понедельник, 31 августа 2009 г.


By Lyubov Tsarevskaya

Tourists traveling along Lake Ladoga soon find themselves ensnared by the severe charm of the beautiful northern land, with its picturesque landscapes, rich fishing, solitary bastions of Old Ladoga, Priozersk and Piotrkrepost, the chatter of migrating birds in the swampy reeds of the Svirj estuary and the warm sand on the banks of Olonetsk sanddunes.

Lake Ladoga (the historical name is Navo) — is the largest fresh-water lake in Europe. The river Neva, which flows into the Bay of Finland of the Baltic Sea, takes off from here. The city of St.Petersburg (formerly Leningrad) — the second-largest in importance city of Russia — stands on the banks of the Neva.

The size of half of Switzerland, Ladoga Lake spreads across a vast territory of Karelia and the Leningrad region. On the open part of the lake you cannot see the shoreline, while strong winds frequently turn it into a fearful elemental force, even more dangerous than some seas. In some parts of the lake it reaches down to a depth of over 200 meters.

The shoreline of the lake is rocky, pitted with deep narrow bays, which are like smaller replicas of the Norwegian fjords. High granite cliffs, covered with woodland, tower above the water to a height of dozens of meters. Since olden times Ladoga granite was used in construction work in St.Petersburg. For example, it was used to build the famous Atlantes figures flanking the facade of the Hermitage museum, the foundations of the St.Isaac Cathedral, the Palace Bridge over the Neva.

There are a great many islands on Lake Ladoga, around 660. In the middle part of the Lake there are two archipelagos — Valaam and Mantsinsari. Valaam archipelago numbers around 50 isles, the principal one being Valaam.

Approaching the Isle you are accosted with riotous, unruly nature, which, if you look closely, has a severe, inspired beauty. Bluffs, springing as if from the bowels of the earth, are like huge majestic giants, standing guard on the frontier.

The ragged sheer cliffs are covered in dense greenery, bays that are walled in by granite rock, where the still waters doze undisturbed, crystal-pure like a mirror, while a terrible storm might be raging out in the open lake. Perched up high on a tall granite cliff, like a trivial weight on the shoulders of a huge giant, is the massive Valaam Spassko-Transfiguration Monastery. It was founded in the 14th century and was distinguished for its rigid canons. The cliff used to be covered in white moss. The monks cleared it; out of the cracks there grew lime trees, maples and elms; ivy weaves its way along the cliff, while under it an orchard blossoms, with the trees murmuring above it in lofty splendor. What a magnificent tableau!

On numerous isles monastery hermitages are clustered, intended for solitary prayer.

Saviour Transfiguration Monastery

In the years of the Second World War Lake Ladoga was the sole connecting link between besieged Leningrad and the rest of the country. During navigation ships transported vital food products to the city, as well as military hardware, while people were evacuated back to the mainland. In winter an automobile route was laid across the ice, called "Road of Life".

Navigation begins on Lake Ladoga in May and the sea traffic is quite heavy. Barges, tugs, tourist boats sail from St.Petersburg to Petrozavodsk and Kizhi, the White Sea, the Solovetsk Isles, and to the Volga — along the Volga-Baltic canal.

Source:The Voice of Russia

суббота, 29 августа 2009 г.

Household Furnishing and Utensils of the Old Russians

Interior furniture in houses of the nobility and rich merchants was naturally quite different from plain furnishing in humble huts of peasants and craftsmen.

The floor in rooms was usually covered with bast matting or felt, whereas in rich houses carpets were used. Along the walls there stood immovable benches upholstered with woven bast matting or cloth; in well-off houses cloth or silk covers hanging down to the floor were laid over benches. Room furniture was supplemented with special benches up to 1.5 meters broad, with headrests to provide comfortable rest after dinner. Quadrangular stools were used for sitting as well.

In front of the benches there stood long and narrow tables, most often made of oak and decorated with carving. In rich houses one could also see small tables adorned with colourful gems. It was a custom to cover the tables with under-cloths, over which woolen or velvet tablecloths embroidered in gold and silver were laid. Common folks used only coarse linen tablecloths or could also do without them.

Icons hanged on walls made an integral part of any room. The edges of an icon were often framed with a silver or golden setting, and the icon was placed into an icon case. The most common icon material was wood; sometimes stone or white bone could be applied, though. There were also metal hinged folding icons that had images on both the inner and outer sides. Icons with lampions and wax candles before them were put in the front corner of a room and could be drawn with a curtain. In rich houses they could have a special “cross” room, all filled with icons, for home praying.

Wall mirrors were a great rarity even in rich mansions, whereas small mirrors imported from the overseas were quite widely spread. As for wall-mounted paintings they became available in Moscow only by the end of the 17th century.

Our ancestors had no beds as such, but slept on benches; a broad bench was drawn up to a wall-fixed bench forming a sleeping place. In rich houses the benches were covered with featherbeds, pillows in trimmed pillowcases, linen or silk bed sheets and satin blankets lined with expensive fur. However, the richly trimmed beds were only in houses of the nobles and the rich. Most of the population used thick felt as bedcover, or, else, they slept on stoves, plank beds, or wooden benches, covered with fur coats or some other clothes.

Household things were kept in trunks and in chests, which often had drawers. Women’s decorations were preserved in artistically decorated caskets and were inherited as family jewels. Pocket watches were quite a rarity, though clocks were often imported from abroad. It is known that Tsar Mikhail Fyodorovich was a big clock-fancier and collector. According to descriptions of foreigners, in the house of Boyar Artamon Sergeyevich Matveyev one of the chambers had the floor covered with square floor planks, a big glazed stove, and a chandelier hanging from the ceiling; parrots and other beautiful birds were sitting in cages hanging here and there; along with paintings on the walls, a large mirror and a decorated table there were clocks of various arrangement: on one of them the hands showed the time from noon, i.e. the astronomical day, whereas the other one marked time from sunset, the third one – from sunrise, and the fourth one – from midnight, as it was traditional in the Latin church. However, more common in household were the so-called “striking clocks”, with the dial turning instead of the clock hands.

For illumination they used wax candles or, in poor houses, tallow candles; or, else, they applied birch or fire tree splinters. Candles were inserted into wall candlesticks or standing ones, small in size, which could be shifted in case of necessity. When going to the stable or the barn in the evening they used a mica lantern.

Household provisions were kept in barrels, tubs and bast baskets that stood in closets. Kitchen utensils were scarce and primitive; frying was done in tinned iron and copper pans, and dough was kneaded in wooden vats and tubs.

