четверг, 30 апреля 2009 г.

9 days till the Victory Day (9 of May)


By Lyubov Tsarevskaya

On June 22nd the Nazi forces invaded the Soviet Union without declaration of war. The Second World War, which raged in Europe, became the Great Patriotic War on the Soviet territory. For a long four years the Soviet people defended their country’s independence and territorial integrity.
Numerical superiority in manpower and military hardware secured the Nazis a quick advance deep into this country. But the Nazi blitzkrieg ran into unprecedented heroism and tenacity of the Red Army and in the winter of 1941 the Nazis suffered a crushing defeat near Moscow and were thrown off 200 kilometers. Following the fiasco the Nazi command gave up on advancing throughout the entire front and chose to carry out the summer campaign of 1942 on the southern direction alone. Hitler wanted the wheat, coal and oil-rich areas of the Don, Volga and Caucasian Regions to paralyze the Soviet economy.
Stalingrad and the Caucasus were picked for a major blow. The capture of Stalingrad, one of the country’s major industrial centers, would have enabled the Nazis to establish control of the Volga and, provided the developments turned nicely for Germany, would have made it possible for the Nazis to advance northward and thereby cut Central Russia off the Ural rear and then surround and seize Moscow.
In the direction of Stalingrad the Nazi command concentrated a mighty force, which outnumbered the Red Army in manpower and hardware. The advance on Stalingrad began on July 17th 1942.
Fierce fighting raged at the curve of the Don and Volga for a month. Marshal Andrei Yeremenko, whose troops defended Stalingrad, recalled:
“On early morning August 23rd 1942 I was told that a major concentration of Nazi tanks, motorized infantry and artillery had crossed the Don the day before. Backed by aviation the Nazis broke through the front and headed to the east of Stalingrad. The enemy broke to the Volga near the tractor factory and on that same day the city came under massive bombardments, in which Stalingrad suffered extensive damage.”
Hitler wanted Stalingrad at all costs and the Nazi troops launched attack after attack. The enemy fought for each street or house day and night. The Soviet troops, pressed against the Volga bank, fully aware that the outcome of the battle is crucial for their country’s future, showed remarkable heroism.
As the world, with abated breath, followed the developments near Stalingrad and Germany expected the news of capture every day, the Soviet command was working out a counter-offensive plan code-named “Uranus”. Its goal was to surround and destroy the 6th army of General von Paulus, which besieged Stalingrad. To this end, fresh reinforcements were brought in. The Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels wrote:
“It was as if by a magic wand that more and more personnel and hardware grew out of the vast steppes of Russia, as if a skillful magician was moulding the Ural clay into Bolshevik men and vehicles in profusion.” At dawn on November 19th 1942 Soviet troops struck with fire at the enemy from the south and north and four days later encircled the 6th army of General von Paulus. It was the first major battle of the Nazi forces since the beginning of the Great Patriotic War.
Germany was shocked. Hitler ordered Paulus to hold out to the last soldier. He knew that losing Stalingrad would mean losing the initiative for good and leaving the Volga, an area in the very heart of Russia.
To help the besieged 6th army Hitler sends the “Don” group commanded by Field-Marshal Manstein. After breaking through the Soviet defenses the Nazis reached the Myshkov River, the last natural stronghold on the way to Stalingrad, which was only 40 kilometers away. The future of Paulus’s army was at stake, so fighting was particularly fierce in the area. The Soviet defending force was dwindling rapidly. On December 24th it was joined by the 2nd Guards Army of General Malinovsky and threw Manstein back from Stalingrad. From that moment on the 330-thousand strong Nazi group was a besieged POW camp.
The conditions of the besieged group approached the disaster point by the day. In January 1943 Nazi soldiers got 150 grams of bread a day and counted every cartridge. They ate 39 thousand horses. The number of those killed grew. The situation was yet worsened by severe frosts and snowstorms. In an attempt to avoid further casualties the Soviet command made repeated attempts to enter into talks with the command of the 6th army to suggest surrender. But the Nazis remained silent. Meanwhile, von Paulus reported to Hitler:
“Joint command of troops is no longer possible. Five divisions are smashed. Further defence is useless. Catastrophe is unavoidable. To save the remaining manpower I ask for permission to surrender.”
But instead of helping the dying army, Hitler sent radio messages ordering not to surrender. On the morning of January 31st 1943 Hitler sends a message, in which he elevated Paulus to the rank of Field-Marshal. That was tantamount to a death sentence and Paulus got it right. But yet he chose to surrender. On the same day an officer with a white flag came out of the basement where the Field Marshal’s headquarters were and indicated readiness for talks on the surrender. A team of officers and submachine gunners was dispatched to meet with Paulus. A former Soviet officer, Fyodor Ilchenko, recalls:
“At the entrance Paulus’s aide checked my papers. It was damp, dirty and smelly in the basement dimly lit by candles and oil-lamps. As I entered the commander’s room, so cold and damp, I saw a Nazi without a jacket lying on the couch. When we approached him he sat up. I noticed that he looked a sorry sight. His face twitched with spasms and his right eye was sort of blinking all the time. That was Field-Marshal Friedrich von Paulus. ‘Talks on surrender will be conducted by General Roske and a headquarters representative will take the surrender,’ he said in a quiet voice.”
In the Soviet headquarters von Paulus asked one of the generals to explain why the Soviet soldiers were fit to advance day and night and lie in the snow at temperatures as low as 35 to 40 degrees below zero. In response the General pointed at a soldier standing nearby: “Look at what he is wearing.” The soldier had on felt boots, wadded pants, thermal underwear, a short fur coat, a winter hat and mittens. ‘Our Motherland looks after its defenders,’ the General added.
Meanwhile, streams of captured Nazis trudged along the roads leading to Stalingrad. Frostbitten, muffled in rags, sacks and felt fabrics, the defeated soldiers and officers looked an abominable sight. The 6th Nazi army ceased to exist.
The Battle of Stalingrad lasted for 200 days and nights and left huge losses on both sides: 1.5 million from the Nazis and 1.13 million from the Soviets.
The Battle changed the course of the war on the Soviet-Nazi front in favour of the Soviet Union and reversed the tide of the Second World War on the whole. The defeat of the Nazis came as a symbolic grave cross that now loomed over the halo of the invincibility of Nazi Germany.
The defeat under Stalingrad shattered the morale of Nazi Germany and triggered widespread resentment over the futile war in satellite countries. The military and political consequences of Soviet successes in the winter of 1942-43 were so impressive that Hitler had to admit on February 1st 1943 that winning the war in the East by acting on the offensive was no longer possible. That, the fuehrer said, had to be accepted as a fact. But even though facts indicated imminent defeat Hitler and his entourage continued to believe that the war could yet be won and there was a chance to reverse the situation.
In an attempt to take revenge the Wehrmacht launched preparations for the summer campaign. Victory had to be obtained at any price to save the political image of Germany. Overall mobilization was declared throughout the country and tanks, self-propelled guns and planes were produced at increased pace. In the absence of second front in the West, Germany concentrated the bulk of its forces on the Soviet-Nazi front. In the summer campaign the Wehrmacht planned to destroy the Soviet forces near Kursk, Oryol and Belgorod. And this choice was fully justified.
In the course of Soviet advances in the winter of 1942-43 there formed an extensive bulge near Kursk, which was described by war historians as the Kursk Bulge. The bulge put the Soviet troops defending it at risk of being surrounded by the enemy. The Nazi command resolved to take advantage of the situation. To this end, it mounted an offensive code-named “Citadel”, under which the Soviet forces were to be surrounded from the flanks and destroyed west of Kursk. For the “Citadel” operation the enemy brought in 70 divisions, 16 of them tank and motorized, extensively backed from the air.
In answer to the Wehrmacht’s plan the Soviet command decided to abstain from a pre-emptive attack but tire the Nazis out in defense, knock out its tanks, and then with fresh reserves launch an offensive and smash the enemy.
The Battle of Kursk Bulge started on July 5th 1943. It took the Nazis the first few battles to feel the strength of the Soviet defenses. In the large-scale campaign in which four million soldiers took part and which lasted seven weeks the crucial time fell on July 12th, the day of the biggest in history tank battle, which occurred near Prokhorovka village in the Belgorod Region. Armoured Forces Marshal Pavel Rotmistrov, who commanded one of the tank armies, recalled.
“In the morning of July 12th I and a group of officers were at an observation point, from which the battlefield could be seen very clearly. In the first minutes of the battle two avalanches of tanks surged onto one another in clouds of dust and smoke. 1500 tanks on either side were in action simultaneously and the field near Prokhorovka proved too small for such a force. Locked into one huge tangle the tanks rolled into one enormous mass. Hundreds of tanks and self-propelled guns were on fire. The rumble from rattling armour and the howl of shells many of which ricocheted sideways as they hit the armour was deafening! Soldiers jumped out of burning tanks and rolled on the ground to put out flames.”
Hitler’s command pinned most of their hopes on the new “Tiger” and “Panther” tanks and the “Ferdinand” self-propelled gun. However, the Soviet tanks, which boasted a higher degree of maneuverability, knocked out the armoured Nazi monsters with utmost efficiency. The battle ended with a total defeat of the Nazi tank force, which was turned into a scrap of metal. After the Battle of Prokhorovka the Soviet troops went on the offensive and liberated Oryol and Belgorod.
The defeat of the Nazis near Kursk left Germany unable to recover from the losses. The German historian Goertliz wrote that the Battle of Kursk marked the beginning of a deadly crisis in the Nazi army.
On the occasion of the victory on the Kursk Bulge on August 5th 1943 Moscow for the first time saluted to Soviet troops. And that was quite justified, for winning the Battle of Kursk meant winning the war. The victory in the Battle of Kursk had far-reaching consequences – it brought forth the collapse of the Nazi bloc, which included a number of European countries, and led to the expansion of anti-fascist and national liberation movement in Europe.

The former battlefield near Prokhorovka is now a park with St.Peter and Paul’s Church and a memorial bell-tower that peals every 25 minutes in honour of Russian valiance in the three major battles in the history of Russia – the Battle of Kulikovo, the Battle of Borodino and the Battle of Prokhorovka.

Source:The Voice of Russia

среда, 29 апреля 2009 г.

