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Putin at the IX St. Petersburg International Cultural Forum Plenary Session
The session was held inside the Hermitage Museum, one of the most spectacular buildings on the planet inside and out, and a most appropriate venue to hold a forum on culture which is where it’s been previously held. The event is put forth under the auspices of United Cultures, with participants from over 70 countries, which as it describes:
is a forum that assembles representatives of many diverse cultures and nationalities. Amid a new, rapidly changing world, this event is going to become a place to talk over the most pressing social and cultural issues, as well as a platform where new ideas and projects are brought into life.
This is the second time I’ve documented this event as I translated Putin’s appearance at last year’s event. Given current world events, the nature of this will provide a needed respite. Putin always seems to enjoy these sorts of interactions as do the participants who are all very creative people. And away we go:
Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, dear friends! Ladies and gentlemen,
I am very glad to welcome you to St. Petersburg. It is symbolic that this city traditionally hosts the international cultural forum, because our Northern capital is a unique example of mutual enrichment of Russian and other world cultures.
St. Petersburg was created by outstanding architects from various countries. Here is a concentration of brilliant achievements of great writers, musicians, scientists, actors, thinkers in the broadest sense of the word, whose work has become an integral part of the cultural heritage of our entire planet.
St. Petersburg is also one of the visible embodiments of the very global responsiveness of the Russian people, the Russian soul, which Fyodor Dostoevsky also wrote about, the ability to comprehend, accept and develop all the best, not to emphasize differences, but to find common ground, to rise to the height of mutual spiritual enrichment and go forward together. Such principles have always been close to Russia and our people – a country-civilization that carefully preserves the languages and traditions of all its peoples and represents a unique unity of many original cultures.
The experience of our country's thousand-year history convincingly shows that cultural diversity is the greatest good, and the interaction of cultures is one of the conditions for stable and peaceful development, because among the main reasons for the current tension in the world are the claims of individual forces to exclusivity, including cultural exclusivity, their disregard for other customs, spiritual values, etc. the desire to subject everyone and everything to unification, and according to their own template, which they consider the best and most universal. Such vulgar globalization and cultural expansion have resulted in the suppression and impoverishment of cultures, and have multiplied the potential for conflict many times over.
We are convinced that the future lies in the free, multi-linear and diverse development of cultures, in the broadest dialogue of humanitarian communities in the multipolar world that is being born today. As I understand it, the current Forum of United Cultures is also intended to be a part of such a dialogue. We believe in the desire of creative, enlightened people to build a just, sustainable and secure world. We believe that this is a sincere desire to improve the situation in the world. Peace in all the meanings that this word has in Russian: peace as consent, peace as society, peace as all of humanity, the whole planet.
I know that the forum participants have prepared a rich program for themselves, and one of the key topics of discussion was the knowledge of history through culture. It should be noted, and this is an obvious thing, that archives, documentary evidence of events, primary sources today seem to be accessible to everyone-well, first of all, not to everyone, and secondly, and they are mostly worked with by specialists, professionals. Most people draw their knowledge about the past from books, movies, theater, painting, music, and the truth about history, about the most difficult pages of the past, is certainly given by masterpieces of world culture – Russian, European, American, Chinese, Indian, Arabic and many others.
However, for those who are engaged in falsifying history – and such, unfortunately, have always been enough at crucial moments in history – genuine art is, as they say, a bone in the throat. It prevents these people from distorting the past in favor of the present, their ideological or, as we often see, gender constructs, prevents them from setting people against each other. That's why liars fabricate fakes in movies, journalism, and literature.
At the same time, everything that does not fit into their historical forgeries is simply crossed out. Entire strata of the history and art of Western Europe, Asia, Africa, and Latin America are being silenced, as if nothing ever happened, and they have been trying to cancel our culture in general lately. I say "they are trying", because by definition, we understand that this is impossible, but nevertheless they are canceling a culture based on true freedom and charity, love for people, and spirituality. The policy of abolishing Russia itself is inherently anti-cultural, neo-colonial, and racist in nature.
But the truth is that with this notorious cancellation, as well as with the anti-Russian so-called sanctions, the authors of these ideas, as they say, did not go well from the very beginning. One of the many examples of this is the huge interest in, say, the Tchaikovsky Competition. Its online audience exceeded 50 million people. In the modern world, it is impossible to cancel such things, simply impossible. It's strange that people who try to do this don't understand it. By the way, out of these 50 million people, more than half are Europeans who don't want anyone to decide for them what music to listen to, what to watch, and what to read.
Despite all the prohibitions and sanctions, art still knows no boundaries. This has always been the case, this is the case, and this will certainly be the case, especially in our time of rapid technological progress, which creates enormous opportunities, but, of course, also creates new risks. We must calculate the consequences of these fundamental, tectonic processes, advances in genetics, quantum mechanics, artificial intelligence technologies, and other innovative areas.
As far as I understand, this issue has also become a topic of the current forum, and this is certainly logical: only culture can ensure safety and reasonableness of innovation implementation. It, culture, is the most natural ethical regulator of technological progress. The forum organizers suggest considering it as the basis of social development and humanism. As a carrier of the national identity, traditions and faith of our fathers, it serves as a guarantee of preserving our spiritual roots. This is extremely important both for the individual and for the country as a whole: it protects us from everything that is alluvial, momentary, gives us stability in any challenges, and serves as a moral guide that allows us to remain human in the most difficult conditions.
The whole world was shocked by the news that the legendary ancient Arc de Triomphe in Palmyra, Syria, was destroyed by terrorists, and for us the very word "Palmyra" is also a symbol. I would like to draw your attention to the fact that the Russian part of the audience knows this very well, and I will tell our friends and guests from abroad – the fact is that from time to time the city in which we are located is also called Northern Palmyra – Saint Petersburg. During the blockade, the Nazi barbarians and their satellites also tried to destroy it.
In 2016, after the liberation of Syrian Palmyra, our specialists from the Institute of the History of Material Culture took urgent measures to save the monument: they examined the ruins of the arch, recorded every fragment, created a unique project for the restoration of this UNESCO World Heritage Site, and will soon start implementing it together with their Syrian colleagues.
The responsibility for preserving the world heritage and traditional values of Russia and our people is deeply realized. It is in our national character to be not indifferent to the pain of others and to strive for justice, as well as to preserve our common heritage – I am now referring to the Russian language. It was and remains the language of interethnic communication of hundreds of millions of people around the world. This is confirmed by the initiative of the President of Kazakhstan Mr. Tokayev to establish an International Organization for the Russian Language. The proposal was certainly supported by Russia and our colleagues - leaders of the CIS countries, but there is no doubt that the number of members of this organization will grow.
Next year, Russia will preside over two international associations at once – BRICS and the CIS. A large cultural program is planned. We also look forward to increasing cultural and humanitarian cooperation with the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, ASEAN, and leading regional associations in Africa and Latin America.
At the state level, we pay close attention to culture. Significant funds are being spent on its development, and we certainly do not plan to reduce it. On the contrary, we will look for additional reserves, support creative figures and organizations, programs for the protection of monuments and the development of historical cities, and launch unique projects based on digital solutions. For example, such as the existing Pushkin map. This cultural and educational program for young people provides an opportunity for every Russian citizen aged 14 to 22 to visit museums, theaters, concert halls, and other cultural institutions at the state's expense. And such public education programs not only open up the arts to young people, to young people, but also promote the principles of equality and social justice.
Domestic entrepreneurs also play a creative role in the development of culture. They are engaged in preserving the cultural heritage of the peoples of Russia, opening new creative spaces, including on the site of former industrial zones, replenishing the collections of our museums and libraries with the most valuable artifacts and doing this at the behest of the heart. Such a mission deserves the deepest appreciation.
The process of entrepreneurs ' participation in cultural development is supranational and unifying, which means that there will be more and more initiatives of business, Russian development institutions, the Eurasec, BRICS, and SCO economies, there is no doubt about it, and the topic of so-called business culture and patronage will become, I hope, a traditional item on the forum's agenda.
