22.11.2017 – Sergey Skorodumov, Yan Somov.
“The first and the only paragraph of this statute read:
“If you feel that the law obstructs you, then,
Taking the statute off the table, put it underneath you.
And then all this, having become invisible,
Makes your action a lot easier.””
M.E. Saltykov-Shchedrin. “History of one City”
Nobody prevents us from exceeding our laws
The Non-Governmental Nicholas Roerich Museum of the International Center of the Roerichs (ICR) welcomed visitors in the Lopoukhins’ Estate, Moscow. People from different countries came here to admire the paintings of the great Master of Painting, to be acquainted with the scientific and philosophical ideas of Cosmic Evolution, to take part in the annual international scientific forums. Outstanding musicians arranged concerts of classical music in the hall of Svetoslav Roerich in the evenings…
There is nothing of this anymore. Six months ago, under the leadership of officials of the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation, the Non-Governmental Nicholas Roerich Museum of the ICR was captured and declared a governmental museum of the Roerichs as a branch of the State Museum of Oriental Art. The officials tried very hard to follow the motto of their high-ranking colleague Viktor Chernomyrdin: “Nobody prevents us from exceeding our laws.”
The world has hardly ever seen such a strange cultural institution. It is not so easy to get into it. Strict security guards are ordered to let visitors in the grounds of the estate only by special invitation. Presumably, no one in this institution is going to observe international human rights as regards to common visitors having no access to the cultural heritage  .
After this no wonder that the first and the only exhibition of the new state museum, “Light from the Orient”, was visited only by 240 visitors during 20 days (October 6-26, 2017) . An average of 12 people per day. Most likely, this number includes the staff of the new state institution.
According to the director of the State Museum of Oriental Art A. Sedov, the State Roerich Museum is going to demand additional funding of 36 million rubles a year . Why did the officials destroy the Non-Governmental Nicholas Roerich Museum, which was a success in its operating without state subsidies? And for what purpose are the officials going to establish a new strict regime museum on the ruins? It’s pretty hard for an ordinary man to understand. We will try to deal with it step by step.
When passing the legacy of his family back home, Svetoslav Roerich put forward two prerequisites. Firstly, the Museum named after Nicholas Roerich should have a non-governmental status, and secondly, be located in the Moscow Lopoukhins’ Estate. The government gave Svetoslav Roerich all the necessary guarantees .
For a quarter of a century under the leadership of Lyudmila Shaposhnikova, Director – General and the confidant of Svetoslav Roerich, the Non-Governmental Nicholas Roerich museum was a real magnet of beauty and new science. The cooperation with advanced scientists, cultural figures and representatives of the public was increasing every year. The exhibition of the International Center of the Roerichs “The Roerich Pact. History and Modernity” was a success in 17 countries. The ICR was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for this planetary scale project. Multilateral peacekeeping activities of the ICR were supported by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon; UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova; the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation represented by Minister Sergey Lavrov; and Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations V. Churkin; as well as by heads of other authoritative international organizations.
One could hardly imagine that the only one government official, Minister of Culture Vladimir Medinsky, easily reconsider and violate government guarantees provided to Svetoslav Roerich, and the history of the Roerichs’ legacy acquire a criminal character.
On the night of April 28 to April 29, 2017, the officials of the State Museum of Oriental Art got a go-ahead for storming the Non-Governmental Nicholas Roerich Museum. An unmarked team of several dozen bouncers grabbed the estate with the entire museum collection of the ICR. The workers of the Non-Governmental Nicholas Roerich Museum were put out of the gate. In the morning, the State Investigations Office of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, in the hot pursuit, formalized the transfer of the ICR property to the new owner, that of the State Museum of Oriental Art in the person of its director A. Sedov, for “safe custody” without having made any inventory.