Russia in photos (russian back-country)

Сельские виды
«Сельские виды» на Яндекс.Фотках

Осенний лес, Лен. Область
«Осенний лес, Лен. Область» на Яндекс.Фотках

Настроение: сопричастность
«Настроение: сопричастность» на Яндекс.Фотках

«РУССКИЙ СЕВЕР.» на Яндекс.Фотках
russian north

«Лотосы» на Яндекс.Фотках
Volga Delta.Blossoming lotuses.

«Затишье» на Яндекс.Фотках

10 days till the Victory Day (9 of May)


By Lyubov Tsarevskaya

Russians say that V-Day is a holiday which everybody celebrates with tears in their eyes, since the Soviet Union has paid too dear a price for its victory over Nazi Germany in the war of 1941-1945, with millions of Soviet troops having fallen on the battlefields. Memorial services are held in all Orthodox churches in Russia on Victory Day. During the war years the Russian Orthodox Church prayed for the victory over the enemy. One of those who prayed was a great hermit Seraphim of Vyritsa.
When the Second World War broke out, Father Seraphim was 75 and living out his days in a small village Vyritsa, near Leningrad (now St.Petesburg). Before the Germans moved in the local residents asked him if they should leave for the areas further east or stay in their home place. Father Seraphim, known for his astuteness, told them to stay, since Vyritsa would survive the invasion, all the houses would remain intact and no resident would die. Indeed, when Germans entered the village in September 1941, they killed no one and plundered no household. At that time Father Seraphim prayed day and night for the salvation of the residents’ souls, for saving the village and its church named after the Icon of the Mother of God of Kazan. The church was the only one in the vicinity of the frontline that conducted services. The invaders had no objections to public worship. What’s more, the enemy unit that was deployed in Vyritsa, was made up of Orthodox Rumanians (Hitler’s allies). They spoke a little Russian, understood divine services in Church Slavonic and would often attend the services at the church of the Icon of the Mother of God of Kazan. The unit chief was a German captain.
When the soldiers learnt about the astute old monk, they would often come to see him and ask just how the war would end, and if Hitler would win. Father Seraphim was quite outspoken and said that Hitler would never defeat Russia and that German would never capture Leningrad. Also, he predicted that the German captain would die in Poland and would never get back home.
…Many years later an elderly Rumanian who was part of the Vyritsa-deployed unit came to the village and said his chief had died in a place near Warsaw, just as Father Seraphim had said.
The old monk kept saying that Germans would soon leave, since they were guests, and guests normally do not stay long and leave for home. Someone informed on him and the commandant ordered that Father Seraphim should be killed. When soldiers burst into his house, the old monk said: “Oh, the assassins are here! But who are you going to shoot at? Do you see that Cross with the Saviour on it that I wear. So you will shoot at Christ. How can you say then that are believers?” He said all that in German, which he learnt in Germany, a country he frequently visited on business many years before. After that he told each soldier how many children the latter had: “You have two children, and you have three kids.” The soldiers did him no harm but reported the situation to the commandant, who countermanded his order.
To save the country and its people from death during the war Father Seraphim accomplished a very special feat: for 1,000 nights did he pray before an Icon of his heavenly protector St. Seraphim of Sarov, kneeling on a stone in his garden. And there should be no doubt that the prayer of the old monk, just as the prayers of other people, reached the ears of those they were meant for. Our Lord Jesus Christ did help Russia to defeat the enemy. The war was still in full swing, when the old monk began to ponder on the post-war life, giving advice on what should be done once the fighting was over, elaborating on the need for re-building churches and monasteries, on restoring the Orthodox faith.

Source:The Voice of Russia

вторник, 28 апреля 2009 г.

Today is Radonitsa

«Радоница.» на Яндекс.Фотках

According to canon law, visits to the cemetery at Easter day were forbidden. For this, there is a special holiday Radonitsa. Radonitsa is celebrated on the 9th day after Easter. Easter commemoration of the diseased takes place on Tuesday of Thomas week. People come to the cemetery to "exchange a triple kiss" and share the holiday meal with their dead relatives and friends. Orthodoxy brought in a new meaning to the ancient rite of spring funeral feasts. Jesus, having died for sinners and arisen, has given a new life to everyone – dead and alive.

The name of the holiday comes from the word "radost" (joy), that was brought by Jesus Resurrection. This day is meant to share joy and hope for the universal forgiveness and resurrection.

The ceremonial dishes such as fast funeral kutia, painted eggs, kulichi, pancakes, dracheni, honey prianiki and cookies are a must on the holiday table. The funeral table is decorated with a fir twig to the memory of a dead person there is an empty place, a setting and a candle. After the funerals feast an egg, a piece of kulich and cookies are left on the grave. The beggars are endowed with handouts.

In the Rus the youth waited for Krasnaya Gorka (folk name of Radonitsa) with impatience. People sang and danced in a ring on beautiful green hillocks.

Radonitsa days were considered the best marriage time. It was believed that people, got married at that period, would live well and happily. That is why young women accepted the proposals from men with optimism and enthusiasm.

There was another beautiful tradition of this time – daughters-in-laws and sons-in-law endowed their relatives given by God with different gifts.Radonitsa comes to every house, bringing joy to the hearts and rewarding everyone with spring merry communication with each other and dead relatives. The time of rejoicing unites the hearts of believers and the hope for the best times is born.


Russia, Bulgaria to sign South Stream deal in 2 weeks - Putin

MOSCOW, April 28 (RIA Novosti) - Russia and Bulgaria will endorse preliminary documents on the South Stream gas pipeline later on Tuesday and sign a final agreement in two weeks, the Russian prime minister said.

The project, designed to annually pump 31 billion cubic meters of Central Asian and Russian gas to the Balkans and on to other European countries, involves Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary, Italy and Greece.

"This document will be initialed today and signed in a couple of weeks. Russia and Bulgaria have no disagreements," Vladimir Putin said at a news conference with his Bulgarian counterpart.

He added that there had been some "technical" differences between Russian energy giant Gazprom and its Bulgarian partners related to the parties' contractual obligations, but said they were finally ironed out on Monday.

The pipeline is to go on stream in 2013.

In memory of Yekaterina Maksimova

Celebrated ballet dancer Yekaterina Maksimova has died, at age 70, in Moscow.

She used to say she had never been afflicted with star disease. She had never felt everything was hers for the asking. But her position at Moscow’s Bolshoi Theater, her rare gift for dancing and teaching dancing, her gift for stage-acting, and, last but not least, her charm seem to have really fallen in her lap.

If anyone could have danced all night, it was Maksimova. She starred in performances of classical and modern repertory and screen versions of ballets. She was offered jobs by choreographers and film directors of international recognition — Yuri Grigorovich, Maurice Bejart, and Franco Zefirelli. Her schedule was full to the brim. She said, in one of her last interviews, that there’d been so many times that she felt dog-tired and worn out. And she would be waiting behind stage thinking, if there was anything she could not do, it was going out into the limelight.

But as the music starts playing and you come on the stage, exhaustion gives way to concentration on your performance, Maximova says.

In the past 50 years, the press has repeatedly heaped praise on Maximova’s outstanding performances, calling her ballet icon Ulanova’s successor and a pink of graciousness. Her legendary partner and husband Vladimir Vasilyev also made the headlines with the press describing the duo as the most beautiful couple of Russian ballet and the world’s best ballet dancers.

Remarkably, Yekaterina Maximova often pointed to Chekhov’s Anyuta as one of her favorite main parts in a ballet that she stressed helped her stick to major moral values. In particular, I realized once again that I must always stand by my own principles, Maximova explained. And she tried to adhere to this till the end of her time, our correspondent concludes.

Olga Bugrova

Source:The Voice of Russia

Pioneer pilot of transatlantic flight celebrated 70 years on

Trailblazing soviet test pilot Vladimir Kokkinaki pioneered the shortest flight between Europe and America 70 years ago by flying non-stop from Moscow to New York, but unfortunately had to ditch short of his destination.

Moscow-New York is now a popular and comfortable direct flight over the Atlantic today, but there was a time when it was an unthinkable challenge that only one man decided to take.

Vladimir Kokkinaki was already a Soviet Hero for his first long distance flight across Russia, but he went down in history along with his co-pilot Mikhail Gordienko for trying to surpass his own record and make the first East-West non-stop transatlantic flight.

“My grandfather talked about how dangerous his work was. Between us there was always a feeling that he was someone special,” says Vladimir Kokkinaki’s granddaughter Irina.

Nineteen hours after leaving Moscow the weather ended up turning against them, along with their vital instruments, which forced them to spend hours looking for somewhere safe to land, eventually settling on an island off the coast of Canada.

“Their radio compass failed and they needed to make a crash landing on an Island off of New Brunswick, Canada,” Irina Kokkinaki says.

Miscou Island was their final destination, 700 miles short of New York and 3,900 miles from Moscow. Kikkonaki and his co-pilot never made it to The Big Apple but still covered a distance of 8,000 kilometres in less than 23 hours. Irrespective of not being able to fly the remaining five hours, this pioneer flight was celebrated as a tremendous step in the history of Russian aviation.

“Any flight at that time was difficult, but that distance flying that DB-3 bomber was extremely difficult and there was some fear that they would not make it,” explains aviation expert Nikolay Talikov.

Kokkinaki returned to Moscow a hero, honored with a ticker-tape parade and a letter from President Franklin Roosevelt, along with the ‘Wind Rose Award’ for finding the shortest route from Europe to America. It is still a route used today by commercial airlines like Delta and Aeroflot, who fly daily from Moscow to New York.

Kokkinaki’s granddaughter is a regular in the skies, and she always thinks about the man that to her was a grandfather first and a hero pilot second.


понедельник, 27 апреля 2009 г.

Dmitry Hvorostovsky-"Dark night"

Music by Nikita Bogoslovsky
Lyrics by Vladimir Agatov


Dark night, only bullets are whistling in the steppe,
Only the wind is wailing through the telephone wires, stars are faintly flickering...
In the dark night, my love, I know you are not sleeping,
And, near a child's crib, you secretly wipe away a tear.

How I love the depths of your gentle eyes,
How I long to press my lips to them!
This dark night separates us, my love,
And the dark, troubled steppe has come to lie between us.

I have faith in you, in you, my sweetheart.
That faith has shielded me from bullets in this dark night...
I am glad, I am calm in deadly battle:
I know you will meet me with love, no matter what happens.

