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Narva-Ivangorod bridge – Russia on the left and Estonia on the right. Photo: Kärt  Ulman/VES


IVANGOROD, Russia — Little divides the Russian town of Ivangorod and its Estonian twin, Narva, but a fairly narrow river. That, and a vast cultural chasm, writes The New York Times on November 10, 2017.


If any more proof were needed, it came when the European Union decided to give the two Russian-speaking towns money to build promenades on each side of the river, with the idea of promoting cross-border harmony and tourism.


When the work was done Narva, which got about $830,000, had a promenade almost eight times as long as the one built in Ivangorod, which received nearly $1.2 million.


What accounts for the difference? Topographic challenges, say Ivangorod officials. Systemic problems, say those in Narva — and probably a little corruption, as well.


“It is a different world over there,” said Sergei Stepanov, the former longtime editor of Narvskaya Gazeta, a Russianlanguage newspaper in Narva. “You see and feel the difference as soon as you cross the bridge across the river — the roads, the bureaucracy, the mentality.”


Viktor Karpenko, Ivangorod’s mayor and a former officer in the Federal Security Service, or the F.S.B., Russia’s domestic security service, said the difference was because of the difficult terrain and legal restrictions on the Russian side of the river — not corruption.


“On our side, everything was a lot more complicated than over there,” Mr.  Karpenko said.


Read the whole article online:


A version of this article appeard in print on November 10, 2017, on Page A4 of  the New York edition with the headline: From Shared History, A Cultural Divide.


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