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Snow soft diplomacy: Russian PM’s photo exhibit marks visit

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev is renowned for his photgraphy in Russia. VICTORIA MØRCK MADSEN
Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev is renowned for his photgraphy in Russia. VICTORIA MØRCK MADSEN

Snow soft diplomacy: Russian PM’s photo exhibit marks visit

To coincide with Dmitry Medvedev’s visit to Cambodia this week, the Russian Centre of Science and Culture on Norodom Boulevard held an exhibition of the Russian Prime Minister’s photography.

Russian Winter opened last Saturday — the day before Medvedev arrived in the Kingdom — and runs until December 3.

“Many people have come in. Some of them don’t know about the interest of the prime minister [in] photos … they are surprised,”said Valeriy Kayer, the centre’s director.

According to the centre’s Facebook page, the exhibition is open “for all interested people” on weekday afternoons and has “aroused great interest”.

When Post Weekend visited on Thursday, the gate was locked.

However, a press representative allowed access to the New Khmer-style building and inside switched on the lights in a room filled with books and memorabilia, where 18 unframed photos hung on a wall flanked by a Russian flag.
The photographs all depict wintry white scenes, coloured primarily by icy blues.

Some show expansive tundra landscapes, while others take a closer perspective: the branches of a tall conifer tree or a snow-laden lamppost, for example. The entire display sits beneath a hand-stencilled sign bearing the photographer’s name.

In Russia, Dmitry Medvedev is widely known for his penchant for amateur photography. In 2010, when he was president, one of his black-and-white photographs of the Kremlin fetched 51 million rubles ($1.7 million) at a private auction, making it the eighth most expensive photograph ever sold — and more expensive than a painting by Vladimir Putin sold the previous year. The work was purchased by a former colleague of Medvedev’s.

Medvedev concluded his state visit to Cambodia — the first by a senior official from the country since 1987 — on Tuesday.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Dmitry Medvedev out shooting in 2010. Afp

During the visit, the National Police reportedly deployed 10,000 officers to ensure his safety.

Barricades often blocked traffic from an empty Norodom Boulevard as the prime minister’s motorcade travelled from site to site. A large red banner reading “Long Live the Russian Federation!” hung nearby, over Sihanouk Boulevard.

But at Russia’s request, much of the visit was kept off-limits to local journalists.

On the final day of the visit, Medvedev and Cambodian prime minster Hun Sen inked 10 deals “to enhance bilateral cooperation”between the two countries, it was reported on Wednesday.

Medvedev’s trip to Cambodia, which followed his attendance at two Asia-Pacific summits, seems to be part of increased Russian initiative to “pivot” toward the region, some say.

Kayer explained that in the 35th year of the Russian Centre of Science and Culture in Cambodia, four young Cambodians have been sent to Moscow as part of an exchange program.

He said it was hoped the wintry scenes in Russian Winter – a display of cultural “soft power” – would promote understanding between Russia and Cambodia, which contrast strongly in climate.

“If you see winter … many people in Cambodia don’t know it. What does it mean? Temperature, weather, so on and so forth,” he said of the photos.

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