Death is not terrible, we've met with it more than once in the steppe...
And here it looms over me once again,
You await my return, sitting sleepless near a cradle,
And so I know that nothing will happen to me!

english translation from russmus.net

The «Upstream» Against The «DownStream» Countries, or the Central Asian Water Problem

Aleksandr SHUSTOV

The deficit of water resources that may in the future be in greater demand than petroleum and natural gas has already become a reality for many districts of the inner Eurasia. Central Asia has not enjoyed the surplus of water for quite some time. The water problem is getting more and more charged with geopolitical meanings, directly affecting Russian interests.

At the start of 2009, when on the one hand there was in Russia a growth of interest in old Soviet projects of building big hydro power stations in Tajikistan and Kirghizia, on the other activities of Uzbekistan that essentially began forming in the region a sort of the “water bloc” were also evident. Russian diplomacy made attempts to have a balance between the interests of “the water source countries” (Tajikistan, Kirghizia) that control the heads of the biggest water arteries, the Amu Darya and Syr-Darya, and the “downstream” countries (Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenia) with their critical dependence on the water flow from the sources, but these attempts were almost futile.

Should the “bloc”-type geopolitical constellation be established in Central Asia, the standoff between the “upstream” and the “downstream” countries in their debate on the expediency of building big hydro power facilities on the trans-border rivers Amu Darya and Syr-Darya will be inevitable.

On April 13 Uzbekistan’s Foreign Ministry posted a press release, whose gist can be summed up by the following two points:

1)construction of new hydro power stations is a matter of concern for all the states in the region and it would aggravate the already difficult water supply situation to “the downstream regions” resulting in violations of the fragile ecological situation;

2) the problems relating to water and energy supply in Central Asia should be solved without interference of “third” countries (read: the Russian Federation). According to Uzbekistan’s Foreign Ministry developers of large-scale hydro power projects should take into account the interests of all the states in the region and be thoroughly investigated by international experts to assess their technological and environmental safety as well as guarantee maintenance of water balance. Violation of these principles could have “unpredictable environmental, economic, social and political consequences.” In the last several years the problems of water supply faced by “the downstream countries” was aggravated by shortage of water whose level in the Amu Darya and the Syr-Darya is, according to Uzbekistan’s Foreign Ministry, about 70% of the average annual standard.

Uzbekistan’s foreign ministry views the Kambaratinsk hydro power station (HPS) currently under construction in Kirghizia and the planned construction of the Rogunsk HPS in Tajikistan, as the Central Asian environment least friendly. The construction of both power stations was launched in the USSR and is still unfinished. The rated capacity of the Kambaratinsk-1 HPS in the mid-stream Naryn, a tributary of the Syr-Darya, is 1,900 MWt and a rated annual output of electricity at 5.1bln KWt/h. Uzbekistan’s government plans to have the capacity of the Rogunsk HPS in the Vakhsh basin almost twice as high, up to 3,600 MWt with an annual electricity output at up to 13.4bln KWt/h.

Russia is expected to play a decisive role in the construction of both power stations, becoming the principal investor in both projects. In October 2008 during the visit to Bishkek of Russian president Dmitry Medvedev agreements on the participation of Russian companies in the construction of the Kambaratinsk power stations in Kirghizia were signed. In November, the head of the RF Presidential Administration S.Naryshkin pledged assistance in the construction of the Rogunsk power station in Tajikistan.

Uzbekistan has the biggest population among Central Asian countries, about two-thirds of whom reside in rural agricultural areas; it depends more than others on water supply from the “upstream” countries. The Tashkent authorities are concerned over potential usage of water as a tool of political and economic pressure upon its neighbours. The statement president Medvedev made during his visit to Uzbekistan’s capital in January to the effect that implementation of major hydro power projects should meet the interests of all the countries in the region did not allay their fears.

In turn, erection of hydro power stations is essential for the Central Asian “upstream” countries. Unlike Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenia, Kirghizia and Tajikistan do not have significant oil and natural gas resources to provide heating and electricity to its population and economy. The principal suppliers of electricity in Kirghizia and Uzbekistan are hydro power stations. Water in their reservoirs is needed for watering the fields in summer in the “downstream” states, and for the production of electricity in winter – in the “upstream” ones. These contradictions were aggravated after the dismembering of the Soviet Union, when its former republics that were oil- and gas-rich began selling them at market prices, whereas the new independent states that were unable to purchase energy carriers in adequate amounts, had to dramatically increase, electricity production in winter, whose output, nevertheless, is critically inadequate. The only way out for Kirghizia and Tajikistan is erection of new power stations to both overcome the deficit of electricity and sell it to the neighbouring countries.

The interests of “the downstream” countries in the area of water usage coincide and objectively contradict the interests of their “upstream” neighbours to build new hydro power stations. During a telephone conversation in April 2009 the presidents I.Karimov of Uzbekistan and G.Berdymukhammedov of Turkmenia they “noted the significance of joint efforts in working out new approaches to finding solutions to the water problem, common to the countries of the region, as well as that of the Aral Sea.” Earlier I.Karimov discussed the water problem with Kazakhstan’s president N.Nazarbayev. And then Kazakhstan’s prime-minister paid a visit to Tashkent. Analysts say that these negotiations aim at working out a common position of both the “downstream” countries with an eye to construction of new hydro power stations in Kirghizia and Tajikistan.

The difference of interests of the “upstream” and “downstream” Central Asian countries that poses a threat of ending in an inter-state conflict is both a diplomatic and geopolitical challenge to Russia. Refusing to build power stations in Kirghizia and Tajikistan and ignoring their interests would be tantamount to inviting other state s, primarily China and Iran that have energy-related interests in Central Asia. However, it is not less significant for Russia to maintain close ties with Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan in the oil-and-gas area. In a word, the Central Asian “water problem” has questions for the Russian diplomacy that need to be addressed without delay.

Source:The Strategic Culture Foundation

12 days till the Victory Day ( 9 of May)

The siege of Leningrad

This was undoubtedly the most tragic period in the history of the city, a period full of suffering and heroism. For everyone who lives in St. Petersburg the Blokada (the Siege) of Leningrad is an important part of the city's heritage and a painful memory for the population's older generations.

Less than two and a half months after the Soviet Union was attacked by Nazi Germany, German troops were already approaching Leningrad. The Red Army was outflanked and on September 8 1941 the Germans had fully encircled Leningrad and the siege began. The siege lasted for a total of 900 days, from September 8 1941 until January 27 1944. The city's almost 3 million civilians (including about 400,000 children) refused to surrender and endured rapidly increasing hardships in the encircled city. Food and fuel stocks were limited to a mere 1-2 month supply, public transport was not operational and by the winter of 1941-42 there was no heating, no water supply, almost no electricity and very little food. In January 1942 in the depths of an unusually cold winter, the city's food rations reached an all time low of only 125 grams (about 1/4 of a pound) of bread per person per day. In just two months, January and February of 1942, 200,000 people died in Leningrad of cold and starvation. Despite these tragic losses and the inhuman conditions the city's war industries still continued to work and the city did not surrender.

Several hundred thousand people were evacuated from the city across Lake Ladoga via the famous "Road of Life" ("Doroga Zhizni") - the only route that connected the besieged city with the mainland. During the warm season people were ferried to the mainland, and in winter - carried by trucks that drove across the frozen lake under constant enemy bombardment.

Meanwhile, the city lived on. The treasures of the Hermitage and the suburban palaces of Petrodvorets and Pushkin were hidden in the basements of the Hermitage and St Isaac's Cathedral. Many of the city's students continued their studies and even passed their finals exams. Dmitry Shostakovich wrote his Seventh "Leningrad" Symphony and it was performed in the besieged city.

In January 1943 the Siege was broken and a year later, on January 27 1944 it was fully lifted. At least 641,000 people had died in Leningrad during the Siege (some estimates put this figure closer to 800,000). Most of them were buried in mass graves in different cemeteries, with the majority in the Piskariovskoye Memorial Cemetery, resting place to over 500,000 people and a timeless reminder of the heroic deeds of the city.


The collection of photos of Leningrad under siege by the Nazis, collaged with the views of present day St Petersburg.

The pictures are courtesy of Sergey Larenkov, an amateur photographer and a proud citizen of St Petersburg.


воскресенье, 26 апреля 2009 г.

13 days till the Victory Day ( 9 of May)


By Lyubov Tsarevskaya

Germany attacked the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941. The unexpectedness of the attack, superiority in manpower and army hardware, the experience of fighting in western Europe, as well as the military and political blunders of the Soviet government, enabled the Nazi troops to seize a good chunk of Soviet territory. The main attack was aimed at Moscow and the Germans approached the capital of the Soviet Union in the fall of 1941. They were so close to Moscow that they climbed on the roofs to see what people were doing in the streets of the Soviet capital. Newsreels and snapshots let one see what Moscow looked like in those days. The streets of the city were barricaded with sand bags, people were fleeing their homes. Antitank hedgehogs, reinforced concrete and machine gun emplacements surrounded the city. Home guards were learning to fire old rifles. Air balloons were floating in the sky over Moscow. But the Red Army held its traditional parade on the 7th of November on Moscow's Red Square, and news of that shook the world. The parade was held when the enemy was positioned thirty kilometers away from the city. The message was clear: the Soviets had no intention of giving in.
It was in that most difficult period that the Army General Georgy Zhukov was made commander of the Western Front of Soviet troops. In his memoirs Georgy Zhukov reminisced how he briefed the man who was replacing him as commander of the Leningrad Front and took a plane for Moscow, on the 7th of November, 1941. He landed in Moscow in the evening and went straight to the Kremlin, to see the commander-in-chief, Joseph Stalin. Stalin invited Zhukov to take a look at the map and said that the situation was most difficult and that he was unable to get a clear picture of what was happening. Stalin ordered Zhukov to go right to the headquarters of the Western Front, to familiarize himself with the situation and to give him a phone call at any time, be it day or night, whenever he was ready to brief him on the latest developments.
A serious threat was, indeed, looming over Moscow. The enemy was free to take any road to the capital of the Soviet Union. The Red Army was retreating. Home guards and death squads were formed and sent to fill the gaps in the frontline. Zhukov was planning a bold counteroffensive. Troops and trainloads of ammunition and army hardware were ordered from all over the country to Moscow. And yet, the enemy retained superiority over the Soviets, which explains why it was not the numerical strength of the Soviet units but their fighting potential that came to gain special importance. Reserve buildups on the lines of main attack enabled the Soviets to launch an unexpected counteroffensive on December 5, 1941.
The Soviet military leader Konstantin Rokossovsky recalled that the three weeks of heavy fighting, in the course of which Red troops protected every inch of Soviet land and dealt exceptionally damaging blows on the enemy, finally exhausted the Germans. The units of the Red Army launched a counteroffensive, an offensive and destroyed what remained of the Nazi army. The Germans were shamefully running away. This was achieved thanks to the exceptional heroism of the Soviet men, commanding officers who fought with a feeling that they were protecting Moscow.
The field log of the chief of the general staff of the German ground troops Colonel-General Franz Halder contains one of the most exhaustive evaluations of the battle of Moscow. Halder's diary says that Germany will never have such troops as it had before the attack on the Soviet Union. Germany lost a substantial part of its army in the suburbs of Moscow. It had made no plans for long warfare, which is why Hitler saw the defeat of his troops on the approaches to Moscow as catastrophic and as the beginning of a tragedy.
The Soviet victory gave a boost to the resistance to the Nazi occupation of Europe. General Charles de Gaulle said, in a radio broadcast transmitted from London, in January of 1942, that the French were enthusiastically hailing the victories and growing potential of the Russians. For these victories, de Gaulle said, brought France closer to its goal - liberty and retaliation.
The battle of Moscow turned the entire course of World War II. The defeat of the German army kept Japan and Turkey from joining forces with Hitler. The Soviet victory accelerated preparations for the creation of an anti-Hitler coalition and is seen as a preamble to the victorious battles of May of 1945.

