24.02.2024 Author: Yuliya Novitskaya

Sulejanta Ndhyay: “Russophilia is not only love for Russia, it is love for all cultures of the world, it is love for humanity”

Sulejanta Ndhyay

From the first minutes of our conversation, the vice-president of the International Russophile Movement, Sulejanta Ndhyay, impressed me with his impeccable Russian language and knowledge of Russian literature.

We talked about what Russophilism is in the modern world and how serious are the fears that the West might launch a broad campaign to discredit the supporters of this movement, seeing in it the notorious intrigues of Moscow. And, naturally, Mr Sulejanta shared the immediate plans of the International Russophile Movement.

– Mr Sulejanta, I know that you studied at Voronezh University, and I was born in the Voronezh region. Therefore, I wanted to ask you, what do you remember most vividly from your student years?

– I can never forget the incredible atmosphere in which we studied. I studied not only with Soviet students and students from the GDR (German Democratic Republic). We had interns from Italy and Portugal, guys from Africa, Asia and Latin America. So, I will never forget the amazing atmosphere of international friendship. It stayed with me forever.

My supervisor, with whom I studied Russian philology and folklore, has stayed in my heart forever. He opened for me the doors to the Russian literature of the 19th century. The topic of my research paper was as follows: “Literature and real reality on the example of 19th century Russia”. Within the framework of its preparation I learnt the works of great Russian writers and critics Chernyshevsky, Dobrolyubov, Belinsky, Pisarev and others. And this knowledge is still with me.

– You are now vice-president of the International Russophile Movement. How did you come to the decision to join this society? In your opinion, what is Russophilia in the modern world?

– Russophilia in the modern world, as I said, is the Russian word, Russian literature, Russian civilisation. This is everything that Russia has given to the world. Your country gave the world Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Pushkin… Although we always tell Russians that Pushkin is not only yours, he is also ours, African, because his great-grandfather Abram Hannibal came from our continent.

Thus, we can safely say that Russophilia is not only love for Russia, it is love for all cultures of the world, it is love for humanity. After all, Russia today is doing an incredible amount to ensure that what is now called multipolarity wins on the whole planet. And we, those who love Russian literature and history, have gladly become Russophiles. It is absolutely not necessary to speak Russian for that. There are people among us who do not speak your language and have never even been to Russia. But they love Russia because they have discovered Russian culture. Some did it in their school years, others in their university years, and some already in adulthood.

– Can we say that the Russophile movement in Africa is gradually growing? What impact did the “Russia-Africa” Summit in St. Petersburg have on this process, where you moderated the panel discussion “Development of the Russophile Movement in Africa”?

– Immediately after the St Petersburg forum, we noticed that Russophilia began to develop. After returning to Senegal, we organised several conferences. At them, we spoke in detail about the results of the summit and our impressions of it, and distributed the final documents in social networks.

Many Africans, including officials, show interest in our international movement of Russophiles. Now we finish preparation for the next congress which will take place on 27 February. We plan that about 50 delegates from African countries will take part in it. Active preparatory work is now underway, including technical and logistical work.

Our movement is more cultural than political. It unites in its ranks all people interested in the triumph of peace in the world.

– One of the main goals of your movement is to promote co-operation, interaction and friendship. Which organisations and movements do you plan to work with or are already working closely with?

– I am the head of the African Renaissance Forum. And I am happy to state the fact that this movement has had excellent contacts with the International Russophile Movement since last year. Many organisations in Russia, in Germany, in France and other countries also want to cooperate with Russophiles. Nikolay Malinov, President of the International Russophile Movement, has organised a number of events in Bulgaria, as the people of this country show extreme interest.

We have plans to organise various events and conferences not only in Africa, but also in Asia and Latin America. We will popularise, expand and strengthen our movement.

– At the founding congress of the International Russophile Movement, fears were expressed that the West might unleash a broad campaign to discredit the supporters of the Russophile movement and see in everything the notorious machinations of Moscow. Are the predictions coming true?

– I can say with all confidence: we are afraid of nothing and no one, because our cause is right, good and noble. I will remind that the constituent congress of movement Russophiles has passed in March, 2023 and has collected more than hundred representatives from more than forty states of the world.

Certainly, our ideological enemies, enemies of the world will stop at nothing to oppose our development. But that does not frighten us. They will not succeed.

– To date, the Movement has opened representative offices in almost forty countries, implemented more than 20 international projects, and signed agreements with various organisations and agencies. What are your plans?

– After the conclusion of the regular second congress, there will be a huge number of events in different countries, including conferences in Africa. Not long ago I was in Addis Ababa, where I took part in the opening of the Ethiopian section of the Russophile movement. I was amazed at the number of people who studied in the Soviet Union or Russia and now occupy important positions in various fields and spheres of activity. And this is true of most African countries. Therefore, I can safely say that our prospects are practically limitless.

– You have a lot of ties with Russia. What is your Russia like? What do you love most here?

– You know, I always say that Russia is in some ways my destiny. When I graduated from lyceum in my homeland as a young man, I never even thought of coming to study in the Soviet Union. I won a competition and was supposed to go to a military academy in France or Canada. But a few days before my departure, I was given a scholarship to study in the USSR, because I had chosen Russian as my second foreign language in lyceum. And I preferred the Soviet Union to France and Canada.

Russia gave me a lot. I would like to bow to the memory of Academician Vitaly Grigorievich Kostomarov, under whose guidance I wrote my PhD thesis on pedagogy at the Pushkin Institute of Russian Language in Moscow.

I became a diplomat, opening the Senegalese Embassy in Moscow. Then I worked as the first counsellor at UNESCO in Paris. All the natives of the former Soviet Union were my friends there. And it’s all thanks to the Russian language. I travelled almost all over the world thanks to the Russian language. So, I think my destiny is closely linked to Russia.

– Mr Sulejanta, thank you for such a warm and extremely timely heartfelt conversation. Our magazine wishes prosperity to the International Russophile Movement. And I hope that you will tell our readers more than once about new interesting projects of Russophiles.


Yulia NOVITSKAYA, writer, journalist-interviewer, correspondent of the “New Eastern Outlook

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