Inetrnational Centre of the Roerichs

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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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Riga meets friends

The VIth International Conference took place
in the capital of Latvia on July 6–7, 2018

The Roerich Pact yesterday, today and tomorrow.
The 115th anniversary of the Roerichs’
“Trip down olden time”


Nicholas Roerich. Old Riga. 1903

The conference was organized by the Latvian Branch of the International Centre of the Roerichs, Baltic International Academy, the International Centre of the Roerichs and the European Association "EURASSIM". Culture figures and the representatives of the Roerich societies and communities of Austria, Bulgaria, Belarus, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Russia and Estonia participated in the conference.

The conference was opened in Baltic International Academy with a musical introduction. The professor of Ya.Vitol Latvian Musical Academy Raffi Kharajanyan and Angelina Sablina performed the "Slavic dance" by A. Dvorak and the "Waltz" by V. Gavrilin. The participants were greeted by the Chairman of the Latvian Branch of the International Centre of the Roerichs Marianna Ozolina, the member of the board of Baltic International Academy, Full Doctor (Philosophy) Valery Nikiforov, the Vice-President of the International Centre of the Roerichs Alexander Stetsenko, as well as the representatives of delegations from the Roerich societies of the countries, that were present at the conference. Alexander Stetsenko brought greetings on behalf of the ICR President, Artistic Director of the Dmitry Shostakovich St. Petersburg Philharmonic Academy, Chief Conductor of the honored Academic Symphony Philharmonic Orchestra of Russia Yu.Kh. Temirkanov.

Dora Skardanzan, the President of the Italian association "Centro Studio "Parvati" (Torino), read the welcoming address on behalf of the Italian Branch of the "Blue Shield" and its President, Doctor P.G. Ferri with greeting the conferees and sincere supporting the International Centre of the Roerichs. This is of particular importance in this difficult period when Russian authorities have been working hard to destroy the non-governmental Nicholas Roerich Museum in Moscow.

The greetings came from the Mayor of Riga N. Ushakov, Acting Secretary-General of the National Commission for UNESCO B. Molnika, the Chairman of the ICR Branch of the Republic of Belarus V. Popov, the Chairman of the Finnish Roerich Society M.-V. Liimataynen, the Chairman of the St. Petersburg Branch of the ICR E.A. Tomsha, the Chairman of the Tashkent Roerich Society L.R. Monasypova and the Chairman of the Svetoslav Roerich International Council of the Roerich Organizations O.A. Urozhenko.

Cultural Attaché of the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Latvia Aina Kassieva was present at the conference opening ceremony.

"Latvia was always close to us, both in the national epos and in my ancestors. It was not only my great grandfather, but also grandfather that lived in Latvia, as well as the ancestor of my wife who was also from Riga," Nicholas Roerich wrote to the member of the Latvian Roerich Society Karl Valkovsky. The Latvian part of the Roerichs’ “Trip down olden time” was the subject of the speech of Marianna Ozolina, the Chairman of the Latvian Branch of the ICR. She considered the importance of this expedition, as it was the beginning of the Roerichs’ way to the Great East, to India. She mentioned the deep interest of the artist in the eastern roots of the Slavic and Baltic people. The Roerichs’ “Trip down olden time” also became the major step in the development of the idea of international activities for the protection of artistic and scientific institutions and historic monuments that became the basis of the Roerich Pact.

The report of the Vice-President of the International Centre of the Roerichs Alexander Stetsenko was dedicated to the searches of the ways to resolve the main problem of humanity in the historical process, that of establishing and implementing a lasting peace. The statistics shows that the number of wars and armed conflicts is constantly increasing, and over the latest five years of the XXI century, their number has been increasing fivefold compared to that of the XX century. This indicates a failure to achieve peace exclusively by means of politics and economics. The way to achieve peace, as the speaker noted, was specified in the 1930-es by Nicholas Roerich. It was the idea of “Peace through Culture” reflected in the Roerich Pact. The role and major importance of the Roerich Pact for the evolution of humanity and the importance to resume the international social movement for peace based on peacemaking ideas of the Roerich Pact were emphasized by the speaker.