The priceless paintings and archives of the Roerichs’ family, as well as personal belongings of the museum workers, have been still in the hands of the nouveaux riches, glittered with power. Prior to this capture, an international legal practice has ever known such drastic example of illegal interference in the work of an authoritative international cultural organization.
For executing the most “dirty work”, the directorate of the State Museum of Oriental Art turned out to hire a private security agency “Phoenix” LLC . This hired special division was rewarded by the State Museum of Oriental Art beyond imagining by the sum of 2.5 million rubles, or just over 43 thousand of US dollars for such abecedarian and short-lived special operation against museum workers, most of whom were women. Of course, at the expense of the State. By the way, the private mercenary armies of the third world countries may envy such earnings. But if the jackpot has been estimated by Minister Medinsky in the amount of more than 15 billion rubles , then, as they say, “any trade-off is not appropriate here.”
The museum workers of the ICR and their voluntary assistants, whose human rights were cynically violated by Minister Medinsky, go on fulfilling their duty in good faith. For six months, they are at the fence of the Lopoukhins’ estate on duty to tell the visitors, who cannot get to the Museum, about the outstanding members of the Roerich family. The volunteers are conducting virtual tours of the halls of the captured Museum by means of illustrated catalogs.
But their feasible work in the name of the country’s culture is becoming more dangerous. The role of a voluntary supervisor at the gate of the regime object is now performed by a legal adviser of the State Museum of Oriental Art Yu. Izbachkov. He arranges public demonstrative actions such as to tear up a reproduction of Nicholas Roerich’s picture “Saint Sergius”, tear off the Banner of Peace from the car of the museum workers and even to hit a woman, that of the advocate of the ICR . All his actions are accompanied by obscene insults, threats, socially dangerous behavior. This is being done with the indifference and inaction of the local police. The Internet is full of photo- and video- evidences of hooligan tricks of this man, drunk by his own authority . But the police and the prosecutor’s office, as if on someone’s command, methodically put the numerous statements of his victims under the cloth.
When one looks at this surreal picture, one realizes that nothing good could have come about from the raider capture of the Non-Governmental Nicholas Roerich Museum. Violence can generate only disgrace. Neither culture nor beauty can grow out of crimes and impunity.
Moreover, there are many reasons to assume that the new state museum of strict regime is a temporary phenomenon. It is very likely that in the future, its halls will turn into profitable offices, and the Roerich paintings can at best be in storerooms, at worst at auctions and in private collections, as has already happened with the collection of George Roerich .
Golden Ladder with Crystal Handrails
According to the official version of the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation and personally Minister V. Medinsky, the capture of the estate was undertaken exclusively with the purpose of its protection. At the day of the seizure, Medinsky tried to justify his unlawful actions. On the official website of the Ministry of Culture, there appeared a message: “The State Museum of Oriental Art has taken measures to ensure the safety of the Lopoukhins’ estate.” .
After such a statement, it would be logical to see a team of restorers, humming machinery, rapid installation of stagings in the grounds of the estate… Alas. Six months passed. The time would seem to be enough to start at least any work to restore the allegedly collapsing manor. But absolutely nothing has followed the raider’s capture of the Non-Governmental Nicholas Roerich Museum. Perhaps the officials are pressed of funding. Nothing of that kind! Significant public funds are spent on anything, but the Lopoukhins’ estate.
According to official figures, the officials allocated 2.22 million rubles to create the Internet portal “Roerich’s heritage” ; those of 12.25 million rubles to organize and conduct the exhibition “Nicholas Roerich: An Ascent” in Russia and the USA ; not less than 76.93 million rubles, that is, 1.29 million of US dollars to restore the central staircase of the Museum-Institute of the Roerichs’ family in St. Petersburg . And this is not counting 17.57 million rubles for other restoration works in this museum .
It will take some work to contrive how to spend all these money in the framework of the projects mentioned. One can imagine a royal banquet at the opening of the Internet portal “Roerich’s heritage”, a golden staircase with crystal handrails in the Museum-Institute of the Roerichs’ family, as well as an unforgettable trip of the leadership of the Ministry of Culture of Russia to America to the Roerich exhibition.
