''We are living participants of the history of Bolgar'': Shaimiev’s secrets, Feofan’s synergy and Zuleikha’s Dreams for tourist

How the first president shares secret plans at the conference in a luxury hotel complex in Bolgar

''We are living participants of the history of Bolgar'': Shaimiev’s secrets, Feofan’s synergy and Zuleikha’s Dreams for tourist Photo: Oleg Tikhonov

The Kazan Forum for Intercultural Dialogue continued in Bolgar. The round-table talk 'The Role of UN and UNESCO in Conservation of Cultural Diversity of Humankind as Imperative of Humanitarian Safety and Sustainable Development' took place in the hall of the newly-built hotel complex. Realnoe Vremya's reviewer who visited the conference managed to talk with Mintimer Shaimiev who shared curious future plans of the first Tatarstan president. Our journalist also could evaluate the new hotel.

''As if I were in the Emirates''

Kol Gali hotel complex in Bolgar (Spass District, Tatarstan) has held the first conference. It should be noted the hotel hasn't officially opened yet. But it seems it's already ready to welcome guests. The facility was erected several kilometres from the town and the Bolgarian Islamic Academy. Cars go through majestic gates with the lettering KOL GALI: resort & spa. Realnoe Vremya previously wrote about the complex and its construction in detail.

Before the forum began while Tatmedia's coordinators were dealing with organisational problems, the press had five minutes to acquaint with the four-storey building better. There is a neatly cut grass around the construction. Several golf cars were parked next to it. Huge sun watches were installed in front of the entrance to the building. Two-metre shadow from the bitumen gnomon (Editor's Note: a kind of hand) shows local time in clear weather. A complex of banyas was erected on the left of the hotel. Expensive marble, the finishing, the rich interior of the hotel don't leave anyone indifferent. A four-storey fountain plays in the vestibule.

''As if I were in the Emirates,'' a Moscow colleague shared his impression with our journalist.

Huge sun watches were installed in front of the entrance to the building

Two restaurant halls look a bit more humble, but their finishing is stylish. Artists were having a rehearsal to perform in front of the conference in several hours. There is a huge balcony with an amazing view of the Volga River from the lobby. There is a helipad between the water body and the building. A swimming pool was near, but it didn't have water – it seems autumn weather doesn't permit to swim. The press wasn't allowed to see hotel rooms.

''The cleaning is done now,'' the administrator impedes several corresponding who tried to enter the room.

''So, colleagues, let's go to the conference hall,'' Tatmedia's representative called to the second floor and noted that how Tatarstan State Adviser Mintimer Shaimiev entered the hotel's lobby accompanied by honourable guests.

''We are living participants of the history of Bolgar''

The round-table talk 'The Role of UN and UNESCO in Conservation of Cultural Diversity of Humankind as Imperative of Humanitarian Safety and Sustainable Development' was held within the Kazan Forum for Intercultural Dialogue. About a hundred delegates from Russia and abroad came here: scientists, UNESCO representatives, diplomats, members of the Tatarstan government, religious activists, directors of charity organisations, journalists.

The event is held under the aegis of first Tatarstan President Mintimer Shaimiev who is a special UNESCO envoy for intercultural dialogue. He had the honour to open the meeting.

The event is held under the aegis of first Tatarstan President Mintimer Shaimiev who is a special UNESCO envoy for intercultural dialogue

''We are living participants of the history of Bolgar,'' Shamiev emphasised. ''Dear guests, we've entered this hall and sat at the round table for the first time. When could our ancestors imagine we would go back to our origins? You've seen how much we've done for their memory. We did a good job sincerely. We continue our dialogue on this land. Thousands of Muslims come here every year on the Islam adoption day.''

The state adviser noticed that regional authorities had been dealing with charity for 20 years. So before the school year begins, they help children from low-income families and provide them with school books, uniform, rucksacks, office supplies.

Several young schoolchildren approached the first Tatarstan president whom he gave gift bags and said: ''Be happy! Study well!''

Only synergy

By the way, almost all speakers expressed their words of gratitude to Shaimiev for his job done to revive the cultural heritage and maintenance of interethnic and interreligious peace. Metropolitan Feofan (Ashurkov) wasn't an exception.

