Resolution International congress of public “Destruction of the non-governmental Museum named after Nicholas Roerich in the light of problems in preservation of Russian culture in XXI century”
March 24, 2018, Moscow
The International congress of public “Destruction of the non-governmental Museum named after Nicholas Roerich in the light of problems in preservation of Russian culture in XXI century” was held in Moscow on March 24, 2018.
Congress organizers – International Centre of the Roerichs (ICR), International Council of Roerich organizations named after Svetoslav Roerich, International Roerichs’ Heritage Preservation Committee, International Community of Roerich organizations.
Information support – magazine “Culture and Time”, newspaper “Sodruzhestvo”, interregional information and analytical Center, internet resources of International Centre of the Roerichs, International Council of Roerich organizations named after Svetoslav Roerich and non-governmental organizations.
Figures of culture and art, representatives of science intellectuals and public associations, 202 delegates from 15 counties in total participated in the congress: Russia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bulgaria, Germany, Kazakhstan, Kirgizia, Latvia, Moldova, Uzbekistan, Ukraine, Finland, and Estonia. Representatives of 4 republics, 33 regions and territories, 57 cities represented Russian Federation during the work of the congress.
The congress received 39 greetings from the figures of science and art, public organizations and governmental agencies, including: Y.H.Temirkanov – President of the International Centre of the Roerichs, Artistic Director of St.Petersburg Academic Philharmonic Orchestra named after D.D.Shostakovich (Russia); Russian Academy of Natural Sciences (Russia); Kenneth Archer – artist, art historian, Doctor of Philosophy (Great Britain); Scientific and cultural foundation “Foundation of Timofeev” (Russia); Alexander Starikov – Artistic Director of Music and Drama Theatre of Yekaterinburg (Russia); European Association For the Support of International Centre of the Roerichs and its non-governmental Museum named after Nicholas Roerich (Germany); Italian National Blue Shield Committee, Italian Community on Preservation of Cultural Values (SIPBC – ONLUS) regional section Molise (Italy) and others.
At the plenary meeting statements were made by: A.V.Stetsenko – The ICR Vice-President; G.M.Shilo – advocate, Professor, Doctor of Law; V.P.Penzin – Vice-President of “RusCultFund”, President of Academy of Folk Art; V.R.Ostrovskaya – President of Foundation of Traditional Artistic Crafts; N.N.Cherkashina – acting Director-General of the Museum named after Nicholas Roerich; M.I.Vorobyova – lawyer of the International Roerichs’ Heritage Preservation Committee; I.G.Shablinsky – Member of the Council on development of civil society and human rights under the President of Russia, Doctor of Law; V.D.Zakharova – coordinator of initiative public group “In support of A.K.Tolstoy”, member of Advisory Council on culture and tourism under the Governor of Bryansk region, the winner of A.K.Tolstoy prize “Silver Lyra”; M.E.Kuleshova – Candidate of Geography.
Congress participants discussed the existing problems of Russian culture and possible ways of their solution.
Culture is the integral part of human life. “General principles of the state cultural policy” of Russian Federation confirm the culture as “defining but not the peripheral development factor of country and society”.
The safeguard of cultural diversity, preservation of cultural heritage, protection of freedom of culture is considered as necessary and crucial cultural conservation measures. Nicholas Roerich, the outstanding representative of national culture – artist, scientist, thinker, and public figure initiated signing of the Roerich Pact in 1935, the first international treaty aiming at preservation of cultural heritage in times of peace and war which subsequently served as the basis of international law system in preservation of cultural heritage, activity of UNESCO and relevant international standards of culture. It is noteworthy that Nicholas Roerich put forward the worldwide principle “Peace through Culture”, which implies respect of culture of each country, creation of conditions for cultural diversity development and confirmation of priority of culture in all aspects of human and society life.
Russia has a great potential for development, but rapidly loses it as a result of negative tendencies, caused by a number of major challenges. Under present conditions the Russian culture faces an alarming situation, which inevitably affects the life of society and results in spiritual, social and economic crises. State cultural policy of Russian Federation has been legislatively recognized as an integral part of strategy of country’s national security, but still the “residual” clearly outdated principle of financing culture continues to persist. This shows that comprehensive system of financial funding of culture equal to modern realities has not been elaborated yet.