I would like to emphasize that Russia is committed to working closely with all those who share our values of peace, friendship and mutual respect, and who are ready to take part in shaping a modern multipolar world based on civilizational and cultural diversity.
Preserving the identity of peoples, equal rights and opportunities for all States is the key to the successful development of humanity. And the Forum of United Cultures, its discussions and ideas are designed to help achieve these goals. Attracting more and more reputable and young artists, teachers, scientists, entrepreneurs and patrons of art, it can become a permanent platform for making important decisions in the humanitarian sphere. Of course, Russia is ready to provide such work.
Thank you so much for being here, for being with us. Thank you for your attention.
Mikhail Shvydkoi: Thank you very much, Mr President, for your comprehensive and serious presentation.
After the applause, the meeting can be considered over, but the people who have gathered here have a lot of questions.
During the discussions (there were nine sessions) that took place yesterday and today, we discussed – as you mentioned – the relationship between culture and business ( was a moderator), theater, music, museum affairs, artificial intelligence, cinema.
The discussions were sharp. Today, under the leadership of the chairman of the organizing committee Tatyana Golikova, we summed up the results. Nevertheless, it was clear, as Mikhail Solomonovich Gusman said today, that we did not quarrel during these discussions and we need to continue. Here is such a continuation, perhaps, and there is.
I will allow myself to usurp the rights of the host somewhat and ask the first question.
All these discussions have shown that today culture in a multipolar world, a changing world, really has many problems. It is essentially re-mastering the world.
Nevertheless, quite often there were words about whether it was on time. The world is full of tensions, uncertainties, military conflicts, different regions of the planet are quite tense and many things are happening, as they say, in an acute phase.
Is it appropriate to talk about culture at this time? There is an old saying: "When the guns speak, the muses are silent." Your position?
Vladimir Putin: First, I think this is a paraphrased expression of Cicero: "When the guns are fired, the laws are silent."
Mikhail Shvydkoi: It would be better if the muses were silent.
Vladimir Putin: In the original,in my opinion, so. But it doesn't matter.
The important thing is that just at such moments, in my opinion, it is extremely important what you do. It is culture and sports that are the vehicles of mutual understanding, without which it is very difficult, and sometimes simply impossible, to end conflicts. Therefore, your mission is highly sought-after and noble, for which I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart. That's the first thing.
Who will build the bridges? The military can hardly do this, and politicians have mutual grievances, mutual resentments, ambitions, and a struggle for their own political future-there is always a struggle and a fight. Only cultural figures who are smart think about the future, and they build bridges.
This is the mission of culture, as well as, by the way, the mission of sports. And those who neglect this or want to block and burn the last bridges are people who are narrow-minded and uncultured, so to speak. They don't understand the mission of culture at all.
Mikhail Shvydkoi: Thank you very much.
Vladimir Putin: No, that's not all.
Mikhail Shvydkoi: I'm sorry.
Vladimir Putin: In addition, when major acute conflicts arise, when there is a struggle for justice, even with such complex tools as armed struggle, when such moments arise, they very often push creative people to create works of art that will remain for centuries.
Let's take Shostakovich. When the city of Leningrad was under siege, Shostakovich's Seventh Symphony was born, which raised people, and was broadcast to the forefront of besieged Leningrad. Or when athletes played football in besieged Leningrad, this was also broadcast to the front line. You see, it was such an upsurge among the people, among the people, who instilled faith in victory. Or did Tvardovsky write his own wonderful poems: "The left bank, the right bank. The snow is rough, the edge of ice." It's hard: you still get goosebumps when you read it.
Or Lermontov's Borodino . It seems to me that you can wake up any person of my generation – everyone remembers, everyone knows: "Tell me, uncle, it's not for nothing that Moscow, burned down by fire...".
At such crucial moments in history, outstanding works of art are born. I very much hope that we will see this in our days as well.
Mikhail Shvydkoi: Thank you very much.
In besieged Leningrad, there was even a Musical Comedy Theater – this was recalled by [director] Herman Jr. in the recent film "Air". People went there to get a boost of energy, a boost of faith in victory.
You mentioned in your speech what we have done for Syria's Palmyra. Of course, this topic is still on the agenda, but problems remain.
We are located in the Hermitage Museum, whose director has done a great deal to ensure that this project is implemented – Mikhail Borisovich Piotrovsky.
Mikhail Piotrovsky: Thank you very much for mentioning Palmyra. Less than ten years ago, here in this hall, we first talked about it, talked to you. We see many results – Palmyra has been liberated, and we are now ready for the project of restoring the Arc de Triomphe. I really hope that it will start soon. I have a separate letter to you about this.
But there is also a more general thing here. This amazing project, which is recognized even by UNESCO, is built on two things – the experience of our Soviet, Russian rescue archeology and artificial intelligence, which we discussed a lot. Without it, it would have been impossible to build this project.
The question is this. Are we ready – because this requires a lot of support from states here and there – to extend this experience, perhaps, to other territories of the Middle East, where it is also in demand? This includes Iraq, Palestine, and Israel. Monuments there need protection. Can we continue this further, or is it still so?
Vladimir Putin: First of all, I would like to thank you, a world-renowned scientist, and all your colleagues for taking up Palmyra at the request of the Russian Government, going there and studying it on the spot. It seems to me that our scientists, our museum workers acted absolutely at the call of their hearts, fearlessly, and this deserves the warm applause of the audience. Thank you very much.
I'll just remind you – some people know, some don't-that the team gathered and went to Palmyra, Syria, where the fighting was still going on. They left, and there on this place just shooting started. So it was clear that people were actually risking their lives. By the way, I think you made the layout and handed it over to me, right?
Mikhail Piotrovsky: Yes, a computer mock-up was handed over.
Vladimir Putin: Yes. A large, good layout was created, modern, computer-generated, and sent to Syria.
Of course, we need to start such a big work, and we will support it. We will do it, we will work. This is the first one.
Second, as for other hot spots. Of course, we need to create conditions for this work. If we talk about Palestine and the Gaza Strip, what kind of work is currently being done there? I'm not going to give any political characteristics right now, everyone has their own opinion, but terrible things are happening there. Now, I am sure, there are no conditions for working there.
In Iraq, you can probably work in some regions. It is necessary, of course, to conduct appropriate training with the local authorities. We can do it, talk about it, and our colleagues will surely support us.
Mikhail Shvydkoi: Thank you very much.
Thank you, Mikhail Borisovich. Indeed, this is an outstanding project that has been heard all over the world.
Vladimir Vladimirovich, I will sometimes just say right away-not sycophancy, but naked, as they say, naked truth-after your visit to Kazakhstan, my Kazakh colleagues began to say that in Russia they began to write better about Kazakhstan, and in Kazakhstan they began to write better about Russia. It's true.
The new Minister of Culture and Information of Kazakhstan Aida Galymovna Balayeva is present here.
A. Balaeva: Dear Vladimir Vladimirovich,
First of all, let me thank you for the sincere and warm welcome you have given us on the hospitable land of Russia.
As we are discussing the development of culture these days, we should also mention the creative industry, which is closely linked to culture and new technologies. Of course, this is dictated by the economy and the market.
Nevertheless, I have this question: do we risk losing the sacred meaning of culture in conditions when all spheres are being modernized? Here we are also talking about classical culture.
Vladimir Putin: In other words, can modern technologies replace what culture does?
A. Balayeva: In a sense, yes. Today we see that there is almost a symbiosis, when classical theater productions are staged in a new way, or there is a symbiosis of theater and circus. Is there such a threat that we will lose classical culture?
Vladimir Putin: You know, once, when the cinema appeared, they said: everything, the theater is dead. But he's not dead, he's developing.
Real culture will never die. As long as there is a person with his heart and soul, there will be culture, and everything else can create new opportunities, this is true.
