Readings to commemorate Professor Boris Melnichenko and Assistant Professor Sergei Trifonov, major scholars who worked in the field of Thai studies, have opened at St Petersburg University.

The event is dedicated to the 125th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Russia and Thailand. A great contribution to the study of these relations was made by St Petersburg University Professor Boris Melnichenko (1935–2018) and Assistant Professor Sergei Trifonov (1960–2019).

Mikhail Ignatev, a doctoral student of St Petersburg University, teacher of the history of Thailand and the Thai language, acted as a moderator at the opening and during the sessions.

Evgeny Tomikhin, Ambassador of the Russian Federation to the Kingdom of Thailand, delivered a welcoming address. He noted that, as a graduate of the sinology department of St Petersburg University, he was especially pleased to speak at a conference held at his alma mater. The Ambassador emphasised that the readings were of particular importance for everyone involved in the study of Thailand and the development of relations between our countries. ’Tourism and economic exchanges are rapidly recovering after the pandemic, and the intention of both parties to continue strengthening their networking is an evidence of positive dynamics in their cooperation,’ Evgeny Tomikhin added.

Sasiwat Wongsinsawat, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Thailand to the Russian Federation, also addressed the participants. He noted that Boris Melnichenko and Sergei Trifonov, who taught the Thai language at St Petersburg University, contributed to strengthening mutual understanding between the two cultures. Mr Sasiwat Wongsinsawat thanked St Petersburg University and its teaching staff for the successful continuation of that work and permanent attention to the study of Thailand. The long history of relations between our states and peoples started in 1897 during the visit of King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) to St Petersburg, the capital of the Russian Empire. The Ambassador of Thailand is sure that our relations will not cease to develop due to the deepening of knowledge about each other.

I am optimistic about the future of our relations. Our cooperation will continue, and I hope that Thai studies will attract the attention of even more students.
Sasiwat Wongsinsawat, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Kingdom of Thailand to the Russian Federation

Professor Alexey Rodionov, Senior Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Asian and African Studies at St Petersburg University, spoke about teaching of the Thai language at the University. Thai has a special place among over 60 languages taught at the University within the framework of the field of study "Asian and African Studies". Its teaching is supported by the Embassy and the Consulate General of the Kingdom of Thailand. St Petersburg University will continue to make efforts to preserve and develop the University-based Thai studies, the Senior Deputy Dean emphasised, expressing his gratitude to all participants and partners of the conference.

"Thailand and Russia have been on friendly terms for 125 years": The University hosts a meeting with the Ambassador of Thailand

’This is a second conference in memory of our senior comrades and friends who dedicated their lives to studying the Orient and training many generations of experts,’ said Professor Vladimir Kolotov, Head of the Department of History of the Far East Countries at St Petersburg University. He said that his teacher Boris Melnichenko had graduated not only from Leningrad State University, but also from Peking University. He had studied in China for five years during the difficult period of the ’cultural revolution’, but, despite many challenges, he had not fell out of love with the countries of the Orient. ’It so happened that it was he who was the founding father of Thai studies on the banks of the Neva River,’ Professor Kolotov added. In addition, he recalled the strategy of Vladimir Putin’s "Pivot to the East" and the importance of supporting the Asian studies school of thought in Russia for solving government-level problems.

The conference is organised by St Petersburg University and supported by major Thai universities such as Chulalongkorn University and Thammasat University. The conference is held under the auspices of the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Thailand and the Embassy of the Kingdom of Thailand in Russia.

Natcheewan Mekratanakulpat, Assistant Lecturer in the Department of the South-East and Korean Philology at St Petersburg University, greeted the participants on behalf of the organising committee of the conference. ’Supported by leading Thai universities, Chulalongkorn University and Thammasat University, we succeeded in bringing together like-minded people with a keen interest in Thai studies. For me, today’s event is almost like a homecoming, an occasion to meet my dear friends and colleagues. They share common interests and enthusiastically do what they love. They support and motivate each other to develop and share knowledge with other people,’ she concluded.

The readings, which will last two days, will be divided into six sections devoted to languages, literature, history, culture, economy, politics, and international relations of the Kingdom of Thailand. The participants will also focus on Russia—Thailand relations and prospects for their development.