Source:The Voice of Russia

Ten myths about the Chernobyl disaster

MOSCOW. (Rafael Arutyunyan for RIA Novosti) - Myth One: The accident at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant damaged the health of tens or even hundreds of thousands of people.

Facts: The Russian Medical Radiation Monitoring Register presented data on more than 500,000 people we monitored at an international forum in Vienna, Austria, held 20 years after the disaster.

The world's largest database of relevant information, the register contains nothing but facts, which are impossible to ignore. It only monitors the serious consequence of the disaster, thyroid carcinoma in children, caused by failure to take specific measures. They include the prevention of iodine deficiency, and limits on the consumption of locally grown foods. They attribute 200 out of the 400 cases of thyroid carcinoma monitored by medical staff in the regions that were affected the hardest by the consequences of the Chernobyl disaster. There has been one terminal case.

The World Health Organization wrote in a 2006 report: "A large increase in the incidence of thyroid cancer has occurred among people who were young children and adolescents at the time of the accident and lived in the most contaminated areas of Belarus, the Russian Federation and Ukraine. This was due to the high levels of radioactive iodine released from the Chernobyl reactor in the early days after the accident. Radioactive iodine was deposited in pastures eaten by cows who then concentrated it in their milk which was subsequently drunk by children. This was further exacerbated by a general iodine deficiency in the local diet causing more of the radioactive iodine to be accumulated in the thyroid. Since radioactive iodine is short lived, if people had stopped giving locally supplied contaminated milk to children for a few months following the accident, it is likely that most of the increase in radiation-induced thyroid cancer would not have resulted."

No other effects of the Chernobyl accident detrimental to human health were registered, which overturned all myths and stereotypes about its after-effects.

The biological effects of radiation are measured in millisievert (mSv). Of the 2.8 million people who were close to the disaster zone, 2.5 million received an additional amount of less than 10 mSv, or one-fifth of the average global background radiation. Less than 2,000 people received an additional dose of more than 100 mSv, which is 33% less than the amount the residents of Finland, Belgium or Russia's Republic of Altai receive annually.

For this reason, there are no - and cannot be any - other consequences of the disaster other than the above-mentioned thyroid cancer.

It should be noted that the death rate from cancer that is not connected to radiation among any given group of 2.8 million people, irrespective of their place of residence, is between 4,000 and 6,000 annually, or 80,000-120,000 per 20 years.

Another quotation: "For comparison, the high radiation dose a patient typically receives from one whole body computer tomography (CT) scan is approximately equivalent to the total dose accumulated in 20 years by the residents of the low contaminated areas following the Chernobyl accident."

A relevant example is the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, which killed 210,000. Only 480 of the 86,000 survivors of the tragedy, who were regularly screened by the Japanese medical register since 1950, died of radiation-related cancer.

Myth Two: The genetic consequences of the Chernobyol accident are horrific.

Facts: During 60 years of research, the global science has not registered any genetic mutations connected with radiation. Moreover, 20 years after the Chernobyl tragedy, the International Commission on Radiological Protection, seeing that there are no reasons to speak about potential genetic risks, downgraded the related risks by 90%.

Therefore, all rumors about the genetic consequences of the Chernobyl disaster can be dismissed as a groundless fantasy or lies.

Myth Three: The movement of people from Pripyat and neighbouring areas was badly organized; they must not be allowed to move back to their homes.

Facts: The evacuation of nearly 120,000 people was not organized in the most ideal fashion, but it was done quickly and professionally. It is also untrue that people received large radiation doses during the evacuation. I believe that they could be allowed to move back to their homes, after proper decontamination and cleaning of the territory, which was not done at all.

Myth Four: Nature and the environment were damaged more severely than human beings.

Facts: According to the radioecological paradigm, if human beings are protected, the environment is protected even better. When the health effects on humans are minimal, the effects on the environment are even smaller.

In Chernobyl, the environment was damaged only next to the destroyed reactor, where trees in the so-called Red Forest received up to 2,000 roentgens. Since then, the environment there has fully recovered, which would not have been possible in a chemical disaster.

Myth Five: Vast funds have been spent for the Chernobyl relief effort due to the enormity of the accident.

Facts: Starting from 1992, Russia spent $3.5 billion in the aftermath of the accident. The money was mainly used for social benefits. In truth, this sum was not much at all, working out to be a mere $1,000 per victim over 20 years. But the amount was adequate to the risks incurred. It was true, however, that the accident slowed down the growth of the nuclear energy industry in the Soviet Union and other countries.

Myth Six: Russia applies extremely high threshold values of acceptable radiation dose, the highest among other countries developing nuclear energy.

Facts: Our standards of acceptable radiation exposure are, on the contrary, among the most stringent in the world.

The radiation dose rate is measured in Becquerel (Bq). For example, Russia applies a normative of Cesium 137 content in milk, which should not exceed 100 Bq per liter. In Norway, they use 370 Bq per 1 kilo for baby food. Therefore, in Russia, milk containing 110 Bq is considered radioactive, while in Norway this level is one third of the allowed concentration.

Myth Seven: Chernobyl was the first major nuclear accident.

Facts: The first large-scale nuclear accident was at the Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania in the United States in 1979. There was a partial core meltdown in Unit 2 (a pressurized water reactor) due to technical breakdowns and personnel errors.

Myth Eight: The Soviet government kept the accident secret from the public while knowing what had unfolded from the very first minutes.

Facts: The situation was much more complex than certain "experts" would like it to be. Admittedly, the government did not make the news entirely public, but in the first place, it was the security system that proved unable to assess the situation adequately and promptly. What's more, Russia then did not have a reliable and independent radiation control system. There was no real time information on background radiation available at various distances from the plant.

If there had been a proper control system, local residents could have avoided consuming poisoned food on the first few days after the accident. The government initially failed to realize what happened and what the risks were.

As of now, each nuclear power plant has a network of automated background radiation control system surrounding it. Such networks enable the local officials or any other Internet user to follow radiation levels around the plant in real time. There was no such system then. Decision making required a lengthy analysis of the situation, which took too much precious time.

Myth Nine: The peaceful nuclear energy programs are responsible for what happened because nuclear energy is uncontrollable; it will sooner or later burst out and destroy everything.

Facts: There were three lessons to learn from the Chernobyl accident, and three reasons for what happened.

First: The nuclear plant personnel failed to follow instructions and rules of the test program. This situation would not be able to take place today. Now, all personnel actions are tightly regulated in compliance with accepted international standards and documents. Hundreds of safety data parameters are being transmitted in real time from each unit of each plant to Energoatom's crisis center. This accounts for a control system fully independent from the personnel.

Second: The structure and design of the Chernobyl reactor made it liable to accidents in the event of personnel human errors. Nuclear power plant security systems in Russia and other countries have been substantially improved since 1986, thus reducing the role of personnel.

Third: The decision to transfer the control over nuclear power plants to the USSR Ministry of Energy was a mistake. This amounted to the violation of the entire safety regime in the nuclear power industry. The Ministry's personnel was not prepared to monitor the nuclear power plants.

Myth Ten: The world is abandoning the use of nuclear power, as the Chernobyl disaster serves as a constant reminder of a possible radiation catastrophe.

Facts: The ten leading nations of the world produce over 80% of nuclear power. Russia is falling behind all developed nations who have already adopted nuclear power industry development programs. Developing countries have even more ambitious programs on nuclear power development. The world is currently experiencing a nuclear power renaissance, as almost all leading nations of the world have realized that only nuclear power can resolve the issues of sustainable development, environmental protection, and climate change.

We have scared ourselves with the Chernobyl disaster to such a degree that we need to understand how we managed to let that unfold.

Professor Rafael Arutyunyan, Ph. D. in physics and mathematics, is first deputy director of the Institute of Safe Nuclear Power Engineering at the Russian Academy of Sciences

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.

суббота, 25 апреля 2009 г.


By Lyubov Tsarevskaya

2009 – the year of the bicentennial anniversary of the birth of great Russian writer Nikolai Gogol. The festivities have already begun and will climax on April 1st, the writer’s birthday. The Glas, the first Orthodox Christian theater in Russia is honouring Gogol with theatrical productions based on his works.

A person can reach God via many paths, including the path of art. Nikolai Gogol wrote, “A modern man cannot merge with Christ directly; he needs certain invisible stair steps of Christianity, like art and theater, in particular, if the latter follows its better calling.”

