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Nearly 6,000 seek to keep statue of Russian America governor in Alaska

Some 2,884 people have signed another petition in favor of removing the monument from Sitka

NEW YORK, July 14. /TASS/. The Coordinating Council of Russian Compatriots of the US has collected 5,956 signatures in favor of an online petition against a proposal to remove a statue to Alexander Baranov, the first governor of Russian America, from the center of Sitka, Alaska, according to the petition’s website.

The monument was built in the historic center of the city, which used to be called Novo-Arkhangelsk until Alaska’s transfer from Russia to the US in 1867 and was the capital of Russian lands. The statue, created by sculptor Joan Bugbee-Jackson, was presented to the municipality in 1989 by one of local families and erected in a park in front of a public center Harrigan Centennial Hall, located oceanfront.

A spokesperson for Sitka’s city council Melissa Henshaw told TASS the authorities would discuss two proposals on July 14. The first proposal is to consider a resolution on removing the monument from the city center to a historic museum of Sitka located in Harrigan Centennial Hall. The second initiative is to discuss the issue on relocating the statue from the center during the vote on October 6, when Sitka is due to hold municipal elections.

Some 2,884 people have signed another petition in favor of removing the monument from Sitka.

A group of citizens earlier suggested pulling down the monument to Baranov in the historic center in Sitka. They addressed a session of the city council on June 23, saying that the statue could insult the feelings of indigenous peoples’ representatives. Sitka Mayor Gary Paxton admitted that one of the options could be preserving the statue of Baranov and erecting another monument to a representative of Tlingit, the indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast of North America. He said it was unlikely that the statue would be sold, including to Art Russe Foundation, which earlier voiced readiness to buy the monument.

Mass protests and riots sparked in many US states following the death of African American George Floyd. He died in hospital after a police officer used a choke hold during his arrest in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on May 25.

Later protesters in some US cities started taking down monuments to historic personalities, including to the leaders of Confederate States of America that united southern slave-owning states during the US Civil War (1861-1865). Moreover, a few statues of Christopher Columbus, an Italian navigator who is known for discovering America, and a statue of first US President George Washington in Portland were pulled down as well.