The Krasnoyarsk Economic Forum has featured an open dialogue titled "The Knowledge of Oriental Studies in the Realia of Modern Russia: Forms and Perspectives". It was the first event organised by researchers of St Petersburg University as part of the forum.

The dialogue was devoted to the issues of Russian Oriental studies and its role in solving the current problems of Russia in the context of its relations with Asian countries in the new conditions. The moderator of the meeting, Professor Vladimir Kolotov, Head of the Department of History of the Far East Countries at St Petersburg University, outlined a number of issues for discussion.

He listed such topics as: the role of Asian and African studies in ensuring the interests of the state in the current geopolitical situation; the preservation of the unique Russian school of thought in this field and the establishment of Oriental studies as a separate scientific specialty; ways to develop a strategy for the development of this academic field; the dissemination of true knowledge about the East in society; and much more.

The first report was made by Professor Mikhail Piotrovsky, Dean of the Faculty of Asian and African Studies at St Petersburg University, Academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences. He noted that Russia Oriental studies are the pride of both Russian science and culture. ’The political and economic reality stimulate the development of our ties with the East. We have repeatedly seen that it is not enough to speak the language. You require a deep study of the mentality of the civilisations we communicate with,’ Mikhail Piotrovsky added. According to him, Oriental studies, which have already become an instrument of Russia’s international activities, should be included in the list of national priorities and singled out as a separate scientific specialty. In addition, it is necessary not only to support the Russian school of thought, but also to use Oriental studies methods in the studies of our country, for example, of Islam in Russia.

Professor Aleksey Maslov, Director of the Institute of Asian and African Studies at Lomonosov Moscow State University, supported Mikhail Piotrovsky’s proposals and emphasised the latter’s great role in solving the tasks set.

Asian and African studies are taking its well-deserved place among the other academic disciplines. Modern Asian and African studies are significantly expanding their range of subjects, because the East is expanding and making new demands. As a result, we need to develop new programmes.
Professor Aleksey Maslov, Director of the Institute of Asian and African Studies at Lomonosov Moscow State University

’In addition to the topics that have always been studied in our field, such as history, classical philology, and literary criticism, we must also find solutions to the essential challenges that Russia is facing today. These are the issues of: identity; study of the peoples who live in the eastern part of Russia; and the establishment of contacts and bringing them to higher standards,’ Aleksey Maslov said. According to Professor Maslov, Director of the Institute of Asian and African Studies at Lomonosov Moscow State University, it is important to balance the fundamentals and traditions of the Russian Oriental school, on the one hand, and innovations, on the other hand. That implies taking into account the current requirements of the labour market.

Today, the Russian Ministry of Science and Higher Education and leading Oriental studies schools are designing a national programme for the development of Oriental studies.

Dmitry Birichevsky, Director of the Department of Economic Cooperation at the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a graduate of Leningrad State University where he specialised in Japanese studies, followed up with the issue of applied aspects in specialist training. He noted that fundamental training in Oriental studies and a deep knowledge of the language of the host state are great advantages in the diplomatic service. Nevertheless, there is a shortage of experts speaking the languages, for example, of Southeast Asia, such as Khmer, Indonesian and Thai. Today, personnel with knowledge of the languages and cultures of Transcaucasia and Central Asia are also in demand. At the end of his report, Dmitry Birichevsky recalled the importance of Russia’s soft power in its advances in the East.

Elena Voytishek, Professor at Novosibirsk State University, linked the history of the development of Oriental studies in Russia with the current agenda. She drew attention to the fact that academic Oriental studies should develop progressively and systematically. It should not depend on foreign policy crises. Vladimir Datsyshen, Professor at Siberian Federal University, spoke about the contribution of researchers of Krasnoyarsk Krai and Siberia to the development of the academic field. He also suggested solving emerging problems together with the foreign partners at universities in the countries under study.

The events of the Krasnoyarsk Economic Forum, which took place for the 19th time, were devoted to the development of Siberia in today’s political and economic realia. This year, meetings were held on the issues of: expanding contacts and cooperation with Asian countries; and enhancing the investment, scientific and industrial potential of Siberia.

The dialogue ended with a discussion attended by Stanislav Surovtsev, Vice-Rector for Students’ Development and International Affairs at Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO University); and Lyudmila Kulikova, Director of the Institute of Philology and Language Communication at Siberian Federal University.