One confirmation of this thought is the Orthodox Christian theater Glas founded in 1989. “Glas” is an Old Russian word meaning “voice”. Indeed, the theater then was much like “the voice of one crying in the wilderness – atheistic wilderness—and served as a reminder of long-forgotten Christian truths which the spectators starved for almost genetically. The road to creating the theater was not an easy one. Intense spiritual work had to be done by the management, directors and actors, followed by their coming into faith.

“After I had read the Gospel several times, I thought to myself — why don’t these universal truths sound from the stage?” says Nikita Astakhov, the Artistic Director of the theater. “Mass culture propagates sin, enmity, depravity, greed, and other vices, aiming to seduce people by presenting it in a pretty wrapper. The spectator succumbs to this information aggression and falls. Or – refuses to watch plays or television. That is why Orthodox Christian theater productions are so vital today. A believer knows that he or she will have to answer to God for everything and refuses to serve the devil. Such a person will expose sin, educate people through art, lead them to faith and edify them.”

The theater has a special relationship with Gogol’s works. “Easter Sunday”, “Nikolai, the servant of God” and “The Inspector-General with a Payoff” are the three productions based on his writings.

“When we were young, and there was no theater yet, we were fascinated by Gogol’s works,” Nikita Astakhov goes on to say. “It was later that we discovered his spiritual prose and his correspondence with his friends. We were astounded by the writer’s thoughts on the soul, human passions and vices. Written down in the 19th century, they are just as relevant today as they were then.

When Gogol was writing “The Inspector-General”, [quote] “he was hurting for Russia, and for the spiritual and ethical health of the people”. But the thought was lost on both the actors and the audiences. It was treated then as just another laugh-out-loud comedy. This public perception of his play upset Gogol. He had hoped that the comedy would have an instant and irrevocable effect on society, and that Russia, having seen her sins in the mirror of the play, would repent and be born anew. But it didn’t happen.

The public’s failure to understand the central message of the play prodded the author ten years later to add another scene to the play called “The Inspector-General with a Payoff” whereby he elucidated his thought: the Inspector-General is our own awakened conscience, and the town depicted in the comedy is not a real town but our very own soul inhabited by hideous passions… “But how can we conquer these passions?” Gogol asks and replies, “With laughter, that is given us to ridicule all that is vile and that which smears the true human beauty.” Let’s give laughter its real purpose back. Let’s take it away from those who have turned it into a frivolous sacrilege of everything, drawing no line between good and bad. Just like we do laugh at another’s meanness, let us also laugh generously at our own meanness. Similarly, you will find anything and everything in you if you descend deep into your soul with a real and incorruptible Inspector-General,” says Nikita Astakhov.

However, this final version of “The Inspector-General” failed to receive the state’s imprimatur. It is unfortunate that even today most people still perceive the outward side of the play and cannot discern its profound religious meaning…

For the first time in the history of Russian theater Nikolai Gogol’s “The Inspector-General” was produced in compliance with all his wishes and directions on the stage of the Orthodox Christian theater Glas.

Source:The Voice of Russia

Russia starts St. George Ribbon campaign for WWII dead, veterans

MOSCOW, April 24 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's annual St. George Ribbon campaign in honor of those who fought in World War II kicked off on Friday on the Far East island of Sakhalin.

This is the fifth year of the international campaign, started by RIA Novosti and the Student Community youth organization, with more than 45 million ribbons distributed throughout the world, including in Ukraine, Estonia, Germany, Britain, the United States and China.

The St. George Ribbon campaign has become a symbol of people's memory about Russia's heroic past. On the eve of Victory Day, May 9, people attach ribbons with black and orange stripes to their car antennas, jackets, backpacks, or beds in hospitals for veterans. Many people do not remove the ribbon for the entire year.

Orange and black are the traditional colors of Soviet and Russian awards for achievements in combat. The black and orange stripes symbolize smoke and fire.

By displaying the ribbons, the Russian people express their gratitude to those who fought for the independence of their state and saved it from Nazism - the alive and the dead, the known and the unknown.

14 days till the Victory Day (9 of May)


During World War Two there were many Russians who had either run away from Nazi death camps or forced labor joining the Resistance movement. There were more than 5,000 such people fighting the Nazis in Europe, one of the most famous of them being Fyodor Poletayev, better known by his Italian guerrilla nickname Fyodor Poetan.

Fyodor Poletayev was born on May 14, 1909 in a small village outside Ryazan, an old city in Central Russia. A fair-haired Hercules, he eventually started working as a blacksmith and would have lived happily ever after had it not been for the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union on that fateful morning of June 22, 1941…

Like thousands of his peers, Fyodor Poletayev was drafted into the Red Army, still unaware of the trials and tribulations that awaited him as the war wore on… He heroically defended Moscow against the advancing Nazis in the winter of 1941 but it just so happened that after six month of no-stop combat his division got encircled by the enemy. Wounded in hand-to-hand combat, Poletayev was taken prisoner and spent two long years in Nazi POW camps, first in Poland and then in Yugoslavia and Italy…

In the summer of 1944 Fyodor Poletayev and his two friends finally managed to break out from a Nazi concentration camp in Liguria, Italy. The region’s capital, Genoa, was then the center of the Resistance movement in the Apennines where there were several guerrilla brigades fighting the Nazis. Poletayev and two other Russian POWs eventually joined the Oreste guerrilla brigade that was part of the Pinan Cichero Resistance division. Finding it hard to pronounce Fyodor’s last name, the Italians called him Poetan. Disciplined, daring and cold-blooded, Poletayev quickly became the darling of his Italian friends.

Early in 1945 the Germans decided to flush out the Ligurian guerrillas launching a major punitive operation that spanned the whole area. The guerrillas and the Nazis fought especially viciously near Cantalupo in a battle that could seal the fate of the Resistance movement in the whole region. A guerrilla unit led by Nino Franchi Fyodor Poletayev fought in ambushed the Nazi forces. Even though far outnumbered by the enemy, the partisans fought valiantly forcing the enemy to fall back and dig in, some over the bend of the snow-covered road and the rest to move into a nearby barn.

With the enemy reinforcements already on their way, the guerrillas just couldn’t afford losing time… All of a sudden, Fyodor Poletayev’s mighty bulk rose up tall from the roadside snow. Spraying the enemy with bullets from his submachine gun, he ran out on the road and speaking in a thunderous voice ordered to Germans to surrender. Just as the startled Nazis started putting their hands in the air, one of them pulled up his gun and put a bullet right though the heart of the man who had saved the guerrillas’ lives and sealed their surprise victory… Fyodor Poletayev was buried at Rochetta and his remains were later moved to the Stalieno cemetery in Genoa.

On April 25 of 1947 an Italian government representative handed the Russian Consul General in Genoa the bronze badge of the Garibaldi Guerrilla Brigade and a gold medal for valour, both intended for the family of the fallen Russian hero. The gold medal with the words “Fyodor Alexander Poetan” engraved on its reverse is a top military distinction in Italy and a very honorable award for onetime members of the Italian Resistance movement. Suffice it to say that in Italy even generals are always the first to salute even private-rank holders of this much-touted Gold Medal and Fyodor Poletayev is the only foreigner to become Italy’s national hero.

In Russia it took the authorities another 15 years to officially acknowledge Poletayev’s heroic act though and to lift the official stigma of traitor from everyone who happened to be taken prisoner during that war. Sergei Smirnov, a journalist, used photographs and documents to prove that it was actually the Russian blacksmith and Red Army soldier Fyodor Poletayev, whom the Italians had made their national hero. In 1962 Fyodor Poletayev was posthumously awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union. Streets in Moscow and Ryazan now bear his name and there is also a monument erected to him in his hometown. The Italians, too, have put up several monuments commemorating the Russian hero and have even built an ocean-going liner bearing his name. A Russian hero to share a national hero’s status also in Italy… Another whim of fate…

Illustrations: V.Bashkov, A.Zhadnov, “Soldier Fyodor Poletayev”, Moscow, “Moskovskiy Rabochiy”, 1978

Source:The Voice of Russia

пятница, 24 апреля 2009 г.

Moscow and Washington going to Rome to count warheads

MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti political commentator Andrei Fedyashin) -

On April 24, Russian and American experts will start talks in Rome, which may lead to the first breakthrough in bilateral relations and new reductions in nuclear arms, notably, a new treaty to replace the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START-1).

It entered into force in 1994 and expires on December 5, 2009. In fact, it has already become obsolete.

Neither Moscow, nor Washington can afford to wait till December. They should draft a treaty or agreement by July, in time for President Barrack Obama's planned visit to Moscow. He is expected to sign something important with President Dmitry Medvedev, but for the time being there is nothing else to sign except for the new treaty.

Both sides are in a hurry. Two months is too little time for the proposed treaty, but not unrealistic. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his American counterpart Hillary Clinton are planning to meet in Washington on May 7 to check on the experts' progress. While addressing congressmen on April 22, Clinton said: "We have committed ourselves to working with Russia on finding a successor agreement to the START arms control agreement." The question is how to find it.

Everyone understands that we should move forward to tougher arms restrictions than those imposed by START-1. Why? First, both sides announced in December 2001 that the provisions of this treaty have been fulfilled. In a nutshell, the treaty commits each side to reduce the number of deployed carriers to 1,600, and the number of warheads to 6,000. In December 2001, Russia had 1,136 carriers and 5,518 warheads, while the United States had 1,237 carriers and 5,948 warheads.

In the recent estimate of the State Department, by January 1, 2009, Moscow had 814 carriers and 3,909 nuclear warheads, while the relevant numbers for the United States were 1,198 and 5,576, respectively. This gap is not alarming - in loaded weight we surpass the United States by almost 600 metric tons.

Second, it is hard for the United States to maintain such a nuclear arsenal during the economic crisis, and it is an even bigger burden for Russia.

However, figures are not the main point. If the treaty is not upgraded and improved properly, on which Russia insists, both sides could say "goodbye" to a later bilateral agreement on nuclear arms, which was signed by President George W. Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2002. This treaty provides for the reduction of strategic offensive armaments to 1,700-2,200 warheads by 2012. Its system of verification fully relies on that of START-1. By and large, the groundwork on both treaties will make it easy for the sides to agree to toughen START-1.

When it came to talks on nuclear arms cuts, the opinions of the Soviet Union and the United States always seriously diverged. For the time being, Obama's administration has not come up with anything new in this field. Perhaps it has a surprise in store for May?

