BAKU, Azerbaijan, Dec. 27
On 26 December, “Rossiya-1” TV channel's “Vesti Nedeli” [Weekly Highlights] program broadcast a report about President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and Azerbaijan as a whole.
Trend presents the report.
Host: On 24 December, President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev celebrated his 60th birthday. He has been head of state for more than 18 years. During this period, Azerbaijan has made significant achievements in the economic and social spheres. Ilham Aliyev himself has gained great authority in the international arena. The peculiarity of Aliyev's relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin is that they both keep their words to each other. This is a valuable quality in our times.
President Ilham Aliyev celebrated his birthday in Shusha, a city declared the capital of culture by his own order. There were no official ceremonies with the participation of many people. He spoke briefly on television, thanked for the messages of congratulation and visited a mosque.
Recently, our special correspondent Sergey Zenin visited Azerbaijan. His report is dedicated to the “Russian language in Azerbaijan”. As a matter of fact, according to a recent study by the A. S. Pushkin Institute of Russian Language of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Azerbaijan is ahead of other republics of the Caucasus in terms of the education system, occupying a very worthy place in terms of the prevalence of the great and powerful Russian language.
Correspondent Sergey Zenin has sent this report from Baku.
Resident: Greetings from the natives of Baku to natives of Moscow.
Sergey Zenin: Ancient city. The smell of the sea blends with the aroma of freshly baked bread and thyme tea here. This is the heart of Baku, the place of nostalgic feelings.
These streets are built like this. Tourists must stop on this cobbled street, slide up and have a picture taken as a memento. Because at a time when everyone felt comfortable, a famous Soviet film was shot here.
Could you please tell us if people slip up often here?
Resident: This happens every day. We have a lot of fun.
Sergey Zenin: In the past, people from a huge country visited this street, paved with pebble stones, like the Red Square. Where did you come here from?
Female tourist: We are from Estonia. We are very happy that we have finally been able to come to this country.
Sergey Zenin: It is difficult to find middle-aged and older Azerbaijanis who do not speak Russian. In the capital, this is generally considered as bad manners. Several bookstores in Baku sell books by Russian classics and modern Russian writers.
Director of the Russian Book House Israfil Ismayilov: The windows of the Russian Book House reflect almost the entire center of Baku, and this is actually quite symbolic. Because, as we know, it was the Word that came into being first. The Russian Book House is not only a bookstore, it is also a cultural center for those who respect the Russian language.
Sergey Zenin: The Russian Book House regularly hosts autograph sessions and master classes. Lower grade students come here to listen to a well-known writer. Their acquaintance with the Russian language begins with a fairy tale, and this should be the case.
Writer Solmaz Amanova: When I was six, I was asked: How many words do you know in Azerbaijani? At that time, I knew only six words. For example, watermelon because we lived with the Russians.
Sergey Zenin: There is a competition for admission to Russian-language secondary schools, just like at the institute. The most famous and prestigious Russian-language school is No. 6. President Ilham Aliyev himself studied there.
Gulshan Orujova, principal of School No. 6: Even the parents not speaking Russian want to send their children to the Russian department, because, in their opinion, they may have lost a lot in their lives because they did not learn Russian well. So now they want at least their children to know Russian.
Sergey Zenin: The situation in the field of higher education is similar. The Russian language has gained authority also thanks to teachers from Moscow. With the support of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, branches of prestigious Moscow universities have been opened in Baku.
Rector of the Baku branch of the Lomonosov Moscow State University Nargiz Pashayeva: In my view, it is the dream of every scientist and every student to communicate with Moscow University.
Sergey Zenin: Educational buildings were established only 12 years ago, but the main goal has been achieved during this period. There is the spirit of Moscow State University in these corridors. You can’t mistake it for anything else. Thanks to the rector's efforts, the spirit of MSU was brought here along with the valuable knowledge. The library of the branch, books with the names of world-famous authors and well-known scientists. The starting point of knowledge, the place of gathering strength is right here in this hall.
