Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) relationship with the former Soviet Union is not a revelation, especially including the fact that he and his wife Jane honeymooned there. But hours of video footage Politico viewed and reported on shows the presidential candidate’s connection to Russia has continued for more than 30 years.
Sanders’ recorded journey begins in 1988 when he and Jane traveled to the city of Yaroslavl.
The mood is festive as the two bestow the items: A Beatles album, a red “Bernie for Burlington” button, “delicious Vermont candy” and a tape of tunes Sanders recorded himself with fellow artists from Vermont, among other goodies.
“I have met many fine mayors in the United States,” Sanders says, “but I want to say that one of the nicest mayors I’ve ever met is the mayor of Yaroslavl.”
At another point, a member of Sanders’ delegation hands a Russian woman a small American flag. “If you’re wondering what’s wrong with capitalism, it’s made in Hong Kong,” he jokes. “Sorry about that.”
Some of the footage has already gone viral after someone who works at Vermont’s Chittenden County Channel 17 posted a few minutes of video online.
“The clip featured a shirtless Sanders and other Americans singing ‘This Land Is Your Land’ to their hosts after relaxing in a sauna. A few minutes later, Sanders doled out the gifts to his Russian friends with a towel wrapped around his waist,” Politico reported.
The video footage also shows Bernie sitting with his U.S. delegation at a table beneath a portrait of Vladimir Lenin, a ruthless dictator responsible for the deaths of millions of his people.
Politico reported Sanders’ goal was to develop a “sister city” relationship between Burlington, Vermont, where he was mayor, and Yarolavl, a city on the edge of the Volga River.
“By encouraging citizen-to-citizen exchanges — of young people, artists and musicians, business people, public officials, and just plain ordinary citizens,” Sanders said in a speech, “we can break down the barriers and stereotypes which exist between the Soviet Union and the United States.”
“The video also paints a fuller picture of why Sanders ventured to the land of America’s No. 1 enemy in the midst of the Cold War, the anti-war idealism that fueled his journey, and what he found when he got there,” Politico reported, which said Sanders was worried about the nuclear war between the U.S. and Russia.
The news outlet reported the video includes images of “shrines to Lenin” and shows scenes of the poverty in Russia, including people waiting in food lines and shabby housing.
Over the years, the exchange program has included “mayors, business people, firefighters, jazz musicians, youth orchestras, mural painters, high school students, medical students, nurses, librarians, and the Yaroslavl Torpedoes ice hockey team,” according to Burlington’s city government.”
“A delegation traveled there as recently as 2016,” according to Politico.
You can view videos of Sanders’ local television programs here.
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