This is to a large extent the result of a poor legal framework regulating culture which is weakly supported by the mechanisms of law realization. If such mechanisms are absent or limited, the law has a declarative but not the guaranteed character and it helps to destroy culture on a governmental level.
The general public is highly alarmed by the transformation of culture into the sphere of consumer services, actively conducted by the Ministry of Culture of Russia to extract the profit. Meanwhile, key objectives of culture – education, upbringing, enlightenment are ignored. Mindless “optimization” and commercialization of culture resulted in such terms as “cultural product”, “manufacturer and user of product”, “provision of services” etc. Under these conditions cultural organizations and institutions have to adapt to existing realities and implement the alien forms of activity prescribed by the officials, assuring the entertainment, spectecularity and profitability. For example, in 2017 in Bryansk region on the eve of 200th anniversary of classic of Russian literature A.K.Tolstoy the unique memorial estate of the writer was destroyed. With the purpose of receiving profit the “remake” is planned to be set up in its place for attracting tourists. Thus the museum turned from being a keeper and promoter of historical and cultural memory to a profitable place.
The optimistic reports of Ministry of Culture of Russia on grown income and gained profit mask numerous troubles of national culture: destruction and closure of creative teams, museums, musical schools, libraries, theatres; losses of historical monuments caused by demolition, damage, barbaric reconstruction and non-professional restoration; theft of cultural heritage items; outrageous facts of state’s failure to meet its obligations to donators of cultural values, defiance of their will; capture of buildings, premises and property of cultural organizations and institutions etc. The special issue during recent years is a great amount of criminal scandals and criminal cases with the involvement of officials of Ministry of Culture. This never happened in our history! Against this background, the disregard for public opinion regarding this lawlessness in the sphere of culture led to national tragedy in Russia. Under such conditions the phrase “sing for the deaf” is still relevant.
Commercialization of culture caused significant deformation of the whole management system of this sphere. Instead of professionals, the cultural institutions, creative teams and even cultural sectors are operated by the “effective managers” without adequate knowledge, designated by the Government. They replace free art by directive instructions and implement destructive policy regarding many cultural organizations and institutions. However, the creative process cannot be managed by the officials; it is incompatible with force methods and ideological censor. Freedom of art, scientific research, promotion of knowledge and ideas provide the basis for any activity in the cultural sphere and fundamental provisions of international law and Russian Constitution. “General principles of cultural policy of Russia” expressly state: “The bodies of state power and administration do not intervene in creative activity of citizens and their communities, governmental and non-governmental cultural organizations expect for the cases when such activity leads to propaganda of war, violence and cruelty, racial, national, religious, class or other exclusiveness or intolerance, pornography”. Despite the legislative guarantees, state officials who do not understand the essence and purpose of culture, continue to severely regulate the work of cultural organizations and institutions in prejudice of their creative activity. This is causing disorganization and destruction of their activity. There are many examples of these situations.
Officials of the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation destroyed the pride of the traditional national Russian culture – Russian State Academic Concert Orchestra “Boyan”, created and conducted by the USSR People’s Artist A.I.Poletaev. Orchestra’s traditions were aimed at preservation and promotion of Russian Slavonic music, education and enlightenment of the young generation in the spirit of patriotism and love for Native land. By interfering in the creative process of the orchestra, officials appointed Mr.Tolmachev to the post of its director (former household manager-driver of the orchestra), a man outside the musical art. This was followed by the organized persecutions of Conductor A.I.Poletaev and his brainchild – “Boyan” orchestra. As a result by the order of Ministry of Culture of Russia A.I.Poletaev was removed from his position and orchestra was reduced to a chamber group. Thus, what was built using painstaking work and talent of the outstanding musician and conductor during 50 years had been ruthlessly destroyed.
