Head of Yakutia Aisen Nikolaev.  Photo: forumspb2022.tassphoto.com

Head of Yakutia Aisen Nikolaev. Photo: forumspb2022.tassphoto.com

The open studio of the media holding “Komsomolskaya Pravda” at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum was visited by the head of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) Aisen Nikolaev, who spoke about the national context of the development of the region’s economy.


– Aisen Sergeevich, on the margins of the forum you are participating in the session “Intangible Cultural Heritage of Russia: Economic Context”. Tell us more about how the intangible cultural heritage of the peoples of Yakutia helps to develop the economy of the region? Can the cultural component reach self-sufficiency, and in what areas do you see the greatest prospects?

– I am a supporter of the fact that it is not necessary to separate culture and economy, it is not necessary to try to make culture completely self-sustaining. There is no strong country with a strong economy without a strong culture. Culture is the basis of a person’s spiritual state. And from this point of view, the intangible heritage of our peoples is the foundation on which the strength and power of our country has always been based.

In today’s situation, this is especially important. The unity of peoples is important. And the cultural component, its development, linguistic diversity. I won’t call it a battlefield yet, but this is the space where our country needs to show itself even stronger and brighter. Our country has great achievements here in terms of preserving the cultural diversity of the peoples, languages ​​of the peoples of Russia, in terms of their promotion. I am sure that in the future, with the development of this area, creative economies that grow on the cultural diversity of our peoples will also be in demand. To some extent, this is economic self-sufficiency. It may not directly affect culture, but from the point of view of the emergence of new businesses and industries, this also plays a serious role.

– The Yakut epic Olonkho is one of the two Russian objects of the UNESCO World Intangible Heritage List. As far as I understand, a whole ecosystem of independent projects is now being built around it, including holidays, ethno-ballet performances and animated films. Do you think this will also become a driver for the development of the creative economy and tourism in particular?

– “Olonkho” is the foundation of our Sakha people. Bible of our people. Our understanding of the universe, the place of man in the world. The phenomenon of Yakut cinema, the development of our cultural traditions would be impossible without the presence of Olonkho. The people of Sakha are only 500 thousand people. But we were able to preserve this epic, bring it back from a thousand years ago. It is recognized as a Masterpiece of Humanity by UNESCO. Our creative industries are based precisely on the foundation of intangible values ​​that Olonkho carries with it.

Our holidays, the same Ysyakh, which was a holiday of one Sakha people, has become a truly unifying holiday for the whole of Yakutia. People of all nationalities gather there. The holiday today is the largest national holiday on the territory of our country: 200 thousand people gather.

“Olonkho” is the foundation, the foundation, it will continue to serve the emergence of new ecosystems, the development of tourism, including the development of the theater “Olonkho”. Our Arctic Epic Center is being built, among other things, for the Olonkho theater, which will be located there. There are a lot of directions, starting with cinema and ending with animation, designer things, and jewelry. Everywhere the influence of Olonkho is very important and significant.


– How do you see the prospects for the development of tourism in Yakutia?

– Tourism of Yakutia is its future. Here we are at the very beginning of the journey. We are not yet actively engaged in the creation of tourism infrastructure, the creation of a culture of hospitality in general. Yakutia is a huge area, 20% of the territory of our country, 30% of its untouched territory. From the point of view of natural resources, unique events, such as the Ysyakh summer holiday, the meeting of winter, and so on, there are unique things here that can attract tens, hundreds of thousands of people in the future, not only from the regions of Russia, but also from other countries, in the first place – the Asia-Pacific region. We are already seeing the beginnings of the industry. In three or four years, I think Yakutia will be clearly marked as a serious place on the tourist map of our great country.

– You mentioned the Ysyakh holiday several times, what is the secret of its popularity?

– In recent years, we have been able to turn the celebration of the meeting of the summer solstice from a holiday of one people into a holiday of all the peoples inhabiting Yakutia. On this day we feel our unity with nature, with each other. This feeling draws people in. I remember a time when several tens of thousands of people went to Ysyakh. Now there are hundreds of thousands of people. Dozens of countries of the world will be represented at Ysyakh by guests this year. Starting from statesmen and ending with tourists.

Many cultural events of international level are planned. This year will host the Mas-Wrestling World Championship, this is a tug of the stick. Forty plus countries will take part. There will be folk competitions, starting from the blacksmiths’ competition, ending with the competition for the best koumiss. There will be international competitions related to UNESCO cultural masterpieces. Cultural masterpieces will be presented, and not only Russian ones. It enriches the palette of this holiday. It has become multinational, supranational. This is an ornament of Yakutia and all of Russia.

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