The stages of creating international law in the field of culture protection and “Treaty on the Protection of Artistic and Scientific Institutions and Historic Monuments” as its basis were highlighted in the speech of the Chairman of the European association on the Support of the ICR and its non-governmental Nicholas Roerich Museum (EURASSIM), the Chairman of the Estonian Roerich Society Yelena Alexandrova. The speaker told about Nicholas Roerich's connection with Estonia, the Estonian Roerich Society history, and the promotion of the Roerich Pact ideas in Baltic countries. She emphasized highly influential role of Nicholas Roerich’s ideas in the modern world, the significance of public in the Roerich Pact’s ideas advancing in the 1930es. The speaker also noted the continuity in Roerich organizations’ work united by the International Center of the Roerichs nowadays.

The Chairman of the German Roerich Society, the Secretary of the European Association "EURASSIM" Galina Schneider (Reimstadt, Germany), analyzed the work of the European scientific and public conferences as a means of cultural property protecting and emphasized the significance of the International Centre of the Roerichs (ICR) as the focus, as well as the vector for Roerich organizations activity including those outside the Russian Federation. She reminded of Lyudmila Shaposhnikova’s role as the trustee of Svetoslav Roerich in creating contemporary Roerich movement and its uniting around the ICR. She said, “Together we have formed a magnet thanks to which the forces for creating a glowing future through culture have been fulfilled.”

The Chairman of the St. Petersburg Branch of the ICR, the member of the board of the International Roerichs’ Heritage Preservation Committee, and that of St. Petersburg Concert Performers’ Union Eduard Tomsha addressed the historical aspects of founding the International Treaty on The Protection of the World Cultural Heritage. Nicholas Roerich first formulated his idea of a special convention necessity to protect scientific institutions and historic monuments in St. Petersburg in 1904. And ten years later, he addressed the High Command of the Russian Army and the governments of France and the USA to conclude the International Treaty on the Protection of Artistic and Scientific Institutions and Historic Monuments. The World War I left no chance to realize Nicholas Roerich’s idea, but it strengthened the artist’s efforts to achieve the worldwide adoption of international law on protecting the most valuable heritage of humanity.

The Head of the ICR Branch in Bulgaria, the Chairman of the Bulgarian National Roerich Society (Sofia) Marga Kutsarova in her report considered the concept of Nicholas Roerich’s vision of Culture based on the philosophy of Cosmic Reality of the Living Ethics and its methodology. She emphasized, “Nicholas Roerich saw Peace and Culture as two inextricably linked notions. Thanks to Roerich we clearly understand that Culture is the inner content of the phenomenon of Peace. Peace without Culture simply does not exist as a phenomenon.” She highlighted the close relationship of Peace and Culture with the Highest Cosmic Matter and metahistory as well as the special role of Russia in realizing Nicholas Roerich’s idea of Peace through Culture.

The subject of the speech of Yelena Tomsha, the psychologist, the member of the Sand Therapy Association (Russia), the member of the Russian Art-Therapeutic Association, the Head of scientific department of the St. Petersburg Branch of the ICR, was Nicholas Roerich’s appeal to "Peace through Culture" and awareness of history lessons of the XX century in the new century. She emphasized the relevance of Nicholas Roerich’s ideas about the importance of Culture for peace protecting and future development of humanity. "Yes, yes, it is Art and Culture that we should think about in all times of life, and especially in the hardest ones. In all settings it is necessary to cherish something, with what the human spirit is alive."

The importance of public activity in cultural heritage preserving was the subject of many reports of the conference.

The examples of such effective public initiatives and the work of scientific and public associations in preserving Central Asia’s cultural heritage at the end of the XIX century and the beginning of the XX century were given in the report of the Vice-Chairman of the Tashkent Roerich Society Lilia Monasypova (Uzbekistan). She emphasized the great role of Russian researchers in preserving the historical heritage of Turkestan. They contributed much in protecting the monuments of great archaeological and historical value. Among the initiators of this vital work were artists. Thus, thanks to public, many cultural monuments of the region were documented, explored and protected from plunder.

The President of the Italian Association of the Banner of Peace Michela Cervellati (Bologna) focused on special practices of culture protection. She emphasized that Culture is among immediate humanitarian needs and the driving force of evolution. Every individual shall have the right to culture because it is his right to life. The speaker suggested her answer to the question how to promote the idea of culture into everyday life, and told about daily activities of the Association of the Banner of Peace in Italy.

