Sergey Rybakov: “The main task of the ethnic policy is studying history and culture”
Tribune’s guest is Sergey Rybakov, the Deputy Chairman of the Federation Council Committee of Science, Education and Culture, the senator from the Vladimir Region.
- If the matter concerns cultural heritage, we face the problem of financing. How can we attract investors?
- It is not enough to just restore a monument. It will be destroyed once again, if you don't breathe life into it. It is easier to find an investor in Moscow or St. Petersburg, but it is certainly a problem in small towns. There are plenty of systematic problems in the restoration matter. Prices are very high. They are approximately two times higher than they could be. We have expensive construction, and restoration is even more expensive.
- Moreover, it should be of a good quality. However, sometimes the appearance of a building became even worse after a restoration.
- The problem is that the prices are high, but the quality is not. Right now the practice is developed in such a way that tenders and then works after tenders look like on a regular construction site. This is death for restoration. I don't even want to associate it with the latest developments in the Ministry of Culture. It's not even about the staff, but about the fact that a certain system has been formed, which does not allow us to respond to these problems. High costs of restoration and a certain slowness in the system leads to the fact. If it is a subsidized region, it restores only what can be obtained from the 'Culture of Russia' program. According to the program, only a facility that is in federal ownership can be restored. And it does not depend on its value. However, a regional budget simply cannot deal with it. Approximately several million are allocated every year for the entire restoration.
Today architects raise the question of facelessness, and restoration cannot tolerate it. A certain company wins a tender and hires architects, restorers and other professionals on subcontracts. In architecture, we are moving away from the concept of an architect as an individual, personally responsible professional. As a result, we are facing poor quality restoration.
However, I believe the main threat to cultural heritage objects is the decline of the cultural level of our people. In small towns, cultural heritage objects and simple houses that make up historical buildings are privately owned. A person rips out beautiful architraves and other elements of decoration without hesitating, not because they are old, but he simply believes that it's an old grandmother's house, and he wraps the house with some stupid plastic siding. A lot of people lay silicate bricks around wooden houses, and logs are rotting under this brick. The sense of beauty is lost. I often see a terrible picture in historical settlements: a beautiful house with a fence made of corrugated iron, painted with some terrible green paint. We are the only country where fences are made using this corrugated iron. You can do nothing by banning, unless a person sincerely understands what he does.
- It should be taught from childhood. That’s how we are shifting toward the issue of education and cultural studies.
- The problem of education is obvious. Singing or a drawing is not honored in high school, unfortunately. You see, this is a moment for the humanities, which forge an identity, but they are not necessary for the United State Examination.
- In Moscow, there is the subject of Moskvovedenie. Do small towns have subjects that tell about the territory on which the school is located?
- There are few such places. In our conversation we touch upon more and more problems, but this topic is endless. Representatives of the local elite do not get to grips with such subjects; they don’t promote love for their town among young people. Local people often do not know the rich history of their town. They believe that their town is just a miserable little village, from where it is necessary to escape if you are lucky enough.
- Russia is a rich interesting country in this regard. There are a lot of peoples. There are regions where 80-90 ethnic groups live within a single region. And each of these ethnic groups shall have the right to consider this territory as their homeland. And how do you feel about the fact that one separate ethnicity starts to show its superiority, or assume itself to be more exclusive, more native to this land than others?
- The answer is obvious. By asking me this question, you are making a reference to such intolerable things as excellence, exclusivity. I am a PhD and have dealt with problems of ethnicities and the ethnic group theory for my scientific biography. This topic is very deep. We often hear that there should be a balanced and competent policy. But what should be done specifically? I think that the main task of the ethnic policy is to study history and culture. Once a person is immersed even in his own national culture, he transforms. I've seen many children who participate in national ensembles, who are engaged in folk songs, folk dances, folk art somehow. They are completely different people, because once a person understands that behind him is not just some abstract urbanized non-national life, as soon as a child, a young person understands what it is, what are these layers of culture, what a history, and through the study of his own culture for beginning starts feeling a great respect for a different culture, because then without further ado he understands what this culture is, that it is the same, and there are centuries and, perhaps, millennia, many generations, labor, communication, tradition. And then, through these activities, through these groups, even through reading of books, a communion comes, gradually people are included in the international communication. So I think this is the main objective, the main recipe, because the spell can be spoken as much as anything, but they do not have much influence, unless a person becomes deeper, until his superficial idle talk will be completed with real depth. And then, it seems to me, such questions will not even arise.
- The study of the history of your native land, those peoples who live here together, the in-depth study of some subject always fills a person with love for one or the other subject. And, of course, by knowing the history of his land, his people, we come to the topic of patriotic education, because if a man loves his land, he will be a patriot of his country.
- Here, I cannot help but recall the words of Vladimir Putin that patriotism is our national idea. Patriotism is based on understanding, learning and advancement, promotion of the native culture, native traditions, native customs and native history; it is a thing around which a nation can be united, this is the national idea.
- A major parliamentary forum titled 'Historical and cultural heritage of Russia' will be held in Vladimir in June this year. What would you like to achieve at this forum?
- Regarding preservation of historic and cultural heritage monuments, further changes are necessary. By the way, I am a co-author of the law on preservation zones. These are time zones, prior to the adoption of the preservation zones around objects. Now we have developed from 14% to 30% of the preservation zones; everything else is unprotected.
There is uncertainty with the Union of Writers, with proliferation of books. Despite the fact that the Year of Literature has been held at a quite a high level, book stores are shutting down, they are leaving small towns. Therefore, this story requires a special attention. The Russian Book Union has a very interesting project titled ‘Literary Russia’. We invite them to the forum, and they will present themselves, they will talk about their practice. They have chosen, you know, so I think, a normal, specific way: instead of talking about it, they just come to each region and offer cooperation to the governor. And they have an extensive program, firstly of book distribution, secondly of book promotion.
We need a law on objects of material culture; we will study it carefully, because it has not been reduced to any legal case. I think that this forum will serve as some kind of a stimulus to ensure that we have moved to the practical formation of a unified register of the entire country, all regions, because it is scattered in different documents.
A youth section will be dedicated to such issues as patriotism and identity. It will be interesting to look via the eyes of the young and think about how to attract the youth.
In the framework of the forum there will be a separate event for the development of tourism in small towns. Whatever new law is accepted, whatever new decree there is in the government or disposal of the Ministry – often, in most cases, there is an impression that it is written in Moscow, it is written from a Moscow window. You know, this is wrong. So many things happen in a completely different way in small towns than in Moscow, St. Petersburg and the regional centers. A lot is being said about private business in preservation of cultural heritage. But private business hasn't such a scale to assume an object. There are small towns with beautiful cultural heritage. Each such a small town is our great treasure, a pearl, and we cannot leave these problems to district or city administration of a town.