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    Public diplomacy is stronger than political conditions


    On August 5, in Smolny, the deputy chairman of the Committee for External Relations of St. Petersburg, Andrei Khlutkov, met with a group of Czech citizens who arrived in St. Petersburg and then went to the Crimea to pay tribute to those who died during the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945. Soviet soldiers.

    The group included representatives of different professions: among the delegates there is a teacher, a policeman and entrepreneurs.

    During the meeting, the guests said that they did not support the actions of the authorities, in particular, they considered it unacceptable that in the Czech town of Lidice, bikers from the Russian club Night Wolves were not allowed to lay flowers at the memorial, because they had club attributes. Czech officials said they came to Russia to show that not everyone in their country agrees with this policy.

    The conversation touched on other topics that concern European citizens today - issues of socio-cultural adaptation of migrants, propaganda of Russophobic sentiments in the media, rewriting of history, the loss of previously strong and mutually beneficial trade and economic ties with Russia, when, for example, Czech tile and plumbing were truly famous and in demand.

    Deputy Chairman of the Committee for External Relations of St. Petersburg Andrei Khlutkov thanked the delegates for their indifferent attitude to Russian-Czech relations and history. He noted that, indeed, there are cases of opportunistic decisions on the bilateral agenda. In particular, he recalled the Decree of the Prague City Council on the suspension of twinning relations between the Czech capital and St. Petersburg in 2014.

    At the same time, according to A.D. Khlutkov, interregional cooperation has not been terminated. Moreover, a cooperation agreement is in force between the Government of St. Petersburg and the Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Czech Republic and a working group on trade, economic, scientific and technical cooperation has been created. The next meeting of the working group is scheduled for October this year.

    Also in October in the city of Brno, the delegation of St. Petersburg will take part in the International Engineering Fair MSV-2019 and present the city stand there.

    These and a number of other steps contribute to a certain extent to enhancing trade and economic cooperation. So, according to the results of the 1st quarter of 2019, the trade turnover between St. Petersburg and the Czech Republic increased by 12% compared to the same period last year and amounted to about 84 million US dollars.

    Andrei Khlutkov also noted that there are strong historical and cultural ties between Russia and the Czech Republic, which will always serve as a solid foundation for bilateral relations. Serious battles took place on the territory of the Czech Republic during the Great Patriotic War, over 50 thousand Soviet soldiers and officers died there, and this memory will always live in the hearts of our peoples.

    As if to confirm these words, Czech representatives handed over to the Committee for External Relations of St. Petersburg a gift they made - a cardboard tablet with the emblems of our countries and the signature in Russian: “In memory of the joint friendship of Czechs and Russians who will never forget the heroes of World War II. There is only one correct story, and no policy will change it. ”