A. Balaeva: Thank you.
Vladimir Putin: In the field of music-electronic music. Probably, you can use and use.
I was talking about sports. Now we will hold new competitions ["Games of the Future"] that combine both classic sports and esports. Probably, modern technological achievements also create some new opportunities in the cultural sphere. But these are opportunities based on creativity, and these are the foundations of culture.
Mikhail Shvydkoi: Thank you very much.
Vladimir Vladimirovich, you have said, and it is well known, that Russia will preside over the BRICS next year.
The recent BRICS summit, where your speech was listened to with great attention, was held in Johannesburg, South Africa. Then we met with Zizi Kodwa, the Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture, which is the ministry that unites sports, arts and culture. Mr. Kodwa is here.
Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture of South Africa [South Africa] Zizi Kodva. Please welcome.
:(as translated)З.Kodva Thank you very much, Mr. President. Let me thank you for drawing attention to the role of culture as a bridge-building tool for peace. I think this is very important.
In the face of today's challenges, it is clear that the main issue is justice, especially in the context of the dilution of the unipolar world. With every passing second and hour, we see the erosion of this old world order.
As for the context of the global North and global South, one of the opportunities and opportunities for achieving justice is to build a multipolar world. How do you see it?
Vladimir Putin: Fair. You said that everything is going to increase the level of justice.
I have already said this: in my opinion, this is not an empty phraseology. After all, the wealth that so many countries have, especially in Europe, and the United States, of course, was largely based on the injustices of the past world and the past world order, on colonialism, on slavery. The technological advantages that a part of humanity gained at a certain point were used not justly, but in order to consolidate their dominance. This attempt persists to this day. This is the whole point of what is happening, if we discard some important, but still secondary things. This is the essence of what is happening.
You've hit the nail on the head: make the world a fairer place. One way is multipolarity. What should the world be like? This is a world where the interests of all countries and peoples are taken into account. They are not just taken into account, but are arranged in such a way as to balance interests.
I won't go into a number of current events right now, otherwise I'll talk about some of them until morning, but this is the point – to make the world more balanced and take into account each other's interests.
This is exactly what we are trying to do, say, in BRICS. I want to go back to how the last summit was held. I was surprised to see him being led by the President of South Africa, Mr. Ramaphosa. I'll tell you why with surprise. One of the main topics was the expansion of BRICS. There were different approaches, different points of view: to do it in general, to expand the organization, not to expand, how to do it, and so on. He probably returned to this topic 50 times, although the summit participants, having different positions, went in one direction, then in another. He very carefully, intelligently and very diplomatically all the time brought everyone back to the "center of the field". In the end, we solved this problem.
This is a very good example of how it is possible and necessary, without imposing any point of view, to seek a compromise and achieve it. This is how the BRICS organization as a whole is built, which is not some kind of bloc, especially a military one, but creates conditions for achieving mutual understanding. This is the way to go, and this is how we will continue to work, including in the framework of the BRICS, whose chairmanship will be transferred to us from January next year.
Mikhail Shvydkoi: Mr President, may I ask you a clarifying question? For me personally, this is still a mystery. When there are five BRICS countries, it is possible to reach some kind of compromise, to hear every voice; but when there are eleven, and then 20 more are in line, how can this be done? How to hear everyone's voice and take into account everyone's interests?
Vladimir Putin: This is difficult, but it is necessary to strive for it. There is simply no other way to reach a compromise. And the other way is well known to us-proclaiming the exclusivity of someone in relation to others, dividing people into the first and second class, as meat is meat of the first class, second class. This should not be the case in human society. It's not natural.
Mikhail Shvydkoi: Thank you very much.
You just said: "We need to hear everyone." This year we are celebrating 125 years since the foundation of the Moscow Art Theater. Stanislavsky has one wonderful commandment: "When you go on stage, you must play someone else." Probably, to hear all this – there is also high politics in this, too.
Konstantin Khabensky. I wanted to give him my word, and he asked for it. Due to the fact that Aida Galymovna Balayeva performed: the Chekhov Moscow Art Theater performed in Kazakhstan this year, including at Baikonur, with great success.
Konstantin Khabensky: Dear Vladimir Vladimirovich, Dear colleagues, good evening!
Yes, today I represent the Anton Pavlovich Chekhov Moscow Art Theater. It was founded exactly 125 years ago. As you all know, together with the birth of this theater, a rather powerful cultural revolution took place in the theater world almost all over the world.
Today, the Moscow Art Theater is the place where the traditions of the Russian psychological theater are carefully treated. I will not be modest: we are not just careful, we also practice this story every night on stage. This is a place where charity takes quite serious positions. We tell our audience about the charity projects supported by the actors of the Art Theater troupe. This is the place where there is a constant creative search. This is the place where we look for new names of directors, playwrights, and artists. In a word, this is the place where, just like 125 years ago, people who are not indifferent to business and life gathered.
I would like to thank you very much for supporting our idea of celebrating the 125th anniversary. It is thanks to your support and the Government that we were able to implement almost one hundred percent of the plans that we announced a year earlier – these are premieres and broadcast cycles.
This is also a great friendship with Roscosmos: we went into orbit, Oleg Kononenko and Nikolai Chub said hello, congratulated us, and now, perhaps, they are watching a performance of the Art Theater in video format. This is also the metro: we went there with a branded train, so that those people who do not have the opportunity to visit the theater can feel a little involved in the world of the Moscow Art Theater, its history, and so on.
This is, of course, a tour, including international tours. (Addressed to the Minister of Culture and Information of Kazakhstan A. Balayeva.) We visited and showed you the school of Russian drama theater, which cannot be replaced by any technology. You can improve it, but you can't replace it.
We are preparing a tour to Japan in the spring, to China. Now I have met a representative from Brazil, and we have already started talking about a tour to Brazil. The last time we were there was probably 20 years ago – with Oleg Pavlovich [Tabakov].
But the Moscow Art Theater, with all the turbulent life that now exists there – is only a small part. Of course, it is iconic and significant in a large cultural space.
The question is as follows. What do you think, how do you see or how would you like to see projects or ways of development – I won't talk about the theater now, it's a rather small structure, I'll talk about Russian culture in a multipolar world – how would you like to see it?
Vladimir Putin: You know, in this audience I can only speak as an ordinary citizen – I'm not a theater-goer, not a cultural critic. I would like to see the culture of Russia as a significant part, naturally interwoven into the world culture, continue to develop on its own basis – I am now saying directly what comes to mind-and at the same time choose the best that is in the world culture. To multiply in this way and go forward, in some ways showing our leadership, and in some ways understanding that our partners are reaching special heights, which is quite natural, I would be guided quite consciously, without any embarrassment, by these best achievements of world culture. So that the national Russian culture develops in this symbiosis, bearing in mind that it itself is, in fact, multi-faceted and multinational. This is the depth of its roots - I would, of course, rely primarily on these roots, but I would look and go forward. Something like this.
Kirill Khabensky: Thank you.
Mikhail Shvydkoi: Mr President, please tell me. Next year we will preside over BRICS and the CIS: in your opinion, what projects in the cultural sphere can attract interest in the year of our chairmanship in these two organizations?
Vladimir Putin: I can't recall the specific names of these projects right now, but this part of cooperation in the humanitarian and cultural spheres is always in the focus of all our CIS partners.
Especially what is the CIS: these are parts of the former Soviet Union. We have lived together for hundreds of years under the roof of the same house. So many destinies are intertwined, so many cultural principles, so much knowledge in the field of culture, in the field of folk art, so many admirers and lovers of creativity of various peoples of the former Soviet Union have been preserved on the territory of the Russian Federation and in other CIS countries, because native speakers of this language and culture live there.
