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Interview

Special Report

Cuisine

Singapore-Russia relations grow deeper

APEC summit raises Vladivostok’s hopes

TV leading cook changes Russian cuisine

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A special section produced and published by Rossiyskaya Gazeta (Moscow, Russia) which takes sole responsibility for the content

Moscow will unveil port and overland transport initiatives for Asia next month, writes Irina Drobysheva

Transport

Russia to develop new routes to Asia

At the upcoming APEC CEO summit, to be held this September in Vladivostok, Russia will unveil its plans to further integrate its transportation systems into Asia. Highlights include plans to modernize the Trans-Siberian Railway and the Northern Sea Route as well as to develop new routes between Asia and Europe and inter-regionally within Asia. Global trade forecasts show that trade within the Asian region will grow faster than trade between Asia and either the European Union or the Americas due to intensive regional integration. Asia is the world’s leader in terms of simplifying interregional customs procedures and cutting the costs of doing business. While Russia was preoccupied with accession to the WTO, many APEC countries opted for regional free-trade agreements. Since the mid-1990s, more than 70 free-trade zone agreements have been concluded in Asia.

The bridge over the Zolotoy Rog Bay in Vladivostok has been constructed before the 2012 APEC summit. Photo: ITAR-TASS

A new voice in Singapore

In need of big projects

Greetings from Moscow! Welcome to the first ever Singapore edition of Russia Beyond the Headlines (RBTH). Our aim is to bring you compelling stories from Russia and offer you insights into the country. Our growing team of journalists report from all over Russia to bring you topical and balanced stories. RBTH features diverse opinion writers who don’t always agree on the future direction of the country.

Trade between Russia and Singapore has registered a drop for the first time in several years in spite of an abundance of business contracts and support from the two countries’ top leaders. Russian businessmen shrug and blame the slowdown in trade on the fact that their initiatives meet lukewarm response among their Singapore colleagues. How to tackle this situation will be discussed at the major bilateral business event, Russia-Singapore Business Forum, in the end of September in Singapore.

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Russia’s clown comes to Singapore Russia’s most famous clown Vyacheslav Polunin brings “Snowshow” to Singapore. Fabulous and touching, funny and captivating, it is not just a theatrical production but a journey into the world of dreams, holidays and childhood. Page 13. Photo: ITAR-TASS


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Singapore-Russia

Singapore-Russia

Magnet for young people

Choice or destiny?

Russians come to Singapore out of an adventurous spirit and end up falling in love with it and settling down, writes Inna Soboleva There are about two or three thousand Russians in Singapore today. Most of them work in the consulting and travel spheres and about one hundred run their own businesses. Differences in culture, mentality, and living conditions do not scare Russians off, and more of them move to Singapore. “Where is that? In China? Australia? Why are you going to that agricultural country?” These were the questions Anton Maximov and his girlfriend Ekaterina Kolmakova (pictured) were asked by their friends three years ago, when they decided to move to Singapore. They explained: “We can afford such an adventure while we are young.” Not once have they regretted their decision. Singapore was immediately a pleasant surprise. “Now we can say for sure that this is a totally different world. It does not fit into the cliches concerning Asia. It is clean and, incidentally, there is no agriculture at all,” Maximov laughs. The young people first signed up for an English language course, which enabled them to obtain student visas. In four months, they exchanged the hotel for an apartment and found themselves jobs: they met someone who invited them to take part in founding the Russky Singapore magazine. The connections they established thanks to this job helped them start their own business a year and a half later. In August 2011, they registered their company, Octagon One Pte. Ltd, which offers services in creating printed materials. “Among our clients are Russians

RBTH asks active members of the Russian club in Singapore about their life in the “lion city”

