My dear reader I suggest you to read an article of the museum’s founding. In the beginning I called it “My struggle”, but I was told that this name was used already and it is better to create something original. But I don’t want to listen to governmental people.

So please read the article – “MY STRUGGLE”:

“Do you remember the Russian movie about Chapaev? There was a phrase “White army came and sacked us, and then red army came and sacked us too…” So, the same with my museum… Government changed a lot and every new one wanted to close my museum or confiscate my collection. During many years I worked not for improving museum, but 90 percent of the time went to protecting it.

My museum called “Semi-precious stone of Baikal” is in Sludyanka. This city is rich of unique minerals which are famous all over the world. But native people are not interested in them, most of the mines and quarries were closed many years ago, and scientists left the city. That is why on the last year people from Moscow and Sverdlovsk transported tones of samples from old mines and sold them to the USA, England and German, because Russian enthusiasts who want to work and show the beauty of Baikal are always under the governmental press. The main weapon of the government is confiscation. It is so simple to do away with collector just taking his samples.

Take a look at the history. The famous Sludyanka’s collector Yakunin Mihail Ivanovich died in may 1929. It happed right after he was suggested by professor Livov to buy his collection of stones. Yakunin didn’t agree because it was the only thing he lived for. So the professor said that the collection would be confiscated. The old man could not live with that idea and died after a wile because of a heart attack. His collection was confiscated and nobody knows nowadays about great Yakunin and his scientific work in Sludyanka.

After a while the collection was sold and it’s impossible to restore it. But before that and after it was confiscated in 1970 from cultural center of Sludyanka “Gorniak” (translated as “miner”), the collection was taken to the house of executive committee and laid there for a month. Then it was taken home like souvenirs or thrown out, and only after that its leftovers were given to the museum of “Work and Straight Glory.” But the museum does not exist any more. “Cossacks Forces Staff” and “Shoes repair” take its place now. And there is only one question: why? Maybe it is because of the Russian nature or negligence, or just truing to destroy culture altogether.

Sludyanka lost its “face”. But Yakunin, like a science, is still famous abroad. For example; his picture hangs on the wall in Cambridge University and there are some exhibits of his collection too.

And not only the collection of minerals was forgotten; look back to the history of another great Sludyanka’s museums and you can see that “Museum of nature” and “Railway museum” were in the same situation. There was time when they were on the age of rebuilding, remaking and other things. But these museums have survived. And government even gives to “Railway Museum” 250 rubles per month (about $10) for existing, but “Museum of nature” takes any single ruble. Looking to this situation I really laugh at the idea of developing tourism in Baikal region, because one of the aspects what attracts tourists is culture. But there is no culture without history, hence the necessity of museums.

Now I would like to tell more about my museum “Semi-precious stone of Baikal.” During five years (1980-1985) I’d being collecting materials. It was not difficult because really unique minerals are everywhere in Sludyanka on the roads, bank of Baikal and in mine dumpsters. Every foreign expert would be really terrified of such attitude to valuable minerals and every museum would be happy to have them into their collection.

But let’s look back to Soviet Union time. I suggested to the government to take my minerals for founding the museum, but suggestion was denied. Then I decided to make the museum by only my own forth and made it. But I committed an error. I wrote that it was privet. It was considered like a crime in that time and brought me a lot of hard moments.

In 1990 I build a new building for the museum. I took 20 thousand rubles bank credit motivating it like for “building a new house”. During the construction time the mafia started to be interested in me. So, I decided to say truth to the police. After that I got problems with the tax inspection and soon my museum was closed.

In 1993 I tried to open the museum again. It was already after the fall of the Soviet Union . I hoped that new life would make a difference to attitude to museums. But the museum was closed again in 1994 because it didn’t bring any money to the state fisc.

In 1994 I was invited to the police to talk about the information of planed robbery at the museum by one Angarsk (city about 200 / 124, 27 mi from Sludyanka) crime band. Police suggested their help exchange for “small” sum of money but I didn’t agree. I proved it with fact that I have permission to keep weapon and can protect my property by myself. It was a really big deal and the city newspaper “Leninskoe Znamia” even ran an article about that which didn’t show me like a good guy.