The washstands were made of copper, tin or even silver. In case of cooking food for a big number of people, copper or iron cauldrons were used. Beer and wine cauldrons had the capacity of up to 50 buckets.

Wooden, tin or silver basins served as foodware for liquid food, and wooden, clay, tin, tinned copper or silver platters served for roasts. They seldom used plates and less frequently washed them; instead of plates they usually applied flat cakes or hunks of bread. Still less often knives and forks were used; at that time the latter were two-pronged. Having no table napkins when sitting at table they wiped hands with towels or the edge of the tablecloth. Vessels for serving drinks were quite varied: flagons, buckets, quarters, loving cups, etc. The frequently used flagons had the capacity of one or several buckets. The quarter had the shape of a soup bowl and in full equaled a quarter of a bucket, but actually it could be of different size. The loving cup intended for treating relatives and friends at feasts was a glove-shaped vessel, often with a low tray and a conical cover; wine was scooped out of it with ladles.

The vessels from which hosts and guests drank were also of various types: cups, bowls, goblets, ladles, and rouses. The cups usually had a cylindrical form, somewhat narrowing upwards, yet there were also four-sided and eight-sided cups. A full-measure cup had the capacity of one eighth of a bucket. The bowls were broad round vessels with handles or brackets. The goblets were round vessels with a lid and on a tray. The ladles had an oblong bottom. Small-sized rouses were round and flat-bottomed, and sometimes had a stem and a lid. Besides, following an old custom, silver-framed horns were used for wine drinking.

In houses of noble and rich people precious silver and gilded vessels were put as a decoration on a stand placed in the middle of the showroom. These vessels usually bore inscriptions containing some dicta or dedications to the one who the vessel was presented to.


понедельник, 24 августа 2009 г.

Nothern Sea Route: history of development (part 2)

Admiral A.V. Kolchak placed high emphasis on development of the Northern Sea Route. Active sea route from Arkhangelsk to the estuary of the Ob River and the Yenisei River allowed solving two important strategic tasks for the White Army: to establish secure connection between northern and eastern battle-fronts and to provide Kolchak’s Army with the arms, ammunition and other arming coming from England and France, and on the way back to take goods produced by Siberian cooperative societies including, first of all, foodstuffs for Arkhangelsk. On the 21st of May 1919 Provisional Government of the Northern region adopted a resolution “On Founding of Inter-Departmental Commission for Marine Expedition to Siberia”. Bolsheviks also recognized the necessity of northern seaways development. On the 2nd of July 1918 Lenin signed a resolution of the Council of People’s Commissars on allocation of one million roubles for development of the Arctic Ocean.

On the 10th of March 1921 Lenin signed a decree on creation of Floating Sea Research Institute to study the Arctic Ocean with its seas and river estuaries, islands and the Arctic coasts of RSFSR. From 1923 nineteen radio meteorology stations were built within 10 years. The notion “Northern Sea Route” completely displaced the previous name “North Eastern passageway” in scientific and everyday use.

The expedition of O. Shmidt on steam icebreaker “Alexander Sibiryakov” in 1932 was the starting point for opening regular traffic along the Northern Sea Route.

Otto Shmidt

In 1929 Otto Shmidt, a prominent scientist and editor-in-chief of Big Soviet Encyclopaedia, was appointed the chief of expedition to the Franz Josef Land. The aim of the expedition was to secure USSR sovereignty in this territory. This expedition as well as several subsequent polar expeditions on “Sedov” icebreaker allowed O. Shmidt to evaluate the meaning of polar investigations and navigation possibilities in those latitudes.

In 1932 the first expedition on steamship “Sibiryakov” under direction of O. Shmidt and captain V. Voronin managed to go over the Northern Sea Route within one navigation season.

The steamship “Sibiryakov

The steamship “Sibiryakov” with displacement of 3200 tons put to sea from Arkhangelsk on the 28th of July 1932 and reached port Dickson on the 3rd of August 1932. On the 11th of August the ship refilled coal reserves and continued to the Severnaya Zemlya Island through the Sidorov Island. Then “Sibiryakov” passed from the Kara Sea to the Laptev Sea and reached the Tiksi Bay. Near the Chaun Bay the expedition was blocked by pack ice. Passing slowly the ship reached the Kolyuchin Island on the 10th of September. In harsh ice conditions the four propeller blades of “Sibiryakov” were broken down. Blades replacement took six days. The crew continued in the direction of the Bering Strait, but in two days the blade roller was cut off by a block of ice. For ten days the ship drifted in different directions. As soon as the ice conditions improved 11 sails were set. Slowly the ship reached the northern passage to the Bering Strait. Thus the way from the estuary of the Northern Dvina to the Bering Strait took two months and three days. “Usuriets” trawler towed “Sibiryakov” to Petropavlovsk and then to Yokohama for repairs. The ship returned to Arkhangelsk passing by the Suez Canal. (Studies on history of geographical discoveries, 1986, p. 46-47).

Successful expedition of Otto Shmidt proved the possibility of active development of the Arctic. GLAVSEVMORPUT (Northern Sea Route General Office) was established to put the idea of Arctic development to practice. Otto Shmidt was appointed the Chief of GLAVSEVMORPUT. The principal goals of this organisation included Northern Sea Route developing and fitting with technical means, studying of subsurface reserves in polar territories and starting research studies on regular basis. The scope of activity included construction of weather stations along the coast, development of radio communication and polar aviation, construction of icebreakers and ships for navigation in Arctic conditions.

In order to check navigation possibilities for carriers in the Arctic Ocean in 1933 the steamship “Chelyuskin” followed the route of the steamship “Sibiryakov”. O. Shmidt and V. Voronin headed the crew of researchers in different fields of knowledge. There was a group of winterers with families on board the ship. The winterers and carpenters were supposed to disembark on the Wrangel Island. In harsh conditions “Chelyuskin” reached the Bering Strait but the ship did not manage to pass through to the Pacific Ocean due to wind and current. It was inevitable to stay for the winter. On the 13th of February 1934 ice broke the shipboard and within two hours the ship sank. 104 people including 10 women and 2 children with emergency supplies found themselves on a block of ice. The stay of Chelyuskin team in a camp and rescue by pilots is known in the world as heroical deed of Soviet explorers of the Arctic.

In 1934 the ice-cutter “Litke” made the voyage from Vladivostok to Murmansk without failure by the Northern Sea Route. “Litke” captain was N.M. Nikolaev, research manager V.Yu. Vize. In 1935 four cargo motor ships passed through the Route during a single navigation season. In 1936 warships of the Baltic Fleet successfully arrived to the Far East, and in 1939 “Stalin” icebreaker made a double trip within one navigation period.

