The 20th anniversary of International Pushkin Foundation in the Kingdom of Belgium

Alexandre and Maria Pushkin live on the avenue des Fré, an elegant thoroughfare of the prestigious district of Brussels, Uccle. Maria and Alexandre are the last direct descendants of the world-renowned Russian poet Alexandre Sergeevich Pushkin. In 1923, after the Russian revolution, Nikolay Pushkin, the grandson of the poet, moved with his family to Belgium thanks to assistance provided by Cardinal Désiré Mercier, an influential supporter of the 1st wave of Russian emigration. Nikolay’s grandson Alexandre was born in Brussels. He worked for 30 years in “Alcatel Company” as an engineer. In 1969 Alexandre got married to Maria Durnovo, who is also a descendant of the Russian poet Alexander Pushkin. She lived at that time in Paris.

The love story of the Pushkin’s is worth a screenplay. They met each other for the first time in Carros, Côte d’Azur when they were seven year old children. Ten years later they met again and this time they fell in love for the entire life. The unforgettable wedding in Alexander Nevsky Cathedral on rue Daru in Paris was a big day that marked the start of a long and happy life together. This year the couple celebrated a golden wedding anniversary, 50 years of marriage. Alexandre Pushkin is the last in the family who has the right to bear the name Pushkin according to heraldic laws. For many years he was the head of the Union of the Russian Nobility in Belgium and now remains its Honourable Member.

History

Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin (6 June 1799 – 10 February 1837) was a renowned Russian poet, playwright and novelist of the Romantic era – he is considered to be the greatest Russian poet and the founder of modern Russian literature. At the beginning of the fourteenth century the nickname ‘Pouchka’ (Russian name for ‘canon’) was given to the eldest child of the seventh generation of direct descendance from a Viking family bearing at that time the name Ratcha. By the end of the century the name Pouchka was transformed into Pushkin. In 1613 new members of the family signed the act of election to the throne of the Romanoff dynasty.
The House Pushkin served the throne of Russia in the capacity of boyars, counsellors, seneschals and ambassadors. In 1798 the poet’s father Serge Pushkin who was a lieutenant in the Imperial Guard, became a hereditary knight of the Order of Malta. He married Nadine Hanibal, the granddaughter of Abraham Hanibal, the son of an Ethiopian prince who had been offered to Peter the Great and became his protégé. Abraham Hanibal finished his career as commander-in-chief of the Imperial army. The son of Nadine Hanibal and Serge Pushkin become a famous Russian poet Alexandre Pushkin. The Pushkin family often received proposals to visit the Soviet Union, but they always declined these invitations repudiating communism. For the first time the Pushkins visited a new Russia in 1996 and were absolutely amazed by the cult of their ancestor.

In 1999 Maria and Alexandre Pushkin created the International Pushkin foundation to honour the memory of their celebrated great grandfather with a view to popularising his work. As the founders, their aim for the foundation was that it became an important representative of Russian literary heritage. Its function was to promote various artistic, literary and cultural activities which are connected to the poet’s work.

On the 30th of September 1999 (200 years anniversary of poet A.S. Pushkin) the Pushkin monument was installed in Brussels on the initiative of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia and support of the International Pushkin Foundation. The square received the name of the poet – Place Pushkin. Since then every year the International Pushkin Foundation organises Pushkin Readings and laying flowers on the birth day of A.S. Pushkin. In collaboration with “Willems Fonds Laken”. Every year great poetry of the 1st Russian poet is declared in Russian, French, Dutch and other languages. Kids from the literature Club “DanzaZnaika” (teacher Irina Alexandrova) perform theatre pieces from A.S.Pushkin novels. This year of 220 anniversary of Pushkin the concert “Pushkin and the World” took place in the Russian Cultural and Scientific Centre in Brussels.

The absence of children, a continual regret for Alexandre and Maria Pushkin, has nevertheless motivated them towards actions of compelling generosity, namely the sponsorship of the Children’s Oncology Centre in St. Petersburg. Every year they raise the funds which are required for the purchase of essential medication and equipment. The International Pushkin Foundation also helps charity children associations in Belgium like “Renaissance”, “So!Art” and others. Maria and Alexandre Pushkin also support the talented children. In 2018 they gave a special award of the International Pushkin Foundation to Alexandra Dovgani, the winner of Grand Piano – children’s piano contest established by great Russian pianist Denis Matsuev. The 11 year old girl is already a talented pianist and looks like the heroine of Pushkin’s novels. In June 2004 the Pushkin Foundation organised a trip to St. Petersburg as cementing Russian-Belgian cultural relations. It became a tradition. In 2018 the delegation of the Belgians visited The Solovetsky Islands on the White Sea on the North of Russia. The trips helped Belgian people to break their cliché about a country of great culture, pictorial nature and hospital people.

Every year the International Pushkin Foundation holds a Charity Gala-Evening in Château du Lac Genval in favour of sick children. This year’s edition – on 22 November – was special – dedicated to the 220th anniversary of A.S. Pushkin and 20 years of International Pushkin Foundation. Maria and Alexandre Pushkin award the most notable people with the premium “Russian Heritage” for the contribution in Russian-Belgium collaboration and promotion of Russian culture in Belgium.

In 2019 the premium “For Charity” was given to Oksana Zhudina-Bogo, vice-president of International Pushkin Foundation.

Follow the program on Facebook page of International Pushkin Foundation: Facebook.com/PushkinFoundation/

I loved you once, and still, perhaps, love’s yearning
Within my soul has not quite burned away.
Yet may that nevermore you be concerning;
I would not wish you sad in any way.
A.S. Pushkin
Translated by Julian Henry Lowenfeld,
the Honor guest of Gala-evening “Russian Heritage”
Ianina Cozari

Press attaché of International Pushkin Foundation