1n 1996 the government made a law that museums became tax exempt. I immediately came to Saikov, the mayor of Sludyanka, to register my museum. But I was told that there is no law to register all museums, and the city has no money to deal with it. I had to explain that I don’t need money for keeping museum from the government. After that they agreed but there were three months past till I got an official permission of registry. It happened only in summer and was signed not by the mayor but by his prime.

Now I would like to tell about the situation around the museums in general. There are 1600 museums in Russia and about 50 millions exhibits. So, the museum which I founded is only one drop to a huge sea, but ten thousand exhibits make me proud of my tries. My museum is an addition to cultural value of the country. The museum is small but there are a lot of unique materials and some of them explain why our city called Sludyanka. Word “Sludyanka” came from “sluda” what translated like “mice”. Exactly huge layer of mice on a south of the Baikal made the city famous not only in Russia but all over the world.

Recently my museum had the 10th anniversary. During that time I’ve made catalog of minerals in writing and electronic form. I’ve made a stone garden outdoors which is the beginning of a new exposition. In general I improved the museum by modern tendentious.

But I still have some problems one of them is with the tax inspection. They accuse me of hiding profit. Even after giving them explanations according to the law, mostly it was “the Law for not paying taxes by museums” they still work to prove their opinion and threaten with confiscation of all the collection.

I really worry about safety of my exhibits. They are unique and invaluable. Many of them were on exhibitions in different museums, even abroad. I’ve got 50,000 references that the layer near Sludyanka is only one of its kind and really exceptional. And one more things to transfer or empty my exhibition of about ten thousand samples I might spend a month to do it with following all special rules. So, now I am an owner, a guide, a keeper and a guard of my museum.

It is strange and seems like our tax inspection doesn’t need any laws. I showed them an instruction “Of Tax Inspection of Russian Federation” from October 11th 1995, “the Law of Museums”, from 1996, the last version of the “Taxes of Sales”, but nothing worked. And I don’t understand why. There is written everywhere that museums are free from taxes. I am not a rich person. I don’t work for profit. I am just an owner of a museum and want the law to protect me. But tax inspection doesn’t want to leave me along.

It is really clear that museums all over the world have more expenses then profit. And it is hard for government keep it. But Russian tax inspection says that I have a big profit, but it is not true, and I have to give money to the state fisc, because some people are hungry in the country!

Now I understand – all problems in our country are because of me and my museum. How wrong I was thinking that the tax politic is a problem of financial crisis. I am concerned that I might lose this battle and they will take away my license. But I will always prove that museums are useful for the society and try to save mine.

And now let’s look at some social issues. I read in the newspaper “Slavnoe More” (“Great Sea”) an article about drug abuse. It said that quantity of drug abusers during the years 1998-1997 rose 160 percent. Four drug dealers were taken to the court and dismissed. Now they again deal with their dirty deals and every third teenager has problems with drugs in Sludyanka.

And after that article the same newspaper published my ad in January 1999. It was about Museum of Minerals “Semi-precious stone of Baikal” invites to be participant of the club of young geologists. Lessens are free for everybody. I thought it is time to save somebody from drug addiction.

The club is really what I am proud of. Now I can not only educate youth showing them unique exhibits but also give them an opportunity to participate in working with the stone and learn more about Baikal’s minerals through their own experience. But founding the club was also not so simple.

Point of creating a club was in my “Museum Status” since 1989, but I was forbidden to do that. I asked government about the permission during the ten years but couldn’t find the support. And finally I did it!

I want to develop education and culture, because I am Russian, and I love my country and to be Russian. I want to fight for law and justice. And by the end I would like to quote from the song of my favorite singer and poet Leonid Utiesov.

I wish our motherland
Would be happy and rich
Because without motherland’s happiness
Nothing is important.

I wish it would be so. Valery Dzigalov.

Russian newspaper © 27th of February 1999

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