“Solovki: life between a terrible past and an incomprehensible future” was the title of a report on the problems of the Solovetsky archipelago, published in “NI” on October 11 this year. In particular, it was about the fact that this most valuable territory still does not have a protected status, and no optimal form of management has been found for it.
In 2018, the former Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Dmitry Medvedev gave a direct order to classify the Solovetsky Archipelago as a significant religious and historical site, to provide a comprehensive protection status, to establish requirements for conducting economic activities and regulate construction. The Interregional Center for Independent Historical and Cultural Expertise was involved in the work on the project. which they devoted most of their lives to the study and preservation of the Solovki.
The result of two years of work was a comprehensive project to preserve the entire diversity of the Solovetsky Archipelago. As a result, the project, completely ready for approval, "hung". The state customer refused to accept and approve the project documentation developed for budgetary funds. Moreover, the Ministry of Culture is suing scientists, proving that Solovki is "younger" than archaeological science claims, and demands that 28 million rubles be returned "for incorrect research".
Senior Researcher of the Institute of Archeology of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Candidate of Historical Sciences Vladimir Burov presented to Novy Izvestia his view on the conflict between the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation and JSC Interregional Center for Independent Historical and Cultural Expertise:
“Soon it will be exactly one year since the conflict between the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation and the Interregional Center for Independent Historical and Cultural Expertise continues. At stake is nothing less, but the fate of the great historical and cultural heritage of the Solovetsky archipelago. In 2018, the Ministry ordered the JSC to develop design documentation for classifying the Solovetsky Archipelago as a cultural heritage site of federal significance in the form of a historical religious landmark (RIDM). In the summer of 2019, the first stage of work was accepted and paid for, and in December, ministerial officials flatly refused to accept the final draft, demanding revision and major changes in its composition. The main complaint is that the name of the cultural heritage object specified in the GIKE act does not correspond to the terms of reference and the state contract, since the task indicated a different RIDM date (16th - mid-20th century). The overall result, signed at that time by the head of the Department of State Protection of Cultural Heritage Vladimir Tsvetnov: "The dating of the landmark (3rd millennium BC - first half of the 20th century) is not historically substantiated".
The conflict that arose between the Department of State Protection of Cultural Heritage of the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation and JSC "Interregional Center for Independent Historical and Cultural Expertise", unfortunately, reflects the realities of the time. This is a conflict between managers who distribute funds and an organization related to science. This confrontation arises for various reasons. This is either a lack of understanding by officials of the essence of scientific problems due to their incompetence, or a purely formal approach to the received documentation, or a financial component.
For 28 years my life has been closely connected with Solovki. In 1975–1978, I worked for the Solovetsky group of the NIPM VPNRK under the direction of the architect-restorer O.D. Savitskaya, and from 1996 to the present I have been studying the Solovetsky Monastery as a historian and archaeologist. I have written five books about the past of this great monastery, one of which was even awarded the Metropolitan Macarius Prize. And I clearly see the alignment of forces in the opposition of the two poles. Therefore, I have every right to express my completely, as it seems to me, objective opinion.
First of all, the absolute incompetence of the employees of the Ministry of Culture in the historical problems of the Solovetsky Monastery is striking (I'm not afraid of my wording) . It manifested itself with the determination of the chronology of the Religious and Historical Landmark, namely from the 16th century to the middle of the 20th century. Although in the slightest degree familiar with the past of the Solovetsky Monastery, it is known that the monastery was founded a century earlier. In 1429 the monks Savvaty and Herman began living here in the wilderness, and in 1436 Zosima and Herman arrived on the islands to establish a monastery. According to Novgorod documents, this happened in the middle of the fifteenth century. The first temple was built at the same time.
Secondly, it is unscientific to narrow down the chronological framework for RYDM from the Late Middle Ages to the Newest. As shown by many years of archaeological excavations by A.A. Kuratov and A. Ya. Martynov, history - I emphasize this especially for the Department of State Protection of Cultural Heritage - Solovki began long before the 16th century, back in the Stone Age. Now scientific data of radiocarbon dating indicate the middle of the 6th millennium BC, the Mesolithic. This - the most important discovery became clear precisely in the course of writing the concept of RIDM. True, the text contains an outdated dating of the 3rd millennium BC. But this was done deliberately by the developers so as not to annoy the ministry. I would especially note the very fact of the appearance of man on the islands in the Mesolithic era, which is of great general cultural and general historical significance. Before that, it was known that in the Mesolithic, a boat was invented by man as a means of transportation on rivers and lakes. Now it has been established (precisely on Solovki!) That at the same time, man learned to overcome the sea space.
Thirdly, the Solovetsky Archipelago as a religious and historical landmark is perceived by the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation too limitedly as an exclusively sacred Orthodox center. However, Solovki was a large sacred religious center back in the Stone Age. This is directly indicated by dozens of stone labyrinths on the islands. They are associated with the cult of the dead, with the other world. It is the largest sacral stone labyrinth in the whole of Northern Europe. These archaeological sites are the pride of Russia. People from all over the world come to see them. Refusal for Solovki from archeology until the 16th century. contradicts the Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (1972). It seems that the ministry forgot that their manual on the Religious and Historical Place of Interest directly says: “the territory of a religious and historical place includes local objects of cultural heritage related to it (in particular, architectural ensembles, individual monuments and archaeological sites, , objects of religious worship), as well as valuable natural objects ”.
After all of the above, the remark of the Department of State Protection of Cultural Heritage sounds like a mockery that "the dating of a landmark (III millennium BC - first half of the 20th century) is not historically justified." I believe that the "Interregional Center for Independent Historical and Cultural Expertise" paid for it decided to overcome the inertia, ignorance, and amateurism of the employees of the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation, who decided to defend the honor of their uniform.
However, it is highly likely that this is not the only problem. Taking into account the court corruption cases opened earlier against some employees of the Ministry of Culture, the prosecutor's office should organize an audit of the ministry about the expenditure of funds allocated to pay for the project in Solovki. One gets the impression that the ministry has no money allocated in 2019 for the final settlement with the Interregional Center for Independent Historical and Cultural Expertise JSC. Hence the ridiculous quibbles. In fact, the Center managed to unite around itself professional people of various specialties and, for the first time in the history of Solovki, a comprehensive project on the Solovetsky Archipelago. This work is worthy of a state award, and not punishment in the form of returning 28 million rubles, which the ministry intends to demand, which paid only for the preliminary stage of research. What is happening is simply outrageous! Whether you like it or not, Chatsky's immortal replica from Griboyedov's comedy Woe from Wit comes to mind - Who are the judges?