Successful Award Ceremony in Moscow Despite Obstacles

Russian Award Ceremony 2017 in the Nikitskie Gate Theatre in Moscow | Photo: Körber-Stiftung
Russian Award Ceremony 2017 in the Nikitskie Gate Theatre in Moscow | Photo: Körber-Stiftung

Carefully planned safety precautions were necessary during the prize-giving ceremony of the Russian history competition on 26 April in Moscow. After the booking of the original venue was cancelled at short notice, the competition host MEMORIAL, a member of the EUSTORY network, was able to move the event to the Nikitskie Gate Theatre.

For almost 20 years, the Russian history contest for pupils has been organised by the historical society of MEMORIAL. The reason for the current obstructions is the growing pressure on the work of MEMORIAL, which has recently been branded a so-called "foreign agent" and has difficulties carrying out its projects.

A large number of high-ranking representatives from the world of politics, culture, science and civil society recognised the achievements of the pupils and their supervising teachers in this 18th competition. Among them were, for example, the award-winning Russian writer Ljudmila Ulitzkaja who heads the jury of the history competition, the director of the Nikitskie Gate Theatre Mark Rozowsky, Irina Prokhorowa, long-standing supporter of the competition and an important intellectual voice of Russia, film director Pavel Loungin and many more. The event was moderated by Russian film stars Viktoria Tolstoganova and Maxim Vitorgan.

The German ambassador to Moscow, Rüdiger Freiherr von Fritsch, also paid tribute to the pupils’ commitment and the work of MEMORIAL. He borrowed from Friedrich Nietzsche when he asked the pupils to look closely even when memory and pride get in each other's way while dealing with the past, for instance when pupils are confronted with less than glorious events during their projects.

During the award ceremony, the forty-three best competition projects were awarded with prizes in four different categories. Before the start of the official ceremony, the pupils presented their work in a poster exhibition in the foyer of the theatre. They also presented personal perspectives on the history of the 20th century in films, in an historical news report and in short theatre scenes, which they had worked on together with artists and educators in a previous workshop in Moscow.

Irina Sherbakova, director of the Russian history competition, was very pleased with 2,264 students who participated in the competition this year. “This figure shows that pupils, teachers and parents have not been intimidated by the defamation of the competition and the attacks on the event last year,” she stated.

In her address, Katja Fausser, director of the EUSTORY network, invited all Russian prize-winners to discuss history on a cross-border basis and to apply to attend the upcoming European youth meeting of 100 EUSTORY award winners from the more than 20 national history competitions of the network. "Be curious and use the EUSTORY Next Generation Summit in Berlin in October 2017 to discuss history with young people from other countries."

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