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Anti-Soviet Group Protests Costa Mesa Sister City Plan, Gains Council Support

Times Staff Writer

David Balsiger, an evangelical Christian writer who formed the Ban the Soviets Coalition before the 1984 Olympics, is leading a protest against a proposed sister city link between Costa Mesa and Melitopol, a Soviet city 200 miles north of the Black Sea.

“We’re opposed to the sister city project because of the Soviet Union’s human rights record and their terroristic adventurism throughout the world,” Balsiger said Monday.

Balsiger’s coalition, Restore a More Benevolent Order Coalition, and other groups demonstrated Monday night at Costa Mesa City Hall before the council considered the proposal.

After discussing the issue, council members voted 5 to 0 in favor of establishing a sister city program. But they later voted 3 to 0, with two abstentions, against considering any Soviet city in the program.

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Called a Propaganda Tool

Balsiger said defectors have told him that the Soviet government uses sister city programs as “propaganda.” Because U.S. citizens’ contacts are limited to government-selected spokesmen, sister city programs are more people-to-government or government-to-government programs than the people-to-people exchanges they purport to be, he said.

In 1984, Balsiger’s group captured attention with efforts to keep the Soviets out of the Los Angeles Olympics.

Also joining him in opposing the Soviet sister city relationship were several members of Young Americans for Freedom (who threatened to campaign against those who voted for a Soviet sister city), the Baltic American Freedom League, Californians for a Strong America, and Americans for Freedom Inc.

The sister city proposal arose in conjunction with efforts of a soccer team to travel and play in Russia, said Jan Kausen, 34, a homemaker who is spearheading the proposal on behalf of the team of 15 boys. The team, which includes Kausen’s son, is planning a trip to the Soviet Union a year from now through the New York-based Citizens Exchange Council.

In trying to find a Soviet city, Kausen attended a conference of Sister Cities International in May in Seattle. There, she met Eugene Kovalenko, a Soviet immigrant and resident of Long Beach who is attempting to establish a sister city relationship between his city and one in the Soviet Union.

Kausen said she chose Melitopol because Kovalenko has relatives in Costa Mesa who also immigrated from the manufacturing city.


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