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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

City's Charity Tradition Resurfaces




Russian hockey legend Vladislav Tretyak, former goalkeeper for CSKA Moscow, organized a charity tea and auction for Moscow's high society at Le Gastronome restaurant.


Wednesday's tea, the proceeds of which will go to the Orphanage of the Ascension on Bolshaya Serpukhovskaya Ulitsa, was not the first charity event to take place at the French restaurant.


The tradition of charity evenings at Le Gastronome began two years ago when actress Ingeborga Dapkunaite, who starred in Nikita Mikhalkov's Oscar-winning film "Burnt by the Sun" and with Tom Cruise in "Mission: Impossible," held a dinner there.


The London-based actress (she is married to a British director) brought London's tradition of afternoon tea to Moscow when she organized the city's first charity tea in December 1997 at Le Gastronome. Each guest brought a toy for the children of Orphanage No. 22.


The tradition continued in May of this year when Elena Bystritskaya invited members of Moscow's upper crust to a charity tea to raise money for her charity fund, founded in 1994 to support young people studying science and the arts.


Bystritskaya, star of the Soviet-era film "Tikhy Don" and one of the best-loved beauties of the Russian cinema, is still gorgeous at almost 70. She raised $6,000 at the May auction of antique dolls, modern icons and photographs by Anton Lange, a Hermes scarf and paintings by artist Pavel Kaplevich.


Unfortunately, Vladislav Tretyak, the organizer of Wednesday's tea, was not present that night at Le Gastronome - he had business in Chicago.


Olga Sviblova, director of the Moscow House of Photography, articulated the purpose of the event when she said: "This is a civilized way of doing charity, when the wealthy answer the needs of the poor in a way which does not debase those who give money or those who accept it."


"It is absolutely fine that society is dressed up and having a good time, talking with each other and dining on delicious food - because, at the same time, we are doing what we must do, sharing with the children who are wanting," she said.


Sviblova herself was dressed for a morning visit to Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov in her favorite Issey Miyake pleated pants and a jacket and skirt from another Japanese designer. She donated a great deal of books, remarking that reading is very important in child development.


Alla Weber, owner of the Moscow Trade House, is always dressed in clothes from the high fashion boutique. That night, she wore a Gucci pants suit with a Dolce & Gabban bag. Weber also brought presents for the children. Renata Litvinova, a script writer and actress known for her appearances in Russian cult director Kira Muratova's films, was also present.


Olga Slutsker, president of World Class Fitness Center, came with bags full of balls. She also allows children from the orphanage to swim in her center's pool and exercise at the facility.


Not long ago, Slutsker was interviewed for Harper's Bazaar magazine's "Her Style" section - now, everyone knows that she is addicted to cowboy boots, which she says are the most comfortable in the world. Wednesday, she combined short cowboy boots with a bright orange and blue embroidered costume from London's Voyage.


Also present were Alexander Shokhin, State Duma deputy, and Andris Liyepa and his sister Ilse, both stars of the Bolshoi Ballet and the children of late Russian ballet legend Maris Liyepa.


Konstantin Gusakov, co-owner of Le Gastronome, said that high profits obligate one to help others. "Unfortunately, charity was compromised in Soviet times as a bourgeois phenomenon," he said.


But the charity events at Le Gastronome have broken this pattern and begun a return to Russia's pre-Revolutionary charity tradition.