Both Russia and the United States agree that they should reduce nuclear warheads and revise START-1. In this case, Obama's position is not very different from that of Bush in his later years. Eventually, Bush agreed that START-1 could be toughened. In effect, neither Washington, nor Moscow has ever opposed continued reductions in nuclear arsenals.

But the devil is in the details. The smaller the details, the bigger the devils, and the more enthusiastic the sides are in fighting for them. Well, this is only natural, if any nation, as Bernard Shaw once put it, has a tacit sympathy for its devils.

It will be hard to toughen the treaty because Washington has not yet completed the revision of its nuclear strategy. It should be finished by the fall. For the new treaty to be approved by Congress by December 5, the sides should have signed it by August.

American experts tend to believe that the work on the new treaty will have two stages. At the first stage, the sides will agree to conduct verifications and inspections, and reduce nuclear warheads to 1,500 each. This agreement could be signed by Obama and Medvedev in July. At the second stage, next year, the sides will decide to reduce warheads to 1,000 and to cut their carriers by half - to about 600-700 on each side. In this case, the United States will have to reduce more carriers than Russia.

In principle, both sides agree on the ceiling, but their opinions diverge on other issues.

As always, the United States is trying to leave part of its strategic missiles outside nuclear restrictions in accordance with Bush's new doctrine of a timely global strike. In line with this doctrine, a number of strategic nuclear missiles are equipped with conventional warheads for a crushing blow against terrorism. But it is quite easy to turn it into a nuclear carrier again, and it is absolutely unclear how to register strategic missiles with conventional warheads in the new treaty.

Moreover, the tougher the strategic restrictions for the United States and Russia, the more attention should be paid to the nuclear forces of France, Britain, China, Pakistan, and India, to name but a few. The importance of their nuclear forces in the world's nuclear balance will increase considerably.

However, for all the problems, Russia will stand to gain much more from the new treaty. We have fallen so far behind the United States in upgrading our nuclear carriers (neither Topols, nor submarine-launched Bulavas can redress the situation) that any restrictions will only benefit Russia. So, it seems that Russia will have to accept a host of American proposals if it does not want to deepen the nuclear gap. It will be no disaster if the new treaty is not signed but the gap in missile quality will increase.

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.

15 days till the Victory Day ( 9 of May)

Starting on September 1st 1939 with Nazi Germany’s attack against Poland, World War Two gradually sucked into its direful vortex 61 countries – in other words – 80% of the entire population of the world. Its fire-brandishing tornado swept across vast territories of Europe, Asia and Africa, engulfing oceanic expanses, reaching the shores of Alaska and Novaya Zemlya – in the north, the Atlantic coast – in the west, the Kuril isles– in the east, the borders of Egypt, India and Australia — in the south.

World War Two not only predetermined the fate of individual states and peoples, but whole continents, too. One of the indisputable results of our victory was that its aftershocks dealt a blow to the colonial system that existed for 400 years and to a great extent determined the existence of Asia, Africa and Latin America, leading to its collapse.

This is why victory in that war was, without a doubt, an event of profound geopolitical magnitude.

The most significant events and decisive battles of that war unfolded on the territory of our country. Our people carried the brunt of the hardships the war brought with it. We paid dearly for the long-awaited victory – World War Two claimed 27 million lives of our compatriots.

For all of us it was the Great Patriotic War. Great not so much due to its scale and purport, but rather because history of the 20th century had never before witnessed such heroic, such relentless will to succeed evinced by an entire nation, every man, woman and child…

Here are recollections of how the war started, shared by some of the young teenage Muscovites, who were later destined to experience the brunt of the hardships that befell our Homeland.

“This was on June 22nd 1941, we were returning home from a grad party at school,” recalls Muscovite Yelena Murina. “There used to be radio loudspeakers on posts … so I suddenly saw a crowd of people standing near one and listening to something. I stopped in curiosity. It turned out they were listening to the announcement that war had broken out…”

“My mother said to me: “WAR!,” recalls Muscovite Yevgeny Kirillov. “An unfamiliar, strange sensation came over me… Afterwards, there were the bombs, artillery fire…”

“At the time we were convinced we would make quick work of the fascists,” says Muscovite Polina Glazova. “Two-three months, a maximum of four – and the war would be over. Then we would start crushing the enemy on its territory already. Of course, we really had no knowledge what war was all about…”

For war against our country the German command had elaborated the “Barbaross”. “Barbaross” means ‘red bearded’. This was the nickname of Emperor Friedrik I, whose rule fell on the years 1150 – 1190. It wasn’t accidental that his nickname was borrowed for the plan. This was an allusion to the former imperial might of the German nation, that in its time had rallied Europe into a unity and ruled it, in one way or another, for several centuries.

Forming the strategic basis of the “Barbaross” plan was the theory of the ‘blitzkrieg’, or ‘lightning-quick’ war, which served its purpose so well in the war in the West. The plan presupposed an annihilation of Russia in the course of a swift campaign to last a maximum of five months. Acknowledged as the principal strategic objectives were Moscow, Leningrad, the Central industrial region and Donetsk coal-fields.

The operation to seize Moscow stood apart. In the final count it was believed that with the capture of Moscow the entire war would have been won.

Hitler’s command was so sure the “Barbaross” plan could never fail, that approximately as of spring 1941 they began elaborating further plans of assuming world supremacy.

Special staff headquarters trains were the venue of master scenarios where crack Nazi armies encircled the entire globe in a grip of iron…

In the logbook of the Wehrmacht Supreme Headquarters there is an entry on February 17th 1941 stating Hitler’s demand that “…after the end of the eastern campaign it is imperative to make provisions for the capture of Afghanistan and organize an assault against India.” In India it was planned to close ranks with the allied Japanese forces.

Stemming from these directives by Hitler, the Supreme headquarters embarked on elaborate planning of future Wehrmacht operations. After the defeat of the Soviet Armed forces the plan presupposed the capture of English colonial territories and a number of independent countries in the Mediterranean, in Africa, and in the Middle East. As a follow-up to this came the incursion into the British Isles and unfolding military action against America. Afterwards, jointly with Japanese militarist circles they nurtured plans of seizing the entire American continent.

According to the Nazis, the keystone to these ambitious plans of world dominance was the success of the blitzkrieg against our country – the USSR at the time.

The Nazis were convinced in their imminent victory. This conviction stemmed from the acknowledged military might and excellent field training of Hitler’s army, which had already seized twelve countries of Europe prior to its assault on the USSR. The Nazis hadn’t really come up against any opposition in any of these countries, with the exception of Yugoslavia, Greece and Albania. The Wehrmacht was in the zenith of its bodeful successes. The entire industrial powerhouse of the occupied countries was working on Hitler’s Germany. There was more than enough to lead one into a state of euphoria…

Around 4 a.m. in the morning on June 22nd 1941 Nazi Germany, in breach of the existing non-aggression pact between it and the USSR, lasting ten years, violated the borders of our country. This country was dealt a mighty blow from an accumulated force of 190 divisions, numbering almost 5 million troops, thousands of tanks, guns and machine-guns, planes, and almost 250 ships.

According to the plans of the Nazis, the Soviet Union was to be broken up and destroyed. Four German provinces were to be formed on its territory. Moscow, Leningrad, Kiev and many other cities were to be blown up, flooded and wiped off the face of the earth. The Nazi command stressed that the actions of the German army were to be particularly unmerciful. It demanded total annihilation of not only Red Army soldiers, but the civilian population of the USSR, too. Soldiers and officers of the Wehrmacht were given special refreshers, where it was said: “…kill every Russian, Soviet, without the slightest hesitation, be they old man, or woman, or child, girl or boy – by doing so, you will save yourself, ensure the future of your family and bring glory to your name.”

The “Barbaross” plan presumed a surprise attack along several directions with the use of tank, mechanized divisions and aviation, with the purpose of disengaging, surrounding and destroying the main forces of the Red Army, located in the western part of the USSR. Afterwards, plans presupposed a swift incursion inland.

On a vast area of the frontline – from the Barents Sea in the north-west to the Black Sea in the south there unfolded a spate of borderline battles. The enemy was much stronger. Besides, they had the added advantage of a surprise attack. This is why at the outset of the war the Red Army was always on the defensive, and forced to retreat instead of attempting to advance. However, even in these conditions, there were frequent manifestations of true valor.

The first example that comes to mind is, of course, the defense of Brest fortress, in the West of the country. It was one of the first to take upon itself the enemy’s blows. This is what a participant of the events around the defense of Brest fortress, Hero of the Soviet Union Major Gavrilov recalls:

“On June 22nd 1941 Hitler’s forces suddenly launched a barrage of artillery and mortar. At the time a major part of our garrison’s subdivisions were away on exercises. There was but one regiment remaining in the fortress itself. The Hitlerites had sent several divisions to crush us. The situation was extremely difficult. The Nazis issued an ultimatum, demanding we raise a white flag and surrender. We replied with gunfire and displayed the slogan: “We shall die for our Motherland, but we shall never surrender!”

Even after a month of fighting, the Brest fortress held out, engaging a significant part of the enemy’s forces and wearing them out. As for Major Gavrilov, the Germans were only able to seize him on the 33rd day, wounded and shell-shocked. They looked at him in stunned admiration, for he was all covered in blood-soaked bandages and could barely stand… The Major’s incredible heroism produced so great an impression on them they decided against executing him, and instead took him prisoner.

Luckily, Major Gavrilov survived and was able to return home after he was liberated.

Eight days after the beginning of the war, on June 30th, the State Defense Committee was summoned to take on complete responsibility for all state affairs. It was chaired by Joseph Stalin. The Committee adopted a directive for all near-frontline regions. This was a combat program of action of our people in the Great Patriotic War, a program of mobilization of all material and spiritual resources of the country for the purpose of defeating the enemy.

On July 7th Joseph Stalin addressed the nation, referring to everyone: “Brothers and Sisters! The treacherous military aggression of Hitler’s Germany against our Motherland, begun on June 22nd, continues… Despite the heroic resistance of the Red Army, the enemy still advances…

Our Motherland is in grave danger. This is a case of life and death for our Soviet state, the peoples of the USSR; our free and independent existence is placed on the line.

We must immediately convert our entire life and work onto military rails, with the interests of the front coming first and foremost in all matters, with the sole purpose of crushing the enemy.

