Tikhon Shevkunov: ''We shouldn't focus our attention on negativity. There were great achievements as well''

About how Putin’s confessor let Tatarstan president in on the history of the Fatherland and thanked the Tatars for the heritage of the Empire of Chingissids

Tikhon Shevkunov: ''We shouldn't focus our attention on negativity. There were great achievements as well'' Photo: Oleg Tikhonov

President of Tatarstan Rustam Minnikhanov and Father Tikhon Shevkunov opened the long-awaited multimedia centre ''Russia — my history'', which occupies two pavilions of the Kazan Fair. How Russia became the successor of the Golden Horde, how the Western propaganda worked during the reign of Ivan the Terrible and what delighted the head of the republic – read in the material of the correspondent of Realnoe Vremya.

To Unity Day

The multimedia complex ''Russia — my history'' opened on 27 October in Kazan, Tatarstan. This park, occupying two pavilions of the Kazan Fair on 6,000 square metres, is the federal 'ideological' project implemented in different regions of the country. Main curator is Tikhon Shevkunov, the titular bishop of Yegoryevsk, vicar of the Patriarch of Moscow and all Rus', who is known as 'Putin's confessor'.

This interactive museum tells the history of Russia and Tatarstan from ancient times to the present day. As Realnoe Vremya reported earlier, the project on creation of the historical parks 'Russia — my history' is implemented by the Fund for humanitarian projects with the support of Russian President Vladimir Putin. The goals are the strengthening of patriotism, development in the society of high social activity, civic responsibility and spirituality.

The expositions use advanced technology: projection installations, hundreds of projectors, dome spheres, panoramas, touch kiosks with touchscreens. The sound and visual effects reinforce 'immersion' in the history.

This park, occupying two pavilions of the Kazan Fair on 6,000 square metres, is the federal 'ideological' project implemented in different regions of the country

As Bakhtiyar Izmaylov, the curator from Tatarstan, associate at the Institute of History named after Mardzhani, told Realnoe Vremya, the whole exhibition is divided into four large exhibitions: 'The Rurikids', 'The Romanovs', ''From great upheaval to the Great Victory' (1917-1945) and 'Russia — my history' (1945-2016). The exhibition occupies 42 halls, including multimedia projections, interactive touch panels — screens, where you can learn more about a particular event displayed on large stands. A huge work on preparation of the regional component for the exhibition was conducted by the Institute of History named after Mardzhani, which for several month was preparing materials on the Tatar history, integrating it in the exhibition complex 'Russia — my history'.

Initially it was assumed that the multimedia exhibition was to open in Kazan on 4 November. However, the ceremony was changed on 27 October because many of guests were busy at events dedicated to Unity Day in Russia, which is on 4 November.

Chingissid heirs

As expected, the opening of the interactive museum was attended by Father Tikhon Shevkunov. As his 'support group' from Moscow there arrived the head of the department for interaction with regions of the Urals and the Volga region at the Administration of the Russian President Sanal Badmaev, Deputy Plenipotentiary in the Volga Federal District Aleksey Sukhov, chief adviser to the Russian President's Administration for domestic policy Roman Balashov, Deputy Chairperson of the Council of the Muftis of Russia Rushan Abbyasov.

Tatarstan was represented by President Rustam Minnikhanov, Chairman of the MSB RT Kamil khazrat Samigullin, Metropolitan Feofan (Ashurkov), director of the Institute of History named after Mardzhani Rafael Khakimov and other figures. The presence of deputy head of Gazprom Valery Golubev and Director General of Gazprom Transgaz Kazan Rafkat Kantyukov was not accidental: the gas monopoly supported half the cost of the project (the rest – by the region).

''Learn the history of the native land, be patriots — it is the only way to become worthy successors of the great achievements of the Motherland,'' the president of Tatarstan admonished the audience at the opening

Opening the exhibition, Rustam Minnikhanov noted that such museums operating in other cities of Russia gained wide public recognition.

''Knowledge of our national history, respect — one of the indicators of education of the person and the basis of patriotism. We live in the great country with the amazing history. One of the main advantages of the project — demonstration of the indissoluble unity of the history of Russia and the constituent republics, territories, regions. Learn the history of the native land, be patriots — it is the only way to become worthy successors of the great achievements of the Motherland,'' the president of Tatarstan admonished the audience at the opening.

