Konstantin Ilkovsky: the festival of the SCO countries will strengthen humanitarian cooperation within the organization

Konstantin Ilkovsky: the festival of the SCO countries will strengthen humanitarian cooperation within the organization

July 2, the international festival  “Student Spring of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization /SCO/” starts in Chita. The forum will be held for the first time, and it will open the Year of Russian presidency within the organization. “Student Spring Festival” will be visited by  more than three thousand people from 14 SCO member-countries and SCO partner-countries. The Transbaikal capital will also welcome 19 delegations from different regions of Russia. In ITAR-TASS interview Trans-Baikal Territory Governor Konstantin Ilkovsky told about the forum goals and its preparations.

-   The international “Student Spring Festival” is a know-how offered by Russia to other countries. How did the idea of the festival emerge?

-   One of the Shanghai Organization directions is humanitarian cooperation. It goes without saying, it is closely related to creative class formation, i.e. development of those people who will form political, economic and cultural elite of their countries in the nearest future. First of all, we are talking about students here.

The initiative concerning “Student Spring Festival of the SCO countries” came from “Russian Union of Youth ” /RUY/ - the largest non-political youth organization in the country. For more than 20 years, RUY has been holding the project “Russian Student Spring Festival” successfully. Its experience demonstrates how the event unites young people, how popular and actual it is. The idea to represent this festival on the international level and to hold it within SCO, having strengthened humanitarian cooperation among the countries thereby, emerged last year. It was decided that Siberian Federal District /SFD/ was to organize it, because it has the longest frontier with the Shanghai Organization countries.

-   Why did the Trans-Baikal Territory become the forum venue?

-   We took an active part in the competition for the right to hold the festival, and we must have proved ourselves as a more initiative and persistent group in comparison with our neighbors. The support of Presidential Envoy to SFD Viktor Tolokonsky also played a key role. And the most important thing is that Transbaikal youth wanted to hold it – festival preparations involved regional sports and educational institutions.

The Trans-Baikal Territory has the longest frontier with China and Mongolia in Siberia. Here there is Zabaykalsk, the largest border-crossing point in the country that connects countries of Asia-Pacific Region with Russia and Europe. The region has strong economic, cultural and humanitarian cooperation with our Eastern neighbors. The unique multicultural complex that unifies European nature of most residents with Asian location has been formed here historically.

I will be honest, it took some time for the federal authority to approve that Chita would become a center of SCO student communication. They asked, “Why not Krasnoyarsk? It is a larger city which is preparing to hold the Winter Universiade 2019. Why not Vladivostok, where APEC 2012 was held and where people have an experience of such projects?” Our position is that each Russian regional center should be ready to hold such events, should know how to do it.

The decision was made. Now the festival future depends on how we will do it.

-   The festival was designed for youth, but it is youth that leaves the Trans-Baikal Territory more actively, as it happens in other regions of Eastern Siberia and the Far East. How can you explain the migration of the most energetic part of the population? How can we change the situation, on your mind?

-   What do young people need? They need to feel their importance. Youth leaves the region because it feels as it lives in the background. The world is a train that passes by. The goal of the authorities is to create such conditions when young people of Chita can fell as their peers do in Novosibirsk, Moscow or New York. They should feel they are in the center of the life rather than on its periphery. And the forthcoming festival is a part of purpose realization.

Preparing to the forum, we have trained more than 1000 volunteers.  They learned the technologies that were used by their peer in Sochi, Kazan and Vladivostok. We held master-classes and trainings for them. During the festival Transbaikal youth will communicate with peers from other countries and regions and will get new knowledge. After the festival these guys will not disappear, they will stay here and will be able to use the experience for development of their home region. And I think the youth will understand that the life, which, according to them, passes by, is right here, in Chita. And that they move with its speed.

