Bernie Sanders Has More Questions To Answer Regarding Soviet Influence

( – A new report shows that Russia once had big influence over Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.

According to a report that the New York Times reviewed, Sanders was used as a pawn by Soviet officials when he was mayor of Burlington, Vermont. In the 1980s, while serving in that position, Sanders tried to establish a sister-city relationship with Yaroslavl, Russia.

Sanders wasn’t alone in doing so. Many other mayors were attempting to establish similar relationships with Soviet cities as a way to deescalate a potential nuclear conflict during the tense Cold War. But Soviet officials apparently weren’t in it for the right reasons, and they attempted to use the relationship with Bernie and Vermont as propaganda to “reveal American imperialism as the main source of the danger of war.”

Not surprisingly, Sanders’ campaign backed his decision as mayor, when they were asked by the Times to comment. A spokesman for his campaign said:

“Mayor Sanders was proud to join dozens of American cities in seeking to end the Cold War through a Sister Cities program that was encouraged by President Reagan himself. The exchange between Burlington and Yaroslavl, which continues to this day, confirmed Sanders’s long held view: by meeting face to face, we can break down the barriers and stereotypes that exist between people and their governments.”

Soviet Foreign Ministry documents that were given to officials in Yaroslavl pointed out the Kremlin loved the idea of the program for alternate reasons:

“One of the most useful channels, in practice, for actively carrying out information-propaganda efforts has proved to be sister-city contact.”


“When carrying out propaganda measures abroad, the forms and methods of the information-propaganda work and its concrete contents must be approved by the Soviet Embassy and take into account the Soviet Union’s relationship with the given country.”

Sanders went to Yaroslavl in 1988 along with a delegation of people, and he was impressed by what he saw. Following his return, he told reporters back in Burlington that he “didn’t notice much deprivation.” He then wrote to the Soviet Embassy located in Washington to say how he’d like to start the sister-city program. He wrote:

“It is my strong belief that if our planet is going to survive, and if we are going to be able to convert the hundreds of billions of dollars that both the United States and the Soviet Union are now wasting on weapons of destruction into areas of productive human development, there is going to have to be a significant increase in citizen-to-citizen contact.”

This is not the first time that Sanders, a socialist, has had to face criticisms about his backing of the Soviet Union or their allies. He was bashed by many in his own party about comments he made about former Cuban dictator Fidel Castro. Now, Sanders will face even more criticism about his political views based on his past experiences, at a time when he saw his once big lead in the Democratic primary slip away to Joe Biden.