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UK-Russia Year of Culture unveiled

image captioniTMOi (In the Mind of Igor) marks the 100th anniversary of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring

Russia and the UK are teaming up to showcase the best of each country's cultural heritage during 2014.

Events heading to Russia, programmed by the British Council, include a celebration of Shakespeare and a major retrospective of Young British Artists.

UK highlights include a visit from the Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra and a Kazimir Malevich show at Tate Modern.

The UK-Russia Year of Culture will culminate in a London display of rare items from the Russian space programme.

The Russia's Space Quest exhibition at the Science Museum in October will feature artefacts that have never been allowed out of Russia before.

Speaking during the programme's launch in London on Thursday, Mikhail Shvydkoy, President Putin's special envoy for international cultural cooperation, said British culture is "very important and very popular" in Russia and he hoped the project would create "new trust" between the two countries,

"We have a very long history. A lot of misunderstandings, between states, between special institutions etc etc," said Mr Shvydkoy.

"So the culture must create a new mutual understanding between us."

The programme of events will run for the whole year but the official launch will be in April, as British film director Peter Greenaway curates The Golden Age of the Russian Avant-garde at Moscow Museum Manege.

It will animate more than 400 masterpieces from Russian museums and private collectors, with Greenaway's video installation due to return to London later in the year.

image captionDressing the Screen: The Rise of Fashion Film will be Russia’s first ever exhibition of fashion film

Other highlights heading to Russia from the UK include Akram Khan's iTMOi (In the Mind of Igor), which was originally performed at Sadler's Wells to mark the 100th anniversary of Russian composer Stravinsky's groundbreaking ballet The Rite of Spring, and The Barbican's Designing 007: Fifty Years of Bond Style.

Mr Shvydkoy said Bond was "very popular" in his country, despite many of the baddies hailing from Russia.

"James Bond [is a] mythological figure for us. Even when fighting against Russian Secret Services, we look to this for fairytales," he said.

"But this hero, this style of behaviour is very Russian, very macho."

The UK will host performances from the Russian Philharmonic Orchestra and The Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Moscow Musical Academic Theatre, one of Russia's leading theatres, with more than 90 years of history.

Other events programmed by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the UK include a performance by the 600-year-old Sretensky Monastery Choir at London's Kensington Palace.

image captionThe Golden Age of Russian Avant-garde will animate more than 400 masterpieces

A UK theatre season will take productions from seven British theatres including the Young Vic, Royal Shakespeare Company and Scottish Ballet, supported by the Chekov International Festival.

Dressing the Screen: The Rise of Fashion Film will be Russia's first ever exhibition of fashion in and on film, bringing together work by some of the world's most innovative fashion designers and film-makers from the past 75 years.

Screenings of Hitchcock's early works, The London Philharmonic Orchestra's performance of Britten's War Requiem and an exhibition of Wedgewood pottery will also travel to Russia.

Early works by Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin and Sam Taylor-Wood will form part of Russia's first major retrospective of the YBA movement in September 2014 at the Ekaterina Foundation.

On UK soil The Tate Modern will host a groundbreaking exhibition of Russian artist Malevich's work, the first major Malevich retrospective for almost 25 years.

"Historically the relationship between the UK and Russia has had its ups and downs," said Peter Charow, vice president of BP Russia, which is sponsoring the project.

"Ironically the periods when the two countries have co-operated most successfully have tended to be in times of war."

Mr Charrow continued: "We have a chance now to break this cycle and to make a contribution to better understanding between the peoples of Russia and the United Kingdom, in peacetime and on the basis of culture, not war.

"Both the UK and Russia enjoy incredibly rich cultural heritages and these provide limitless opportunities to bring the two nations closer together."

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