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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Cuban Photo Collection Marks the Revolution

Prensa LatinaChe Guevara in January 1960
When Cuban leader Raul Castro visited Moscow last month, he did the usual meetings and greetings that every foreign dignitary is bound to do, but he also went to one exhibition that had a more personal meaning.

"Cuban Report: Portraits Under Time" is an exhibition of more than 70 photographs, which 50 years on from the revolution that brought his brother to power provides an insider's glimpse of those events and later years of life in Cuba.

All the photos, most of which have never been on display before, come from the personal collection of Nikolai Chigir, the first correspondent that the Soviet state news agency TASS had in Cuba.

Alberto Korda / prensa latina
The exhibition has photographs of the leaders of the Cuban revolution and those of ordinary people on the island.
Chigir arrived on the island in 1959 and stayed for four years. He then returned in 1975 for another four-year term, collecting hundreds of photos along the way.

"Me and my father were checking out these old photographs and suddenly decided that we had to do something with them," said Valentina, Chigir's daughter.

Some of the photos are Chigir's own, but others come from the Cuban news agency Prensa Latina. Some are official photos and a few are by Alberto Korda, the legendary photographer whose iconic shot of guerrilla leader Che Guevara is known and worn by rebellious teenagers all over the world.

"The journalists of that time had other ways of working; they shared much more. A journalist gifted another with his pictures, and this exhibition is the result of these trades," said Valentina.

The exhibition covers the period immediately after the overthrow of Fulgencio Batista in January 1959 and goes up to the end of the 1970s.

Alberto Korda / prensa latina
There are portraits of ordinary people, revolutionary leaders and guerrilla fighters such as Camillo Cienfuegos, Guevara and Jose Ricardo Masetti, the Argentinean who founded Prensa Latina.

One of the pictures shows a mass of people carrying coffins — a mock funeral procession of the Organization of American States after Cuba was expelled from the organization in 1962. In another, Fidel Castro plays table tennis with a cigar in his mouth.

"There is a very well-related story in all this exhibition," said Jorge Petinaud, deputy correspondent of Prensa Latina in Moscow.

Castro spent more than three hours at the exhibit, which includes a very young-looking version of the president in one photo, during his visit — a record for an official visit, according to the museum.

The photos, as might be expected of a former TASS correspondent who spent many years on the island, are mostly supportive of the present Cuban government. Chigir has dedicated the show to the anniversary of the revolution and, all the photos will head to Cuba when the exhibition closes as he has donated them to the Cuban government.

"Cuban Reportage: Portraits Over Time" is at the Museum of the Great Patriotic War 1941-1945 through Feb. 27. 10 Ulitsa Bratyev Fonchenko. Metro Park Pobedy. Tel. 499-148-5550.