Comrades, our strength is invincible. The brazen enemy must soon receive convincing proof of this… All the resources of the population – to the defeat of the common enemy! Forward! In the name of Victory!”

As Stalin was saying these words, the enemy had already seized Lithuania, part of Latvia, Byelorussia and Ukraine. The principal event of those days was the defensive battle on the outskirts of the western Russian town of Smolensk. The relentless resistance of our forces in this battle forced the enemy to revert to defense tactics. Thus, Hitler’s plan of a lightening-swift war was entirely frustrated. However, our country paid a heavy price for this in almost 310 thousand dead and captured.

In the Far North the German army group “Norway” was streaking towards Murmansk, yet was stopped in its tracks. The frontline here was stable right to the end of the war. Moreover, in certain areas the enemy never did cross our border.

In the North-West the enemy’s principle target was Leningrad (initially, and today – St.Petersburg). The German army group “North” laid siege to Leningrad in early September 1941, isolating it from the rest of the country. All that was left was the so-called ‘road of life’ across Lake Ladoga, along which Russia’s Northern capital received the help it was in vital need of. On the city’s northern side, Hitler’s allies – the Finnish forces had laid siege. Thus, there began the 900-day long siege of Leningrad that claimed 800,000 lives.

In the south the Germans, despite the stubborn resistance of our troops, seized Kiev, besieged Odessa, cut into the Crimea and laid siege to Sebastopol. The defenders of these cities fought stoically. Odessa had to be surrendered, with the troops redeployed from there to Sebastopol.

Scoring such major successes, on September 30th 35 German divisions launched an operation to seize Moscow. The enemy succeeded in breaking through to Moscow, yet their advance was temporarily cut short by the Red Army. In November the enemy renewed the attempt to seize Moscow.

Field-Marshal von Bock wrote in his command to attack Moscow:

“Soldiers! Moscow lies before you! In just two years all the capitals of the continent have been laid at your feet. All but Moscow… Force it to bow in submission! Moscow is a breeze! Advance! Know no fear!”

Hitler’s army bombed Moscow incessantly. Yet, there was no panic in the city. There was strict order. Everyone who could participated in the defense effort. The partisans were also actively fighting the enemy.

In the days of the great battle on the outskirts of Moscow the soldiers of the tank brigades were giving a solemn oath:

“We, guardsmen of the First tank brigade, solemnly swear to defend our Motherland to our last drop of blood. The hour of the enemy’s final defeat draws nearer. Onward, to Victory! Death to the German invaders!”

The Nazis were already distributing among their soldiers and officers invitations to their parade on Moscow’s Red Square. They were 30 kilometers away from the Kremlin… Our situation was critical. At that moment an effective propaganda action was called for. The country’s leadership decided to hold a traditional parade on Red Square in honor of the 24th anniversary of the October socialist revolution. This parade did take place. Addressing those gathered, Joseph Stalin said, in part:

“Comrades, we are forced to mark the 24th anniversary of the October revolution in severe circumstances… We have temporarily lost a number of regions. The enemy is on the very threshold of Moscow and Leningrad… However, despite our temporary failures, our army and Navy are rebuffing the onslaughts of the enemy along the entire length of the frontline, incurring their severe losses. Our country is one united combat unit, acting jointly with our army and fleet to secure a decisive victory over the German invaders.

The entire world is watching you as the sole force capable of destroying the hordes of Nazi invaders. The peoples of Europe are looking to you as their only liberators. May you be worthy of the great liberating mission. You are waging a just, liberating war. In this war, may you be inspired by the valor of your great forefathers: Alexander Nevsky, Dmitry Donskoy, Alexander Suvorov, Mikhail Kutuzov…

Onwards, to a complete defeat of the German invaders! Death to the German invaders! Long Live our glorious Motherland, its freedom and independence! Forward, to Victory!”

Straight from the parade the troops went off to the frontline — to fight for Moscow.

And we won that battle! As Russia’s great Marshal Georgy Zhukov, one of those to whom we owe our victory in the battle of Moscow, later recalled, our reconnaissance units had done an excellent job. They managed to glean information as to where the principal onslaught on Moscow would be coming from. It was in that direction that the defense lines were particularly reinforced.

“Hitler’s troops, of course, never anticipated such strong resistance on our part,” Georgy Zhukov said of the battle of Moscow. “Moreover, the further they advanced, the more dogged and resolute this resistance was. And by the time the enemy ventured onto the approaches to Moscow, understandably, every single person of ours put up an even greater resistance. The enemy’s losses were growing with rapid speed. In actual fact, they lost some of their best here… The Nazis suffered tremendous losses without anything to show for it. They had miscalculated, thinking we were incapable of defending our capital. And they had overestimated their own strength.

I believe that the battle of Moscow was a very important victory from a strategic aspect. It actually laid the groundwork for the ensuing final defeat of the Nazi hordes.”

Source:the Voice of Russia

четверг, 23 апреля 2009 г.

16 days till the Victory Day

Vasily Ivanovich Lebedev-Kumach

An unprecedented number of Nazi German and allied troops broke into the Soviet Union in the small hours of Sunday, June 22, 1941.
It took poet Vasily Lebedev-Kumach two days, June 22 and June 23, to write his Holy War poem. The poem made the lyrics of a new song presented, a mere three days later, to departing troops by the song and dance company of the Red Army. Artists, as well as the troops, met its call for national unity, moral integrity and heroism.

Arise huge country arise to the mortal fight
With the dark fascist force with the damned horde
Let noble fury boil up in a wave
There is a national holy war
Let noble fury boil up in a wave
There is a people's holy war

We shall repulse the suffocaters of all ardent ideas
Those tyrants, robbers, torturers of peoples
Let noble fury boil up in a wave
There is a people's holy war
The dark wings dare not fly over our native land
The enemy dare not trample her spacious fields

Let noble fury boil up in a wave
There is a people's holy war
The rotten fascist unclean
We will drive out with a bullet to the forehead
United with mankind we will hammer out a mighty coffin

Let noble fury boil up in a wave
There is a people's holy war
Let noble fury boil up in a wave
There is a people's holy war

среда, 22 апреля 2009 г.

Latvia attempting to rewrite war history

Latvia is making yet another attempt to rewrite the history of the Second World War. This time it is an attempt on people’s right to celebrate the sacred Victory Day holiday.

Riga Mayor Janis Birks says parliament might have to ban V-Day celebrations if the police find them threatening to public order.

Security considerations are just an excuse. Thousands of people are gathering on V-Day anniversary by the War Memorial in Riga to pay tribute to the memory of those who liberated Latvia and the rest of the world from the Nazis. But some radical circles in Latvia, who collaborated with the Nazis, their ideological successors and even politicians from a number of ruling parties stick to different values. They see soldiers who liberated their country from the Nazis as an “occupying” force and their sympathies lie with former members of Waffen-SS who fought with Nazi Germany. Political analyst Natalya Narochnitskaya comments.

Such attitudes, she says, fit well into the concept stubbornly pursued by the Baltic nations that the victory was in fact a defeat. Those who say so tend to forget that Lithuanians, Latvians and the Poles were to be servants to the Third Reich under Hitler’s plan. What was required of them in terms of education was to be able to read geographical signs in German in a country that would no longer be known as Latvia, Lithuania or Estonia but Ingermanland.

Glorification of Nazi collaborators and an attempt on the memory of the liberators is a crime and a cynical encroachment on common sense. Surprisingly, all this is happening in a country which is a member of the European Union. And its EU partners, who lost millions of lives in the war, say nothing to attempts to trample on the Allied Victory in the Second World War.

Yevgeny Kryshkin

Source:The Voice of Russia

Russia supports and deregulates small business

Russia is disbursing a hundred billion roubles this year on programmes to encourage small business activity. Fifteen of these billions are going to the regions.

Prime Minister Putin was speaking about this at a national small business forum in Moscow on Wednesday. He also outlined other important measures:

«The threshold profit for simplified taxation of a given business entity goes up from 30 million roubles a year to 60 billion roubles a year. True, the Treasury may lose over a hundred billion roubles in annual revenue. True, some unscrupulous entrepreneurs may try to split big businesses into a number of small ones. This downside, however, is unlikely to outweigh the encouragement from the measure».

The change will also reduce red tape, improve accountability and narrow down opportunities for corruption.

Banks cannot look forward to more government rescue funds unless they start extending loans to real industries, including in the small business segment.

From the coming May, the City of Moscow, the Republic of Tatarstan and SberBank will be running online auctions aimed at picking best bids for public contracts.

All small businesses will also be eligible to reduced rates on their power supply.

A national campaigner for small business named Sergei Borisov insisted these rates must be slashed one third and frozen at the level in October 2008. Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov promised a reduction as early as next month.

Igor Siletski

Source:The Voice of Russia

17 days till the Victory Day ( 9 of May).

The defence of the Brest Fortress

Fascist headquarters planned to seize Brest and the Brest Fortress which was located in the direction of the main attack of the Army Group Centre during the first hours of the War. The day Germany attacked the Soviet Union there were 7 rifle battalions, 1 reconnaissance and 2 artillery battalions, some specialised submissions of Rifle Regiments and Corps subunits, due of the 6th Orlov Redstandard and 42 Infantry division of the 28 Infantry Crops of the 4th Army, subunits of the 17th Redstandard Brest Frontierguard detachment, the 33 Separate Engineering Regiment, a part of the 132 Battalion of the troops of CGB (headquarters of the divisions and the 28 Infantry Cops were located in Brest). The military units were not launched in a war way and they didn't occupy the positions on the border line. Some of the units were assigned to defence construction works and were in training. On the night of the attack there were 7000-8000 men from various units including personnel of the garrison hospital and medical unit. More over the families - wives and children - of the servicemen were inside the fortress.

