Speech by the Head of the Russian delegation, First Deputy Minister of Culture of the Russian Federation Sergey Obryvalin at UNESCO World Conference on Cultural Policy and Sustainable Development “Mondiacult-2022”.
An integral part of the global culture, Russian culture is an essential tool for cooperation, dialogue, and bridging gaps at the international level. Its cultural policy abroad aims to form and improve the objective perception of Russia in the world, as well as to promote the understanding of Russia’s historical path, role, and place in the world history and culture.
Russians have deep respect for international literature, cinema, music, theatre, visual arts, and other elements of culture. Unfortunately, we observe that not all countries share this attitude. There are numerous egregious cases of cultural discrimination against Russia and Russian citizens in Western countries. This manifests itself in the cancellation of concerts (for example, of Valery Gergiev and Denis Matsuev), Russian ballet and circus, breaking up partnerships, imposing visa and other restrictions, and finally, the massive demolition of monuments and attempts to erase any manifestations of historical memory associated with Russia. Our event, alas, did not avoid this unnecessary and harmful politicization: the unfounded and false accusations made yesterday and today by some delegations are nothing but a manifestation of the policy of cultural genocide against Russia and Russians.
Definitely, such cases are upsetting and cause serious concern. Russia persistently takes care of cultural heritage, historical memory, freedom of literary, artistic, and other forms of creativity, and ensures pluralism of opinions and openness of culture.
Preservation of cultural heritage is one of the priority tasks for Russia. It has numerous world heritage sites and landmarks attracting millions of tourists from all over the world. Russia implements state and private volunteer programs aimed at preserving historical and cultural monuments. At the same time, the country cares not only about Russian sites, but also international ones.
In 2010-2013, with UNESCO support, Russia financed the restoration of Orthodox shrines in Serbia, which are the world heritage sites. In 2017-2019, Russia sponsored the restoration of the dome of the Cuban National Capitol. Russian experts work in Syria, where UNESCO monuments were destroyed by terrorists. Cooperation and mutual assistance, bilateral one and with the assistance of international organizations, help to preserve the cultural heritage for future generations.
One of the priorities of Russia’s cultural policy is ensuring the basic human right – the right to access cultural artefacts. Organizing large-scale events such as “Russian Seasons”, thematic “Cross Years” with other countries, Russia enables the public to learn about the culture and traditions of both Russia and international partners.
Russia highly appreciates international cultural cooperation through UNESCO. Our country has been and remains open to constructive dialogue and interaction. I will say the following to the provocateurs trying to use this wonderful cultural platform for their mean political purposes: no one can cancel the unique Russian civilization and its richest culture, destroy or shake Russian values.