''Many people find it difficult to talk after so many words said by Mr Shaimiev, it's much more difficult for me. You are scientists, philosophers, recognised UNESCO good will ambassadors, while I'm just a humble religious service worker,'' after these words of His Grace, a grin appeared on faces of many people. ''There weren't atheist civilisations. Almost the whole civilisation process and all we appreciate so much was created under religious influence. We wouldn't see many masterpieces if they didn't reflect a person's aspiration to create cultural monuments without divine inspiration.''

Metropolitan Feofan called Tatarstan a unique laboratory of interreligious and interethnic peace and harmony

The Orthodox activist urged to not only conserve but also create conditions. Then, in the metropolitan's opinion, ancestors will be able to be proud of our deeds.

''I'd pay attention to the synergy,'' the Russian Orthodox Church's bishop went on. ''We're in Bolgar, amaze at Islamic culture sites. But there are Orthodox churches next to them. We don't have problems. The museum in Sviyazhsk, which we created together, amazes everyone now. Only synergy, there is no other way to what a person aspires to – to peace and harmony. Humankind will be able to conserve its human face only this way.''

At the end of his speech, he called Tatarstan a unique laboratory of interreligious and interethnic peace and harmony and warmly thanked Mr Shaimiev.

Two books were presented at the forum: Patrimoines mutilés: Quel sauvetage pour le patrimoine en péril? by Mounir Bouchenaki and Many Voices, One Vision: The Early Years of the World Heritage Convention by Christina Cameron, Mechtild Rössler.

''When I was going to give up presidency...''

At the break between the plenary session and themed meetings, the journalists talked with the guest of honour.

Mintimer Shaimiev called a big achievement that the forum for intercultural dialogue was held in Kazan and Bolgar. And it became possible to attract international UNESCO delegates to Tatarstan thanks to that lasting job done in the republic to conserve and revive historical monuments. One should love people to rule, he thinks.

Two books were presented at the forum

''When I was going to give up the presidency of (Editor's Note: Tatarstan), I had a meeting with Mr Putin. And I said I had a desire to deal with it (Editor's Note: to revive cultural heritage sites), and this idea appeared in my mind when I was at school when I studied history.

Remember how the Tatars have been labelled! There was a wrong interpretation of history. Everything must be proved, confirmed. Nothing should depend on governors or the party's will. We create conflicts themselves, we can't achieve mutual understanding via a dialogue and do harm to ourselves. When I was going to leaving the presidency, I said to journalists I was feeling comfortable. It's difficult to imagine how to enter a new world (everyone will have to do it) without touching these values.''

Tatarstan cooperated with former UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova quite closely. She visited the region many times. The media asked if relationships would change after the international organisation's officials changed. Shaimiev replied ''we will work as we did''.

By the way, he answered questions of the press in Russian and Tatar. In this respect, a Moscow correspondent from Anadolu agency from Turkey complained to the speaker she didn't understand when the president spoke in his mother tongue.

''You should learn,'' the state adviser criticised her like a father.

''I will certainly learn Tatar next time when I visit you. I need a bit of time,'' the Moscow guest promised.

Then Shaimiev explained in Russian the asked question and replied in Pushkin's language. In addition, he told about close cultural and religious links of Turkic-speaking peoples, especially Tatars and Turks.

There will certainly be guests here thanks to forums and other events held in Bolgar, Mintimer Shaimiev is convinced

Zuleikha's Dreams and plans for hotel

In the end, Realnoe Vremya's reviewer asked Shaimiev about the banyas built in the hotel.

''I'd call them Zuleikha's Dreams,'' our interlocutor was frank. ''It's a spa complex, such a phenomenon is spread in the world. Renascence fund sponsored the construction. It's Tatneft and TAIF agreed to build the complex, it belongs to Tatarstan. Now it's a joint stock company. It's good it has appeared.''

According to him, the new hotel might have problems at the beginning. But there will certainly be guests here thanks to forums and other events held in Bolgar, including Muslim events.

''We should think about accommodation in Tatarstan. For instance, you leave Kazan, visit Chistopol, go to Pasternak's museum, then came here (Editor's Note: Bolgar), spent a night. Then you directly go to Sviyazhsk by ship and Kazan then. I've told you all the secrets,'' he shared his plans.

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By Timur Rakhmatullin. Photo: Oleg Tikhonov
Tatarstan