The International Russian Nights Festival was held in the Italian city of Modena from 28 April to 2 May. Proxy Centre took active participation in organizing and holding festival events.
The highlight of the festival business programme was the Italy-Russia economic seminar. The Forum attracted more than 50 business representatives from various regions of Italy interested in doing business in the Russian Federation and in being involved in other forms of cooperation with Russia.
The forum opened with speeches by representatives of the administration of Modena and the honorary consul of the Russian Federation in the city of Ancona (Le Marche region), lawyer Marco Ginesi. Following that, economic expert Olga Goncharuk, former rector of the St. Petersburg State University of Engineering and Economics, who took part in the forum at the invitation of Proxy Centre, presented a report on the economic situation in Russia. She spoke about overriding trends in the development of the Russian economy, the place of Russia in the world economy, and the opportunities and risks posed by the current economic situation in the country. Ms. Goncharuk also presented an analysis of the effects of EU sanctions against Russia on the Russian economy and on Europe, including Italy.
Proxy Centre Director Sergey Lazutkin spoke about Crimea’s economic prospects as the largest free economic zone in Russia and a leading region in terms of economic development. “At the end of 2017, economic growth in the Republic of Crimea exceeded 10%. This together with the rapid development of infrastructure, the construction of new highways, power stations, and the largest bridge in Europe creates favourable conditions for new business projects, including those involving foreign business,” said the Proxy Centre Director. He also mentioned opportunities presented by the Yalta International Economic Forum (YIEF), one of the four largest economic forums in Russia, and invited the participants of the Italy–Russia seminar to attend the next forum in April 2019.
Among the participants of the meeting were representatives of business and political circles who had already taken part in YIEF and who joined Sergey Lazutkin in sharing with their Italian colleagues their own experiences and thoughts about the potential of YIEF as an international business platform.
Participants of the meeting asked questions about what areas of the economy of Crimea were most suited to investment, how the export and import of goods to the region worked, and questions related to the working of customs procedures.
After the forum, Sergey Lazutkin held a series of meetings with Italian businessmen interested in doing business in Crimea. Anna Marchetti, owner of the Anna Marchetti Group fashion label, discussed opening a chain of Italian clothing stores in Crimea. Representatives of the leadership of a famous Italian ceramic manufacturer, whose products are currently being sold in St. Petersburg with success discussed the possibility of expanding their presence in Russia and distribution to Crimea. Two Italian companies, a manufacturer of custom made wood furniture and a manufacturer of organic food products, expressed interest in placing production facilities in Crimea. Meeting participants made known their desire to continue consultations.
“I have spoken at several business events in various regions of Italy in recent years and can say that interest from the Italian business community in cooperating with Russia has grown steadily,” said the Proxy Centre director. “I am confident that the forum will help bring together our countries’ business circles and facilitate joint business projects in spite of the restrictions resulting from sanctions and temporary political difficulties.”
The ballet troupe of one of the world’s leading ballet masters, Oleg Vinogradov, performed as part of the Russian Nights Festival in Modena, receiving organizational and financial support for their tour from Proxy Centre.
The performance took place in one of the largest theatres in the Emilia-Romagna region, the historic Teatro Storchi, located in the centre of Modena.
The performance programme included excerpts from the famous classical Russian ballets The Nutcracker and Swan Lake among others. Residents of Modena were also treated to examples of contemporary Russian ballet, including dance performances inspired by classical works of Russian literature, such as Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy and Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky.
The performance was met with great interest on the part of the residents of Modena and neighbouring cities: in a hall seating 900, there were no empty seats. The performance was rewarded with a standing ovation, calling the artists back to the stage a total of six times. The performance was attended by representatives of UNESCO and Mayor of Modena Giancarlo Muzzarelli. The head of the city thanked Oleg Vinogradov and Sergey Lazutkin for the opportunity to see the Russian ballet. The renowned choreographer and the director of the Proxy Centre were presented with gifts by the city to commemorate the event.
The performance was organized jointly with the Luciano Pavarotti Foundation, which is managed by Nicoletta Pavarotti, the widow of the famous opera tenor. The Foundation aims to help people with cancer. The performance of the Russian ballet in Modena was held for the benefit of charity: the audience was admitted to the theatre for free, and those who wished to were invited to make a donation in support of the activities of the Luciano Pavarotti Foundation.
“Cultural projects are not the main line of activity of the Proxy Centre. We do, however, attach great importance to this work,” company director Sergey Lazutkin said, when greeting the audience before the performance. “Because art is a universal language, and it makes it possible for people of different countries and cultures to understand each other. Art is an effective way to build bridges of friendship between peoples. And we in Russia are very interested in friendship with Italy, a beautiful country with which we have so many ties.”