Inetrnational Centre of the Roerichs

International Non-Governmental Organization | Special consultative status with UN ECOSOC
Associate member with UN DPI | Institutional member of International Council of Museums (ICOM)
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Since April 28, 2017, the Non-Governmental Museum Named after Nicholas Roerich went defunct with the illegal seizure of its building and territory.

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The Open Letter of the ICR Council to Vladimir Putin

To: V.V. Putin
Candidate for President of the Russian Federation
From: Council of the labor collective
International Centre of the Roerichs


Dear Vladimir Vladimirovich!

The staff of the International Centre of the Roerichs (ICR) is appealing to you. With pain in our hearts, we inform you about the destruction of the largest non-governmental museum in Russia named after Nicholas Roerich. This event negatively affects not only the state of culture and the development of civil society in Russia, but also damages Russia's image abroad.

There was a violation of a whole range of constitutional rights of the ICR and of the Russian citizens:

- the ownership right of the ICR, the organization is bereft of its property and has no financial security;

- the whole property of the ICR was transferred for responsible storage to the State Museum of Oriental Art without any inventory whatsoever;

- the ICR is deprived of the opportunity to conduct extensive cultural and educational activities;

- the employees were left without work and means of subsistence.

Not to mention the fact that, according to lawyers, the ICR is not connected with the investigative actions in the Master Bank case, under the guise of which the capture of all the ICR property was carried out. The central state-owned media bypassed silently the ICR press conference, held on January 30, 2018, at Rosbalt, while they were actively placing false information during the seizure of the non-governmental Museum named after Nicholas Roerich in April 2017.

The seizure of our Museum in the center of Moscow in 2017 surpassed even the tragedy of Palmyra by its senselessness and barbarism, as the destroyers were not terrorists of ISIS, but quite respectable officials with scientific titles and high posts. However, it was they who cynically tried to turn to dust and ashes the efforts of many of their fellow citizens who, at the behest of their heart, had restored the dilapidated Lopukhin Mansion by way of funds raised from the public and created the truly people’s Museum of the International Center of the Roerichs, the largest non-governmental museum in Russia.

And now for their disinterestedness these people were slandered, humiliated, robbed and mercilessly thrown out onto the street, while the will of Svetoslav Roerich, who transferred the heritage of his family to Russia precisely for the creation of the non-governmental museum, is cynically trampled. The promises of the State given to Svetoslav Roerich were grossly violated after 27 years! There is no more the unique exposition, there are no museum exhibits, there are no paintings by Nicholas and Svetoslav Roerichs that once visitors enjoyed so much. Now there is nothing but the bare walls painted in a mouse gray color, which turned the halls of the Mansion into a series of dull, faceless rooms. Was this really done in Russia's interests?

The promises of the Ministry of Culture to create a state museum turned out to be a total fiction, since nine months later, nothing was done by its protégés from the State Museum of Oriental Art that could really confirm the seriousness of the officials' intentions. The museum is at present closed for an indefinite time, not counting one temporary exhibition hastily made, which caused perplexity and indignation rather than aesthetic pleasure to true connoisseurs of the Roerichs' œuvre. The territory of the Lopoukhin Mansion is gradually coming to desolation; under various pretexts, the necessary routine repairs of the buildings and structures are not being carried out.

Moreover, the threat of loss is also hanging over the priceless Heritage of the Roerichs, which is a cultural property not only of Russia, but also of the whole world. However, for the Ministry of Culture the monetary equivalent of this Heritage was a priority. The Ministry of Culture flatly denied the Council under the President of the Russian Federation on the Development of Civil Society and Human Rights in the establishment of an independent commission to verify its availability and status, and it does not inform the public about its safety.

Currently, the location of the museum collections of the ICR is unknown. We can assume that they are waiting for the same sad fate as the one of the Roerichs’ heritage left in the apartment of George Roerich, which was plundered, or for the fate of Svetoslav Roerich’s collection, that was temporarily stored in the State Museum of Oriental Art, where a part of the canvases indicated in the testament of Svetoslav Roerich, disappeared. The unique Roerichs’ archive belonging to the ICR and the ICR’s memorial library, where some outsiders were admitted to, are not being protected duly.

An outrageous situation has developed with the personal property of the ICR’s staff: safes were hacked, documents, money and personal values of some employees disappeared. The question is, what did the personal belongings of the employees have to do with the Master Bank case?

