понедельник, 29 июня 2009 г.

Gazprom to buy 0.5 bcm of Azerbaijani gas annually from 2010

BAKU, June 29 (RIA Novosti) - Gazprom will buy 500 million cubic meters of natural gas from Azerbaijan annually from January 1, 2010, CEO Alexei Miller said on Monday.

The Russian energy giant, which has not so far bought Azerbaijani gas, signed an agreement with the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR) earlier in the day.

"Gazprom will buy Azerbaijani gas from January 1, 2010. Initially we will buy 500 million cubic meters of Azerbaijani gas," Miller said, without disclosing either the price or the pricing formula.

"The agreement signed today fixes a basic price that is commercially attractive to our Azerbaijani partners," the Russian businessman said.

The agreed volume of deliveries from SOCAR is less than one tenth of one percent of the 549.7 billion cubic meters of gas Gazprom itself produced last year.

Azerbaijan plans eventually to increase gas supplies to Russia, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said.

"We plan in the future to increase supplies as the volume of Azerbaijani natural gas production goes up," Aliyev said on Monday after talks with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in Baku.

According to the Gazprom CEO, Azerbaijani gas to be pumped via a pipeline running between the two countries will be used in south Russian territories. He also pledged that similar volumes of gas would be reserved for European consumers.

Miller added that Gazprom was listed as a potential buyer of gas from the Shakh Deniz field with some privileges reserved for the company.

"We are confident that Gazprom has very good negotiating positions regarding long-term cooperation in the purchase of Azerbaijani gas," he said.

Speaking in early June at an oil conference in Azerbaijan's capital, Baku, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Matthew Bryza said that in 2012-2015 Azerbaijan would supply Europe with 12 billion cu m of gas from its Shakh Deniz field alone, raising supplies to 15 billion by 2015, and increasing them further by 2015-2020.

Exercise “Kavkaz-2009” begins in Russia’s south

MOSCOW, June 29 (Itar-Tass) -- The operational-strategic exercise “Kavkaz-2009” has begun in Russia’s south on Monday.

As head of the Information and Public Relations Service of the North-Caucasian Military District (NCMD) Colonel Andrei Bobrun told ITAR-TASS, “the exercise in the NCMD is being held in the period from June 29 to July 6 in accordance with a plan of training of the Russian Armed Forces under the direction of chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces General of the Army Nikolai Makarov.”

“Large units and military units of the NCMD, as well as interacting and dependent agencies - - the armies of the Air Force and Air Defense, the Caspian small fleet, the Novorossiisk naval base, the regional command of Interior Troops of the Russian Interior Ministry and the Airborne Troops are being involved in the exercise,” Bobrun specified. “The exercise will be held in the Krasnodar and Stavropol Territories, the Astrakhan, Volgograd and Rostov Regions, the Republics of North Ossetia – Olania, Ingushetia and Dagestan, as well as the Karachayevo-Cherkess and Chechen Republics.

пятница, 26 июня 2009 г.


The issue we are going to speak about is the greatest of mysteries which may possibly result eventually in the greatest of finds — Genghis Khan’s grave, or rather, the unknown whereabouts of his grave. Researchers from various countries have been exerting themselves to spot the tomb for decades, but so far with little success.

Few will know that Genghis Khan was born in the Trans-Baikal area, specifically in the Delyun-Boldok district on the Onon River, in the south of Russia’s current Chita region, supposedly in October 1155. His father Yesugei was the head of a clan of great antiquity. What is known of Genghis Khan’s infancy and adolescence has more to do with inventions and myths than hard facts. Temujin, which was Genghis Khan’s original name, had obviously defeated his main rivals during their struggle for power between 1183 and 1204, so when the chieftains of steppe tribes and clans met in a Kurultai, their council, in 1206, they acknowledged him “Khan” of all Mongols, and he took a new title Genghis, which is the Turkic for sea, or ocean. Genghis Khan means an absolute ruler, the one with ocean-wide powers, who governed from sea to sea. Following the required reorganization of his country and the Army he launched, within several years of the 1206 Kurultai, his invasions and conquests that actually shook the whole of the 13th century Eurasia. Genghis Khan died in the Tangut land known as Xi Xia during the invasion of that land that he started in 1226. Since by then he had been invariably escorted by his life chroniclers, the date of his death was accurately registered as the 25th of August, 1227.

After that his body was secretly taken to some place in Mongolia or China, with several such places officially named in the two countries to date. However, the surviving sources fail to report the exact location and none of the allegedly official whereabouts has offered final confirmation.

Russian orientalists have followed up the lead that Genghis Khan was buried in his birthplace on the Onon River. Legend has it that his war lords brought his dead body to the place and had a dam built near Delyun-Boldok mountain to make the river deviate from its riverbed. The sarcophagus with Genghis Khan’s body was placed on the riverbed, laid bare, and then the water was brought back to follow its original course.

Ancient people are known for secret burials of their chiefs. Legend says that the Great military leader Attila the Hun was laid to rest in a triple coffin made of gold, silver, and iron, along with some of the spoils of his conquests. His men diverted a section of the river Tisza, buried the coffin under the riverbed, and then were killed to keep the exact location a secret. The whereabouts have failed to be established to this day. The situation is perfectly similar to the Genghis Khan’s burial. All those who interred the Greatest of Mongols were killed afterwards, just as those who killed the grave-diggers.

So, why the grave location should be shrouded in complete mystery? The point is the nomads had a longstanding tradition to desecrate the graves of their enemies. The Turkis and Mongols believed that their community comprised all of their tribesmen, whether alive or dead. The soul of a dead relative may return to this world to get reincarnated in a descendant, but only if the entombed skeleton was complete with all its bones.

Mongol and Chinese chronicles offer a number of desecrations of dead enemy bodies. Tradition to desecrate enemy graves was alive in the steppe-land from the Bronze Age and was occasionally resorted to, to bring pressure to bear for political ends. Since the wise nomad chiefs were aware of this sort of things, they ordered their men to bury them in secret and with few of their riches. Genghis Khan was no exception to the rule. He proved perfectly far-sighted and told his sons, when about to die, to keep the location of his grave a secret to protect it from desecration by evil-doers.

But increasingly great numbers of researchers are set to uncover the secret of his grave whereabouts. The interment would beyond doubt prove of enormous value to archaeologists and historians. It is clearly premature to draw the line at the effort to search for the location of the tomb of the Great Mongol Ruler and War Lord Genghis Khan.

Source:The Voice of Russia

G8 find compromise on Iran

G8 foreign ministers have managed to find common ground on the situation in Iran. The joint statement says the G8 regrets the actions by Iranian authorities after the presidential election, which killed civilians.

The ministers are calling on Tehran to observe fundamental human rights. They have gathered in Trieste, Italy to work out the agenda of the upcoming leaders’ summit in L'Aquila in July.

The Islamic republic announced it would boycott the summit.

Speaking at the beginning of the meeting, Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said the G8 was working on “a good document that would include condemnation…but at the same time one that will recognise that electoral procedures are an Iranian question.”

The document appeared to be a compromise between states that intended to send a tough message to Tehran over the violence that followed the disputed reelection of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and those who were insisting on a dialogue. The latter include Moscow.

On Thursday, commenting on the Iranian issue, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said:

“We are certain that all questions concerning the latest elections in Iran must be settled on the basis of Iranian laws and in compliance with the procedures those rules establish.”

“As far as I understand, this is precisely what is going on there.”

“Naturally, we urge one and all to refrain from any actions that might create problems, in the first place those permitting violence that puts people's lives at risk,” Lavrov said.

Non-proliferation on the agenda

G8 foreign ministers have welcomed a Russian-American initiative on nuclear non-proliferation, a joint statement says.

Lavrov said Moscow will be coming to L'Aquila in July with several proposals.

“Russia hopes that during the summit some concrete discussion will take place on how to strengthen international security and stability,” he said.

Lavrov said Russia believes “it is necessary to strengthen the role of the UN in all possible ways and regional organizations cooperating with the UN.”

As for energy security, the minister went on, “President Medvedev has presented new suggestions to the world community on how to work out new international laws of energy cooperation in all spheres and including all affected – the producers, the consumers and the transit countries.”

Such worrying issues for international society as the nuclear ambitions of North Korea and Iran were also discussed today by the top diplomats. As for Tehran’s nuclear plans, Lavrov has once again called on the international community to be patient.

The summit participants condemned North Korea over its nuclear tests, but urged the situation to be resolved in a peaceful manner.

Middle East peace process

Lavrov is also taking part in a meeting of the Middle East Quartet, which is being held on Friday on the sidelines of the G8 meeting. The talks are aimed at restarting the peace process between Israel and Palestine.

Russia supports the Arab point of view, saying Israel should leave territories it occupied after the1967 war, and lift its blockade on the Gaza strip.

