Tatyana Larionova: “We are returning a historically significant cathedral to Kazan and Russia”
The head of Vozrozhdenie Foundation about the fruitful ten-year period, the revival of monuments and educational projects. Part 1
The project unique at the national level is being implemented in the capital of Tatarstan to recreate the Cathedral of the Kazan Icon of the Mother of God at a cost of 2,7 billion rubles. Tatyana Larionova, the executive director of the Republican Foundation for the Revival of Historical and Cultural Monuments of the Republic of Tatarstan, vice-speaker of the State Council of the Republic of Tatarstan, spoke about how Tatarstan citizens and residents of other regions help to raise large funds, who support a good cause in every way and instruct builders during the online conference of Realnoe Vremya. At the same time, the foundation, famous for its large-scale projects, is implementing another important initiative for the republic — it is creating multilingual schools. Read more about this difficult but beneficial work in the first part of the conversation with the in-studio guest of our publication.
Cathedral and academy — the balance of interests
This year, Vozrozhdenie Foundation celebrates 10- year anniversary. Congratulations! Now the organisation is recreating the Cathedral of the Kazan Icon Mother of God and is engaged in the creation of multilingual centres. At what stage are these projects?
Thank you for your congratulations! Indeed, the foundation has been operating for 10 years. I think many people know about us and are proud of the results that have been achieved. First of all, of course, through the efforts of the entire republic and our president. But first of all, the initiator of the foundation and the main author, engine of all our projects is Mintimer Shaimiev, who organised and now patronises the objects you've mentioned.
The Cathedral of the Kazan Icon of the Mother of God is the unique project. We are returning the historically significant cathedral, that was barbarously blown up during the Soviet era, to Kazan, Tatarstan, and Russia. Alas, this was the fate of many churches and mosques. But this is a truly unique project, because the Icon of the Kazan Mother of God is one of the most revered, both in Russia and around the world. Therefore, when the president received the proposal from the Orthodox population in the person of Bishop Feofan to recreate the cathedral, of course, this was heard by both the president and Mintimer Sharipovich.
The academy was built with unprecedented speed, in one year. I must say that today this academy is the only Islamic one in the Russian Federation, and it has established itself as a training centre for modern Islamic theologians
A decree was issued by the president of the republic on the construction of the Islamic Academy and the reconstruction of the Cathedral of the Kazan Icon of the Mother of God. Why am I talking about this now? In the tradition of our republic, there have always been and will always be interethnic and inter-confessional parity, because it is valued by the people, necessary for the population to balance interests, for peace and harmony, which have reigned in our republic for many decades.
And given that the Bolgar Islamic Academy was built in the historical place where our foundation recreated many historical monuments, made a new tourist infrastructure, the question of who would build the modern academy was never included in the agenda.
Rustam Minnikhanov asked Vozrozhdenia to take on both objects.
And the academy was built with unprecedented speed — in one year. I must say that today this academy is the only Islamic one in the Russian Federation, and it has proven itself to train modern Islamic theologians in modern conditions, and not only for our republic and Russia — people come to Bolgar from abroad.
And the cathedral requires longer work, because we are reconstructing it. Reconstruction is always a more complex process than construction. We are recreating on the ruins of the destroyed cathedral. When we studied the ruins and listened to our archaeologists who conducted research, it turned out, to our happiness and the great surprise of many scientists, that the remains of the foundations of the cave temple were preserved. And this made us take a more demanding look at the reconstruction process. We had to work seriously and thoroughly to preserve these ruins, to strengthen the remaining foundations, so that they were still the foundation for the cathedral that historically stood on this land.
We are recreating the object by analysing the sources that have survived to this day, and these are photos and design sketches of even the famous Shchusev. This is work in the archives of archaeologists, historians, and scientists
Donations are also coming from other regions
Did you need any engineering solutions?
Certainly. The foundation has been working with the same project organisation for 10 years. Our institute Tatinvestgrazhdanproekt headed by Adel Albertovich Khusnutdinov is the unique team. The institute has long been almost the main part of all the projects of our foundation, and its specialists are our like-minded people. And this work to preserve the foundations of the cathedral, which the architects carried out together with archaeologists, can be written into the history of the reconstruction of historical monuments.
The institute works and performs a lot of project work on a charitable basis. A low bow to all who work in this team — without them, there would not have been these 10 years of work and the results achieved. Any object starts with design work, and we are always confident in the creative, scrupulous, competent, professional approach of designers.
We have been working with almost the same customer for all these years. In Bolgar and Sviyazhsk, both the ministry of culture and the ministry of construction were customers. Now we are working with the ministry of construction and its division, Main Investment and Construction Department of Tatarstan (GISU) — a team of professionals who work “from the heart and for the soul”, as Mintimer Shaimiev always likes to say, they always work for quality and results.
We are recreating the object by analysing the sources that have survived to this day, and these are photos and design sketches of even the famous Shchusev. This is work in the archives of archaeologists, historians, and scientists Where materials are lacking, we study analogies of temples of this period. Some decisions are found not immediately, the main thing is that everything done is in tune with the historical period that we are recreating.
We managed to recreate the cave, lower temple. There are very few preserved cave temples, although they were common in Russia
We have great general contractor — Director General [of Eurostroyholding PLC] Vladimir Alexandrovich Kazilov and his team. The height of the temple is almost 50 metres, and it is very difficult to work at this height in winter, when there is wind and snowfall. All work is carried out with due regard for safety and care for the people who work, while being very high-quality and professional.