The role of the Roerichs’ “Trip down olden time” in the evolution of Nicholas Roerich’s culturological outlook was the subject of Tatyana Zakharova’s (Minsk State Linguistic University) conference speech. She noted that Nicholas Roerich's concept based on the leading role of culture in the system of interaction with the civilization is the shortest way to preserve peace on the planet and unite people. The Roerichs saw the mission of Russia in uniting peoples on the basis of true cultural cooperation and the statement of the peacekeeping concept of "Peace through Culture."

The member of the German Roerich Society Reiner Schneider drew attention to the deficiency of information about the Roerich Pact among people. He presented the first book about the Roerich Pact published in Germany. This book was the result of six year work of the German Roerich Society. Within a relatively short period, this organization carried out a number of projects in several large cultural and educational centers of Germany. The speaker emphasized the importance of new forms of work in the country’s information space.

The member of the St. Petersburg Branch of the ICR Tatyana Alexandrova considered Nicholas Roerich’s article "Trip down olden time" as a definite stage in the worldwide formation of the idea of world culture protection. She characterized the cultural and historical period of Russia at the boundary of the XIX–XX centuries and noted the fundamental role of the article "Trip down olden time" written after a grand tour of Nicholas and Helena Roerichs around old Russian cities in 1903. She also underlined that the path to recognized need to the protection of universal culture values went through love and protection of one’s national heritage.

Natalya Balkeviciene (Radviliškis), the researcher of the M.K. Čiurlionis Society, told in her report that the Roerichs’ "Trip down olden time" also passed through several Lithuanian cities resulting in strengthening and extending the relations of the Roerichs with Lithuania. The cooperation of the Roerichs with the Lithuanian Roerich Society began in the 1930-es and went on until 1940. It was restored in the late 1980-ies. N. Balkeviciene also drew attention to the highest appraisal of M.K. Čiurlionis creativity by Nicholas Roerich.

The Head of the ICR Information Center, the Chairman of the Yaroslavl Roerich Society “Orion”, the member of the International Association of Writers, Sergey Skorodumov drew attention to the charitable aspects of the Roerichs’ "Trip down olden time." All proceeds from the sale of albums and post cards with reproductions of Nicholas Roerich’s paintings were transferred to the Red Cross Foundation. The speaker described the Roerichs’ family tour around Russia, and Yaroslavl region in particular. He also told about the excavations that Nicholas Roerich carried out in this region. "Yaroslavl was the first town on the way of the Roerichs across Russia in 1903–1904. This travel became the beginning of the broad socio-political activity to protect culture," he emphasized, bridging the “Trip down olden time” with the Indian period of life and creative work of the artist.

Yelena Korchemkina, the member of the Council of the St.Petersburg Branch of the ICR, told about the sources of the idea of culture protection as the basis of human existence. She considered the idea of national culture and analyzed relationship between national culture and spirituality of the nation as well as culture of the world. On the basis of Nicholas Roerich's articles "A travel from Varangians to Greeks" and "Trip down olden time" the speaker traced back to the source of originating the idea of national culture protection and interrelations between culture protection and statehood preservation.

Svetlana Okuneva (Tallinn), the member of the board of the Estonian Roerich Society, the Chairman of the Association "Pedagogics of Culture in Estonia" spoke about the role of the Roerich Pact and the Banner of Peace in the association activity. She outlined the experience of the Estonian Roerich Society and that of its long-term leader K.A. Molchanova at the schools of Estonia. The Society used to conduct the Days of Culture at educational institutions, the integral part of them were the exhibitions of reproductions of Nicholas and Svetoslav Roerichs’ paintings. The Society is cooperating with the European youth project "Erasmus plus" to promote the Roerichs’ family creative heritage, the ideas of cultural heritage protection, as well as the ideas of the Roerich Pact and the Banner of Peace in Europe.

The subject of the report of the board member of the ICR Tatyana Ivanova was the history of the Roerich Pact in Latin America. In 1935, Helena Roerich wrote to one of her correspondents, "… I believe in the bright future of South America. Its potential is great, and in the crucible of struggle, they will find power and their wonderful path. It is they who first supported the great idea of the Banner of Peace and the Pact on the protection of human genius treasures." Since then many years passed, pointed out T. Ivanova, but cultural seeding of the Roerichs and their associates, gave rise to good seedlings at the beginning of the XXI century. In many countries of Latin America peacemaking non-governmental organizations are working under the Banner of Peace. The ideas of the Roerich Pact, underlying the movement for Culture and Peace, keep alive, paving the way to Peace through Culture. The international exhibition project “The Roerich Pact. History and Modernity” of the International Centre of the Roerichs and the International Roerichs’ Heritage Preservation Committee was a great success in a number of countries of Latin America.