President Dmitry Medvedev, during his visit to Egypt on June 23, whilst addressing the League of Arab States, also spoke of a need to find a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“We understand that resolving the Palestinian conflict and halting the occupation of Palestinian and other Arab lands are key to the overall normalization of the situation in the Middle East,” he said.

“The resolution,” he continued, “must include the creation of an independent, sovereign and viable Palestinian state with the capital in East Jerusalem, which will coexist peacefully with all the countries in the region, including Israel.”

Ahead of Obama’s visit to Russia

In Trieste, the Russian Foreign Minister met with US Under Secretary of State William Burns. The two discussed the course of preparation for President Obama’s upcoming visit to Moscow as well as Russian-American bilateral relations and international issues.

The US President is expected to visit Moscow from July 6-8.

The foreign ministers of China, India, Brazil, Mexico, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Turkey are taking part in the three-day meeting in Northern Italy.
After the G8 summit Lavrov will move on to the Greek island of Corfu for an informal summit of the foreign ministers of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and an unofficial meeting of the Russia-NATO Council. The meetings will take place on June 27. These will be the first talks on such a high level after the conflict in the Caucasus in August last year.


среда, 24 июня 2009 г.

Medvedev takes Africa-wide safari

Russia is hoping to reestablish close links with Africa as Russian President Dmitry Medvedev embarks on a tour across the continent. He is accompanied by a trade delegation which will focus on striking energy deals.
Medvedev has arrived in Egypt on an official visit. He met with the country’s leader Hosni Mubarak and discussed international issues such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, energy security, and the crisis in Iran.

Speaking after the meeting in Cairo, the Russian president said:

“We highly appreciate the efforts which the Egyptian president is making to build an atmosphere of trust and cooperation in the region. We hope that we will continue our reciprocal cooperation in this sphere. I think that an international Middle East peace conference will really contribute to achieving this goal. We are planning to hold it in Moscow before the end of the year.”

The presidents have signed a strategic partnership agreement sealing future relations in military cooperation, tourism, trade and other areas.

Egypt, Russia’s top partner in Africa, is a magnet for Russian tourists, one of the top holiday destinations. Last year almost two million Russian tourists visited this North African country, but since the beginning of this year their number has been affected by the global economic downturn, which is something Egypt would like to change.

During the Egyptian leg of his African tour, Medvedev has also met Patriarch Theodore II of Alexandria, the second most important figure in the Russian Orthodox hierarchy.

The Russian leader spoke at the headquarters of the League of Arab States – a regional organization made up of 21 Arab states, where he also met the organization’s Secretary-General Amr Moussa.

A meeting with speaker of the Egyptian parliament and chairman of the Egypt-Russia Friendship Association Fathi Sorour will round up Medvedev’s working day in Cairo.

After Egypt, Medvedev will visit Nigeria, Namibia and Angola.

Medvedev’s big African tour has already been hailed as Russia’s return to the continent. This is because in Soviet times and during the Cold War the USSR played a very active role in Africa. Back then, Russia had particularly close ties with Angola and to some extent with Egypt as well. The latter’s biggest infrastructure projects were built with Soviet help.

Some analysts are already saying that this visit is about reestablishing Moscow’s influence in the former Soviet sphere of interests.

Back then it was all about ideology and now it is all about business. Moscow is very much interested in the continent’s vast natural reserves. Dmitry Medvedev is being accompanied on the tour by a large number of Russian businessmen and top officials.

For example in Namibia, Russian interests are focused on oil and gas exploration, as well as uranium extraction and diamond cutting.

In Nigeria, a nuclear cooperation deal could be on the cards. Also, Russia’s gas giant Gazprom is very much interested in taking part in the key pipeline project that would send Nigerian gas to Europe. The project is heavily backed by the EU and is aimed at diversifying Europe’s energy supply.

At the same time, despite a very tight schedule, Medvedev is sparing time for some sightseeing. He is expected to visit the legendary pyramids of Egypt and go on a safari trip in Namibia.


понедельник, 22 июня 2009 г.

War lyric song -"Good-bye, boys"

Lyrics and music by famous russian bard-Bulat Okudzhava

Oh war, what have you done, you villain!
Our courtyards have all grown silent.
Our boys have raised their heads,
they've become men too soon.
They appeared in the doorway a moment
and departed - soldier after soldier...

Good-bye, boys!

Boys -

try to retrn!

Don't hide yourselves, stand tall,
don't spare either bullets or shells,
and don't spare yourselves, but still try to return!

Oh war, what have you done, you villain!
Instead of weddings there are partings and smoke.
All our girls have given their wedding dresses
away to their little sisters.
How can you get away from those boots?!
Or from those green epaulets?!...
Spit on the gossips, girls,
we'll settle the score with them later!
Let them babble that there's nothing for you to believe in,
that you go through the war blindly...

Good-bye, girls!

Girls -

try to return!

Sings Anzhelika Varum


Response to crime in Ingushetia to be tough - Medvedev

MOSCOW, June 22 (Itar-Tass) - President Dmitry Medvedev has assigned Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov to step up work for suppressing terrorist manifestations in the republic. Medvedev assured that the authorities would respond in a tough way to the attempt on the life of Ingush President Yunus-Bek Yevkurov.

“A crime was staged today – an attempt on the life of the President of Ingushetia. This is certainly the result of the work being done by the president of your neighbouring republic – a friendly, fraternal republic -- for establishing order and destroying gangsters,” Medvedev said at a meeting with Ramzan Kadyrov in Moscow.

“I think the work should be continued, so that those who take such actions will realise that the response will be direct and tough,” the Russian President stressed.

June 1941: Blitzkrieg Eastward falls through

On June 22nd 1941 Nazi Germany launched a perfidious offensive against the Soviet Union without any declaration of war. What followed was the bloodiest war in the history of humanity which claimed millions of lives and inflicted untold suffering. The sad date is marked annually on former Soviet space, particularly Russia, Ukraine and Belarus, which bore the brunt of the attack.

Many accounts of the war and pre-war period reveal misrepresentation and outright falsification of facts. 68 years on, historians continue to ponder on whether the Soviet Union was ready for the war and why the Nazis managed to wedge that deep into the Soviet territory. Russian historian Vladimir Nevezhin says one of the sore points in disputes about the war is relations between the Soviet Union and Germany.

Some tend to claim that the Soviet Union was an ally to Nazi Germany, he says. But there was no way it could be Germany’s ally as the Soviet leadership regarded Germany enemy number one since 1940, when it got down to elaborate strategic plans in preparation for the war. All ideological structures were alerted to pursue the sole purpose of getting ready for the war. Another disputable point is how prepared the Soviet Union was for the war and the extent of miscalculations on the part of military command in waging it. But even though there could be errors or even crimes, they should be viewed from a broader context, as besides top leadership there were district commanders and army commanders and they too bore responsibility for what happened in 1941.

Amassed on the Soviet front by the time of the attack were 190 divisions of Germany and its allies, including elite tank divisions with 3500 tanks. Nearly all forces on the ground were aimed against the Soviet Union. The Soviet-German front became decisive in the Second World War, and Hitler and his entourage, who counted on a swift victory under the Blitzkrieg doctrine, were building plans for the future. By autumn 1941 the Nazi heads were planning to advance on Iran, Iraq, Egypt and the Suez Canal. But the plans fell through due to the unparalleled heroism of Soviet soldiers and officers who mounted fierce resistance over a territory from the Baltic to the Black Sea. A glaring instance of such heroism was the defense of Brest Fortress in Belarus which lasted for more than a month.

From the very outset the war followed a scenario different from the one pursued by Nazi generals. Despite the mistakes the Red Army crushed Nazi plans as early as in summer 1941 and changed the course of war in line with its own scenario.

Oleg Nekhai

Source:The Voice of Russia

Russia marks Day of Memory and Grief

Millions of candles were lit in different regions of Russia at dawn on Sunday to pay tribute to those who died during World War Two.

June 22 is the most tragic day in Russian history. 68 years ago, on a warm and quiet morning like today, Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union without warning and a terrible and bloody war began. It took the lives of more than 26 million Soviet people.

Today we are very unlikely to find anybody who survived the very first battles on the morning of June 22, 1941, Neither will we be able to talk to those who defended their native land against the invaders. However, today`s youth will always remember the victims of the most deadly war.

At 4 a.m (Moscow time) thousands of young people came to the Eternal Flame memorial on Red Square and to the Mamayev Kurgan in Volgograd to take part in remembrance ceremonies. People in many other Russian cities also brought flowers and candles to war memorials. Major-General Victor Novikov, who graduated from school in 1941, recollects…
"In June of 1941 I wasworking in a summer camp of young pioneers in a distant Siberian village. Early in the morning on June 22 a man from a local military enlistment office came and told us to leave the camp because the mobilized men would arrive there soon before going to the frontline. At first, we did not take the news seriously. We were told we would fight outside our homeland but everything happened differently. I fought for three years then. This is how the war came to my life. The day of 22d of June is impossible to forget. It changed the lives of hundreds of millions of Soviet people. And while I have enough strength I tell about the horrors of the war to my grandchildren and their friends for they should know and remember this.

