The leader of Perth and Kinross Council has said Perth’s link with its twin town in Russia has made a “valuable contribution”.
Councillor Ian Miller has defended the local authority’s stance on keeping ties with Pskov after Russia introduced legislation to outlaw so-called homosexual propaganda. Offenders will face a possible fine of up to £10,000.
The Scottish Secular Society (SSS) had asked the council if it would speak out against the “atrocities” in Russia, but a spokesperson for the local authority said there was no reason why the relationship with Pskov should not continue.
Mr Miller yesterday said the council would not be forced into a “knee-jerk” reaction.
He said: “The twinning link with Pskov has made a valuable contribution to the cultural life of Perth and Kinross. The ordinary people of Pskov are not responsible for decisions taken by the Russian government, and we don’t see why our relationship with them should change.
“Of course the council very much values equality and diversity and is concerned about some policies being enacted by the Moscow government.
“However, we will not be forced into a knee-jerk reaction. The council administration is taking a responsible, calm and considered approach.”
However, Councillor Peter Barrett feels the comments provided by the council spokesperson “demonstrate” a “complete lack of understanding” to what is clearly a political issue and moral question.
He said he was “dismayed” by the “crass” and “insensitive” comments.
“Many people may think that there is ample reason to discontinue cultural and civic links with countries which do not respect basic human rights,” he told The Courier.
“It is for democratically elected councillors to assess whether there are sufficient reasons to dissolve twinnings or to take a range of other actions to convey concern about events in Russia, to send strong messages via our twinning channels to Russia and demonstrate solidarity with minority groups.”
He criticised the SNP administration’s role in this response.
“Yet again we witness the political leadership of the council keeping their heads beneath the parapet and ducking out of controversy,” he said.
“They could have sought an all-party response on this matter.The leader of the council, Councillor Ian Miller, needs to act swiftly to put this right.”