Public-Government cooperation, which the National Roerich Committee has so ardently stated, could have developed from the very beginning – from the time of the emergence of the Soviet Roerich Foundation (SRF), but it did not work out, and not through the fault of the SFR. The state machine’s flurry, its sluggishness and formal approach on the part of officials of various levels and, possibly, the interests of the “shadow” participants led to the fact that at the initial stage the state did not start the necessary measures to restore the Lopukhin’s estate (and the whole complex of buildings), and simply ignored the execution of their own promises. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the situation only worsened, and although Russia assumed the obligations of the USSR, the new bureaucracy considered it possible not to fulfill obligations towards a public organization. Chaos, which reigned in the expanses of the former Union, made it almost impossible for the planned formation of the financial base for the museum. At this difficult time, nothing has been done by the state to establish the Center, and moreover, attempts have begun to destroy the newly created public organization. Neither the influential members of the board of the SRF, nor the public that began to form around the SRF, could reach the authorities. Letters to various instances, meetings with officials of different levels – all this rested against a deaf bureaucratic wall.
Creation of the International Center of Roerich (ICR) based on the SRF was a natural necessity, because The Soviet Union, after the well-known events of August 1991, ceased to exist. Disputes that the ICR is not a legal successor to the SRF have no legal validity. This is clear to every sensible person who is familiar with the documents and the situation, but it is not clear to the officials of the Ministry of Culture. Apparently, their passionate desire to take possession of the heritage overshadowed common sense.
ICR is accused of almost criminal conduct of cases, leaving this accusation at the level of sensations that arose based on personal dislike towards some of the Center’s employees. Those who did not oversleep 90th years in Russia, could say with certainty that the country was feverish, but the ICR in those years was a rare oasis of lawful conduct of affairs, which is confirmed by numerous inspections. This fact already worried some of the power authorities at that time. They could not catch the staff and “hang” on it at least some criminal case, though apparently, someone wanted to do it. Many specialists in the field of economics came to work in the Fund. From the very beginning they tried to create enterprises that could provide, as L. Shaposhnikova said, the “financial pillow” for the Fund. These people had the appropriate diplomas, experience in other jobs, and a sincere aspiration, but the environment in the country has changed so much that their experience has failed in life. The state at that time was engaged in privatization, and therefore the officials did not care about public organizations. Patronage, which then only revived, became a panacea for economic ills for the ICR. Recall that in those years B. Bulochnik was all respected businessman and patron of art, who saved from the “abyss of free business”, not only the ICR. Then many, now indignant, considered it an honor to shake hands with Boris Ilyich, but times change and so do preferences too. However, it was Boris Ilyich, who took on his shoulders what the state promised to do, thereby taking his honorable place in the history of the ICR along with people like Yu. Vorontsov and L. Shaposhnikova.
Today the National Committee hopes that with the arrival of state structures, namely the Ministry of Culture and the Museum of the East, there will be an idyll for the financial part! Ostensibly, the Legacy will be in the frame of legality, and the people’s possessions will last for centuries, but listening to high-profile criminal cases among officials of different ranks, including from the Ministry of Culture, it’s hard to believe! Moreover, the confidence grows stronger precisely in the reverse that pictures, archives and other national property can “float away” to private collections, where they will please the eyes of a very narrow circle of admirers of art. After the public museum was unceremoniously stormed on March 7-8, and the employees were detained for 20 hours without any reason, we realize that the people, who did it, will not stop at nothing. They can organize such “public support of the government”, which the government simply won’t be able to refuse! The vicious circle, referred to in the statement of the National Committee, thus tears up state authorities, “cleansing society” with the help of forceful methods and barbaric seizure of paintings, actual looting. Prediction of the Public Chamber that the confrontation between the ICR and state structures will lead to destructive and unpredictable consequences is beginning to come true. In fact, the confrontation is very peculiar, since the ICR simply wanted the state to observe its own constitution and fulfill its promises.
The conversation about the publicity of the investigation and careful attitude to cultural values looks like, at least, a naive dream of the public while at the inquisition trial. The central television channels already put on the fool’s caps of sectarians and occultists on the ICR employees, and cynically talked about “not properly” keeping the heritage!
