January 16, 2024 16:12 WAJ
While the conflict between Russia and Ukraine has yet to be resolved, those involved in people's diplomacy and peace diplomacy, ranging from politicians to intellectuals, entrepreneurs, and ordinary citizens, are all working to connect and collaborate in their respective fields in order to contribute to the early restoration of peace for the parties involved and globally. In this sense, the St. Petersburg-Vietnam Business Forum is a typical example.

Mr. Viacheslav Gennadievich Kalganov, Deputy Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Government of the City of Saint Petersburg, Russia, responded to an interview with WAJ. (Photo: WAJ)

WAJ: How do you evaluate the St. Petersburg-Vietnam Business Forum taking place in Ho Chi Minh City this time?

Mr. Viacheslav Gennadievich Kalganov: As a perfectionist, I believe the forum was conducted very effectively, and I would rate it 4 out of 5 points (the highest score in Russia). However, cooperation between Ho Chi Minh City and St. Petersburg will be even more successful if many St. Petersburg enterprises visit HCMC and vice versa for collaboration. That is the most accurate judgement and will yield the best results of our efforts.

WAJ: Is the message of this forum the mission of corporate culture?

Mr. Viacheslav Gennadievich Kalganov: Until now, we have only dealt with the corporate collaboration aspect; the cultural aspect has yet to emerge. However, I believe that today was a success because the forum attracted a huge number of participants, approximately 180. In addition, we have other joint initiatives, such as escorting a delegation of doctors who are outstanding experts in their specialties with worldwide-recognized names. For example, Professor Napalkov, Director of the St. Petersburg Cancer Centre, Academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences Vladimir Moiseenko, and various professors and doctors from Hospital No. 11 in St. Petersburg who are also top experts in cardiology and dermatology.

We have had official talks with Mr. Vo Van Hoan, the Vice Chairman of the People's Committee of Ho Chi Minh City, as well as discussions, exchanges, and interactions between Russian and Vietnamese doctors who have studied in Russia. In addition, our group attended the 26th Annual International Cancer Conference in Ho Chi Minh City (on December 7th and 8th) both in person and online. The doctors also visited and collaborated with a variety of healthcare facilities in Ho Chi Minh City, including the Cancer Center, dermatological hospitals, the University Medical Centre, and the Department of Health.

Our group also includes educators; the Deputy Director of the St. Petersburg Department of Education has met with partners in this field, including the Vocational College of Thu Duc District and Huynh Khuong Ninh High School in Ho Chi Minh City. We also inked a cooperation agreement today between the Vyborgsky District in St. Petersburg and the Thu Duc District in Ho Chi Minh City. The Vyborgsky District is also well-known for the recent inauguration of a statue of President Ho Chi Minh. I believe this is the most magnificent statue of Ho Chi Minh in the world. The statue was unveiled to commemorate the 100th anniversary of President Ho Chi Minh's arrival in our city, then known as Petrograd.

WAJ: I believe what you and the city of St. Petersburg have accomplished is already part of the cultural mission you have been working on, rather than something that has yet to begin, isn't it?

: I appreciate the great praise, but I believe it represents trust, and we have a responsibility to fulfil it. People usually rate the quality of our job based on the results we obtain. According to preliminary data, we have organised over 200 events this year in various disciplines relating to Vietnam. I believe we need to work more systematically and extensively. As a result, we have consistently partnered with Vietnamese community organisations, youth organisations, and so on in the Russian Federation. The annual festivities we organise mainly revolve around President Ho Chi Minh's birthday (May 19th). Previously known as Vietnam Day in St. Petersburg, it has since been referred to as Vietnam Week in St. Petersburg for the past 3 years.Mr. Viacheslav Gennadievich Kalganov

WAJ: We understand that the actions of this group in Ho Chi Minh City are also intended to help prepare for Vietnam Week in St. Petersburg, which will commemorate the 100th anniversary of President Ho Chi Minh's entrance into Russia?

Mr. Viacheslav Gennadievich Kalganov: What you say is partially right, and it is only one of many of our efforts. We also often invite Vietnamese corporate delegations to St. Petersburg to collaborate. Vietnam-Russia cooperation is built on a comprehensive strategic partnership. Governor Alexander Beglov issued a decision in August 2020 that prioritised cooperation with Vietnam in St. Petersburg's foreign initiatives. As a result, the mission and purpose of the St. Petersburg delegation's trip are broad, but the main goal is to once again affirm to Vietnam and the people of Ho Chi Minh City that the brotherhood between the two cities, or the closeness between Russia and Vietnam in the past, is now even stronger. Our goal is to continue to strengthen the friendship and cooperation between the two cities, as well as between Vietnam and Russia.


St. Petersburg-Vietnam Business Forum on December 5th, 2023 (Photo: CTV/WAJ)

WAJ: Do you have any comments about the Vietnamese community in St. Petersburg specifically and the Vietnamese community in Russia in general?

Mr. Viacheslav Gennadievich Kalganov: I may put it this way: we could not have achieved what we have with Vietnam today without the contributions of the Vietnamese community in St. Petersburg and the Vietnamese community in the Russian Federation as a whole. In 2021, the St. Petersburg Foreign Affairs Committee's highest award, the Golden Lion Award, was given to a Vietnamese citizen, Mr. Duong Chi Kien, one of the leaders of the Vietnamese community in St. Petersburg and Chairman of the Vietnamese Business Association. In 2022, another Vietnamese residing in Moscow, Dr. Nguyen Quoc Hung, earned the Golden Lion Award as the Director of the "Tradition and Friendship" Fund. In 2023, the award will be handed to another Vietnamese from Moscow, Mr. Do Xuan Hoang, Chairman of the Vietnamese Community Association in the Russian Federation, on December 7th. But it is only the exterior aspect of the medal; the true partnership is that we are friends who understand each other and work really hard. Cooperation helps and supports one another sincerely, based on true friendship, not for personal gain but for the common good.When I am tired at work and want to relax, I can meet and chat with Vietnamese friends or read Vietnamese books, such as Ho Chi Minh's 'Prison Diary' (we recently organised a seminar on this book to commemorate its 80th anniversary). It brings a lot of energy and enthusiasm, helping me overcome fatigue at work and find joy in life.


