'We love our city and are confident about its future,' said St. Petersburg Governor Vladimir Yakovlev this morning at the opening ceremony of a conference of St. Petersburg's partner cities entitled 'Preserving the cultural and historical heritage of cities'. Yakovlev said that St. Petersburg currently has 67 partner towns and cities and that after the conference this number will grow to 72. The Ukrainian towns of Lvov, Dnepropetrovsk, Nikolaev and Kharkov are expected to join the list. In addition, on May 24, St. Petersburg is to sign cooperation agreements with Bethlehem, Alexandria (Egypt) and Acaba (Jordan).
Vladimir Yakovlev stressed that St. Petersburg's group of partner towns is 'a friendly community of people of different nationalities who want peace and prosperity.' The governor said that St. Petersburg sees preservation of the city's cultural heritage as a priority in its development. He stressed that around 6,000 city landmarks - 500 palaces and several thousand houses - were under state protection as historic monuments. The governor also said that St. Petersburg stands out due to the diversity of its culture.
Governor Yakovlev called the city's main thoroughfare, Nevsky Prospekt, an example of religious tolerance, noting that 'this street has several Christian churches, and not far from them is one of the most northerly mosques in the world.'
The list of St. Petersburg's partner towns includes Antwerp, Barcelona, Bombay, Cape Town, Genoa, Hamburg, Havana, Istanbul, Kiev, Los Angeles, Manchester, Melbourne, Minsk, Nice, Odessa, Osaka, Paris, Riga, Rio de Janeiro, Shanghai, Tallinn, Thessaloniki, and Yerevan. Representatives of almost all these cities have come to the conference.