Russian Intelligentsia criticises new draft government policy document, "Foundations of State Cultural Policies"

posted 17 Apr 2014, 10:12 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 17 Apr 2014, 10:30 ]
16 April 2014

Source: (info)
Irina Shcherbakova, a historian with the Memorial non-profit organization has called the policy document proposed by the Russian Ministry of Culture "a rejection of the country's modernisation". Academics from the Russian Academy of Sciences consider the document to be unconstitutional.

The draft policy document, entitled "Foundations of State Cultural Policies", that has been proposed by the Russian Ministry of Culture and supported by the Minister of Culture, Vladimir Medinsky, has evoked "extremely mixed reactions" in Russia itself, according to Shcherbakova. "It is especially dangerous for us, people living in Russia, to in some sense reject modernisation.”

The historian also speaks of a "flourishing of nationalism", the extent of which "she has never experienced throughout her whole life". Deutsche Welle has quoted Shcherbakova’s assessment of the possible consequences of the self-isolation of the country.

Members of the academic council of the Institute of Philosophy at the Russian Academy of Sciences have pointed out the unconstitutional character of the proposed programme.

A statement by 23 prominent members of the Academic Council of the Institute of Philosophy expressing sharp criticism of the ministry’s document on cultural policy was published on the Institute’s website on 15th April.

Staff at the Institute note that the draft document "claims to represent a compulsory ideology, something expressly prohibited by Article 13 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation". Furthermore, they consider "the developers of the material openly and demonstratively are invading the sphere of philosophy, considering themselves competent enough in this sphere of knowledge, although the contents of the document sometimes are not even at the level of student work. The text contains many one-sided, improper and simply false statements." reports that the thesis "Russia is not Europe" puzzled the philosophers, which according in the draft by the Ministry of Culture is adopted as the "cornerstone" of the approach. Staff at the Academy of Sciences’ Philosophy Institute stressed that, "This is a purely subjective judgment that in no way can be regarded as an indisputable truth. It is a false assertion that this thesis is supported by ‘the whole history of the people and the country.’ We cannot ignore the fact that many historical figures and the best minds in Russia held opposite views."

"We believe that the state could contribute more to the intellectual life of Russia, if it promoted in-depth study and discussion of the themes of Russian identity through the support of relevant projects, conferences, discussion platforms, publishing programmes, etc. But instead, the state looks ambiguous, trying to solve complex philosophical problems by means of issuing decrees."

In the conclusions of the document, signed, among others, by R. Apresyan, A. Guseinov, N. Lapin, V Lektorsky, N. Motroshilova, A. Nikiforov and B. Yudin, the academics noted that "the principles of state policy in the sphere of culture should be developed, above all, by society, not anonymous "working groups" no matter how authoritative the department to which they belong. The philosophers called not only for the content and agenda of the draft policy document by the Ministry of Culture to be reviewed, but also “for the very process by which it was created to be reformed, making it possible for a wider range of specialists to take part.”

The draft policy document can be read via this link at the website of Novaya gazeta.

Translated by Chloe Cranston