Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon dear friends and colleagues!
We are meeting today due to the initiative of Daniil Aleksandrovich Granin. It is very pleasant to be able to talk about issues linked to the development of Russian culture and Russian language here and in this company, on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of Dmitry Sergeevich Likhachev.
It is symbolic that our conversation takes place in the shadow of the heritage and the personality of Dmitry Sergeevich Likhachev, who considered culture the heart of the matter of this word and the global value of human life. It is well-known that he has worked a great deal on this theme and among his achievements the Declaration of the Rights of Culture holds a special place. In his research Academician Likhachev formulated a mission for culture that consists in ‘creating a nation from what was simply a people’.
I believe that Dmitry Sergeevich’s reflections on the significance of culture and Russian language, on the mission of the Russian intelligentsia, on the place and role of the humanities, and on our traditions in general could in many ways serve as the departure point for our discussion today. These traditions of enlightenment, creativity and true humanism have been formed in Russia over centuries.
These traditions include that of profound erudition, adherence to universal values and high professionalism.
Dmitry Sergeevich Likhachev considered precisely these traits to be the features of the Russian intelligentsia.
One fundamental theme is the moral, intellectual and spiritual education of youth and children. It is obvious that we need to pay the utmost attention to these issues and to do so permanently — not only on the occasion of a given anniversary, even one as important as Dmitry Sergeevich Likhachev’s 100th anniversary.
But today it is very important to help the younger generation find their way through the powerful flow of modern information and teach them to distinguish good from bad, true from false, and to revive interest in genuine cultural and spiritual values.
In this, people of the creative professions such as writers, composers, actors, directors, literary and art critics, researchers of cultures play a special role. The issue consists in bringing about a broad revival of enlightenment traditions in general.
The second theme — and one that is no less important — is the role that culture plays in strengthening the unity of the peoples of Russia. Academician Likhachev was keenly aware of these processes. And he reflected at length on reaching a balance between integration and preservation of the unique cultural identities not just large but also small peoples.
The affirmation of the principles of tolerance, mutual respect among peoples and harmony are of primordial importance in our multiethnic country. And culture — in all its various manifestations and diversity — plays a key, unifying role in promoting these principles.
Moreover, Dmitry Sergeevich considered that cultural criteria also determine state sovereignty. And I think that we cannot help but agree with this idea. We often speak about a certain cultural expansion or so on, about the preponderance of certain cliches and standards imposed now by the left, now by the right, now by the West, now by the East. I think that we also need to talk and to reflect on this process. For this reason our common task consists in both conserving our cultural heritage but also promoting its all-round development.
The major theme that simultaneously worries both Russian citizens and our compatriots abroad is the preservation and development of the Russian language. Dmitry Sergeevich Likhachev referred to Russia’s unique wealth in this respect more than once. He wrote about how Russian language was established in a huge territory and embodies all of folklore, literature and science’s wealth.
Russian language is more than simply a language that millions of people speak and know. Russian concentrates our national spiritual riches. As Dmitry Sergeevich rightly said, “the language of a nation is the condensed, formulaic expression of its entire culture”.
You know that we have declared 2007 the Year of Russian Language. We have taken concrete measures to strengthen Russian both as a means of consolidating Russian society and promoting its spiritual development. And also for supporting the different possibilities available for studying Russian language in foreign countries.
I know that there are veterans from creative professions, from the unions of the creative community here at this meeting. I would like to say a few words about how help for the veterans of the creative professions is organised.
There is an obvious need for financial support in this area, especially since a significant number of people who have devoted their lives to art are now in difficult positions. And it is strange and bitter to observe people who, in their time, were adored by millions of Russian citizens go through definite and sometimes serious difficulties today.
I would like to inform you that we are already preparing a governmental order for allocating the necessary financial means in this area in 2007–2009. Now we are referring to 30 million rubles each year that will provide punctual support to those who require such help. We have spoken about this repeatedly with Aleksandr Aleksandrovich Kaliagin and representatives of other creative unions. I think that the creative unions must be included in this work. These issues are very sensitive, very delicate and without your support and active participation then these problems cannot be effectively and properly resolved.
I repeat that the government has proposed such a programme. In the near future the order will be signed. The government recently allocated more than one and a half million rubles from its reserve funds to this effect and they will already start being spent this year. We shall also recommend that regions establish their own support funds.
With regards to the proposed reconstruction of the nursing home for veteran actors that I was asked about during the Hotline, the people responsible for this are present here and they will clarify the situation.
Thank you very much for your attention.