St Petersburg University has been visited by a Slovak delegation. It was headed by Igor Derzo, Consul General of the Slovak Republic, and Irina Sečík, a graduate of Leningrad State University and the wife of the Deputy Minister of Culture of Slovakia. The main issues of the meeting were the establishment of cooperation in the field of education, and the participation of the University in the production of a film about Mikhail Balugyansky.

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The visit is symbolic because precisely 200 years ago, in 1819, Mikhail Balugyansky was elected Rector of St Petersburg University. Consul General Igor Derzo said that the idea of shooting a film about an outstanding scientist had come about ten years before in the Ministry of Culture of the Slovak Republic. He invited St Petersburg University to take part in the production and explained that culture and science can become the platform on which it will be possible to develop closer cooperation between Russia and Slovakia.

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The meeting with the University Rector was also attended by Slovak director František Palonder. He said that when making the film, all manuscripts, books and other materials related to Mikhail Balugyansky available at St Petersburg University would be useful and asked for help in their selection. The premiere of the film is planned to be held in St Petersburg, and University representatives as partners will attend it. Mr Palonder also recalled that Mikhail Balugyansky had graduated from the Royal Hungarian Academy in Kashau (now the city of Košice in Eastern Slovakia). Moreover, he suggested organising the Balugyansky Prize for the best students and enhancing academic exchanges.

Mikhail Balugyansky is the first rector of the revived St Petersburg Imperial University that was re-established after the reorganisation and renaming of the Main Pedagogical Institute. Prior to his election, he served as professor of the Department of the Encyclopaedia of Legal and Political Sciences and Political Economy and was dean of the Faculty of Philosophy and Law.

Nikolay Kropachev, the rector of St Petersburg University, confirmed that the University is ready to provide all the available materials that may be useful in preparing the film, and invited historians to participate in the work. He noted that the level of cooperation with educational institutions in Slovakia is not intensive at present. St Petersburg University has only five partner universities in Slovakia, and the total number of joint publications issued since 2014 is 254 articles. Over the past five years, St Petersburg University has been visited by only 34 Slovak scientists, and there are only seven students from Slovakia among the foreign students of the University.

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Nikolay Kropachev noted that St Petersburg University will assist in filmmaking and in the development of partnerships with universities of the Slovak Republic. The University actively cooperates with all countries of the world and reports about the academic achievements of their scientists. It also enhances foreign components in its academic programmes. Among the professors of St Petersburg University there are the ambassadors and consuls of Iran, Germany, Hungary, Turkey, the Republic of Korea, France, China, and Japan. Nikolay Kropachev invited the Consul General to head the council of the ‘Slavonic Languages and Literatures’ academic programme in order to promote the study of the Slovak language. He said that several years ago, with the participation of the Hungarian ambassador to Russia, the ‘Hungarian Culture’ programme was created at St Petersburg University. Its council was later headed by the diplomat. Also, St Petersburg University signed a direct agreement with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Hungary, which contributes to the development of a Hungarian component in the academic and scientific process.

Other issues discussed during the meeting were: the establishment of a University alumni club in Slovakia; and the erection of a new monument at the grave site of Mikhail Balugyansky. After the meeting, guests and representatives of the administration of St Petersburg University laid flowers at the commemorative plaque in memory of the first rector of the revived St Petersburg University.

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