On January 16, 2021, a working meeting of participants of Roerich organizations and representatives of the international cultural community from the 5 countries of Ukraine, Austria, Germany, Russia, and Estonia took place online on the ZOOM platform in Ukraine. The meeting was held with the involvement of representatives of the International Council of Roerich Organizations named after S.N.Roerich and the European Association for the Support of the International Centre of the Roerichs and its public Museum named after N.K.Roerich “EURASSIM”.
The Meeting was based on a publication on the MK.RU news portal dated 16.12.2020, which, with reference to an interview with Marina Loshak, Director of the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts (Moscow), reported about the plans to create an “International Centre for Advanced Humanitarian Studies” named after Irina Alexandrovna Antonova at the Lopukhins’ Estate.
The Ukrainian public is aware of the outstanding work of the International Centre of the Roerichs (ICR) and its public museum, as well as their tragic fate in Russia. Many admirers of the work of Nicholas Roerich and representatives of Roerich organizations in Ukraine are closely watching the events around the ICR, and the next attempts of Russian cultural officials to destroy the historical memory of the connection of Lopukhins’ Estate with the names of the Roerichs is causing serious concern.
In this regard, the participants of the Meeting noted that since 1989, in accordance with the wishes of Svyatoslav Roerich, Lopukhins’ Estate was allocated by the leadership of the Soviet Union for the placement of a public Centre-Museum named after N.K.Roerich on its territory. Only under these conditions Svyatoslav Roerich transferred the heritage of his parents and his paintings to the USSR free of charge. The leadership of the Soviet Union unconditionally accepted the terms of S.N.Roerich and ensured their execution by Resolution of the Council of Ministers of the USSR No. 950 dated 04.11.1989 and Resolution of the Executive Committee of the Moscow city Council No. 2248 dated 28.11.1989. After the death of S.N.Roerich, the Moscow authorities strictly adhered to the state obligations regarding the location of the public Museum and the International Centre of the Roerichs. This is evidenced by the Moscow government Resolution No. 812 of 03.10.1995, in which Lopukhins’ Estate was transferred to a long-term rental for 49 years for (cit.): “placement of the International Centre of the Roerichs and the Museum named after N.K.Roerich”, and the Decree of the Government of Moscow No. 452-RP “On the transfer to the gratuitous use of the International public organization “International Centre of the Roerichs” buildings №№ 4, 7 of Lopukhins’ Estate.
For more than a quarter of a century, the ICR and its public Museum carefully preserved the Roerichs’ heritage and during this period increased it by adding gifts from patrons to the collection. The International Centre of the Roerichs conducts extensive research, cultural, educational and peacekeeping activities not only in Russia, but also abroad. During its location at Lopukhins’ Estate, the International Centre of the Roerichs proved to be a conscientious keeper and user of the cultural monument. Without a penny of budget funds, at the expense of public donations and the help of patrons, the ICR carried out a unique restoration of the buildings of the Lopukhins’ Estate, which was honoured by high state and foreign awards, including the National Prize “Cultural Heritage” and the Prize of the European Union. The General Director of the Public Museum named after N.K.Roerich L.V.Shaposhnikova was awarded state awards – the Order of Friendship and “For Services to the Fatherland” of the IV degree for special services in preserving the Roerich heritage and developing museum studies.
But, despite all the achievements of the public Museum, despite the fact that Lopukhins’ Estate invested huge NON-governmental, but national funds and international labour, the Museum was evicted from Lopukhins’ Estate by force. Its exposition was vandalized, and the multimillion Roerichs’ heritage bequeathed by Svyatoslav Roerich to the International Centre of the Roerichs, in March-April 2017 was illegally occupied by the State Museum of the East with the direct participation of the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation.
Events unfolded around Lopukhins’ Estate that did not fit to any logic. Having taken Lopukhins’ Estate from the International Centre of the Roerichs, it was transferred to the operational management of the State Museum of the East, explaining that a State Museum of the Roerichs would be created there. But the State Museum of the Roerichs in Lopukhins’ Estate was never established, and, in addition, the fate of some priceless rare items from the collection of the ICR, taken out by the Museum of the East, is still unknown.
In 2019, the Museum of the East transferred Lopukhins’ Estate to the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts as a platform for youth programs. Obviously, this program was not a success, as in December 2020, the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts decided to create a research centre named after I.A.Antonova in Lopukhins’ Estate. Of course, the former director of the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts was an outstanding cultural figure of the Russian Federation, deserving the gratitude of the people, but not at the expense of the names of the Roerichs.
