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Makers of Nesting Dolls Turn to State for Assistance

Published: March 17, 2009 (Issue # 1457)



  • Alexei Polikarpov.
    Photo: For The St. Petersburg Times

  • Dolls featuring Obama, Medvedev, the Beatles and Harry Potter?sell in St. Petersburg and Moscow for about 500 rubles.
    Photo: Nadia Popova / The St. Petersburg Times

  • A craftsman working at the Khokhloma Painting Plant in central Semyonov.
    Photo: Nadia Popova / The St. Petersburg Times

  • Molodtsova painting dolls in the Khokhloma workshop in the Nizhny Novgorod region. She earns 3,000 rubles a month.
    Photo: Nadia Popova / The St. Petersburg Times

SEMYONOV, Nizhny Novgorod Region The state will place about 1 billion rubles ($28.4 million) in orders for crafts such as nesting dolls and hand-painted dishes and could reduce taxes to support craft makers whose sales have plummeted, the Industry and Trade Ministry said last week Thursday.

Ministries, state agencies, the White House and the Kremlin will all make large purchases of matryoshki and khokhloma dishes to be used mainly for gifts, a spokeswoman for the ministry said.

The measures were announced at a meeting on Wednesday between Industry and Trade Minister Viktor Khristenko and 20 souvenir makers.

One of the main measures of support should be state orders, Khristenko said at the meeting, according to a statement on the ministrys web site Thursday. We still have to work out the regulatory documents ... and draw up a list of the products the state will buy, he said.

The state will also help the producers sell their crafts at crafts fairs both at home and abroad.

Speaking earlier this month, prior to Khristenkos announcement, Alexei Polikarpov was apologetic during an interview in his cold, dimly lit office on the outskirts of Semyonov, the heart of Russias nesting doll industry. With sales of the countrys most famous souvenir diving, Polikarpov cut production, leaving fewer wood chips to heat his shop.

Across town at the Khokhloma Painting Plant, the countrys largest matryoshka producer, the situation was no better. Salaries were slashed along with output as the iconic wooden figures piled up on storeroom shelves.

Crafts makers in Semyonov, a town of about 25,000 people 70 kilometers north of Nizhny Novgorod, have been particularly hard hit by the economic crisis. Polikarpov said he saw domestic demand fall 30 percent in November compared with a year earlier, while foreign sales sunk by as much as 60 percent.

In January and February, domestic demand was halved.

We get fewer orders from souvenir shops, companies and private clients, Polikarpov said sadly. His company, Dyuna, had almost no sales in December, despite the traditionally lucrative New Years holidays.

Polikarpov used to sell 400,000 rubles ($11,300) worth of dolls per month in Russia and had exports of $10,000 to $15,000 mainly to Britain, Argentina and the United States.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Aug. 22


Get ready to pledge allegiance to the flag during National Flag Day, paying tribute to when, 23 years ago today, the iconic hammer-and-sickle was replaced with the tricolor that now flutters in the wind. Petersburgers will be treated to a free concert on Palace Square, a military parade and a culminating air show featuring Russias Russian Knights stunt pilots.



Saturday, Aug. 23


Uppsala Park plays host to Fairy Noon today, a performance of five separate fairy tales ranging from folk classics to more haunting selections. There will be three different renditions of the tales throughout the day and tickets start at 500 rubles ($13.80) for adults and 300 rubles ($8.30) for children.


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Sunday, Aug. 24


The tortured genius of Dutch master Vincent van Gogh gets his day in the centers Konnushnaya Ploschad during Make Art Like Van Gogh, a daylong celebration of the artist that will allow amateur artists to try and replicate the work that made the famed painter world-renowned.


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Monday, Aug. 25


Today kicks off the Elena Obraztsovoy International Competition for Young Vocalists in the large hall of the Shostakovich Philharmonic. Talented youngsters will showcase their range over the next six days before a winner is chosen on Aug. 30.



Tuesday, Aug. 26


Love movies but hate all those words? Then check out Rodina Cinema Centers Factor of Consensus film forum this evening. Silent movie classics from the beginning of the 20th century will be screened and accompanied by a pianist, who will provide the soundtrack for the ongoing action. The screenings begin at 7 p.m. Check Rodinas website for more details.



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