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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

New Contest Launched For City's Birthday Gala

Moscow is having trouble working out a basic theme for the gala celebrations surrounding the 850th anniversary of the city of Moscow, due to be held in September next year.

The city government has already come up with a schedule consisting of dozens of special festival events that will build to a crescendo over the next year, promising to turn the celebration into one of the biggest ever conducted in Russia.

But organizers are still casting around for a general concept to pull it all together. A public open competition, which closed July 1, 1996, was supposed to yield a basic concept for the anniversary.

But a panel of judges, made up of the city's cultural and social elite, have just said they are not satisfied with any of the 20 entries.

Mark Zakharov, the director of the Moscow Lenkom Theater and the chairman of the celebration commission, said the proposals contained quite a few interesting ideas but none were good enough.

"We are looking for something very good and very well-balanced for such an important event as this anniversary, so we decided that some more people, especially young ones, should be involved in it," Zakharov said in a telephone interview.

According to Zakharov all preparations have been slightly delayed by "the recent presidential election fever" and now the pace will have to pick up.

Svetlana Gladkova, a city cultural official, suggested the kinds of themes the city was looking for. "It could be a look back into the history of the city or a focus on the future."

The deadline for the new competition will be September or October of this year. Russian newspapers reported that the city has announced a 1 million ruble prize ($190) for the winner and the two runners up.

According to Svetlana Dezhurnova of the celebration committee, competitions in categories like "Best souvenir" and "Best poster" will also take place within next two months.

Even without the overall concept, the city has already scheduled a long list of spectacular events ranging from an official Kremlin reception given by President Boris Yeltsin to a festival of fireworks.

Concerts on Moscow streets, squares and floating platforms along the Moskva River are on the list too. There will also be carnivals on Manezh Square, although the square is currently under reconstruction.

According to the culture and leisure committee of the Moscow government, most of the events will be financed from the budget with a relatively small part of costs covered by sponsors.

The history of Moscow traditionally starts from the year 1147 when, according to a chronicle, the official founder of Moscow, Prince Yury Dolgoruky of Suzdal, invited Svyatoslav Olgovich, the prince of Novgorod-Seversky, for a military meeting in Moscow. Legend has it that it was at that time that Dolgoruky, the city's founding father, pronounced the words: "Here a city will stand."

However, according to archaeological data, Moscow is at least a few hundred years older than 850.