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Monaco Celebrates Year of Russian Culture

Published: April 28, 2014 (Issue # 1807)



  • The small Mediterranean principality of Monaco is best known for its world-famous casino and is home to wealthy Russian expats.
    Photo: Daimler Chrysler

MONTE CARLO — During a traditional New Year cocktail on Jan. 8, the host and minister of state of the principality of Monaco, Michel Roger, announced to general surprise that 2015 would be the "Year of Russia" in Monaco.

This will be the first time that Monaco has dedicated an entire year to a single country, having previously only committed brief periods to other countries' cultural heritages. The decision was made upon Prince Albert II's return from an official October visit to Russia, where he agreed on the initiative after talks with President Vladimir Putin, according to the local Riviera Times.

Some may question the wisdom of preparing for a Year of Russia in the heart of Europe at a time when relations between Russia and the West increasingly sour over Ukraine. But Henri Fissore, the Monaco diplomat in charge of organizing the Year of Russia, said that the event only sought to celebrate historic links between the principality and Russia rather than stray from Monaco's traditional neutral stance in foreign affairs.

"Monaco is a small, neutral and independent state that has few strong political preoccupations outside things like environmental protection," Fissore said. "And in this case [Monaco] is simply a place of welcome for cultural, artistic, scientific, gastronomical and sport appreciation, to name a few."

Historic ties between Monaco and Russia go back to the 19th-century reign of Prince Charles III of Monaco and Tsar Alexander II. The two monarchs signed a number of treaties and agreements, and Alexander II became the first member of a royal family to be awarded the prestigious Order of St. Charles established in Monaco in 1858.

Monaco became a favorite spot for the Russian bourgeois and aristocracy after the construction of its first casino and luxury hotels. Sergei Diaghilev's Ballets Russes, which many deem the most influential ballet company of the 20th century, performed in Monaco from 1911 to 1929.

Relations diminished with the 1917 Russian Revolution but have sprung back in recent years thanks to Monaco's tax status and geographic location. It is now visibly a favored place of residence for wealthy Russian businesspeople and their families, whose numbers have increased from only 46 families in 2009 to 347 in 2013, making up about 1 percent of the total population of 37,579, said Roger, reported local Russian-language newspaper Monako.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Thursday, July 31


Develop your leadership abilities during a lecture by famous Russian author and coach Radislav Gandapas. The event starts at 9 a.m. at 5 Lodeinopolskaya Ulitsa. The price for entry is 20,500 rubles ($570).


Relax and enjoy a Parisian atmosphere with some romantic and laidback jazz tunes during the Night of French Music at Lenny Jam Cafe, 63 Ligovsky Prospekt. The entrance fee is 250 rubles ($7).


The Women’s Business Club is hosting a Beauty Brunch where participants are invited to discuss the latest news in the beauty industry and listen to lectures by professional stylists in the business.



Friday, Aug. 1


Bikers from all around the world will gather to take part in a parade, extreme shows and rock concerts during the International Biker Festival that revs its engines today and runs through Aug. 3 near Olgino Hotel, 4/2 Primorskogo Shosse.


The Peter and Paul Fortress will be turned into an open-air cinema today and tomorrow as part of the 5th International Short and Animation Film Festival. A huge screen across the fortress walls will air short films non-stop with board games, photo sessions and other activities also on offer for visitors. For more information, visit www.opencinemafest.ru



Saturday, Aug. 2


Gatchina Palace Park Museum will host its second annual Night of Light, an impressive audio-visual show across the night sky. Tickets are 600 rubles ($16).


If graphic design is more your thing then check out Illustration Day, where you will be able to visit an exhibition, attend lectures by professionals and even show experts some of your own work. The event starts at noon at Zona Deystvia, 73 Ligovsky Prospekt. The entrance fee is 350 rubles ($10).



Sunday, Aug. 3


History lovers shouldn’t miss the chance to see reenactments of World War I battles in Pushkin at noon. Besides exciting war scenes, visitors can enjoy live music, historical costumes, an equestrian show and a fancy-dress parade starting from the Moscow gates.


Garage Sale, the popular and growing flea market where nothing is priced over 500 rubles ($14.11), starts today at noon in Loft-Project Etagi, 74 Ligovsky Prospekt. Be sure to get in early to score a bargain. Entry costs 50 rubles ($1.40)



Monday, Aug. 4


Continue the working week with a calm and steady mind with a free yoga lesson at 7 p.m. in the Bukvoyed store at 23A Vladimirsky Prospekt.



Tuesday, Aug. 5


Visit The Romanov Dynasty doll exhibition today, where more than fifty porcelain dolls depicting Russian rulers, and made by Olina Ventzel, will be on show. The exhibition continues through Aug. 31 in Sheremetyev Palace, 34 Fontanka Naberezhnaya.



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