Thousands of young Russians who on Sunday morning came to the war memorials and lit the candles remember the heroes of WW II.

Svetlana Andreeva


Source:The Voice of Russia

суббота, 20 июня 2009 г.

Russia and US to begin a new round of START talks

Russia and the U.S. are set to begin a new round of talks on a new START treaty to reduce the volume of their strategic nuclear arsenals with official delegations set to meet in Geneva on June 23-24.

The Geneva meeting will set the stage for President Barack Obama's visit to Moscow in July with a panel of experts instructed to file a detailed progress report on the new treaty to replace the current one, which runs out in December.

The Russian and American presidents agreed during their first meeting in London in April upon an immediate start to new START talks.
The first round of consultations was held in Moscow in May and the second came early this month in Geneva, shortly followed by an in-between meeting later in the month. Up till now all bilateral consultations on the issue, including last month’s visit to Washington by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov have been held in a constructive and businesslike manner.

However, despite both sides' apparent willingness to lead the way in nuclear reductions, there are worries that discrepancies in the number of nuclear warheads possessed by Russia and the US could complicate the talks.

Russia wants the new START treaty to limit not only the number of nuclear warheads, but also the means of their delivery. It is also holding out for a ban on the two countries deploying strategic nuclear weapons abroad and their placement in outer space. Moscow will also be pushing for the issues of strategic offensive arms and missile defense systems to be discussed as a single package – a clear reference to Washington’s planned anti-missile defense plans for Poland and the Czech Republic.
If the diplomats manage to quickly cope with the maze of extremely complex tasks at hand, Russians, Americans and just about everybody else in the world, will see that with goodwill and a sincere desire to reset their relations, Moscow and Washington can achieve what only yesterday looked like a mission impossible.

Viktor Yenikeyev

Source:The Voice of Russia

Russia's Medvedev, Dutch queen open museum in Amsterdam

AMSTERDAM, June 20 (RIA Novosti) - Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands have opened a branch of the St. Petersburg-based Hermitage Museum in Amsterdam.

The Hermitage on the Amstel that opened on Friday night will soon host permanent exhibitions from Russia.

Ernst Veen, director of the new museum, said "there will be plenty to show" on loan from the Hermitage which has more than three million art objects.

A permanent exhibition at the new museum will be dedicated to Dutch-Russian relations, which started when Peter the Great went to Amsterdam in 1697 to study shipbuilding. The Russian tsar also built Russia's second-largest city of St. Petersburg on the model of Amsterdam.

The first exhibition, which opened on Saturday, is called "At the Russian Court. Palace and Protocol in the 19th Century." More than 1,800 exhibit loans from the St. Petersburg Hermitage are on display.

The Hermitage already has small outlets in London and Las Vegas.

четверг, 18 июня 2009 г.

Mega-deals and security to link China and Russia

Russia and China have signed multi-million dollar deals during a meeting of the countries’ heads in Moscow. President Medvedev said overcoming the global financial crisis depends greatly on the countries’ cooperation.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Chinese leader Hu Jintao have signed a joint declaration and plan for Russo-Chinese partnership. They have put their signatures to three memorandums of understanding, namely for cooperation in gas and coal, and stimulating bilateral trade.

Amidst the financial turmoil, Russia and China are yet again challenging the dominance of the dollar.

“An issue which has become crucial for us is the use of national currencies in bilateral payments. We may even introduce alterations to existing documents,” Medvedev said.

The pace of cooperation between the two has slowed this year in an expected side-effect of financial downturn. Oddly many experts believe it’s the crisis that will help the two to emerge as even bigger global players. Political analyst Evgeny Bazhenov believes that Russia and China are adjusting to new realities after the financial crisis.

“I think what is changing is the role of China and Russia in international relations. Just a few years ago, many people were saying that America is the only super power, that it’s far ahead of all other countries and can do whatever it wants. It is in charge of world economy and the world’s political and military life, etc. Now it’s changing of course, and the Americans themselves understand that it’s a new world, and in this respect, other big countries like Russia and China are trying to enforce their positions in the world,” Bazhenov said to RT.

Russia and China are among the biggest holders of the dollar outside the US, and they both seek to lessen their reliance on the currency, although up till now it’s been more of a daydream.

“It will take years and it will take preparations, and we don’t want to do it against the dollar, against the US, but together with them. All countries should work together in setting up a good system which will suit everybody,” says Evgeny Bazhenov.

Russia and China also say using their national currencies in bilateral deals could prove a crucial crisis remedy.

Though they agreed to dump the dollar someday, for now Russia will get a more than US$1 billion loan from China.

“To buy Chinese machinery. Of course it's very profitable for China, but it’s also very profitable for Russia. We feel a little bit behind with our modernization plans and in that situation Chinese equipment in comparison of price and quality is the best in the world, I think,” said Business Russia movement chairman Boris Titov.

Summing up the results of the talks, President Medvedev specifically pointed out the oil and gas deal:

“This agreement for almost $100 billion dollars has become the most important of all in the history of our relations,” he said.

In 2010, Russia will begin to ship crude oil to China via the first pipeline in Asia. The deal is a real game-changer for Russia, which has been looking to muscle up its presence in the region.

Another big deal concerns cooperation in the banking sector. Russia’s Vneshekonombank and China’s Export and Import Bank have signed a framework agreement for granting the former a loan of up to $700 billion.

In 2008, the trade turnover between the countries hit a record high of more than US$55 billion. But that is still a small fraction of what China has with either the US or Europe. So Russia has a long way to catch up.

With regard to foreign policy, the leaders noted they have understanding on many issues, including the situation in Afghanistan.

“Of course we are interested in security and stable development in Central Asia,” Medvedev said. “Our joint statement reflects the similarity of our approaches.”

Among other issues, this document contains Russia’s and China’s joint stance on the Iranian nuclear program. It says the settlement of the issue “is only possible through political and diplomatic means”. It is also important to “restore the trust of the international community to the peaceful character of the Iranian nuclear program and step up efforts for resuming talks with Iran”.
Russia & China call for resumption of Six-Party Talks

In a joint statement, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Chinese President Hu Jintao have expressed “serious concern about the situation on the Korean peninsula, noting that UN SC Resolution 1874 is aimed at strengthening political and diplomatic aspects of the North Korean nuclear settlement”.

They called for the resumption of the Six-Party Talks as soon as possible, as well as, “the fulfillment of the obligations undertaken in the September 19, 2005 joint statement by all parties”.

Russia and China urged all parties to resolve differences “by peaceful means, through dialog and consultations”, as well as “maintaining and strengthening peace and security in the North-Eastern Asia sub-region, on the basis of forming a relevant multilateral mechanism”, the statement says.

Overall, the talks “have taken place in a friendly and constructive way,” according to the Russian President, who will visit China in 2010.

For his part, Hu Jintao has pledged his country’s willingness to strengthen bilateral relations, which were established 60 years ago.

“During these 60 years our relations have made great progress. China’s government and people will never forget that the Soviet Union was the first to recognize the People’s Republic of China and establish diplomatic ties with us,” Hu Jintao said.


среда, 17 июня 2009 г.

Russian, Chinese leaders to talk energy, economy in Kremlin

MOSCOW, June 17 (RIA Novosti) - The Russian and Chinese presidents, Dmitry Medvedev and Hu Jintao, will meet on Wednesday to discuss bilateral trade and economic cooperation with the focus on energy, a government source said.

The Chinese president will also meet with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and Federation Council Speaker Sergei Mironov as he continues an official visit to Russia following the Shanghai Cooperation Organization meeting and summit of BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China) in the Urals city of Yekaterinburg.

At their Kremlin meeting, the presidents will discuss "steps to expand cooperation in the oil and gas and coal sectors as well as in the electric power industry," the source said.

China's State Grid announced on Tuesday it had finalized a long-term deal with Russia under which Moscow will supply 18 billion kWh of electricity a year to China in 2010-15, and up to 60 billion kWh from then on, China Daily said.

This year the countries signed strategic deals in the oil sphere worth around $100 billion. In 2008, Russian-Chinese trade reached a record $56.8 billion, although volumes were down slightly in early 2009 due to the financial crisis.

The talks will also focus on the "possibility of using national currencies of Russia and China in mutual settlements." The Shanghai group backed on Tuesday Russia's proposals on using national currencies in mutual settlements and introducing a common currency for the group.

The sides will also discuss strengthening cooperation on the international arena, in particular in the framework of the SCO and BRIC, and exchange views on the North Korean nuclear issue.

