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THE UNIQUE ROERICH MONUMENT IN RUSSIA IS BEING DESTROYED

04.10.2019.

An urgent communication of the International Center of the Roerichs

THE UNIQUE ROERICH MONUMENT IN RUSSIA IS BEING DESTROYED

On 9 October 2019 the international community is celebrating 145th anniversary of Nicholas Roerich, one of the greatest Russian painters, who was also a thinker and public figure of world renown. Many countries are organizing exhibitions, conferences and other cultural events dedicated to this commemorative date.

On the eve of this anniversary within the meeting of the Valdai club President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin mentioned the merits of our outstanding compatriot. Vladimir Putin underlined that “In Russia the bright colors of the East have always inspired our writers, poets, artists and musicians. I am talking about Pushkin, Rimsky-Korsakov, Arsenyev, Vereshchagin, Kandinsky and Roerich. The Russian audience as well as foreign knows these names”. It is true. In India Nicholas Roerich’s artistic legacy is highly appreciated, his beautiful paintings are considered national heritage. On the occasion of the artist’s anniversary, a memorial bust of Nicholas Roerich will be unveiled in the Himalayan estate in Kullu, where Nicholas Roerich spent the last 20 years of his life. This ceremony is a tribute that the Indian nation pays to the prominent artist.

However, Russian officials of the Ministry of Culture and members of the State Museum of Oriental Art (SMOA) have decided to celebrate Nicholas Roerich’s anniversary in their own way. On the eve of 3 October 2019, Director General of the State Museum of Oriental Art Mr. Sedov firmly demanded that the International Center of the Roerichs dismantle the Roerichs monument located in the territory of the Lopukhins’ estate (Moscow) within 5 days, where it was unveiled in 1999, 20 years ago, in the presence of the Foreign Policy Adviser to the President Mr. Vorontsov and Minister of Moscow City Government Mr. Norkin.

The height of cynicism is that the destruction of the Roerichs memorial containing ashes of Nicholas Roerich is organized namely in the conjunction with his anniversary (9 October). Together with the memorial the officials insist on dismantling of busts of Nicholas Roerich’s sons Yuri, who was an orientalist of world renown, and Svetoslav, an outstanding artist and public figure, who donated his parents’ heritage to their Motherland.

It is known that the Roerichs memorial was installed within the territory of the Lopukhins’ estate in accordance with Svetoslav Roerich’s will. In fact, it was one of the conditions for transferring the Roerichs’ heritage to Russia. Besides, he set forward two more conditions, namely to establish the non-governmental Museum named after Nicholas Roerich and locate it in the Lopukhins’ estate. The Russian Government fulfilled these conditions and respected them until Mr. Medinsky was appointed the Minister of Culture and started a war against the Roerichs.

In April 2017 the non-governmental Museum named after Nicholas Roerich was illegally seized and completely destroyed. The Ministry of Culture demanding to demolish the Roerichs monument is thus making a new step to clear anything reminding of this outstanding family from Moscow city center.

However, the Roerichs monument was created only with non-governmental funds. Thousands of people from different countries and cities collected donations to fulfil Svetoslav Roerich’s will and install the monument dedicated to his outstanding father in the Lopukhins’ estate. Today, the State Museum of Oriental Art which broke the equipment and display of the non-governmental Museum named after Nicholas Roerich and seized the Roerichs’ heritage with impunity and the silent consent of the administration of the Ministry of Culture, is going to destroy the monument containing the artist’s ashes.

We call on Russian and foreign community and the admirers of Nicholas Roerich! If you respect this prominent figure, do not let anyone treat the memory of Nicholas Roerich and his family with disrespect! It is necessary that everyone raise the voice against immoral actions of the Russian officials of the Ministry of Culture!

Press Office of the International Center of the Roerichs

“The first impression with what I saw is the resemblance to the destruction of the Yasnaya Polyana by German Nazis.” What happened to the Center of the Roerichs // “Sobesednik”

The Center of the Roerichs claims about the real rout that was caused in the museum after it passed under the control of the state.

On April 28, 2017, the International Center of the Roerichs (the ICR) was seized, sealed, security was lined up near the Lopoukhins’ estate, where the ICR was located. All the workers of the center were evicted. The premises, the art collection, the Roerichs’ archive, the equipment and even the  personal belongings of the staff of the ICR, which has the status of a non-governmental organization, were transferred to the State Museum of Oriental Art for “responsible custody”.
Nine months later, in January 2018, the ICR workers were admitted to the center for the first time. What they saw  shook them up pretty bad.

    Showcases without glass,with torn alarm

“We saw a barbarous picture,” Pavel Zhuravikhin, Deputy Director of the ICR, told “Sobesednik.” “The first impression was the resemblance to the destruction of the Yasnaya Polyana by German Nazis during the WW II.  It is all the more actual, since Roerich and Tolstoy are comparable figures for the national culture. Everywhere we saw broken showcases, the hinges were cut off autogenously. The unique handmade friezes, those of decorative details of the internal system design, were smashed to pieces. The sketches of the temple fresco by Nicholas Roerich, destroyed by the German Nazis during the war, were also disfigured. The State Museum of Oriental Art refused to sign the inventory of the things and the act of transfer. “This is the fear of responsibility. We have fixed in the act what was broken, torn, what is available, and what is not,” the lawyer Dmitry Kravchenko said.

According to Pavel Zhuravikhin, each showcase was made in Europe under a unique project specifically for the Center of the Roerichs and was worth one million rubles. The exhibits of the XVII-XVIII centuries, locating in these windows, are, of course, incomparably more expensive.

“Of course, if we were allowed inside, we would open these windows in order to prevent the exhibits from damage, but they in the State Museum of Oriental Art said they would manage without us,” Pavel Zhuravikhin said. “But it’s impossible to open these anti-vandal and shockproof windows without keys. Then they decided to cut the hinges, but there is a double protection system: if one cuts the outer hinges, then the inner ones still do not allow opening. Then they just broke these showcases to pieces!”

No less sad situation, according to Pavel Zhuravikhin, was with the personal property of the workers: computers, for example, were found piled up on the floor in a men’s toilet. Safes were rifled; documents, money and personal values ​​of some employees were gone.

“I was not to sign anything,” the Deputy Director of the State Museum of Oriental Art Tigran Mkrtychev said to “Sobesednik.” “There is nothing in the law about making an inventory and the necessity to sign it for me.”  “If we talk about showcases  they are in good condition, already packed and ready for export. The showcases are intact.”

 “Were the safes really rifled? Anything missing?”

“I did not accept anything under the inventory, I did not see any closed or open safes. When all this was transferred to us for safe custody, there was no detail drawing and inventory. It could be anything there. I have no idea if the safes were cracked and in what form they are now, I have so much to do, you can not even imagine. We did not break or spoil anything, at least I do not know about it.”

The ICR workers are going to file suits in court.

“I do not know how they will explain the actual intentional damage to property,” Pavel Zhuravikhin concluded a talk with “Sobesednik”.

A COMMENT

Ilya Shablinsky, a member of the Council for the Development of Civil Society and Human Rights under the President of the Russian Federation:

“We have a cult of force. If a man of influence likes your property, then it is not a problem for him to take it away from you. Courts simply process decisions of the executive. But we have never had such a thing when a social organization was deprived of its the property in such a form. When we wrote a letter to Kirienko, we thought that he would call Medinsky and say: “Well, what are you doing? People go to this museum, why are you taking it away and giving it to State Museum of Oriental Art?” But, apparently, Medinsky is more influential than one might think.

*   *   *

The article was published in “Sobesednik” edition  No. 05-2018 under the heading  “A Barbaric Picture in the Roerichs’ Museum”.

