The Caucasus cultural vector
Interview by Vestnik Kavkaza
This week Dmitry Medvedev stated at a meeting with library workers that it is absurd to cover humanitarian cooperation with anti-Russian sanctions. According to Medvedev, it mostly damages those who launch the sanctions: “Humanitarian cooperation is an opportunity to influence; if you distance yourself from it, it means you don’t want to influence.” The South Caucasus countries aren’t distancing themselves from Russia in the humanitarian and cultural spheres; on the contrary, cooperation gains new forms. Mikhail Shvydkoy, special Russian presidential envoy for international cultural cooperation, told Vestnik Kavkaza about them.
- What are the prospects of expanding cultural cooperation with the countries of the South Caucasus?
- Traditionally, we hold very big, large cultural campaigns with the countries of the South Caucasus, of course. Just recently, a very successful inter-museum meeting was held, with authorities of the leading museums of Russia - the museums of the Kremlin, the Tretyakov Gallery, the Russian Museum. The meeting took place in Yerevan, and a related memorandum of understanding on cooperation between museums of Armenia and Russia was signed. Traditionally, Yerevan hosts the Forum of Translators. It will be held very soon, and it is a very important event. In the summer of 2015, another International Aram Khachaturian Contest will be held, it attracts performers from all countries of the post-Soviet space too, more than that, many from far abroad. Many, I repeat, bilateral and multilateral events will happen, the Golden Apricot Cinema Festival with Armenia, and so on.
Traditionally, Russia has very serious contacts with Azerbaijan. Besides the large forum held every autumn, it will be the fifth Baku International Humanitarian Forum, it was founded under the patronage of two presidents - the president of Russia and the president of Azerbaijan. The forum has become one of the most prestigious platforms for discussions of fundamental problems of general people's existence, if you will. This year, the Baku Forum will be dedicated to the intercultural dialogue held by Azerbaijan, but it is traditionally visited by all our neighbours, including Russia.
- Russia has good relations with Armenia and Azerbaijan in other spheres as well. What can you say about cultural cooperation with Georgia?
- Naturally, we have quite complicated relations with Georgia. However, they develop, and develop quite successfully. The Vakhtangov Theater has recently put on performances there with tremendous success. Now we expect Georgia to be visited by a series of Moscow theaters. The Russian Cinema Festival in Georgia has become traditional. There are many contacts in the form of artistic exchanges, I mean presentations of artists and so on. I must say that Georgian artists are always very needed in Moscow. I do not mean such stars as, let's say, Nani Bregvadze, there are also artists representing the young generation of Georgian performers. Georgia has raised a wonderful cast of popular music performers, it is indeed a unique phenomenon. In other words, Georgian variety theater, not only the traditional harmonized music that has been so impressive, is very important. You see, the presence in Moscow of Robert Sturua, who is the director of the Et Cetera Theater [where Alexander Kalyagin is the art director], is a very important sign, because the Georgian spirit has always been present in Moscow's theater life. So there are many contacts, the contacts are expanding, and I think that 2015 will not be an exception.
Naturally, the marking of the 70th anniversary of the victory will be a special highlight this year. It is our common victory, and all nations of the North and South Caucasus took part in the Great Patriotic War, and I think that it is an important festival uniting us all to a great extent.