Russia and China have traditionally been cautious in pressuring North Korea over its nuclear and ballistic missile programs, but both permanent members of the UN Security Council voted for sanctions against Pyongyang last week following its May 25 nuclear test.

North Korea responded on Saturday by saying it would start enriching uranium and using plutonium for military purposes, and warning that any attempt to isolate it would be countered militarily.

After the talks in Moscow, the Russian and Chinese leaders will adopt a joint statement and sign a number of agreements.

вторник, 16 июня 2009 г.

White Nights of Saint-Petersburg

Although the phenomenon known as the "White Nights" is not unique to St Petersburg, in no other northern city have they received such poetic and literary acclaim. What could be more romantic than a walk along the banks of the city's rivers and canals in almost broad daylight, no matter what the time of day? No other major European city can rival this experience nor the atmosphere on the streets of St. Petersburg during the summer months - lively, friendly, romantic and bustling with people throughout the night as well as the day!

From late May to early July the nights are bright in St Petersburg, with the brightest period, the White Nights, normally lasting from June 11th to July 2nd. The White Nights (Beliye Nochi) are a curious phenomenon caused by St. Petersburg's very northerly geographical location - at 59 degrees 57' North (roughly on the same latitude as Oslo, Norway, the southern tip of Greenland and Seward, Alaska). St. Petersburg is the world's most northern city with a population over 1 million, and its stands at such a high latitude that the sun does not descend below the horizon enough for the sky to grow dark. In fact night becomes curiously indistinguishable from day, so much so that the authorities never need to turn the city's streetlights on!


"А небо горит в поцелуях раccвета, Так Белую Ночь провожает Восход…"
«"А небо горит в поцелуях раccвета, Так Белую Ночь провожает Восход…"» на Яндекс.Фотках

Фейерверк на Троицком мосту.
«Фейерверк на Троицком мосту.» на Яндекс.Фотках

белые ночи-2
«белые ночи-2» на Яндекс.Фотках

Елагин Дворец
«Елагин Дворец» на Яндекс.Фотках

Для тех, кто сердцем в Питере...
«Для тех, кто сердцем в Питере...» на Яндекс.Фотках

пятница, 12 июня 2009 г.

Izrazets - Russian Glazed Tile

Long time ago the izrazets, i.e. Russian glazed tiles took quite a special place in Russian applied arts and household. They were used on a wide scale: from tiled stoves and window aprons to decors, bas-reliefs and friezes.

The word “izrazets” is of Russian origin. It comes from “obrazets” (translated as “sample”), the word used to denote ceramic decorations for outer walls of churches, palaces and lining of stoves in main chambers. As a rule, the izrazets looked like a box of kilned clay, but without a lid. The front side of the box’s bottom was covered with a painted or relief pattern, and then often glazed with coloured transparent flowing, or with opaque enamel.

When starting to make an izrazets the potter would temper clay with his hands, his fingers penetrating inside the clay and removing small pebbles and clots, anything that could lead to cracks during baking. The clay took in the warmth of the master’s hands and became pliable. Then the master would fill it into a wooden mould with a carved ornamentation on bottom, preliminary sanded to prevent from sticking. He consolidated it and pressed into the tracery holes. After processing it on the potter’s wheel he dried it and baked in a furnace. The pattern was not always relief. Sometimes the front side of the box was smooth and painted. The ornaments, be it relief or painted, were glazed or enameled.

When tiling walls or stoves with izrazets, the masters compiled friezes, decorative horizontal stripes and panels, platbands, and insets. Sometimes all the outer of inner wall was covered with a sort of an izrazets carpet, making the building look very smart. Izrazets tiles could be seen in a boyar’s house, on church walls, or gates of a military fortress. Nothing could possibly make a house look cozier than a stove sparkling with izrazets.

The Mongol yoke nearly cut this art short in Russia. it got its second birth together with restoration of ruinous towns in the late 15th – early 16th centuries. Colour returned to Russian architectural ceramics already in the 16th century, declaring its enormous potential on the major cupola of St. Basil’s Cathedral, as well as on other Moscow churches and buildings in Dmitrov and Staritsa towns. The green glazed tiles became widely popular. Richly attired with tiles were houses and stoves of Moscow, of the wealthy merchant Yaroslavl, Vologda, Veliki Ustyug, as well as many monasterial architectural ensembles.

Names of the best izrazets masters of that time have come down to us. These were Ignati Maksimov and Stepan Ivanov, nicknamed Polubes (that can be roughly translated as “Half-demon”). From a paper of the Valdai Monastery’s archive of May 1655 we learn about arrangement of one of the numerous izrazets manufactures that were founded then in the country, and in it the famous master worked.

On this fertile soil a unique flower flourished: the all-through-izrazets Krutitski Tower, the crown of this jolly art in Russia, located in the residence of the Krutitsky Metropolitans on the bank of Moskva River. Centuries spared this wonder that has come down to us: the lasting and weather-resistant ceramic tiles and experience accumulated by many generations of masters made it possible for the builders to bring outside rich attire, which had been used only in interiors of palaces or churches before. The façade of the tower covered all over with izrazets tiles really reminds of a carved iconostasis, in which columns and cornices form something like icon-cases, with windows instead of icons inside.

Peter the First modified the Russian izrazets in the manner of Dutch tiles, for which purpose he invited foreign masters. In far-away towns and handicraft settlements, far from the tsar’s eye, they still manufactured old-style izrazets, yet it was already the dawn of the original art. Yet, even in the izrazets made after the foreign tiles, Russian masters contrived to reflect their own vision of the world, nature and surrounding things, but the technology of the handicraft and its secrets already started to be forgotten.

In the 18th century another name for izrazets appeared in Russia – “kafli”, or “kahli”, after the German folksy name of clay bowls and saucers. This was again due to Peter the First’s fancy for German culture.

Izrazets of the 18th century became different: it had a smooth front surface, a restrained palette, and a variety of plots performed in a painting technique. The characters of the plots now were people from different layers of society and in various situations. By the end of the century, however, colourful images of flowers, bouquets and birds became prevailing. Ceramic izrazets as separate elements or panels made an integral part of complicated architectural composition of stoves that were the major adornment of the interior.

In the 19th century izrazets manufacture became widely spread, with the production made in great variety, both of price and artistic value, designed for a wide range of customers. Izrazets were first of all meant for finishing stoves, which were nearly the main and inseparable part of Russian life. The chinaware and household faience producing manufacture of M. S. Kuznetsov’s, which had quite a special place in Russia, also turned out izrazets tiles on rather a broad range. Thus, the 1899 catalogue of “M.S. Kuznetsov’s Partnership”offered 18 types of stoves and fireplaces, many various kinds of separate izrazets and tiles, two icon-cases and one iconostasis.

At the end of the 19th century the art of izrazets flourished in arts and crafts workshops, in particular in the “Abramtsevo” circle that existed under the patronage of Savva Mamontov from 1891 to 1918. Here worked the famous artists Vasnetsov, Golovin and Vrubel, who shunned no handicraft work.

Today one can feast one’s eyes upon true Russian ceramics that decorates the Assumption Church in Goncharny Lane or the Church of Grigory of Neocaesarea in Bolshaya Polyanka Street, Moscow.

However, the best sample of church tile art is the New Jerusalem Monastery built on Istra River by order of the Patriarch Nikon. Everything was covered with izrazets there: friezes, columns, portals and the iconostasis. Unfortunately now one can only imagine the former splendour of the New Jerusalem Monastery: in 1941 the German invaders blew up the church and it was not possible to restore its initial look.


One of the most popular cartoons in Russia

Three from Prostokvashino

Russia celebrates Independence Day

Over two million people are expected to take part in celebrations to mark Russia Day around the country.

More than 90,000 policemen have been drafted in to provide security for events across the nation.

Moscow citizens will have a chance to listen to top peformers, to touch a two-meter-high “matreshka” and to see a kite performance.

Ten cloud-dispersing aircraft will take to the skies above the capital to ensure the weather stays sunny.

Russia Day is a national holiday, celebrated each year of the 12th of June since 1992.

четверг, 11 июня 2009 г.

Four future leaders in the Ural Mountains

MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti political commentator Dmitry Kosyrev) – The leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, and China (BRIC) are due to meet in the Russian city of Yekaterinburg in the Urals in the middle of July. Reelected Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is 76 years old but experts maintain that his age and fatigue from the recent election campaign will not prevent him from attending this meeting, as India maintains a high interest in the BRIC project. The other participants also consider it important.

Meetings of the BRIC leaders are no longer sensational. They meet separately during G8 summits, and their foreign ministers invariably spend a couple of hours talking during UN General Assembly sessions each September. There are more and more topics to discuss. The main goal is how to help each other become the world’s leading economies and nations in the near future.