Father Tikhon highlighted that the history of Tatarstan and Tatar people for many centuries has been part of the history of Russia. He outlined his stance in the debate around the successors of the Golden Horde.

''Largely thanks to the ancestors of the current citizens of the Republic of Tatarstan, our country has become the heir of the Empire of Genghis Khans,'' said the vicar. ''Sometimes we don't give much thought about it. In this park people can delve into our history, extract key lessons for our good, not to make many mistakes.''

Mufti Kamil Samigullin, citing Shigabutdin Mardzhani, a Tatar Muslim theologian, once again reminded that for the preservation of the religion we need to pay attention to the native language, national clothes and traditions. ''We live in different apartments, but we live in one house,'' Kamil khazrat finished the speech with his favorite phrase.

''Russia is the single organism of peoples and religions living in one spacious and comfortable home,'' Metropolitan of Kazan and Tatarstan Feofan supported the mufti. ''It is impossible to live in the present without taking examples from the future of our country.''

Mufti Kamil Samigullin, citing Shigabutdin Mardzhani, a Tatar Muslim theologian, once again reminded that for the preservation of the religion we need to pay attention to the native language, national clothes and traditions

''Content can be added''

After the fiery speeches, vip guests were given a tour through the halls of the museum. Certain parts of the pavilions were occupied with electronic quizzes. Bishop Tikhon was the guide for the Tatarstan president.

The tour began with the hall dedicated to ancient times. Minnikhanov immediately tested an interactive whiteboard under the name 'Arkaim'. Then the delegation moved to the stand 'The Rus' of Rurik', then the archbishop acquainted the president with first baptist of Rus', who stood against the paganism, Russian knyazes. The head of the republic stopped near the wall 'The Pages of the History of Tatarstan' — in each room there was a separate section for the regional component.

'Rus' under the power of the Horde' — the exposition with such name showed the history of the country in one of the most exciting and controversial periods. Minnikhanov stopped to study the information kiosk on the history of Genghis Khan, though the archbishop actively called his counterpart to 'Alexander Nevsky' stand.

One more stand is devoted to a historical personality, causing serious disputes — Ivan the Terrible. It starts with the words 'The first information warfare in the European press'. There are listed the facts about the tsar, who, in the opinion of the creators of the exhibition, are only myths about the cruelty and tyranny, about the oprichnina, innocence and holiness, about the murder of his son.

Then the guests went to 'The Time of Troubles', 'The Age of the Romanovs', which ended with the reign of Nicholas II. In the second pavilion of the Kazan Fair they became acquainted with the major milestones of the twentieth century and important people of the past century. The Orthodox tour guide led the president to the stand 'The statistics of persecution of the Church in the USSR' and then to 'The Victory of Stalinist socialism' and 'Stalin's industrialization' and 'The statistics of repressions'.

''Of course, we should not focus our attention on negativity,'' said the father to his excursionist. ''There were also great achievements. As for Stalin's personality cult, there was the cult, but there was also the person.''

In the hall, which houses the exhibitions about the Great Patriotic War, veterans were expecting the president. Minnikhanov greeted each of them with a handshake and thanked the veterans for the Victory. The veterans in turn asked to be photographed with VIPs. Through the 'Cold war' Rustam Minnikhanov with Bishop Tikhon came to 1991, stopping at the board 'The Referendum for the preservation of the USSR', which asks users to click virtual buttons with 'Yes' or 'No'. Minnikhanov and Shevkunov alternately voted for preserving the Soviet Union — on the screen there appeared indicators of people's will 26 years ago and the results of voting of the visitors of the exhibition. The final hall — Putin's era with the stand 'Russia in the 21st century'.

''Tatarstan colleagues conducted an outstanding work in the field of ancient and modern history,'' praised Tikhon the Kazan historians after the tour. ''Here there is one of the best exhibitions with regional unique content.''

Rustam Minnikhanov made no secret of his delight about the exhibition.

''It is very exciting, very interesting,'' the president was deeply moved. ''The system is innovative. The content can be added or reduced. It would be interesting to organize lessons for school children here. A brilliant project, seriously elaborated and with all the heart. I had never seen such project anywhere in the world. I admire the work. I want to come here once again specifically to immerse more deeply.''

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By Timur Rakhmatullin. Photo: Oleg Tikhonov. Video: Kamil Ismailov