We speak different languages
Nowadays words and terms change their usual meanings. We should be careful using them. We should understand that there is a different approach to words in today's world, different from the one there used to be. When we speak, we believe we are understood but very often we are not.
A good example is the word "museum". We donít like a museum
being called a musty and shabby little shop selling old things... Yet,
When the discussion of church restitution began, I said time and again that this process should not be called a great holy cause. Itís part of restitution as a whole, part of conveyance of property, privatization. Church restitution is in line with claims from other organizations, former owners and countries. The law has not been signed yet but everyone knows it was easy to pass. Property will be conveyed to church. Thank God, wise people introduced limitations: the law does not cover pieces of art and collections of archives, libraries and museums. Perhaps, only for the time being.
What is happening now?
A recent example is the demand of Agudas Chassidei Chabad, an American
religious association which represents
We believe the fate of these things should be decided by a Russian court.
A judicial opinion on this case has already been expressed. I mean the
claim made in the US. A judge in Washington made a decision that the collection
Russia is supposed to have to return what it has on its territory. How
can the "Schneerson collection" be wangled? We know what is done in such cases: the state
Consequently, the Russian government wonít issue permissions for exhibitions in the US. The Hermitage planned a few of them for this year. In February paintings by Cezanne, Gauguin, Canaletto were to go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the National Gallery, Washington DC, from London. However, they are now going back home. I talked to directors of American museums and I said to them, I am sorry but you have to go to the state department. The problem has to be solved. The year 2013 was declared the year of Russia and the US. Now the established cultural relations are under threat.
We havenít had such problems for a long time. When we had similar problems
in France, we publicly listed the exhibitions that would not go there
if we anticipate the paintings might be delayed. The courts called it "Piotrokovsky threat". As a result, they weighed everything
up before making a decision taking Franceís interests into consideration.
I repeat it over and over
Some time ago when the talks about the pieces of art captured as war
trophies only began I warned my colleagues
Donít trouble trouble; donít open dangerous boxes. When we speak about justice in various issues in a loud, almost hysterical voice, we should think about consequences. There is no doubt new claims will soon be brought by Ukrain, Lithuania, Latvia... Then, as we have said many times, there will be a line of heirs of property owners. We have things that people convicted of theft of property forfeited during the Soviet time. Now theft of property is no longer viewed as a horrible crime but is a new economic policy.
There is one more aspect. When we talk about words we should remember that people who come to power now think in a different way. It is not good or bad. It is a fact. They come from business, so they do not have a habit of thinking about state interests along with thinking about their own interests. It is another way of thinking, another concept of justice. They and we speak different languages. And not only they.
Nobody remembers now how the humiliating nickname "the Caucasus
native" took root. For years this offensive, humiliating unscientific
combination introduced by ignorant enforcement agencies has been used.
We should give careful consideration to such words as "benefit".
Benefits are not offered for nothing. They compensates for costs that
were born. That is why there are almost no government benefits. When we talk about autonomy, I mean that our main objective is to preserve the
existing autonomy of institutions of culture. Others understand it as
the law on autonomous organizations designed to reduce competitive advantage
of state enterprises. Attempts are being made to convince us that competition
is fair. I agree, it is fair when it does not come to the
Obviously, culture needs reliable government guarantees inside and outside
the country. Now one of our targets is state guarantee of insuring the
exhibitions coming to Russia. We canít afford commercial insurance. To bring a good exhibition would cost millions. We are trying to obtain state
insurance. We are
To arrange an exhibition an agreement between the country museums used to be enough. Then the Ministry for Culture required an insurance. Problems began. How can Kazan make an insurance for an exhibition from the Hermitage? There is another side of the problem connected with law number 94. Commercial approach to insurance means there should be a tender. It means there should be an Internet advertisement specifying what exhibition goes where, the number of exhibits, their cost, how much silver, how much gold... We are not going to take anything anywhere after it.
It turns out now we need reliable guarantees that exhibits will be returned.
Everything that is connected with giving museum exhibits
We know how our internal problems can affect the situation abroad. Restitution
is a broad concept. The solution is not in refusing to give anybody anything.
We should not do it. At the same time we should not talk about justice.
In fact, we do what is required by todayís spiritual development of Russia.