Olga Kazakova: "The language barrier absence attracts Russian cultural icons to Azerbaijan"
Olga Kazakova, deputy chairwoman of the Duma Committee on Culture, coordinator of the Culture of a Small Motherland project, just returned from the Mashuk youth forum, where she spoke with its participants about the Theater Year in Russia. Olga Kazakova told Vestnik Kavkaza about the development of cultural institutions of the North Caucasus Federal District and humanitarian exchange with Azerbaijan.
- The Culture of a Small Homeland project coordinated by you is aimed to provide our people with a possibility to participate in the cultural life of the country, diversify cultural activities and expand opportunities for extra education. Is this project implemented in the North Caucasus Federal District, where it is not easy to get from one village to another, from one republic to another?
-The Caucasus’ inaccessibility is indeed a problem. For two years, along with the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation, we were paying extra attention to the North Caucasus. The funds allocated for the construction and overhaul of culture houses were initially directed to the Caucasus. Today, we distribute funds to all regions, and for several years, we paid special attention to the Caucasus, which needed to be saturated with cultural objects. Kabardino-Balkaria built 11 facilities this year, and they managed to build a special system, so the construction became possible at a fairly moderate cost, since there was no extra work with unnecessary papers and organizational issues.
To each constituent entity of the North Caucasian Federal District, we send money to build cultural houses in remote settlements. Significant amounts were allocated for Karachay-Cherkessia, Chechnya, Ingushetia. Not only cultural centers are being built and restored, but also museums and theaters. The republics of the North Caucasus are included in the all-Russian plan of theater tours. Our theaters, both central and regional, are happy to go there. The Caucasus is beautiful, exotic, but sometimes artists have no opportunity to visit it, and we give them such an opportunity. Caucasian hospitality leaves no one indifferent. The subjects of the North Caucasus Federal District are so welcoming that you always want to return there.
The Ministry of Culture supports the construction of facilities in the North Caucasus Federal District because there is a unique cultural component. At the Mashuk forum in Pyatigorsk, when the Days of the subjects of the North Caucasus Federal District are held, this is always something incredible: every working moment turns into a holiday and history, and through traditions we begin to understand other peoples. Exactly for this purpose, we decided to establish Days of Culture at Mashuk forum.
- Prior to your election to the State Duma in 2011, you held the post of Minister of Culture of the Stavropol Territory, which includes the unique region of the Caucasian Mineral Waters. What are the features of its cultural development?
- For the development of Caucasian Mineral Waters, not only cultural facilities are needed, but also work with infrastructure, utilities, and the ecology of the region. At a recent meeting between Governor of Stavropol Vladimir Vladimirov and President Vladimir Putin, the development of the spa and engineering infrastructure of the Caucasian Mineral Waters was discussed. Today, we are reviving museums, repairing and reconstruct a lot, but all this should be done on a certain basis. If we maintain the purity of the Caucasian Mineral Waters, if we ensure environmental stability, then all this makes sense. Today, resort towns are well funded. This is the decision of the governor, who considers the CMW a promising developing area. Our balneological resorts may well compete with Baden-Baden, Karlovy Vary. Those who come to heal to the CMW have an opportunity to contact with the history and culture of the region.
Solving the problems of communication and engineering systems of the CMS will help bring investors into the region, build new sanatoriums, and enable the development of the hotel networks. All global network operators creating a new object in a particular city, country or region certainly throw all their efforts into the development of this facility. They direct all their programs, entire client bases to new hotels in order to develop them. It is necessary to attract powerful investors to the region for its development. The Governor of Stavropol has such plans, and our entire team will work to implement them.
At the same time, it is important to focus not only on tourists but primarily on the region’s residents as well. Today, conditions are created for them no worse than for vacationers: courtyards, roads, transport routes connecting the CMW cities. For residents of the CMS cities, the ability to travel quickly, conveniently and comfortably is important. There are many plans. I have no doubt that in five years, as the governor has outlined, we will conquer the European market and people will come to us. Foreigners are already arriving to the region, and now we need to aim higher.
- We have another question on a theatrical topic. For the moment, the Vakhtangov Theater is on tour in Baku. How are joint programs implemented with the republics of the South Caucasus?
- We have ceased to be a single country, but we consider Azerbaijan our brother. When you arrive there, it seems that you come home. Of course, our cultural icons go to this hospitable country with pleasure, because there is no language barrier. We are implementing many programs with Azerbaijan- both environmental and cultural. The Heydar Aliyev Foundation and the Azerbaijan Youth Association of Russia work very well. The number of youth exchanges and training programs is growing. We have merged deeply, sometimes, we do not perceive such cooperation as work with a foreign state since there is a very close friendship between us. The general history and similarity of cultures, of course, do their job.
Next week, the World Gymnastics Championships will be held in Baku. In any event, whether educational, economic, sports, there is a cultural component. Without dances, songs, traditional elements, the opening and closing ceremonies of any major events are impossible. Sports are sports, and the cultural component is an integral part of it. Every nation and state begins with it. When delegations are met at the plane ramp, girls and boys dressed in national costumes bring traditional dishes. For Russia, this is bread and salt. Any event begins with culture and ends with it as well.