By Paul Goble
The headquarters of the International Foundation for Slavic Writing and Culture, informally known as the center of the “Russian world” and located only a 15-minute walk from the Kremlin, has been shuttered because of debts; and despite protests by its supporters, it doesn’t appear that it will rescued by the cash-strapped Russian government.
On Thursday, officials ordered the foundation to vacate the building because of massive debts; and then on Friday, some 60 of its employees and supporters held a demonstration calling on the government to rescue the organization. The Russian culture ministry, however, indicated that it has no plans to do so (mbk-news.appspot.com/suzhet/izgnanie-russkogo-mir/).
The foundation, created in 1989 with the blessing of the Moscow Patriarchate, has been at that location since 1992. It has attracted attention for its “’pantheon of the heroes of Novorossiya,’ a monarchist museum, a restaurant, and its distribution of openly anti-Semitic and conspiracy theory materials.
The site also housed the editorial offices of the journal Russky dom, a radical nationalist publication whose editorial board includes Metropolitan Tikhon of Pskov, a close friend and spiritual advisor to Vladimir Putin. But apparently, under today’s stringent economic conditions, even such ties to the Kremlin have proved insufficient to save the situation
The foundation was warned last October that it was operating in violation of the rules in various ways, but it appears the proximate cause of the closure is that it is 22 million rubles (300,000 US dollars) behind in rent payments. Its supporters argue that the government should intervene to pay that off and put the foundation on a more stable economic basis.
All this suggests that despite the prominence the Russian world project has in the Putin ideological pantheon, the Russian authorities don’t have the money to rescue one of its most prominent centers. That could also be an indication that the Russian world may be declining in importance for the Kremlin except as an ideological meme.