The Soviet Union was the first and the only country actively using drift-ice research stations. Such stations represented a number of houses equipped for habitation and research. The idea of drift-ice research stations belonged to Vladimir Vize, a researcher of Scientific Research Institute of the Arctic and the Antarctic. This was an efficient and low-cost research solution proposed in 1929. Thanks to drift-ice stations it was possible to study the Arctic all the year round.

In spring 1937 the team of the first drift-ice research station arrived on site. Members of the first team were I.D. Papanin (the Chief), E.T. Krenkel (radio operator), E.K. Fedorov (geophysicist) and P.P. Shirshov (oceanographer). During 274 days “North Pole” station made 2050 kilometres. In February 1938 the icebreakers “Taimyr” and “Murman” evacuated the station.

Before the Great Patriotic War the Soviet Union gained big experience of carriers navigation in the Arctic. The ports of Dickson, Dudinka, Tiksi, Pevek and Provideniya were under construction. During the war apart from supply of the Arctic construction sites and research stations it was necessary to ensure supply of garrisons and warships and to receive goods delivered from the USA and Canada.

The most outstanding voyages along the Northern Sea Route in the 1940-1970’s included transportation of manufactured products and foodstuffs from the Pacific coast of Yakutia and the eastern part of the Soviet Arctic, delivery of warships from the Far East to the Barents Sea during the Great Patriotic War, navigation of river boats from European ports to Siberian rivers (from 1948), navigation of fishing boats to the Far East (from 1951), double cargo voyages of diesel-powered motor ships “Lena” and “Yenisei” (from 1954) and autumn voyages of atomic-powered vessel “Lenin” (1970-71). The Northern Sea Route is an integral part of the economy. It is vital for the regions of the Extreme North and the Far East. It ensures supply of remote areas with fuel, foodstuffs and essential goods and supply of the continent with natural resources.

Dissolution of the Soviet Union followed by social and economic crisis of the post-Soviet space in the early 1990’s had a negative influence upon the condition of the Northern Sea Route. The supply system was destroyed due to dissolution of centralized maintenance supply of the Russian North. Due to price liberalization and credit system reconstruction most enterprises in the framework of the Northern Sea Route operation were in a difficult financial state. In the first place it concerned icebreakers and other ships of the Arctic fleet, ports, polar research stations and some settlements whose economy developed around servicing the Northern Sea Route. By 2003 the volume of freight decreased 5 times (1,7 million tons) in comparison with the golden age of the Soviet era. At that time the biggest freight volume belonged to “Norilsk Nickel” company (up to 65%).

At present practical steps are made in Russia to overcome the crisis and to continue development of the Northern Sea Route. This proves high strategic significance of this unique Arctic itinerary. In the first place this high importance is connected with forthcoming development of immense Arctic offshore oil and gas fields. Transit functions of the Northern Sea Route are also of high importance, mainly for development of regions located in the Extreme North and the Far East. Nowadays, many countries of the world are interested in cargo transportation by the Northern Sea Route. This is mainly due to the growing commodity turnover between Europe and the countries of Asian and Pacific regions. Possibly the XXIst century may become an era of intensive development of the Northern Sea Route as of an important arctic transportation passage of national and international importance.

The source:www.ikz.ru

пятница, 21 августа 2009 г.

Northern Sea Route: history of development (part one)

Discovery of the Northern Sea Route is one of the most outstanding pages of Russian North development. The Northern Sea Route became not only the shortest waterway between the European part of Russia and the Far East, but also a unique transcontinental route representing important interest for the economy of many countries of the world. The length of the Northern Sea Route from the Kara Strait to the Providence Bay is about 5600 km. It is a big advantage compared to waterways passing through widely used the Suez Canal and the Panama Canal. Thus the distance from Saint-Petersburg to Vladivostok via Northern Sea Route is 14 280 km, via the Suez Canal — 23 200 km, around Cape of Good Hope - 29 400 km. The Northern Sea Route may serve as the shortest way between Western Europe and Asia-Pacific Region, thus it is possible that it should play an important part in global processes of economic development. The Northern Sea Route is of great strategic importance for Russia due to possibility to transport hydrocarbons and minerals from the Far North areas and supply the Far North areas with equipment and foodstuffs. A network of unique observation stations is situated all along the Northern Sea Route. This network serves Russian and foreign scientific communities to study natural and climatic peculiar features of the Far North.

Discovery of the Northern Sea Route has centuries-long prehistory. At early stages of Siberia colonization Novgorod people and later the White Sea coast-dwellers were sailing along the western areas of the Route. These brave explorers possessed unique practical skills of sailing on fragile boats in harsh climatic conditions of the North. In the XIth century Russian seafarers put to seas of the Arctic ocean, and in the XII—XIIIth centuries they discovered the islands of Vaigach and Novaya Zemlya, and in the end of the XVth century — the islands of Svalbard and Medvezhy. In the XVI-XVIIth centuries the section from the Northern Dvina River to the Taz Bay was explored and developed (so-called “Mangazeiya seaway”).

It is accepted that in 1525 the Russian diplomat Dmitry Gerasimov was the first to suggest using the North-Eastern passageway (the name of the Northern Sea Route before the beginning of the XXth century) for marine communication between Russia and China. At the same time following his description the Italian cartographer Battista Agnese made one the first Moscovy maps showing some parts of the basin of the Arctic Ocean.

In the second half of the XVth century English and Dutch seafarers made several attempts to pass to the East by the North Eastern passageway. A specific society of explorers was created in England. The society raised money for several expeditions to the basin of the Arctic Ocean with the goal to discover a new trade route to China. Richard Chancellor and Hugh Willoughby (1553—1554), as well as by Arthur Pet and Charles Jackman (1580) were in charge of the most famous expeditions. Expedition participants just managed to reach the estuary of the Northern Dvina River, Murmansk coast and the Island of Novaya Zemlya.

The Dutch seafarer Willem Barentsz made three cruises in the north in 1594-1596. His ships tried passing further to the East turning around the Island of Novaya Zemlya from north to south. During the third voyage Barentsz managed to turn around the Cape of Wish but he had to spend winter in the Ice Harbour. In spring 1597 on the way back to the continent Barentsz died.

