Within the framework of the cross year of Russia and Vietnam, the 129th anniversary of the birth of Ho Chi Minh has been celebrated in St Petersburg. He is a Vietnamese political figure, and was the first president of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam.

The main event was the symposium ‘The Spiritual Heritage of Ho Chi Minh – 50 Years Later,’ organised in Smolny. The meeting was opened by the Vice-Governor of St Petersburg Nikolai Bondarenko. ‘Last year, within the framework of the joint programme, we celebrated the 95th anniversary of the first arrival of Ho Chi Minh at Petrograd. We believe this to be the most important date in our bilateral relations. It was then that the foundations of Russia-Vietnam friendship were laid, the friendship that has withstood the test of time,’ emphasised the politician.

According to Nikolai Bondarenko, collaboration in education and scientific research holds a prominent place in this partnership.

Late last year, the first Russian-Vietnamese Youth Forum was held in Smolny. As a result of the agreement signed between the Vietnam National University Ho Chi Minh City and St Petersburg University, the internship programme for St Petersburg University students in Ho Chi Minh City has been renewed – for the first time since the Soviet era.
Nikolai Bondarenko, Vice-Governor of St Petersburg

Acting on behalf of the Vietnamese delegation, the symposium participants were greeted in Russian by Trần Văn Phòng, the Acting Secretary of the Party Committee of the Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics. ‘I am very happy to be here, in St Petersburg, at the celebration of the 129th anniversary of the birth of our president. And I would like to thank the government of St Petersburg, the leadership of St Petersburg University, and other universities of St Petersburg for this symposium and for celebrating the birthday of Comrade Ho Chi Minh,’ said Trần Văn Phòng.

‘Ho Chi Minh’s spiritual legacy is not only Vietnam’s national heritage. It is a world heritage. Today’s symposium has convincingly demonstrated that fact,’ noted Sergey Andryushin, Deputy Rector for International Affairs at St Petersburg University. He added that many educational programmes at St Petersburg University are supported by Vietnamese partners: the Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics (HCMA); and the Viet Nam National University Ho Chi Minh City. They now contain the so-called Vietnamese component. The programmes include: economics; sociology; management; political science; and international relations. Thus, St Petersburg University students study Vietnam and the legacy of Vietnam’s figurehead.

Ho Chi Minh remains the object of in-depth research to this day. Not only did he make history as the leader of his country’s struggle for independence, but he also took his rightful place in the world political heritage. Professor Vladimir Kolotov, the Head of the Ho Chi Minh Institute at St Petersburg University, talked about the profound influence that Ho Chi Minh’s ideology exerted on the people.

The symposium was also attended by: Đỗ Xuân Tuất , Director of the Institute of Ho Chi Minh and the Party Leaders; Ngô Xuân Dương , senior lecturer at the Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics; and Andrey Vassoevich, Rector of the St Petersburg Academy of the East. The symposium moderator was Viacheslav Kalganov, Deputy Chairman of St Petersburg Government Committee for External Relations.

As part of the celebration, the exhibition ‘Treasures of the Red River – Archaeological Collections from the Museums of Vietnam’ was opened at the State Hermitage Museum. 299 exhibits with an average age of roughly 2,500 years are presented to the Russian public by the Vietnam National Museum of History and the Haiphong Museum. The exhibition introduces ancient religious and everyday artefacts including drums, vessels, jewellery, burial urns, weapons and tools. They date from the second half of the 1st millennium BC and the early 1st millennium AD. In the ancient period, four cultures were formed on the territory of today’s Vietnam: Dong Son (in the north of the country); Sa Huynh (in the central part); and also Dong Nai and Oc Eo (in the south). Unique examples of ancient Vietnamese cultures are being exhibited in Russia for the first time.

The exhibition curators are St Petersburg University graduates Natalia Sutiagina, researcher, and Yevgeny Kii, senior researcher, at the State Hermitage’s Department of the East.

The exposition was formally opened by Svetlana Adaksina, Deputy Director and Chief Curator of the State Hermitage, and Nguyễn Văn Hà, Deputy Director of the Vietnam National Museum of History.

‘We are seeing the items presented at this exhibition for the first time. Indeed, the chronological period is familiar to us from materials associated with the Scythian collections and the classical antiquities of the Northern Black Sea region. But objects that come from Indochina are totally unknown to us,’ Svetlana Adaksina explained.

This exhibition is historically significant since it is the first time that such a collection has been brought to Russia. It can serve as a springboard for new projects or even become a wellspring of new finds. The opening ceremony was attended by St Petersburg University scholars – not only experts in Vietnamese studies, but also Sinologists, and those who study Malaysia. This is very interesting research material, both for comparative historical and archaeological studies.
Professor Vladimir Kolotov, the Director of the Ho Chi Minh Institute at St Petersburg University

Mr Nguyễn Văn Hà, Deputy Director of the Vietnam National Museum of History, said ‘I would like to express my sincere appreciation to the people who made this exhibition possible.’ He thanked for their assistance in organising the exhibition the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation and the State Hermitage Museum, in the person of its Director, Academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Dean of the Faculty of African and Asian Studies at St Petersburg University, Professor Mikhail Piotrovsky, as well as the Director of the Ho Chi Minh Institute at St Petersburg University Professor Vladimir Kolotov.


Photo: Aleksei Bronnikov (the Press Service of the State Hermitage Museum)