President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Please. Mr Shemyakin, I see you have brought along something interesting.
Mikhail Shemyakin: Just some aesthetic junk. (Laughter.) It is one of the 16 volumes I am working on now. Four volumes are finished. This is the first volume titled Letter. Word. Text.
You probably know that for the past 15 years I have been working on the analysis of human psychology in art. A laboratory has been created that is analysing the developments in this sphere in the West and compares its findings to what is taking place in Russia.
And this is a book published by the FSB, The Investigation Continues. Both you and I are in this book. This is me (shows on the overleaf), and this is you, in a different uniform.
Vladimir Putin: Oh my, where did you find it?
Mikhail Shemyakin: It is one of a series of books. It is the 10th volume. I help them with the design and also with some stories. The whole department send their regards.
Vladimir Putin: Good, thank you.
Mikhail Shemyakin: They remember you as a young and active man.
Vladimir Putin: Thank you very much. And what is this?
Mikhail Shemyakin: These are my projects that I would like to discuss with you today. But above all it is my legacy. As it is, I believe that everything I have accomplished after I was kicked out of the Soviet Union with $50 – I have established an institute and collected a huge and unique library, a collection of works and rare autographs, starting from Igor Stravinsky, etc. – I believe that everything I have done should keep going for as long as I live, and that it should belong to Russia.
In short, I would like to donate everything I have accomplished and collected to Russia, so that when I pass away – none of us are immortal – my legacy continues to work. As usual, I ask for your assistance to make this happen.
Vladimir Putin: Mr Shemyakin, but what about your foundation? You have created a foundation in St Petersburg.
Mikhail Shemyakin: The materials I have brought are from that foundation. Do you remember that you gave me a studio where I could live and work? I did not live there for a single day but immediately turned it into an education centre.
I have a small flat in another place, where I live with my wife Sarah on and off. For the past 16 years the foundation has conducted annual academic and educational programmes. We also hold academic exhibitions.
This is an exhibition catalogue. Besides, I am a professor at the Stieglitz Academy, where I train a group of students. They will defend their theses next year. I have six students and two postgraduates. They will graduate next year. I have actually trained international-class professionals.
We are being pushed back everywhere, as you know, with these ridiculous sanctions. But we fight back. So, I believe that “victory will be ours,” as usual and as one of our leaders used to say.
Vladimir Putin: Very good. Let us talk about this in greater detail.