“The Russian House of Science and Culture in Berlin is the world’s largest cultural institute operating abroad,” informs the reader of the website of the institution located on Friedrichstrasse, which is called the “Russian House” for short. It goes on to say that the house conveys “a comprehensive, unbiased picture of Russian culture, domestic and foreign policy, science and society”.
In fact, the News section highlights all sorts of cultural and pseudo-cultural anniversaries and anniversaries, including Boris Pasternak’s February 10th birthday; However, the biographical note is silent on the fact that the poet was subjected to reprisals in the Soviet Union and was not allowed to receive the Nobel Prize awarded to him in 1958.
Even more revealing with regard to the “comprehensive, unbiased picture” of Russian foreign policy as imagined by the Russian House is that the Russian war of aggression does not appear to be one of them, as it is not mentioned at all on the House’s website.
The first “message” after 24.2. is dedicated to the originally pagan Russian festival Maslenitsa: “Maslenitsa is one of the happiest folk festivals in Russia. This year it will be celebrated from February 28th to March 6th.”
Manipulative, propagandistische Tentakel
Such silence is no coincidence. The Russian House is run by the Rossotrudnichestvo organization, whose head is Yevgeny Primakov, a Putin confidante. Since February 21, Rossotrudnichestvo’s Telegram channel has been showing a noticeable increase in propaganda messages about the Donbass, which previously received only marginal mention.
And the infamous Putinist motorcades are positively portrayed here as “actions against Russophobia”; According to research by the British Times, Rossotrunditschestvo could have coordinated the autocorsos himself. Like the Russian missions abroad, the Russian House most likely provides cover for secret service activities. Incidentally, it was previously the editorial office of the propagandistic newspaper “Berliner Telegraph”.
As much as one would like to protect Russian culture from generalized condemnation these days, the strategy of the Russian authorities to stretch out their manipulative tentacles and propagandistic grasping arms under the pretext of mediating cultural work must be revealed.
A protest action in front of the Russian House, for which three artists from Ukraine and Russia met last week, showed how attention can be drawn to this with cultural and artistic means.
The Russian-born Berlin performance and installation artist Maria Turik came up with the idea. They were later joined by the Moscow theater director Anna Demidova, who was critical of the regime, and the street artist Daniela Nich, who recently fled Ukraine.
Together they created a four meter wide painting based on a photograph of a destroyed street in Bucha. With the support of other performance artists, they placed the painting in front of the entrance to the Russian House in such a way that the doors are covered, but the lettering “Welcome!” above the doors remains visible.
In this way, viewers and passers-by are, as it were, invited to Bucha by the Russian House, which is loyal to Putin; this publicly unmasks the regime as the perpetrator of the horrific war crimes.
Since they could not afford expensive materials such as a large canvas, the artists painted on prepared cardboard that they picked up in front of supermarkets. Some of the acrylic paints have been made available to you free of charge.
A house of silent culture
According to Anna Demidova, the intensity of the destruction could hardly be reproduced: “We looked for different ways of expressing ourselves – and finally started to destroy the cardboard itself, to scrape it off with a knife.” The artists later supplemented the picture with minimalistic graphic symbols , which refer to certain aspects of the Russian war of aggression.
The Russian House, which strives for an “unbiased picture” of Russian politics, was outraged by the action and called the Berlin police to have the painting removed. However, the police refrained from any interference, citing freedom of expression, allowing the three women to carry out their project undisturbed.
“The lofty name of the institution and the impressive Soviet architecture stand in stark contrast to the horrors of modern-day Russia,” say the artists. In line with the information policy of the Russian House, which simply keeps silent about this horror, they have renamed the house from “Russian House of Science and Culture” to “House of Russian Silence Culture”. Alexander was