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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Cellist Accompanies Aid To Petersburg Pediatrics

ST. PETERSBURG -- Under the guiding hand of world-renowned cellist and conductor Mstislav Rostropovich, pharmaceutical giant Merck Sharpe and Dohmer signed an agreement Friday providing $400,000 in support for the St. Petersburg Pediatric Academy and Institute.

"This aid is priceless," said Rostropovich, who, since his 1991 return to his native land, has devoted much of his time to raising contributions for various social causes. "I am very proud of Russia and its medical professionals. Unfortunately, the level of our medical equipment is often not up to world standards."

The grant will be used to send doctors and medical experts from Georgetown University to the academy, which has an adjoining hospital, to train local medical professionals. It will also include shipments of Merck phameceuticals and hospital equipment.

"This center is not only a clinic, it's an educational institution," said Rostropovich. "That's why I've tried to get very modern equipment here."

In addition to treating children from across Russia and the CIS, the institute also has the ability to be a training center for medical professionals from other cities and former republics.

The grant was secured by the Vishnevskaya-Rostropovich Foundation, founded by the conductor-cellist and his wife, opera star Galina Vishnevskaya, which provides aid exclusively in the field of children's health care.

Merck vice president Bernard Brigonet said the agreement was part of the company's overall plans to provide aid to Russia.

"We have been looking at St. Petersburg as a special place," he said. The company contributed to the construction of a children's hospital in the city last year. "We are not here for the profits. We are here for the people," Brigonet added.

During his visit to the academy, Rostropovich also viewed medical equipment and medicine which the foundation had secured, which included a $200,000 ultrasound monitor from Hewlett-Packard.