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Opening of the 7th St Petersburg International Cultural Forum

November 16, 2018, St Petersburg

Vladimir Putin attended the gala opening of the 7th St Petersburg International Cultural Forum.

The ceremony took place at the Mariinsky Theatre’s New Stage. The programme included musical masterpieces performed by global stars and talented young performers.

The annual St Petersburg International Cultural Forum was first held in 2012. This year’s theme is “Culture as the Country’s Strategic Potential.”

The forum is aimed at preserving and developing Russian culture, supporting cultural initiatives at the regional, federal and international levels, and promoting international cultural cooperation.


President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good evening, ladies and gentlemen,

The International Cultural Forum is among St Petersburg’s biggest events. Both city residents and guests eagerly await the concerts, stage productions, exhibitions, and lectures that are part of this event.

Projects in the arts, culture, history and education created by the forum participants explore important new ideas and confirm the triumph of talent, creative energy, and inspiration.

I would like to thank you and your colleagues for this celebration of art and education. Its popularity is further proof that culture has no boundaries; I see many friends from abroad present here.

When we started back in 2012, events were held at one venue, with more than 300 visitors. I have just learnt that the current festival’s events will be attended by 35,000 people, which is 100 times more. It is very telling.

The forum's professional venues traditionally bring together creative, government and public figures, patrons of the arts from various countries of the world. But the problems they raise in the cultural realm have a common character and are relevant to all, and the eventual success of their joint search for answers is clear.

This is all the more important when culture is regarded as the strategic potential of a state. That is the unifying theme of the discussions and programmes of the current forum.

Russia knows firsthand how great this potential is. What sets our country apart is its unique diversity of languages and traditions. For centuries, they have interwoven and enriched one another, imbuing our painters, writers and musicians with the strength and inspiration to create cultural brands of, without exaggeration, global significance. We are certainly very proud of that. And the main thing is that they gave us a clear understanding of the peacemaking mission of culture itself. It brings nations closer together, sometimes defying political disagreements and economic difficulties, and imparts to people the noble values of humanism, equality and mutual respect.

The experience of other countries is certainly of interest to Russia, above all, those implementing modern models which have proven effective at developing educational tourism and supporting talented young people and volunteer initiatives. These areas are among the priorities of our cultural policy.

In Russia, 2018 is the Year of Volunteers. Volunteering as an institution is not new to us and it continues to take on new dimensions, with efforts to preserve the cultural heritage of our country gaining special prominence this year.

Next year, 2019, will be the Year of Theatre. It promises to be very meaningful and eventful, and its programme will embrace our entire country, without exaggeration. The culmination of the Year will be an International Theatre Olympiad, which will bring the best productions of acclaimed classics and rising stars of the world stage to Russia.

We invite all masters and admirers of the dramatic arts to our country. We hope that you will enjoy the diversity of genres and productions, the extensive educational programme and, of course, the traditional Russian hospitality.

I wish you success.

Thank you for your attention.

November 16, 2018, St Petersburg