suspend their “sister city” relationships with Russian cities over the new law banning the promotion of “non-traditional” relationships to minors, wfsu.com reported in August.

    Tallahassee city officials have been considering the matter and say they are close to a decision, wfsu.com reported Friday.

    Critics say the law is part of a much wider crackdown on Russia’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. Proponents of the new law argue it is aimed at protecting children.

    Planned events for Russian Heritage Month include movie screenings, Russian cooking lessons and a possible roundtable discussion on Russia-United States relations.

    Work by Natalia Andreeva, a Florida- based artist originally from Novosibirsk will be on display at the Museum of Florida History, wfsu.com reported.

     

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