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Italians speak about Russia, the West, and attempts to abolish Russian culture

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Italians speak about Russia, the West, and attempts to abolish Russian culture


Alla Shelyapina

Photo credit: (CC BY 4.0)

The leaders of the Friends of the Great Russia cultural association (Amici Della Grande Russia) in Italy believe that the Western policy of abolishing Russian culture in Europe has finally failed. Furthermore, it was doomed to failure from the beginning.

For instance, this fact can be illustrated by the current events at Italy's main theater featuring an enviable consistency with works by Russian authors in its repertoire. Teatro alla Scala (La Scala Theater) in Milan continues to offer productions with Russian performers and directors in its program even today.

On January 22, the theater will present Nureyev Behind the Bar show with the participation of the theater orchestra and students of the ballet school. The program includes a suite from Sergei Prokofiev's opera Romeo and Juliet and a suite from Pyotr Tchaikovsky's ballet The Nutcracker choreographed by Anna Olkhova. From January 22 to 25, Dmitri Shostakovich's Symphony No. 4 in C Minor will be played as part of a symphony concert program. On January 27, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra will take the renowned stage to perform Sergei Prokofiev's Fifth Symphony in B-flat Major. Yet, that's just some examples of a one-month repertoire.

The recent 15th Assembly of the Russian World was attended by a delegation of the Friends of Great Russia Association. Furthermore, the first days of November are traditionally marked by the Pushkin Prize award ceremony. It was established by the Association in 2014. The ceremony is held every other year. It honors artists, writers, and researchers for their contribution to the strengthening of Russia-Italy ties and cross-cultural interaction. In 2023, the Prize was awarded for the fifth time.

We asked the Association's representatives how they developed an affection for Russian culture and what contemporary Italians thought about Russia.

Alfredo Franco Nicoletti, the member of the Friends of Great Russia Association. His interest in Russia was sparked by Russian literature. Having explored it, he decided to study the Russian language.

“Members of our organization are mostly native Italians. There are also many of those who have Russian wives. Russian women are the ones who, in many ways, inspire love for their culture in their Italian husbands. I see a lot of similarities between our cultures. The Russians have adopted a lot from the Italian classics in architecture, music, and painting. We have a sense of cultural tradition, of ancestral art, and a sense of continuity. We have a common origin rooted in the ancient Roman and ancient Greek traditions of art. Russian people are very sensitive and recognize the fine qualities of other people. Common human values are the basis for a genuine civil society. Only those who share such values can face the future with confidence.

You should know that the things shown on Italian television should not be perceived as an overwhelming sentiment towards Russia. It is not like that! Italians have a very critical mind. They are mature enough to understand the actual causes behind the conflict between Russia and the West. Many people understand that the whole thing is about the USA's determination to safeguard its hegemony. The US is pressuring all European countries, the EU, to implement sanctions, and to promise military aid to Ukraine. However, there are many more Russophiles in Italy than you think.”

Winners of the Pushkin Prize 2023 (awarded by the Friends of Great Russia Association)

Paolo Dragonetti De Torres Rutili, Vice-President of the Cultural Association and co-founder of the International Pushkin Prize. His interest in Russian culture was sparked by Alexander Pushkin's poetry. Paolo started learning Russian to be able to read Alexander Pushkin in the original.

“It is important for Italians to know Russian culture. For some reason, many people in our country believe that Leo Tolstoy was the father of the contemporary Russian language. Italians know Leo Tolstoy and Fyodor Dostoevsky much better known than Alexander Pushkin. Our Pushkin Prize is a two-way project. Italians get to know Russia, and Russians get to know Italy.

In 2021, three Italian students translated 700 pages of Fyodor Dostoevsky's letters into Italian! We awarded them the Pushkin Prize for this huge work in the year of the writer's 200th anniversary. Another student was awarded our prize for his scientific work on Mikhail Lermontov's poetry. It also works the other way around. Your film director Andrei Konchalovsky recently produced a brilliant movie, Sin, about the great Italian sculptor Michelangelo Buonarotti.”

Leo Maria Galatti, the lawyer who represents the Association in the Italian Parliament. He was the one who encouraged everyone to organize rallies in defense of Russian culture after the Association had received threatening letters. Those rallies were held in Rome and Milan in the summer of 2022. His love for Russian culture started with curiosity.

“The Russian world began to live better after the collapse of the USSR. It was interesting for me to learn the difference between Orthodoxy and Catholicism. How does the symbiosis of Russian and Italian cultures take place? How can two societies that have similarities yet different backgrounds become so naturally infused with each other? The culture's right to existence and the right of any person to have free access to any cultural heritage object or contemporary cultural product is a universal human right from the perspective of general jurisprudence. As an Italian, I have an inalienable right to explore Russian culture. Just like you Russians have an inalienable right to explore Italian or any other culture.

The problem we face today is that globalism has mixed everything up. There are no boundaries between good and evil. Free access to information, a variety of views, and the capacity to express the most controversial ideas have made our world complex. The crucial role in this world is played by the classical cultural tradition based on the fundamental morals and ethics outlined in the Bible. However, today there is a real threat of Christian traditions being compromised. For example, there is a transgender person in the Italian government. He ended up there for the sake of declaring tolerance and respect for minority rights because our Prime Minister Meloni derives her framework from democratic Christianity where minorities are provided the opportunity to represent their rights in the political arena. However, it doesn't mean that the majority of the nation supports the government and the minorities' demands or agrees with their opinions. It's just that their voices are loud, and only they can be heard! Yet you should know that the corrupt media does not represent the majority viewpoints. The conservative spirit of the majority reigns in Italy, as it does in Russia. It is centered on a return to the traditional, Christian values taking into account the progress and the need to uphold the fundamentals of democracy.”

One of the active members of the Associazione "Amici Della Grande Russia" Daniele Lanza works in the Italian RT office and helps his fellow citizens to discover and understand Russia and its people better. Daniele has been living in Russia for 15 years. He has obtained Russian citizenship and does his best to strengthen the friendship between Russia and Italy year by year. His colleagues in Italy continue to defend the right of Italians to study and enjoy Russian culture without restriction.

Read also: Sovietici: Russian participants of the Resistance remembered in Italy 


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