Saturday, March 30, 2019

Massive New Study Documents Destruction of Cultural Life in Yekaterinburg over Last 15 Years

Paul Goble

            Staunton, March 28 – A 521-page study of cultural life in Yekaterinburg over the last 15 years delivers a devastating conclusion: Officials there despite having large sums of money at their disposal effectively destroyed what had been a vibrant scene in the 1990s and now oversee a sector that displays only decay, crisis and chaos.

            The volume, entitled Yekaterinburg’s Pulse, was compiled by 30 experts and activists and was paid for by the city’s Cultural Administration, the object of the volume’s devastating findings.  The full-text is available online at and is reviewed at

            Because of its enormous length and because some of those who helped conduct the study are notorious for their critical stance, the book has been almost completely ignored by its intended audience, the administration and the residents of Yekaterinburg.  That is a tragedy because its criticisms are the kind of diagnosis needed if the situation is to be rectified. 

            In every sector of the city’s cultural life, from museums to theaters to publications, the report says, there is either “chaos” or “a crisis” or most commonly both. That reflects the absence of planning and coordination, on the one hand, and the serious misuse of funds, on the other, the report says.

            What is especially tragic, the editors of the Politsovet news agency say, is that the Yekaterinburg Culture Administration which paid for the report appears not to have read it or taken it seriously. (The administration did not answer Politsovet’s request for comments on the study.)

            But if current officials choose to ignore it, two other groups shouldn’t: the residents of Yekaterinburg who have become the victims of the city’s mistaken cultural policies and those in other cities and regions of Russia who should use the Yekaterinburg’s  Pulse volume as a model for studies they need to conduct as well.

            Indeed, Politsovet implies, that latter role may prove to be the most important contribution this study makes.

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