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21 Jan, 2024 03:31

EU state to resume cultural cooperation with Russia – media

Slovakia banned contacts with Russian and Belarusian cultural institutions two years ago
EU state to resume cultural cooperation with Russia – media

The new Slovak minister of culture, Martina Simkovicova, has reversed an order prohibiting cultural cooperation with Russia and Belarus, which was introduced by her predecessor in March 2022 following the outbreak of the Ukraine conflict.

The document overturning the suspension of “any academic cultural or other similar official cooperation with the Russian Federation or the Republic of Belarus” was issued on January 12, with the decision coming into effect three days later, Slovakia's Pravda newspaper reported on Saturday, citing the documents it reviewed. 

The minister explained her decision by saying that cultural cooperation should not be affected by the political climate.

“There are dozens of military conflicts going on in the world, and, in our opinion, artists and culture must not suffer because of them,” she said through her spokesperson Pavel Corba.

The decision was supported by the chairman of the parliamentary media and culture committee, Roman Michelko, who said the former minister introduced the ban for ideological reasons. “I am against any censorship of culture,” he stressed, arguing that cultural exchanges should continue regardless of politics.

“The innocent are being punished and that is sick, ideology should not interfere with culture. Creators of Russian culture should not be discriminated against or ostracized because of the regime in power,” he stressed.

Martina Simkovicova, a former television presenter and a member of the Slovak National Party (SNS), assumed the post of culture minister in October 2023, following the victory of Robert Fico’s Slovak Social Democracy (SMER-SD) party and subsequent creation of the coalition government. At the time, the leader of SNS – Andrej Darko – said he was willing to join a coalition with Fico to “compete with liberalism.”

Last week, Simkovicova said she “rejects progressive normalization” and announced her decision to stop funding various LGBTQ projects.

“Non-governmental organizations related to LGBT  will no longer parasitize on the money from the culture department. I will certainly not allow it under my leadership,” she said in an official ministry statement on Facebook. “Such practices have come to an end, we are returning to normality.”