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Russia’s Lavrov cites Tolstoy and Mahatma Gandhi to build polycentric world order

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at the opening ceremony of the exhibition 'L.N. Tolstoy-M. Gandhi' in New Delhi on Wednesday (Image courtesy: Twitter/@mfa_russia)

Russia on Wednesday cited the commonality of worldview and mutual influence of Leo Tolstoy and Mahatma Gandhi to demonstrate the strong historical ties with India.

Hours after his arrival in New Delhi for the G20 Foreign Ministers’ meeting, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Wednesday spotlighted the closeness of both countries’ approaches to the formation of a polycentric and fair world order as he addressed the gathering at an exhibition put up at a special G20 Pavilion under the Indian Chairmanship’s initiative at the International Book Fair in the Indian capital.

Titled ‘L.N. Tolstoy-M. Gandhi’, the exhibition, which has also already been successfully held in the Russian capital, marks the 195th anniversary of the birth of Russian writer Tolstoy and the 75th anniversary of the tragic death of Mahatma Gandhi, revered in India as the Father of the Nation.

Lavrov stated that the ideals of justice and love for one’s neighbour preached by Leo Tolstoy inspired Mahatma Gandhi in the course of the non-violent struggle he started against British colonial oppression, which culminated in the independence of the Indian people.


“The equality of peoples, the rejection of colonialism, any form of domination were the values that at the beginning of the 20th century brought together Leo Tolstoy and M. Gandhi, who lived thousands of kilometers from each other. The correspondence of the famous Russian writer with a young lawyer, who later called himself his student, lasted about a year,” the Russian Foreign Minister said in his speech at the opening ceremony of the exhibition.

The study of the richest heritage of outstanding public figures and moral leaders of our countries, mentioned Lavrov, is becoming more and more in demand.

“We note with satisfaction the significant creative potential of the Indian G20 Presidency, which is held under the motto of the unity of peoples and the unity of the destiny of mankind, consonant with the philosophy of Leo Tolstoy and M. Gandhi,” he said.

Lavrov said that Moscow supports India’s focus on strengthening “genuine multilateralism”.

“We are united by a firm commitment to building a more just and democratic polycentric world order. Moscow and New Delhi are consistent opponents of such neo-colonial practices as illegitimate unilateral sanctions, threats, blackmail, and other types of pressure on sovereign states.

“We consistently stand for respect for the cultural and civilizational diversity of the modern world, for the inalienable right of peoples to independently determine their own paths of development,” he added.

The Minister found it “gratifying” that the work of Russian writers finds the “most lively response” from Indian readers which is “evidenced by the huge popularity” of Russia’s stands both at the Delhi and other major book fairs.

Tolstoy Gandhi

“There is no doubt that the strengthening of intercultural dialogue within the G20 objectively contributes to the maintenance of trust, the joint search for effective answers to the numerous challenges of our time. This is a worthy response to those who would like to ‘cancel’ the culture of countries they do not like,” remarked Lavrov.

Earlier, External Affairs Minister S Janishankar held a “wide-ranging discussion” with his Russian counterpart, exchanging views on bilateral cooperation and G20 issues.

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