The relations between Russia and Bangladesh are entering the age of "renaissance" after some three decades of relaxation since the 1980s, two Russian officials said yesterday.
Through educational and cultural exchanges, the Eurasian country wants to build a strong bond between the two nations, they said.
Alexander G Chesnokov, deputy head of the Russian Federal Agency for Cooperation with Foreign Countries, and Russian Ambassador in Dhaka Nikolaev Alexander made the comments in an interview with a small group of reporters at the capital's Ruposhi Bangla Hotel.
Chesnokov is on a two-day visit to attend the 40th anniversary of the Russian Centre of Science and Culture in Dhaka.
“Russia's relations with Bangladesh, especially in terms of trade, setting up of nuclear and other power plants, are entering the age of renaissance…this is going to happen seriously and for a long term,” said the ambassador.
The bilateral trade was some $700 million last year, which is expected to reach $1 billion this year, according to him.
The envoy said the relations between Bangladesh and the Soviet Union were at their peak before the latter's break-up in 1990s.
He said, “I was frequently asked where are Russian books, cinema, documentaries and circus? This proves Bangladeshis' interest in Russian arts, literature and culture.”
Nikolaev said the Russian Federation had shifted from socialism to democracy, from a bi-polar world system to a multi-polar one, and followed the UN-set standards. Russia no longer believes in imposing its ideologies on other nations, he added.
Chesnokov said Russia was now a multi-party democracy, but foreigners still held old ideas about it. Therefore, they are working to familiarise the “New Russia” by arranging visits of foreign youths, students, writers, artists and journalists, he added.
Presently, Russia is working in 80 countries to enhance cultural and educational cooperation, and plans to work in 20 more countries.
“We are putting highest priority on education. Last year, 47 Bangladeshi students were provided scholarship to study in Russia, which would be 61 this year,” Chesnokov said.
Besides, he said, the Russian centre in Dhaka would be connected online to the Russian National Library and Museum, enabling its members to access history and literary books.
Nikolaev said Russia was beside Bangladesh in all aspects--politically, internationally and economically. Russian companies have started drilling seven gas wells here, two of them having potentials of producing 30 million cubic feet of gas, he said.
The envoy said, “As I put it…we want to recognise this country as Sonar Bangla.”