Since the first minutes of the war Brest and Brest Fortress were bombed and fired from artillery guns. Severe battles were launched at the border line, in the town and in the fortress. The 45th Division formed in Hitler's homeland occupied the very centre of the attack. This Division had been active in the occupation of Poland and France. Now it undertook the storming of the Brest Fortress, for which it was equipped with the 12 batteries of artillery, 9 batteries of the 4th Specialised Chemical Regiment, several powerful 550-600-millimetre Tor guns capable of shooting high-explosive and bunker-bursting shells weighting 1,250-2,200 kilogrammes. Five hundred guns capable of firing 4,000 shells per minute were trained on the fortress. Massive air coverage was provide for the 45th Division. The 45th Division was supported by the 34th and 31st Divisions of the 12th Army Infantry Corps from the flanks as well as it was supported by the 2nd Panzer Group led by Guderian. During half an hour the enemy had an aimed fire at the entrance gates bridgehead fortifications, bridges, artillery and autoparks; warehouses with the ammunition; medicine, food; at barracks, dwelling houses of the commanding officers. The squall of the fire was moved 10 minutes deeper each 4 minutes, it was followed by the assault groups of the enemy. As the result of the artillery shooting, fires the greatest number of warehouses was ruined and destroyed. The water supply didn't function, there was no connection with the Headquarters. The majority of the soldiers and officers were out of action at the very beginning of the war and they were separated but organised the defence of the independant spots.

Immediately after the beginning of the military offensive the frontierguards were the first to resist the attack in the western direction (the Terespol Bridgehead fortification); the Red Army men and cadets of the regiment schools of 84th and 125th rifle regiments which were located not far from the western border on the Volyn and Kobrin bridgehead fortifications. Stubborn resistance gave an opportunity to the half of the garrison to withdrawn from the fortress and to take with them guns light tanks to the regions of concentration to evacuated the first wounded. Only 3,5 - 4 thousand Soviet soldiers stayed in the fortress. The enemy had ten time numerical superiority. Their aim was to occupy the Citadel first using the advantage of their sudden attack. And after that to make other fortifications surrender. The first day of the War the fortress was rounded up. At the same period of time there were severe battles on the whole territory of the Fortress. From the very beginning it was the defence of the separate fortifications without general headquarters without contact with each other. The leaders of the defence of this or that fortification became officers or political instructors in some case those were soldiers.

By the end of the 22nd of June the enemy occupied the position in the barracks between Kholmsky and Terespol Gates. Then some sections of the defence barracks near the Brest Gate. There were 300 frontier guards fighting on the Terespol fortification. Before the War on the Volyn fortification there were hospitals of the 4th Red Army and the 28th Infantry Crops, the 95th Medical Battalion of the 6th Infantry Battalion. There was a training school of junior commanding officers of the 84 rifle regiment, some frontier guards.

The platoon of the regimental school was defending the position at the Southern Gate. There was a necessity of uniting the forces of the separate defence positions. There was a meeting of the commanding officers and political instructors where they decided to create a joint command for the defence of the Central Island. There was signed Directive 1. The Directive said that the commanding officers decided to place all their individual units into one large, joint-fighting force. Captain Zubachov was appointed commanding officer of the force. Commissar Fomin was appointed his assistant.

After three days of fighting, Joachim von Ribbentrop, the nazi Minister of Foreign Affairs, held a press conference in Berlin to announce that Russian resistance along the border had been broken. However, it was on this day that a joint command was created for the besieged garrison at the Brest Fortress. The Citadel's defence acquired a more organised, well-conceived character. Even though the commanding officers of the joint force didn't manage to unify the defence throughout the fortress - the fighting became more and more intense, and with it the disposition of the fighting defence units - nonetheless, the creation of the headquarters staff and the Directive played a major role in the defence of the Citadel, strengthening it, and making it both more stable and more flexible.

At noon on June 26 an advance unit of 120 men rushed out of the Brest Gate in the direction of the bridge. Machine-gunners covered the attacking troops with fire. Only a few small groups, however, succeeded in fighting their way through the solid ring of the enemy troops, and at a great loss in human life.

In the Northern part of the main earthwork ramparts in the region of the Northern Gate there were fighting groups of soldiers from different units under the leadership of the major P. Gavrilov. On the third day of the War the defenders of the Northern part of the earth work retreated to the East Fort, where there was the 393rd Anti-Aircraft Artillery Battalion, a transport company of the 333rd riffle regiment training battery of the 98 Independant Anti-Tank Artillery Battalion, soldiers of other units there were families of the officers. The number of the defenders in the fort was about 400 people. The leaders of the defence in the East Fort were major P. Gavrilov, political instructor S. Scrypnik - 333 infantry battalion and the commanding officer of the 18 Independant Communication Battalion.

The commander of the nazi 45 Infantry Division wrote in his reports: "It was impossible to advance here with only infantry at our disposal because the highly-organised rifle and machine-gun fire from the deep gun emplacements and horse-shoe-shaped yard cut down anyone who approached. There was only one solution - to force the Russians to capitulate through hunger and thirst. We were ready to use any means available to exhaust them... Our offers to give themselves up were unsuccessful..."

The Hitlerites were attacking the Fortress during the whole week. The Soviet soldiers had to repel 6-7 attacks a day. There were women and children helping soldiers. They looked after the wounded, loaded the machine-gun discs and belts with cartridges and even took up rifles to help defend the Fortress from enemy attacks. Children who had only a few days before been at school helped bring ammunition and food supplies from half destroyed supply depots, searched for and brought weapons and watched enemy movements. On June 27, the enemy began to use 540 millimetre guns which fired shells weighting 1.25 tons and 600-millimetre guns which bombaded the Citadel walls with concrete-piercing shells weighting over 2 tons. The situation inside the fortress became even more grave.

By the end of June the enemy seized the main part of the fortress. On June 29, the enemy delivered an ultimatum to the fortress defenders: the besieged troops would have to surrender or else the fortress would be totally destroyed.

Ruins of Terespol Gates

On June 29 and 30 the Germans undertook the assault. The major groups defending the fortress was gradually being destroyed and broken up, and the headquarters was smashed. The Citadel didn't raise the white flag. Dozens of bombers circled over the fortress and showered powerful bombs onto it. Enemy tanks penetrated the Citadel's courtyard and fired continuously in the region of the Brest Gate.

During this assault there were killed a lot of commanding officers. On June 30, the wounded and exhausted commanding officers of the joint force Captain Zubachov and Commissar Fomin were taken captive after the general assault. Commissar Fomin was shot by the Kholm Gate. Captain Zubachov died in a nazi concentration camp. On June 30 after the artillery gun firing the Hitlerites occupied the greater part of the fortification of the East Fort, the wounded were taken captive. The commanding officer of the German 45th Infantry Division wrote:

"June 30. The assault was readied with petrol, oil and grease. All this was rolled into the forts trenches in barrels and bottles, which we expected to bum with granades and incendiary bullets".

After fierce continuous fighting the enemy troops occupied most of the fortress. But the fighting went on even though instead of a joint defence there were only isolated centres of resistance - which nonetheless fought on even more stubbornly and ferociously.

Till 12th of June a small group of soldiers together with major Gavrilov kept on fighting. It was in the north-west section of the external earthwork where Gavrilov emptied his TT pistol and on July 23, the nazis finally captured the zounded and exhausted Major Gavrilov. He was liberated from a nazi concentration camp in April 1945.

The last days of the defence are covered with legends. During those days the inscriptions were made by the last defenders.

They said: "We'll die but we'll not leave the fortress". "I'm dying but I won't surrender. Farewell, Motherland. 20.VII.41."

The enemy couldn't get a single Red Army standard on the territory of the Fortress. At the critical moment Junior Sergeant Rodion Semenyuk and two other soldiers buried the standard of the 393rd Anti-Aircraft Artillery Battalion in one of the casemates on the East Fort west side. Fifteen years later, Semenyuk returned to Brest, found the spot and dug the standard up.

The basements of the White Palace of the Engineering Headquarters building, the barracks of the 333rd Rifle Regiment were the last centres of resistance in the Citadel. The enemy used the disposal to put an end to resistance here.

General Schlieper, commanding officer of the German 45th Division, wrote in one of his reports: "The 81st Combat Engineers' Battalion was given the task of blowing up this building on the Central Island ... in order to put an end to the Russian troops' flanking fire at the North Island. Explosives were lowered from the roof of the building towards the windows, then the fuses were lit. When they exploded, we could hear the Russian soldiers screaming and groaning, but they continued to fight." In his book, Rudolph Gschöpf writes: "We only gradually managed to take one defensive position after another as a result of stubborn fighting. The garrison of the so-called "0fficers' Corps" on the Central Island only ceased to exist with the building itself ... The resistance continued until the walls of the building were destroyed and razed to the ground by more powerful explosions".

Lieutenant Kizhevatov, one of the leaders of this sector's defence, died in the last fighting. A granite block bears a five-cornered star and a marble plaque with the inscription: "Soviet frontier-guards led by Lieutenant Andrei Kizhevatov heroically fought against German invaders here, in the former building of the 9th Frontier-Guard Station of the 17th Frontier-Guard Detachment. The name of Andrei Kizhevatov was given to a new frontier-guard station." Nothing remains of the old frontier-guard station today.

On July 8, the commanding officers of the 45th Division, which was laying siege to the fortress, sent a report to their general headquarters that the fortress had fallen. This was not entirely correct, however. Tiny centres of resistance continued in individual sectors of the Citadel and the Kobrin Fortification from late June to mid-July. Until the very end of July, however, rifle fire and short bursts of machine-gun fire continued to ring out from basements and half-destroyed casemates with small groups of soldiers inside. After that, solitary fighters bravery fought on. Even though they were starving and covered with wounds, they asked no mercy nor sought to give themselves up. No one knows when the very last shot was fired in the fortress, who the last defenders were, or how they died.

In August, 1941, however, a German military magazine carried a photograph on its cover, showing nazi flamethrowers still operating in the Brest Fortress.

The defenders of the Brest Fortress soldiers of 30 nationalities of the former Soviet Union fulfilled their duty. They were able to withstand and overcome difficulties through their courage and fighting skill.

It was the greatest deed in the history of the Great Patriotic War. The Soviet Union has honoured the feat performed by the defenders of the Brest Fortress. On May 8, 1965, the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR awarded the title of Hero Fortress to the Brest Fortress, along with the Order of Lenin and the Gold Star medal Major Gavrilov, commanding officer of the 44th Rifle Regiment has been awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union, Kizhevatov, the head of the 9th Frontier Guard Station was posthumously awarded the title of the Hero of the Soviet Union. About 200 of the defenders were awarded with orders and medals. In 1956 The Museum of the Defence of the Brest Fortress was opened.

September 25,1971 the Memorial Heroic Brest Fortress Complex was availed