21 february 2010

While on a working trip to St Petersburg, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin visits St Michael’s Castle (Engineers Castle)


Transcript of the beginning of Prime Minister Putin's meeting with the management of the State Russian Museum and its branch, St Michael's Castle (Engineers Castle):

Vladimir Putin: I remember visiting this place with Anatoly Sobchak and Dmitry Likhachov in 1991 to transfer this church to the museum.

Vladimir Gusev, director of the Russian Museum: It was the first part of the palace that was transformed into a museum.

Vladimir Putin: That's right. However, I now remember with regret that when we toured these premises, I said, "Mr Sobchak, why are you doing it? We'll never restore it." It's a huge complex requiring huge funds. The Russian economy and the St Petersburg economy experienced severe hardships in 1991, and a restoration appeared simply impossible. However, this decision was made, and Mr Sobchak started moving it forward.

Vladimir Gusev: You participated in signing the documents in this cold and almost derelict castle. Ms Matviyenko also helped a great deal afterwards.

Vladimir Putin: We embarked on a large-scale restoration in 2000 allocating a total of 800 million roubles in the past ten years.

Vladimir Gusev: We still have some funding left over.

Vladimir Putin: Yes, a little is left over. We allotted 800 million roubles for the reconstruction of this complex transferring it to the Russian Museum, Russia's largest museum and largest depository of Russian works of art. It has 400,000 exhibits in total.

Vladimir Gusev: True, it's the only such collection in the world.

Vladimir Putin: This collection is four, almost five times larger than that of the Tretyakov Gallery.

Vladimir Gusev: The Tretyakov Gallery is also a good museum.

Vladimir Putin: The Tretyakov Gallery is an excellent museum, one of the best museums in the world. But in terms of the number of exhibits...

Vladimir Gusev: ...and the capacity to show the whole history of Russia...

Vladimir Putin: ...the Russian Museum is almost five times bigger than the Tretyakov Gallery.

Lyudmila Kurenkova, director of St Michael's Castle (Engineers Castle), part of the State Russian Museum: We opened parts of this complex to the public immediately after restoration work finished there.

Vladimir Gusev: Mr Putin also visited this place seven years ago, during the celebration of the 300th anniversary of St Petersburg. Only a part of the complex was open to the public then. This bridge, for example. And now...

Vladimir Putin: Almost everything has been restored already. It's great, it's a major accomplishment.