Sitka awaits visit from Russian performers

SITKA — A troupe of Russian performers who were set to visit Sitka for the upcoming Alaska Day weekend is unlikely to make it in time for the celebrations.

The group’s coordinator in an email to the Sitka Historical Society Director Hal Spackman said the troupe wouldn’t be interviewed for their visas until Oct. 19, a day after the Russian-themed celebration.

“Our group is ready and gathered in Moscow (some of the singers and famous dancers have canceled their tours) but the Embassy has not issued visas yet,” Alex Chupilkin wrote.

The troupe of performers had several things planned for the event, including horse riding stunts, a monastery choir, a Russian modern circus and opera singers. The group’s tentatively scheduled performance for Thursday night at the Sitka Performing Arts Center was canceled, The Daily Sitka Sentinel reported.

Spackman said despite the visas situation, the group is still looking to make a trip out to Alaska. He’s just not sure when.

“It looks like they still are planning on coming. But at this point, when they get here is another idea,” Spackman said.

Spackman said he has been told by Russia’s Deputy Consul General in Seattle, Khalit Aisin, that he plans to visit Sitka for Alaska Day. Spackman said Aisin is expected to arrive Friday morning.

City Administrator Mark Gorman said the situation reminds him of the 1966 film, “The Russians are Coming, The Russians Are Coming,” which is set during a period of tense relations between the U.S. and the Soviet Union.

“It’s quite intriguing to me,” Gorman said. “Everybody who’s been touched by this thinks it can’t be real. But if it is real it could be wonderful for the community. It’s inspirational and it could be fun.”

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Information from: Daily Sitka (Alaska) Sentinel, http://www.sitkasentinel.com/

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