18 december 2009

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin visited the headquarters of the Russian Geographic Society in St Petersburg


Vladimir Putin was shown the society's unique collection, which includes 136 explorers' private archives and 115 collections of ethnographic materials on peoples inhabiting Russia. Among other things, the prime minister was shown a report from the 1889 Russian expedition to Afghanistan, Nikolai Przhevalsky's manuscripts and Nikolai Miklukho-Maklai's sketches (the former of the two 19th century explorers won renown for his groundbreaking fieldwork in Central Asia, and the latter for his work in New Guinea).

The Society's building is in a deplorable state. "This is a unique building, which holds a unique collection, but it is falling apart, as everyone can see. Why not pool our efforts to repair it?" Mr Putin asked St Petersburg Governor Valentina Matviyenko, who was visiting the Geographic Society with him.

The Governor replied that the first stage of repairs would require 46 million roubles, while the city could afford to allocate only 10 million.

"We will find more money-but I do not think it will be enough. We will try to find other sponsors for a full-fledged restoration," replied Mr Putin.