The acronym BRIC was first mentioned by Goldman Sachs in a report in 2001. It predicted that the Four would have the world’s largest GDP by 2050. In its report in 2007, the same group wrote that its previous forecast was too cautious, and that they may become the world’s leaders much sooner.

Having surpassed Germany last year, China is already the world’s third biggest economy; Russia may become Europe’s largest economy by 2030; India will leave behind Japan in 2035; and China will surpass the United States by 2040. The world economic crisis is only stepping up these trends although it is difficult to predict the time frame. In any event, China obviously has a good chance to emerge the first from the crisis before this year expires, and help some of its partners follow suit.

However, nobody predicted that the four countries would like to pool their efforts. In the beginning of this decade, they seemed to have no links with each other, while relations between China and India proved to be complicated. Credit for this goes to Russian diplomacy. Moscow has been and remains the most active organizer of BRIC meetings. For several years, the leaders of only three countries (RIC) were involved in this process until Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva expressed his desire to join them.

It was not easy to formulate the agenda for quadripartite talks at the first BRIC meetings. By last year, it became clear that there were too many items on the agenda, and the Four started establishing additional mechanisms for their discussion.

The BRIC countries focus on finances, food, food prices, and climate change. That is, BRIC is primarily an economic mechanism. It can also be compared with an early warning system or a search engine helping them to find new spheres of cooperation.

BRIC is not yet an organization, strictly speaking, but it is no longer simply a format for quadripartite dialogue. It is taking shape not only owing to the curiosity of the BRIC leaders – what will happen if we sit at the same table? BRIC is promoted by the processes that are taking place by themselves. For instance, despite their problematic relations and the border dispute, India and China raised their trade to the level of $50 billion a year before the economic crisis. Brazil is developing its trade with China, Russia, and India without any BRICs. Therefore, speaking about finances, the BRIC countries agreed at their summit on Hokkaido last year to render mutual financial support in the event of hardship. They are carrying out this decision to some extent.

What agreement can they reach in Yekaterinburg? Possibly, they will agree on the ways out of the global crisis. Chinese experts believe that their country will contribute up to 70% of the world economic growth, which will take place despite the crisis. Their Russian colleagues hope that the Four will coordinate their policy on managing the IMF; this issue is also about overcoming the economic crisis and promoting economic growth. Finally, the Four will adopt many decisions reflecting the shared opinion of their leaders – the world economy requires caution and cooperation rather than tough competition for the global leadership.

среда, 10 июня 2009 г.

Dmitry Mendeleev-great chemist,among other things

Vladimir Kremlev

Mostly known in the West for creating the Periodic Table of Elements, Dmitry Mendeleev’s contribution to the development of Russia is huge. A real Renaissance man, his areas of study ranged from chemistry to aeronautics to Arctic exploration to demographics. An influential figure among contemporaries, he was advisor to famous Russian reformist Prime Minister Sergey Witte and penned more than 70 papers on economic and social development of the country.

One of the greatest teachers of his time, Mendeleev took credit for thousands of pupils taking his footsteps. He was in the focus of several big scandals both in his personal life and scientific works. A man of intensive energy and spectacular deeds, he is remembered in numerous anecdotes, jokes and legends.

Dmitry Mendeleev was born in the city of Tobolsk, the unofficial capital of Siberia at the time, to a family of a school director and a daughter of merchant. He was 17th and the last one of his siblings, although this number is disputed. Shortly after graduating from St. Petersburg Institute of Pedagogy, Mendeleev was diagnosed with tuberculosis and traveled Southern Russia with its favorable climate where he worked as a schoolteacher. After recovering, he returned to the capital and received a Master’s in chemistry for his study of silicates at the age of 22.

In 1859 Mendeleev took a two-year journey to Germany and other European countries to meet leading scientists and learn from them. In 1865 Mendeleev became a Doctor of Science for his dissertation “On the Combinations of Water with Alcohol”. This work contributed to the birth of a popular legend, which claims that Mendeleev invented the standard for Russian vodka, saying it should contain 40% of alcohol by volume.

This is not true. The only connection the scientist had to vodka production was his work in a state commission on taxation of strong alcohol, while the 40% standard was imposed in 1843, when Mendeleev was nine years old. Mendeleev himself was not even fond of the drink, but was a devoted smoker, jokingly claiming that the smoke killed germs in his lungs. Another weakness was tea, which he specifically ordered from China and personally mixed at home.

Mendeleev’s greatest contribution to science is certainly the Periodic Table of Elements, which says the properties of basic elements repeat periodically when they are arranged by their atomic number. He made the discovery in 1869 during his work on the award-winning textbook on chemistry basics. The first edition of the book published a year later had the periodic table in it. Mendeleev’s further study resulted in prediction of the properties of elements that had not yet discovered at the time, like gallium or germanium.

A popular legend says Mendeleev saw the periodic table in a dream, which is not true either. The origins of the myth are not known for sure, but it was probably due to the chemist’s impatient temper and his reluctance to explain for a hundredth time how he came up with the discovery. The actual work behind the breakthrough took years, if not decades.

A proponent of applied science, Mendeleev studied vigorously to improve production techniques in numerous areas. He helped build Russia’s first oil refinery, published theories on the origin of oil and predicted that it will become a key component of the world economy. He was the first one to suggest the idea of using pipelines for transportation of fuel in 1863.

A good example of Mendeleev’s lifestyle as a field researcher rather than a “bookworm professor” was his aerostat flight in 1887. The hydrogen aerostat was meant to lift the scientist high enough to have unobstructed view of a solar eclipse, a rare chance to study the solar corona. However the day of the event was rainy, the balloon got wet and two heavy to lift both the pilot and the scientist. A more vivid, albeit less accurate account says Mendeleev first threw out the pilot from the basket, then all the furniture, and went into the sky.

Scientifically the trip was in vain, the aerostat failing to rise over the clouds, but it was a success as a publicity stunt. The dramatic story of a famous scientist risking his life and forced to make repairs during his first ballooning experience was so daring that the French aerostat meteorology academy awarded him a medal for it. It is worth mentioning that meteorology was among the many areas of interest for Mendeleev.

He called for wider use of fertilizers in agriculture and tested various fertilizers on his own estate. Mendeleev’s collection of minerals was among the best in the country. He also invented several improvements to instruments and created a special instrument for measuring a liquid’s density. Serving as the head of Russia’s Bureau of Weights and Measures, he influenced the country’s transition to the metric system.

On a request of the Russian Navy, Mendeleev studied the European experience in production of smokeless gunpowder and developed his own compound he called “pyrocollodion” as well as helped develop the industry in Russia. It’s not clear why the formula was not adopted and French technology was imported instead. Some say it was due to competition among military officials, others cite rather strict requirements for the process proposed by Mendeleev. Nevertheless, a kind of gunpowder very much like his was mass produced in the United States during World War I and was even imported to Russia.

Mendeleev had a hand in the research of shipbuilding and Arctic maritime travel, thanks in large part due to his good relations with the famous explorer and the creator of the Russian semaphore code Admiral Stepan Makarov. Mendeleev helped create Russia’s first ship model basin for testing of ship designs. He also took part in designing world’s first Arctic icebreaker “Ermak”. The idea of making Russia’s northern territories accessible via sea was very appealing for Mendeleev, who strongly argued for more equal distribution of production facilities and population over the country.

Economy and social policy was one of Mendeleev’s favorite topics. He was a strong proponent of protectionism, promoted development of domestic industries, had ideas on how to relatively painlessly turn Russia’s traditional agricultural communities into a basis for a modern urbanized society. In early 1900s he made a study based on a recent nation-wide census with demographical estimates stretching forwards as far as 2050.

A devoted traveler, photographer and collector, Mendeleev was fond of crafting his own bags and suitcases. His serious approach to the hobby resulted in a legend, claiming that merchants in the market where he bought leather and fabric knew him as “Mendeleev, the famous suitcase master”.

Some of Mendeleev’s works were subject to controversy. His had skeptical attitude towards several scientific theories, like the studies of electrolytes, the discovery of the electron and radioactivity. Some biographers suggest that his criticism of “physical” ionic theory of conductive solutions conceived by Swedish scientist Svante Arrhenius contributed to his never receiving the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, despite his name being on the short list three times. Meanwhile Arrhenius did receive the award for the very theory Mendeleev criticized. Mendeleev was also a proponent of the erroneous “aether” concept and believed it to be an element preceding hydrogen in the arrangement he discovered.

Mendeleev’s personal life was also ridden with scandal when, at the age of 43, he fell in love with a 19-year-old woman and asked his first wife for a divorce. In Orthodox Russia divorce was both shunned and complicated. When the marriage was terminated, the church forbade Mendeleev from wedding again for six years, but he violated the prohibition to a great deal of public uproar and probably contributed to his failure to be elected into Russia’s Academy of Science at the time.

