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Medinsky the Media Magnet

Published: May 19, 2014 (Issue # 1810)



  • Vladimir Medinsky pictured on the Saratov-based Komsomolskaya Pravda website with Conchita Wurst
    Photo: John Freedman / SPT

Russian Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky received an honorary fellowship on Thursday a few days late and not quite as planned.

The institution doing the honors was Ca' Foscari University of Venice, Italy, but a planned ceremony in Italy on May 12 was junked at the last minute. Instead, the honor was publicly presented to Medinsky in Moscow on Thursday. The official reason for the delay and change of venue, according to Radio Svoboda, was a conflict in the Minister's schedule. Or, as many media outlets have reported, the change may have come about as a result of a protest among students and faculty in Venice, claiming that Medinsky was unworthy of the honor.

As reported in The Local, an English-language site for news about Italy, Medinsky raised hackles in Europe a month ago when he suggested that European culture has grown depraved and put forth Russia as "the last keeper of European culture, Christian values and truly European civilization."

On the same day Medinsky was honored by the Italian university, a group of 50 Russian writers and artists condemned the event in an open letter published on Colta.ru. In part, the letter stated that, "The awarding of an honorary degree by a European university to one of the most odious figures in contemporary Russian cultural politics, one who does battle with European values, multiculturalism and tolerance, will inflict damage on the reputation of the educational institution..."

This latest incident does not particularly stand out in the larger scheme of things. It is, however, still another example of how Medinsky, more than any Russian minister of culture in recent memory, has — by choice and by fortune — inserted himself into the story of Russian culture. Most of the time, it has had little to do with culture as art, and much to do with culture as ideology and morality.

It is a sign of the rapidly shifting times, a period in which the public is encouraged to choose sides for or against ideas, policies, opinions and people.

This can be gleaned in an interview published on Wednesday by Izvestia, wherein Medinsky discussed the now-notorious letter composed in March by the Ministry of Culture and signed by hundreds of prominent Russian artists who supported President Vladimir Putin's policies in Ukraine. He claimed that the idea for the open letter came about because "two or three" famous cultural figures, "always the same people," were constantly criticizing Putin's position.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Wednesday, Jan. 28



Feel like becoming a publishing mogul? Stop by the Freedom anti-cafe at 7 Ulitsa Kazanskaya today at 8 p.m. where Simferopol, Crimea-based founder and chief editor of the Holst online magazine will talk about creating an internet magaine, including what stories to cover, how find an audience and build a team, where to find inspiration and how to stand out from the crowd. Admission is the normal price of the anti-café — 2 rubles per minute, which includes tea and snacks.



Learn everything you always wanted to know about wine, and perhaps a bit more, at the Le Nez du Vin seminar for wine lovers. Held at the WineJet Sommelier School, 100 Bolshoy Prospekt Petrograd Side, at 7:30 p.m., the event will cover wine production, the basics of wine tasting, the concept of terroir and the various countries where wine is produced. Tickets are 750 rubles and include a wine tasting. Register by calling +7 921 744 6264.



Thursday, Jan. 29



Attend a master class on how to deal with complicated business negotiations today at the International Banking Institute, 6 Malaya Sadovaya Ulitsa. Running from 3 to 6 p.m., Vadim Sokolov, an assistant professor at the St. Petersburg State University of Economics, will introduce aspects of managing the negotiation process and increasing its effectiveness. Attendance is free with pre-registration by telephone on 909 3056 or online at www.ibispb.ru



Celebrate what would be writer Anton Chekhov's 155th birthday at the Bokvoed bookshop at 46 Nevsky Prospekt. Starting at 5 p.m., the legendary author will be feted with readings of his stories and short performances based on his plays by various St. Petersburg actors. Chekhov's books will also be offered at a 15% discount during the event.



Friday, Jan. 30



The Lermontov Central Library, 19 Liteyny Prospekt, will screen 'Almost Famous’ in English with Russian subtitles at 6:30 p.m. Cameron Crowe's Academy Award-winning comedy from 2000 stars Billy Crudup, Kate Hudson, and Patrick Fugit, and tells the story of a budding music journalist at Rolling Stone magazine in the 1970s. Admission is free.



Meet renowned Russian poet, journalist and writer Dmitry Bykov, famous for his biographies of Boris Pasternak, Bulat Okudzhava and Maxim Gorky, and winner of 2006 National Bestseller Award. Bykov will read old and new poems as well as answer questions about his works at the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, Main Hall, at 7 p.m. Tickets start at 1,000 rubles and are available at city ticket offices and the from the Philharmonic website www.philharmonia.spb.ru.



A retrospective of the films of Roman Polanski starts today at Loft-Project Etagi, 74 Ligovsky Prospekt, with a screening of ‘Repulsion’ at 7 p.m. and ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ at 9:15 p.m. The series runs through Feb. 4 and will include Polanski's eminently creepy ‘The Tenant,’ the cult comedy ‘The Fearless Vampire Killers’ and ‘Cul-de-sac’ among others. Tickets are 150-200 rubles and the complete schedule is available at www.vk.com/artpokaz/



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