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Tuesday, 5 February 2013
Exhibition: Wilhelm II and Anna Pavlovna. Royal Luxury of Dutch Courtyard
Topic: Exhibitions


Wilhelm II and Anna Pavlovna with their family, 1832. Artist: Jean-Baptiste Van der Hulst (1790-1862) 

In 2013, the Netherlands, Russia, and the city of Amsterdam will celebrate their special relationship. The two countries have been major trading partners since the Dutch Golden Age, and their ties grew stronger in the centuries that followed. When Napoleon was defeated in 1813, Russian Cossacks advanced as far as the gates of Amsterdam.

On 21 February 1816 at the Chapel of the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg, the daughter of Emperor Paul I, Grand Duchess Anna Pavlovna married Wilhelm the Prince of Orange, who would later become King William II of the Netherlands.

In honour of Russia-Netherlands Year, the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg will host an exhibition dedicated to Anna Pavlovna and Wilhelm II, in the Armorial Hall of the Winter Palace. The exhibition will open on 25th September, 2013 and run until 12th January, 2014.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 05 February, 2013

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 5:15 AM EST
Updated: Tuesday, 5 February 2013 5:30 AM EST
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Monday, 4 February 2013
Exhibition: Peter the Great, an Inspired Tsar
Topic: Exhibitions

Early in 2013, a year of celebration in Dutch-Russian relations, the Hermitage Amsterdam will present a major exhibition devoted to Peter the Great (1672–1725), the modernizer of Russia.

The exhibition will paint a picture of this unconventional, inspired and inquisitive Russian tsar, who by the time he took power at the age of 17 was determined to transform his country. His achievements include reforming the military and the church, expanding trade and industry, and improving education and public health. He turned Russia into a great European power with a brand-new capital city: St Petersburg, his “window on the West.”

With historical artefacts, paintings, gold jewellery from the ancient world, weapons and unique documents, the exhibition will sketch the life of this peerless ruler.

From his youth Peter collected art, including a Rembrandt, planting the seed for St Petersburg’s later Hermitage collection. An enthusiastic traveller, he went two visits to Western Europe, including the Dutch Republic. It was the city of Amsterdam, in particular, that inspired him to found his new capital. Peter befriended many leading figures in Dutch society, such as Nicolaas Witsen (mayor of Amsterdam), Christoffel van Brants (shipper, and grain and arms merchant), Albert Seba (apothecary and collector of natural curiosities) and Frederik Ruysch (physician, anatomist and botanist). Like a sponge, he absorbed what they taught him about shipbuilding, making instruments, carpentry, etching, dissection, pulling teeth, making paper, gardening, bookmaking, and much more.

Find out how this knowledge bore fruit in Russia during your visit to Peter the Great, an Inspired Tsar. You will also find many of Peter’s personal effects, such as his suits and one of his coaches, which show how profoundly he was influenced by Western tastes.

The exhibition will be based on the collection of the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg, with additional pieces from the collections of museums and institutions in the Netherlands and elsewhere.

Exhibition Center - Hermitage Amsterdam

9 March - 13 September, 2013

© Hermitage Amsterdam. 04 February, 2013

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 5:01 AM EST
Updated: Tuesday, 5 February 2013 5:11 AM EST
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Sunday, 3 February 2013
Putin: Orthodox Bishops' Meetings Play "Invaluable Role" in Russian History
Topic: Russian Church


Patriarch Kirill and President Vladimir Putin 

President Vladimir Putin has credited regular episcopal assemblies of the Russian Orthodox Church with an "invaluable role" in Russian history.

"Bishops' assemblies have always played a great, truly invaluable role in the development of Orthodoxy, and in the many centuries of Russian history. Their decisions and their wise advice and assessments are still significant both for church and for public life," a statement from the president's office quoted Putin as saying in a message to a bishops' assembly that opened in Moscow on Saturday.

The Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church meet with President Vladimir Putin in the Grand Kremlin Palace

"The Russian Orthodox Church has a significant voice in asserting ideals of humanism, virtue and mercy, and in bringing up younger generations on the basis of intransient moral values, patriotism and civil spirit," Putin said.

"It is my deep conviction that we need to make every effort to boost collaboration between Church and State in key areas such as addressing urgent social problems, promoting antireligious and interethnic dialogue, and imbuing young people with respect for the extremely rich historical, cultural and spiritual legacy of the peoples of Russia," he said.

© Interfax. 03 February, 2013

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 1:24 PM EST
Updated: Monday, 4 February 2013 1:39 PM EST
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Saturday, 2 February 2013
A Russian Moment No. 6 - Palace of Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna
Topic: A Russian Moment


The palace of Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovich (1875-1960) and Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich (1866-1933) is situated on the Moika Embankment at No. 106, in St. Petersburg. The palace of Grand Duke Alexis Alexandrovich (1850-1908) is also situated on the Moika Embankment at No. 122.

