Fortunately, status-quo in the State Duma was retained. The committees of the Low House of the parliament remained as they were before the April parliament crisis caused by revision of the packet agreement. Today, the Duma refused to discharge Nikolai Gobenko (Committee on Culture and Tourism), Viktor Zorkaltsev (Committee on Public Associations and Religious Organizations), Valentin Nikitin (Committee on Nationalities), and Svetlana Goryacheva (Committee on Women, Family, and Yough). Therefore, discussions lost their urgency about redistribution of the committees’ functions. In particular, a possible way of evolution was transformation of the Committee on Culture and Tourism. On the threshold of the voting for four committees’ leaders, PRAVDA.Ru corresponded interviewed deputy chairman of the Committee on Culture and Tourism of the State Duma, people’s artist of the USSR, the RSFSR, Ukraine, the Daghestan ASSR, and Ingushetia, laureate of the USSR State Prize and the Lenin Komsomol Prize, Iosif Kobzon. Answer. Committee on Culture and Tourism was being formed for many years, not only the committee’s members are real professionals, but the staff itself which constantly contacts institutions of culture in all regions of Russia. I do not want to belittle the work of the Ministry of Culture, though the committee receives the fullest information from the regions, from concrete places. Today, in the State Duma, there are only five professionals in the field of culture: Nikolai Gubenko, Stanislav Govorukhin, Iosif Kobzon, Nikolai Sorokin, Yelena Drapeko. All of them flatly said that they will not work for any other State Duma committee, if the Committee on Culture and Tourism is re-formed. A chairman of the new Committee on Religion, Culture, and Public Relations has been proposed, who had nothing to do with culture. I do not want to belittle his merits – he is a philologist, an educated person, though from professional view, he has no relationship to culture. Moreover, while meeting with the minister of culture, it turned out to be that nobody coordinated this question with him. As well as with Patriarch of All Russia, Alexis II, who was also indignant at unification cultural and religious questions in one committee. We, cultural workers deputies, sent a telegram to the President, May 17, warning him about possible danger to culture and spiritual life of the society.
Question. Therefore, if the parliament votes for re-orientation of the committees, you will not work for the new committee? So, there will be no one representative of culture in the new committee of culture?
Answer. If the committee votes for the re-orientation, tourism questions will belong to the Committee on Sport, while cultural questions will belong to religious sphere, and, certainly, nobody of representatives of culture will work for this committee.
Q. What is the reason of such relationship to culture? It is, probably, that it was for a long time financed according to “after-principle”?
A. Nobody wants to admit that the most dangerous thing is not the lack of financing, but spiritual statement of the society. We do not keep back, what happens. While what happens is a real outrage: there is full incomprehension of what is today necessary to the society, there is no concern for culture at all! When we addressed to the President Administration, they said that the administration does not meddle in this question. So, they do not meddle, while the parliament privately solves these questions. And what is the result? Q. The result is that the problem seems to belong to average questions of the Duma’s internal functioning…
A. This is not the question of the Duma’s internal organization, it is deeply connected with the state policy. It is dangerous to unify culture and religion and to give guidance of culture to the people who are not professionally connected with culture.
Iosif Kobzon was interviewed by Inna Novikova PRAVDA.Ru Translated by Vera Solovieva
Read the original in Russian: http://pravda.ru/main/2002/05/22/41570.html
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