MOSCOW, January 15 (Itar-Tass) – Russian President Vladimir Putin, who chairs the board of trustees of the Russian Geographical Society, on Tuesday opened the Society’s headquarters in Moscow. It is located at Novaya Square, 10, just a stone’s throw from the presidential administration.
Addressing the opening ceremony, the president called on the trustees to take an active part in the replenishment of the Society’s funds and promised to do the same.
“The Russian Geographical Society used to have a tradition, which is being kept now, to accumulate and efficiently use materials… I call on all members of the board of trustees to take an active part in the replenishment of funds. I promise to do it myself and I hope these funds will be used actively,” Putin said.
He stressed the necessity to establish efficient contacts with regional museums and centres “to make materials accessible to all who want to use them.” The president described the opening of the Society’s headquarters as a milestone event and thanked Moscow’s Mayor Sergei Sobyanin for his efforts to raise funds and organize the repairs at the building.
“The Russian Geographical Society has offices in 81 regions, but, regrettable, not all of them have buildings of their own,” Putin said and added that these offices might have helped to find “a niche for those who take an interest in ethnography and traditions.”
Sergei Shoigu, the Russian Defence Minister and President of the Geographical Society, also pronounced thanks to the Moscow mayor and awarded the latter with a silver medal of the Russian Geographical Society. The awarding ceremony was held in the presence of President Vladimir Putin.
“This is a great honor. Such an award imposes a high responsibility,” Sobyanin said. In his words, there is a kind of rivalry between Moscow and St. Petersburg, where the Geographical Society’s office occupies a beautiful historical building. “This building [in Moscow] is on a par. It will help the Russian Geographical Society to work efficiently for the good of Russia, Moscow and all Russians,” he said and handed over to Shoigu a free tenancy certificate.
“Later on, an archive and a museum will be established here. We hope the first exhibition dedicated to the Society’s expedition will be displayed here this spring,” Shoigu said.
After the ceremony, Putin walked around a small exhibition, the library and the lecture hall.
In the 19th century, this building housed a guest house of the Moscow Merchant Society that had been built for charity purposes. In the Soviet period, the building was used as a hostel for students of the Moscow State University’s ethnology department.
Now the building has all the amenities needed for the Society’s work: a media studio, an exhibition hall, a mini print house, and offices for the Society’s executive bodies. The headquarters will organize meetings with participants in the Society’s expeditions, representatives from the scientific community, video conferences with regional offices, and will show films sponsored by the Society. The library will be available to students.
The Russian Geographical Society was founded by Russian Czar Nicolas I in 1845. Ever since, its goal has been to collect and popularize geographical information about Russia.