The 14th annual exhibition of photographs ‘St Petersburg in the world, the world in St Petersburg...’ has opened in the Tauride Palace. The exhibition presents the best works of students from Russian and foreign universities.

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This year, students from seven countries took part in the photo contest: Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Ukraine. There were also students from various regions of Russia. Entry-level photographers sent more than 300 works; members of the professional jury shortlisted 49 for the final. It was their photographs that became part of the exhibition in the Tauride Palace.

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St Petersburg University organised the exhibition and timed it to the International Day of Tolerance. The event is also supported by: the Council Secretariat of the Interparliamentary Assembly of Member Nations of the Commonwealth of Independent States (IPA CIS Council Secretariat); and the Council of Rectors of Higher Education Institutions in St Petersburg and the Leningrad Region. The decision to organise the very first competition was made in 2006 by Lyudmila Verbitskaya, the Rector of St Petersburg University.

Aleksandr Surygin, a representative of the IPA CIS Council Secretariat, opened the exhibition. In his welcoming address he urged the contest participants to move beyond their professional activities and continue to be engaged in creative activities. 

Antoine de Saint-Exupery spoke about the art of small steps. The competition ‘St Petersburg in the world, the world in St Petersburg...’ is being held for the 14th time. So, this is the 14th small step. These steps are parts of something big, significant, and great.

Aleksandr Surygin, a representative of the IPA CIS Council Secretariat

Pavel Goriunov, Advisor to the Governor of St Petersburg on youth policy, noted the great social significance of the project for the city, ‘The name of the competition is an important and timely slogan. We must protect the peace in our city. The event is designed to help disseminate this idea in the interethnic and international student community of St Petersburg.’

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Aleksandr Belenkii is Chairman of the professional jury and Assistant Professor at the Department of Media Design and Information Technology, St Petersburg University. He said that he has been judging works of the contest participants for four years. During this time, both the number of participating universities and the geography of competitors have increased. ‘Assessing creative works is an ungrateful and dangerous activity. In sports, everything is clear: who is faster; who has jumped higher; who is stronger. The criteria are clear and specific. And here we have tried to take into account not only the technique, but also the emotional component. Of course, we couldn’t achieve it without disputes,’ he said.

Yao Yuan, a St Petersburg University student from China, won the nomination ‘The City over the Free Neva’. According to him, the photograph ‘St Petersburg I see’ was taken completely unexpectedly, ‘St Petersburg is a very beautiful city. I like walking along its embankments with a camera. In my hometown, people are constantly in a hurry to get somewhere. And here I saw a fisherman who was enjoying his life without any haste. And I myself got a feeling of this joy.’

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The special prize ‘For breaking conventions’ went to Sergei Alekseev, a student of the St Petersburg Theological Academy. He said that one of his entries was dedicated to sports, ‘There are a lot of students from different countries at our Academy who take part in the annual soccer tournament. I wanted to convey the intensity of the struggle for victory within the walls of the Theological Academy. I might have managed to do it. I do not feel any boundaries between students from Russia, the Philippines, Syria and other countries. They very often come to visit each other for summer holidays.’

Anastasiia Kotiuk, a student of St Petersburg University, arrived in St Petersburg from Kyrgyzstan. She has been taking pictures for only 18 months. She had bought a camera just before visual journalism classes began at the University. Soon this subject became one of her favourites. ‘The nomination “My remote house”, in which I won, is perhaps the most personal and intimate. In both of my photographs you can see mountains that I miss so much in St Petersburg. For me, this victory is an incentive for further creative development and self-improvement,’ she said.

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In other nominations, the winners were: Pavel Burykin (‘The glimpses of student life...’) and Anna Pushkina (‘Friendship without borders’), students of the St Petersburg State University of Film and Television; Evgeniia Sologubova (‘Multinational St Petersburg’), St Petersburg University; and Daria Popova, St Petersburg University, who won a special prize. The Grand Prix was won by Mariia Tiukaeva, a student of the St Petersburg State University of Film and Television.

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