Media Review

11 april, 2012 16:36

Komsomolskaya Pravda: “Russian Geographical Society Has Housewarming Party”

Trustees of Russia’s oldest organisation gathered in their historical headquarters in St Petersburg.

Trustees of Russia’s oldest organisation gathered in their historical headquarters in St Petersburg. 

Russian geographers first gathered in St Petersburg’s Grivtsov Lane in 1908 in a building that was specially built for the Russian Geographical Society. And yesterday the RGS celebrated its housewarming in the historical building in Grivtsov Lane, which is to be their headquarters from now on. 

Vladimir Putin, chairman of the Board of Trustees, came to the sitting of the RGS Council. Prior to meeting its members, Putin met young cadets from the Ivanovo-Voznesensk Admiral Nevelsky Marine Cadet Corps who took part in a trans-Antarctic expedition which followed the trail of the 1910-1915 expedition. The cadets were awarded with diplomas by RGS President Sergei Shoigu for their participation.

Putin approached the boys who were dressed in full uniform and asked: “Was it difficult?” The cadets replied bravely that it had been fun.  

Addressing the gathering Putin recalled:

“The Russian Geographical Society from the outset united explorers who were sincerely dedicated to the Motherland. The new generation should be worthy of their ancestors and attract the many talented people we have and help them to develop. That is what the Russian Geographical Society is for.  

Putin reminded his listeners of last year’s big event – the Arctic Forum which focused on outlining the development guidelines for the Northern Sea Route, improving the environmental situation in the Arctic, where “spring cleaning” had begun. Putin talked about the RGS’s most important activities, such as setting up nature reserves and cleaning rivers. And he advised the governors to support the regional branches of the RGS.

Meanwhile Shoigu revealed the RGS’s plans for this year – it will be the Year of the Arctic as there are so many anniversaries connected to it: 100 years ago the first expedition landed in the Arctic, while 75 years ago polar explorers headed by Papanin stayed on a drifting floe. The next Arctic Forum will gather in Salekhard and at Putin’s suggestion will be dedicated to its ecology. 

Later on Putin and Shoigu awarded grants to researchers and welcomed new members of the RGS – head of Gazprom Alexei Miller, head of Sovkomflot Sergei Frank and other businesspeople who were well-represented among the audience. 

This was followed by a report on the protection of leopards presented by the head of the presidential executive office Sergei Ivanov, an RGS member. He said there are only 45 of the big cats left in Russia but a few days ago Putin had signed a government executive order on setting up the Land of the Leopard National Park in the Primorye Territory. 

“On behalf of all leopards, roe deer, and tigers let me express our gratitude to you,” Ivanov said to Putin.  

In reply, Putin proposed holding the next board of trustees meeting on the banks of Lake Baikal for example, and to assess what had been done.

Shoigu, for his part, suggested that the meeting take place in Kyzyl.

“He keeps pushing us towards Tyva,” Putin joked.

After Putin left, Shoigu said during the second part of the meeting, “Of course, we can argue where we should meet but we don’t have much of a choice – it’s either Tyva or the Moscow Region,” to the audience’s  laughter.

Shoigu also declared he had recently become “head of a laboratory.”  

“I have long been trying to get it, and now I am part-time head of a laboratory at Moscow University,” he said, expressing his appreciation to Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin for his support. 

Larisa Kaftan