Source: Anna Baluyeva. “Sobesednik” 06.02. 2018

Press conference of the International Centre of the Roerichs “Deliberate Destruction of the Non-Governmental Museum Named after Nicholas Roerich. Results and Consequences”

On  January 30, 2018, the press conference of the International Centre of the Roerichs took place at the press-center of Rosbalt Information Agency for Russian and foreign journalists. It was timed to the 25th anniversary of the death of Svetoslav Roerich (1904-1993), the younger son of a great Russian painter Nicholas Roerich, the founder of the Non-Governmental Museum named after Nicholas Roerich in Moscow. The press conference was also held to mark 9 months since the illegal seizure of the Museum by the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation and the State Museum of Oriental Art subordinated to the Ministry.

The Vice-President of the International Center of the Roerichs Alexander Stetsenko told that Svetoslav Roerich donated the heritage of his family to Russia for the creation of a non-governmental museum in the 90-es of the XX century. At that, Svetoslav Roerich set two mandatory conditions. First, the museum must be of a non-governmental format. Secondly, it was to be  located in the Moscow Lopoukhins’ Estate.

The International Center of the Roerichs founded by Svetoslav Roerich received a dilapidated building of the ancient Lopoukhins’ Estate. The estate was restored thanks to patrons and the public without a single penny of government funds. The ICR was awarded a national award in the field of restoration and a prize of the European Union for the preservation of the cultural heritage of Europe. The ICR with the help of patrons returned more than 400 paintings and drawings of Roerich to Russia, held over 600 exhibitions, published 250 books from the Roerichs’ heritage and about the Roerichs. The Non-Governmental Museum Named after Nicholas Roerich of the ICR became the largest non-governmental museum in Russia with the world’s largest art collection and archives of the Roerich family.

The President of the Russian Federation twice awarded the Director-General of the Non-Governmental Museum Named after Nicholas Roerich Lyudmila Shaposhnikova Russian orders. Moreover, both times the Ministers of Culture presented the awards personally.

The situation changed radically when a new Minister of Culture Vladimir Medinsky took office. He took a course to destroy the non-governmental museum. In 2015, the Ministry of Culture demanded the prosecutor’s office to remove the heritage belonging to the ICR. The prosecutor’s office conducted 5 inspections, but could not make a decision on the illegality of the heritage possession. Not having a single document on the Roerichs’ heritage, the Ministry of Culture did not appeal to the court. An entirely different path was chosen to end in the most real hostile takeover.

The Ministry of Culture has developed a whole scheme to assign the estate and the property of the ICR. The developing story was told by Alexander Stetsenko, “In February 2016, the Ministry of Culture called a meeting of the board at which it was decided to create a State Roerich Museum as a branch of the State Museum of Oriental Art on the basis of funds and premises of the Non-Governmental Museum Named after Nicholas  Roerich. At that time Moscow authorities transferred the estate to federal property.  The Federal Agency for State Property Management immediately formalized it for operational management of the State Museum of Oriental Art.  The State Museum of Oriental Art immediately began the procedure of free use agreements termination and eviction of the ICR from the Lopoukhins’ estate.”

The Arbitration Court was sued for eviction, but the claim was not supported by any evidence of the ICR’s violations of its obligations to the government to maintain the estate. Therefore, further unplanned inspections started, in the course of which, it was found out to a great surprise of the ICR’s workers, that “the maintenance of the estate appeared to be unsatisfactory”, and that “about 17 commercial organizations were registered on its territory”. It is noteworthy that just a few months before, the Moscow City Department of Cultural Heritage was conducting a routine check of the estate and found no violations. Nevertheless, in March 2017, the court decided to terminate free use agreements and evict the ICR from the Lopoukhins’ estate.

On the night of 28 – 29 April 2017, the State Museum of Oriental Art carried out a power takeover of the territory and buildings of the Lopoukhins’ estate. The Ministry of Culture illegally seized all the funds of the Non-Governmental Museum belonging to the ICR under the cover of the investigative actions conducted by the Main Investigation Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation  in the case concerning the Master Bank. Also, the seizure of the property of the organization and its workers took place, which resulted in numerous thefts.

“On April 29, 2017, the Main Investigation Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation, under the pretext of investigative actions against the head of the Master Bank, transferred the buildings to the Museum of Oriental Art for operational management, and the property located in it for safe custody,” Alexander Stetsenko stressed. Thus, the reason for the eviction of the ICR from the building was that of the criminal case against the head of the Master Bank, who 20 years before helped to restore the estate.

At the same time, the court’s decision did not come into force, because the ICR immediately appealed against it. “The decision came into force only in August 2017, when the appellate instance passed an appropriate decision. Prior to this there was no legal decision”, there explained the attorney of the International Center of the Roerichs Dmitry Kravchenko.

The ICR’s workers were able to enter the territory of the estate only on January 15, 2018. It was the day when the enforcement proceedings concerning the court’s decision began to release the ICR’s property and remove it from the Lopoukhins’ estate. “In our absence, the doors were forced open, the boxes were ransacked. The property was just piled up in several rooms. The furniture were disassembled. Moreover, all these 9 months the workers could not take away their personal property. It was possible to return the property  only after applying to the courts. But many things turned out to be simply gone, those of valuable icons in a silver setting, expensive gift books, sculptural compositions. The workers cannot return their passports, certificates of marriage and birth so far. I received my passport only after I sued the court in January 2018. When I went into my office, the box was ransacked. On what grounds?”, Alexander Stetsenko told.

These facts were confirmed by the ICR’s attorney Dmitry Kravchenko. “The expensive museum property, those of showcases, design elements, exhibits have been destroyed or broken. It becomes obvious that the property of the ICR has suffered damage. The workers of the ICR were offered compensation, that is, the State Museum of Oriental Art has recognized the loss of property”, the lawyer said.

Recently, the Ministry of Culture represented by the First Deputy Minister V. Aristarkhov has been taking all possible measures to eliminate the ICR on the flimsiest of pretexts, up to accusations of extremism and claims to the organization’s charter.

“When we saw that part of the property was actually destroyed, we insisted on all the property transferring only by acts signed by the two sides. The State Museum of Oriental Art has refused to sign the acts”, Dmitry Kravchenko said. The ICR continues to appeal against the decision of eviction  from the buildings of the Lopoukhins’ estate. Also now, the ICR is trying to find out where its property has gone, and what its legal status has been.

In conclusion of his speech, Alexander Stetsenko, assessing the events around the ICR, recalled the prophetic phrase of Nicholas Roerich, “The destruction of a museum is the destruction of a country”.

Ilya Shablinsky, a member of the Council for the Development of Civil Society and Human Rights under the President of the Russian Federation, Doctor of Law, Professor, stressed that there has been no legal basis for such actions by the Ministry of Culture and other structures in relation to the ICR and its Non-Governmental Museum Named after Nicholas Roerich. The Council for the Development of Civil Society and Human Rights under the President of the Russian Federation has never faced such situations when governmental structures deprived the property of a non-governmental organization. The Council has appealed in this regard to the first deputy head of the Presidential Administration of the Russian Federation S. Kiriyenko  but received no response. Ilya Shablinsky called for a legal and historical assessment of what is happening.

Natalia Cherkashina, Acting Director General of the Non-Governmental Museum Named after Nicholas Roerich, emphasized that the Museum Named after Nicholas Roerich was the largest non-governmental museum in Russia and one of the largest in Europe. She noted that its Director General Lyudmila Shaposhnikova created a composition that combined science, beauty and spirituality. For the first time the whole Roerich family was represented in the museum. Natalia Cherkashina submitted the photos with beautiful views of the Non-Governmental Museum halls. Nothing has remained of these now. The gray paint, in which the present museum was painted, has been the final touch of the triumphant vandalism. The worst thing is that all this happens in an atmosphere of silence of the public and museum workers. Natalia Cherkashina noted that the 25th anniversary of the Non-Governmental Museum Named after Nicholas Roerich, which was planned to be celebrated on February 12, 2018, will be marked by the opening of a virtual museum. Minister Medinsky will not be able to erase the Roerichs from the memory of people.