The participants of the Meeting expressed their indignation at the violation of the state obligations that were given to Svyatoslav Roerich and fixed by government Resolutions.
The participants of the Meeting expressed their concern about the attempt to destroy the connection of Lopukhins’ Estate with the heritage and affairs of the Roerich family, and thereby to forget the name of the Roerichs in their homeland. And this is even more outrageous, since Nicholas Roerich is an outstanding artist, cultural figure and peacemaker, the creator of the world’s first Treaty on the Protection of Cultural Property (the Roerich Pact and the Banner of Peace), which laid the foundation for all international legal documents on the preservation and protection of the cultural heritage of mankind, and is known and revered all over the world! The artistic, philosophical and scientific heritage of the Roerichs is a heritage of world significance. It is part of the cultural heritage of all mankind. Thanks to the work of the ICR and its public Museum, the ideas of the Roerichs in the field of philosophy, art, and science have become part of the cultural, scientific, and social life in the international space. The International Roerich Movement participates in many events of the International Centre of the Roerichs: in exhibition projects, seminars, conferences, and creative competitions. The forced closure of the public Museum named after N.K.Roerich and the confiscation of its exhibits led to the violation of human rights in the field of cultural activities not only of Russian citizens, but also of the international community.
The participants of the Meeting note that the destruction of the public Museum in peacetime is no less serious a violation than the deliberate destruction of cultural heritage during armed conflicts.
The impunity of those who destroyed the unique Museum and consistently exposes Lopukhins’ Estate to the danger of destruction is outraging. Indeed, the first thing the new owners of the Estate did was turn off the climate control system, which constantly worked in the Museum and maintained the proper temperature and humidity regime in the old mansion.
It is also striking that the new owners filed a lawsuit for allegedly “causing damage to the building” with a demand for huge compensation in millions of roubles from the International Centre of the Roerichs, which raised the Estate from ruins and made it one of the gemstones of Moscow. And the court not only accepts the suit, but also ruled in favour of the extortionists!!!
The speeches of the participants of the Meeting showed that the work and funds of the Ukrainian public were invested in the reconstruction of the historical appearance of the architectural monument – Lopukhins’ Estate and the creation of the public Museum named after N.K.Roerich at its premises, which is confirmed by available photographs and documents!
Ukrainian volunteers of the Roerich organizations of Ukraine took an active part in the repair work and in the improvement of the territory of the Estate. A sculptor from Lviv (Ukraine) created two memorial monuments to Svyatoslav and Yuri Roerich on the territory of the Estate. Ukrainian artists created sculptural and artistic works for the museum exhibition. The carved bas-reliefs that decorated the St. Petersburg and Russian Halls were made by craftsmen from Ukraine; Dioramas illustrating the works of Nicholas Roerich were designed and implemented, and a three-dimensional map of the Central Asian expedition was created by them. Teams of volunteers from Ukraine, as well as from many other countries, came from the first days of the restoration of Lopukhins’ Estate and created a unique public Museum with their own hands, which became truly INTERNATIONAL.
The speakers noted that not only the destruction of the Museum, but also the manipulations of officials of the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation to determine the use of Lopukhins’ Estate violate the cultural rights of participants in the international Roerich movement.
In connection with the above, the Meeting decided:
1. To express their support for the International Centre of the Roerichs in its efforts to preserve the Roerich heritage and fulfil the will of S.N.Roerich regarding the placement of the International Roerich Centre and its public Museum named after N.K.Roerich in Lopukhins’ Estate.
2. To express their support for the decision of the International Meeting on 20.12.20 to convene the International Congress of Roerich Organizations in February 2021.
3. To convey the Decision of this Meeting to the international community by making it public at the Congress of Roerich Organizations.
4. To recommend to the Meeting participants to inform the public of Ukraine about the real situation with the heritage and legacy of the Roerichs in Russia, as well as disregard for Russian officials of state guarantees for the execution of the will of S.N.Roerich, by spreading the Decision of the Meeting on social networks, on websites, in the media.
5. To expand the contacts of the Roerich societies with cultural and scientific figures of Ukraine in order to get acquainted with the truthful information about the real state of affairs with Lopukhins’ Estate and the Roerich heritage, as well as to attract them to support the ICR.
6. To send to the Russian leadership the Decision of the Meeting of the Roerich organizations of Ukraine and representatives of the international cultural community “the Roerichs’ Heritage and the Lopukhins’ Estate”.