We never forget about this and, of course, we will always pay serious attention to it, as well as to our common history. We consider many traditions and cultural roots to be common. I won't mention it now, we have all this in our plans, but if you and your colleagues present in the hall think that you need to pay special attention to something, we will do it. By the way, at the end of December, we traditionally meet in St. Petersburg with our colleagues from the CIS – we will definitely discuss this as well. Therefore, I would like to ask you: please discuss with your colleagues and give us a tip on what you would like to see in our joint work.
Mikhail Shvydkoi: Thank you very much. Indeed, there are many projects, starting with the Eurasian Academy of Cinematography, which Nikita Mikhalkov spoke about, a film academy that would connect us with Chinese cinematography; including a version of a large television project of popular music. In short, there is a lot of everything.
Emir Kusturica has always been one of these enthusiasts of relations with Russian culture.
Emir, as long as I've said something about cinema, I'll give you the floor.
Elena Kusturica: Thank you.
20 years ago, globalists promised us that there would be cultural "retail". Finally, it turned out to be a sexy "retail". From this "retail" they made a cult that says: if you want to win an Oscar, then [in the film] you need to make quotas – for transgender people, homosexuals and others. They want it to be the same in the crews as well.
What happened to the movie? The film changed its shape. If 20 years ago a typical film had an authentic language, [now] the language, like everything else, has changed.
The language of cinema is now the language of advertising. I think that the future belongs to Russian films. I came to Russia and will do [the film adaptation of the book] "Lavr" by Vodolazkin and I will do Dostoevsky. This will be how I think and feel about your culture.
I think that the funds should make an original Russian cinema. 20 years ago in Moscow it was like in Houston – there were billboards, there were Hollywood movies.
Russian, Soviet films: when I was a student in Prague, I studied Shukshin, read Platonov, and read many books that were never made into films in Russia. I've never seen a film about Shostakovich. You have so many good authors who didn't exist in the cinema.
I think that Russian culture will be in Russian sources. I'll do two [films] myself. I am very happy, I can say it here. I think that the future lies in originality and in the fact that the abolition of Russian culture in the West is impossible.
Vladimir Putin: Thank you very much for your creative work, for addressing Russian culture, and for your plans related to it. It's very nice. I'm sure it will be very interesting. We will all wait for the results, because everything Kusturica touches becomes a diamond.
Thank you very much.
As for the first part, yes, indeed, we see that in all sorts of competitions in Western countries, in order to win something, you need to either tell, write, or show from the life of sexual minorities, transgender people and some other transformers-a lot of all sorts of names.
But I would like to say something unexpected. And they, too, these topics and these people, have the right to win, show, tell, because this is also part of society. This is also what people live by. It's bad if they only win all sorts of contests, that's not necessary. But this is a desire for equality, which, in my opinion, was mentioned by the Minister of Culture of the Republic of South Africa. It, this equality, should be everywhere, in everything, including in competitions in the field of culture.
Mikhail Shvydkoi: Finally, we have come out on the most important topic, and everyone in this hall immediately became animated. Since we are in the Balkans, I would like Wenco Andonowski to say a few words. This is a wonderful Yugoslav, North Macedonian writer, who recently won the Yasnaya Polyana Award.
Venko asked me to speak Macedonian, so the translation will not be synchronous, it will just be translated into the microphone.
:(as translated)V.Andonowski Dear Vladimir Vladimirovich,
My question is prompted by some concern over the recent reckless diplomatic actions of the country from which I came, the current Republic of North Macedonia, towards the Russian Federation.
These unpleasant diplomatic events occurred just as my novel The Navel of Light, translated by Olga Pankina, was shortlisted for the prestigious Yasnaya Polyana International Literary Award.
To be honest, I never expected that I would have a chance to receive this prestigious award, but it turned out that the great Russian culture, without which world literature is impossible, functions as an autonomous cultural organism. And my assumption that I wouldn't get the reward was just dismantled.
I am very glad that I am here now, at this important international cultural forum. I am very glad that Russian culture is independent, autonomous and exists without any revanchism.
Judging by what we see and talk about here, we can say that we all believe that cultural unification of the world is possible.
My question is: what is the role of the Slavic countries in this global unification of cultures?
And the second very short question: if you were a writer, on what topic would you write a novel now and what would it be called?
Vladimir Putin: First, as for the event you mentioned. You know, our activities in this area are as depoliticized as possible, indeed.
First of all, I congratulate you on this award.
I hope you won't be angry with me, but this is the first time I've heard about it. This once again underlines that the state has nothing to do with this.
Mikhail Shvydkoi: Mr President, this is for Tolstoy. This is the Yasnaya Polyana Award in Yasnaya Polyana. I have now unwittingly turned in your adviser, but it is true.
Vladimir Putin: He's an adviser, thank God, but he didn't come and ask for any permission. He consulted with his colleagues, it was a collective decision, as far as I understand.
In any case, I don't know anything about it, and this is the first time I've heard of it. I am very happy that this has happened. Once again, I congratulate you on this. This is the first one.
The second one concerns Slavic culture. Here, just as in the case of transgender people and sexual minorities, what I want to say is that you can not stick out anything, you can not behave in any way aggressively towards anyone.
The same goes for Slavic culture. Slavic culture is an integral part of European and world culture, and it is very bright and original. Of course, just like Russian culture, it is impossible to cancel it and pretend that it does not exist.
You don't need to stick anything out. You need to be proud of your achievements, you need not be afraid to cooperate today under the watchful and harsh gaze of some politicians. Because people who are trying to ban this communication, to ban Slavic cultural figures from communicating with each other – I apologize if I hurt the ears of people from the field of culture with something-but they are just idiots, you know, they are just abnormal people who are trying to ban communication between cultural figures among themselves.
Therefore, we need to meet, work together, be proud of our achievements, and look to the future together. Because Slavic culture, of course, has common roots, this is an obvious thing. But do not forget that this is a significant, but only part of the overall huge world culture, and treat your friends and colleagues from other fields of activity from other regions of the world with respect. Like that.
Mikhail Shvydkoi: About the novel.
Vladimir Putin: You know, I think that here, as in politics, there is no subjunctive mood. If it wasn't for... it would have been different, you know. I see that some people understand me, right? (Laughter.)
I'm just afraid of making a mistake in such an audience. Nevertheless, in my opinion, there was a case in history when, in my opinion, Gorky – if I am mistaken, you will forgive me and correct me-came to Tolstoy, and Lev Nikolaevich asked him what he was writing about. He says, " I don't write." "Why?" "Nothing to write about." He says, " Write about why there is nothing to write about." This is a profound thing.
But today there are a lot of topics. No matter how outwardly our life today looks, there are always, at all times, at turning points in history or in stagnant times, there are always eternal themes. And one of them is love.
Mikhail Shvydkoi: After that, you can say: "Everything is exhausted, we have closed the forum."
But if we talk about love, and if we talk about how Russian culture communicates with the world and communicates with world culture in general, I am very glad that the wonderful ballerina Priska Zeisel, who works at the Mikhailovsky Theater, is present here. She's from Austria. She can write a novel about her fate, of course.
P. Zeisel: Hello! I am very happy to be here today.
We have already met in 2019 in Chersonesos at the International Opera and Ballet Festival. I played there again this summer. But because of this performance, I was forced to leave the theater.
But never mind, I'm doing very well here right now. I am grateful that Vladimir Abramovich Kekhman immediately invited me to work at the Mikhailovsky Theater. And thank you very much.
Now my question. Can I ask in German, please?
(As translated.) We know that you revere Peter I and consider him historically one of the most important people, because he "cut a window to Europe". But Europe and Russia are now going through times of conflict.
My question is as follows. What would you like to do with this "window"? Do you think it should be left open or closed? In other words, how do you view relations between Russia and Europe in the future?
Mikhail Shvydkoi: Mr President, since not everyone has headphones, I will briefly say this. The question is: Peter I "cut a window to Europe", in the current conditions, should it be closed back? (To P. Zeisel.) Prisca, thank you.
