In opening remarks delivered at the 6th Annual St. Petersburg International Cultural Forum—a celebration of international artists who embrace culture—Russian President Vladimir Putin said culture serves as a “counterbalance” to “aggressive radicalism” in the world today.
According to the state-run TASS news agency, he said:
"Culture, art, education are the answer to the challenges of barbarism, intolerance, aggressive radicalism threatening our civilization. It is a way to bridge gaps, clear barriers and do away with prejudices that hamper our progress.
We highly appreciate that the spirit and the essence of the St. Petersburg forum have won such broad support, that we have managed to create another venue for an open and equal dialogue, for launching initiatives geared at cross-fertilization between cultures and hence at harmonious development of the entire world …
I would like to say thanks for your interest to Russian art. We are justifiably proud of our art, of our people of art. We are especially pleased to welcome outstanding people of world culture who regularly come here, who have joint projects with their colleagues."
Putin also reportedly told the forum’s participants that culture is a “universal language of communication and mutual understanding” with the immense potential to “unite people and ideas around humanistic goals.” He added the culture preserves basic values, allowing them to be passed on to future generations.
Without culture, he added, one might lose one’s way in a “rapidly changing, globalized, world.”