In the end of the XVIth century Russian seafarers were making regular voyages to the estuary of the Ob River and later managed to reach the basin of the Yenisei River. Soon after Ermak campaign the towns of Berezovo and Obdorsk (Salekhard), and later Mangazeya burg on the Taz River, were built. For a long time these towns served as ports for furs transportation to Arkhangelsk. In the beginning of the XVIIth century Russian seafarers often reached the estuary of the Yenisei and the Pyasina River. In 1622—1623 a troop commanded by the explorer Penda followed up-stream of the Nizhnyaya Tunguska River from the Yenisei, crossed the watershed and reached the Lena. In 1632 officer Petr Beketov founded the burg giving start to the town of Yakutsk. Ten years later Cossack troops went down to the estuary of the Lena. From this point Ivan Rebrov made a voyage to the West and reached the Olenek River; Ilya Perfiliev made a voyage to the East and reached the Yana River. Soon the boats of explorers managed to reach the Anabar River and the Indigirka River in the East. In 1644 Nizhne-Kolymsky burg was founded in the estuary of the Kolyma River.

Discovery of the last section of the North Eastern passageway to the Pacific Ocean is connected with the names of Semen Dezhnev and Fedot Popov. In 1648 they made a trade voyage on small boats and proved existence of a strait between Asia and America. They made detailed description of Chukotka and founded Anadyr burg.

Thus, Russian pioneers investigated the entire northern coast of Eurasia and the seas washing its shores. Their contribution into the chronicles of the greatest geographic discoveries had in fact solved the problem of the North Eastern passage to the Eastern countries. Quite naturally Dezhnev’s voyage and discovery of a strait between Asia and America was compared with the feat of Christopher Columbus.

Vitus Bering

In the XVIIIth century the Second Kamchatka Expedition made the most important contribution into studies of separate parts of the Northern Sea Route. Within 10 years the crew headed by Vitus Bering went through the Northern Sea Route from Arkhangelsk in the west to the Bolshoy Baranov Cape in the east. In 1742 Semen Chelyuskin reached the northern extremity of Asia – the cape later named after him. Khariton Laptev investigated the coast from the Lena to the Khatanga and the Taimyr Peninsula. He mapped the Khatanga Bay, the Rivers of Pyasina and Khatanga; he discovered the Bolshoy Begichev and the Maly Begichev Islands and the central part of Byranga mountains. The crew following from Yakutsk to the Bering Strait studied the coast of the Arctic Ocean between the Lena and the Bolshoy Baranov Cape. This crew also surveyed the rivers Yana, Indigirka, Khroma, Kolyma, Bolshoy Anyui and Anadyr. Other crew headed by Martyn Shpanberg investigated the Kuril Islands and discovered the seaway to Japan. The crew headed by Vitus Bering managed to make outstanding discoveries of the strait between Asia and America and to describe the northern shores of Kamchatka, north-western coast of America and to discover many islands.

Taking into account the results of the first northern expeditions of the Russian Academy of Sciences Mikhail Lomonosov put forward and proved the idea of integrated study of polar seas and countries for development of trade seafaring and for protection of Russian territories in the Far East.
Russian seafarers F.P. Wrangel and F.F. Matyushkin made a big contribution into studying of the eastern part of the Northern Sea Route. In 1820—1824 they investigated and mapped the coastline from the estuary of the Kolyma River to the Kolyuchinskaya Bay. In this area they were the first to make four tours on drifting ice.

From 1877 Kara expeditions were organised from time to time to bring Siberian agricultural products and minerals to the world market through the Kara Sea. Seventy-five out of one hundred and twenty-two Kara voyages were successful in the period from 1877 to 1919. The total amount of cargo was 55 thousand tons. Failures of Kara expeditions were explained by the absence of proper navigation equipment, ports and icebreakers.

In 1899 the first powerful icebreaker in the world ERMAK was built in England upon initiative of Admiral S.O. Makarov. The icebreaker was supposed to ensure regular navigation in the Kara Sea between the rivers Ob and Yenisei.

Swedish scientist Nils Nordenskiöld

In 1878-79 outstanding Swedish scientist Nils Nordenskiöld proved the possibility of Northern Sea Route use for transit. He made a voyage on “Vega” schooner from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean with one stop for winter.

In 1875 Nordenskiöld made a voyage in the direction of the Yugorsky Shar Strait. The sealer “Preven” passed the strait and stopped in a cosy harbour on an island in the Yenisei Bay. He called the harbour Port Dickson. At present the entire island is called Dickson.

In spite of the fact that Nordenskiöld reach the Yenisei safely and rapidly, he considered that the voyage on a sailing vessel was slow due to calm. He thought that a steam vessel would allow saving one month. Russian people were inclined to underestimate the significance of the trip ascribing it to an exception due to uncommon ice distribution in the Polar Sea. Wishing to prove the falsity of such opinion and to arrange trade communication between Europe and Siberia via the Northern Sea Route, Nordenskiöld made the second voyage on a steam vessel “Imer” in 1876. This time he managed not only to enter the estuary of the Yenisei but also to go up-stream till Yakovleva village where he discharged the cargo. Nordenskiöld named the island discovered in the Yenisei Bay – the Sibiryakov Island – after Irkutsk merchant A.M. Sibiryakov who financed the greater part of the expedition budget.

A.M. Sibiryakov

Success of Nordenskiöld's voyages made irrefutably evident the fact that the western part of the North Eastern passageway could be used as a trade route. All this inspired Nordenskiöld to undertake a through voyage from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean by the Arctic Ocean along the shores of Europe and Asia. Another task of the new campaign was to check possibility of safe navigation from Scandinavia to the Bering Strait. The secondary task was to collect information on poorly studied Siberian shores and waters. Nordenskiöld wrote that the expedition “should have explored the Arctic Sea to the east from the estuary of the Yenisei possibly till the Bering Strait from the point of view of geography, hydrogeography and natural science”.

Steam vessels Vega and Lena near the Cape of Cheluskin

Nordenskiöld was provided with “Vega” steam vessel made of oak with displacement of 357 tons. The steam-engine power was 60 horsepower. The vessel was equipped with sails; its velocity was 6-7 knots. The officer staff and crew (totally 30 persons) were represented by experienced sailors of Swedish Navy and seal hunters. Apart from Nordenskiöld the research staff of the expedition included zoologist A. Stuksberg, botanist F. Chelman, geophysicist A. Hovgard (Dane), hydrograph D. Bove (Italian) and doctor E. Almquist. Considering that the expedition was of high interest for the country, Russian Geographical Society sent Guards lieutenant Oscar Nordquist to join the crew. He took active part in zoological observations and other studies. He was crew interpreter during stay for winter in chuckchi settlement.
On the 1st of August “Vega” passed the Yugorsky Shar Strait to the Kara Sea and in five days arrived to Dickson harbour without any difficulties. On the 10th of August the vessel moved on to the Chelyuskin Cape and regardless of fears this part of the way was successfully passed. On the 24th of August “Vega” reached the estuary of Lena. “Vega” passed through the first blocks of ice and successfully reached the Kolyuchin Bay on the 27th of September. Fighting with ice the vessel doubled the cape situated on the eastern extremity of the bay. Not far from the Bering Strait the vessel cast aground at Pitlekay jammed by the ice. The crew had to stay for winter at 222 kilometres from the principal goal. During wintering the staff collected data particularly valuable due to the fact that the area under study had never been investigated from research point of view. Only on the 18th of July the expedition continued the voyage and in two days “Vega” entered the Bering Strait. After that the vessel went to Japan, around Asia and Europe overseas the Pacific and Indian Oceans, the Suez Canal, the Mediterranean and returned to Sweden overseas the Atlantic Ocean. Thus the task to go through North Eastern passageway was accomplished.