Young Russian business people enjoy working in Singapore. Photo: Press Photo

who find it easier to deal with their own, as well as locals who want to break into the Russian market or need a Russian-language product,” says Maximov. The young businessman admits, although conditions for doing business in Singapore are good, few Russians manage to find a niche and start their own business. “Some guys have started importing beer from Ukraine and others wine from Georgia. There are also some sports instructors who have worked in Singapore for some time and now have a private practice. They even opened a Russian ballet school,” he says. Maximov says he enjoys working in Singapore: people are friendly and sociable. The only thing that takes a bit of getting used to is the speed at which the locals work. “For instance, we discussed a project with customers and got down to business at once, working and corresponding with them. Then we meet them and they say, “We are tired of you, you work so fast,” Maximov recalls. “When

Top business destinations The United Arab Emirates has been ranked first in the list of the best countries for business immigration, according to the Moscow based business magazine Secret Firmy. Australia is placed second, while Singapore is third - followed by New Zealand, Canada, Mongolia, and Hong Kong.

we send mail to partners on our mailing list we often get the reply, “I’m on leave” or “I’m on sick leave.” But this situation can be fun if you manage to adjust to it. In the end, we always get good results. We are really happy to live and work in Singapore and hope that we contribute to the overall prosperity of the “lion city,” the Russian businessman wraps up. The text is based on the materials from the Secret Firmy magazine.

Alexander Blinov, Russian Club President “Why Singapore? For my company, Singapore is a regional hub for the Asia-Pacific. On a very personal front, I hope that the recent anti-foreign-talent sentiments will not grow, and Singapore will remain as what we so much like about it – a melting pot of different cultures, languages and people from all around the world.”   Natalia Babich, entrepreneur   “I can’t think of a better place to raise my daughter. At the age of six, she is immersed in the best of international culture and is fluent in English, Mandarin and, of course, Russian. There is great discipline, a safe and secure environment, and at the same time lots of fun, and lots of food. For me it is a wonderful hub for business, although sometimes it is hard to remind my clients that they are actually here to work!” Zlata Sheve, lawyer “I love the fact that even though Singapore is a major metropolis, I feel as if I am living in a small town as I frequently run into people I know on the street, and the people whom I don’t know are open and inviting. Singapore does need to be careful with its increasing cost of living and the increasing difficulty with granting foreign workers employment. I already see this having an impact on firms’ strategic geographical choices.” Anna Leybina, student program coordinator “I’m amazed that everybody can find a place to apply one’s efforts, e.g. business or volunteering in almost any area they prefer.”

Right time to make debut in Singapore CONTINUED FROM THE COVER PAGE

Our authors are professionals writing for well-known Russian editions – Rossiyskaya Gazeta, Vedomosti, The Moscow Times, Kommersant – and in foreign media – American, British, German, French, Italian. When we start publishing in Singapore, we will be eager to involve local writers. Russia is in the midst of an exciting transition in every sphere, from politics to culture. Like Singapore, Russia is a member of the APEC community and our business coverage explores the Russian marketplace. Sitting in Moscow, it is easy to forget about

it but Russia is also a part of Asia, so we would like to expand our activities in the Asia-Pacific region. Right now we are published on a regular basis in China, Hong Kong, India and Japan. As Russia is wrapping up its first ever APEC chairmanship, I think the timing is perfect to bring out this publication. Our website, rbth.asia, is updated daily with additional articles, and dramatic and diverse multimedia. We can’t wait to hear from you. Eugene Abov RBTH PUBLISHER

Since 2007, Rossiyskaya Gazeta, the largest national Russian daily newspaper, has produced monthly national supplements that appear in major newspapers

around the world. We would like to present significant facts and ideas that fall under the “radar” of major international news outlets.


