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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

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 todays Grand Prix Fitness House PRO, the nations 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 citys 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 Dolans 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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