A very rare publication of the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries – Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin. Four volumes, 1855, St. Petersburg. This is a rare publication: “Zarya Vostoka”, April 1870. All this is available at the Baku branch of Moscow State University. Can you imagine how important that is? How cultures mingle with each other!
Teachers from Moscow work here on a rotating basis. They are frequently replaced, but this does not affect the training program. Because this issue is approached from the position of a classical university. This is only for the benefit of the students. They have a unique opportunity to learn from Russian professors at MSU.
Alexey Romanov, associate professor at the Chair of Chemistry of MSU: “This develops the relations between our countries, creates a reliable basis for cooperation and partnership between states, and, in general, allows for the establishment of relations between ordinary people.”
Sergey Zenin: The branch of the Sechenov Medical University is located in the center of Baku. Rector Aziz Aliyev is a professor of medicine and an oncologist. He knows what to expect from each student.
Rector Aziz Aliyev: I always tell my students, whether they are surgeons, therapists or radiologists, that a doctor should learn all his life. Because medicine develops fast.
Sergey Zenin: The system is the same as at the MSU branch. Teachers from Moscow work in shifts. The students we see listening to a lecture seem to be paying attention to every single word.
Professor of Sechenov Medical University Marina Boychenko: Students ask everything precisely. Sometimes they ask about every letter. They ask questions to find out the truth.
Sergey Zenin: Outside classes, teachers dedicate their time to tourism. There are many places to visit in Azerbaijan. These vineyards were planted a few years ago. Delicious organic wine is already made here. Buyers from all over the world line up to get it.
We are heading for Ivanovka village, one of the most interesting places in Azerbaijan. Russians have lived there for centuries – the Molokans who do not accept icons and crosses. But their main book is the Bible.
Sergey Kazakov, pastor of the Christian Malakans of Ivanovka village: The meaning of our life is exactly this. We take everything we do from here.
Sergey Zenin: The only collective farm in the entire post-Soviet space is located in Ivanovka. The decision to keep its name and not to change the principle of its operation was made during the presidency of Heydar Aliyev.
Chairman of the collective farm Vasily Novoseltsev: We are Russians. Our faith is Molokan. But all people are conscientious workers.
Sergey Zenin: Andrey's ancestors were also cattle breeders. This art was passed down to him from his father. He does not want to go to the capital. He is a leading worker at the collective farm. Do you like your work? You're a young boy.
Andrey Kharitonov: We are used to dealing with the cattle. Our whole life is associated with cattle. We deal with cattle since we are born. There is cattle in every house. So livestock is in our blood.
Sergey Zenin: The food here is only local and natural. The bread is as plentiful as the sights. In Soviet times, every collective farm had to have a club. Especially in a with a population of 2,700 people. This is not a club, it is a center of culture.
This is only a part of the Ivanovka choir. Before the New Year, many of them went to visit Azerbaijani and Russian friends and relatives. It doesn't matter what your nationality is. Everyone has a passport.
Mefodiy Efendiyev, Chief Priest of the Archangel Michael Temple in Baku: Everyone lives together. Everyone understands that this country is our common home for the citizens of Azerbaijan.
Sergey Zenin: The design of the temple in Ivanovka is truly amazing. After his birth, a Muslim artist converted to Christianity and devoted the rest of his life to designing the Orthodox Church. He passed away before finishing his work. His friends and relatives continued his work.
Artist Batukhan Hagverdiyev: It was important for him to complete this work. He left a large number of manuscripts and sketches.
Sergey Zenin: Baku is not discouraged despite the COVID restrictions. Exhibitions are held in galleries and culture centers. Azerbaijan is not only multinational, but also multicultural. They develop it to the maximum here. Today, the Heydar Aliyev Center hosted an exhibition by a contemporary Brazilian artist.
Cafes and restaurants in Baku have a variety of wonderful dishes.
Culinary expert Farhad Ashurbayli: In the Middle Ages, Azerbaijan was always located on the Silk Road – the main logistical artery. That is why groceries from all over the world were brought here.
Sergey Zenin: In Icheri Sheher, you can drop in at any house and in five minutes you will feel perfectly at home there.