A popular anecdote says he had to plead Emperor Alexander III to permit the divorce. After it was finally put through, people unhappy with their spouses tried to follow lead, indicating Mendeleev’s case as a precedent. The monarch’s response reportedly was “I have plenty of you fools, and only one Mendeleev.” Again, the historical accuracy of this is very questionable.

Mendeleev’s work today:

The Periodic Table of Elements is a must know for any scientist today.

Reforms of the education system in Russia influenced by Mendeleev spurred engineering and technology to an unprecedented level.

Oil and gas pipelines – one of the key features of modern day geopolitics – are Mendeleev’s idea.


UN Papers and the Gross Reality


(On the Tenth Anniversary of the UN Security Council Resolution on Kosovo)

June 10 is a sad date in the history of the UN, the institution originally meant to play the key role in ensuring peace, security, and the primacy of law in the world. The decade since the passing of the June 10, 1999 UN Security Council Resolution 1244 addressing the Kosovo problem – the document totally ignored throughout the period - has shown that the UN is no longer playing the role prescribed to it by the post-World War II system of the international law.

The Resolution the tenth anniversary of which nobody seems willing to celebrate in the UN headquarters, Belgrade, or Pristina is usually attributed to an intricate compromise. Ten years ago the Russian leadership managed to incorporate into it several fundamental principles concerning the Kosovo settlement. Most importantly, it was stressed in the document's preamble that the Kosovo problem had to be solved on the basis “of the commitment of all Member States to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the other States of the region”. Correspondingly, the Resolution called for “substantial autonomy and meaningful self-administration for Kosovo”. Besides, the UN Security Council reached consensus that international discussions of specific parameters of Kosovo’s future status would begin only after the implementation in the province of the democratic standards guaranteeing the political, economic, cultural, and national rights of the province's non-Albanian population.

Nothing of the above materialized. From the outset, the West pushed for Kosovo independence, and only the requirements of Resolution 1244 which could be interpreted so as to broaden the rights and authority of Albanian separatists were actually met. As for Russia, its only accomplishments throughout the period since the passing of the resolution till the opening of the negotiations between Belgrade and Pristina on the status of Kosovo in February, 2006 were the snap offensive which led to the seizure of the Slatina airport by Russian peacekeepers and their quiet withdrawal in 2003 under the pretext that “it was impossible to change anything”.

The subsequent talks under the auspices of the UN in which Russia took a somewhat bigger role ended with a predictable failure which made it possible for the Albanian separatists to declare the independence of Kosovo unilaterally in February, 2008. The independence was momentarily recognized by the Albanians' Western donors and ideological patrons.

The available information makes it possible to claim that both the passing of UN Security Council Resolution 1244 and the diplomatic maneuvers around Kosovo that ensued – those in which the Russian Foreign and Defense Ministries took part in particular – were nothing but a show originally planned by the West. In the process Moscow's role to which the Russian leadership somehow agreed was that of a “good policeman”.

Obviously, Resolution 1244 was stillborn. The key problems were not the poor compliance with its requirements and Russia's inability to make its partners view the UN document with proper respect but the fact that the West had made all the decisions on the status of Kosovo already in the late 1998. The subsequent negotiation between Serbs and Albanians in Rambouillet, NATO airstrikes, discussions in the UN Security Council, and the deployment of the UN mission and NATO peacekeepers in the province were just steps in the realization of the already existing plan.

The build-up of the NATO presence in Kosovo also commenced in the late 1998. In the US the point of no return was reached when Michael Polt who coordinated the military policy in the Clinton Administration and later became the US Ambassador to Serbia convinced Secretary of State C. Powell to consent to the intervention in the region. Polt argued that by intervening in Kosovo NATO would send a clear message to all Eurasian countries, of course including Russia.

Yugoslavian Vice President Momir Bulatovic said: “It already became clear in October, 1998 that the decision on our future had been made. They started talking about the “humanitarian disaster” in Kosovo and the so-called NATO credibility. The latter meant that if NATO was unable to put an end to the “humanitarian disaster”, then it simply had no right to exist. To avoid a military strike we were ready to make concessions to the extent of retaining only the minimal amount of state dignity and territorial integrity. They were interested in Kosovo's natural resources - we offered US and British companies to develop them at the token price of $1. They responded that the offer was attractive but unacceptable. Then NATO wanted a base in Kosovo. We offered them to have it for the same $1 token price. They were surprised but turned down the offer nevertheless. Trying to avoid conflict we eventually suggested that Yugoslavia should join NATO and thus automatically generate a solution to the Kosovo problem. Again the answer was No. Admitting us to NATO could resolve the dispute over Kosovo but could not solve any of the problems due to which NATO decided to attack our small country. NATO decided to move into Kosovo by forceavoiding any cooperation with us. The point is that if NATO does not reckon with us it would also be free of any obligations to other countries. They branded this the New World Order”.

The US still had to secure Europe's consent to launching the offensive. Washington proposed “to give Serbs another chance” and to hold an international conference on Kosovo in Rambouillet in February, 1999. Belgrade faced totally unprecedented requirements deliberately formulated to make the aggression against Yugoslavia inevitable. Momir Bulatovic recalled: “In Rambouillet we were asked to agree to the deployment of NATO forces in Kosovo and to allow them access to all of the Yugoslavian territory. According to a document which looked like an ultimatum, all our expressways, railroads, air space, and installations were to be used by NATO free of charge and without any limitations. All NATO servicemen were to be exempt from our laws and or any criminal responsibilities. All the decision-making was to be left to the commander of the NATO contingent. The document was formulated so that no sane individual could ever sign it”. As expected, Yugoslavia' representatives did not agree to the de facto occupation of their country.

Russia actively took part in the Rambouillet “negotiations” though the Russian leadership had to be aware that the West had already laid the finishing touches on the scenario for Kosovo. Russia's involvement only helped to make the enforced separation of Kosovo – the cradle of the Serbian national statehood – from Serbia appear more peaceful and take somewhat longer to complete...

Viewing the situation now in 2009 one can only hope that Russia has learned the lessons. Russian diplomats admit in private conversations that Moscow should start cooperating more actively with the Balkan political forces which can be regarded as its potential allies in future conflicts over Eurasian political arrangements and energy security. Kosovo has been torn out of Serbia - this is the gross reality, not a passage from some UN papers. Bringing it back would take something other than voting in the UN Security Council, an institution which has become nothing else than a decoration used by the global forces acting behind the curtain.

Source:Strategic Culture Foundation

вторник, 9 июня 2009 г.

Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan to seek WTO membership together

MOSCOW, June 9 (Itar-Tass) -- Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan will enter into the World Trade Organization (WTO) as a common customs space and therefore will stop separate negotiations on WTO membership, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said after the Tuesday meeting of the ruling body of the tripartite customs union.

“The prime ministers of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan will notify the WTO of their intention to start negotiations on the accession of the tripartite customs union to the organization and the end of national negotiations on WTO membership,” he said.

“The entry into the WTO is our common priority, but we want to do that as a common customs space,” he said.

“While fulfilling the order of chiefs of state to prioritize the formation of the tripartite customs union, the prime ministers confirm their adherence to the accession to the WTO but note that the accession process has been impeding integration,” says a statement of the Russian, Belarusian and Kazakh premiers posted on Tuesday.

“The three countries have a large economic potential and profound integration benefits, so they approve a common customs tariff, which will be presented to the EurAsEC summit. The tariff is due to enter into force on January 1, 2010,” the statement runs.

The prime ministers approved the schedule of forming the common customs space, with due account of the beginning operation of the customs union on January 1, 2010, and the completion of all customs union formalities before July 1, 2011.

On behalf of the tripartite customs union, Russia will ask the WTO to suspend national membership negotiations, First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov said. He explained the move with Russia’s presidency in the customs union this year.

Russia will intensify efforts in the development of a special relationship with the European Union, in particular, in the formation of a free trade zone, Putin said.

“However, these processes will be held in line with the tripartite customs union agreement,” he remarked.

понедельник, 8 июня 2009 г.

Sergey Korolev, classified space conqueror

The life of the architect of the Soviet space program was a tragic one. Several times, he miraculously avoided death. He was punished for things he didn’t do, and the unjust sentence was not lifted until almost the end of his life. His existence remained a state secret, and only after his unexpected death did the world learn the name of the man who masterminded the Soviet space triumphs.

Korolev had been enamored with aviation from childhood, and deliberately chose to study areas of education which were needed to become an aviation engineer. By his late teens he already had experience as a glider designer and pilot. While studying in Moscow’s Bauman Higher Technical School, he created several practical glider and airplane designs. His work was supervised by Andrey Tupolev, the famous aeronautical engineer, and this acquaintance helped Korolev in the future.

