Libmonster ID: U.S.-1360
Author(s) of the publication: A. B. PODTSEROB


Candidate of Historical Sciences Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences

Russia and the Arab world, cultural and scientific ties, Imperial Orthodox Palestinian Society Keywords:Roszarubezhcenter

The transformation of Russia into a great power in the 18th century, the appearance of Russian military and merchant ships in the Mediterranean Sea led to the establishment of political contacts and the establishment of trade and economic relations with Arab countries. This, in turn, created prerequisites for establishing cultural and scientific ties with them.

Since the 19th century, there has been a steady increase in interest in the Middle East and Maghreb in Russian literary and artistic circles. Many evidences of this can be found in the works of A. S. Pushkin, M. Y. Lermontov, A. S. Griboyedov, N. V. Gogol, F. M. Dostoevsky and other classics of Russian literature.

Thus, Leo Tolstoy even studied Arabic during his studies at Kazan University. Later, he corresponded with the famous Egyptian theologian Muhammad Abdo1.

At the beginning of the 20th century, N. S. Gumilev visited Egypt several times, and after that he wrote a number of poems dedicated to Arab countries ("Egypt", "Sudan", "Suez Canal", "Sahara", etc.). Some of them were reprinted in Egyptian newspapers.

In the second half of the 19th and early 20th centuries, a movement called "musical orientalism" appeared in the Russian music school. His followers-N. A. Rimsky-Korsakov, A. P. Borodin, M. A. Balakirev-used for their works the plots of Arabic literature, as well as individual oriental melodies, to which they gave their own interpretation. They learned their knowledge in this area from the Russian composer A. Khristianovich, who published the book "Historical Sketch of Arabic Music" after traveling to North Africa in the 60s of the XIX century. Later, the works of the "orientalists" gained popularity among Arab connoisseurs of classical music*.

The growth of interest in the Arab East in Russia was also reflected in the fact that in the XIX - early XX centuries the number of travelers from Russia who visited there significantly increased, whose essays were published in the magazines Otechestvennye Zapiski, Sovremennik, Morskoy Sbornik and other publications. They have published a number of books describing their trips. As an example, we will cite the works of O. I. Senkovsky " Excerpts from Travels in Egypt, Nubia and Upper Ethiopia "(1822), A. S. Norov "Journey to the Holy Land in 1835", E. P. Kovalevsky "Journey to Inner Africa" (1849), P. A. Chikhachev " Spain, Algeria, Tunis "(1880), V. N. Khitrovo "A Week in Palestine", A.V. Eliseev, who described the life of the Tuaregs in the third volume of his work "Around the World. Essays and paintings from a journey through three parts of the Old World "(1896), etc.

Despite the relative geographical distance and, most importantly, the language barrier, Russian culture has had a certain impact on Arabic culture (although, of course, less than European culture, especially French). In the literature of the Middle East and North Africa, the influence of Russian writers ' creativity can be traced. Thus, according to the classic of modern Arabic literature Mikhail Nuayme, he was formed as a writer under the influence of "the fine art of Pushkin, Lermontov and Turgenev, the bitter humor of Gogol and the fascinating realism of Tolstoy" 2.

The Levant and Maghreb readers are most interested in the works of A. S. Pushkin, whom the Arabs regard as "the emir of the poets of Russia", and L. N. Tolstoy, whom they consider "the wisest of men" .3

* According to Sarvat Okashi, a former member of the Council of the Organization Free Officers (OSO), the decision on the time of an armed demonstration to overthrow King Farouk was made by the head of the OSO, Gamal Abdel Nasser, when he was listening to N. A. Rimsky-Korsakov's "Scheherazade". See: A. A. Nasser Agaryshev, Moscow, 1975, p. 62.

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Russians have also made a direct contribution to the culture and science of the Levant and Maghreb countries. So, since 1920, artists I. Ya. Bilibin and A.V. Shchekotikhina-Potocka lived in Alexandria, whose paintings were exhibited in the premises of the local Society of Art Lovers. A. N. Strekalova was opened in Cairo in the late 30s. The first School of fashionable dances in Egypt. V. S. Golenishchev founded the department in the 20s. He studied Egyptology at the King Fouad University in Cairo, where his graduates became the first Arab Egyptologists. Professor V. M. Vikentiev taught Egyptian philology and ancient history of the Middle East at Cairo University in 1924-1960. B. O. Fredman - Klusel was from 1929 the head of the sculpture department at the same University, which brought up a whole generation of Egyptian sculptors.4 Tunisians tend to consider A. A. Rubtsov, who settled in their country, almost their artist. In Tunis, on one of the central streets - Mohammed V Boulevard, there is the Church of the Resurrection of Christ, designed by architect M. F. Kozmin in the likeness of the Church of the Intercession on the Nerl and which has become one of the attractions of the Tunisian capital. 5 Russian architects also designed Orthodox churches in Bizerte and Rabat. The high-rise Aswan dam is decorated with the Monument of Friendship of Soviet architects Yu. V. Omelchenko and P. P. Pavlov with bas-reliefs by E. I. Neizvestny.

