The meeting participants finalised the results of the society’s work over the past year and presented this year’s best projects.
The Russian Geographical Society also awarded medals and letters of commendation.
* * *
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, friends,
I am glad to welcome members of the Russian Geographical Society Board of Trustees and guests of this annual meeting.
We are meeting again at the historical RGO headquarters. This beautiful building is almost 110 years old and for all these years it has been faithfully serving the causes of raising awareness, nature preservation, development of education, culture and local studies.
It is good to know that these traditions continue. This place brings together passionate people pursuing certain goals and creates brilliant and popular projects in various areas. I would like to thank everybody who helps to fulfil RGO’s initiatives. It is you who can take credit for its success over the past years.
Support from the trustees, members of the Media Council, allows the RGO to be, as they say, in the thick of the country’s public life. I want to note the RGO’s significant contribution to the Year of the Environment that was marked last year. I am certain RGO members and partners will be as proactive during the Year of the Volunteer. Even more so because the selfless and socially important work for the benefit of the country has always been the spirit and the attitude of the Russian Geographical Society.
The society’s educational activity is expanding. Lectures, meetings with prominent figures, exhibitions and film screenings have become a permanent part of the cultural scene in many Russian cities.
Of course, the Concept of Geographical Education developed by the RGS deserves special mention. Experts and teachers were talking about the need for this and now it is fully ready. I hope it will be endorsed by the Ministry of Education and Science very soon.
I consider the RGS initiative to name new streets in Russian cities after our great geographers and travellers to be important.
Moscow was the first to respond to this idea. Streets in the southwest of the capital have been named after Dmitry Anuchin, Pyotr Semenov-Tyan-Shansky, Mikhail Pevtsov and Alexander Voyeikov. The memory of other outstanding RGC members – Obruchev, Vavilov, Vernadsky and Miklukho-Maklai – has already been eternised there.
A square and a lane have been named after the Russian Geographical Society in Krasnodar. I hope other regions will follow suit.
Needless to say, this should not be done casually. Naturally, it is important not just to assign names related to our history to streets and city facilities but also to include some serious educational work, to place plaques with information on the streets about our national heroes and glorious events of the past.
In general, toponymics – names of geographical and other places – require special attention. Today we are facing attempts to gradually remove from the world map Russian names given by our explorers and travellers in past centuries and decades. Let me emphasise that this erases the memory of Russia’s contribution to the exploration of the planet and developments in science. This s particularly striking in the Antarctic where the names given by the discoverers of the continent Lazarev and Bellinshausen have almost ceased to exist.
Today very few people know that Borodino is the primordial, historical name of the island of Smith, that Snow is Maly Yaroslavets, Livingstone is Smolensk and so on. Meanwhile, we will celebrate the anniversary of the discovery of the Antarctic in 2020. This is the achievement of Russian seafarers. Examples of name substitution are not limited to the remote Antarctic, some are closer, but I will not dwell on them now.
All this is the result, among other things, of the lack of modern domestically made maps. Only foreign ones are in the public domain, and they generally provide secondary names of geographical sites. As such, it is proposed to develop a new Russian Atlas of the World involving the Russian Geographical Society, so that all such cases will be addressed properly.
We do not intend to impose anything on anyone, it is not necessary, but we do not have the right to condone or ignore the distortion of historical and geographical truth and justice in this case.
I would ask Rosreestr (Federal Service for State Registration, Cadastre and Cartography) to develop the atlas together with the Russian Geographical Society and the Defence Ministry, which – provided all necessary procedures are followed – should provide access to its cartographic materials for the atlas developers and for travellers, tourists and motorists, including via modern computer technologies. The classification label on many maps is clearly outdated and looks simply archaic.
Our goal is to preserve what was done by our predecessors, and of course, to add new names and new amazing events to the annals of the Russian Geographical Society. I would like to take this opportunity to announce the start of the competition for the third Russian Geographical Society Award.
With the support of the Board of Trustees and Media Council, the Russian Geographical Society is carrying out more and more expeditions, educational events and documentary projects on Russia. At the end of the year at the award ceremony, we will learn the names of the best and most worthy of them. We will honour those who devote their lives to studying our traditional heritage, promoting environmental awareness and protecting our native nature.
One such devotee is head of the Amur branch of the WWF Russia Pavel Fomenko. Three years ago, he was awarded the Small Gold Medal of the Russian Geographical Society for rescuing tigers. Unfortunately, recently he suffered an accident: one of his charges, a female tiger, seriously injured the researcher. Clearly, these things happen.
We wish Mr Fomenko a speedy recovery, and once again I would like to thank all the specialists of the reserve for their selfless work. Of course, we are proud of their work and its results.
Thank you very much for your attention. Let us begin.
Vladimir Putin: Colleagues, let me thank you all for the work you are doing together. I want to emphasise once again how important it is, and I am very pleased to note that we all do this work with pleasure and get satisfaction from it.
We also conducted informal on-site activities. We will think about this and meet at some interesting site we are working on, where we can talk about what else can and should be done in addition to completing the tasks set by the Russian Geographical Society.
Thank you very much.