The First Deputy Director General of the Non-Governmental Museum Named after Nicholas Roerich Pavel Zhuravikhin, accompanying his speech with photographs, described how the staff of the State Museum of Oriental Art destroyed unique exhibits that were presented in the halls of the Non-Governmental Museum Named after Nicholas Roerich. It seems that all this was done deliberately, so that there was no way to restore these exhibits. When the workers of the ICR were able to get into the main building of the Lopoukhins’ estate, they saw broken show-windows, broken parts of friezes, a pile of wood remained of the unique wooden carving. In fact, many years of public work has been cynically destroyed by those who call themselves cultural figures. Pavel Zhuravikhin stressed, “These crimes are committed against the Museum of outstanding figures of world and national culture, those of the Roerichs, and their heritage. We will not remain silent, since impunity is the bedrock of the corruption of both society and our State and its people.”

The situation of total lawlessness around the International Center of the Roerichs, has already gone well beyond Russia and caused serious concern of the world community. The press conference received letters of support from Austria, Bulgaria, Latvia, the Republic of Belarus, as well as from the European Association of Support to the ICR and its Non-Governmental Museum Named after Nicholas Roerich.

Press Service of the International Center of the Roerichs

Photos

Press conference of the International Centre of the Roerichs

26.01.2018 

Intentional destruction of the non-governmental Museum named after Nicholas Roerich.
Results and consequences

On 30th January at 11:30 the press-conference of the International Centre of the Roerichs will take place at the press-center of the Information Agency Rosbalt (building 1, 4/2 Skatertniy per., Moscow). It is dedicated to the 25th anniversary of the demise on January 30th, 1993 of Svetoslav Roerich (1904–1993), the younger son of the great Russian painter Nicholas Roerich and the founder of the non-governmental Museum named after Nicholas Roerich in Moscow. The press-conference is also to mark 9 months since the illegal seizure of the non-governmental Museum by the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation and by the subordinated to the Ministry State Museum of Oriental Art. The conference is open for Russian and foreign journalists.

On the night of 28–29 April 2017 the State Museum of Oriental Art carried out a forcible seizure of the territory and the buildings of the Lopoukhin Mansion, wherein the non-governmental Museum named after Nicholas Roerich of the International Centre of the Roerichs had been housed since the beginning of the 1990s. The non-governmental Museum was established on the initiative of Svetoslav Roerich, the last representative of the family of cultural luminaries, who contributed immensely to the world and Russian culture.

Under the pretext of the investigation of the Master-Bank case carried out by the Moscow Central Investigation Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Ministry of Culture illegally seized all the collections of the non-governmental Museum which are the property the International Centre of the Roerichs (ICR). Furthermore, all the other property of the ICR and the personal belongings of its staff were also seized, and this resulted in numerous thefts.

The participants of the press-conference will have an opportunity to familiarize with the facts, which attest to the true reasons for the seizure of the buildings and the territory of the Mansion, the seizure of the property of the non-governmental organization, as well as for the destruction of the non-governmental Museum and the misappropriation of the Roerichs’ heritage which is of immense value.

Nicholas Roerich is an outstanding Russian painter and the initiator of the Roerich Pact, the treaty on protection of cultural property, signed by 21 States on 15 April 1935. This treaty laid the basis for the contemporary international legal system for the protection of cultural heritage in the world.

Svetoslav Roerich is the younger son of Nicholas Roerich, an outstanding artist, a public figure, an Indian citizen.

The non-governmental Museum named after Nicholas Roerich was the largest non-governmental Museum in Russia, with the world biggest collection of Roerichs’ works of art as well as of Roerichs’ family archive.

There will take part in the press-conference:

– Mr. Ilya Shablinsky – member of the Council under the President of the Russian Federation for the Development of Civil Society and Human Rights, Doctor of Law, Professor;

– Mr. Yuri Samodurov – publicist, human rights defender, former director of the A.D. Sakharov Museum and Public Center;

– Mr. Alexander Stetsenko – Vice-President of the International Centre of the Roerichs;

– Ms. Natalia Cherkashina – Acting Director General of the Non-Governmental Museum named after Nicholas Roerich;

– Mr. Pavel Jouravikhin – First Deputy Director General of the Non-Governmental Museum named after Nicholas Roerich;

– the attorneys of the International Centre of the Roerichs;

– The employees of the International Centre of the Roerichs, who witnessed numerous thefts of the property;

Invited to the Press-Conference are: the State Prosecutor of the city of Moscow, the Minister of Culture of the Russian Federation Vladimir Medinsky and his Deputy Vladimir Aristarkhov; Representatives of the Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation as well as of the State Duma of the Russian Federation.

Accreditation of journalists: ph./fax +7 (495) 690-16-38, +7 (926) 244-63-95,
E-mail: es@msk.rosbalt.ru

Press-service of the International Center of the Roerichs

Egor Ivanov. Short live of culture destroyers

26.01.2018

Today, the International Center of the Roerichs is preparing to export its property from two main buildings of its Non-Governmental Museum named after N.K. Roerich, located in the Moscow Lopoukhins’ estate near the Kremlin. For almost nine months the new owners of the estate, the leaders of the State Museum of Oriental Art, did not allow the workers of the ICR to enter the territory to take their personal belongings and the property of the organization, explaining this by the fact that all the buildings along with the property were transferred to safe custody.

It will be recalled that, on April 28, 2017, several dozen guards of the State Museum of Oriental Art entered the Non-Governmental Museum named after N.K. Roerich and blocked the entrance. The next day, with the participation of the adviser to the Minister of Culture Kirill Rybak, the estate together with all the buildings was transferred to the State Museum of Oriental Art for safe keeping allegedly in the framework of the criminal case against the bankrupt Master Bank. Together with the property of the Roerich Center, the personal belongings of the Museum staff also fell into prison. The workers were allowed to get their belongings only recently, after filing numerous claims in courts against the illegal retention of personal belongings by the leadership of the State Museum of Oriental Art. The State Museum of Oriental Art was forced to start giving the property back to the ICR workers. It’s getting really tough because the workers missed their documents, electronic media with personal data, manuscripts.

                  

                Kulu Valley Hall before the Non-Governmental Nicholas Roerich Museum Destruction   and after the Destruction

But what the ICR workers saw in the cellars and offices of the museum caused a shock. The new owners from the State Museum of Oriental Art, under the leadership of his Deputy Director Tigran Mkrtychev, while mastering Non-Governmental Museum named after N.K. Roerich did not stand on ceremony with the control of the premises. One can see such a picture there: the expensive museum equipment, that of shop windows and stained-glass windows were broken and piled up in heaps. The friezes, once adorning the museum halls, were deliberately broken and disfigured by the vandals. They are not subject to restoration. Things from all the offices were piled up in ugly heaps. Safes were hacked. The computers of the organization were piled in the toilet rooms. The picture resembles a documentary chronicle of the ruin of Yasnaya Polyana or Peterhof by the fascists during the Great Patriotic War. And the leadership of the State Museum of Oriental Art and the Ministry of Culture called such actions as “the custody” of the ICR equipment! The Prosecutor’s Office and the police also seem to share this opinion. The staff of the ICR have unsuccessfully filed complaints there about the actions of “officials from culture”, each time receiving the same answer “no violations are seen.” Although, apparently, there is an unpunished mockery of the law and the right of high-ranking officials, confident that they will get away with it. But all this is done against a world – famous social organization of culture, which created a unique museum with a world collection of paintings of the Roerichs. The organization was founded and cared for by Svetoslav Roerich, the youngest son of the Great Russian artist Nicholas Roerich. However, for the destroyers of the Non-Governmental Museum, the names of the great representatives of Russian culture are nothing more than a sound. Today they are easily misrepresenting the will of Roerich’s son concerning the preservation of his parents’ heritage in the Non-Governmental Museum housing at the Lopoukhins’ estate, arguing that Svetoslav Roerich actually dreamed of creating a State museum.

