Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on Monday met a group of Cuban schoolchildren whom he had invited to visit Russia during his trip to Havana in February 2013. The meeting took place at the Russian government building known as the House of Government.
A bus took the schoolchildren to the House of Government’s first entrance where a landing site for the Russian prime minister’s helicopter is located. After posing for pictures, the children were taken inside to the Decoration Hall on the second floor. They were told that the Russian prime minister used the hall to present awards and diplomas to outstanding people. In that hall, the children took photos against the background of the Russian national flag. After that, the Cuban delegation consisting of five girls, a boy, a music teacher and the Cuban ambassador to Russia, were shown into a government assembly room. The children were impressed by crystal chandeliers and expensive furniture. Their eyes lit and they started talking to each other joyfully. The children were told how Russian government meetings take place. Their guides recommended them to watch a government meeting next Thursday which was supposed to be broadcast exactly from the government assembly hall.
After that, the children went up to the 12th floor where a table had been laid for them. Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev came into the room to meet the children after some time.
Medvedev recalled that during his visit to Havana he had been impressed how much the Cuban children knew about Russian culture. He simply could not but invite them to visit Russia.
"Our countries are linked with friendly ties. Many people from your country have studied and still study in Russia,” Medvedev said in his address to the children.
The Russian prime minister recommended the children to continue learning Russian in order to be able to read the works of Russian poet Alexander Pushkin in the original and study at Russian institutions of high learning.
Medvedev said that Russia had many places of interest. When asked whether it was cold in Moscow, the children replied that Monday’s weather reminded them of Havana in winter. Medvedev smiled and said that it would get warmer in Moscow in the next few days.
On July 24, the Cuban children will go for rest to the Orlyonok camp on the Black Sea. "The sea there may not be as warm as in your home country but I hope you will like it,” Medvedev said. He expressed the hope that the Cuban children would make friends with their peers. After that, the children shared their impressions of the Russian capital with the prime minister. One of the schoolgirls said that she had been impressed by Moscow’s architecture, especially the Red Square, the St. Basil’s Cathedral and the Cathedral of Christ the Savior. The children also liked the Moscow circus. One of the schoolchildren said that she had liked the elephant most. “Who does not like elephants? Everybody likes elephants,” Medvedev said laughingly. The prime minister was also interested which of the local fruits the children liked most. The children said they liked kiwi, pears, apples and apricots which they had never tasted before. One of the Cubans said that he used to think that kiwis grew in Russia.
"I first ate kiwi when I was older than you. We also had problems with that. But then we learnt to import fruit,” Medvedev said smilingly. In conclusion, Medvedev asked a nine-grader from Havana named Carla what books she preferred to read. She replied that Leo Tolstoy’s novel “War and Peace” was a book that she had recently read. She called it a serious novel. “ I read ‘War and Peace in school. I was 15 years old at that time. I cannot say that I understood everything because it is a serious novel,” Medvedev said. He added that Tolstoy was a writer to whom a contemporary person should keep turning throughout his life. "Pushkin is good at any age but it is difficult to translate his poems. That is why it is necessary to learn Russian and read his works in the original,” Medvedev told the Cuban guests.
The children thanked Medvedev for the invitation to visit Russia and for making their dream come true.
The children presented Medvedev with a drawing in pencil that depicted a meeting of Cuban leader Raul Castro and the Russian prime minister.