President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues.
This meeting is taking place ahead of the New Year, so I want to begin by wishing you a Happy New Year. Greetings to all of you!
The year of 2015 was marked by the 70th anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War, and the event, as you know, is linked with the creation of the United Nations and UNESCO.
These organisations have played a crucial, a key role in establishing the post-war world order, in forming the principles of solidarity, humanity and international law, and in affirming the priority of countries’ and peoples’ humanitarian and cultural development.
These celebrations are reflected, one way or another, in practically all the cultural events of our nation, including the Year of Literature. Its main goal was to serve as a reminder of the exceptional significance of literature in people’s lives and, of course, renew the interest in books and reading in society.
I do not know whether we were able to renew interest in books, given the development of the Internet, but we certainly need to inspire people to read more. Perhaps we should really emphasise books, because they are not tablets, they can be works of art in and of themselves. So I think our efforts will not be in vain if we continue working in this direction.
You are well aware how much demand there was for many of the events that were part of our Year of Literature. No less successful was our celebration of the 175th anniversary of Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s birth. Its culmination was the 15th International Tchaikovsky Competition.
I would like to thank everyone who organised it, who helped in the work to hold this large-scale international event, and I want to thank Maestro Gergiev. We can state that this year, the Tchaikovsky competition was reborn in its prior glory. This was a great success.
In 2015, the Khersones Tavrichesky reserve was given the status of an especially valuable Russian cultural heritage site, as was the Museum of the Heroic Defence and Liberation of Sevastopol. The events immortalised at these sites are fundamentally important for understanding Russian history, its continuity and succession are largely dependent on perceptions of the origins and the nature of our statehood, the establishment and development of Russian civilisation.
The year 2016 has been declared the Year of Russian Cinema. We must do everything possible to ensure that it will be memorable and beneficial for millions of our citizens. In particular, it is imperative to continue developing the network of film screenings in the Russian regions, first and foremost in small towns. And, of course, we need to strive to ensure that our films are shown, that they are screened, as well as determining methods for further developing national cinematography and increasing its competitiveness.
The government is supporting the creation of all the necessary technology and production facilities to do this. Our viewers await talented, powerful Russian films that follow the best traditions of Russian cinematography to reflect and help understand the nation’s contemporary life and our place in the world, telling honestly about the most important historical events and current heroes.
Preserving historical memory is one of the key priorities. Our material cultural heritage plays a special role here. In recent years, society and the media have often focused on loud conflicts around construction in conservation areas and the destruction of monuments. It is imperative to analyse these cases as thoroughly as possible, including so as to identify gaps and omissions in the legislation.
Clearly, we need changes in the procedures for monitoring preservation of heritage sites. I consider it important to strengthen cooperation between relevant government agencies and volunteers and public associations. They are usually the ones who are the first to raise the alarm about the loss or threat to monuments, but they are not always heard.
I ask the Culture Ministry to submit with clear proposals for protecting monuments of federal, regional and local significance against destruction and barbaric treatment, and jointly with public movements to determine the role and rights of motivated members of the public, local historians and enthusiasts who care about history. We have many such individuals.
I will note that the topic of preserving cultural heritage has a special place in the Basics of State Culture Policy, which were approved a year ago. At the time, I also gave instructions to prepare a draft strategy for implementing these Basics. As I understand, this work could not be completed on time, first and foremost due to insufficient coordination, although we designated this as a priority objective a year ago.
The Basics of State Culture Policy, as well as the strategy for their implementation, are complex, multifaceted documents and cover a wide range of areas, from the economy to public life. We discussed this all in detail and I do not think there is any point or need to repeat it now.
One thing is clear: we must complete development of the strategy as quickly as possible. Perhaps we should use our successful experience working on the Basics to do this. I recall that the work was difficult, but it was nevertheless completed.
It is also imperative to renew the work of the working group in the Presidential Executive Office. It would be expedient to involve not only professional creative trade unions and cultural figures, but also public organisations like the Russian Popular Front, geographical, historical, military history associations and other groups.
I repeat, the strategy for implementing the state culture policy concerns all citizens in our country, and the process of preparing this document should correspond to its significance.
With regard to our meeting, just as with previous ones, it has been interesting and very useful. I very much expect that just like last time, we will not only make progress in preparing fundamental documents based on the result of our meeting, particularly the document pertaining to executing the Basics of our culture policy, but also resolve specific urgent issues that you raised today.
Thank you very much. Happy New Year!