Despite the fact that all the property of the ICR has been transferred to the custody of the State Museum of Oriental Art, there are no certificates or lists of property. Tigran Mkrtychev, the director of the new State Museum of the Roerichs, who was present together with the advisor to the Minister of Culture Kirill Rybak during the transfer, in this connection, stated that he was not obliged to sign anything, he did not take anything from the inventory, because "when everything was transferred to us for responsible storage, there were no details or inventory" (an article in "Sobesednik " on February 5, 2018). What a convenient situation was provided by the Main Investigation Department of Moscow to the leadership of the State Museum of Oriental Art for theft! Thus, the ground has been prepared for avoiding responsibility to state officials who violate legal and ethical laws.

Having received all three buildings of the ICR in such responsible custody, the leaders of the Roerichs State Museum, with the support of the leadership of the Ministry of Culture, began destroying the exposition of the Non-governmental Museum named after N.K. Roerich, highly appreciated by prominent figures of culture and science of the modern world. Expensive showcases, smashed to smithereens, cannot be restored, it is clear that they were beaten by some heavy object; they cut out locks with priceless museum exhibits of XVII-XVIII centuries, which were inside, although the keys were available. The original glass friezes of the halls, which were simply broken out, were barbarously destroyed, instead of being carefully removed, as well as art dioramas were disfigured. The model of the Russian space station Mir, which received the Banner of Culture - the Banner of Peace of Nicholas Roerich, was dismantled and now is not subject to restoration. The batik, created according to the sketch of the non-preserved fresco by Nicholas Roerich "Queen of Heaven above the river of life", destroyed by the nazis during the Great Patriotic War, was crumpled and carelessly thrown down. Some sculptures of the museum exposition were damaged, too. We do not mention broken and disassembled expensive office furniture. The disassembled office equipment was lumped in the toilets. The memorial cabinet of the creator and General Director of the Nicholas Roerich Museum Lyudmila Shaposhnikova was completely liquidated.

Photo chronicle of the pogrom in the public Museum named after Nicholas Roerich

To what terrible line has our society approached, if cultural officials can with impunity destroy the non-governmental museum with the full support of state structures and with the tacit consent of the cultural community?

Apparently, this shambles was not accidental. It seems that the new owners were destroying the Museum they hated with pleasure, intoxicated with their impunity and confident that their vandalism would never become non-governmental. However, they miscalculated. The country should know not only its heroes, but also its vandals. Therefore, V.Medinsky, V.Aristarkhov, K.Rybak, A.Sedov and T.Mkrtychev will forever remain in history with a shameful stigma of destroyers of the largest non-governmental Museum named after Nicholas Roerich, founded by our great compatriot Svetoslav Roerich and created by his confidant – Lyudmila Shaposhnikova.

The capital museums in Moscow and St. Petersburg, which have a large collection of paintings by Nicholas and Svetoslav Roerich, continue to keep them in the storerooms. Now visitors have finally lost the opportunity to see the canvases of these great masters, as the non-governmental Museum named after Nicholas Roerich, the only one who so widely represented their work, is destroyed. Thus, the right of citizens to get acquainted with the œuvre of the great Roerich family is violated. With all responsibility, it is possible to speak not about perpetuating the memory of the Roerich family in the homeland, but about the crusade against them and their heritage undertaken by Russian officials.

The silence of the cultural community unleashed the hands of the vandals. The information space of Russia has been filled with cries for help from museum workers, the scientific community, creative collectives, which are also mercilessly driven out into the street. With bitterness in our hearts, we recall the wise saying "Be afraid of the indifferent, for with their tacit consent the most terrible thing is going on in the world." As history shows, not only greedy officials of the Ministry of Culture, but the entire cultural community, which did not consider it necessary to intervene and stop the lawlessness, will be held responsible for vandalism in Russian culture, including vandalism in the non-governmental Museum of Nicholas Roerich. Only careful attitude to Culture will contribute to the further prosperity of our country.

Dear Vladimir Vladimirovich! During your presidential term, the Foundations of State Cultural Policy were elaborated and adopted, in which the role of the public in the preservation and development of the country's culture is given great importance. The fate of our non-governmental museum, unfortunately, shows that in practice everything is different. We ask you to help restore the activity of the non-governmental Museum named after Nicholas Roerich of the International Centre of the Roerichs, destroyed by vandals from the State Museum of Oriental Art, and bring those responsible to justice. We also ask you to stop further destruction of the organization "International Centre of the Roerichs", which they are trying to liquidate, so as not to leave neither the victim nor the witness.

Council of the International Centre of the Roerichs

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