One of the most important foreign policy tasks facing the Russian Federation is the development of cultural and humanitarian cooperation with the peoples of foreign countries. For decades, friendship societies with foreign countries, which have been active in strengthening Russia's international authority, have played a significant role in this area.
In our country, the beginning of the movement for friendship and cooperation with the peoples of foreign countries was laid in 1925 by the creation of the All-Union Society for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries. Outstanding state and public figures, world-famous representatives of the country's science and culture stood at its source: V. Mayakovski, S. Prokofiev, M. Sholokhov, D. Shostakovich, S. Eisenstein, I. Ehrenburg, S. Vavilov.
The Union of Soviet Friendship Societies (SSOD), uniting friendship societies with foreign countries, acquired a worldwide significance. And even in those countries where during the years of the “cold war” the authorities hostile to us attributed the SSOD to dangerous “subversive organizations”, the general public actively cooperated with it. And this cooperation continued even in the most unfavourable moments of interstate relations.
Unfortunately, with the collapse of the Soviet Union, friendship societies found themselves in a difficult position. In many societies, reorganization was carried out, which allowed them to survive in that difficult time. In 2004, Russian societies lost the Friendship House at Vozdvizhenka, 16, where they worked and held most of the activities. From the friendship societies, people gradually began to leave, including those prominent public figures that could influence the international processes. Many societies are faced with the need to curtail their activities. However, part of the potential was retained thanks to the enthusiasm, unselfishness and dedication of those outstanding people who supported and support the work of societies in these difficult conditions.
Today prominent figures of science, art and culture, public and religious figures take part in the work of friendship societies. Members of friendship societies are the writer Yuri Polyakov, hockey player Vladislav Tretyak, TV presenter Nikolai Drozdov, space pilots Alexei Leonov, Alexander Kaleri, Victor Gorbatko, Victor Savinykh, Peter Klimuk and many others.
Friendship Societies have accumulated extensive experience in conducting events aimed at familiarization with the history, culture, science of Russia and foreign countries, such as:
- Conferences, round tables, forums
- Evenings of friendship with the peoples of foreign countries
- Evenings dedicated to anniversaries and significant dates
- Evenings of foreign science, technology, literature and art
- Meetings of scientists and culture of foreign countries and the Russian Federation
- Lectures, reports and talks of Russian and foreign scientists and culture workers
- Exhibitions, etc.
A special role in the activities of friendship societies is played by the Russian Association for International Cooperation (RAMS), a public organization established in 1992 in accordance with the Decree of the President of the Russian Federation and which has become the legal successor of the Union of Soviet Friendship Societies (SSOD). Today RAMS unites more than 90 friendship societies and other public international organizations.
The long-term positive experience of the societies of friendship with the peoples of foreign countries suggests that they are an effective tool of public diplomacy that influences the minds and consciousness of the foreign public from the point of view of positive perception of Russia in the world, are an important channel for implementing the task of developing international cooperation.