Academician of The Russian Academy of Arts. Born on July 29, 1948.
Editor-in-chief of Kultura newspaper. Professor.
Graduated from the State University of Management in 1972. Worked in Krokodil magazine (1986-1991). Worked as columnist, deputy chief editor of Russia Weekly Report, editor-in-chief of Utro Rossii weekly report (1993-1995). Since 1996 has been the head of Kultura newspaper.
Union of Russian Journalists Member, Moscow Union of Writers Member, Union of Theater Workers Member. B.N. Polevoy Prize Laureate, Venetz Prize Laureate. Companion of the Order of Friendship of Peoples.
When Yuri Belyavsky became the head of Kultura newspaper, his friends were upset. They said that the Russian media lost its great publicist with sharp pen and great style. Today we can definitely say that their fears aren’t confirmed. Though the chief’s chair can’t offer a lot of opportunities for writing articles, Yuri Belyavsky is still in good form. Even if he doesn’t often demonstrate his abilities.
He came in the media in mature age. At first he worked in Yunost magazine and during the Perestroika found himself in Krokodil. In those days it was the most interesting magazine in the country. The best journalists and painters worked in Krokodil. They should surely consider the founder’s view as this magazine was a part of the Central Committee of the Soviet Union’s Communist Party and the department of propaganda and agitation always controlled its activity. But for Yuri Belyavsky it was five years of inspiring creative efforts. His topical satires and stories from this period were later published as an independent book
But only Kultura became the real work of his life. This newspaper has more than eighty years of history. The very first issue of The Worker and the Art was released in 1929. It was a place for articles written by such poets and imagists as Eisenstein and Meyerhold. In the beginning of the anti-cosmopolitism company it became clear that it was also the place for the «anti-patriotic theater critics».
Years passed and the newspaper took other monikers like Soviet Art or Soviet Cu/fure until it became known underits present name. Its every second collaboratoris Doctor of the Art History and the chief greatly appreciates his staff. Together they create a unique newspaper telling about the high art that doesn’t have much support in mass media. «We write difficult things about difficult things, — Yuri Belyavsky says. — We know that our readers form a very thin segment of modern society. But this kind of media should exist. It sets the standards.»
As editor-in-chief he’s always concerned about readers. Who are they and how do they live in our hard times. His attitude towards the public is described by the following phrase: «Dmitry Likhachov called museum staff the last saints of Russia. And for me they are the most precious and great treasure among Kultura readers.» Another distinctive feature of the newspaper is that its readers are also its heroes. So the newspaper style is quite special, because it’s not so simple to judge your subscribers without fear and favor. In the same time Kultura is not a toothless newspaper. Yuri Belyavsky never avoids spicy issues and he is always ready for arguments. «You may not like any criticism and call all critics cruel and aggressive art haters but forme these attacks seem so boring. I’m tired of this, gentlemen. It all looks so vulgar,» — that’s his answerto the complaints.
Editor-in-chief is always polite to his colleagues but he becomes a fearsome fighter when the attack comes from the outside. «We live in a land of substitutions. The lettered are called «the clever» here. There was a great expression among writers: read three books and write the fourth one. And many of those who have read a couple of textbooks think that they can improve everything in the world including their native country. So our «lettered ones» have chosen the motto «Freedom comes naked». It means you should remain naked if you want to be free.»
Yuri Belyavsky can take any risk and visit every high cabinet defending those who promote cultural heritage in the society. He knew about future financial losses when started printing free Radio Orpheus ads since propaganda of classical music in Russia was a great deed and had to be supported. «I’ve heard lots of contemptuous words: who needs it besides old pensioners? But they are almost one third of the whole population. I knew at least two pensioners, which listened to Orpheus permanently. The first pensioner was called Victor Astafiev. And Alexander Yakovlev was the second one.»
But it’s education that forms the basis of any cultured nation. Forget about such main points as schools, culture centers or libraries and soon all Russian creators lose the world in which they can exist. «I don’t like movies about plain guys made for plain guys, — Belyavsky says. — Being plain is not a virtue at all. Modern people should be complex and innovative. You can’t develop farther without knowledge and culture.» Therefore Kultura holds a competition called «Window to Russia». Its participants are provincial culture centers, who share experience with each other.
Yuri Belyavsky is acquainted with people of art in Russia and around the world. He is an expert in Russian cultural life. But he calls his position as the main reason. «I know, I know. I read Kultura so I always know what’s going on, — Yuri Belyavsky says jokingly. — Editor-in-chief should visit many cultural events, it’s a representative capacity.» However, it doesn’t sounds quite right. We all know that it’s not the places that grace the man. But Yuri Belyavsky is the man that graces his place.