Israeli president attends opening of Museum of Tolerance in Moscow

A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Russian-Jewish Museum of Tolerance was held in central Moscow on Thursday in the presence of Israeli President Shimon Peres and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

"The presence of the Israeli presdient and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Mr. Shimon Peres, adds profound symbolism and special importance to today's ceremony," Lavrov said.

The Russian minister said he was certain that "the museum will become a traditional venue for international forums and conferences, communication and fruitful meetings."

"Its work will help promote the values and ideals of interethnic dialogue and accord, which are highly relevant today," he said.

Lavrov thanked all those who contributed to this project, "which matches the high level of Russian-Israeli relations."

Lavrov also read out a message from Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"We need to understand clearly that any attempts to review our country's contribution to the Great Victory and deny the Holocaust - a shameful page of the world's history - are both cynical and unprincipled lies and an oblivion of the lessons of history, which could result in a repeat of these tragedies," Putin said in his message.

Both Russia and Israel hold dear the sacred truth about World War II, the Russian president said, adding that the museum displays a large number of archive documents dedicated to WWII victims.

"I am certain that the Museum of Tolerance will become a visible embodiment of the ideas of interethnic dialogue, accord, respect and mutual understanding between people of different cultures and faiths," Putin said.

The new museum's collection encompasses key periods and events of Jewish history, the president said.

The opening of such a museum "once again confirms the special relationship that exists between our countries and people," he said.

"The goal of this museum is to offer a creative and interactive platform for inter-cultural dialogue," museum press secretary Olga Zhuravlyova told Interfax earlier.

"The museum organizers wished not only to visualize the everyday life and culture of Jews but also to present the history of Russia through the prism of one of its peoples. The museum takes a multi-dimensional look at the key events of national history - the Revolution, the Civil War and the Great Patriotic War," Zhuravlyova said.

The Jewish Museum and the Tolerance Center occupies an area of over 8,500 square meters on the premises of the Moscow Bakhmetyevsky Garage in central Moscow. There will be permanent and temporary exhibitions, a library, a museum shop, a research center, conference halls, a children's center and a kosher cafe.

The museum has 12 pavilions with a 4D cinema, located at its entrance. The museum displays Jewish documents, photographs and letters spanning a period of more than two centuries. Visitors will also be able to see video clips which show people from all over the world speaking about these events. These materials were prepared by a group of leading specialists from Russia, Israel, the United States and Great Britain led by University of Pennsylvania Professor Benjamin Nathanson.

The museum's section dedicated to World War II displays full-scale copies of a T-34 tank and a PO-2 airplane.

Each part of the museum is equipped with interactive flat panels.

"The Jewish Museum and the Tolerance Center will be an innovative cultural center of the capital city and a new architectural, historical, educational, museum and technological facility of Moscow," Zhuravlyova said.

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