The meeting was attended, among others, by Mariinsky Theatre Artistic Director Valery Gergiev, State Hermitage Director Mikhail Piotrovsky, film director Nikita Mikhalkov, State Tretyakov Gallery Director Zelfira Tregulova, actress and Greek Minister of Culture Lydia Koniordou, film director Gérard Krawczyk, and author Olzhas Suleimenov.
During the meeting, collector and philanthropist Pietro Pittaro donated to the Peterhof Museum Reserve historical items that belonged to the outstanding Russian painter Alexandre Benois. The artist’s easel, palettes, brushes and some of his drawings will become part of the Benois family museum.
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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Ladies and gentlemen, friends,
Our minister, as they say in Russia, immediately took the bull by the horns. I do not know who the bull here is. Nevertheless, he took initiative and I did not even get a chance to welcome you. So, first of all, I would like to say good evening, welcome to Russia, to St Petersburg, to the Mariinsky Theatre.
I am greatly pleased with the fact that every year, our friends meet here, who not simply like Russian art, not simply like Russian culture, but feel almost the same way we do. We are on the same wavelength in our worldview, each with a considerable share of [national] identity but nevertheless, there is something that we share.
I should say that this is the third year in a row that we have been holding national events – the first year, the second and the third – that are in some way or other related to Russian culture. Last year, we had the Year of Literature. This year is the Year of the Cinema. The year before last was in fact the Year of Culture.
I am pleased to note that although we rightly take pride in Russian cultural achievements, we always say that they are part of world culture and there is absolutely no doubt about that. Every one of you can certainly be proud of what our peoples have accomplished over the centuries – starting from Greece and Italy and all other countries in the world, including China, with its centuries-old, millennium-old culture. So I am greatly pleased to note – I would like to stress once again that Russian culture is part of world culture.
I would like to thank you for being here today, for giving so much attention to our cooperation in such an important sphere as cultural cooperation, which, indeed, both in the direct and figurative sense of the word, knows no bounds.
A lot has been said here about our ties. This is a spiritual bond, I agree. Our friends from France cited the example of a young man who went to France and then his son came to Russia. His father left responding to the call of passion while his son came to make his first billion. This is in fact the impact of Western culture on Russia. I’m joking, of course. Anyway, I wish your film good luck.
I would like to wish you luck in all of your undertakings. Many thanks to our friend from Italy for his wonderful gift. Believe me, we do appreciate such gestures. Thank you very much.
I hope you will enjoy your time in St Petersburg and the Mariinsky Theatre.
Thank you very much.