The route of steam vessel Vega


среда, 12 августа 2009 г.

Marine Cherubic Hymn dedicated to the memory of "Kursk"

Sings Zhanna Bichevskaya

The Cherubic Hymn is the primary cherubikon, or song of the angels, sung during every Divine Liturgy of the year except those of Holy Thursday and Holy Saturday. It occurs after the Gospel reading and is interrupted by the Great Entrance. The Cherubic Hymn was added to the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom by order of the Emperor Justinian near the end of the sixth century.

"We, who mystically represent the Cherubim,
And chant the thrice-holy hymn to the Life-giving Trinity,
Let us set aside the cares of life
That we may receive the King of all,
Who comes invisibly escorted by the Divine Hosts."

пятница, 7 августа 2009 г.

четверг, 6 августа 2009 г.


By Andrei Ptashnikov

Today we’ll talk about the ancient city of Bolghar — a Muslim shrine.

Let me clarify it right away. The Balkan country of Bulgaria and its residents Bulgarians are not directly linked to the ancient state of Volga Bulgaria and its capital city Bolghar.

The first historical records of the state date back to the 9th century A.D. Back then Volga Bulgaria was one of the largest and most advanced states in Eastern Europe. Bulgars learned to manufacture pig iron some 200 years ahead of Western European nations. The advanced level of urban development in Volga Bulgaria was quite amazing. Its capital city boasted running water, pavements, and a drainage system.

Bath houses were especially popular. There were at least 15 of them in the city. We know what they looked like even today. Archeologists have excavated and restored two of them. Surprisingly, the bath houses had a heating system, hot and cold running water, swimming pools, sewage, and even heated floors. Imagine all that almost a thousand years ago!

But it was not the bath houses alone that put Bulgars on the map. Volga Bulgaria adopted Islam as its official religion as far back as the early 10th century, and became the first Muslim state in Eastern Europe.

Legend has it that one of the followers of Prophet Mohammed came to Volga Bulgaria. When he learnt that the daughter of the local Khan was taken seriously ill, he plunged his staff into the ground, and a medicinal spring appeared there. Its water quickly healed the girl. The grateful residents of Bolghar and their Khan, astonished by the miracle, adopted Islam. The spring is there still. Today it is inside a well, and its water is still considered health-giving and rejuvenating.

At the beginning of the 13th century the Tatar-Mongol armies, having conquered Middle Asia, seized Volga Bulgaria as well. A few years later Bolghar became one of the major cities of their vast empire — the Golden Horde. Moreover, it, too, adopted Islam. Today, a thousand years later, most Tatars are Muslims, the ancient Volga Bulgars being their direct ancestors.

Three hundred years ago Bolghar was part of the Golden Horde. Mosques, minarets, crypts and mausoleums, unsurpassed in their beauty, were built on its territory. The city continued to grow and prosper. Located close to the confluence of the two great rivers the Volga and the Kama, it became a major center of trade between Europe and Central Asia.

But sooner or later everything comes to an end. Discord among the leaders of the Golden Horde led to the gradual weakening and disintegration of the once great and powerful empire. Bolghar, too, eventually declined. In the 16th century Russian princes took advantage of the situation, seized Bolghar and integrated the entire territory of the former Volga Bulgaria into Russia.

In the early 18th century Russian tsar Peter the Great visited Bolghar and saw the lamentable state it was in. He ordered large-scale restoration work on the city’s architectural monuments. The Tsar’s ukase, or decree, was the first state document on preservation of historical monuments in Russia.

Regrettably, the Tsar’s decree didn’t help much. It was not the restorers or the scientists who rushed in and made themselves busy in Bolghar, but the treasure hunters. In search of treasures they dug through well-nigh the entire city. There is no information about any valuable finds. However, their diligent efforts caused the collapse of the main minaret of Bolghar as well as other stone buildings in the city.

It wasn’t until the middle of last century that Bolghar was in the limelight again. Its entire territory was declared a state reserve. Full-scale restoration and archeological work began in earnest, which produced some fascinating discoveries as well as mysteries — many of them still unsolved…

The most enigmatic of them all is the so-called Bal-Bal. It is a human head made of stone with clearly mongoloid facial features. It was found in one of the khan’s crypts. Scientists estimate it was sculpted as early as the 13th or the 14th century. That is at the time when Islam had already been officially adopted in Bolghar. But Islamic laws forbade depicting faces of people, let alone those of saints.

Who then does Bal-Bal personify? Could it be one of the pagan idols of the tribes who inhabited those parts long before the foundation of Bolghar?

Archeologists have also found over a hundred tombstones engraved with special signs, symbols and inscriptions. Many of them have never been deciphered. Whose graves those tombstones were on remains a mystery…

Today Bolghar is a museum under the open sky. The main minaret that collapsed long ago has been rebuilt. Crypts and mausoleums that have miraculously survived have been restored. Little by little other buildings are being restored too, the famous bath-houses, for one, that we spoke of above.

This historic spot of stunning beauty keeps attracting thousands of tourists, who come here in droves, especially in the summer season. They come not only from Tatarstan, but from Central Russia, Western Siberia, and many foreign countries. Almost every one of them will walk around the remnants of a column that mark the place of the magnificent mosque that used to stand there a long time ago. Walking around that column several times is a ritual that is believed to fulfill one’s innermost desires.

Today Bolghar is also a place of pilgrimage for many Russian Muslims. They come here to perform the so-called “little hajj”. Mostly, these are the believers who haven’t had a chance to take part in the big hajj in Saudi Arabia.

And so it is, that after centuries of oblivion, Bolghar has regained its former glory of a shrine, the place where Islam first appeared within the territory of modern Russia. This ancient city still guards its many mysteries and riddles. Will people ever solve them? It depends on them and them alone…

Source:The Voice of Russia

вторник, 4 августа 2009 г.