We would not be able to accomplish what we have with Vietnam today without the contributions of the Vietnamese community in St. Petersburg and the Vietnamese community in Russia (Photo: CTV/WAJ)

WAJ: Russia and Vietnam have a long-standing traditional friendship. Do you think that, while Russia is under sanctions from the United States and the EU, countries with traditional friendly relations with Russia should have more responsibility towards Russia and towards common global peace?

Mr. Viacheslav Gennadievich Kalganov: Firstly, we think that Russia is a huge, powerful country capable of self-sufficiency. Our main issue is internal, and we must solve it ourselves. Second, every Russian individual has a strong affection for the Vietnamese people. We feel that the Vietnamese people share a similar sentiment towards Russia. Vietnam's leaders, in respect to Russia and global peace, undoubtedly bear responsibility. I believe that Vietnam's leaders are highly wise men. They are President Ho Chi Minh's disciples, and they understand how to behave appropriately. Vietnamese people are brave and intelligent in general. Vietnam has retained its independence and autonomy, even as it stands close to a powerful neighbour. Vietnam has also prevailed over colonialism, defeated the United States, and unified its people. We saw Vietnam succeed in its rehabilitation with the income of the people increasing. We trust that the leaders of Vietnam always know how to behave correctly, including in their relations with Russia. Third, you have a strong diplomatic tradition and a three-pronged foreign policy based on state diplomacy, party diplomacy, and people's diplomacy. We also have a piece of advice: after witnessing and experiencing significant events such as the dissolution of the Soviet Union, we hope you understand and will maintain the values you have, what your predecessors have left behind, and, most importantly, President Ho Chi Minh’s legacy. You should not focus on short-term gains or what is on the other side of the Atlantic. You should love and always preserve your traditions and principles.

WAJ: I'd like to know how humanity affects businesses and politicians in general.

Mr Viacheslav Gennadievich Kalganov: You might easily get the answer if you interviewed someone who knows more about Vietnamese history than I do.

WAJ: No, I'm not asking this question for the Vietnamese people; rather, I'm asking it for the world business community and political leaders.

Mr Viacheslav Gennadievich Kalganov: What we are currently witnessing could be ethnic concerns. A high-cultured nation can destroy another with a different high culture. There is now strife between two Slavic-origin states. We are always asking ourselves what is going on, whether educated intellectuals are insufficient, or if there is a worldwide force destroying cultural and humanitarian ideals, resulting in conflicts between sister nations. At the present, we believe we must be economically and militarily strong. Of course, we cannot ignore the essential ideals of humanity and cultural values; we must constantly nourish these values in order to develop stronger and escape from this position.


The St. Petersburg delegation is working with the Overseas Vietnamese Business Association (BAOOV) (Photo: WAJ)

WAJ: What is St. Petersburg's strategy for peaceful diplomacy in the coming time?

Mr. Viacheslav Gennadievich Kalganov: What do you mean by the strategy of peaceful diplomacy?

WAJ: For example, is your delegation's visit to Vietnam this time also a strategy for peaceful diplomacy?

Mr. Viacheslav Gennadievich Kalganov: Since the Soviet Union, we have never sent arms to Vietnam. And if we come to Vietnam with weapons and guns, it is to assist the Vietnamese people in keeping their peace.

WAJ: Thank you. What is St. Petersburg's strategy for peaceful diplomacy in the coming time?

Mr. Viacheslav Gennadievich Kalganov: I'll respond with my responsibilities for Southeast Asia, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. In this region, we have carried out a mission of peaceful diplomacy that is possibly slightly different from that of Vietnam. We do not have the same deep links with other countries' communities as the Vietnamese community in St. Petersburg and Russia has. However, the method of implementation is same across countries.

I can tell you a little secret: all we do with Vietnam is not something we have to document or feel forced to do; it is all a natural act of our emotions. It stems from what we want, not anything imposed. Our acts also provide us delight and happiness. We cannot carry out numerous cooperation programmes unless we are passionate, inspired, and work from the heart. We regularly invite the Vietnamese community to participate in cultural and artistic performances, sports exchanges, football, organise seminars, conferences on Vietnam's heroes with students, Vietnamese youth, and hold seminars on the relationship between Vietnamese leaders and the Soviet Union.

WAJ: May I ask you one last question? Do you have any messages for the Vietnamese public in particular and the international public in general?

Mr. Viacheslav Gennadievich Kalganov: We hope that Vietnam will always develop stably, behave intelligently and wisely, and always preserve what the predecessors have left for the country.

WAJ: Thank you! I wish you and your family, as well as the people of Russia, good health, happiness, and early peace restoration in Russia and worldwide!

Ho Chi Minh City, December 4, 2023.

Writer To Hoai is famous for his book De Men Adventure Ky (1941) written for children. Currently, "Crickets" have traveled all over the world. The story has been translated into many languages and published in many countries around the world. He is likened to the Andersen of Vietnam.


At first glance, she doesn't stand out when standing next to her Asian girls, I become more and more in the middle European women. Yet, people like look at you, especially like to peek, every time you say, or every time she laughs. Asian-style face Dong, round black eyes that can talk, the corner of his mouth when also fresh. Long, silky black hair, clear voice, Standard and flexible pronunciation even when I speak the language German and Vietnamese.