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Cultural Diplomacy in Full Swing
2010 has been officially named as the year of Russia in France and the year of France in Russia. Some 400 events are on the official program covering culture, trade, industry, science and space research, education and sport. The geography of the year includes not only Moscow, Paris and St.Petersburg, but also the Urals, Siberia, Tatarstan and even the Far East as well as over 30 towns across France. Cultural diplomacy is at the heart of this yearlong marathon
Elena Rubinova

Russians will be able to discover France in its diversity, as a country with a rich history and proud of its cultural legacy on the one hand, and as one that is modern, vibrant and inspired by everlasting ideas of freedom and multicultural society on the other. By holding this exchange we hope to overcome many stereotypes and prejudices,” said Nicolas Chibaeff, the French general commissioner of the year France-Russia. The French programme in Russia is so diverse that any audience will be able to find areas of interest and get to know more about the latest developments in French music, dance, theatre, fashion, design and contemporary art. The exchange is already in full swing, but there is a lot more to come.

In fact, the exchange year started long before its official launch in Paris on March 2nd, during the state visit of the Russian President to France that coincided with the opening of the exhibition “Sacred Russia” at the Musee du Louvre. In Moscow the year of France in Russia kicked off on February 25 with the inauguration of a landmark Picasso exhibition in Moscow from the Paris Musee National Picasso. A total of 250 works on display at the Pushkin Fine Arts Museum makes it one of the largest-scale Picasso exhibitions ever held in Russia. It will be open till mid-May and experts have already called the show “a once-in-a-lifetime chance” to see Picasso’s works.

For a month from March 25 to April 25 France will be the guest of honour at the Moscow Photobiennale-2010, traditionally held by the Moscow House of Photography. A number of shows profiling world famous French photographers as well as new names will occupy a dozen of different venues across the city ( For a week, starting April 8, Moscow Art Theatre and several other clubs will host a festival of French jazz, Le Jazz (www., presenting such well-known bands as the Galliano Tangaria Quartet and the Yaron Herman Trio.

After Moscow Le Jazz will tour other Russian cities. Contemporary culture is not just about established brands, it also encompasses the creations of young people working outside the mainstream. Two other remarkable events aimed at the younger audience will take place later this spring: the “Trans Musicales de Rennes” festival that will be travelling from Samara to Sochi and а special writers’ train across the Trans-Siberian railway that will allow young Russians to experience today’s French literature and music first hand.

For two summer months French modern art will be in focus. In the end of May, the National Center for Contemporary art ( will present huge installations by Claude Leveque. In June Muscovites and then viewers in other cities will have a chance to enjoy works of Annette Messager, one of France’s leading artists, whose solo exhibition once won the prize for the best national pavilion at the Venice Biennale.

Autumn will be no less ripe for big cultural events. In September Russia will welcome a major tour by the Comedie Francaise and the Opera de Paris ballet troupe, which will perform in Novosibirsk. Choreographer Angelin Preljocaj will bring together the Bolshoi and his own dancers in a contemporary ballet, which will be produced in Moscow and then in France a few weeks later. In November the Opéra de Paris National theatre and the Bolshoi will demonstrate their co-production of the opera commissioned from Philippe Fénelon and based on themes from Chekov’s “Cherry Orchard”.

This year a new approach to economic and commercial relations has been taken. “The interest in investment is huge among French businesses,” says Philippe Pegorier, the Head of Ubifrance, the French economic mission in Russia.

 Ubifrance will be holding a variety of events, but three of them are of special significance. The exhibition in the Manezh dedicated to French know-how and the ‘art of living’ will give Russian consumers, professionals and trade organizations a chance to see the latest products from over 100 French manufacturers that are not on the Russian market yet. Also in the second half of the year, there will be a meeting for professional winemakers and a B2B business forum in Moscow.

The exchange year’s closing ceremony will take place at the Bolshoi Theater on December 8, 2010.

The full program of Russia-France exchange year can be found in Russian and French at  

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