Vladimir Putin: It would seem that you know when it's blowing, and maybe you can cover it up so you don't catch a cold. But we have good weather, you know.
Only yesterday the Prime Minister reported with pride: Over the past month, our economy has grown by 5.5 percent of GDP. It will be more than 3 per year. We have been carefully saying this all the time: it will be 2.7, 2.5, 2.8 [percent]. Now we confidently say: it will be over 3. Now I will not say, as in European countries, so that it does not look like some kind of conceit and bragging. But we have a lot of problems.
As we said just now, in the field of culture, art, Russian culture – and I understand that you are happy to work at the Mikhailovsky Theater and will continue to work with pleasure, you like it, you probably like the audience, you like the atmosphere, and we will support it in every possible way, we will continue to cultivate it-we don't want to no one to break off relations with. We do not do this, we do not slam anything, do not close any doors, windows, or windows. If someone decides to fence themselves off, it's up to them, they steal from themselves. How can you ban – I have already mentioned the Tchaikovsky Competition-Tchaikovsky, Shostakovich, Glinka? You can take and forbid your citizens to listen, watch, read Dostoevsky, Chekhov. We don't do that.
You said that we have difficult times with Europe. We are facing difficult times with the European elites, who have lost their sense of national identity and, in my opinion, have become so dependent on other countries, especially North America, that it does not allow them to realize the main thing for which their people were elected – to protect the interests of their own countries and peoples. That's the problem. This is the tragedy of Europe today. This is an obvious thing.
Otherwise, how can you calmly look at the fact that, say, laws are being passed in the States that entice entire huge enterprises, almost industries from Europe, which are forced to move and open their production there? How can you agree with this? But my European colleagues agree – as a rule, not all of them do. But those who do not agree are criticized there, to put it mildly, because they do not stand up to some common line.
Therefore, we do not close anything, and we do not have a conflict with the European society, which is more and more aware of the events that are taking place. Therefore, we are not closing anything, and we are not going to close anything. I'm sure time will put everything in its place.
(To P. Zeisel.) I would like to wish you all the best in your work in Russia and in the Mikhailovsky Theater.
Mikhail Shvydkoi: Vladimir Vladimirovich, Vladimir Kekhman is a very strict director. Prisca has to go, she has a play tonight. We'll excuse her, I hope. She has to go get ready for the play.
Vladimir Putin: Of course. Have a nice day."
Mikhail Shvydkoi: In connection with your words, Mr President, this is the question. As you know, the Americans have returned to UNESCO quite successfully. Many hotheads today say that UNESCO has become difficult, a very politicized organization, and we should leave altogether. What is your position on this issue?
Vladimir Putin: Do you want us to leave UNESCO?
Mikhail Shvydkoi: No. There are hotheads who say: "The Americans came to UNESCO, a politicized organization, we have nothing to do there." We left the Council of Europe.
What do you think?
Vladimir Putin: I think there is no such need. What for? This is a platform where people communicate with each other and work. We are also implementing quite serious projects through UNESCO. I don't see any need for that.
Some say that you should leave the UN, as you say. This is nonsense, because Russia is actually the founder of these organizations. What are we going to do to get out of there? The UN and other UN institutions emerged after World War II and recorded the results of World War II.
The situation, of course, is changing, and it has changed in a serious way. New centers of power, new centers of growth are emerging in the world, they have already appeared, and the trends are obvious.
Just recently, for example, the United Kingdom ranked fourth or fifth in the world in terms of economy, and now, in my opinion, the tenth or ninth. This is not because some events are taking place in Russian-Ukrainian relations, not at all. These are objective trends in the development of the world. These are obvious things, you know.
Or Russia has overtaken the Federal Republic of Germany in terms of purchasing power parity. Trends have simply changed dramatically, and they are growing and will continue to change. And in accordance with these trends, in accordance with the changed and changing world, it is necessary, of course, to adapt both international organizations – the UN and all other structures. Yes, this should be done – it is also fair, Africa should be represented there, of course, Latin America, Asia, India, Brazil, South Africa. Of course, all this needs to be done. But I don't think it makes any sense to close them or leave them.
Mikhail Shvydkoi: Thank you very much.
I see hands raised. If you don't mind, next to Dmitry Mezentsev – he takes care of our friend and colleague – the Minister of Culture of Belarus.
Please give me a microphone. These are already absolute improvisations.
Alexey Markevich: Dear Vladimir Vladimirovich,
Russia is not just a neighbor or political partner for Belarus. This is the land and people that connect us with a common historical destiny.
For Belarus, next year is marked by sacred dates: the 80th anniversary of the liberation of Belarus from the Nazi invaders. We will also celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Agreement Of the Union State. These topics will be covered by a unique festival held in Vitebsk – "Slavyansky Bazar", which we have kept together. Let me invite you to this unique event.
Vladimir Putin: Thank you very much. I will try.
I will soon be in Minsk, where we are hosting an event on the sidelines of the CSTO. So I will see Alexander Grigoryevich, and we will definitely discuss this. Thank you very much.
Mikhail Shvydkoi: Since festival invitations have started, I would like to ask our old friend and colleague Mr. Uberoy, president of the Bangkok Dance and Music Festival, to say a few words.
:(as translated)J.S. Uberoi Mr. President! Dear guests, Dear representatives of culture and arts,
My name is Jaspal Singh Uberoi. I am the founder, chairman and sponsor of the Bangkok International Dance and Music Festival.
This year the festival celebrated its 25th anniversary. Over the past 25 years, we have invited more than 40 different companies, more than nine thousand artists from numerous countries around the world, including Russia. Some of these companies and cultural institutions, such as the Mariinsky Theatre, participated.
We had representatives from Moscow, from the Stanislavsky Theater, from the Kremlin Ballet, from orchestras of the Russian regions-Novosibirsk, Ufa, Samara, Yekaterinburg, from the Helikon Opera, which, by the way, will be performing this year. This year we also had the Boris Eifman Ballet Theater.
What Russia does for Thailand is very important: so many Russian troupes perform at our festival. I would say that this really allowed us to raise the standards of music and dance in our country.
Our goal since the beginning of the festival has been to increase the popularity of dance and music in Thailand, as well as strengthen diplomatic relations between Thailand and other countries that participate in the festival.
When it was first formed, we had only one orchestra. Now there are more than 15 of them in the country. Previously, there was no opera in Thailand. The first opera in Thailand to perform was the Novosibirsk Opera. Today we have our own opera house.
This clearly demonstrates that the standards of music and dance have significantly improved and helped in the development of our country. At the same time, it inspired thousands of people. Thus, their efficiency increases in all areas thanks to culture.
We hope that the Bolshoi Theater will be able to perform here next year. We have been negotiating with them for ten months now. We have almost reached an agreement and hope that they will be able to perform next year. They have never performed in Thailand. I think all the people of Thailand are looking forward to this opportunity.
A cultural exchange program between Thailand and Russia will also take place next year. I am sure that many artists from Russia will be able to visit Thailand, and many Thai artists will be able to visit Russia.
I would like to thank all those present who have supported us over the past 25 years. I hope that this support will continue for another 25 years.
Thank you very much.
Vladimir Putin: First of all, I would like to congratulate you on what you are doing and on the results of your activities. These are always significant events in the art world. This is the first one.
Second. You said that you have been negotiating with the Bolshoi Theater for ten months, as I understand it. It could have been completed a month ago. Nevertheless, we have the Minister of Culture here: I would like to ask you to pay attention to this and help your colleagues finish the negotiation process.
Thailand is also called the country of a thousand smiles, in my opinion. You have talked about some improvements in the field of dance and other areas of activity, but apart from Thais, it is probably unlikely that anyone can help improve everything related to Thai culture. She is very original, very beautiful, very kind. Thailand has never been a colony, and this has certainly been reflected in the culture of the Thai people.