In recent years, the former palace has undergone a much needed face-lift. The facade has been restored and freshly painted (the palace was formerly white), a new roof installed and new brick laid in the courtyard.

The palace is now home to the P.F. Lesgaft Instutute of Physical Culture. A monument to Lesgaft sits in the courtyard. Peter Franzevich Lesgaft (1837-1919) was a founder of the modern system of physical education 

I had the privilege of visiting the palace some years back. I noted that aside from some notable interior elements dating from the tsarist period,  very little of the historical interiors had been preserved.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 02 February, 2013


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 8:25 AM EST
Updated: Saturday, 30 March 2013 12:59 PM EDT
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Friday, 1 February 2013
Church Seeks to Restrict Access to Historic Monasteries
Topic: Russian Church


Access to the Solovetsky islands, home to one of Russia's most important monasteries, could be restricted in a bid to preserve the archipelago's "special way of life," a top ranking clergyman said.

Russian Orthodox Church spokesman Vsevolod Chaplin said Thursday that the Solovetsky islands in the White Sea and the Valaam islands in Lake Ladoga — both home to historic monasteries — were among several sites the church is pushing to reclassify as "religious-historical places."

"We are currently very carefully working in connection with the topic of Solovki; there is an idea to develop a full federal program. Meetings about this question are taking place practically every week, the questions under discussion are not simple," he told Interfax on Thursday.

In order to give Solovki, Valaam and other historic sites protected status, serious changes to the law are necessary, he said. The government's understanding of this is growing, he added.

"Places like Solovki, Valaam and several other monasteries are special places connected with traditional non-christian religions — it's not just the buildings and the land, it is a place where there is a special way of life, and this way of life is incompatible with mass tourism, building of entertainment and attractions, or noisy political or mass cultural events," he said.

Chaplin stressed that places like Solovki should remain open to both pilgrims and tourists, provided they "respect the internal atmosphere and special way of life — or they will simply be lost."

The monastery at Solovki, a world heritage site, was founded in the 15th century, and grew to become one of the richest and most prestigious religious centers in the Russian empire.

For 16 years in the 1920s and 1930s it served as a prison for political undesirables — becoming the model for the Gulag system of prison camps.

The monastery was restored to the Church in the early 1990s, and the islands have become and increasingly popular place of pilgrimage and secular tourism since the monastery was reopened. Today about 30,000 to 40,000 thousand tourists visit the islands each year.

© The Moscow Times and Interfax. 01 February, 2013


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 12:34 PM EST
Updated: Friday, 1 February 2013 12:47 PM EST
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Patriarch Kirill on Four Years as Patriarch
Topic: Russian Church

Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill served a liturgy in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior on the fourth anniversary of his enthronement as patriarch.

"These four years were full of so many events that would be enough for forty years and even more," the patriarch said after the liturgy.

A lot was done by the entire church during his tenure as patriarch.

"We are not summing up the results and we are not making any joyful reports on what we have done. We realize with humility that a lot has not been done yet. But we thank the Lord for these four years, for the joys and sorrows, but above all for the mercy that our Lord, the head of our Church, has given all of us," Patriarch Kirill said.

Patriarch Kirill thanked archbishops for the accord among them, "for understanding the common goals and the importance of working on achieving these goals," and also thanked the clergy, monks, and all people. The patriarch said he is confident that "God will have mercy on all countries of the historical Rus" that are under the care of the Moscow Patriarchate and will keep the Church "united, spiritually strong, and unconquerable by the enemy" in response for labor and righteousness.

During his tenure as patriarch, Patriarch Kirill conducted large-scale church reforms, including the change of the diocese management by forming over thirty metropolias and almost ninety new dioceses and ordaining 88 bishops. Considerable changes took place in the administrative system of the church, including the revival of the inter-council presence and the foundation of the church graduate and doctoral programs. Qualitative changes also took place in the social service of the church.

In the four years of his tenure as patriarch, Patriarch Kirill visited more than 100 dioceses, some of which he visited more than once, and also visited Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, Kazakhstan, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, Bulgaria, Poland, Japan, Israel, Palestine, Jordan, and Cyprus.

© Interfax. 01 February, 2013

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 12:18 PM EST
Updated: Friday, 1 February 2013 12:22 PM EST
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Faberge Exhibition Coming to Hong Kong in February
Topic: Faberge

A special Fabergé exhibition is opening in February at the Hong Kong Heritage Museum. Four Fabergé eggs appear in the expo. They include the Trans-Siberian Train Easter Egg, which was created in 1900 for Tsar Nicholas II, who, in turn, gave it to his wife, the Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna, as a festive present. Also on display is the Moscow Kremlin Easter Egg, the tallest and most ambitious of all of the Imperial Fabergé eggs, made from gold, silver, onyx and enamel. This was given by the Tsar to the Tsarina at Easter in 1906 and represents Uspensky Cathedral, where the tsars of Russia were crowned. There’s also the Memory of Azov Easter Egg from 1891 and the unfinished Constellation Tsarevich Easter Egg.

