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Russian National Day 2019

30 June 2019

Ambassador of the Russian Federation to the Republic of South Africa Mikhail Petrakov hosted his last Russia National Day reception on the 11th of June.

Photo: Ambassador Mikhail Petrakov with Minister Ebrahim Patel

The actual Day of Russia is the 12th of June. In 1990, a Declaration of State Sovereignty of Russia was adopted and exactly one year later, in 1991, Russia held the first free and open presidential elections.

Russia and Africa, especially South Africa, have a deep history marked by Russia’s support of the liberation movements on the continent. It constitutes one of the strong pillars of today’s friendship.

“Today South Africa occupies a very special place in Russian foreign policy not just because it is one of the leading nations on the African continent but also because it is our close partner in the international arena, in particular, in BRICS and the UN,” said Ambassador Petrakov. “BRICS is an example of building partnerships between nations that differ so greatly in terms of their culture, yet stand so strong and united, a partnership that is based on respect for each other’s interests.”

Having served as the Russian Ambassador for over 7 years H.E. Mr. Petrakov noted with satisfaction that Russia and South Africa continue the successful development of close multidimensional relations and cooperation, building on the comprehensive strategic partnership, established in 2013 and formalised in the joint statement in 2018 at the BRICS Summit in Johannesburg. Among the many accomplishments of the recent years, the visa-free regime introduced in March 2017 is of special importance as it brings the countries closer together through allowing both Russians and South Africans to travel and explore without any restrictions.

He mentioned that professionally South Africa is a very interesting, satisfying posting. It has a free, diverse, open and democratic society, which enjoys freedom of expression of views.

Speaking in this context on the challenges of his job, Ambassador Petrakov introduced the term ‘Highly Likely it’s Russia’ or HLR. It means that whatever is happening in the world or in the country like for example, elections – is often described like there is always Russia to blame for whatever goes wrong. Such perception or, rather, myth, is always based on absence of facts or fake news. Countering the HLR theory with facts might not have been enough to change the minds of certain media, nevertheless it was an interesting dimension of the Ambassador’s work here, stressful at times but engaging and satisfying.

Ambassador Petrakov mentioned that on 24 October this year Russia will host the Russia-Africa Summit in Sochi which will undoubtedly give a boost to Russia - Africa relations.

The reception was graced with the presence of Minister Ebrahim Patel, who gave a deep analysis of Russia-South Africa bilateral relations. He spoke widely about Russia’s deep history, its many renowned writers, artists, its many successes in history and detailed its many tourist attractions.

The Ambassador also shared that during his tenure he made many friends, made his own wine (served at the reception) and took many photographs – admitted that he will really miss South Africa, a wonderful country, and its people, that he learned to love.

The notion of ‘Thuma Mina’ as well as ‘khawuleza’ is something Ambassador Petrakov will definitely take with him pronouncing that all his colleagues back home will know their meaning. As a testament to how much he will miss South Africa Ambassador Petrakov rendered a beautiful, though unfinished, version of “Nkosi sikelel' iAfrika” to resounding applause.

 


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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August/September 2019

 
 
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