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Row over Russian Embassy’s ‘modest donation’ for Brancusi’s Wisdom of the Earth

President, Senate Speaker react.

Romanians have been invited on Facebook to stage a protest in front of the Russian Embassy in Bucharest to donate one cent each, as a retort to “the modest donation” worth EUR 100 made by the embassy for the fundraising campaign to purchase Constantin Brancusi’s “Wisdom of the Earth” sculpture.

“Russia’s ambassador proudly announced that he had donated EUR 100 for the Wisdom of the Earth. We considered we are offended, so we invite you to return the baksheesh in small coins. One cent would be enough if we there are enough of us. Anyway, it would be better not to owe something, the way Russians owe us some tens of tons of gold, if we stop only here,” reads the event’s Facebook account.

Russia’s Embassy to Romania announced these days that it had made “a modest donation” worth EUR 100 for the national subscription campaign on the Wisdom of the Earth sculpture. The announcement is accompanied by a video retort to the video clip launched to support the campaign, where the Russian Embassy said that Romania had been rebuilt and industrialized with the help of the ex-Soviet Union.

“Children must learn the real history”, says the embassy’s video clip, also adding that Romanian and Russian armies have fought together in the WWI for Romania’s independence. “The real history was not written by actors in the studio, but was written in blood on the battlefield,” says the Russian Embassy’s video clip.

Russia has a new ambassador in Romania, Valeri Kuzmin, former head of the Russian diplomatic mission in Republic of Moldova.

President Klaus Iohannis says he doesn’t comment on the Russian Embassy stance on the donation for the Brancusi campaign, but the people who felt offended can protest.

“I won’t comment the actions of a foreign embassy. This is the Romanian Foreign Ministry’s job,” Klaus Iohannis stated.

Regarding the protest initiative launched on Facebook and people who felt offended and wanted to express their disagreement, the head of state said “Romania is a country where such actions are possible.”

In his turn, the Senate Speaker Calin Popescu Tariceanu stated that apart from the years 1877 and 1944, Romania had no “arm fellowship” with Russia and that Moscow’s aggressive actions lately have prompted concern worldwide.

Over EUR 800,000 has been raised so far for the sculpture. Over 50,000 people made donations by SMS counting for over EUR 100,000 raised only by SMS donations. Another 70,000 euros have been donated after the sale of Adrian Ghenie’s painting. The Romanian Academy gave EUR 40,000 and another EUR 11,327 were raised following the Bucharest National Theatre has donated the money from the tickets sold for the “Dinner with fools” show.

The national subscription campaign launched for Brancusi’s ‘Wisdom of the Earth’ ends on Friday, September 30. The accounts are available at brancusiealmeu.ro.

Foreign Ministry comments on the message

“We appreciate the contribution of the Russian Embassy to recover Romanian national heritage and we encourage it to continue this approach. At the same time, we encourage the support for the campaign by any public or private actor in the spirit of respect for the cultural values of the Romanian people,” the Romanian Foreign Ministry (MAE) has commented in a release.

“It seems to be less explicit the association of these steps with a media message, assumed by the Russian Embassy, message promoting its own vision on the history chapters regarding the bilateral relations. The more so, as this is an area in which the Joint Commission made up by Romanian and Russian historians is to decide, whose aim is precisely to discuss matters related to history in order to strengthen mutual confidence,” the release reads.




About Alina Grigoras Butu