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With the collapse of the Soviet Union as a Communistic Nation in 1991, Rotary International was well prepared to introduce the benefits of Rotary to the Russian people and to the satellite countries who gained their independence from the Soviet Union. The ultimate administrative responsibility for the extension of Rotary in Russia east of the Ural Mountains was vested in the District Governor, District 5010. During the Far West Rotary Institute held in Anchorage, Alaska in the fall of 1996, PP and PDG Robert Deibler attended a "Rotary in Russia" workshop conducted by Rotarians and school children from Russia, which exposed the attendees to a bit of Russian Philosophy and culture and stimulated them to learn more about the Rotary International Extension Movement in Russia.

Chartering of Rotary Clubs in Russia go through three stages; first a friendship club is organized to ascertain if there is sufficient interest and enthusiasm to form a service club; second; if the friendship club shows promise, sponsoring clubs are solicited and the endeavor progresses to the prospective Rotary club stage. Training of the officers and board members and the indoctrination of the prospective Rotary members in the fundamental mission and objectives of Rotary then takes place. The third stage is chartering of the new club by Rotary International.

Upon returning from the Institute in Anchorage, Alaska Rotarian Deibler learned that a matching grant project that had been budgeted with a district in India appeared to be dead. Consequently, he proposed to the club's board that funds for this project be reprogrammed and slated for the Rotary Club of Pearl Harbor to be the first club in District 5000 to get behind Rotary International's drive in extending Rotary in Russia. The board approved reprogramming the funds for this purpose and the wheels were set in motion to find a suitable club to co-sponsor. Because of the cost involved in sponsoring a new club in Russia and the requirement for sponsoring clubs to financially assist newly chartered clubs until they could become self sufficient - a period of two to three years, it was decided that the Pearl Harbor Club would join with other interested clubs in our zone in this endeavor. The D5010 extension committee was contacted and advised that the Pearl Harbor Club was interested in joining a consortium of clubs to sponsor a new club in Eastern Russia - one, hopefully, being considered that was located in a port area similar to Pearl Harbor. The committee advised that they had just what we were looking for - four clubs in D5110 (Oregon), the Rotary Clubs of Medford, Ashland, Ashland Lithia Springs and Bear Creek Valley, were in the preliminary stages of forming a prospective club in Petropavlovsk, Kamchatka, Russia and would welcome the support of the Pearl Harbor Club.

Petropavlovsk, a city with a population of some 250,000 people and named after the Russian explorers Peter and Paul, is located on the east coast of Kamchatka Peninsula facing the Aleutian Island Chain across the Bering Sea. This is a land of 26 active volcanoes, rapid rivers, blue water lakes and very rich in mineral deposits. Because the area was considered a frontier and was strategically located, immigration was closely controlled as were resource development and exploitation. Kachatka being a close neighbor to Alaska, enjoys a distinct similarity in native cultures, terrain and natural resources.

Petropavlovsk is home to the major deep water port on the Russian Pacific coast - about four times the size of the Pearl Harbor port. It is the home of the Russian Pacific Submarine Force and, as such, has similar military interests with that of Pearl Harbor, being home to the U. S. Pacific Submarine Force and thus ideal location for our club to sponsor a new club. With the "cold war" now at an end, this provided an opportunity for two potential enemies to unite in the true spirit and object of Rotary - to promote peace and world understanding through the fellowship of Rotary and to build a bridge of friendship between our two military communities.

A group consisting of PDG Robert Deibler (D5000). PDG Steve Yoshida (D5010) and DG Lloyd Morris (D5010) together with three other Rotarians from the consortium arrived in Petropavlovsk on June 27, 1997 to conduct an extensive two day training and indoctrination program to prepare this new club to be chartered. The charter ceremony for the Rotary Club of Avachinsky was held the evening of June 28, 1997. Prior to the ceremony the visiting Rotarians were shown an area that was being made into a Rotary Park. A Rotary Wheel monument was unveiled and each member of the team planted a fir tree as a token of Rotary friendship. The charter ceremony was held in the meeting room of the Regional Library. It included a banquet prepared by the club members, numerous musical entertainments. Speeches, presentation of the charter and presentation of gifts. The Pearl Harbor club presented the new club fifty small club banners printed in Russian. The Charter President of the Rotary Club of Avachinsky, Tatiana Dikova, was most pleased with this gift as no other Rotary Club in Kamchatka had the small visitation banners and she made a big show out of presenting a banner to two Russian club presidents attending the ceremony. Letters of congratulations from Governor Cayatano, Mayor Harris and President John Doty welcoming the new club into the world of Rotary were then read by PDG Deibler and presented to President Dikova.. She was most pleased with the comment in President Doty's letter that he had studied Russian in school. Being a career military officer in the Navy during the "cold war," PDG Deibler was pleasantly surprised when the band played the Star Spangled Banner during the charter ceremony.

When it became apparent that the Rotary Club of Avachinsky was a viable and successful entity of Rotary International, the members of the Pearl Harbor Rotary Club voted to enter into a sister club affiliation. The sister club agreement was consumated on the 28th day of March, 2001 being signed by President Jerry Lomaka of the Pearl Harbor Club and President Zena Ponomareva of the Avachinsky Club.

Last Modified: 20040606.1339 HST
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