By Konstantin Petrov,
Photos by the author and ITAR-TASS
At the end of January,
the Federal Chancellor of Austria Wolfgang Shuessel, made an official visit to
Russia. His meeting with the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, in the Kremlin
was the central event of the chancellor’s stay in Moscow and was notably
The meeting began in the
Kremlin’s official reception room, where the two leaders talked to each other
As the Russian president
noted, economic cooperation makes up the main agenda in relations between Moscow
and Vienna, with trade turnover between the countries reaching $1.9 billions in
The delegation accompanying Wolfyang Schuessel included a
hundred Austrian businessmen, many of them contemplating investments in Russia
Among the international problems discussed, the main one was
that of Russia's integration within the European Union. Chancellor Schuessel
corroborated his reputation of a politician, strongly advocating an immediate
rapprochement between Russia and the Old World. He expressed
support for Russia's membership of the WTO. "Without Russia it is hardly
possible to talk about the building, of a larger Europe," the. chancellor
During the visit, talks between Wolfgang Schuessel and the.
Russian Prime Minister, Mikhail Kasyanov, were. also held.
Both Russia and Austria believe it is possible to double
bilateral trade turnover within a period of 5 to 7 years. To realize this
objective, both sides discussed mechanism to safeguard investments and promote
trade, among them the extension of cooperation between Russian banks and
Austria's control bank, as well as an agreement on the avoidance of double
taxation. Cooperation in such domains as culture and tourism was also discussed.
As Prime Minister Kasyanov noted, "There: are no problems
between Russia and Austria that could make us worry about the future of our
relations. Both parties strive. to develop cooperation."
The organizers of the exhibition "Light Unfading" meet the Federal Chancellor of
Austria Wolfgang Schuessel in the rooms of the Union of Russian Artists
Beside the official
political talks, the programme of the Austrian chancellor's stay included his
visit to the exhibition, "Light Unfading", showing, the works of present-day
organized by the Creative Union of Artists, showed a wide variety. of arts and
crafts: icon painting, gold embroidery, miniatures, church vessels and
Those who contributed to
the exhibition work for various churches and monasteries in Moscow and Moscow
province, among them the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, Church of the
Ascension of Our Lord, the Sretensky Monastery, the Saint Daniil Monastery, the
SS Martha and Mary Cloister. The works of some have won medals and awards from
the Moscow Patriarchate and the calendar for the year 2002 (with views of the
Cathedral of Christ the Saviour), produced by the photographer Crigory Kuzmin,
has been given the blessing of His Holiness, Patriarch Alexiy II.
Mr. Schuessel showed a great deal of interest in the
works exhibited and expressed a great admiration for their beauty and variety.
In Austria and abroad, Wolfgang Schuessel is well
known for his erudition and wide-ranging interests. A leading figure on
Europe's political scene, he does not confine himself to the usual pursuits of a
politician. He is known as a talented artist, as well as a musician. He has been
keen on drawing since youth and he is also a capable accordion player. Several
years ago, while serving as his country's foreign minister, Mr. Schuessel
drew beautiful illustrations for the textbook, Geography for
In one of Austria's most picturesque corners, in the
region of Styria, is an ancient castle, Retzhof. It houses a cultural and
educational centre, famous throughout the country, where they hold seminars,
lectures, and master classes in literature, fine arts, music and history. Such
events, which have a high reputation in Austria, attract participants from the
country's cultural elite, people who are truly keen on the arts.
Several years ago a Moscow artist, Yelena Kuskova,
was invited to Retzhof to hold a master class in the history of Russian icon
painting. Whilst there, she became acquainted with Wolfgang Schuessel. A
friendship was forged through their joint interests and creative work. Mr.
Schuessel had dreamed of continuing his studies in icon painting in Russia one
day. Hence, during his official visit to Russia, he wished to paint an icon.
Guided by Moscow icon painter Yelena Kuskova, the Federal Chancellor
of Austria Wolfgang Schuessel is painting an icon
The image he chose to copy was "Elijah's Ascent into Heaven
in a Whirlwind".
Yelena Kuskova has worked in icon painting for 21 years and
is the artist of about three hundred icons. Various
churches now own her works. One of her icons has been
acquired by Moscow's Tretyakov Gallery and is now part of its permanent
In one of the rooms of the Creative Union of Russian Artists,
amidst beautiful icons, a work place complete with easels, paints, etc. was set
up for the Austrian Chancellor.
Under Yelena Kuskova's guidance, Mr. Shuessel worked
nonstop for two days to make his version of "Elijah's Ascent into Heaven in a
Whirlwind", allowing himself only very short breaks for cups of coffee. This
capacity for work amazed the Russian painters while his artistic accomplishment
was no less admired.
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