As for the relations between Russia and Thailand, these relations have a special character since, in my opinion, Rama V: he came to Russia, and he had very good relations with our Emperor Nicholas II. For several months, I think, he lived here, near St. Petersburg.
Therefore, based on all the best that we have learned from history, we will, of course, move on. Thank you again, and I wish you every success.
Mikhail Shvydkoi: Thank you, Mr President.
Elena Yampolskaya, Chairman of the State Duma Committee on Culture.
Elena Yampolskaya: Dear Vladimir Vladimirovich,
This is not the first time that you have said very important words about the protection of the Russian language from this rostrum, because the Russian language is, of course, both the soul and the foundation of Russian culture.
If I may, I will tell you a story very briefly in this connection. For several years, we have tried to promote initiatives to reduce the Romanization of our environment, to reduce the degree of Anglomania in our everyday life. I mean signs, advertisements, various names, and so on. Not a single agency has supported us over the years. It felt like we were banging our heads against a wall.
But in January of this year, by your Decree, you made changes to the Foundations of the state Cultural Policy, and there among the tasks of supporting and protecting the Russian language there is also such a task-countering the excessive use of foreign vocabulary.
I will tell you honestly, Mr Putin, we have taken this up as a banner. No, the banner is soft. We picked it up like a battering ram, and with that battering ram we hit that wall once more. And-oh, the miracle! she swayed. And colleagues from the Government began to write to us that it is really strange that all our cottage settlements and residential complexes are called exclusively "hills", "fields", "gardens", "forests" and "states". It is really strange that we have 70-80 percent of all signs on the central streets of our cities in Latin script, and we really need a nationally oriented environment.
Thanks to this, three weeks ago we submitted a corresponding bill to the State Duma. It concerns consumer protection, advertising, urban planning, and the media.
I want to assure you that there are no extremes, no absurdities. Naturally, no one talks about banning foreign languages in the same way as about abolishing the best examples of Western culture. It seems to me that Russia is now the only worthy heir to classical European culture in the rest of the world (where it was born, it has long been intolerant).
This bill is not about banning foreign languages at all. This is a bill to restore our native language to the place it deserves to occupy.
There are a lot of foreign guests in this hall. We are now in the city where there were, are and will always be many foreign guests. Of course, we must provide them with a comfortable environment, the ability to understand everything, and easily navigate. But it seems to me that when hosts think exclusively of their guests, forgetting about their language, their ancestors, their history, the first people who will not respect them are the guests themselves.
Vladimir Vladimirovich, I have a request. If possible, please do not ignore the topic of support and protection of the Russian language further. We still have to pass the draft law in three readings, and with your word, it always goes more reliably, we feel more armed.
Thank you for those changes to the Decree. They really helped us break through the wall. I very much hope that with our further efforts we will be able to do this work, and we will live in our native language. I think it's important.
Thank you very much. Please don't leave us alone with this.
Vladimir Putin: Here the ballerina of the Mikhailovsky Theatre now spoke about the "window to Europe" that Tsar Peter used to break through. Since then, almost everything has started. When they hung out boots made abroad, and other samples were put on display – it was probably the right thing to do, we needed such samples and all that. But since then, we have started a struggle between Westernism and soil scientists, and so on.
Unfortunately, we always or often go to some extreme. We always lack pragmatism. We should not hesitate to take all the best that is available, wherever it may be – in the East, in the West, in the North, in the South. At the same time, you should never forget your own roots, rely on traditions – and so, acting pragmatically, achieve maximum results for yourself.
Unfortunately, a lot always depends on the authorities. In the last decade-this is also the result of the authorities ' activity – we have once again begun to display these boots for show, which is the best thing there. It turned out that this is not the case. You just need to react in time. And of course, you need to focus on the best examples of what is in the world, rely on your own base and go forward.
As for culture, history, and traditions, of course, this should always be at the heart of our development.
Of course, we will support your bill. I just don't know the details, but we'll see, okay?
Mikhail Shvydkoi: Thank you, Mr President.
As I understand it, the forum and the Hermitage – two foreign words – remain with all that. Mikhail Borisovich [Piotrovsky] asked for it, I have nothing to do with it.
You said such wonderful words that the budget of culture will not be cut, but will remain as it is.
Vladimir Putin: Over the past ten years, we have increased spending on culture by 20 times.
Mikhail Shvydkoi: I would still like you to talk about the roots of Russian culture.
Kizhi is an indigenous place for Russian culture. I wanted to ask the director [of the Kizhi Museum-Reserve] to say a few words and ask a question, if there is any. Elena Viktorovna Bogdanova.
Elena Bogdanova: Dear Vladimir Vladimirovich,
First of all, let me express my sincere gratitude to you for your special attitude to our unique cultural heritage of our great country.
I can tell this from our example. Most recently, the restoration of the Church of the Transfiguration of the Lord on the island of Kizhi was completed – this is a masterpiece of wooden architecture, which has no analogues in the whole world. Our best restorers in the world were awarded the Government's Cultural Award for the restoration of this object.
Today we continue to work on recreating the icons of the "sky" of the Church of the Transfiguration of the Lord. Unfortunately, they were lost during the Great Patriotic War. Gazprom and Alexey Borisovich Miller personally help us with this. This is just a good example.
In recent years, a huge number of cultural centers, libraries, museums, and theaters have been built, renovated, and modernized in our country. We have just a wonderful, magnificent example – in the Republic of Karelia in the city of Belomorsk, the Museum of the Karelian Front. This is one of the most visited museums now – and, most importantly, by schoolchildren.
Vladimir Vladimirovich, we have such a question. The national project "Culture", which has had a serious impact on the development of artistic creativity, is coming to an end very soon. Is it possible to extend this project for another five years or launch a new one with comparable financial resources, programs and projects?
I am really convinced that Russian culture has long been proven... it was previously said that it can be treated according to the residual principle – this is completely wrong, and it even harms both the state and society.
Thank you so much.
Vladimir Putin: Encouraged to ask a question, right?
Elena Bogdanova: Absolutely not, Mr President. This is sincere and sincere. We are waiting for you on the island of Kizhi. We will show and tell you everything. I just wanted to say it myself.
Vladimir Putin: Well, thank you.
I will try to come to Kizhi. Kizhi, right?
As for the project. It ends, but our lives don't end. Right now,I'm not ready to say directly "from the voice" that we will make a new project or something. But we will certainly work in all these areas related to culture.
Now we have already reached the final stage of work on the budget. If there is a project, if there is no project – we will definitely take into account all the main directions, and we will act under the guidance of the Ministry of Culture.
As you know, we are currently building four large clusters in Kaliningrad, Vladivostok, Kemerovo, and Sevastopol. But this is only one of the ways to raise interest in these regions, to help people who live there, to feel included in the broadest sense of the word in the cultural life of the country, to move our best opportunities for museum activities, theater activities, and musical art there.
I repeat, this is not all that we are going to do. We will work in all areas. How we will "pack" it, we will see, but this is already a matter of technique.
Mikhail Shvydkoi: Thank you very much, Mr President.
I've seen people applauding – museum workers, librarians. Indeed, the national project "Culture" is very important for them. In general, the consolidation of cultural people is also the consolidation of society, of course.
In this regard, I have one question. I was approached by various colleagues, but I have nothing to risk, I am 75 years old, there is practically nothing to risk.
Vladimir Putin: There will still be 76, 77…
Mikhail Shvydkoi: So there is something to risk. I see, I understand. However, they are younger, they have decided that I am not afraid anymore.
Here's the question. It is clear that at the beginning of the special military operation in Ukraine, a number of actors and cultural figures made some emotional statements. Then they all stayed – I am now talking about those people who work in Russia, stayed in Russia and want to work in Russia and connect their fate only with their Homeland, with Russian culture.
Nevertheless, from time to time-even though these people, some of them and even many of them, have been to the Donbas, Luhansk, and new territories-they are still somewhat ostracized. How fair is this? Because it seems to me that we are building a new wonderful culture, a new country, and these people will also be useful to us.