His interest in reactive propulsion as a promising principle for aircraft engines, led him to join the Jet Propulsion Research Group - a state-sponsored rocketry center - which soon became the country’s leading rocket laboratory. As head of the group, Korolev led several successful projects involving liquid-propelled missiles. Their success record made the authorities merge the lab with another laboratory in Leningrad, in order to establish an institute for rocket technology (RNII), where Korolev attained the position of Deputy Chief Engineer.

The work of the new institute was interrupted in late 1930s, after Stalin launched a crackdown on the officers of the Red Army. The RNII was a creation of Marshal Tukhachevsky, who was shot on a false accusation in 1937, becoming one of the most prominent victims of the Great Purge. Many researchers at the institute were caught in the cogwheels too, and Korolev was no exception. Shortly after a near-fatal explosion in the laboratory, Korolev was arrested for “counter-revolutionary political activities” and deliberately harming the work of the institute – both accusations were often used in the terror campaign. He was tortured to extract a confession, and then sentenced to ten years in labor camps, and sent to a gold mine in Eastern Siberia.

Korolev’s health deteriorated after the beatings and harsh conditions of the camp. His morale was crippled by the injustice of his punishment, and for the rest of his life he acquired a cynical and gloomy attitude towards life. Colleagues recalled that his favorite saying was, “they’ll shoot us dead without an obituary”. He almost died in Siberia, due to malnutrition and disease. However, fate smiled upon him, when Mikhail Usachev - former head of Moscow’s aviation plant - was brought to the same camp. Thanks to his boxing skills and strong character, he was put in charge of the other inmates and convinced the prison authorities to put Korolev, whom he knew well, into favored conditions.

Four months later, thanks to the efforts of Korolev’s family and friends, he was summoned to Moscow for re-trial. And once again he barely dodged death, when he missed a ship going to Vladivostok. The vessel was caught in a storm and ran aground, and all 740 prisoners on board perished. The retrial still found Korolev guilty, but instead of a labor camp he was sent to a “sharashka” - a closed institution where inmates with a scientific background were forced to work on military projects. Korolev was sent to the one headed by Tupolev, also now a convict, where he helped develop the Tupolev Tu-2 bomber and the Petlyakov Pe-2 dive bomber.

In 1942, Korolev, who initiated several rocket projects under Tupolev’s supervision, was transferred to another prison laboratory - headed by his former co-worker at the RNII, Valentin Glushko - which was dedicated to rocket technology. Two years later, the scientist was released, and continued his work on rocket engines as a free man. It was only in 1957, however, nine years before his death, that the charges against him were dropped.

After the defeat of the Nazi Germany in 1945, Korolev was sent, with a group of scientists, to salvage what was left of the German rocket research studies. While the US managed to take leading scientists, including Wernher von Braun, out of the country, the Soviets got specialists involved in the mass production of the V-2 missile. Korolev was put in charge of replicating the missile, which he successfully did by 1947. His work on improving the range and throw weight of Soviet ballistic missiles led to several breakthroughs, culminating in the creation of the first intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) with nuclear warhead: the two-stage R-7 (Sapwood) in 1957.

Starting from the mid-1950s, Korolev promoted the idea of using the achievements in rocketry for space exploration. In 1956, his design bureau became an independent institute. A year later, the launch of Sputnik, the first artificial satellite of Earth, became a propaganda triumph, as well as a great scientific breakthrough. The event, which caught the West unawares, started the space race between the Soviet Union and the United States. Korolev’s research set a string of space “firsts”: the first animal launch, the first mapping of the dark side of the Moon, the first manned flight into space, and the first spacewalk.

These triumphs, however, were somewhat marred by the fact that Korolev’s contribution was not publicly acknowledged. Legend has it that when the Nobel committee sent a request for the names of the people who were to be praised for the launch of Sputnik, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev replied it was “the Soviet People” rather than particular scientists. For many years, it was first man in space Yury Gagarin, rather than Sergey Korolev, who was “the face” of the space program. Even insiders rarely referred to Korolev by his name, preferring to refer to a mysterious “Chief Designer”. The first official report on his work as a prominent rocket engineer was in his obituary.

By the time of his premature death in 1966, Korolev had ambitious plans for a manned mission to the Moon, and a permanent orbiting space station. The Soyuz spacecraft, which, after several modifications, is still in use today, was Korolev’s creation for these projects. He also had prepared a design for creating artificial gravity in orbit by rotating a couple of linked spacecraft against a common center, and envisioned orbital construction of a huge spaceship for a manned mission to Mars.

Overzealous in his work, meticulous and demanding, with a hot temper and a stubborn conviction in his ideas, Sergey Korolev was both feared and loved by his subordinates. Even bitter rival designers like Vladimir Chelomei, Valentin Glushko and Mikhail Yangel acknowledged his fantastic intuition in technical issues. Korolev was also somewhat superstitious. He had his “lucky suit” to wear for rocket launches, as well as a couple of lucky coins, which he carried in his pocket.

Korolev died of a heart attack after an operation on a tumor, two days after his 59th birthday. Three years later, America became the first, and so far only, nation to send a man to the Moon.

The last manned mission beyond low Earth orbit took place in late 1972.

Korolev’s work today:

Thanks to Korolev, space was turned into a race track for the superpowers, with billions of dollars pumped into the rapid progress. The practical applications spurring from the race range from satellite communication to modern computers.

Many technologies still used for space exploration today were conceived by Korolev.

On the military side, Korolev was praised for creating successful delivery systems, including portable ballistic missiles. Being mutually vulnerable, the superpowers avoided direct confrontation during the Cold War.

Top Russian law office rehabilitates the saint Great Duchess Yelizaveta Fyodorovna Romanova

Moscow, June 8, Interfax - Russia's Office of the Prosecutor General said on Monday that it had rehabilitated some of the members of Russia's imperial house of Romanov who fell victim to Bolshevik repressive rule.

The office rehabilitated Grand Dukes Michael Alexandrovich, Sergey Mikhailovich, Konstantin Konstantinovich and Igor Konstantinovich Romanov, Grand Duchess Yelizaveta Fyodorovna Romanova, and Princes Ioann Konstantinovich and Igor Konstantinovich Romanov, office spokeswoman Marina Gridneva told Interfax.

"An analysis of archive materials warrants the conclusion that all the persons who have been listed fell victim to repressive measures in the form of arrest, deportation and being under the surveillance of the Bolshevik security agency without being charged with any specific crime and for class and social reasons," Gridneva said.

Others who were rehabilitated by the same order were Yelena Petrovna Romanova, Vladimir Palei, Varvara Yakovleva, Yekaterina Yanysheva, Fyodor Remez, Ivan Kalin, Krukovsky, Dr. Gelmerson, and Nikolay (Brian) Johnson.

The Great Duchess Elisabeth (Yelizaveta Fyodorovna Romanova), a granddaughter of British Queen Victoria, has founded Sts Martha and Mary Convent of Mercy in Moscow in February 1909. She refused to leave Russia during revolutionary days and was arrested in spring of 1918 and martyred in a duffer not far from Alapayevsk. The convent existed until 1926. Restoration works started eighty years after.

The rehabilitation order followed an appeal to the Office of the Prosecutor General from Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna, who claims headship of today's Romanovs' House.

Maria Vladimirovna had asked for the rehabilitation of Mikhail Alexandrovich, who was shot dead in Perm on June 13, 1918, and Yelizaveta Fyodorovona, Sergey Mikhailovich, Konstantin Konstantinovich, Ioann Konstantinovich and Igor Konstantinovich, who were thrown down a mine in Alapayevsk on July 18, 1918.

"The persons who are mentioned," said lawyer German Lukyanov, "were kept in custody, deported from St. Petersburg, and then put to death on behalf of the state because, from the viewpoint of the state authorities of the RSFSR [Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic], they were recognized to be socially dangerous for the Soviet totalitarian state and political system."

"All the persons who are mentioned were members of the Russian Imperial House. And the very fact that they were part of the imperial house was a sufficient reason for the Bolsheviks to put them to death," Lukyanov said.

On October 1, 2008, the Presidium of the Russian Supreme Court rehabilitated last Russian tsar Nicholas II and his immediate family, who were executed by a Bolshevik firing squad on July 17, 1918.

World Grain Forum ends in St Petersburg

ST. PETERSBURG, June 7 (Itar-Tass) -- The St. Petersburg World Grain Forum is over.

More than 1,000 delegates, including agriculture ministers of Russia, Brazil, Germany, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Ukraine and some other countries, heads of international organizations, financial institutions, national and international unions of agricultural producers, market participants and experts, attended the forum.

Debates focused on global food security and efficient financial institutions in its support, causes and solutions of the food crisis, and national and international programs in support of farmers.

“The discussions confirmed that grain and its derivatives were the historical cornerstone of global food security,” organizing committee chair and First Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov said.