                   

The Central-Asian Expedition Hall before the Non-Governmental Nicholas Roerich Museum Destruction and after the Destruction

At the same time, the position of the youngest Roerich is well known. In his documents and public appearances, he repeatedly testified that the Non-Governmental Museum named after N.K. Roerich in Moscow should not be subordinate to the State Museum of Oriental Art. He, if to believe the portal save-roerich-museum.ru, expressed it even more definitely in his letter to President Yeltsin.

“In 1990, together with the rest of the heritage, I handed over to the Center (the International Center of the Roerichs as the successor of the Soviet Foundation of the Roerichs) a large exhibition of my father’s and my own paintings totaling 286, which for a long time was under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Culture of the USSR. Now this exhibition is illegally kept by the State Museum of Oriental Art. I beg you to assist in transferring it to the International Center of the Roerichs.

The present situation with the Non-Governmental Museum created by the ICR under the leadership of the authorized representative of Svetoslav Roerich Lyudmila Shaposhnikova can rightfully be called a kind of revenge of the officials to Svetoslav Roerich, who almost thirty years ago expressed an open distrust to the state-bureaucratic system of culture and therefore was steadfast in making in Moscow a Non-Governmental Museum on the basis of the Roerich family heritage, which included hundreds of Nicholas and Svetoslav Roerich paintings, rare collections and a unique family archive with priceless philosophy manuscripts of Helena Roerich. For 25 years of active cultural activity, the Non-Governmental Museum named after N.K. Roerich of the ICR has done much to study and popularize the philosophical and artistic heritage of the Roerichs in Russia and abroad. And now, apparently, we are witnessing a day of reckoning of the Non-Governmental organization for a multifaceted activity of developing and protecting Russian culture, the organization which for many years has been conducted its work outside the subordination of the officials of the Ministry of Culture. This, in my opinion, was the result of the arbitrariness of ignorance, the triumph of which we are witnessing today in our country in the field of cultural policy, when culture is replaced by ideology, moral values by slogans. The value of a cultural institution is measured not in its educational and scientific activity, but in the amount of the profit it receives. The soulless mere degree holders are trying to turn Russia’s culture into a business, replacing its original role of “honoring the light” (Sanskrit’s “cult” as a veneration and “ur” as a light are meant), in other words, to replace development of spirituality and morality by entertainment and leisure.

                

              George Roerich Hall before the Non-Governmental Nicholas Roerich Museum Destruction and after the Destruction

The illegal, as I see it, seizure and defeat of Roerich’s largest non-governmental museum in Russia gives us much pain and shame to witness. It gives us still much pain and embarrassing that the actions of the officials would be impossible with the active citizenship of national culture figures. But they shyly remained silent, watching the destruction of the museum. Against the backdrop of this ominous deathly silence, bad news about new disasters of our culture become increasingly frequent. Just the other day the news from the “front” arrived about the gradual destruction of the All-Russian Art Research and Restoration Center named after Grabar, the staff of which in despair turned for help to President Vladimir Putin.

Still, I would like to hope that the age of the destroyers of our culture is not long, that their actions will certainly receive a fair assessment and will serve as a lesson to understand the necessity for Russia to move from totalitarian State culture to its actual universal development and preservation based on its social forms dissemination. The experience of the Non-Governmental Museum named after N.K. Roerich of the International Center of the Roerichs showed that it is not only possible, but also necessary if we want to see our country a truly Great Power, but not a country of popcorn and beer.

Source: Nasha Versiya. 23.01.2018

Alexander Stetsenko: “In Russia one can take anything off of anyone”

26.01.2018

The authorities make up laws in order to interpret them in their own favor. If things do not work out in a good way, “people in black” come and do lawlessness in the “interests of the state.” The capture of the Non-Governmental Nicholas Roerich Museum is a vivid and very sad example of this.

Numerous lawsuits, mutual accusations of the parties, the furious Ministry of Culture for whom the International Centre of the Roerichs is a sort of irritant… The Non-Governmental Nicholas Roerich Museum throughout its existence was holding down the fort, fighting off state and security officials. Finally, at the end of April 2017 the fort fell as a result of a hostile takeover. Does this mean that the Roerich Museum is destined for a sad fate and a $ 1 billion heritage to be plundered?

 

Alexander Stetsenko

We are talking now with the Vice-President of the International Center of the Roerichs (the ICR) Alexander Stetsenko about how the State deals with undesirables and whose who are too independent.

– Alexander Vitalyevich, let’s begin a little with the end. So tell us about the events of the night when the museum was taken over.

– On the night of 28 to 29 April 2017 the State Museum of Oriental Art with the support of law enforcement agencies entered the territory of the Lopoukhins’ estate, where the International Center of the Roerichs was located for more than 25 years, insulated the perimeter of the estate, and seized all its buildings, its territory, all museum collections and other property belonging to the ICR, including personal belongings of its workers.

The reason for the invasion was allegedly in the fact that Arbitration Court has granted the claim of the State Museum of Oriental Art to terminate the contracts for the uncompensated use of the Lopoukhins’ estate and evict the ICR from its three buildings. It is worth mentioning that at this time the court’s decision did not enter into legal force, because earlier we filed an appeal and it was not tried by the court. It was to be tried only 4 months after the capture.

The force capture was carried out by a certain unmarked private security company. The non-departmental security service, which we called out, did not even dare to enter into a conflict with it. In order to make a certain legal status to this illegal capture a Moscow department group of Central Investigative Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs arrived at the Lopoukhins’ estate on April 29. It should be noted that this particular group has been investigating the forced bankruptcy of the Master Bank. On arrival it transferred without any reason all the buildings of the estate, the Roerich’s property and heritage to the State Museum of Oriental Art for custody. However, neither the cultural heritage nor the property transferred were mentioned in their search record. There are strong reasons to believe that, thus, the heritage might be plundered.

Actually, the leadership of the Ministry of Culture committed an obvious robbery against the Non-Governmental Nicholas Roerich Museum of the ICR in the center of Moscow, alongside the Kremlin, and the investigative bodies of the Ministry of Internal Affairs provided their cover for this crime.

It should also be mentioned that a month earlier, on 7–8 March 2017, the same investigation team at the request of the Ministry of Culture carried out its first raid on the Non-Governmental Nicholas Roerich Museum with the support of several dozens of armed riot police in masks. Having broken down the doors of the museum, the group led by the adviser to the Minister of Culture K. Rybak and the Deputy Director of the State Museum of Oriental Art T. Mkrtychev took about 200 museum exhibits from the Lopoukhins’ estate, giving them an unreasonable status of physical evidence under the guise of investigation of the criminal case against Boris Bulochnik, the former patron of the Museum.

The investigation of the criminal case is carried out within the framework of fraud allegedly committed in 2012–2013 by the chairman of the Master Bank’s board, ICR’s sponsor Boris Bulochnik, including the outstanding loan of the bank, for which 9 paintings were bought and donated to the ICR in October 2013. They were seized as physical evidence of the criminal case. Together with these ones, they picked up the pictures donated to the ICR in the late 1990-es and early 2000-es, which clearly have nothing to do with the criminal case. The ICR’s archives of the early 1990-es were also withdrawn. All this proves once again that this raider seizure was initiated by the Ministry of Culture with the purpose to take over the Roerichs’ heritage handed over to the ICR by Svetoslav Roerich and other donors.

– What preceded the open seizure of the museum? After all, “fighting” did not begin immediately.