Russia and the Black August syndrome

MOSCOW, July 31 (Marc Bennetts for RIA Novosti) - April is the cruellest month according to T.S. Eliot, but for modern Russia it is undoubtedly August, a time of catastrophe, crisis and political upheaval.

For almost two decades, Russians have learned to expect the worst from the eighth month of the year, with 1991 seeing a coup and 2008 war in the Caucasus.

The litany of August chaos and woe reads like this:

August 19, 1991 - Communist hardliners disgruntled at Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev's reforms launch an unsuccessful coup attempt that leads to the break-up of the Soviet Union.

August 14, 1992 - The Georgian-Abkhazian war begins, with the conflict involving large numbers of Russian citizens.

Early August 1994 - The notorious MMM pyramid scheme collapses, leaving millions of Russians without their life-savings, a sum believed to be up to $1.5 billion.

August 24, 1995 - The Russian interbank credit system breaks down, leading to the ruin of 28 Russian banks.

August 29, 1996 - A Russian Tupolev TU-154 crashes over the Arctic Ocean, all 141 people on board die.

August 17, 1998 - The Russian government defaults on its foreign and domestic debt and the ruble loses two-thirds of its value in the next four weeks.

August 7, 1999 - Chechen fighters invade Dagestan, signaling the start of the second Chechen war.

August 8, 2000 - A bomb explodes in a pedestrian underpass in central Moscow killing 13 people.

August 12, 2000 - The Russian nuclear submarine Kursk sinks in the Barents Sea; all 118 sailors on board die.

August 8, 2002 - Floods and strong winds kill 59 people in the Russian Black sea city of Novorossiisk.

August 19, 2002 - A military Mi-26 helicopter is shot down over Chechnya, 126 servicemen die.

August 1, 2003 - A suicide bomber attacks a military hospital in the Russian North Ossetia town of Mozdok, killing over 50.

August 24, 2004 - Two Russian passenger planes are blown up by Chechen terrorists, over 90 people die.

August 31, 2004 - A Chechen suicide bomber blows herself up outside Moscow's Rizhskaya metro station, killing 10. The next day, September 1, sees the start of the Beslan school siege.

August 21, 2006 - Nationalists explode a bomb at Moscow's Cherkizovo market, killing 13.

August 22, 2006 - A Russian Tu-154 plane crashes in Ukraine, 170 lose their lives.

August 8-12, 2008 - Russia and Georgia fight a war over South Ossetia after Georgian forces attempt to bring the republic back under central control.

воскресенье, 2 августа 2009 г.

Russia to use force if Georgian shelling continues

Russia says it is prepared to use force to protect its troops and civilians in South Ossetia if Georgia continues its military provocations, according to Russian officials.

Earlier on Saturday, the South Ossetian Defence Ministry claimed one of its lookouts in the border zone was fired upon, although no casualties were reported.

Although South Ossetian authorities do not report any casualties in these alleged attacks, and Georgian officials deny all allegations of launching them, Russia’s Defense Ministry has called the incident a provocation.

"Events in August 2008 developed in line with a similar scenario, which led to Georgia undertaking military aggression against South Ossetia and attacking the Russian peacekeeping contingent," the Ministry officials said, as quoted by RIA Novosti.

According to Russian officials, this was not the first provocation in the last four days. The Defense Ministry says it intends to use all its resources to protect South Ossetian and Russian citizens in the region, including the peacekeepers.

"In case of further provocations threatening the republic's population and the Russian military contingent deployed in South Ossetia, the ministry retains the right to use all available means and forces to defend the nationals of South Ossetia and Russian servicemen," Russia’s Defense Ministry has warned.

Georgia's Foreign Ministry, in turn, named the Russian statements on Tbilisi's actions on South Ossetia "absolutely groundless" and said they are "an undisguised threat to Georgia".

The Georgian side said this position "is aimed at destabilizing the situation in the region and is leading to a dangerous scenario".

Georgia urged the international community to give an assessment of the Russian representatives’ comments.

Since recognizing South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states and signing documents on co-operation and defense, nearly 4,000 Russian troops have been stationed in both territories for defense purposes.

Even now, almost a year since the conflict ended, the local population continues to suffer from the trauma of the short war and these latest incidents, therefore, only aggravate the situation.

Russia and CIS expert, Leonid Gusev, explains:

“First of all, President Saakashvili is thinking about the promises he made when he was elected for his first and second terms in office, when he said that Abkhazia and South Ossetia would become part of Georgia's territory. So, his actions are addressed to Georgians and he wants to show the west that he is the person who can control the situation.”

It has been just under one year since the conflict in South Ossetia erupted. It ended with a ceasefire agreement, or with the so-called Medvedev-Sarkozy plan, and Russia has been fulfilling its obligations under this plan.

In the case the allegations of Georgian mortar shots on the South Ossetian territory are true, then it would be a serious violation of the ceasefire agreement.


Patriarch Kirill visits orthodox shrine in Khersones

Thousands of Orthodox believers came to the St. Vladimir Cathedral overlooking the ruins of the ancient Greek town of Khersones near the Black Sea port of Sevastopol on Sunday to attend a liturgy led by Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill. Khersones is a sacred place for Russia. Legend has it that St. Prince Vladimir, who converted Kievan Rus to Christianity, got baptized there according to a Byzantine ritual. St. Cyril, the equal-to-the-Apostle Greek enlightener from Macedonia and the heavenly patron of Patriarch Kirill, once came to Khersones on a missionary visit and delivered a sermon which, in the patriarch’s opinion, determined the Orthodox future of Kievan Rus.

After that sermon, Prince Ascold, the then ruler of Kyiv, adopted Christianity. That happened nearly 120 years before Prince Vladimir got christened. It’s here, in Crimea, that Russian Orthodoxy made its first steps. That alone turns Crimea into a spiritual center for all our people. It’s important for people to understand that apart from being a place for beach rest and holiday-making, Crimea is also a place for pilgrimage. I pray that the rebirth of faith among our people will boost pilgrimage to Crimea, to the roots of Orthodoxy.

Earlier, the patriarch made a stop in Simferopol, the first city on his tour of Crimea where he arrived from eastern Ukraine as part of his 10-day trip to the country. He visited the St. Trinity monastery and consecrated the dome cross of the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, an exact replica of the old church that was torn down after the 1917 revolution. Later, a monument to World War II heroes was erected there and it took a long time and effort to obtain permission for the cathedral’s reconstruction. A compromise was eventually reached, and in a few years the cathedral will open its doors to believers. Patriarch Kirill hailed the project’s significance for Russia:

Reflected in this church as in a drop of water is the entire modern history of our fatherland – glory, downfall and recovery. Today, we should learn to understand the symbols and mysterious signs that God sends us. We should learn to hear God’s voice and distinguish His will in those mysterious signs. I pray that this bright and vivid symbol of rebirth – the Cathedral of St. Prince Alexander Nevsky – will teach us many things and will give all of us rebirth and hope.

