The decision to publish the Great Russian Encyclopedia was taken in 2002. By executive order of the President of Russia, Yury Osipov was appointed head of the GRE’s editorial board.
Between 2002 and 2017, over 120 members of the Russian Academy of Sciences and staff at leading academic organisations and universities took part in compiling the encyclopedia’s articles.
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Yury Osipov: Mr President, in October 2002, you issued an Executive Order on the publication of the Russian Encyclopedia. This is the first volume that precedes everything, it does not have a number, and it is called ”Russia“. It contains your greeting to the readers.
And here is the 35th volume, the last one. And so, your instruction has been fully implemented, and Russia has a universal encyclopedia. Of course, the Academy of Sciences, Moscow University, St Petersburg University, and many outstanding academic centres, universities and institutes were involved.
The executive order certainly helped get a lot of famous academics, cultural figures, educators and even statesmen involved. They also participated in this. Several hundred writers of professional encyclopedic articles were involved. There are more than 80,000 articles in these volumes.
This is a universal encyclopedia in the sense that it covers the world and all phenomena in the world.
I think, if I may say so, that not every state is able to create such an encyclopedia in its national language. By creating such an encyclopedia, we take our rightful place in this elite club of unique, universal encyclopedias. There are two such encyclopedias in addition to the Russian one. These are Britannica and Brockhaus, German encyclopedia published together with Sweden.
I would like to say that the results of this work, achieved thanks to your support, once again shows that Russia has enormous intellectual capacity.
Vladimir Putin: I remember it almost completely stopped at some point.
Sergei Kravets: It was in 2014. Your instruction had a powerful impact then. We completed the publication of the book. We completed the online version, it is available now. All the Russian-language world can have access to these entries.
Then, thanks to your instruction, we started developing something absolutely new, a national educational encyclopedic portal. We have suggested a name for it: “Russia: Territory of Knowledge.” The aim of this portal is not only to provide access to entries from this encyclopedia or thematic ones, the Orthodox Christian Encyclopedia, the Elementary Mathematics Encyclopedia – we have a lot of contemporary encyclopedias. Another aim is to collect accurate information from museums, institutes and universities and to update it. The most important thing now is for information to be accurate and up-to-date.
We have done this and now we are starting to fulfil your message of creating such a full-scale portal. Of course, we need your support again because this is a common goal for all of us.
Yury Osipov: You issued the instruction back in June2015. Mr Fursenko did a great deal then, helping us.
Sergei Kravets: An interdepartmental group has been set up in the Government to deal with this. The portal concept has already been developed. It is important that when this portal is ready, it will be a huge resource for various educational services and tools.
Vladimir Putin: When was the Great Soviet Encyclopedia completed?
Yury Osipov: In 1978.
Sergei Kravets: Twenty-five years passed between publication of the Great Soviet Encyclopedia and the start of work on the Great Russian Encyclopedia. The Great Russian Encyclopedia is absolutely new. The reason is not only the different political conditions, though they are important. All life has changed in the past 25 years. So now we are updating entries in the initial volumes, just updating them, there are many new entries in the online version. It will be possible to read entries of 2004 and also of 2017.
Vladimir Putin: What should be done to speed up the work?
Yury Osipov: We have prepared a letter to you.
Vladimir Putin: Good.
Yury Osipov: Mr President, I would like to say that besides from the visible part, there is also an invisible one. Russia now possesses a huge verified body of information, which is very large and classified.
In addition, during the work on the encyclopedia, some communities of science editors, experts and authors of entries were formed. This is great, it is actually a large achievement.
Vladimir Putin: I would like to thank you and congratulate you on finishing this very interesting and important work that lasted for many years. You are right, when they read Wikipedia online, people get a lot of varied and important information. However, when it is not entirely accurate, it does more harm than good. This is why this information touchstone is so valuable.
Thank you very much! Congratulations!