No penny has been planned or allocated to support and restore the Lopoukhins’ estate. This means only that the cause for the forcible capture of the estate and destruction of the Non-Governmental Nicholas Roerich Museum was not the Ministry’s caring for technical condition of the estate. That’s quite another. But what exactly? In order to get an answer to this, we are to get acquainted with the economical projects of the leadership of the State Museum of Oriental Art.
A museum or an apartment house?
On August 11, 2017, the State Museum of Oriental Art concluded an agreement for an independent construction and technical expertise of buildings 4 and 7 of the Lopoukhins’ estate  with a certain LLC “Scientific – Expert and Legal Center “Avangard,“ registered on May 11, 2017. That is, this Scientific-Expert center did not exist at all three months before the conclusion of this agreement.
Do you think that the Avangard Center has been tasked to estimate the costs to remove the imaginable damages of the Lopoukhins’ estate? Nothing of this kind! The expert was instructed to “estimate the values at current prices of the necessary and sufficient works and materials to repair the premises of each building (without the adjacent territory) in order to bring the layout of the premises to the condition at the date of transfer to the User (as of 1993 when transferring the land plot with structures).”
Let us recall that from 1965 to 1993 the monument of cultural heritage of the XVII-XIX centuries “The Lopoukhins’ Estate” was used by one of the trusts of the Ministry of Heavy Machinery of the USSR  for prudential needs and the estate was brought to a poor condition. Thanks to Svetoslav Roerich and the guarantees he received from the Government, in 1993 the ICR began to restore the Lopoukhins’ estate from the ruins and create the Non-Governmental Nicholas Roerich Museum in it. The current leaders of the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation and the State Museum of Oriental Art intentionally keep silent about the cost of the estate restoration of more than 1 billion rubles (!), owing to donations of patrons and those of the public of Russia and other countries. .
Judging by official documents, the officials are going to “save” the estate (that is in excellent condition) by rebuilding the museum complex into an administrative construction, as it was by 1993. The calculations are in progress. The Lopoukhins’ Estate in the center of Moscow seems to get more profitable use than that of service the revival of Russian culture.
Thus, the undertaken “measures to ensure the safety of the Lopoukhins’ estate” is one more myth of the minister Medinsky, by which he is shielding the criminal seizure of the beautiful and successfully operated non-governmental museum complex and the plan to further its liquidation. The state museum of strict regime, hastily organized by Medinsky in the Lopoukhins’ estate seems to be nothing more than a sham to divert attention and calm the public opinion.
The Inquisition at State Account
The leaders of the Ministry of Culture and the State Museum of Oriental Art have planned to eliminate not only the museum complex, but the International Center of the Roerichs, which stands guard over the notarized will of Svetoslav Roerich. The expectations of the officials are perfectly clear and transparent. If to destroy the social organization to which Svetoslav Roerich transferred the legacy of his family, the access to the multi-million cultural treasure will be open to them. How to do it? It’s elementary. The officials try to present the ICR, a world-renowned cultural and scientific organization, as a sect and blame it for extremism so then to liquidate it through the court.
In April 2017, the Director of the State Museum of Oriental Art A. Sedov concluded an agreement with LLC “New Security Systems Group of Companies.” This time an order was given to provide “a set of services to make an expert opinion on the ideological position and ideological activities of the IPO “The International Center of the Roerichs”; to prepare a summary report with a view to identifying the characteristics falling within the definition of a religious doctrine (a religious sect, a religious group), according to the terms of reference (Appendix No. 1).” .