– The seizure of 2017 was preceded by the several-year company waged by Medinsky and his first deputy Aristarkhov to discredit the ICR and its leadership in the eyes of the country’s leadership and society. During 2014–-2016 they tried to present us as militants who are trying to overthrow the government (it was in Aristarkhov’s letter to the Interior Ministry in 2014); as extremists and foreign agents (it was in Aristarkhov’s letter to the Ministry of Justice of Russia in 2015); as religious extremists (it was in the letters of Aristarkhov and the State Museum of Oriental Art to the Khamovniky Prosecutor’s Office in 2015); as fascists who distribute swastikas (this was connected with the recall of the rental certificate for the ICR’s film “Call of Cosmic Evolution” by the Ministry of Culture for demonstrating newsreels fragments); as destroyers of the object of cultural heritage of the XVII–XIX centuries, that of the “City Estate of the Lopoukhins”; as violators of lease obligations (that was carried out by the officials by means of forgery and falsification related to facts and documents, “mysteriously appeared at their disposal” which testify to the registration of 17 commercial organizations at the estate; as those who ruined the estate. Here we should mention that this was the ICR that recovered the estate from the ruins without any support of state funding in 1990-es. And when the accusations in the emergency condition of the estate were claimed we requested to carry out a forensic examination to prove its excellent state. But the ICR was denied in it and the court decided to terminate the contracts and evict the ICR from the estate.

In fact, it was a well-conceived conspiracy of high-ranking officials of the Government of the Russian Federation, carried out by the Minister Medinsky and his team to deliberately destroy the Non-Governmental Museum and illegally seize the Lopoukhins’ estate, museum collections and other property belonging to the ICR. To this end, they sicced all supervisory and control bodies on the ICR. Khamovniky Prosecutor’s Office under the allegations set forward by the first Deputy Minister of Culture Aristarkhov, over the past two years carried out about 20 unscheduled inspections. The tax inspection at the request of the same Aristarkhov checked the ICR all the 2016 trying to discover unaccounted financial flows channeled, as he considered, through the ICR.

Failing to discover any financial violations contrived by the Ministry of Culture, the Federal Income Tax accused the ICR of tax evasion for using the paintings of the Roerichs donated to us for museum activity imposing a fine totaling approximately 59 million rubles. That is nonsense! Now about fascist symbolism. One must try hard to invent such a thing. Although the goal of the Ministry of Culture is clear. If the ICR were recognized as an extremist organization, the State represented by the Ministry of Culture would confiscate all the property of the ICR. And there would be no need for them to prove any rights to the Roerichs’ heritage. They failed to destroy our organization due to the decision of the Supreme Court, which denied the Ministry of Culture to consider their complaint against the decisions of earlier courts, which had recognized the illegality of the rental certificate recall.

Now Aristarkhov is obsessed with another idea. He is bombarding the Prosecutor’s Office and the Ministry of Justice by demands to remove from the ICR’s Statute all the references to the Roerich heritage, to Svetoslav Roerich’s will. He demands even to remove any mention that in case of the ICR’s liquidation its property should still be used for the creation a new non-governmental Museum as required by Svetoslav Roerich. The Ministry of Culture does not like even the name of our organization and much more. When it failed in one way, it tries to harm us in other one.

The Khamovniky Prosecutor’s Office, as I have already cited the examples, has been for several years following all the instructions of the Ministry of Culture regarding its illegal demands against the ICR. In September 2017 it filed a lawsuit in the Khamovniky Court of Moscow to force the ICR and the Ministry of Justice to amend the ICR’s Charter.

On December 7, 2017 the judge at the court was openly surprised while considering the lawsuit of the Khamovniky Prosecutor’s Office. How could it happen that the Charter of the ICR with amendments, having been repeatedly checked and agreed by the experts of the Ministry of Justice in May 2017, a few months later was protested by the same Prosecutor’s Office and the same Ministry of Justice?

But neither the Ministry of Justice nor the Prosecutor’s Office announced in the court the names of the true puppeteers of this show, those of the Minister of Culture and his first deputy. Then the judge found an opportunity to stop the administrative case on the Khamovniky Prosecutor’s Office suit. But I think that the Ministry of Culture will not stop and go on putting pressure on both the Prosecutor’s Office and the Ministry of Justice. God knows how events will develop in the near future.

– But let’s step back for a moment from today’s events and focus on the start of the Non-Governmental Museum?

– Svetoslav Roerich set two conditions according to which the heritage of his parents Nicholas and Helena Roerichs was to be transferred to Russia gratuitously. The first one was that the legacy would be given to create a Non-Governmental Museum named after Nicholas Roerich. The second one was that the authorities were to provide the necessary premises in Moscow for the Museum housing.

These conditions were accepted and implemented by the Soviet state. In November 1989 a resolution of the Council of Ministers of the USSR was signed to establish a non-governmental organization that of the Soviet Foundation of the Roerichs and the Center-Museum named after Nicholas Roerich as its main base. And some time later the decision of Moscow authorities was signed to transfer the Lopoukhins’ estate to this public organization to create a Non-Governmental Nicholas Roerich Museum in it.

When Svetoslav Roerich was convinced that his conditions were met, he chose Lyudmila Shaposhnikova as a director of the future Non-Governmental Museum and invited her to his place in India to prepare the legacy to be exported to the USSR. In 1991, Svetoslav Roerich considering the collapse of the USSR suggested to transform the Soviet Foundation of the Roerichs into the International Center of the Roerichs.

At that time, the estate was in poor condition. The Moscow government, which earlier promised to provide the restoration of the estate financially, eventually declared that there was no money for it. The estate was on the balance of the Moscow government, but the Center was authorized to fulfill the works for restoration. And the estate was restored on public money. About 1995-1996 the first patron appeared, who financed 90% of the estate re-creation and the cultural activities of the ICR until 2013. This was the Chairman of the Master Bank’s Board Boris Bulochnik.

It is necessary to take into account one more point. Svetoslav Roerich transferred his heritage on the basis of the document “Archives and the legacy of Roerich for the Soviet Foundation of the Roerichs in Moscow”, signed in 1990 and certified by an Indian notary. In fact, Svetoslav Roerich, during his lifetime, transferred the legacy to the Soviet Foundation of the Roerichs but the Foundation was to inherit it only after Roerich’s death.

There are two important points in this document that explain all the struggle of the Ministry of Culture against the ICR. The first one is that Svetoslav Roerich included in his will a provision obliging the Ministry of Culture to transfer to the public organization founded by him a collection of his own 288 paintings. In 1978 the collection in question was granted to the Ministry of Culture of the USSR for temporary use. The Ministry of Culture was to organize their exhibitions around the country. That of the second provision was that having transferred the legacy to the Soviet Foundation of the Roerichs, Svetoslav Roerich retained all the rights to the heritage. And only after his death it became the property of the Soviet Foundation of the Roerichs.

– But as far as I understand these aspects prescribed in the documents were not realized. What really happened?

– Problems began almost immediately. Firstly, Soviet officials did not want Svetoslav to transfer his legacy for a public museum establishing. They agreed to establish the Soviet Foundation of the Roerichs as a public organization, but they insisted on transferring the Roerichs’ heritage to the State Museum of Oriental Art. Now the officials of the Ministry of Culture, in order to justify the destruction of the Non-Governmental Museum, tried to convince the public opinion that Lyudmila Shaposhnikova fraudulently made Svetoslav Roerich pass the legacy to a public organization. Naive and ignorant people think that such a lie can convince someone that Roerich could have been forced to do anything against his will, especially with regard to his parents’ heritage.