The Russian Imperial Orthodox Palestinian Society greatly contributed to familiarizing the population of Middle Eastern countries with the culture of Russia and spreading the Russian language there. In the late XIX-early XX centuries. It has established a network of local schools in Palestine, Syria and Lebanon. The first such school opened in 1882, and in 1914 there were about 100 of them. Children mostly from Orthodox families, including the poorest, studied there, since education was free. The teachers in the schools were secular. Two teachers ' seminaries were established to train teachers - a men's seminary in Nazareth and a women's seminary in Beit Jala, where students received full board. The schools taught the law of God, Arabic and Russian languages, arithmetic, geography, history and crafts. The best students were sent to continue their education in Russia. In 1911, the total number of students was 11.1 thousand, including in Syria - 8.4 thousand, Palestine - 1.5 thousand and Lebanon - 1.2 thousand. Their maintenance cost 240 thousand rubles a year, of which since 1912 150 thousand was covered by the state budget of Russia. After the outbreak of the First World War, Russian schools ceased to exist6.


During the Soviet years, the Union of Soviet Societies for Friendship and Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries and its network of cultural centers played a major role in introducing Arabs to Russian culture. This association of Soviet public organizations aimed at developing and strengthening friendship and cultural cooperation between the peoples of the USSR and foreign countries included 63 societies of friendship with individual countries, including the countries of the Near and Middle East. The newspaper Moskovskiye Novosti, published by SSOD, was also published in Arabic. The activities of this organization were of such a large-scale nature, which is a separate topic.

After the collapse of the USSR, the Russian Center for International Scientific and Cultural Cooperation (Roszarubezhcenter)took the place of the SSOD* and the Russian Association for International Cooperation (RAMS), which brought together the surviving friendship societies. Their activities faced serious difficulties. As R. G. Abdulatipov, a member of the Federation Council, stated at the time, "some Russian reformers who are not burdened with state thinking, but are very far-sighted in terms of privatization, have repeatedly tried to liquidate Roszarubezhcenter, acquire and privatize the real estate of Russian centers of science and culture abroad, and even the House of Friendship in Moscow on Vozdvizhenka. And in many cases, they managed to achieve the desired result for them. " 7

The closure of the Progress and Mir publishing houses, which produced fiction and scientific literature in foreign languages, and the termination of the publication of their materials by the Russian News Agency Novosti caused serious damage to the cause of familiarizing the peoples of Arab countries with Russian culture.

The system of cultural relations managed to survive to a large extent thanks to the authority and perseverance of the first female cosmonaut, V. N. Tereshkova, who headed the Roszarubezhcenter, and the dedication of the directors of the Russian Centers of Science and Culture (RCSC), who worked in conditions of extremely scarce funding, staff cuts, and the cessation of new books and videos. We should pay tribute to their efforts: The system was preserved, although RCCs in Algeria, Amman, Khartoum, Sana'a, Aden, and Nouakchott were closed. Cultural centers in Cairo, Alexandria, Damascus, Beirut, Tunis and Rabat continue to operate. Since 2010, the RCSC has resumed its work in Amman.

In recent years, the activity of cultural centers has noticeably increased, and the effectiveness of their work, according to

* Now-Rossotrudnichestvo (approx. ed.).

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of the Arabs themselves, improved 8. They have once again become hotbeds of propaganda of the spiritual traditions of Russia, its achievements in science, culture, literature and art. In June 2012, during President Vladimir Putin's visit to the Palestinian territories, the Russian Center for Science and Culture was opened in Bethlehem.

As an example, we can cite the activities of the RCSC in Tunisia, which the author had the opportunity to observe while working in this country. The center organizes tours of Russian ensembles and musical evenings, holds film screenings, art exhibitions, literary evenings, meetings with representatives of the creative intelligentsia, organizes days of Russian culture in various Tunisian cities, etc. The RCSC has Russian language courses, the popular S. P. Diaghilev Ballet School in Tunis, and the Tchaikovsky School of Music A. Rubtsov painting and drawing courses, as well as a chess club. The library of the cultural center consisted of 12 thousand books, including 3 thousand books. in French and 2 thousand in Arabic 9.

