The fourth congress of the Union of Theatre Workers of Russia opened in Moscow on Monday. More than 230 delegates from 74 regional branches of the union will attend the two-day forum. Culture Minister Mikhail Shvydkoi read a message of greetings from President Vladimir Putin to the congress, which noted how the theatre played a particularly important role in society, while performers deserved the love and respect of audiences. The minister himself in his speech turned to one of the most acute problems facing the theatre and the country's cultural life: how to build new relations with the state. He said that the budget had been fulfilled properly for the first time in two and half years and that more funds would be allocated to the theatre with every passing year.