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Interview

Paving the way for bilateral business cooperation Former Singapore ambassador to Russia and Executive Director of the annual Russia-Singapore Business Forum (RSBF) Michael Tay shares with RBTH his views on the current state of bilateral relations. How would you describe the current level of relations between Singapore and Russia? Russia-Singapore relations have gained momentum and are growing deeper. More Russian businessmen visit Singapore, decide to do business with Singapore, and even establish their offices here. Besides business ties, we also see a major interest in Russia to learn about Singapore’s success story and how our country is run. According to Forbes magazine, Singapore became the 3rd most favourite business emigration destination for Russians, why do you think this is? Both business communities can attest to an increasing awareness of business opportunities on either side. Russian businesses recognise ASEAN’s growing economic significance, and Singapore businesses understand that Russia and CIS are large economies with tremendous market potential. Singapore investors in Russia, what are the major problems they are facing? Traditionally, the differences in language and

cultural understanding have posed obstacles to bilateral business and investment. While some concerns and gaps still remain today, there is definitely a growing consensus between Singapore and Russian companies to find ways and means to overcome such issues and contribute to burgeoning relations and partnerships. Russians in Singapore, what do they do? Over the past several years, more and more Russian companies have come to recognise Singapore’s position as a hub into ASEAN and greater Asia. Being based in Singapore provides an accurate feel of on-the-ground conditions and market developments, which allows them to make better judgment and decisions pertaining to their regional strategies. What will be the main topics for the coming Russia-Singapore Forum? The upcoming forum will feature key information and profiling sessions such as “Russia and CIS: Opportunities and Challenges,” “The Asian Growth Area: Singapore as the Global Asia Hub,” and “Shape of the World Economy.” Similar to last year’s edition, RSBF-2012 will include three feature events on industrial cluster development, real estate investment, and a new track on innovation and technology.

We will also be featuring a session “Emerging Markets : Understanding the Potential, Realising the Opportunities,” with focus on the next wave of markets such as Indonesia, Vietnam, Kazakhstan, and even new frontier markets like Myanmar. What was the main outcome of last year’s forum? How has the situation changed since then? We strive to keep the forum focused on forging business connections and helping our companies find a common ground for further cooperation. The idea is to create a platform for companies to network and share ideas. I believe that the forum has become a great tool for our businesses and that is why it has been growing over the years to over 800 participants from over 40 countries now. Singapore companies have the privilege to meet with top Russian businessmen and venture into a country as big and diverse as Russia. There have been some tie-ups and joint ventures, consultancy and other projects that forum has facilitated.

His story Former Singapore ambassador to Russia Michael Tay still plays a major role in the development of Singapore-Russia relations. Charismatic and easy-going, he has won many good friends among political and business elites on both sides. Now, as Executive Director of the annual RussiaSingapore Business Forum, Tay is lobbying Russian businessmen to come to Singapore and vice versa. In 2011, Russia awarded him with the prestigious Pushkin medal for his contribution to bilateral relations.

Full version of the interview at www.rbth.asia

Singapore-Russia

Singapore and Russia need big business projects Major Russia related business event in Singapore will tackle difficulties in their current relations, writes Viktor Kuzmin Singapore was one of the few countries with which Russia’s trade dropped during the first five months of 2012. Singapore’s share in Russia’s foreign trade has dropped from 0.32% to 0.2% in spite of an abundance of business contracts and support from the two countries’ leaders. The slump could be temporary, given the slowdown in Singapore’s economy. However, the problem could have deeper roots. Some Russian businessmen blame the decrease in trade on the fact that their initiatives are received with lukewarm responses by their Singaporean colleagues. “Our proposals for investment cooperation elicit no

