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Taganrog participated the Lifting of the Siege of Leningrad commemorative events in Béziers, France

January 31, 2024: a commemorative event dedicated to the 80th anniversary of the Lifting of the Siege (Blockade) of Leningrad (1944) was held in the city of Béziers, France on January 27.

The organizer, the Russian-French association "Russian Language Alliance in Béziers," chaired by Svetlana Cardenete, provided the audience with documentary films and reports of historians and other scholars. The program also featured thematic songs and verses performed by Irina Fourier (Béziers), Alfiya Fabre (Marseille), participants of Immortal Regiments in France, and a choir from the city of Saint Petersburg. Furthermore, a children's art exhibition was unveiled in the framework of the event. The exhibition was comprised of the drawings of beseiged Leningrad's children and today's children from Saint Petersburg and Taganrog. As for the latter, Taganrog's children's art school "Bely Lev" ("White Lion") submitted the drawing "Kazan Cathedral" by Pavel Dordopulo.

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The audience also had an opportunity to familiarize themselves with the archival records of the families and individuals that had been surviving in Leningrad. One example is Taganrog-born architect and artist Yakov Rubanchik (1899-1948). During the Great Patriotic War (World War II), he chose to stay with his family in the besieged city of Leningrad, where they spent all 872 days of the Blockade. Rubanchik was an eyewitness, who chronicled the events by his drawings. Later on, these pictures were assembled into Yakov Rubanchik's archive.

The materials on Yakov Rubanchik were gathered by Taganrog Museum of Architecture and Urbanism; the represented portrait photograph had been gotten in Taganrog in 1929. Yakov's niece Yelena Sverdlova, who had been with the architect in beseiged Leningrad, provided "Russian Language Alliance in Béziers" with a copy of Rubanchik's drawing "The Year to Come, What Is It Bearing?" (December 1941).

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Olga Ilyina, daughter of a survivor of the Siege, attended the event in person. Foreign Relations Officer of Taganrog Local Government Alexander Mirgorodsky delivered a welcome speech in French in the remote mode.

"Russian Language Alliance in Béziers" was established in 2015. It unites not only Russian-speaking adults and children but also native French enthusiasts. The association is engaged in the preservation of the Russian cultural heritage and shapes a positive attitude towards the culture and language of Russia. In particular, "Alliance" coordinates the activities of the children's crafts studio "Kapitoshka" and the musical ensemble "Russkaya Dusha" ("The Russian Soul").

In May 2023, "Russian Language Alliance in Béziers" joined Victory Day celebrations by participating in "Immortal Regiment March" and other activities. The drawings provided by the students of Taganrog's children's art school "Bely Lev" were used in the association's thematic exhibition.

A video bridge between "Alliance" and Taganrog Chekhov Teachers College, co-organized by Foreign Relations Office of Taganrog Local Government, took place on June 3, 2023. The parties discussed the past and the present of Taganrog and Beziers, making a particular highlight on their cities' history and culture.