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HMEIMIM (Syria), May 30. /TASS/. The cultural center for Russian servicemen has opened at the Hmeimim air base in Syria. It is located in two adjacent tents that host a club for 500 seats and a showroom with paintings of Russian military painters and Syrian artists.
Head of Russian Defense Ministry’s Department of Culture Anton Gubankov, who took part in the opening ceremony, presented a gift to the center from Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu - a painting by Leonid Shtrikman "Su-34. Sky Patrons." Gubankov said that the center will become a place for holding landmark cultural events, exhibitions, concerts for servicemen and the center for Russian-Syrian friendship.
"There is no effective army without culture, and sometimes culture is equal to weapons and may even be more effective than weapons, like a recent concert in Palmyra showed," he added.
Latakia Governor Ibrahim Khodr al-Salem noted that cultural development and strengthening of Russian-Syrian cultural ties is very important in the fight against international terrorism. The cultural center in Hmeimim, he said, will help Russian servicemen to discover Syrian culture. "Today we see this as interpenetration of our cultures. By this, we set new bridges of cooperation between Russia and Syria," al-Salem said.
Head of the political department of the Syrian Armed Forces Usama Haddur reminded about terrorist attacks in Jableh and Tartus that killed over 100 people. They were directed at destroying the historical heritage of the Syrian people, he said. "Together with the Syrian people, you defend not only the territory but also the civilization. Today we defend humanitarian values and civilization in general side by side," Haddur said addressing Russian servicemen.
Popular Russian actor Sergey Bezrukov has performed in a festive concert at the center's opening with several poems and songs
"I am confident that the new cultural center will become a real center of Russian-Syrian friendship… Of course, it will give a lot for mutual understanding and cooperation," Bezrukov told journalists before the concert. He noted that it is very important for Russian servicemen in Syria not to lose their ties with the Motherland. Festive concerts, exhibitions at the new center will help them feel closer to Russia, he said.
"I want to wish endurance, patience, strength to our contingent here that is defending not only their Motherland but also the whole world. This is a very important mission," Bezrukov said.
Among participatns in the concert were also Syrian children’s creative groups and song and dance ensemble of the Russian Aerospace Defense Forces.
Head of Russian Defense Ministry’s Department of Culture Anton Gubankov told journalists that other Russian artists are expected to perform at the air base soon. He noted that the cultural center is always open for Syrian artists, painters and creative groups.
Russia’s Aerospace Forces started delivering pinpoint strikes in Syria at facilities of Islamic State and Jebhat al-Nusra on September 30, 2015, on a request from Syrian President Bashar Assad. On March 14, 2016, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered to start, from March 15, withdrawing the main part of the Russian Aerospace Forces’ group from Syria. Putin said the tasks set before the military "have been fulfilled on the whole." Two Russian military facilities - at the Hmeimim aerodrome and in Tartus, are still operational in Syria. The Russian military continue to take an active part in the fight against terrorist groups. Russian Deputy Defense Minister Nikolay Pankov said strikes on terrorists will continue to be delivered.