Yalta (Republic of Crime), Jun 5 - DAN. DPR head Alexander Zakharchenko attended the opening of the 11th international festival “Great Russian Word” at the Yubileiniy concert hall in central Yalta.

“It’s a significant event in the cultural life of our country. Many important guests have come for the forum which has raised its prestige considerably this year. May we always be successful, “ Republic of Crimea head Sergey Aksyonov said in opening remarks.

Among the festival guests of honour are LPR leader Igor Plotnitskiy, DPR People’s Council chairman Denis Pushilin, DPR Council of Ministers deputy chairmen Dmitry Trapeznikov and Alexander Timofeyev and representatives of both houses of the Russian parliament.

The festival gathered more than 2,500 people, including 17 Russian language and literature teachers from DPR.  The organizers set up a platform near the concert hall and made arrangements for Crimean art groups’ performance at the festival.

At the opening ceremony, Russian Federation Council speaker Valentina Matviyenko read a letter from Russian President Vladimir Putin to the participants.

“Your significant project is becoming a good tradition. It has acquitted itself as a prestigious platform for professional discourse on issues of Russian language preservation and promotion and increasing its role in world integration processes,” the letter said.

The DPR leader spoke about integration, too. “Russian language is a link between the Donetsk land and Russia. I’m a military, and this reflects my viewpoint on many things. I understand that the Russian word is indeed great and multifaceted, but the word for me is a weapon in the first place. This weapon can be more dangerous than multiple launch rocket systems,” said Alexander Zakharchenko.

“Donbass is gradually returning home, and today’s festival is very important for Donetsk. These events hone and temper such a powerful weapon as language making it stronger and more dependable,” he said.

He reminded that Kiev had been implementing forceful ukrainization of Donbass in the past two decades but that it had been unable to deprive Donetsk Region residents of the Russian language and culture.

After the official part, Turetsky Choir Art Group performed for the festival participants. Crimea has held “Great Russian Word” annual festivals since 2007.

The purpose is to promote Russian culture and language. Russian is a state language in DPR. *jk