President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon,
Mr Medinsky, let us begin with social issues, the ones that have been lately discussed both by the Government and with your colleagues at the Council for Culture and Art. What can you say here, please?
Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky: Mr President, we have received the final statistics on salaries in 2014 in cultural institutions of all levels.
The situation is quite positive. Overall, the lowest paid are the rural municipal culture professionals. In the past year, their salaries have gone up by 40 percent from 10,000 to 14,000 rubles. At all the other levels – regional and especially federal, where we have the best facilities – salaries have grown by more than 50 percent. Thus, the national average for salaries at state institutions in the sphere of culture has exceeded 21,000 rubles. At the top facilities, the figure may be significantly higher. This creates prerequisites for further progress in implementing your Executive Order of May 7, 2012, to bring salaries of culture professionals to the level of the regional average.
The best thing is that this is being financed not only from the additional funds allocated for pay raises, but also through the rapid growth of cultural institutions’ non-budgetary revenue as a result of the growing number of visitors, higher quality of work, growth in ticket sales. The number of visitors to our museums is rapidly increasing, in some regions it has gone up by 50–60 percent in two years. This is evidence of the fact that the management of such institutions has become more active and is more concerned about the public. Overall, non-budgetary activity accounts for 50 percent of the total pay raise, and in some places even more.
Vladimir Putin: I know that you are planning to enhance the activity of cultural institutions and concert tours in Crimea and Sevastopol. Could you say a few words about this?
Vladimir Medinsky: This has become part of our routine work. We have approved an action plan for the Ministry in Crimea for the current year. We will be focussing on the following areas:
Theatre. For many years, the residents of Crimea had no opportunity to see the shows of metropolitan theatres. We decided to begin with the youngest audience: children’s theatres, puppet theatres – a total of about ten will visit Crimea in the course of the year, beginning in April.
Our leading theatres will present their shows. Thus, the Chekhov Moscow Art Theatre will show their White Guard in Simferopol. Quite a timely piece.
Next – museums and exhibitions. Apart from an extensive programme of exhibitions, we plan to set up a large pavilion somewhere near Livadia, possibly, with the exhibition 300 Years of the Romanovs, which was a huge success in Moscow. This will also serve as a tourist attraction, because few people saw this exhibition apart from Muscovites. It will last the entire tourist season.
A special area of our activity is tourism in Crimea. I am not referring here to the regular work to enhance tourism in Crimea. I am speaking of children’s tourism. We are planning to bring a group of children from Crimea to Moscow, St Petersburg and Kazan – there are plenty of things for them to see, we have an entire programme covering the Volga area. Besides, Rostourism will assist in creating the best conditions for our children to visit Crimea.
Vladimir Putin: You need to consider the physical condition of cultural institutions, their material supply.
Vladimir Medinsky: Mr President, for an entire week the Crimean Culture Minister and the Head of the Sevastopol Culture Department have been working at our Ministry. They have covered practically all our sections and departments.
Of course, they have many problems there. In terms of supply and physical condition, they are practically in the same state as we were in the early nineties. Ownership formalities have not been dealt with; practically nothing has been done to set up protected areas.
Therefore, already now we are finding ways, for instance, to send whatever musical instruments we have in our reserve to children’s art schools in Crimea, and send books in Russian to their libraries. We will give every support here.
Vladimir Putin: You need to plan renovation work, upgrading and replacing equipment.
Vladimir Medinsky: This is a big job that we will tackle systematically.
Vladimir Putin: I know you had ideas to revive the film festival.
Vladimir Medinsky: Yes, I believe that already this year we will be able to revive the Yalta film festival and the Gurzuf festival of children’s films.
Vladimir Putin: You have to make sure this does not have an impact on the established festivals in Moscow and Sochi.
Vladimir Medinsky: We will do our best to enhance these traditions. The Yalta film studios have a great history, and many Soviet films were shot there. This was one of the main films studios in the Soviet Union. Therefore, I believe that the revival of these film festivals and support of other events, like the international jazz festival in Koktebel, would serve to attract tourists to Crimea from all over Russia, and, with time, I am sure, from the whole world as well.
Vladimir Putin: Now a few words about the work of the Military History Society, please.
Vladimir Medinsky: The founding congress of the Military History Society took place exactly a year ago. I have brought you a report on its activity during the nine months until January 1 of this year. I can say they did not waste any time – it is a project we can be proud of: they set up monuments to war heroes, support search groups in discovering wartime burial places, interact with historical re-enactment clubs nationwide – many re-enactments were held with the support of the History Society.
I have just spoken with the leadership of the Rossiya television channel. We have launched a joint History channel, which is now gaining momentum. In this connection, I would like to give you this colourful report on our daily activities.
The most important thing is that these projects are proceeding without any interruption and they are met with great enthusiasm – practically every project has a partner. We are not doing it all through the Military History Society, but we support such public initiatives that would not take off the ground without such a push.
If you do not mind, I would like to tell you briefly of our two latest projects. One of them was presented on Poklonnaya Gora and it marks 100 years since the beginning of World War I. We are also setting up a monument (together with an active participant of the History Society Vladimir Yakunin [Head of the Russian Railways]) called Slavic Farewell. This is the name of an ever-popular Russian military march that first became famous during World War I. This is what it will look like (Demonstrates the draft design of the monument). We have completed the competition of projects. The monument will be located near the Belorussky train station, from where soldiers marched westwards.
As you may know, by a wonderful twist of fate, the author of the Slavic Farewell Vasily Agapkin directed the military band on November 7, 1941 in Red Square [participants in that historic parade marched straight to the front lines]. This shows the amazing continuity of Russian military history, continuity of generations. Mr Yakunin also suggested that trains leave Belorussky station to the sounds of this march.
In addition, together with the Defence Ministry we are opening the first Military History Museum in Russia. We have found unused premises for the museum among Culture Ministry’s stock. The Defence Ministry is providing a wonderful collection of Russian military uniforms that was stored at warehouses in the Moscow suburbs – starting from the Streltsy and patrolmen to present-day uniforms. This collection will form the basis of the exposition. It reflects the continuity of the Russian military tradition that spans across centuries.
Vladimir Putin: This is not exactly the first such museum: we have the Suvorov Museum, the Artillery Museum and the Navy Museum.
Vladimir Medinsky: Of course. However, this will be the first public museum of this kind. We intend to renovate the building using non-budgetary funding.
Incidentally, all monumental projects of the Military History Society are funded by sponsors. We intend to set up a public museum that would be supported by the people who love it. Here is the building in the centre of Moscow that we intend to use for this museum.
Vladimir Putin: Good. Is that Petroverigsky Lane?
Vladimir Medinsky: Yes, in the Kitai-Gorod area.
Vladimir Putin: Perfect.