I am sure international festivals should be held in the region every month; Russian festivals should be weekly, regional ones – daily. They don’t let the region “spoil” itself and help to maintain the tonus. That is why we are going to compete for the right to hold “Russian Student Spring-2015” in Chita. I am sure we are ready to do it.

-          What is the festival program?

-          We do our best to create a manifold program of “Student Spring”, and we included seven different directions in it. Two of them, sports and art, were always a part of “Russian Student Spring Festival”. To tell the truth, we have added some significant things in the sports program – mini-football, volleyball, tennis competitions. It was decided to dedicate one day to a chess play – a mass lightning tournament and simultaneous exhibition in chess that will be held on 100 chess boards  will take place in Chita. The world-famous great masters Sergey Rublevsky, Evgeny Tomashevsky, Alexander Ryazantsev and Irina Ivahinova will demonstrate their skills.

The program includes a large-scale business program. Its key event will be “SCO Youth Council” session. Another direction is educational one: young scientists, teachers and researchers, entrepreneurs and youth politics leaders from different regions of Russia and China will meet near the secret Buddhist Mountain Alkhanay where all-Siberian youth school will take place. The international pageant of grace and artistry “Queen of Spring” will be a pearl of the Festival. It will be held in Russia for the first time.

-          How do you think, what direction is more interesting? Why?

-          All parts of the program are important. But I would like to focus your attention on the military and patriotic game – the game of patriots. It’s a unique project elaborated by the Trans-Baikal Territory. It has no parallels in Russia. The game will be held under supervision of Eastern Command, Ministry of Internal Affairs and Emergencies Ministry. Students from the Far East, Siberia and Central part of Russia will be divided into three “armies” which will fight with each other. Nobody is going to lead the war, but we should be able to protect ourselves.

If everything is ok, we hope, the game will be regular, it will appear on Russian national level and then it will reach the international arena. It’s a new, modern version of “Zarnitsa”. It should be returned! We have Olympics, we have Universiade, why not develop a new direction – “Warinade”, a game of patriots?  Moreover we will celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Victory, and young people should match their parents and grandparents.

The patriots’ games will be visited by Russian Air Force aerobatic demonstration team “Russian Knights”. When will you be able to see such masters in Chita again? They do not participate in each air show.

-          Image events representing economic and cultural potential of the Trans-Baikal Territory will become a part of the program. What is an image of the region headed by you, as for a governor?

The Trans-Baikal Territory should be in the center of Russian life – that is our goal. We have growth perspectives which are related to mining, defense, and agriculture, we should do our upmost to be the best in these spheres – here we should have modern equipment and the most highly-qualified personal. Then people who left Trans-Baikal Territory will come back, because they will see: it is not worse here, it’s better in many aspects than it is in other regions. And those people who are thinking about leaving will give up the idea forever.

We should overcome a feeling of province inside ourselves. I have not been living in the Trans-Baikal Territory for long time, but I am sure the modern situation in the region is a result of undervaluation of home region potential by its residents.

-          Are you going to use the forthcoming festival to attract potential investors and to enter the markets of Central and South-Eastern Asia?

-          No, we are not. It is not an investment forum. It is a cultural dialogue. But in future through the cultural dialogue we are going to develop economic cooperation as well. Elite representatives of foreign countries including potential investors will come here. It is often said the Trans-Baikal Territory is situated at the end of Russia. But if we look at the SCO map we will see that it is a center of the community. And we must use such a geographical location.

-          Last year presenting the festival “Student Spring of the SCO countries” you told the purpose of the organizers was to create such conditions in order the festival guests would want to stay here forever. Can you say that you coped with the stated task summarizing the work results now?

-          Of course, it is better to ask the guests. But, on my mind, the city was changed –the streets that had not been repaired for some years were coated with new asphalt; we have a new landscape design, more flowers and less garbage. It’s important not to set the bar lower after the festival, and to continue the development. “Student Spring Festival” is for the city residents and young people, first of all. I like Chita more and more, and, certainly, I do not want to leave it.


By Ilya Barinov
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