17 December 2017
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SPEECHES, INTERVIEWS, ARTICLES

23.09.2015

In times of official sulk, culture and people lead the way (Ambassador A.Yakovenko for RBTH, 22 September 2015)

The exhibition Cosmonauts: Birth of the Space Age was launched last week at the Science Museum in London to universal acclaim. It was a moving experience to see Russian and British cosmonauts and scientists whose names went down in history meet to unveil the largest display of its kind ever to be held in the museum.

The British public can see a vast range of items and artefacts (most of which have never been exhibited abroad, and some of which were declassified especially for the event). They tell the story of the space race – which was one of the most epic and thrilling sagas of the 20th century.

As the global powers were still reeling from tragedy of the Second World War, they found themselves locked into the Cold War mindset. From the very beginning, space research was destined to become just one of the aspects of this global competition.

But suddenly, it became more than that. The thrill of new discoveries and mastering new technologies became the universal drive for scientists, engineers and cosmonauts.

Their achievements were seen as crucial steps in mankind’s discovery of the new frontiers. Britain cheerfully greeted Yuri Gagarin – and few were bothered by the fact that he was a communist and a Soviet Air Force pilot.

Gagarin was the first man sent into space, and that managed to outweigh all ideological and political considerations. What was destined to be a field of fierce ideological and military confrontation went much further than that, giving birth to a mighty unifying idea, as well as to a whole range of astonishing commercial opportunities.

Today, this spectacular exhibition is held against the background of serious political disagreements between Russia and Britain. Even though it is not fuelled by an ideological divide, as was the case in the past, the differing narratives are here to stay.

However, this shouldn’t act as an obstacle to cultural exchanges. At the height of East-West confrontation, Moscow theatres staged Shakespeare’s immortal plays and London audiences flocked to the new renditions of Chekhov’s classic works.

Moreover, in the 20th century, all thaws in relations between nations have been ushered in by the holding of landmark cultural events – such as the groundbreaking tour of the Kirov Ballet to Britain in 1956.

Such events have always been a precursor of convergence at a political level, especially in matters of foreign policy and international affairs, where searching for middle ground and seeking compromise has been a cultural norm for a century.

True, culture has a value of its own, but in many ways cultural visionaries define the future more robustly than political leaders. “For a human being there is no other future save that outlined by art,” the Russian poet Joseph Brodsky, who was recently honored with a plaque in Hampstead, said in his Nobel Prize lecture. Culture also has an important role in stopping us sliding into a denial of each other’s humanity.

Now, in the absence of political dialogue and intergovernmental co-operation, people-to-people contacts are more important than ever before. A civil forum, like the ones Russia takes part in with other major European nations, seems to be a timely natural vehicle for unofficial bilateral discourse on matters of mutual interest.

This is the way we can maintain and build up trust and understanding between our societies. It would be wrong to be at the mercy of adverse political weather. Let people help bring about a change for the better in our overall relationship.

 




LATEST EVENTS

13.12.2017 - Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's remarks at the Presentation of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia by Russia 2018 Local Organising Committee.

Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends, I am pleased to welcome you to the Russian Embassy at the Presentation of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia by Russia 2018 Local Organising Committee. It’s a common knowledge, that football is the most popular game in the world. It is an honour for us to host the 2018 FIFA World Cup for the first time in the history of our country. I believe that those who come to Russia to support their national teams will leave with unforgettable memories.


08.12.2017 - Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's remarks at the Roscosmos "Sputnik" exhibition launch at Rossotrudnichestvo

Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's remarks at the Roscosmos "Sputnik" exhibition launch at Rossotrudnichestvo (7 December 2017)


25.11.2017 - Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's remarks at the reception at the Embassy dedicated to Russian Film Week (24 November 2017)

Ladies and gentlemen, Dear friends First of all, I would like to pay tribute to the outstanding Russian opera singer Dmitri Hvorostovsky who passed away this week. In 2015 he gave a concert in this very hall. I am delighted to welcome you at our reception dedicated to the Russian Film Week and the environmental causes it champions. This year their charity partner is World Wide Fund for Nature, which runs many projects in Russia in coordination and with support of the Russian Government. Russia has a unique, fascinating wildlife. A number of this week’s films show the natural beauty of our land and are sure to raise awareness of how fragile this beauty is. We appreciate the WWF effort in Russia and worldwide and call on everybody to become a supporter, especially this year, marked as Year of Ecology in Russia.


20.11.2017 - Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's remarks at the launch of the Russian Film Week (19 November 2017)

Ladies and gentlemen, It is a pleasure for me to be at the opening of the second edition of the Russian Film Week here in London – which this year also spans to Cambridge and Edinburgh.


16.10.2017 - Unpublished letter to the Editor of The Times (sent 12 October)

Sir, If British MPs are free to speak out, wherever they wish, on any issue, why try to block their freedom of speech (“Helping Putin”, 11 October)? If a TV channel wants (and is legally bound) to present different points of view, why slam those who express these views? If the mere act of giving an interview to foreign media amounts to high treason, why does The Times interview Russian politicians without fear? And finally - while MPs critical of Russia are welcome guests on the Russian TV channel RT, does your paper give the same treatment to those critical of the paper’s owner? Konstantin Shlykov Press Secretary of the Embassy of the Russian Federation


25.09.2017 - PRESENTATION by Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk at the Christian Future of Europe Conference 22 September 2017, London

Your Eminences and Your Excellencies, dear Mr. Ambassador, conference organizers and participants, I cordially greet all of those gathered today at the Russian Embassy in London to partake in this conference dedicated to the question of the future of Christianity in Europe. This topic is not only not losing any of its relevance, but is resounding ever anew. Experts believe that today Christianity remains not only the most persecuted religious community on the planet, but is also encountering fresh challenges which touch upon the moral foundations of peoples' lives, their faith and their values. Recent decades have seen a transformation in the religious and ethnic landscape of Europe.


23.09.2017 - Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's remarks at presentation of the book "The Mystery of Repentance" held at the Russian Embassy

I’m glad to welcome you here to a discussion of two prominent hierarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church and the Church of England, on Christian future of Europe.


12.09.2017 - Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's remarks at the exhibition opening (“Scythians: Warriors of ancient Siberia” 12 September, British Museum)

Today the British Museum and the State Hermitage of Saint-Petersburg are once again proving their unique world class by bringing a whole new civilization to London. Ancient, and almost mythical, but creative, powerful and very different from what we have all known about antiquity – the Scythians.


14.07.2017 - Letter of Consul General Mr Andrey Pritsepov to the Herald newspaper, published 13.07.2017

I NOTE a rather questionable article by Mark McLaughlin (“Russians lurking near Faslane to eavesdrop on nuclear submarines", The Herald, July 11). Do you really believe that 145 million Russians would elect a leader who would command his nuclear submarines to chase someone's sole and lonely operative U-boat which is firing missiles in the opposite direction or Type 45 destroyers with faulty engines or an aircraft carrier without aircraft on it, all of them being located in Scottish waters?


14.07.2017 - Letter of Consul General Mr Andrey Pritsepov to the Herald newspaper, published 13.07.2017

I NOTE a rather questionable article by Mark McLaughlin (“Russians lurking near Faslane to eavesdrop on nuclear submarines", The Herald, July 11). Do you really believe that 145 million Russians would elect a leader who would command his nuclear submarines to chase someone\'s sole and lonely operative U-boat which is firing missiles in the opposite direction or Type 45 destroyers with faulty engines or an aircraft carrier without aircraft on it, all of them being located in Scottish waters?



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