Among other items on display are works of art and jewellery which have been carefully crafted and lavished with an array of precious metals and jewels, specially created by the House of Fabergé for the Russian court. The Moscow Kremlin Museums and Fersman Mineralogical Museum of Russia have loaned more than 200 pretty pieces to the Heritage Museum until the end of April, making it the first time a Fabergé exhibition has rolled into our city.

Assistant curator at the Heritage Museum, Tang Hing-Sun, explains the painstaking process that would have taken place when making a Fabergé egg. “The creation of an egg took about a year,” he says. “It was a process that had a preliminary period including detailed planning, sketches and models. Fabergé was the mastermind behind it all – and he provided the taste and direction for the creation. Discussions also took place among the goldsmiths, silversmiths, enamellers, jewellers, lapidary workers and stonecutters who would contribute their abilities toward the final Fabergé egg.”

© Russkiy Mir. 01 February, 2013

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 11:49 AM EST
Updated: Friday, 1 February 2013 12:11 PM EST
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© Royal Russia. 01 February, 2013

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Friday, 1 March 2013 8:11 AM EST
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Thursday, 31 January 2013
Cossack Party Registered in Russia
Topic: Cossacks


The Cossack Party of the Russian Federation became the 58th political party officially registered in the country, the Ministry of Justice said on its website on Thursday.

Alexander Smirnov, a retired major general, is the head of the party, which was founded in late November 2012.

The party’s registration became possible after a new law cutting the minimum number of party members from 40,000 to only 500 came into effect last April.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union’s one-party system in 1991, a number of political parties (including some with exotic names like the Beer Party) quickly emerged, only to disappear.

Until 2004, the minimum number of party members was 10,000. Since then, it was gradually increased.

In its platform, the party says it is going to participate in elections at all levels. Under the current legislation, a party needs the support of five percent of voters to win seats in parliament.

A number of Cossack societies, mainly comprised of the descendants of original Cossacks, operate in Russia and abroad under the aegis of a special presidential council created in 2009.

Special Cossack patrols help police to maintain order in some cities, mainly in southern Russia.

© The Moscow Times. 31 January, 2013

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 5:49 AM EST
Updated: Thursday, 31 January 2013 5:53 AM EST
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Wednesday, 30 January 2013
Russia May Fast-Track Citizenship for Imperial Descendants
Topic: Imperial Russia


The Russian State Duma has suggested simplifying the granting of Russian citizenship to direct descendants of nationals of the Russian Empire who now live abroad.

The initiative was put forward by the lower house’s Committee for Nationalities.

Descendants of the Russian Empire – which collapsed after the February 1917 Revolution – are part of “the same nation and civilization,” committee head Gadzhimet Safaraliyev told Izvestia daily.

People of Russian heritage currently live all around the globe. Syria, for example, is the home of the Cherkessian diaspora. Their forebears moved to the region from territories that were part of the Russian Empire following the 19th-century Caucasian war. “What should we do with them? Leave them [in war-torn Syria]?” Safaraliyev said.

The biggest wave of emigration from Russia followed the dramatic events of the beginning of the 20th century: Revolutions, the fall of the Tsar, World War I, a civil war and the creation of the Soviet Union.

If the suggested amendments to the Law on Citizenship are passed, emigrants’ children and grandchildren will be able to get Russian passports and come to back to their historic homeland; archived documents would help them prove their Russian heritage.

Earlier, President Vladimir Putin urged Russian lawmakers “to develop a simplified procedure for granting Russian citizenship to our compatriots, the bearers of the Russian language and Russian culture, the direct descendants of those who were born in the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union, for those who want to take up permanent residence in our country and, therefore, to give up their current citizenship.”

In his annual address to the Federal Assembly, Putin said that Russia needs new blood – educated and hardworking people who want to move to the country and consider it their homeland.

Meanwhile, opponents of the proposal worry that a mass repatriation program could become a financial burden for Russia. Critics also argue that the bill may cause an increase of immigration from the former Soviet republics in the Caucasus and Central Asia, adding to the thousands of migrant workers from those regions that have already come to Russia.

According to Yevgeny Borbrov from the presidential Council for Human Rights, those who need help the most should be taken care of first.

“Descendants of the Russian Empire feel not bad in foreign countries, unlike descendants from the USSR who were left by the state holding an empty bag,” Borbrov told Izvestia.

Currently, those who wish to get Russian citizenship have to go through a long and complicated procedure.

© Russia Today. 30 January, 2013

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 9:50 AM EST
Updated: Wednesday, 30 January 2013 9:59 AM EST
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