Speech by Sergey Shoigu at the meeting of the Board of Trustees of the Russian Geographical Society (April 27, 2018, Saint Petersburg)

Good afternoon, dear colleagues!

I congratulate you all on the 10th anniversary meeting of the Board of Trustees in the building, the anniversary of which we will celebrate in the near future - such an important anniversary for Russian geography and science.

A word, as always, to the Chairman of the Board of Trustees, President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin.

Speech by the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the RGS V.V. Putin

Thank you, Vladimir Vladimirovich.

It is very important for us that you highly appreciate the activities of the Russian Geographical Society. I also want to thank all the members of the Board of Trustees for their support.

Today, the audience of the Russian Geographical Society projects is tens of millions of people in Russia and abroad. According to independent sociological studies, the recognition of the Russian Geographical Society among the population over the past five years has grown almost three times.

But the most important thing is that the number of people wishing to join the society and take part in what we are doing is growing even more rapidly. A vivid example of this is the III Festival of the Russian Geographical Society, which was held in November last year under the slogan "The soul of Russia is its people."

Using the venue with the area of over 6000m2, with the help of rare exhibits, interactive stands, games and master classes, we tried to tell about the centuries-old history and culture of the peoples of our country.

The visitors of the festival were particularly interested in the unique documents from the archive of the Russian Geographical Society that were exhibited for the first time. Among them are folklore works, a description of the life and rites of the peoples of Russia with magnificent drawings by the travelers - members of the Russian Geographical Society.

We believe that such objects of written heritage should be officially recognized at the level of the United Nations as monuments of world culture. And we are very grateful to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Sergey Viktorovich Lavrov for their support.

The feedback received at the end of the festival gave us the idea that we simply must demonstrate the funds of the Russian Geographical Society throughout Russia.

Before the meeting, you had the opportunity to see the first exhibition from the series “The Golden Fund of the Russian Geographical Society”. In the future, similar exhibitions will be opened in our regional branches and universities. Here we need the help of the Russian Union of Rectors. Based on the themes of the exhibitions, we plan to thematically decorate long-distance trains, and in this, I think, Russian Railways will support us.

Of course, we keep up to date, developing the electronic library of the Russian Geographical Society. Over the past year it was visited by two million people. But, in just three months of this year, it`s already been a million. These are not only citizens of Russia, but also representatives of dozens of foreign countries.

In addition to the documents section, cartographic and youth sections, as well as an extensive film library, are of interest. Soon it will be replenished with rare newsreels from expeditions of the first half of the last century, which the Gosfilmofond (State Film Archive) will give us. Such agreement already exists. Many thanks to our partners, together we do a great, important job. I hope that such films will stimulate the cognitive activity of viewers, especially young people, and ultimately increase their geographical literacy.

By the way, the international Geographical Dictation, in 2017 it was held in 25 states, again revealed an extremely low level of knowledge about Russia. Almost two centuries ago, Nikolai Vasilyevich Gogol said: "Great ignorance of Russia in the middle of Russia." Unfortunately, the words of the classic remain relevant to this day. Out of 260 thousand people who wrote the dictation, 442 people scored 100 points on their knowledge of Russia. This is 0.17 percent. But we are talking exclusively about the school curriculum. Then what about serious things?

To solve this problem, we are ready to continue active cooperation with the Ministry of Education and Science to implement a new concept of geographical education, conduct an examination of teaching aids and, of course, develop expeditionary activities. This year we are planning  a large-scale study of one of the largest Scythian kurgans in Southern Siberia - Tunnug.

Every year, hundreds of expeditions are organized by regional branches and youth clubs of the Russian Geographical Society. The Ministry of Defense is actively involved in this work, reviving the traditions of imperial Russia, when the military helped travelers and scientists, and most of the regional branches existed at the headquarters of the governors general.

I would like to note, that since last August we have been  opening the centers of the Russian Geographical Society in the fleets, in military districts, in military services and arms. There are already worthy examples of the joint work of the Russian Geographical Society and the Expeditionary Center of the Ministry of Defense. The military is called upon to help in organizational matters, to lend a helping hand in carrying out complex and dangerous research. And in return they gain unique knowledge.

The material collected in the expeditions will be systematized and subsequently used in the preparation of scientific, reference, educational manuals on the nature and geography of our country.