I told you that they were afraid to take risks, so I was entrusted with this matter.
Vladimir Putin: Because we have a cultural forum.
"Drop began to cry that parted with the sea. // Why do we pray to God for forgiveness? // Light and shadow regularly divide the world into parts. // Hardly a drop knows what happiness is." Omar Khayyam.
And now from a different area. "Let's drink to the fact that no matter how high we fly, we would never break away from the team." (Laughter.)
You know, " someone said something." But the head is not only a tool for speaking, but also for thinking before you say something. This is the first one.
But there is a second one. Many people-adults, literate, knowledgeable, talented, of course, go about their business, and, of course, many of them, just like me, come to mind… It didn't occur to me until 2014 that there might be such a conflict between Russia and Ukraine. If I had been told before 2014 that this was possible, I would have said: "Are you out of your mind?"
But I admit that people did not follow, did not understand what was happening. And of course, among other things, everyone has the right to have their own position and point of view. But you need to look, of course, not at what people say, but at what they do.
If this activity is related to causing damage to one's own country and people – and such activities also take place, we see this, fees are transferred somewhere out there, frankly, to the enemy, and so on-then this is one story. If this is just an opinion, a point of view, an assessment of the situation-this is different.
Therefore, there is one more thing that we should certainly take into account – the mood in society and the opinion of the people of the country that we consider our Homeland – or do not consider it. And this is such an objective factor, from which no one can escape anywhere.
Mikhail Shvydkoi: Thank you very much. I think this is a comprehensive answer.
We still have one more question. Now we will move on, perhaps if Mr Putin agrees, to a free conversation, to a completely free discussion, as they say.
But we have one more request for a speech. Yesterday, with his statement, his attitude to Russian culture, Pierre de Gaulle caused a boom in all mass media. He asked me to say a few words today, too.
Give me a microphone, please. And put on your headphones, because Mr. de Gaulle will speak French, and not everyone can speak that language.
:(as translated)P. de Gaulle Mr. President!
It is a great honor for me to address you in your hometown – the cultural capital of Russia.
In the context of the conflict of civilizations that the world is facing today, it is necessary to focus on culture, science, and progress – this is what unites peoples, apart from political interests and outside of these interests. This is what Charles de Gaulle said, he said that the main thing is culture, and that we can always come to Aristotle. Even in the modern world, it is necessary to know the culture and history, and respect religion. This is the only way to concentrate nations in a multipolar world and live in peace and prosperity. I think that's what we want.
But we also want our country to be the most influential. We have a vision, we have the courage. But only together can we work on our common future, create a lasting peace based on common interests and common destinies, so that we can have effective dynamics, positive dynamics around the values of a multipolar world.
I would like to suggest, Mr. President, that BRICS should have a diplomatic representation within the framework of interethnic structures that everyone recognizes. Every country will thus be able to participate in their activities, including the countries of the European Union. Each ambassador will be able to defend the values of multilateral peace and create conditions for resisting the decadence of civilizations.
I personally would like France and Francophonie to join BRICS and contribute to the prosperity of our countries.
Scientific, cultural, historical, trade diplomacy, as well as sports and education will be the instruments of such a policy. The future of our civilizations belongs to the youth. It is necessary to give it a noble, ambitious character of our future.
In the West, it is necessary to reform the education system so that we can preach these values. You need to read, you need to educate yourself. So the prophets said: Read!
It is culture and moral values that need to be preserved, that make a person free. This is what leads to stability, what leads to prosperity for everyone.
Here's what I think about it, these are my suggestions. Mr. President, I would like to know your opinion on this issue.
Thank you very much.
Vladimir Putin: First of all, I would like to thank you for all your efforts aimed at bringing France, and indeed Europe, united with Russia, closer together, and at overcoming the difficulties that we are all facing now. And I would like to sincerely wish you success.
When I address you and say "Monsieur de Gaulle", you know, something is stirring inside me, because it is directly connected with world history and with our history, relations between our countries.
It seems to me that this is such a free interpretation, probably, of what is happening, but nevertheless-it seems to me that what is happening now in Europe… I just said in relation to Russia, we have areas of Westernization and soil-growing, some in one direction, others in the other, but in fact we need to go somewhere in the middle. What's happening in Europe right now, you know what? Something that happened a long time ago. This is the line that Marshal Petain and General de Gaulle represented. It seems that both fought to save France and the French, but in different ways: one-through compromise, and the second - through struggle.
Now, in my opinion, you can treat what I say as you like, but in principle everything is the same. In another edition, of course, these are not the times of the Second World War, but in general, such approaches, the struggle between these two approaches, are at the heart of the events taking place in Europe.
And of course, we are always on the side of the position that was defended and carried out by the undisputed national leader and a person of absolutely global scale, your ancestor, General de Gaulle.
As for France's participation in BRICS – please, if France wishes, it can submit an application, we will consider it, especially since Russia is chairing BRICS next year, as I have already said. We will work on this with all our partners.
Mikhail Shvydkoi: Thank you very much.
We're finishing up. Since we started with museum issues, I would like to see the museum issues also completed.
Here is one of the most amazing people of Chinese culture, director of the Gugong Museum, Deputy Minister of Culture and Tourism of China Wang Xudong. It is not for this audience to tell you, not for me, Vladimir Vladimirovich, what is called, to tell you what kind of relations we have with China.
Wang Xudong, please.
:(as translated)Wang Xudong Thank you, Mr. Moderator, for this opportunity to speak.
Dear Mr. President, It is a great honor for me to come here, to the beautiful city of St. Petersburg, and participate in the International Cultural Forum.
Yesterday I participated in a discussion of museum issues. You also talked a lot about the role of museums in the development of our countries. Our museum houses such artifacts that reflect the history and national culture of our country. We believe that museums can become a very important bridge between countries, as you said, a cultural bridge, because you also said that these are bridges that cannot be destroyed or burned.
Last month, you and President Xi Jinping announced that the years 2024-2025 will be [cross-cutting] Years of culture.
I would like to ask you a question: what are your expectations from the interaction of Russian and Chinese museums in our common cultural interaction?
Vladimir Putin: I'm not going to describe the whole complex of Russian-Chinese relations right now. They are truly unique today and have probably never reached such a high level and quality in the history of our states, I mean the level of trust that has developed between our states. We demonstrate a very high level of cooperation in all the most important areas.
The 200 billion [dollars] of trade turnover that we talked about and aimed at, we will reach this level earlier than planned. This year, we will almost certainly have 200 billion dollars of trade turnover, and we will certainly go further, and at a fairly rapid pace, changing the quality of our interaction.
As for the topic that you have mentioned, there is no doubt that the trust that I have mentioned is at the heart of our success. And it cannot be achieved without direct contact between people, it cannot be achieved only by moving goods across the rivers that divide our state border. This must be done and is being carried out on bridges that have been built between the hearts and souls of people not only over decades, but over centuries of our coexistence together as neighbors. And this is at the heart of all our success. Therefore, the Year of Culture that you mentioned, as well as other events of this kind, are extremely important.
Indeed, the President of the People's Republic of China and I have discussed this issue, both during the negotiation process and face-to-face. We must pay tribute to the fact that the President of the People's Republic of China always pays a lot of attention to issues of culture, education, and sports. This is an extremely important part of our interaction. And I am sure that it will be interesting for millions of people, because our interest is mutual, it is growing.
We see the interest of the Chinese public in Russian culture, and many people – especially veterans-still sing Russian and Soviet songs, and in Russian. We appreciate this very much and believe that it is our common base. But the interest of Russian citizens in Chinese culture, in the ancient and powerful Chinese culture, is also very high. And with the help of such actions, which you mentioned, we will not only support this, this desire for each other, but also develop it.
I would like to express my gratitude to you and hope that all this will be held at the highest level.
Thank you very much.
Mikhail Shvydkoi: Thank you very much.