But Svetoslav Roerich put a strict condition for the heritage transfer. This was a non-governmental format of the museum. He spoke of this even with Gorbachev. His position in this respect was definitely expressed in his concept of creation and development of a Non-Governmental Museum. This concept was published in the newspaper “Sovetskaya Kultura” (“Soviet Culture”) on July 29, 1989. The article was titled “Inaction is not an option!” One of the reasons for this decision was a tragic history of Svetoslav Roerich’s elder brother George, who returned to the USSR in 1959 at the invitation of Nikita Khrushchev and brought the first part of the legacy. He asked the Soviet leadership to establish a state museum. The Ministry of Culture promised to do this, the pictures were accepted, but the museum was not established. But George Roerich insisted on the museum creating. He took the most valuable part of the paintings from the Tretyakov Gallery, where they were deposited, and placed them in his apartment in Leninsky Prospekt, and kept on demanding the Minister to fulfill the obligations.

In 1960 George Roerich died suddenly, being not married, having no children, leaving no will. His brother Svetoslav Roerich was recognized as his heir, but later he was surprisingly removed from the inheritance rights. This happened at the request of the Ministry of Culture by means of a scam carried out by the officials of the Ministry. They recognized George Roerich’s housekeepers as his dependents, who by virtue of the law of that time were first ones in line to inherit George Roerich’s property. Further, the situation developed even more strangely. These so-called dependents were entitled only to the royalties of George Roerich. You may ask who in this case got the rights to the priceless heritage, brought by George Roerich to Moscow from India. No one!

It is strange that even the almighty power did not take this valuable property to state recording. That is, there were created such conditions when the property had actually no owner. This was definitely done in order to seize everything. That’s the way it happened. It didn’t help that Svetoslav Roerich was writing a lot of letters to the ministers of culture and the leadership of the country. The proposals of the USSR Prosecutor General Sukharev how to avoid the heritage plundering were also of no use. Nonetheless the priceless heritage with about 200 paintings, the most valuable scientific archive of the Roerichs, unique collections of ancient Tibetan painting, Buddhist bronze and other cultural rarities was left in George Roerich’s apartment. And all this was openly and illegally sold out with the utter indifference of the Ministry of Culture and complicity of the Ministry of Internal Affairs by the people who had no right to do so. At the request of the public criminal procedures were initiated against the person, who was selling the Roerichs’ legacy from the apartment, that is, the national property of Russia. But the case was dismissed.

– Do you mean that Svetoslav Roerich passed his legacy on conditions to create a non-governmental museum? Did he make it in the light of the failed experience of violating by the State the obligations given to George Roerich to create a State museum?

– That’s right. Svetoslav Roerich while transferring his heritage was categorical. He insisted on founding exclusively a non-governmental museum. He had first-hand experience that the Ministry of Culture did not wish to create a State museum.

But there were some other reasons in addition to the tragic experience with the first part of the heritage, brought by George Roerich. Svetoslav believed that a non-governmental organization would have more opportunities than the Ministry of Culture in carrying out its cultural activities. A non-governmental organization is able to avoid all official barriers, and work for the benefit of Russia. And so it happened. In spite of all the difficulties, the ICR created an excellent non-governmental museum, recognized in many countries of the world. Over the past five years the ICR held a unique international exhibition project dedicated to the Roerich Pact, that of the first international Treaty on the Protection of Artistic and Scientific Institutions and Historic Monuments (Roerich Pact), in 17 countries, including the headquarters of UN and UNESCO. In Russia, this project was held in 150 cities. This is what the Ministry of Culture destroyed. This peacemaking work was so necessary for Russia. But back to our history.

Even when all the documents to found a non-governmental museum were signed, the behind-the-scenes struggle on the part of the officials did not stop. And when Lyudmila Shaposhnikova brought the legacy in May 1990, it was even intensified. A lot was written about that period, so I will not dwell on it.

The reconstruction of the estate and the creation of the museum began. Since 1992 the Roerich’s exhibitions were being organized. Since 1997, the museum has been working in full force. But greedy officials did not give up hope of taking away the legacy.

– What is the reason?

– One of the main reasons is to try to disguise the total theft of Roerich’s heritage. About looting of the first part of the heritage, brought by George Roerich, I have already said. No less tragic fate befell Svetoslav Roerich’s collection of 288 paintings, which since 1987 to 1990 was placed into temporary custody at the Ministry of Culture. Then the owner ordered to transfer it to the public organization. But the Ministry of Culture did not fulfill the request of Roerich to give it, and after his death illegally nationalized it. So the second seizure of the heritage took place. The first one, i.e. violating the obligations given to George Roerich, happened in the 60-es.

The reason was banal. The collection was partially plundered. On this occasion independent studies were initiated by the ICR. They were based on the owner’s official documents and those of the Ministry of Culture. Not once the ICR published the results of the study. Investigative journalism was also conducted. Their conclusion was unambiguous: at this moment in the State Museum of Oriental Art there are only 282 of 288 paintings. Let’s remind that the collection was at the State Museum of Oriental Art since the 1980-es. It means that 6 paintings have disappeared. The Ministry of Culture and the State Museum of Oriental Art are trying to prove that there was no loss of paintings and everything is legal. They say that it was Svetoslav Roerich who forgot to remove the pictures from his will. And that it was Svetoslav Roerich who earlier gave them to other persons. Such a blatant lie of the officials is astonishing. There were 296 paintings, which arrived from Bulgaria to the USSR. All of them in accordance with Act No. 4193 of November 2, 1978, (and the annexes to it) are listed as the property of Svetoslav Roerich. Svetoslav Roerich ordered to return back to Bulgaria a part of this composition of paintings after the completion of traveling exhibitions. This fact was recorded in the act. In 1990 Svetoslav Roerich included 288 paintings, remaining in the USSR, in his will in favor of a public organization.

The dynamics of the lie of the Ministry of Culture is very revealing. At first, they said that Svetoslav Roerich had forgotten to withdraw from his will the part of the paintings, which he had recalled from the USSR. Then the ICR demanded to produce the Roerich’s letter and the executive documents of the Ministry of Culture due to which the pictures were sent back to India. No response. Then they began to develop a myth that Nicholas Roerich’s pictures, those of “The Virgin of the Snows”, “Alexander Nevsky” and “The Song of Shambhala” never arrived in the USSR.

It is the history of these 3 pictures of 6 missing ones that is very indicative. The exhibition of the Roerichs’ paintings was held in Bulgaria. After which this collection was sent to the USSR. These 3 pictures in question were actually listed by the State Russian Museum as “not received” in the Acceptance Report of the Collection from the Bulgarian side in April 1978. Instead of these paintings, other pictures were put in boxes, as was also noted in Act No. 4193 of November 2, 1978. But in the acts of museums of Odessa, Lvov, Kiev and others, where this collection was exhibited, there were no notes that these three paintings were missing. In addition, the “Song of Shambhala” is now being exhibited in the State Museum of Oriental Art. Is this not a convincing proof that the missing pictures were still delivered to the USSR? Well, the other two are now abroad in a private collection…

– On what grounds?

– Manipulators from the Ministry of Culture made one painting of two from the list of Roerich. So the picture “The Song of Shambhala” in Svetoslav Roerich’s list was mentioned under No. 8. But according to the legend of the Ministry of Culture, it did not arrive in the USSR, and at the moment it is absent.

Just think what kind of solution the smart guys from the Ministry of Culture find! They are moving this picture to the position No. 6 in the list, where there should be a picture “Tangla” and assign to the first picture a joint name “Tangla. Song of Shambhala.” And the picture under the name of “Tangla” has mysteriously disappeared. Is it not an interesting criminal history?! The painting “Song of Shambhala” is actually the original “Song of Shambhala”, there is no doubt in it, since it was identified by the author’s lists of paintings made by Roerich himself and by a careful description of its plot made by Helena Roerich.

And this is only one example of the machinations made by the officials of the State Museum of Oriental Art and the Ministry of Culture. If one scratches beneath the surface and compares today’s composition of the collection with its owner’s lists, the facts of pictures size reducing to 100 centimeters, technique changing and other magical transformations might come to light. These facts prove that the original composition of the collection was significantly “diluted” by their copies.