The price of the contract was 400 thousand rubles . The piquancy of the situation is that the main activity of the mentioned LLC is that of “consulting on matters of commercial activity and management”, and 11 additional ones imply such specializations as “an installation of industrial machines and equipment”, “an operation of the office”, and the like . It’s a kind of Jack- of- all- trades organization. However, if money is offered, why not work it out? Moreover, at present it is much easier to make a customized expert opinion . Especially when the case is simplified by an unobtrusive hint in Appendix No. 1 to the treaty: “To analyze the main tenets of the Agni-Yoga teachings in comparison with the religious teachings of the New Age. To conduct an analysis of the literary creativity of the staff of IPO “the ICR” in terms of a religious component presence.”
In fact, the Ministry of Culture, by the aid of the State Museum of Oriental Art, is looking for the presence of a “religious component” in numerous fundamental scientific works of Lyudmila Shaposhnikova, an Indologist, Philosopher, Honored Artist of the Russian Federation, Academician of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences and K.E. Tsiolkovsky Russian Academy of Astronautics, Honorary Doctor of Sofia University, Honorary Doctor of Mongolian Academy of Sciences, Honorary Doctor of Kyrgyz-Russian Slavic University. These are her works that make up a significant part of the “literary creativity of the staff of IPO “the ICR”. All of them are based on the philosophy of the Roerichs.
Lyudmila Shaposhnikova is rightly considered the founder of a new scientific school of modern Roerich studies. Lyudmila Shaposhnikova was awarded the Order of Friendship and the Order of Merit for the Fatherland, IV degree. Her scientific activity is recognized in many countries of the world.
Certainly, these experts of a broad profile are certain to omit in their summary decision that the scientific nature of Nicholas and Helena Roerichs’ philosophical views was confirmed by Library and Bibliographic Classification published in 2012 . The Russian State Library, the Russian National Library and the Library of the Academy of Sciences were working on its release. Philosophical views of the Roerichs along with the world outlook of the world-famous scientists V.Vernadsky and A.Chizhevsky are referred to the heading of “Russian Philosophy – Cosmism.”
The fact that the philosophy of Living Ethics has nothing to do with the “New Age religious teaching,” has been proved many times. The term “New Age” was used by the occultist Alice Bailey, who was sharply criticized by Helena Roerich . The direction of “New Age” is characterized by whateverism and a superficial understanding of the Orient philosophical systems. In addition, “New Age” has nothing in common with the philosophy of Russian cosmism.
For a quarter of a century scientists and prominent public figures were cooperating with the ICR , studying the philosophy of Living Ethics. A lot of proceedings of scientific conferences and other publications were edited, and a number of dissertations defended .
Back in 2001, a scientific expertise of the cultural and educational activities of the International non-governmental organization “The International Center of the Roerichs” was conducted by the Full Doctor of Philosophy, the professor of Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MSIIR) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, a well-known religious scholar V. Glagolev. The conclusions of the expertise, which were published more than 15 years ago, stated, “the International Center of the Roerichs is essentially a cultural and educational organization, and therefore it does not represent a sect, a totalitarian sect, or a religious sect on any of the grounds on which a sect is identified in contemporary scientific literature. Therefore, in particular, the activities of the ICR cannot be characterized as religious ones (there is no mythology, cult practice, and stable organization of a religious charismatic type).“ .
It is unlikely that the experts of LLC “New Security Systems Group of Companies” will take all these facts into account, their conclusions were apparently predetermined financially. Politician ideological censorship of the ICR books (1991-2017), initiated by the Medinsky’s Ministry of Culture, regarding the philosophy of the Roerichs, might result in banning of the exhibition of the Non-Governmental Nicholas Roerich Museum in Russia, violent separation of the great Master’s painting from his philosophical views and even in distortion of his paintings’ interpretation, reflecting the essence of this philosophy, such as “Agni Yoga”, “The Song of Shambhala”, “Chintamani”, “Burning of Darkness”, “Fiat Rex” …
It is very likely that today’s head of the Ministry of Culture is becoming a source of new drastic tension in society. If the country’s leadership keeps silent even this time, one will be able to talk about modern inquisition establishing in Russia with all its functions, and at state expense.