Participants of Russia-Singapore Business Forum. Photo: Press Photo

response, let alone concrete results. In spite of the keen interest shown by Singapore’s leader and regular forums and entrepreneurial activities, we have to go on record as having only guarded optimism and note the lack of major and significant projects,” laments Alexei Kalashnik, Executive Direc-

tor of the Russia-Singapore Business Council. Russian bankers also complain in private conversations that their Singaporean colleagues hardly react at all to their proposals for establishing relevant relations. “Replies to our letters often come not in a week or even a month, but in six months,” one bank-

er told RBTH. How to tackle this situation will be discussed at the major bilateral business event, Russia-Singapore Business Forum, which will be held September 24-27 in Singapore. Initiated in 2006 by Michael Tay, then Singapore Ambassador in Moscow, the forum has become one of the very few international platforms where businessmen and top governmental leaders from Russia and Singapore, as well as from the rest of the CIS and Asia, meet annually. This year they will include former Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Kuan Yew, Sberbank Chairman Herman Gref, Russia’s First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov, and Jim Rogers, famous US investor now based in Singapore. Russia’s exports to Singapore are mainly minerals, which account for 92%. Russia buys Singapore-made electronics, machines, equipment and means of transport. Two countries are actively developing agro-industrial cooperation. Yet, cooperation is developing at a sluggish pace in other spheres.


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Business

Billionaire with global vision shapes APEC's intellectual agenda Billionaire Ziyavudin Magomedov embodies his nation’s increasing presence in Asia, writes Sergey Vinogradov Ziyavudin Magomedov is earning a reputation for being one of the few Russian tycoons who speak internationally for his nation’s business community. The 43-year-old founder and chairman of the Summa Group “is just different,” says a Moscow correspondent for a major American newswire. “Many people told me that he thinks globally.” A year ago, Magomedov was not very wellknown, even inside Russia. Now his Summa Group is making headlines there after bidding for several high-profile assets, particularly in the transport and logistics sectors. “In five years, [Magomedov] might have one of the most powerful shipping holdings, not only in Russia, but internationally as well,” says Alexey Bezborodov, director of consultancy Russia Infranews. Magomedov has acknowledged major plans to expand beyond Russia. Having invested in the Port of Rotterdam, he is contemplating joint international port projects with it. This year the Moscow-based billionaire is chairing the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation Business Advisory Council (ABAC), a body that advises Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) officials on business-sector

priorities and concerns. And Magomedov is making the most of it. We meet at a French restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City, where the tycoon is accompanied by aides and a handful of journalists. Asked if he is satisfied with the results so far, the billionaire jokes about improving his English and presentation skills, and then gets serious. “ABAC is the full analogue of an international organisation, with the only difference that countries are represented by businesspeople rather than ambassadors,” he says. “Decisions are based on consensus, and the only way to get things done is to offer something that is good for everyone. It is difficult but this is how soft power works, and it is important for Russia to continue to do so because after being the host country for APEC; we are taking up leadership in BRICS [the economic group involving Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa], G20 and G8.” Indeed, ABAC can be seen as a testing ground for bigger things. The council lacks the power to make decisions for APEC governments, but it helps to set the regional agenda. “It’s a big question – who has more power: someone who makes the final decisions or someone who limits the available options for the big guys,” says Wu Fei, a Chinese expert on Russia. For years, ABAC has been dominated by the United States, which used the platform to consolidate its interests in the Asia-Pacific “without making big efforts to bring everyone on board,” says one long-time ABAC

Magomedov chairs the APEC Business Advisory Council. Photo: Press Photo

“It is really a big question now – who has more power, someone who makes the final decisions or someone who limits the available options” member from a developing country. This situation changed in November 2011 during the ABAC meeting before the APEC summit in Honolulu, when Russia made its presence felt for the first time. Several ABAC members told RBTH that they were very positive about Russia’s growing influence in the organisation. “Russia was very instrumental in bringing [developing and developed countries’] views closer together,” says an ABAC member from the Philippines. Some of Russia’s initiatives were based on

best practices across the region. “Our experts studied the experience of APEC countries and proposed a framework of incentives for businesses to go green in construction and urban development,” says Magomedov. Technology transfer is a tough issue, but with the help of many developing nations, Russia managed to get it included in the Letter to the Leaders that the council prepares for APEC chiefs before every summit. Magomedov hopes to see Russia become an integral part of Asia’s dynamic economy, especially as many of the region’s businesses are eager to use Russian transit routes instead of facing the congestion of major sea lanes. He plans to continue moving forward and hopes that other Russian businessmen will follow. The National Business Center for APEC established with assistance from Magomedov’s Summa Group aims to raise awareness in Russia about what is happening in Asia. The hope is that awareness will generate interest, and interest will lead to participation.