We managed to recreate the lower cave temple. There are very few preserved cave temples, although they were common in Russia. We even managed to restore the elements of murals. And the fact that the cathedral has already been consecrated (it is located in the monastery), the monks are serving today, reading prayers, saturating this temple with Orthodox life — this, of course, is worth a lot. Scientists, specialists from Moscow, Saint Petersburg, and many ministers of Orthodox monasteries and cathedrals are just delighted with what has been done and how this work is being carried out.
Today we are at a difficult stage of work: we have started decorating the upper church. A working group of artists and art critics has been created, and literally every element in the mural is thoroughly discussed. We very much hope that these works will be completed by the next summer.
The temple is much awaited — we have become convinced of this many times. And now a huge number of tourists, pilgrims, and guests come to worship the Kazan Icon of the Mother of God in the existing temple. And seeing the monumental structure that became the new decoration of the city, they are still waiting for them to pray in the temple, put a candle for the deceased, for the health of the living when they can enjoy that miracle. And of course, I cannot but say a huge thanks to those people who are not only waiting but also contribute to the reconstruction of the cathedral.
The temple is much awaited — we have become convinced of this many times. And now a huge number of tourists, pilgrims, and guests come to worship the Kazan Icon of the Mother of God in the existing temple
The temple is being restored entirely with charitable donations. With great appreciation I call TAIF and Tatneft — two our largest oil companies, they are responsible for large social projects. They have been working with our foundation since the first year, and the Cathedral of the Kazan Icon of the Mother of God is mainly their contribution.
Of course, donations come not only from Kazan and Tatarstan. I am pleased to know that this is our neighbourhood: Nizhny Novgorod, Mari El, Cheboksary. From Bashkortostan, Paker company has donated periodically to this temple in recent years. We bow to those people who consider it their duty to do this, and do it from the heart.
How much money is needed for such temple?
In architectural objects, it is very difficult to name the amount at once. The estimated cost of this project is 2,7 billion rubles, which is a lot of money, of course. I won't say that we already have the entire amount, but the work continues. This work is being carried out under the very close attention of Mintimer Shaimiev. He periodically holds meetings of the board of trustees there. Certanly, Bishop Feofan pays a lot of attention to this temple. And it's glad that our President Rustam Nurgalievich Minnikhanov almost constantly visits this facility.
Every square metre works for a child
Let's turn to another key project of the foundation. Polylingual schools were opened in Kazan and Yelabuga on September 1. Four more schools are planned to be opened by 2022. What difficulties did you face to ensure that polylingual schools were opened exactly as they were intended on September 1?
This is also the unique project. You can say a lot that children know or do not know languages, like or dislike. You can criticise everyone who draw up the programme, curriculum, and standards. Mintimer Sharipovich went the other way: he just initiated a project of multilingual education by creating educational institutions where children are taught in two state languages, Russian and Tatar, and are engaged in in-depth English as an international language. This is the main distinctive quality of our educational complexes, and they are called 'Adymnar — the path to knowledge and harmony'. Adymnar — these are steps, we head for knowledge not only of languages, history, culture, all subjects that are studied in secondary schools, and through knowledge we reach agreement. Consent, again, is one of the credos of our republic, so it should be formed within the walls of the school.
It is possible to follow this path only if there is a good teaching staff, there are children who accept the school's ideology, want to know three languages, strive for this, and there is a parent community that also accepts this philosophy
The very ideology and philosophy of the school is interesting, deep, and informative. It is possible to follow this path only if there is a good teaching staff, there are children who accept the school's ideology, want to know three languages, strive for this, and there is a parent community that also accepts this philosophy: today it is creative path of education and upbringing of children We laid these main components not only in the basis of the teachers' activity, but also in the concept of building the school. Today we took a different look at public school space, literally every square metre works for a child. Even school corridors are a place of communication, where they can work out and talk, hold some kind of a study club, discussion. The very architecture of these buildings is in tune with the concept of the school.
I won't say that it was a problem, but it was the number one question — what should the school be like? Before building schools, we held seminars with the participation of specialists from Moscow and Armenia. Because we looked at one of the Armenian schools, which is most interesting in its concept, because the work with students is carried out all the time when the child is there, all the hours that he is at school. This is necessarily a full-time school, because the learning process is supplemented by the second half of the day for self-development. Our builders and architects visited the best schools in the Russian Federation, and only after that we started construction.
We discussed our new project with the children, taking as a basis both the staff and the teachers of school No. 165, where children were taught both English and Tatar languages quite well. Now, of course, it is deeper in our complexes, but nevertheless, the basis was there.
What children's wishes did you take into account?
For example, concerning the sports base: there is a climbing wall. There were childhood dreams associated with fairy tales and legends. There are birds in the interiors, we believe that our children should be ready to fly and they should fly high. A lot related to the history of the city. If we take Yelabuga, there is a school library by design project is completely devoted to the history of the city of Yelabuga. There is such a constellation of very different historical figures in literature and in painting. We have a whole panel dedicated to historical objects located in the Kazan complex.
There were childhood dreams associated with fairy tales and legends. There are birds in the interiors, we believe that our children should be ready to fly and they should fly high
Mintimer Shaimiev immediately said: “You can build any school, even a very beautiful and modern one. This takes time. The most important stage of school preparation is necessary for the formation of the teaching staff.” Training of personnel, and certain disciplines are taught in Tatar and English, will be a key issue for further complexes that we will create.
If here in Kazan we took the current staff of the 165th school as a basis, and this now gives us its preferences, then in Yelabuga we did not have such an opportunity. With the Yelabuga complex, we have provided a whole programme of pedagogical support, and this programme was compiled by the ministry of education of our republic. And I think this programme will be the basis for our next complexes.
To be continued