From Crimea, Patriarch Kirill will go to western Ukraine.

Milena Faustova


Source:The Voice of Russia

суббота, 1 августа 2009 г.

Film-"You Wouldn't Even Dream It"- the best russian teenagers love story

Based on the book by Galina Shcherbakova. A famous 1980s film with a wonderful music by Alexei Rybnikov tells of a first love that was not understood and appreciated by adults. A story of Romeo and Juliet revisiting our worldThe high-school teenagers Roman and Katya experience a beautiful, tender feeling. The boys mother, unwilling to understand the young lovers, resorts to deception in order to separate them. Despite all the obstacles, Roma and Katya are striving to be together. The misunderstanding of their feelings leads to a tragedy.
Following the films release, its main theme song The Last Poem (to lyrics by Rabindranath Tagore) had become widely popular. The song is still being performed today...

Director: Ilya Frez
Script: Galina Shcherbakova, Ilya Frez
Camera: Gasan Tutunov
Music by: Alexei Rybnikov

Tatyana Aksyuta as Katya Shevchenko
Nikita Mikhajlovsky as Roman Lavochkin
Yelena Solovey as Tanechka, the literature teacher
Irina Miroshnichenko as Lyudmila Sergeevna, Katya's mother
Lidiya Fedoseyeva-Shukshina as Vera, Roman's mother
Albert Filozov as Kostya, Roman's father
Tatyana Pelttser as Roman's grandmother
Rufina Nifontova as Tanechka's mother
Yevgeni Gerasimov as Volodya, Katya's stepfather
Yekaterina Vasilyeva as Alena
Leonid Filatov as Mihail, Tanechka's friend
Vadim Kurkov as Sashka
Lyubov Sokolova as Postman
Yelena Majorova as Katya's neighbour

© Gorky Film Studio, 1980.

English subtitles by T.Kameneva
(from original DVD, RUSCICO).










Saint Seraphim of Sarov

"Acquire the Spirit of Peace and a Thousand Souls Around You Shall Be Saved"

Our father among the saints Seraphim of Sarov was a Russian ascetic who lived at the Sarov Monastery in the 18th century, and is considered a wonder-worker. The Church commemorates St. Seraphim on January 2, and the opening of his relics on July 19.

St. Seraphim of Sarov is one of the most beloved Orthodox saints of recent times (1759–1833). He is credited with acquiring in a most full way, the grace and the Spirit of God. He spent 1,000 days and nights on a rock praying to God for forgiveness. He was a hermit, spiritual guide and priest. He led many christian souls along the path in of apostolic Christianity in Russia during the 19th-century. Born on July 19, 1754, at Kursk, Russia.

His parents, Isidore and Agathia Moshnin, lived in Kursk, Russia; Isidore was a merchant. At the age of 10, Seraphim became seriously ill. During the course of his illness, he saw the Mother of God in his sleep, who promised to heal him. Several days later there was a religious procession in Kursk with the locally revered miracle-working icon of the Mother of God. Due to bad weather, the procession took an abbreviated route past the house of the Moshnin family. After his mother put Seraphim up to the miracle-working image, he recovered rapidly. While at a young age, he needed to help his parents with their shop, but business had little appeal for him. Young Seraphim loved to read the lives of the saints, to attend church, and to withdraw into seclusion for prayer.

He started as meek and labor-loving monk but later on as a ascetic recluse and finally a spiritual guide to thousands of souls in Russia, St. Seraphim remains one of the most beloved saints in his own land , and is known universally as a miracle-worker and a glorious bearer of God's grace.

Orthodox spirituality has produced many holy and famous men, but none in recent centuries to compare with Seraphim of Sarov. He started as a monk working with people and then he was led to become a hermit. He lived deep in the forest and was all alone with only his pet bear, Misha, to keep him company. But, his solitude was interrupted when he was attacked by bandits. So he returned to the community and in 1825, after fifteen years in silence, he began to receive visitors again and to spend his energies in their spiritual direction. By means of his faith and asceticism he performed a number of miracles. His fame and humility brought a steady stream of visitors, religious and royalty alike, to him for advice. Tsar Nicholas wanted to appoint Seraphim as the Metropolitan of St. Petersburg. This was not to the austere monk's taste. He remained a private meditative counselor until his death. The church proclaimed him a saint in 1903. His humility and concern for people made Sarov a center of pilgrimage until the events of the 1917 revolution.

For 45 years he led the life of a contemplative, first in the monastery and then in an isolated hut. Eight years before his death he opened his cell to visitors so that they might seek his advice. It was said he could supply answers before visitors had time to ask their questions. He counseled tough cases of conscience and reportedly worked miracles, healing the sick. Gentle but firm with others, he was very severe with himself. He spent many nights in continual prayer. Depth in spiritual prayer was open, he said, to all Christians. Through his teaching and his life, he revived monasticism as a helpful force to common believers in the Russian Orthodox church.

For St. Seraphim emphasized that the whole purpose of life was to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Doing good in Christ's name was but a means to this end. He saw contemplation, self-denial and meditation as means of bringing oneself to ecstatic prayer.

Once while discussing the topic with his disciple Motovilov, he became so shining that Motovilov could not at first look at him. His eyes were flashing like lightning, and his face shone like the sun. When finally able to lift his eyes to gaze upon his master, Motovilov was filled with peace and joy. This peace and joy, said Seraphim, was the peace and joy Christ promised the disciples at the last supper when he said, "My peace I give unto you," and "your sorrow will be turned to joy."

Saint Seraphim of Sarov

St. Seraphim was loved by all, but he was especially loved by children and heal so loved them a lot. When adults came to St. Seraph while he was living in his hermitage, there were times when he did not respond, so they sent their children out to call him, and he then would appear, spreading sunshine in all their hearts.

A visionary, he saw the Virgin Mary and groups of saints several times during his life. As a prophet, he foretold the future and read men's hearts. As an ascetic, he felled trees with his axe, and when moved into the main monastery late in life through obedience, he hauled rocks from one place to the other to avoid being idle

St. Seraphim was , healed as a boy by the wonder-working Kursk Root Icon of the Mother of God, and he entered the monastery of Sarov when he was nineteen years of age. His mother blessed him with a large copper crucifix, which he wore over his clothing all his life. After this, he entered the Sarov monastery as a novice.