Mr. Losyukov is trying to convince the not very well-informed public that, under L.V. Shaposhnikova, the relationship between the state and the ICR was almost perfect, and only after her departure the ICR deteriorated sharply. Who will read the numerous articles of Lyudmila Vasilyevna (L.V.) and the documents of those years, will understand that the battle with bureaucratic arbitrariness has been conducted since the very appearance of the SRF! But after the departure of such a great cultural figure, as was L.V. Shaposhnikova, the ICR began to experience even greater difficulties, which were created by the leadership of the Ministry of Culture and the Museum of the East. It’s good that such a creative person as L.V.Shaposhnikova, at one time agreed to put this enormous burden on herself. Her services to the Fatherland were already enough to enter the history of Russia’s culture, and she could quietly retire in creative work.
The statement of the National Committee that under the wing of the Museum of the East will begin some kind of “special” scientific work with the Roerichs’ heritage and that the true, real experts will also be admitted to the materials of the Great Russian thinkers also causes mixed feelings. Why, to this very moment, these “great Roerichs experts” did not please the public with their works? Those works that came out of the pen of such experts as Rosov, and work with the archives of D. Popov, can only convince us of the opposite! With the arrival to ICR of such personalities the level of scientific work will fall, and we will remember the works of Shaposhnikova as rare pearls on the research field. Regarding the “non-professionalism” of the staff of the ICR, rumors were spread from the very beginning, even though all employees had a sufficiently high qualification. Those rumors spoiled the picture of perception and did not suggest opponents the confidence in the ICR.
Particularly interesting is the part of the statement of Mr. Losyukov, where he writes about the return of the Lopukhins estate to those people, representatives of the Russian public, who honestly and unselfishly worked on the restoration of the estate. To begin with, I would like to see the lists of these disinterested people, and then perhaps, much will be cleared up. So far, officials are trying to expel from the buildings of the manor exactly those people, who have been unselfishly working on its restoration for a quarter of a century! It was the staff of the ICR and, of course, many other representatives of the world community, who understood that the Roerich heritage is a national treasure of Russia.
Another topic touched upon in the committee’s statement is the creation of the public Institute of the Roerichs. The idea is beautiful and we can wish this institution all the prosperity, but the institute will not be the organization that was planned and created by S.N. Roerich! The only organization he created during his life in those difficult years for Russia and whose honorary member he was until the end of his life, was the ICR. It is surprising why it is impossible to continue and develop a research of the heritage based on ICR, but instead it is necessary to break and create a something new. There is no logic in these actions, but there is obvious waste of human and other resources.
When in 1989 the chairman of our society K.A. Molchanova and I, A. Miller, met with S. N. Roerich, he told us about his plans – the creation of a public organization, which he will transfer the rights to dispose of the heritage to, and he also introduced L.V. Shaposhnikova as a person who will fulfill his will. K.A. Molchanova corresponded with the Roerich family for many years, therefore this decision of Svyatoslav Nikolaevich was not an unexpected step for our society (the Estonian Roerich Society). But apparently, it was a surprise for the Ministry of Culture.
National committee speaks about the unity of the Roerich family’s heritage and that, as if at the request of S.N. Roerich, it should be collected in a single museum. But K.A. Molchanova, and I know a different desire of S.N. Roerich. It was confirmed to us at a personal meeting with S.N. Roerich in November 1989, that paintings, which were legally located in other museums, should remain there, but the paintings, which were at that time transferred to Russia and part of the collection, which was transferred by the Ministry of Culture for temporary storage in the Museum of the East – 288 paintings of the Roerichs, should be located in the museum that was created by S. N. Roerich, which is ICR. It seems strange that the will of the owner, which was legally certified, was not executed! The Museum of the East refused to transfer the collection of 288 paintings of Svyatoslav Nikolaevich, with a justification of possible loss of the collection, while not motivating these fears. Then, in circles close to the Museum of the East, rumors began about the incapacity of S.N. Roerich, that he allegedly did not understand the situation in Russia. R.B. Rybakov entered into an open confrontation with L.V.Shaposhnikova, which subsequently further complicated the relationship between the ICR and state officials.
Today, the public dreams of a strong and humane state with which it would be possible to cooperate and which would fulfill its obligations to the people, but considering the recent events of March 7-8, 2017, when the public museum named after N.K. Roerich was looted, and thus the will of S.N. Roerich was violated, these times will not come soon.