For many years, the ICR required to organize the most thorough independent examination, both of the composition of the collection and the paintings themselves, in order to compare them with the original lists of the owner. The inspections carried out by the Accounts Chamber of the Russian Federation and Federal Service for the Supervision of the Observance of Legislation in the Field of Protection of Cultural Heritage unfortunately based their work not on the title documents of the collection owner, but on the lists of the State Museum of Oriental Art. However, their lists have long since failed to correspond to the original ones and are adapted to the existing pictures. In such state of things, the loss of paintings will never be established. Do you understand?

The attempt to find the truth with the help of the investigative authorities for dozens of years ended in banal formal replies. The last time it was like a total marasmus. The order to sort out the situation was assigned to a… neighborhood police officer. The neighborhood police officer came to the State Museum of Oriental Art and asked, “Have you lost the paintings?”. “No”, he was answered. And that is all. No criminal prosecutions were instituted.

Here is the main reason for Medinsky and his team to destroy our organization. And at the same time to put hands on the richest Roerich collection of paintings. I’m afraid that it will suffer the same fate. After all, the Illicit trafficking of cultural property takes the world’s third place after the illicit traffic in arms and drugs.

Last year I openly accused the Minister of Culture and his deputy, as well as the leadership of the State Museum of Oriental Art, of concealing the loss of paintings from Svetoslav Roerich collection, located in the State Museum of Oriental Art. Do you think they prosecuted me for slander? No, they did not. Why do you think? Because, well knows the kitten whose meat it has eaten…

– Who do you think is at the forefront of those willing to destroy the Roerich Museum and what motivates them?

– It is definitely today’s leadership of the Ministry of Culture. The biggest problems of the ICR began in 2012 with the arrival of Medinsky. This year he said in the State Duma after the museum capture, “The criminal history of how a certain public organization took away from the State its legacy in billions dollars came to an end.”

What an impudent and cynical lie! After all, it is well known that Svetoslav Roerich, the sole owner of the legacy transferred to Russia, insisted on transmitting the legacy to a public organization, but not to the State. A number of documents signed by Roerich and even certified by an Indian notary evidenced this. It is enough to read Svetoslav Roerich’s letter to the President of the Russian Federation Boris Yeltsin to reveal all the lie of the minister. In this letter, he asked to assist in transferring to the ICR his own collection, which was illegally kept by the State Museum of Oriental Art.

If to stick to the version of Minister Medinsky, then the former president of the ICR, Yu.M. Vorontsov and Ye.M. Primakov as a long-time friend of our organization, its trustee and member of the Board; as well as M.L. Rostropovich, the trustee of the Museum; and many other prominent public and cultural figures including D.S. Likhachev, who throughout our 26-year history supported the ICR; participated in this “criminal history” (?!). How dare the Minister blaspheme openly from the rostrum of the State Duma? As Shakespeare wrote, “There is no trust, no faith, no honesty”.

– What were the methods of the Minister of Culture?

– Medinsky approached those responsibilities of destroying the non-governmental museum with zealous inventiveness. To accomplish this task it was necessary to take away the legacy from the ICR and evict the ICR from the estate.

According to the law, the legacy cannot be taken away from the ICR, since the owner himself officially transferred it to the Center. That is why in 2013 all Moscow courts refused the State Museum of Oriental Art and the Ministry of Culture to appeal against the judgment of the Khamovniky Court, which recognized the ICR as Svetoslav Roerich’s successor. Then the Minister appealed to the President with a letter in which he unreasonably accused the ICR of trying to take away Roerichs’ legacy, as belonging to the State, from the State Museum of Oriental Art.

In fact, the minister pulled the wool over President’s eyes. And President, believing the Minister, appended instructions on the letter of Medinsky, as to “Take measures to ensure the interests of the State.” Medinsky and his team interpreted these instructions of the President in their own favor and presented an obvious robbery of the ICR as serving the interests of the State. By this they have “set up” President.

Due to this document, the Supreme Court cancelled all previous decisions that rejected the State Museum of Oriental Art and the Ministry of Culture to contest the court decision of the Khamovniky Court and sent the case to the Moscow City Court for consideration on the merits of the complaint of the State Museum of Oriental Art and the Ministry of Culture. It was there where the decision in question was cancelled. Having denied us the rights on Svetoslav Roerich’s inheritance, the Moscow City Court nevertheless has not decided that the ICR illegally owns the legacy of Svetoslav Roerich, transferred to us after his signing the will. It is necessary to give a short explanation on this item.

The fact is that property rights are acquired not only on the basis of a will, but also on an act of purchase and sale, a grant and many other actions, due to which the rights to this or that property are transferred. When the Ministry of Culture launched the company to announce the ICR as not a successor to the Soviet Foundation of the Roerichs, for which a will was made, Roerich wrote letters to the leaders of the State, to President Yeltsin, to the head of the Supreme Soviet Khasbulatov and to the mayor of Moscow Luzhkov, in which he definitely expressed his will concerning the rights of the ICR to the heritage transferred to Russia.

But when he realized that this would not stop the greedy officials from taking possession of the heritage, he not long before his death legalized his signature at the notary in India on the document, which under Indian law was the document of transferring rights to the heritage to the ICR. In fact, this document cancelled the previously signed will, since Svetoslav Roerich, being the owner of the heritage transferred to the Soviet Foundation of the Roerichs, ordered to transfer it to the ICR.

The Ministry of Culture is well aware of this document importance, so now there have been pathetic calls that the signature of Svetoslav Roerich was a fake, and the Indian notary turned out to be a fraud. Their insolence is just off the charts. They are ready to question even the notarial system of another state, apparently considering that fraudsters there can act in the same way as they used to do here.

As a result, it should be said that the rights of the ICR to the inheritance given to us by Svetoslav Roerich does not result from the succession to Soviet Foundation of the Roerichs, Medinsky’s or his team’s willingness or unwillingness, but from the will of Svetoslav Roerich, the owner of the heritage. They could not change his decision in his lifetime. And much less they could to do it after his departure.

Further more. For much of 2015 Medinsky spent on making the Prosecutor General’s Office take away the legacy from the ICR. The Prosecutor’s Office checked the ICR 5 times for the legality of the Roerichs’ heritage location at ours, but it never came to the conclusion which the Ministry of Culture demanded from it. It offered the Ministry of Culture, if it deemed it necessary, to do it through the court. But how does the minister in court prove that the legacy does not belong to the ICR, and that it should be transferred to the State? In no way. That is why the Ministry of Culture committed the obvious robbery on the night of 28 to 29 April 2017.

In 2015, the founder of the Non-Governmental Museum and its permanent director, Lyudmila Shaposhnikova, the confidant of Svetoslav Roerich and the executor of his will died. Primakov, a permanent member of the Board of Trustees of the ICR died a little earlier. They both were a strong deterrent against the outrage of the lawlessness of the officials against the ICR.

And the siege of the center began. The Ministry of Culture demanded repeatedly to give the legacy. They said, “You are not the heirs, you have no right to keep and manage the collections.” In 2016 the ICR was pressured in full. There were carried out 17 unscheduled inspections from tax inspectors to the Ministry of Justice. The latest one checked whether we are extremists or foreign agents. If the organization was recognized as an extremist one, all its property would pass to the State without any documents.

There was a tax inspection, there was that unfortunate film with alleged propaganda of fascist symbols. They literally clung to everything. And Medinsky was not going to calm down. He was sending constant complaints to the Prosecutor’s Office that our organization is extremist one, that our charter and the title are incorrect. And then there was the eviction.

– And how did they succeed in it?

