Transcript: Mayor Eric Adams hosts a reception for the Russian-speaking American community

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May 19, 2022

Video available at: https://youtu.be/-g83k_Q1IyM

Commissioner Fred Kreizman, Mayor’s Community Affairs Unit: Hi. [Speaking in Russian]. Truly a pleasure to welcome you to the 20th anniversary of the Russian-speaking American heritage event at the Gracie Mansion. This is an opportunity to celebrate the diversity of New York’s Russian-speaking community. As proud Carpathians whose family immigrated from the former Soviet Union, they came to New York, which was and continues to be a beacon for immigrants from around the world. I am proud that our mayor recognizes this community as it is the third immigrant language spoken in New York. Whether you come from Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, Moldova, Azerbaijan. Whether you’re Bukharan, Uzbek or Gorsky, we’re all proud New Yorkers. Thanks.

Commissioner Kreizman: It is a community that has contributed in all areas of the arts, journalism, medicine, law, engineering, politics and all sectors. This community values ​​law enforcement and the importance of education. The mayor is proud to have members of this community in the administration like Anastasia Yaskova at CAU helped organize this event, Kazimir Vilenchik, a Belarusian who is also the first Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Buildings, your CAU Commissioner, and Ed Mermelstein, the commissioner of the mayor’s office for international affairs. At this point, I call on Commissioner Mermelstein to come on stage and make a remark. Thanks.

Commissioner Edward Mermelstein, Mayor’s Office of International Affairs: Thank you, commissioner. I am very honored to be here, especially because it is the 20th anniversary of this celebration in Gracie. Like all of you, New York City has given me so much, and I look forward to returning the city to the role of Commissioner for International Affairs and doing the daily work of connecting our great city to the world. I am a proud Ukrainian-American and especially a proud New Yorker. My family and I came to the United States as refugees. I was a little boy and the city and the countryside opened their doors to us. We found a community, and we were able to – sorry – and we were able to rebuild our lives and pursue our dreams. I was reminded today how lucky we are to live in this great, great city, New York, the greatest city in the world. And given that we are in the greatest city in the world, we deserve the greatest mayor. So I would like to introduce him to you, the 110th mayor of New York, Eric Adams.

Mayor Eric Adams: Thank you very much, Ed, and thank you all for coming today as we truly elevate our Russian-speaking community. As Ed shared his story, we also shared the story of so many others. I want, before speaking, to introduce my partners to the government. Both have their own stories of coming here and enjoying the prosperity of this great country and this great city. First, my good friend, Councilman Ari Kagan. Ari.

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Mayor Adams: And another incredible councilor with an incredible story, an incredible journey, Councilor Mercedes Narcisse from the 46th arrondissement.

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Mayor Adams: Thanks. Thanks. So why are we here? Why are we doing this? I want you to tell me which band I’m talking about. Come to America. Sometimes we leave a family member at home, take any job to support your family, go to school, open a business, work hard to enjoy the American Dream. When I define these characteristics, it will be difficult for you to tell which immigrant group I am talking about because that is the path we have all followed. This is the path we have all taken. It doesn’t matter whether you speak Russian, whether you speak Haitian Creole, whether you speak Chinese Mandarin, whether you come from South America, Central America or overseas, you come to this country because that it is a country of opportunity and possibilities.

Mayor Adams: But as the counselor said, there is something unique about this country. It is one of the only countries where you are asked not to abandon your homeland. We want you to bring your culture, your experience here, and be part of the American experience because it’s the dash between our names that’s our secret weapon, that dash, African American dash, Haitian American dash, dash Russian-speaking American, Uzbekistan, all the dashes that come together, we can never lose these dashes. So you contribute to this greatness of this country by bringing your culture, your language, your dance, your food. Everything you bring makes this country great. So it doesn’t matter if it’s Borough Park, Brighton Beach, Queens, wherever you go, the Russian-speaking community has made this city great.

Mayor Adams: We are here on the lawn of Gracie Mansion to say that the mansion we call New York was built by you and these other immigrant groups that have come to this country, every immigrant group that contributes to the greatness of this town. It doesn’t matter who you are, we all come from somewhere. We all come from somewhere. So like I say all the time, if anyone ever tells you to go back to your country, you tell them you will when they go back to theirs because we all come from somewhere. This is what America is. It’s a combination of coming from somewhere to make it a place where we can raise healthy children and families.

Mayor Adams: My message to you, let’s all be united in supporting our police. Let’s send a message across this town. Public safety is the prerequisite for prosperity and we can have public safety in justice. Our officers put themselves in danger. They water the tree of freedom and security with their blood every day so that we can sit in the shade and not face the scorching sun of violence. It is our obligation and our responsibility. In your newspapers, take advertisements in favor of the police. On billboards, take announcements. On your radio, talk about it. Wherever we go, we say three things, we support the police. This is what we do. So as we deal with violence across the water, we know of conflicts that are taking place on the international stage, taking place on the streets of our city. We are so diverse. We come from all over the world.

Mayor Adams: There’s nothing that can happen on a global scale that won’t impact New York City. Our thoughts are with our Ukrainian brothers and sisters. Many will come here to New York. That is why we have allocated 2 million dollars to help those who are here that we are going to receive them and those who come. We are used to offering our welcome to those fleeing violence and tyranny and this is not going to stop. It’s a city where we know we have to display the humanity that defines us as a city. So today I thank all my Russian-speaking brothers and sisters for celebrating this day. Oleg, I’ll take Russian water. There is plenty to eat. Enjoy each other. Enjoy the view and again, on behalf of Gracie Mansion and the City of New York, we appreciate you. We thank you. Let’s continue to elevate our city. Thanks a lot.

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