By Eugene Gerden
MOSCOW: A new Literary Assembly has been officially established in Russia, in accordance with a recent initiative of local government officials and President Vladimir Putin.
The new Literary Assembly is viewed as an alternative and replacement of the existing Russian Union of Writers, which is considered by some state officials as an outdated, inefficient organization founded on Soviet principles.
According to state plans, the organization will unite more than 1,000 Russian writers, critics and publishers; it’s first official congress is scheduled for the spring of 2014.
Speaking at the opening plenary session of the Assembly, Vladimir Putin announced that the government plans to pay more attention for the development of literature and book publishing industry in Russia.
Putin said that 2015 will be a “Year of Literature” in Russia and special focus is being put on developing young readers. In support, the government plans to establish a special award for authors of books for children and young people and to launch a state program of the promotion of reading in Russia. In addition, the government has already promised to provide annual grants for the support of the new Assembly, as well as tax and other benefits.
According to Michael Seslavinsky, head of Federal Agency on Press and Mass Communications, this is a good initiative, one that should create conditions for more active cooperation between the Russian literary community and the government.
In order to raise the profile of the new Assembly the government has already invited the descendants of some of the best-known Russian author to become members, including Dmitri Dostoevsky, Mikhail Lermontov, Elena Pasternak, Alexander Pushkin, Natalia Solzhenitsyna, Vladimir Tolstoy and Alexander M. Sholokhov.
In the meantime, some writers have already criticized the new state initiative. Bestselling author Boris Akunin, has said the establishment of the Assembly is merely an attempt to increase the state influence over Russian literature.