Nature Reserve of Public Culture
In 1992, Svetoslav Roerich notarized  the transfer of ownership rights to the paintings and archives of his family under the law of India, of which he was a citizen. This fact is legally indisputable. The Ministry of Culture does not even try to prove the contrary in Russian courts, let alone Indian or international ones. Neither the Ministry of Culture nor the State Museum of Oriental Art ever had or have any documents on the Roerichs’ heritage. But, as everyone knows, the full doctor of historical sciences Medinsky is a master of “interpretation of historical events and facts in the paradigm of state interests” .
This skill was useful to the minister to lie publicly at the State Duma on May 17, 2017. He said in his speech that the Ministry of Culture “had managed to return” an invaluable collection of the Soviet Roerich Foundation “to the ownership of the Russian Federation”, the collection, that for more than a quarter of a century was held by a certain private organization. 
A few days before the fiery speech of the invariably “truthful” Minister Medinsky, there appeared an information on the portal of the Unified Information System in the field of procurement , on the conclusion of a highly paid contract of the State Museum of Oriental Art with LLC “New Security Systems Group of Companies” for it to find (attention!) a legal “reasoning for the Russian Federation’s rights on the legacy of Svetoslav Roerich, transferred by him to the Soviet Foundation of the Roerichs.” The term of the agreement is to December 31, 2017. It follows that Medinsky and those who carried out his orders knew perfectly well that they were committing a robbery on April 28, 2017, seizing the collection and property of the Non-Governmental Nicholas Roerich Museum.
Minister Medinsky is under time-pressure. He is to present not lip service, paid by him at the Duma rostrum , but much more weighty arguments. The only downside is that it’s nowhere to get them. It remains only to pay handsome fee the “experts” from LLC “New Security Systems Group of Companies” in order they go there, do not know where, and bring it, I do not know what.
The words of Svetoslav Roerich proved that all the efforts of the officials were in vain, “As I already said, subordination of the Center to the Ministry of Culture or to the Museum of Oriental Art would unreasonably and wittingly narrow down the tasks and the opportunities of the Center. In my opinion, the Center must have significant independence, flexibility and the ability to function regardless of bureaucratic barriers using new, non-traditional approaches and appealing directly to the international community.”.
Svetoslav Roerich warned, “many organizations and people will certainly ask and demand some parts of the heritage” , referring to the fact that they can better dispose of it. And yet Svetoslav Roerich due to his high honesty and honor hoped to the end that the country’s leadership would fulfill its obligations.
Unfortunately, the most unfavorable development of this history has turned the Lopoukhins’ estate that of the reserve of rapidly disappearing social form of culture in Russia, into a zone of lawlessness, where the Constitution of the Russian Federation and international law are powerless. Almost a quarter of a million people has protested against this development by signing a petition in defense of the ICR and its Non-Governmental Nicholas Roerich Museum .
In order to save the disappearing culture of Russia the representatives of law enforcement bodies and the Russian Government are to show themselves strong enough to hear the voice of the people and stop the excesses of the officials of the Ministry of Culture and the State Museum of Oriental Art. For there is no bright future without the culture.
And the defenders of the Non-Governmental Nicholas Roerich Museum become more and more convinced in their future victory. They are sure that those who committed the raider seizure will be held accountable for their act and will find themselves in the remote location of the country, and then on the margins of the world’s history. The heritage of the Roerichs will be saved, and the Non-Governmental Nicholas Roerich Museum will open its doors to welcome visitors!
Svetoslav Roerich’s behest “One can’t delay” is more relevant today than ever. The people of Russia, having for centuries kept a rich Russian culture, should hear it. Otherwise, our children and grandchildren will have to look out at the state museums of strict regime through the lattice of fences for all their lives, and will be acquainted with a social form of culture exclusively through a history book.
Member of the International Writers’ Association (Russia)
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