By Kristina Domanova
UNESCO believes Polotsk’s 1,150th birthday to be one of the most important international dates for the 2012-2013 calendar. The 36th UNESCO General Conference in Paris has agreed to add the date — celebrated in late May 2012 — to the official list.
“The inclusion of Polotsk’s birthday on the honorary list shows its significance for world culture,” notes the Ambassador at Large of the Belarusian Foreign Ministry and Chairman of the Belarus National Commission for UNESCO, Vladimir Schastny. “Not every proposal for the date list finds support; only around 60 have been registered for the 2012-2013 calendar.”
Polotsk will have the opportunity to hold an exhibition at the UN headquarters in Paris as the result of its inclusion, in October 2012. Polotsk will also host an international conference involving UNESCO to honour its anniversary.
The committee currently organising the celebrations for Polotsk’s 1,150th birthday is headed by Belarus’ Deputy Prime Minister, Anatoly Tozik; it has already launched its work, currently drafting a programme of celebrations. Soon, it will receive drafts of the official symbols of the holiday for approval. Polotsk’s City Executive Committee has elaborated a plan to develop and improve the city, for approval by interested departments. It will then be submitted to the organising committee for consideration.
A jubilee medal ‘In Memory of Polotsk’s 1,150th Anniversary’ is on the agenda, alongside a commemorative coin devoted to the city’s foundation, and an envelope with an original post stamp and a special post mark.
Undoubtedly, Polotsk has a rich and glorious history. Among the most ancient in Eastern Europe, the city was first mentioned in the Tale of Bygone Years, in 862. Its advantageous geographical position on the ‘Varangians to the Greeks’ trade route helped Polotsk become a key trading and cultural centre in medieval Europe. It is directly connected with such names as Yevfrosiniya Polotskaya, Frantsisk Skorina and Simeon Polotsky. General Roman Kondratenko, who took part in the defence of Port Arthur, was born there, as was the founder of Belarusian cinema, Yuri Tarich. Polotsk’s cultural and historical heritage comprises nearly 150 sites, including the unique St. Sophia’s Cathedral and the Saviour Transfiguration Church.