Vladimir Vladimirovich, we have to complete the project on time. Just one quick question. It is commonly said that politics is the art of the possible. Here, as it were, two words play a role – "art" and "possible". But art always wants the impossible. In general, is politics a creative activity, or is it a pragmatic activity in the proposed circumstances?
Vladimir Putin: I can only say as a layman, probably. Yes, it's true.
Mikhail Shvydkoi: I would like to see more of these ordinary people.
Vladimir Putin: We have more of them than you might think.
First, if I understand my friends who have been working in this field for decades and have achieved very, very significant achievements, they say that even, say, such a type of creativity as music is very closely related to mathematics, because everything needs to be calculated there.
I think that visual art is also based on some objective laws. That is, there are always things in creativity, so to speak, that are based on scientific achievements, on some scientific principles.
But, based on these principles, a creative person, of course, achieves unique results by putting something new into what he does, putting it in such forms that touch the innermost strings of the human soul and the human heart.
Politics also needs to be based on some objective data-not on any data, but on serious objective data, because it is pointless, harmful, and dangerous to plan and do something with kondachka. But even here, of course, you need to have some intuition, be able to feel how relations between countries and people will develop, what will be the development trends in certain areas. That is, of course, there are also elements of some kind of creativity, but still there is more pragmatism here.
Mikhail Shvydkoi: Thank you very much.
Still, we are sure that you are engaged in creative work, perhaps even more than we are. So we will go to the possible, and you will go to the impossible, at least for us.
Vladimir Putin: I'm sorry. Here, a colleague raised his hand repeatedly.
Mikhail Shvydkoi: Introduce yourself. This is a respected publisher from Italy [Sandro Teti], who speaks Russian and has many very interesting publishing projects.
S. Teti: Thank you so much for the opportunity to speak.
I wanted to say that I am a great friend of Russia, but also a patriot of Italy, a patriot of my country. Since I don't have any more opportunities after I started my career – I'm a publisher and a political scientist – I'm not invited anywhere else, and we have the most severe censorship.
I will briefly say this as a patriot of Italy. Why? Because I wanted to ask such a question to our rulers – that you don't have to lie. We do not provide Ukraine only with weapons, we pay 12 million pensions to Ukrainian pensioners every month, we pay all civil servants out of our own pockets, not only Italians, but all people of the European Union. They don't know about it. We now have a new balance of payments.
Vladimir Putin: Budget.
S. Teti: Budget, thank you. There are terrible cuts in health care, culture, and so on. Hide everything, ban all your channels in Russian - although only a few speak Russian, still, rampant Russophobia. I assure you, Mr. President, that the people are one thing, the media and the Government are another.
Such a moment. The great maestro Kusturica spoke about the "Oscar". I want to tell you that our famous [actor and director] Benigni was practically blackmailed when he participated in Hollywood with the film "Life is Beautiful". You probably know that he earned an Oscar. And there they are scandalously liberating Auschwitz, Auschwitz, since we are talking about history, the Americans. It wasn't his own deliberate idea, he was told: listen, either the Americans, or forget about the Oscars in Hollywood altogether. Do you understand how it works?
And a question. Fortunately, we still have a lot of books about the great Russian culture. Chekhov, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Bulgakov-everything. Unfortunately, we completely lack a true historiography of the Great Patriotic War and so on, so the only grants that exist are only about literature.
Please help us, at this crucial moment, to publish just such books about history. And I personally co-authored a book about Soviet partisans. There are more than six thousand of them, thousands who gave their lives for the liberation of Italy.
And I must say that there are other countries like Belarus, Azerbaijan, and Uzbekistan that care about their heroes who fought in our country. And this is also another moment that connects us and for which we should be grateful to you.
Sorry for the "rudeness" that I asked like this.
Vladimir Putin: First of all, I want to say that the topics that you have raised, or you have raised several topics, are very important and relevant. Now they remembered the partisans during the Great Patriotic War, Soviet and Russian partisans. I want to pay tribute to the partisans who fought in Italy, the Italians first of all. That's the first thing.
Secondly, you have just mentioned the bans that you face in Europe, in Italy. Yes, we have already talked about this many times. At one time, Vysotsky used to sing: "One thing was banned, even a military parade was banned, soon everything will be banned, to hell with it." You'll soon have everything banned there, that's understandable. But it is not clear why. Because it does not bring any benefit to the people of the countries where these bans occur.
You asked if we know how to do this? As a former KGB officer, I know how this is done, but we don't do it.
As for the individual things you just mentioned. I will not comment on this, because what you have said is already enough, no comments are needed.
As for supporting the preparation of the materials you mentioned, and maybe even working with the archives, of course, we will do it. I will ask our host, and he is not a stranger to us, he works in the [Presidential] Administration. So of course we'll try, okay?
You are welcome.
R. D. Flores Arsila: Dear Vladimir Vladimirovich,
I am a representative from Colombia, an unofficial representative, although I am the chairman of the Leo Tolstoy Institute, which will turn 80 next year. Being here, I realized that in St. Petersburg I was not in a "window to Europe – - [this is] not a "window to Europe", but a "window to the world". This is what the United Cultures Forum gives me.
And allow me, Mr. President, to make my point from Colombia, from the culture of Colombia and Latin America. Three minutes.
In Colombia and Latin America, Russian classics have been known since the second half of the 19th century. Questions such as self-responsibility in the complex tension of growing individualism and centuries-old Christian values, personal fate and the fate of the Fatherland, the meaning of the native language as the most unique cultural and spiritual means for creating and transmitting national identity-these deep questions raised by Russian classics have found a sympathetic response among Spanish-speaking readers in Colombia and Latin America.
This is about the responsiveness of Russian literature and the Russian soul, which you mentioned at the beginning of your speech
The true image of Russia in all its diversity then, as now, appears in the hearts and imaginations of Colombian and Latin American readers thanks to the exciting beauty and deep meanings of Russian classical literature.
Colombian writer Garcia Marquez, who won the popular love of Russia with his novel "One Hundred Years of Solitude", when asked what place "War and Peace" occupies in his list of masterpieces of world literature, answered: Tolstoy is out of competition.
Dear President of Russia Vladimir Vladimirovich,
Taking advantage of this prestigious St. Petersburg cultural forum, I suggest that relevant Russian institutions digitize works of Russian classics translated from Russian into Spanish by the Moscow publishing house Progress in the 70s and 80s of the XX century for universal access to Latin America. This colossal work of talented translators and publishers should get a new lease of life in the Internet space.
I am writing to you because these translations "sleep the sleep of the righteous" in the archives of this former Moscow publishing house, Progress. I am finishing.
During this period, the "pearls" of Russian classics – Chekhov, Gogol, Pushkin, Dostoevsky-were translated. The digitization of these translations of Russian classics that already exist in the archives of the Moscow Progress will be a truly cultural event both in Latin America and in Russia. The word and values of Russian classics are still dear to Latin American readers of all ages.
And why? Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin probably answered this question, realizing that literature is able to pass life, events, images through a fiery heart. I end with his own words. "And God's voice called to me: "Arise, O prophet, and look, and hearken, and go round the seas and lands, and burn the hearts of men with the word."
Thank you very much, Mr. President.
Vladimir Putin: Thank you. Thank you both for what you said and for what you are doing. And thank you for the suggestion. This question, in my opinion, is not only a technical one. We will definitely – I won't say now in what time frame and on what scale-but we will definitely do it. thank you very much.
Mikhail Shvydkoi: Thank you, Mr President. Or do you want to add?
Vladimir Putin: Please excuse me, I'm sure there are a lot of questions, but unfortunately, I need to finish. Thank you very much.
Mikhail Shvydkoi: Thank you very much. You know, there are a lot of questions, but the President is one. Thank you very much.
Quite a few surprises. Plus, the occasional interjection of politics and impact of technologies. Well removed from a boring lecture in Art History 101.
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