–- In September 2015, the minister asked the mayor of Moscow Serguey Sobyanin to transfer the buildings of the estate to federal property in order to fulfill the will of Svetoslav Roerich to restore the estate. Again, we have the Minister’s blatant and insolent lie, because the estate had already been restored. For the restoration of the estate there was not spent a penny of State money. And the will of Svetoslav Roerich had already been executed.

And in October 2015 an order was issued to transfer the estate to federal property. Almost immediately the estate was transferred to the operational management of the State Museum of Oriental Art. The ICR was not even aware of it. In 2014 Sobyanin himself gave the estate to the ICR for free use, and in 2015 he himself “on the sly” passed it to the federals.

– In general, everything was done to deprive the ICR of the right to be on the territory of the estate.

– Exactly. The State Museum of Oriental Art immediately filed a lawsuit to evict the ICR from the estate. The basis for the claim was made real “off the wall,” as “everything is bad there”, “the ICR has violated the terms of the contracts of gratuitous use of the estate”, “things are a mess” and… not a single proof for all this. Then Aristarkhov re-entered the case with a view to find compromising materials that would have convinced the court to evict the ICR. At his request, the Moscow City Department of Cultural Heritage conducted an unscheduled inspection. But six months before this, the Moscow City Department of Cultural Heritage conducted a planned inspection and everything was fine with no comments. But in August everything “suddenly turned out to be bad.” Moreover, the Federal Agency for State Property Management, as a representative of the owner, began its inspection of the estate. Then we learnt that 17 commercial organizations were registered at our address.

– Why did the officials do this?

– Everything is very simple. Because this is the grossest violation of the terms of contracts for its uncompensated use, it was an extra reason to accuse us.

We appealed to the Prosecutor’s Office for it to investigate who made this illegal registration on our territory. It was clear that without the help of the officials themselves it would not be possible to make it. We asked the Prosecutor’s Office to identify the perpetrators and punish them. But nothing was done till now. The State Museum of Oriental Art and the Ministry of Culture were trying to convince the court that the ICR brought the estate to an emergency condition. They required to terminate the contracts with us and evict us. The ICR submitted to court the conclusion made by S.V. Demidov, the leading expert of the highest qualification, that the Lopoukhins estate is one of the best in Moscow in terms of its condition and operation. The court at the request of Aristarkhov did not accept this expert conclusions.

We petitioned the court to conduct a forensic examination of the estate condition but they refused us. The version of the Ministry of Culture and the State Museum of Oriental Art was recognized as a true one, and the court terminated the contracts and obliged the ICR to vacate the estate. This was a sort of a one-way track. We filed an appeal, and at that moment, a seizure took place.

– So I understand, the cooperation with the Chairman of the Board of the Master Bank Boris Bulochnik has done a disservice to you.

– Yes, the criminal case against Bulochnik was in the opinion of the Ministry of Culture compromising the ICR. That is fundamentally mistaken. If this is the case, then the Cathedral of Christ the Savior should be taken from the Russian Orthodox Church, because many disgraced oligarchs such as Gusinsky, Khodorkovsky, Berezovsky, and others, took part in its reconstruction. There are many other examples. If the funds in question were spent for the common good, how could one question the sincerity of the people who worked for the good of the Motherland? It turns out to be possible when one has personal vested interests. Then any good deed can be discredited.

There is another point. Who has canceled the presumption of innocence here in Russia? Bulochnik was charged with a specific crime committed by him in specific terms, those of 2012-2013. Why did the Ministry of Culture claim everywhere, that the restoration of the estate, which Bulochnik started to finance since the mid of the 1990-es, the numerous Roerichs’ masterpieces, donated by him to the Museum, which thanks to him were returned to Russia and put up for public viewing, were carried out on stolen money? At the same time, Medinsky and his team did nothing to preserve the Roerichs’ heritage. I’ll tell you that, all this was another trick of the Ministry of Culture. They tried with the support of the investigative bodies to hide the seized heritage and other property belonging to the ICR and present it as the physical evidence. After all, investigations can last for decades.

– Your fate will not be envied … What do you hope to achieve in the future? What are the perspectives of preserving the Roerich Museum in its usual over the latest decade format?

– We filed complaints and applications against the illegal actions of the investigation on March 7–8, 2017 to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Prosecutor General’s Office, the Investigative Committee and even the Federal Security Service. Refusals came from all of them. And all of them are within the law. We were suing. The court denied consideration. A month later, a complete seizure of the estate and the Roerichs’ heritage including the rest ICR property took place. This action was more like a bandit raid.

In fact, the Ministry of Culture conducted the liquidation of a non-governmental museum created by the efforts of the public. But the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin awarded the Director General of our Museum Lyudmila Shaposhnikova the Order of Friendship for creating and developing the Non-Governmental Nicholas Roerich Museum in 2006 and in 2011. The President of the Russian Federation Dmitry Medvedev awarded Lyudmila Shaposhnikova the Order for Merit to the Fatherland of the IV degree for outstanding services in cultural heritage preserving. The Presidents of Russia turned out to celebrate the merits of the Non-Governmental Museum, and Medinsky destroyed it and the authorities supported him. Is it not weird for a law-based State?

Now the Ministry of Culture is concerned how to eliminate the ICR altogether, so that there will be no one to reclaim everything and to call to prosecute those responsible for this crime. So it seeks to eliminate the key witness.

– Who did the non-governmental museum impede? It has never asked anything from the State.

– A few days ago there was held a meeting of the Council for Culture under the President of the Russian Federation, chaired by Vladimir Putin. Concluding the meeting, he quoted D. Granin’s statement: “Culture can not be led. It must be understood and carried within ourselves.” And if you do not understand the culture, then what? You can… take it away, cant’ you?

You know, patience is running out. For three years, we are sending letters and asking for help. The authorities do not pay attention to this. Our International Non-Governmental Organization has no more chances to find a just solution to our problem in Russia, and we will have to turn to the international community and foreign justice for help.

If for lack of truth in your country you have to turn to foreign justice with a request to protect you from the arbitrariness of your officials, then, let me ask, what kind of society are we building? And what is most painful that these words are addressed to the State in which we live. After all, in fact, it turns out that in Russia you can take anything away from anyone. But big officials from the highest tribunes are keep on talking about democracy. Only where is it?

As for the museum, it prevented the officials, because it was outside their competence. It can even be said in another way: they did not have access to immense wealth plundering, both in cultural and financial aspect. Corruption of officials, embezzlement of budgetary funds is a favorite topic of all news stories. All of this causes substantial damage to the Russian economy. Sometimes we are shown how the State is struggling with this scourge. The harm caused by the Ministry of Culture, destroying the ICR and its Non-Governmental Museum, founded by Roerich, is much more dangerous for the country, as it is undermining the foundation on which everything else rests. We mean Culture.

Who if not the top public officials should be concerned about this subversive activity? Moreover, there are powerful structures in Russia, which are able to stop any disaster.

The General Prosecutor’s Office of Chaika, the Investigative Committee of Bastrykin, the Federal Security Service of Bortnikov, after all, we have the President who can influence the destiny of the country with the stroke of a pen. But … all of them are as silent as a grave. As if that’s how it should be… Even at the Council on Culture, headed by President, which was held recently, no one raised the issue of our Non-Governmental Museum destruction, although many of those present were aware of it.

But we live in increasingly interconnected and interdependent world. The destruction of a museum entails the destruction of culture, the absence of which splits any, even the strongest State into atoms and molecules.

At the end of the Great Patriotic War Nicholas Roerich wrote even more prophetic words in his diary, “The destruction of a museum is the destruction of a country.”

Who and what will the current government lead on the ruins of lack of culture, if it is not concerned about the preservation of culture now.

Alexander Rodin was interviewing Alexander Stetsenko,
the Vice-President of the International Center of the Roerichs

Source: Obshchaya Gazeta. 26.12.2017