“Delegates to the World Grain Forum agreed that regular agricultural conferences were needed by the entire world,” he said.

A grain export pool of Russia, Kazakhstan and Ukraine was a separate item on the agenda. The three agriculture ministers agreed that the pool would be beneficial for their countries. “The pool will reduce volatility of prices on the world grain market and their dependence on speculative factors and create a mechanism of joint management of grain reserves,” the Russian side said.

The World Grain Forum is the first event of the sort held in the world and hosted by Russia. President Dmitry Medvedev initiated the forum and took part in its plenary meeting on Saturday. The World Grain Forum was timed to coincide with the St. Petersburg Economic Forum.

"Kipelov"- russian heavy metal band

Kipelov (Кипелов) is a Russian heavy metal band formed and led by former Ariya vocalist Valery Kipelov.

In 2002, dissension in the heavy metal band Aria led to Aria members Valery Kipelov (vocals), Sergey Terentyev (guitar) and Alexander Maniakin (drums) leaving that band and joining with former Aria member Sergey Mavrin and bassist Alexey Harkov of Mavrik to form Kipelov. The band was named to make use of the fame of the best-known member, singer Kipelov. Since Kipelov was, essentially, just a revision of Aria, they were able to begin performing immediately.

Rivers of Time

Translation by katya

Eternity looks you in the eye
Weights you down, doesn't let you breathe
Could it all be worthless
But that path was so long
No strength left to go back
And no strength to keep inside my shout

Rivers of time, reflection of worlds
Rivers of time, you are ready to step in
To see yourself again in them
And figure out just what Fate wanted

Prisoner of your own words
You have brought others with you
In silence, you have sacrificed
All that you kept in your heart
Drived by your thirst of fame
You understood too late that you stand alone


The weight of passed victories
Suffocates you, such as a tight string
No reason to keep on living
If you know how the world works
Blinded by a dream
You stand still on the edge of Earth

Rivers of time, reflection of worlds
Rivers of time, you are ready to step in
To see yourself again in them
And figure out just what Fate wanted
From you...


воскресенье, 7 июня 2009 г.

Russian Troitsa (Pentecost Sunday)

On this day (Sunday) the Orthodox Church marks 50 days after the feast of Pascha and commemorates the gift of the Holy Spirit to the Church as recorded in the Book of Acts. In Russian tradition, the feast is known as Troitsa, the Trinity, and is the first of three feast days (including Monday and Tuesday). It is customary to bring boughs and branches into the Church – with the priest vested in Green. Thus, the Temple becomes a very green place on this feast – emphasizing not only the gift of the Spirit to the Church, but the Spirit as the Lord and Giver of Life.

Троица, лето, берёзка, народ-
«Троица, лето, берёзка, народ-» на Яндекс.Фотках

Посмотреть на Яндекс.Фотках

ДЕНЬ  СВЯТОЙ  ТРОИЦЫ в приходе храма Всемилостивого Спаса.  С  Праздником!!!
«ДЕНЬ СВЯТОЙ ТРОИЦЫ в приходе храма Всемилостивого Спаса. С Праздником!!!» на Яндекс.Фотках

С Днем Святой Троицы!
«С Днем Святой Троицы!» на Яндекс.Фотках

суббота, 6 июня 2009 г.

St. Petersburg World Economic Forum (day 2)

Delegates from more than 70 countries have been gathering in St. Petersburg for a major economic forum to help define the world's post-crisis financial architecture.

Established in 1997, the annual conference is dubbed the Russian Davos, after the annual financial event held in the Swiss ski resort.

Today’s main event of the forum was the address of Russia’s Minister of Finance and First Deputy Prime Minister Aleksey Kudrin on the future of the post-crisis world’s financial architecture.

Russia's Finance Minister has called for the International Monetary Fund to be reformed and for other world financial institutions to adapt to the changing economic situation.

For a number of years, the Kremlin has been saying that the existing financial system is prone to crisis because it is distorted in favor of the US and its partners, therefore it needs to be more balanced and transparent, as well as serving the interests of all the major players.

“We must seriously and boldly raise the issue of turning the IMF into a proper representative of key world economies, and power should be distributed in proportion to the size and importance of those national economies. There is no such thing at the moment. For now, the US is represented by 15% of votes, and China’s participation is less than that of some of the EU members, such as Switzerland or Belgium,” Kudrin said.

Another interesting discussion on the future of reserve currencies tops the agenda as well. The topic of new reserve currencies is a favorite of Moscow’s. President Dmitry Medvedev mentioned it in his speech on Friday, saying that the world needs more reserve currencies to diminish the dominance of the US Dollar. Medvedev said the risks of making the world dependent on the microeconomic situation of just one country are obvious.

The Russian President also noted that Russia would like to see the Russian Ruble as a regional reserve currency for the post-Soviet space, and Moscow has already come out with the strategy of how to achieve that.

Russian officials are talking about pricing Russia’s prime export commodities – such as oil, gas and grain – in Russian Rubles, thus forcing buying partners to stock the Russian currency.

On Saturday another event – The World Grain Forum – is opening in St. Petersburg. This is the first time that this event is being held in Russia, and is it has been timed to coincide with the St. Petersburg Economic Forum. This reflects the growing importance of grain as a Russian export commodity.

Russia has repeatedly voiced its intentions to diversify its economy away from oil and gas to different commodities, and grain is certainly one of them.

Currently, Russia ranks as the world’s fourth largest grain exporter.

This year, Russia has actually broken its own record of selling abroad: about 20 million metric tons of grain to over 50 countries, most of which are represented at St. Petersburg Economic Forum.

Plans of creating a grain cartel similar to OPEC – which would regulate grain prices, maintain quality and set export policies – are going to be discussed in St. Petersburg too.

Russia has ambitions to climb to second position in the world’s largest grain exporter ratings after the US, thus taking over Canada and the EU, and many experts believe there is every reason to believe this is possible.

Meanwhile, as the world’s largest country, Russia still lags behind, due to its outdated agricultural infrastructure, preventing the country from producing much more grain than it potentially could.


Pushkin poems


He's blessed, who lives in peace, that's distant
From the ignorant fobs with calls,
Who can provide his every instance
With dreams, or labors, or recalls;
To whom the fate sends friends in score,
Who hides himself by Savior's back
From bashful fools, which lull and bore,
And from the impudent ones, which wake.

Translated by Yevgeny Bonver, December, 1999
Edited by Dmitry Karshtedt, August, 2000

In russian:


Блажен, кто в отдаленной сени,
Вдали взыскательных невежд,
Дни делит меж трудов и лени,
Воспоминаний и надежд;
Кому судьба друзей послала,
Кто скрыт, по милости творца,
От усыпителя глупца,
От пробудителя нахала.

Cold frost and sunshine…

Cold frost and sunshine: day of wonder!
But you, my friend, are still in slumber--
Wake up, my beauty, time belies:
You dormant eyes, I beg you, broaden
Toward the northerly Aurora,
As though a northern star arise!

Recall last night, the snow was whirling,
Across the sky, the haze was twirling,
The moon, as though a pale dye,
Emerged with yellow through faint clouds.
And there you sat, immersed in doubts,
And now, -- just take a look outside:

The snow below the bluish skies,
Like a majestic carpet lies,
And in the light of day it shimmers.
The woods are dusky. Through the frost
The greenish fir-trees are exposed;
And under ice, a river glitters.

The room is lit with amber light.
And bursting, popping in delight
Hot stove still rattles in a fray.
While it is nice to hear its clatter,
Perhaps, we should command to saddle
A fervent mare into the sleight?

And sliding on the morning snow
Dear friend, we'll let our worries go,
And with the zealous mare we'll flee.
We'll visit empty ranges, thence,
The woods, which used to be so dense
And then the shore, so dear to me.


Мороз и солнце; день чудесный!
Еще ты дремлешь, друг прелестный -
Пора, красавица, проснись:
Открой сомкнуты негой взоры
Навстречу северной Авроры,
Звездою севера явись!

Вечор, ты помнишь, вьюга злилась,
На мутном небе мгла носилась;
Луна, как бледное пятно,
Сквозь тучи мрачные желтела,
И ты печальная сидела -
А нынче... погляди в окно:

Под голубыми небесами
Великолепными коврами,
Блестя на солнце, снег лежит;
Прозрачный лес один чернеет,
И ель сквозь иней зеленеет,
И речка подо льдом блестит.

Вся комната янтарным блеском
Озарена. Веселым треском
Трещит затопленная печь.
Приятно думать у лежанки.
Но знаешь: не велеть ли в санки
Кобылку бурую запречь?

Скользя по утреннему снегу,
Друг милый, предадимся бегу
Нетерпеливого коня
И навестим поля пустые,
Леса, недавно столь густые,
И берег, милый для меня.