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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

Friday, Oct. 31


Put your grammar and logical thinking to the test in a fun and friendly environment during the British Book Center’s Board Game Evening starting at 5 p.m. today. The event is free and all are welcome to attend.



Saturday, Nov. 1


The men and women who dedicate their lives to fitness get their chance to compete for the title of best body in Russia at today’s Grand Prix Fitness House PRO, the nation’s premier bodybuilding competition. Not only will men and women be competing for thousands of dollars in prizes and a trip to represent their nation at Mr. Olympia but sporting goods and nutritional supplements will also be available for sale. Learn more about the culture of the Indian subcontinent during Diwali, the annual festival of lights that will be celebrated in St. Petersburg this weekend at the Culture Palace on Tambovskaya Ul. For 100 rubles ($2.40), festival-goers listen to Indian music, try on traditional Indian outfits and sample dishes highlighting the culinary diversity of the billion-plus people in the South Asian superpower.



Sunday, Nov. 2


Check out the latest video and interactive games at the Gaming Festival at the Mayakovsky Library ending today. Meet with the developers of the popular and learn more about their work, or learn how to play one of their creations with the opportunity to ask the creators themselves about the exact rules.



Monday, Nov. 3


Non-athletes can get feed their need for competition without breaking a sweat at the Rock-Paper-Scissors tournament this evening at the Cube Bar at Lomonosova 1. Referees will judge the validity of each matchup award points to winners while the city’s elite fight for the chance to be called the best of the best. Those hoping to play must arrange a team beforehand and pay 200 rubles ($4.80) to enter.



Tuesday, Nov. 4


Attend the premiere of Canadian director Xavier Dolan’s latest film “Mommy” at the Avrora theater this evening. The fifth picture from the 25-year-old, it is the story of an unruly teenager but the most alluring (or unappealing) aspect is the way the film was shot: in a 1:1 format that is more reminiscent of Instagram videos than cinematic art. Tickets cost 400 rubles ($9.60) and snacks and drinks will be available.



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