From day one in the monastery, exceptional abstinence from food and slumber were the distinguishing features of his life. He ate once a day, and little. On Wednesdays and Fridays he ate nothing. He spent many years in monastic service, bearing all manner and types physical brutality with unfailing love, patience, and humility. As his fame as a prophet and spiritual light spread throughout Russia, thousands of pilgrims flocked to his wilderness retreat to receive healing's and spiritual consulting.

In obedience to his superiors, he became the spiritual father for nearby nuns and inspired and instructed many. Since he departed this life in l833, his sound has gone forth into all the earth, so much so that many consider him to be the greatest force behind the revival of Orthodox mysticism in the l9th century Russia and indeed throughout the world today. 80 verified instances of miraculous healing worked by Seraphim.

Sarov is a town in the southern Russia in the Nizhny Novgorod region. By the middle of the 18th century the Sarov hermitage had become a well-known spiritual center. The history of Sarov is connected with the pride of the Sarov and Diveyevo monasteries. This place became known due to good deeds and spiritual achievements of the monk Seraphim, it is the last place of St Seraphim lived. In 1903, Sarvo was visited by Emperor of All Russia Nicholas II who with his family and court attended the ceremony of canonization of St Seraphim of Sarov. The uncovering of the holy relics of Saint Seraphim of Sarov on July 19, 1903 was attended by many thousands, among them the foremost of the clergy and Christians. After 1917 the hermitage was destroyed. The Church of St. Seraphim of Sarov is being successfully restored in the town of Sarov (the Nizhny Novgorod region). The town opened a monument to St Seraphim, one of the most revered saints in Russia, the 100th anniversary.

QUOTES from St. Seraphim of Sarov:

Maintain a spirit of peace and you will save a thousand souls.

"The reading of the word of God should be performed in solitude, in order that the whole mind of the reader might be plunged into the truths of the Holy Scripture, and that from this he might receive warmth, which in solitude produces tears; from these a man is wholly warmed and is filled with spiritual gifts, which rejoice the mind and heart more than any word."

God is a fire that warms and kindles the heart and inward parts. Hence, if we feel in our hearts the cold which comes from the devil—for the devil is cold—let us call on the Lord. He will come to warm our hearts with perfect love, not only for Him but also for our neighbor, and the cold of him who hates the good will flee before the heat of His countenance.

The body is a slave, the soul a sovereign, and therefore it is due to Divine mercy when the body is worn out by illness: for thereby the passions are weakened, and a man comes to himself; indeed, bodily illness itself is sometimes caused by the passions.

Without sorrows there is no salvation. On the other hand, the Kingdom of God awaits those who have patiently endured. And all the glory of the world is nothing in comparison.

Those who have truly decided to serve the Lord God should practice the remembrance of God and uninterrupted prayer to Jesus Christ, mentally saying: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

When despondency seizes us, let us not give in to it. Rather, fortified and protected by the light of faith, let us with great courage say to the spirit of evil: "What are you to us, you who are cut off from God, a fugitive for Heaven, and a slave of evil? You dare not do anything to us: Christ, the Son of God, has dominion over us and over all. Leave us, you thing of bane. We are made steadfast by the uprightness of His Cross. Serpent, we trample on your head."

"It is necessary that the Holy Spirit enter our heart. Everything good that we do, that we do for Christ, is given to us by the Holy Spirit, but prayer most of all, which is always available to us,"

"Prayer, fasting, vigil and all other Christian practices, however good they may be in themselves, do not constitute the aim of our Christian life, although they serve as the indispensable means of reaching this end. The true aim of our Christian life consists in the [increasing] acquisition of the Holy Spirit of God. As for fasts, and vigils, and prayer, and almsgiving, and every good deed done for Christ's sake, they are only means of acquiring the Holy Spirit of God."

"…the people who, in spite of the bonds of sin which fetter them and hinder them (by constraint and by inciting them to new sins), come to Him, our Savior, with perfect repentance for tormenting Him, who despise all the strength of the fetters of sin and force themselves to break their bonds – such people at last actually appear before the face of God made whiter than snow by His grace. 'Come, says the Lord: Though your sins be as scarlet, I will make them whiter than snow' (Isa. 1:18)."

"Every success in anything we should refer to the Lord and with the Prophet say: 'Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to Your name give glory' (Ps. 113:9)."

"The true aim of our Christian life consists in the acquisition of the Holy Spirit of God… But… only the good deeds done for Christ’s sake bring us the fruits of the Holy Spirit."

"…only the good deed done for Christ’s sake brings us the fruits of the Holy Spirit. All that is not done for Christ’s sake, even though it be good, brings neither reward in the future life nor the grace of God in this life. That is why our Lord Jesus Christ said: 'He who gathers not with Me scatters' (Lk. 11:23)."


Additional russian military forces to be deployed in Kyrgyzstan

A supplementary Russian military contingent will be deployed on the territory of Kyrgyzstan according to a memorandum that’s been signed by Presidents Dmitry Medvedev and Kurmanbek Bakiyev.

The Russian and Kyrgyz leaders are meeting to discuss military cooperation between the two countries in the resort town of Cholpon-Ata in Kyrgyzstan, where a two-day informal summit between the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) members is taking place.

The memorandum signed by the two sides regulates the legal aspect of the presence of the Russian armed forces in the Central Asian state.

According to the document, a Russian military contingent – up to a battalion – will be deployed on Kyrgyz territory. Also, a joint military training centre will be created.

In addition, an agreement over the creation and status of a Russian military base in southern Kyrgyzstan will be signed by November 1 this year. The document will be valid for 49 years.

The memorandum has become the only document to come out of the meeting between Medvedev and Bakiyev.

It was expected that many issues concerning military cooperation between the two countries – both bilateral and within the framework of the CSTO – would be discussed. Among them – a collective CSTO fast-response base to counter any outside threat.

However, these issues were not on the agenda since – as many believe – it was an informal meeting and such important questions should be left to a more formal gathering.
The US operated Manas base in Kyrgyzstan was not discussed by Medvedev and Bakiyev. It was previously an air force base, but is now a transit base, used by American and coalition forces to support their troops in Afghanistan.

According to the Russian side as long as Manas remains only a transit point, Russia has no problem with the base’s activities.

Moscow already has military links with Kyrgyzstan – the Russian Kant air base is located to the east of the capital Bishkek.

It’s believed the second base could be considered for a joint use of the CSTO members.

The decision to set up a collective rapid response security stronghold in Kyrgyzstan was made at the CSTO summit in February this year. It is expected that forces from all CSTO member states – Armenia, Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan – will be assigned to the unit.