Tragedy also affected State Museum of National Graphic Arts created in 1992 in Moscow on Sretenka under the initiative of artist V.P.Penzin. Museum set itself an objective to become the scientific center for studies of lubok (Russian popular print), its deep links with national pictures of France, Italy, Germany, Japan, China, Vietnam etc. During all years of its creative activity the museum faced big troubles – there was a struggle for the building it was located in. A full set of illegal methods was used against it: demolitions of exposition, threats, attempted briberies, financial embargo and others. During this longstanding unequal struggle the Museum Director V.P.Penzin alone confronted the whole army of officials and businessmen, seeking to possess the building in the center of capital. Eventually in June 2013 the order on optimization of museums was issued and Museum of National Graphic Arts was closed.
There is another significant example of one of the guardians of Russian historical memory – Matryoshka Museum in Moscow, a branch of Foundation of Traditional Crafts. In 2013 the Ministry of Culture of Russia together with Special Purpose Police Unit drove this unique world-famous museum out of its building, its funds were grabbed, and the employees were literally put out on the street. Many centers of traditional crafts have been destroyed in Russia. For example, formerly unique center of wood carving with 300 years of history “Bogorodskaya toy” has been destroyed to a practically full degree; only 2 masters-carvers have been working there for the last 5 years.
These cases are not individual. One may recall examples of other organizations and institutions, which faced oppressions from officials in the sphere of culture: National Library of Russia, Vladimir and Suzdal Museum Reserve, Moscow’s Central House of Arts, The Grabar Conservation Centre, Museum of Slavonic Culture named after Konstantin Vasilyev, State Center of Russian Folk Art, European University, “Nashokin’s House” Gallery and others. The facts mentioned above demonstrate systemic issues faced by cultural organizations and institutions in Russia.
Participants of the congress noted that officials do not want to take notice of the potential of non-governmental cultural organizations. The vivid illustration of this point is the story of intentional destruction by the Ministry of Culture of Russia of the successfully acting non-governmental Museum named after Nicholas Roerich, structural unit of the International Centre of the Roerichs, which has been operating for more than a quarter of a century in Moscow at the Lopoukhins’ Estate. As a result of the forceful seizure of the Lopoukhins’ Estate in the night from April 28 to April 29, 2017 by the State Museum of Oriental Art with the support of the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation over 43 000 depository items including more than 700 paintings and pictures of the Roerichs and other property of the International Centre of the Roerichs were illegally withdrawn from the non-governmental Museum named after Nicholas Roerich. These actions led to the illegal force closure of the non-governmental Museum named after Nicholas Roerich, its actual pillage and destruction of museum objects and valuable equipment. Given that destruction of the non-governmental Museum named after Nicholas Roerich is a rude violation of will of its founder, Svetoslav Roerich, who donated the heritage of his parents to Russia especially for creation of the non-governmental museum and the fact that violation was fully supported and assisted by the leadership of Ministry of Culture, the congress participants viewed this campaign as suppression of public initiative and tendency for the destruction of public type of activity in the sphere of culture.
Meanwhile, non-governmental cultural organizations play a significant role in preservation of national heritage, confirming the underlying principle of culture as a nationwide matter by all their activities. During their activity they accumulate enthusiasm and aspirations of thousands of people, united by the wish to save culture, find new meanings and expand creative horizons. Creation of non-governmental museums, theatres, studios, creative teams in Russia in the 1990-s of the last century marked a new page in the life of Russian culture, which appearance flows from the demand of time, result of a longstanding personal creative research with an opportunity to reveal the potential in the face of freedom of thought, and does not relate to the decision of governmental agencies. Unfortunately, all this is being ignored and destructed by the Ministry of Culture of Russia.
Congress participants emphasized in particular that the above-mentioned illegal and anti-cultural actions of the Ministry of Culture of Russia regarding cultural organizations and institutions are beyond the focus of the authorities and law enforcement bodies. Numerous complaints about the destructive policy of leadership of Ministry of Culture are not basically considered by the authorities and generally sent to the Ministry of Culture of Russia for getting a reply – i.e. government agency which actions are appealed. This approach is contrary to the Federal Law “On the procedure for consideration of appeals by citizens of the Russian Federation” dated 02.05.2006 № 59-FZ (Art. 8, p.6) and it enables the leadership of Ministry to continue the destruction of culture.
