June 29 marks the 120th birthday of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. He is well-known not only as a pilot and a writer, but also, most importantly, the creator of “The Little Prince,” one of the most favorite books of the older generations of people.
Department of Culture is Holding Its Tongue
“Did top-ranking officials react somehow to your letters of complaint about the arbitrariness of the initiators of this outrage?”
“Surprisingly, the letter signed by the country’s heroes about the need for the inspection, was submitted to the State Duma and addressed to Moscow Prosecutor's office, i.e. the supervisory authority. Then without any check on corruption it was sent to the government of Moscow and then to the people who were to be brought to account for their actions. Thus, all conceivable legal norms have been violated. However, we were not very surprised.”
“It is horrible. The actual destruction of the center named after Antoine de Saint-Exupéry falls on the year of the 120th anniversary since his birth.”
“Notably, it is not just an ordinary cultural center. It is the place where the heirs of Saint- Exupéry, Soviet astronauts Vladimir Dzhanibekov, Viktor Afanasiev, Anatoly Berezovoy and Marina Popovich, honored test pilots, the Heroes of the Soviet Union and Russia, pilots of the Aviatrisa Union of Female Pilots, aircraft designers, scientists, builders of the Baikonur cosmodrome, etc., have been honored guests. Certainly, it took a lot of effort to do it. The fact proves that these people fear nobody and nothing, and they do not listen to anybody. The lawlessness of these “cultural officials” might be explained by the couldn't-care-less attitude of Moscow’s Department of Culture, where Mr. Kocherga, a former official of the Prosecutor's Office of Stavropol protecting Levitova, stands at the head of the department of cultural centers. Despite the numerous letters sent by people, he himself has never been to the library or spoken to its executive, as his predecessors had done. Was it really impossible to find there any competent cultural scientist for this position in Moscow? So, there is nothing to be surprised at there.”
“What about their boss Kibovsky? As far as we know, after he took up the job at the Department of Culture, he even canceled the notorious optimization. Additionally, after the development concept and work plan were presented to him, he gave you the go-ahead.”
“That's the most surprising thing. After all, Alexander Kibovsky's resolutions were shown to Vladimir Gasoyan, the Hero of the Soviet Union, and me. They said “You can see it clearly that they are not caring about self-serving issues. Nothing extra, and everything looks quite moderate.” So, our proposal to reformat the library into the Saint- Exupéry Cultural Center by transferring the so-called universal book collection to other libraries was approved. The freed area might be used for patriotic and cultural work with the young generations and veterans, reading clubs and the opening days of history exhibitions, and the creation of the Club for Young Pilots n.a. Igor Volk, the Hero of the Soviet Union, and the “Little Prince” Club for children.
This system includes the center's libraries, so Levitova actually made a setup. A certain “department of the Cultural center named after Saint- Exupéry” was singled out. Notably, it was only on paper, because there are no events or activities organized by this “department.” But it seems that the Cultural center has been established and exists for the high-ranking officials. Every year in spring, I was transferred for one or two days from the position of head of the institution to the position of head of the department and again restored as head of the institution, but... for a year. And it's been like this for almost five years. Last year, this “tradition” suddenly stopped and as the first move, one acting director was appointed head, and six months later and to this day the second one. After that, in November, a full redecoration suddenly began, and I urgently had to evacuate all the equipment and files, namely, more than 1,000 books and photo albums about aviation and cosmonautics with the dedicatory inscriptions of outstanding pilots and cosmonauts, as well as the media library with more than 300 films and stories about aviation, about Saint- Exupéry and Russian-French cooperation, historical documents and design), which made up the center’s special pride. The overhauling continues to this day, and the end is not yet in sight. And in order to imitate the teeming activity under the guise of Saint-Exupéry’s name (they need a brand!), they suddenly bought a few dozen books of Saint-Exupéry, held a quiz on his fairy-tale that was visited by as many as five people and invited some semi-literate guest actor to give a lecture on the life of Saint- Exupéry. It involuntarily recalled the quote from his book: “Everybody will get musical instruments, but who will write music?”
Are Enthusiasts not Rewarded Anymore?
We live in an age with less and less such selfless enthusiasts as Mstislav Listov. However, still there are some. For example, I had a chance to get acquainted with the volunteers who spend all their free time looking after the unique aircraft equipment in Monino that is in fact left unattended. As a rule, they ask the media to refrain from making their names public. For them, repercussions will be too big when they come to face with those who head this large priceless property abandoned in the open air. What if the volunteers complain that top executives do not care about it for a long time? However, it has happened indeed. In the same place in Monino, an initiative group of veterans was formed on a voluntary basis. They take care of the abandoned graves of famous aviators because the state, as is typically the case, does not have enough money for it.”
“And yet, is Mstislav Lisztov likely to surrender to the mercy of the “winners?”
“It is highly unlikely. It's not about me, but about the fate of a specialized aerospace cultural institution, which has become a symbol of friendship and cooperation with France. People need it today. It is a shame and an outrage that I have to constantly spend time to get the restoration of justice. There will be soon an appeal to the Prosecutor General's Office and so on and so forth. There is no point in telling everything. And if you take the plans... We are going to launch the Exupéry World Center website after the reconstruction. A beautiful monument to legendary Igor Volk in Zhukovsky has just been opened. He served as chairman of our Board of Trustees for a long time. We are working on organizing a literary and musical concert with organ music and vocal and with reciting the famous “Citadel” by Saint- Exupéry. We are going to invite his heirs as well as the astronauts Jean-Louis Chrétien and Vladimir Dzhanibekov and diplomats at the French Embassy. By the way, Chrétien himself plays the organ. There is another project to create the “Little Prince Square” dedicated to aviation and to erect a monument to Konstantin Artseulov, the grandson of the seascape painter Aivazovsky and one of the pioneers of the Russian aviation, along with Peter Nesterov. And also to Ivan Yefremov, the brilliant Soviet fiction writer.
“Where are you going to put up these monuments?”
“This one to Artseulov will be located in Koktebel, and to Efremov in Yakutia, near the diamond mine, the discovery of which he predicted 12 years before that. I hope that the local authorities will help us. If you do not believe that the plan will work out, read his The Bull’s Hour. It describes everything that is happening to us today.”