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Compatriots Club – No Appeal Left Behind
– I believe, that our biggest breakthrough is signing a Memorandum of Cooperation with the World Coordination Council of Russian Compatriots Living Abroad. Our project “Russian Corner” on promoting the Russian language in the neighbouring countries and abroad is a special computer programme, which can be downloaded free. Thanks to this, classes on learning Russian were equipped in Georgia, and in Kyrgyzstan – in Osha – we have opened a Center of Russian Learning and testing its level. We have given study guides to the South-Eastern Ukraine, to Donetsk – almost 4 thousand units, as many schools were ruined there and they were lacking text books. We also gave books for advanced learners of Russian to Slovakia. Now, we are preparing a lot of study guides to the USA – to the Russian Centre of Arizona and for other states.
I can say, we have started meeting our compatriots actively. Our Commission has organized several exhibitions of Russian compatriots’ works at the Public Chamber of the Russian Federation. The works were both artistic – like illustrations to “War and Peace” – and photographic, telling about the life of our compatriots abroad.
Apart from that, last year we held an International Literary Contest “Russian Word” in the framework of the Year of Literature. Young prosaic writers and poets from the CIS states, neigbouring countries, from the USA, Great Britain and Germany took part in it. When we were holding the contest, we found out it was very popular among young people. The Jury defined two winners in two nominations and in November last year, we held a big gala-concert at the Pushkin’s State Museum, where the winners read extracts from their works. Andrei Dementyev, who is also a member of our Commission of the Public Chamber, was present at the meeting – he read his poems, holding a kind of a master-class for young people.
We receive many letters and appeals from our compatriots at the Public Chamber; they are connected with the issues of receiving Russian citizenship, other difficult situations, and we try to help. Apart from that, our Commission together with the Russian Fund of Peace assists preparing files for the European Court of Human Rights from inhabitants of South-Eastern Ukraine, who suffered from the military actions of Kiev authorities.
Together with the Russian Fund of Peace, we also assisted development of the World Coordination Council of Russian Compatriots Living Abroad website – in particular, we uploaded several digital books on the destiny of Russian compatriots abroad. We have also agreed that we will upload information about our most interesting upcoming events to the website. I think that the Commission on Public Diplomacy Development and Supporting Compatriots Abroad has showed its efficiency. And it is very important that our compatriots understand we need them and we are ready to help them.
– Not so long ago, Compatriots Club was created at the Public Chamber. Could you please tell us what it is going to do?
– It was a bit of a surprise even for me that our compatriots engaged into work so actively – they come to Russia and they want us to know how they live in their countries. We have held several meetings in the framework of the Club. We discuss the issues and the sore spots, they are anxious about. We also discussed how to simplify the procedure of getting Russian foreign passports abroad.
One of the meeting was dedicated to children’s festivals in the USA. There is an interesting talent contest named “Planet of Art”, which has been organized for a few years now. Its organisers asked to assist them in spreading information about it in Russia and other countries, as it is allowed to send works in digital form also, especially that not only children of compatriots, but also resident country children can take part in it. In order to take part in the contest, they study Russia, its culture and history. We are thus promoting information about our country and if children start taking interest in Russia, they soon come to learning the Russian language.
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In the nearest time, we are going to receive three groups from Slovakia together with the Fund of Peace - the winners of Slovakian Olympiad of Russian language. They were presented a trip to Russia for participation in the Olympiad. Last year, we received such a group from Bulgaria and received enthusiastic review from the participants.
The Russian language is also gaining popularity in the USA. For instance, authorities of Houston have recently asked our compatriots’ organization “Our Texas” to open a Russian school in the district.
Read also: Russian Special School to Open in Texas
– Yes, President of the Russian Cultural Center “Our Texas” Sofia Grinblat told us about that. They are very grateful to the Public Chamber for your assistance. How do you help them in particular?
– I wrote letters to Rossotrudnichestvo, Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Education and Science and asked to help, because it is important to support this idea at the governmental level.
More recent news: together with the Fund of Peace we are going to open a Chekhov’s school with advanced studies of Russian language and literature in Bishkek in September. Now we are working on arranging the building and equipping the classes with training tools. It regarded in Kyrgyzstan as a positive moment as the interest to Russian language has increased. Young people and their parents understand that together with entering into the Eurasian Economic Union, many career opportunities are opening and the Russian language is going to be even more popular.
I’d like to emphasize that Russkiy Mir Foundation is doing a lot in the sphere of Russian learning. Thanks to it, Russian Centres and cabinets for learning the language are opening all over the world. Last year in December, I visited Laos on occasion of events, dedicated to the 50th jubilee of diplomatic relations between our countries. There is a class of Russian learning at the University and many were willing to apply. Many of Laos’s leaders studied in the Soviet Union and it is important that the interest is restoring.
I have recently visited an international conference of non-commercial organisations in Strasbourg and met our compatriots there. They have a big request that the advanced courses for Russian teachers held in Paris could also be held in Strasbourg, at least in such a form, that an expert could come there for a day or two. A large Russian diaspora lives there and they adjoin Germany, so participants from that country could also come. They held the “Immortal Regiment” action incredibly there. A successful Russian children’s dancing collective is acting there and, of course, they would like visit Russia and perform here.
Having met our compatriots numerous time now, I can say, I’ve noticed a big difference – at least as compared to something I saw like eight years ago. Through the Fund of Peace, I have met lots of representatives of our diaspora abroad and I always felt some kind of disconnection. And now a tendency to unity has emerged. Position of our government has played its role, of course, which declared it would assist them at its best.
I can say, many new faces emerged. Young people used to adapt to their new resident country as soon as possible and had no interest in their previous motherland. Now they see some opportunities and feel they are needed in compatriots’ organisations.
– An exhibition “Torzhok Golden Embroiderers” was recently held in the Public Chamber of the RF with the support of Commission on Public Diplomacy Development and Supporting Compatriots Abroad. Are you trying to popularize our folk crafts in such a way?
– I was very interested to know for myself, that this craft is almost a thousand years now – they were found even during archeological excavations. This craft almost disappeared in 1990s. And then enthusiasts, who started reviving this ancient craft, emerged – they restored a museum at their own expense and gave a boost to forgotten traditions. Today, the golden embroidery is used in Vyacheslav Zaitsev’s collections. They hold very interesting festivals on the topic, but, unfortunately, we do not hear about it in the wide information space. And it is so interesting – both our and foreign tourists could visit them. So it is necessary to take those regions into account, while planning tourist routes.
Federal program of developing internal and incoming tourism is going on actively now, developing tourist clusters is planned. For example, the Public Chamber has organized a campaign with hashtag #îòäûõàåìâÐîññèè for those, who visited Russian regions and who upload their photos of beautiful places. Here, our compatriots can help us with spreading information about Russia in their information centres.
I’d like to add, that we try to work fast. We study every appeal thoroughly and none of them is left behind. We try to be a means of connection between population and authorities, because we are often easier to reach.