On the basis of the foregoing, and realizing the responsibility for the fate of the national culture, the congress participants expressed concern about the devastating policy of the current leadership of Ministry of Culture of Russia and took a decision:
1. To express solidarity with the cultural organizations and institutions, which request by all legal means to restore their rights, grossly violated by the Ministry of Culture and other departments.
2. To create the Coordination working group of organizations-participants of the congress to elaborate common positions and lines of activities on preservation of Russian culture and protection of rights of cultural organizations consisting of: Academy of Russian Folk Art; International Roerichs’ Heritage Preservation Committee; International Council of Roerich Organizations named after Svetoslav Roerich; International Centre of the Roerichs; Moscow Museum of National Graphic Arts; Foundation of Traditional Artistic Crafts.
To recommend to the Coordination working group:
– Initiation of the preparation and holding of the All-Russian congress of cultural workers to discuss the existing problems in the sphere of culture and development proposals for their decision;
– Initiation of adding (modifying) to the legislation of Russian Federation, regulating the activity of museums, created by the non-governmental organizations and individuals and ensure state guarantees aimed at their supporting and development;
– Appeal to the State Duma of the Russian Federation and Public Chamber of the Russian Federation with a proposal for amending the Federal law under discussion “On the Patron Activity” dated 04.11.2014 № 327-FZ, providing the exemption and preferences scheme for patrons, investing in non-governmental cultural organizations, and not merely in favor of state budgetary institutions;
– Sending the suggestions to the draft Federal law “On the Culture in Russian Federation” to the Administration of the President of Russia, Federation Council of Russian Federation, State Duma of Russian Federation, Government of Russian Federation, Public Chamber of Russian Federation.
– Bringing to notice of President of Russian Federation and Chairman of Russian Federation, leadership of Public Chamber of Russian Federation about the destructive police of the Ministry of Culture of Russia under the leadership of Minister V.R.Medinsky regarding numerous cultural organizations and institutions of the country.
3. To urge the Government of Russian Federation and Ministry of Culture of Russian Federation to return back to the cultural life of the country the cultural organizations, destructed by the Ministry of Culture of Russian Federation, namely
– to recreate the Russian State Academic Concert Orchestra “Boyan”;
– to revitalize the activity of the Matryoshka Museum, as well as the Foundation of Traditional Artistic Crafts of the Russian Federation as coordinating and methodical Center of Traditional Artistic Crafts in the premises at Leontievsky lane, 7 Moscow, transferred in accordance with the Presidential Decree № 1987 from 07.10.1994;
– to recreate the activity of the non-governmental Museum named after Nicholas Roerich of the International Centre of the Roerichs at the Lopoukhins’ Estate at Maly Znamensky lane 3/5, Moscow, re-established by the ICR without any state funding;
– to return the Moscow Museum of National Graphic Arts to its historic territory at Maly Golovin lane, 10 (Moscow) as an autonomous center for preservation and promotion of traditions of Russian “lubok”.
4. To urge the Government of Russian Federation and Ministry of Culture of Russian Federation to stop the destruction of historical and cultural space of the Memorial estate of the classic of Russian literature A.K.Tolstoy (Bryansk region), and other cultural and historical monuments.
5. To initiate the creation of documentary film about the history of destruction of cultural organizations and institutions in Russia.
6. To send the resolution of the congress to the Russian President V.V.Putin, Federation Council of Russian Federation, State Duma of Russian Federation, Presidential Administration, Public Chamber of Russian Federation and other legislative and executive authorities.
To authorize Galina Anatolievna Yakovleva to send the congress resolution to the President of Russian Federation and Chairman of Russian Federation.
7. To encourage organizations and culture workers and all citizens who are concerned about the problem of preservation of cultural heritage in Russia to engage with the congress initiatives for collaborative search for solutions and security mechanisms of the Russian culture.
8. To publish the materials of the congress.