A traveler and photographer Alexander Titov told about Lake Piros located on the edge of Novgorod and Tver regions and the memorable places connected with Helena Roerich's ancestors and Nicholas Roerich's archaeological excavations. The lake located in the center of Valdai Hills, became the venue of a life-changing event in Helena Shaposhnikova’s and Nicholas Roerich’s life and the beginning of their coupledom. The speaker demonstrated photos of these memorable places and the objects, located on the shores of the lake. He also informed about the preparation of a Regional Studies Book concerning archaeology, history and famous people of the lake Piros area.

The presentation of the book "Genealogy of Nicholas Roerich. Archived Documents and Facts" prepared by O. Starovoitova and E. Tomsha followed the reports part of the conference. Olga Starovoitova, the member of the International Association of Writers, noted that the book was the result of a big archival work of the Roerichs devotees from Latvia, Russia, Germany and Ukraine. It was a response to fake articles of unfair researchers who demonstrated a disrespectful attitude towards the outstanding figures of our culture. Every assertion of the book was substantiated by particular facts and documents that were of great value. In the process of the book producing, the authors consulted with professional experts in history and worked all the archives, existing at that moment. The Chairman of the St. Petersburg Branch of the ICR Eduard Tomsha emphasized that the book was a scientific publication that contributed much to the Roerichs heritage studying. In the course of work the authors and their assistants managed to found earlier unknown archival documents connected with life and activity of the Roerichs.

The conference was concluded by a Round Table. Those who participated in it were the Vice-President of the ICR Alexander Stetsenko, the member of the Italian Association "Centro Studio "Parvati" (Citta della Pieve) Valentina Ganz, the lawyer of the ICR Maria Vorobyeva, the member of the International Council of Svetoslav Roerich Organizations, the member of the Estonian Roerich Society Tatyana Kupava, the President of the Italian "Nuova Cultura di Pace" Association (Torino) Sonia Marina Belforte, the President of the Austrian Roerich Society and the National Сommittee of the Roerich Pact, the board member of the Austrian National Сommittee of the “Blue Shield”, the Vice-Chairman of the board of the Coordination Council of the Russian Compatriots in Austria Leylya Strobl. The Round Table was discussing the situation concerning the destruction of the non-governmental Nicholas Roerich Museum in Moscow by the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation.

The Forum concluded with the adoption of the resolution stated in particular the historical value and the relevance of the Roerich Pact, bringing the most important principle of unconditional protection of world cultural heritage to humanity, including the objects of culture and the personnel working in them. The conference stated that the Republic of Latvia contributed a lot in disseminating the message of the Roerich Pact in Europe in the first half of the XX century.

The participants of the conference have protested against the intentional forceful destruction of the non-governmental Nicholas Roerich Museum of the ICR in peacetime by the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation, and other government entities and departments of Russia, impeding full implementation of the ICR activity. The outcome of the conference reflected the unique experience of cultural and peacekeeping activity of the non-governmental Nicholas Roerich Museum of the ICR for developing public forms of culture as well as the demand of restoring its right to further cultural work.

The conferees emphasized the importance to consolidate the efforts of the international public opinion, governmental and non-governmental organizations, promote private initiative for preserving, developing and using the cultural heritage of peoples worldwide.

The conference was completed by a guitar concert of Andreas Vitt (Germany), the author and performer of compositions on the themes of Nicholas Roerich’s paintings.

The participants visited the Roerichs’ Hall of Baltic International Academy (BIA), the exhibitions of the Latvian Branch of the International Centre of the Roerichs, that of "Protect the Non-governmental Nicholas Roerich Museum," "The Roerich Pact", "9 years together with BIA" and a photo exhibition "The Phenomenon of Kailash" by Sergey Balalayev and Alexander Titov presented by them to the Latvian Branch of the ICR.

In Old Riga the guests visited "The Riga Bourse" Fine Arts Museum, where Nicholas Roerich’s paintings, donated by the artist to the pre-war Latvian Roerich Society were exhibited. They also attended the Saint Peter’s Church, a historical monument of Riga of the XIII century, and engaged in the thematic tour "Roerichs and Riga" guided by Alexei Meikshan.

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