Employees of cultural centers often have to work in difficult conditions. During the" October War " of 1973, Israeli aircraft destroyed the Soviet Cultural Center (SCC) in Damascus, while there were human casualties. And today, since the beginning of 2011, the RCSC in Damascus is the only foreign cultural institution operating in Syria, which is engulfed in civil war. Throughout the 16-year Lebanese Civil War (1975-1990), the SKC in Beirut remained the only functioning foreign cultural center in the country.

Currently, this center has more than 20 different schools, studios, courses and clubs, including a school for children of compatriots, Russian language courses for Lebanese, foreign language courses, a theater studio of compatriots, a ballet studio, music and dance schools, computer courses, various theater productions, concerts and demonstrations are held the center's cinema and concert hall has 287 seats, exhibition events are organized (the area of the exhibition hall is 120 square meters), a library, a salon for watching Russian TV channels, a film club, a lecture hall on the history and culture of Russia, an office for recruiting students to study at Russian universities, a legal advice office for Russians, a kiosk " Russian Souvenir".

In 2007-2008, RCSC branches were opened in Tripoli, Nabatye and Baalbek.


Russian-Arab scientific contacts are carried out. In particular, joint conferences are being held on a wide range of issues, including Russia's relations with the Middle East and Maghreb countries. One of the first events was the forum "Russia and the Arab Countries: a joint Contribution to Building a Multipolar World", organized by Roszarubezhcenter and RAMS in Cairo in 1999. Considerable attention is paid to such a very important topic as intercivilizational interaction. In particular, a number of major conferences were devoted to this issue. Among them: "Dialogue of Cultures: The Experience of Russia and the Levantine East", which was held in Tripoli, Lebanon, in 2001 under the auspices of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and the Lebanese Ministry of Culture; "Cultural traditions of Egypt and the East: from antiquity to globalization", held in 2008 in Cairo by the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Egyptian-Russian University, and a number of others.

Meetings are also being organized to discuss specific aspects of Russian-Arab cooperation. Examples include the Tunis seminars on "Peaceful uses of nuclear energy", "Renewable energy sources", and "Biological plant protection and saline Land reclamation". Russian scientists also take part in scientific conferences held in the Arab world. As an example, the conference "Rock Art in the Maghreb", organized in December 2011 by the Moroccan Royal Institute of Amazigh Culture, was attended by researchers from the Institute of Rock Art of the Russian Academy of Sciences*.

At the beginning of this century, contacts were established with the Arab Organization for Education, Science and Culture (ALECSO), which initially were quite active. The Protocol on Cooperation between the Institute of Information Technologies of the Russian Academy of Sciences and ALECSO was supplemented by work programs signed in 2002 and 2005. They provided, in particular, for holding international conferences on the theme "Russian-Arab Dialogue in the XXI century" every two years in the countries of the region and in Russia.10

The first of them was held in 2003 in Hammamet (Tunisia), the second - in 2005 in Kazan. It was also planned to form a working group on the state and prospects of Arab-Islamic studies in Russia, hold a seminar for Russian teachers of the Arabic language, consider the creation of a center for Russian-Arab dialogue, exchange information and publications, ensure the conduct of Arab-Islamic studies in Russian universities, promote the study of the Arabic language and the translation of scientific works from Arabic Russian and from Russian to Arabic. At the same time-

* Amazigh is the language of the indigenous people of North Africa, who have been called "Berbers" by Europeans since ancient times. The very name of the Berbers - "imazigen" means " free people "(editor's note).

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menno ALECSO pledged to participate in the then-planned preparation of the Arab-Islamic encyclopedia.11 In November 2004, the organization also signed a cooperation agreement with Kazan State University.

Unfortunately, most of these extensive plans remained unfulfilled due to insufficient funding, which since 2011 has also been subject to problems caused by the turmoil that has engulfed a number of Arab countries, which has significantly hampered the maintenance of scientific contacts.

One of the forms of cooperation, though not actively used, is that Russian scientists give lectures at universities in the Middle East and North Africa on various topics, including Russian-Arab relations, as well as Arab studies in Russia.

A significant role in bilateral relations belongs to the associations of graduates of Soviet and Russian universities, which have graduated tens of thousands of Arab students. Many of them started families while studying and returned to their home countries with their wives and children. Almost all of them retain the best memories of our country as Russia, even if they studied in other Soviet republics, and their spouses often consider themselves Russians regardless of their citizenship and nationality. Currently, many of the graduates hold high positions in universities and research centers, in economic structures, as well as in the state apparatus of the Levant and Maghreb countries. According to Z. Jabbi graduates "have a good idea of the mentality of Russian people, who are emotionally closer to the peoples of the East than the peoples of the West," and contribute to spreading sympathy for Russia, love for Russian culture, and interest in the Russian language in the Arab world12.

Alumni associations are active in several countries in the region, including Egypt, where there are 10,000 graduates. former Soviet and Russian postgraduates and students 13. In 2001, the Egyptian Association of University Graduates from Russia and other CIS countries was established there, which, according to the Egyptians themselves, continue to consider themselves as "representatives of advanced Soviet scientific schools" 14. The Association maintains ties with the RCSC in Cairo and Alexandria, organizes seminars with their assistance to get acquainted with the achievements of Russian science and industry, meetings of Egyptian and Russian experts and businessmen, etc. An All-Arab Association of Graduates of Soviet and Russian universities has also been established, and All-Arab meetings of former students are held periodically.

Russian-Arab cultural ties are also carried out at the regional level. It is not only Russian republics with a Muslim population that are interested in their establishment. For example, the Karelian-Arab Friendship Society has been operating in Petrozavodsk since 2001, which aims to familiarize residents of the republic with the traditions, customs, culture, architecture, and religions of the Arab peoples.

Against the background of the difficulties faced by Russia's trade, economic, and to some extent military-technical cooperation with the countries of the Middle East and North Africa, cultural and scientific ties remain an area where we are largely able to maintain our positions. At the same time, the peculiarity of relations in this area is that it is less affected by market conditions than others. One of the evidences of this is the calculations of Professor Maria al-Tawfiq, who interviewed 2 thousand students of the Mohammed V University in Rabat (Morocco) in 1991-2003. According to its data, then there was a sharp decline in the prestige of Russia - 42% of respondents associated it primarily with poverty, crime, alcoholism, but 53% continued to appreciate Russian literature, theater,and Russian art in general. 15

At the same time, we have to admit that scientific and, especially, cultural ties with the Arab world are now less intense than in Soviet times, and it will take a lot of effort to bring them to the same level.

1 See: Egorin A. Z. Egyptian pages in the history of Russian Culture // International Conference "Cultural Traditions of Egypt and the East: from Antiquity to Globalization". October 28-November 04, 2008, Cairo, Moscow, 2008, p. 35.

2 See: Podtserob A. Le Monde arabe vu de Moscou // Arabie, Juillet-Aout 1997, p. 23.

3 Tatarskiy mir, 2002, No. 5; 2004, No. 4.

4 For more information, see: Belyakov V. V. " To the sacred banks of the Nile...", Moscow, 2003, p. 211 - 212, 214, 216 - 217, 219.

5 For more information, see: Panova M. A. Russkiye v Tunise [Russians in Tunisia]. The fate of emigration of the "first wave", Moscow, 2008, p. 159.

6 Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society -

Abdulatipov R. G., Vorob'ev S. A. 7 Ocherki prakticheskoi arabistiki [Essays on practical Arabic Studies]. Moscow, 2006, p. 210.

8 См., напр.: Salam A. Egyptian Associations of Graduates from Russia and other CIS countries - support/middle_east/1376/

Famine O. 9 Centre Russe de la Culture et des Sciences // Adresse a la Colloque internationale "Centres culturels etrangers en Tunisie: pour la confirmation des liens de l'amitie et de l'entraide". Tunis, 05.03.1999 - http:///

10 Realisation // ALECSO - 20Fr.pdf

11 Ibidem.

Jabb Z. 12 Russia and the Arab East / / Archipelago in the Ocean, Moscow, 2001, p. 115.

Salam A. 13 Op. cit.

14 Ibidem.

15 At-Tawfiq Maria. Surah al-insan ar-rusi fi wasail al-iylam al-Arabi (The image of a Russian in the Arab media) / /(Arab-Russian dialogue in the XXI century. Interaction of two cultures and the history of mutual relations. Proceedings of the Arab-Russian Dialogue seminar). Hammamet, Tunis, June 23-25, 2003 / / Al-Hiwar al-Arabi ar-rusi fi'l-qarn al-hadi wa'l-ishrin. Tafawl al-khidaratayn wa-tarikh min al-alaqat al-mutabadilah. Waqaia nadwa al-hiwar al-Arabi ar-rusi. Al Hammamat-Tunis. 23-25 young people. 2003. Tunis, 2004, p. 259.


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