Business

Time for Russia's business community to speak up Russia will be more vocal than ever at the upcoming APEC CEO Forum in Vladivostok, writes Mark Zavadskiy Less than a year ago I attended the APEC CEO Forum in Honolulu. That was a great event with just one drawback: There were very few Russian speakers. There was just one, then President Dmitriy Medvedev. There were no business people, scientists or opinion makers. It looked like Russia was completely missing from APEC public space and not willing to share its views at one of the biggest business events of the year. This year will be different. The CEO Forum in Vladivostok is organized by the Russian

National Center for APEC, which made sure it would have strong Russian participation that will include business heavyweights like Oleg Deripaska or Ziyavudin Magomedov to civil society people like Russkiy Mir Foundation Executive Director Vyacheslav Nikonov and politicians such as Moscow mayor Sergey Sobianin. The Forum aims to tackle several issues. The limits and unintended consequences of economic integration will be discussed, as well as the challenges that globalization poses to economic and political stability. But the main question remains the same as a year ago. Five years on from the height of the global economic crisis, can we return to – or near to – pre-2008 growth trajectories? This year’s 17th APEC CEO Summit will explore what can be done to make this challenging aspiration a possibility.

RBTH Choice: TOP 3 sessions at the APEC CEO Forum Technologies: The next big thing This discussion is to touch upon possible technological breakthroughs of the early 21st century and their expected benefits to society and business. Emerging markets middle class: The new consumer This discussion will focus on the upcoming shift in consumption trends from developed to developing economies due to their growing middle class. Distant provinces: The scale of opportunity Untapped resources (natural, human and geographical) in different countries and ways to put them to use will be discussed at this session. Photo: AP


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Energy

Is the nuclear crisis coming to an end? The Fukushima accident did not mark the beginning of nuclear power decline throughout the world, writes Viktor Kuzmin As panic swept across the world after the Fukushima disaster, governments of a number of countries were forced to declare that they had abandoned nuclear power. Yet, there have been few changes on the ground. It turned out that there is no viable alternative to nuclear power, given the shortage of hydrocarbon resources and the existing caps on carbon dioxide emissions. An alternative energy industry is still in its infancy. In addition, stress tests performed on nuclear power plants since March 2011 have proven the reliability and safety of existing nuclear power plants (NPP). This has reassured potential customers, and demand for the peaceful atom has started to recover. In countries where NPPs already exist (such as Germany and Switzerland), they will continue to operate at least through the 2020s. Construction of new power units has continued in China, India, Russia, Finland, South Korea, and other countries. What is more, some countries key for their respective macro regions have decided to increase the share of nuclear power in their energy mix. This has been done by the UK, where production of hydrocarbons has been noticeably declining recently, South Korea, and even Saudi Arabia – our planet’s oil Eldorado. The Russian state-owned corporation Rosatom estimates that by 2030 worldwide NPP installed capacity will rise by more than 40%. This corresponds with the World Nuclear Association’s forecasts. Russia has had its share of nuclear power plant accidents. The Chernobyl disaster spurred development of new NPP safety technologies. In contrast to other countries, Rosatom has not stopped R&D financing and development for 20 years. This has yielded such inventions as the “corium trap,” which is a feature of all Russian projects today. Besides the upgrading of Chernobyl-type reactors, 20 VVER (Water-Water Energetic Reactor) type units have been built in Russia, Ukraine, Slovakia, Hungary, China, Iran, and India in the 25 years since the disaster. Rosatom is now building generation 3+ NPPs and ranks second to France’s EDF in installed capacity of its nuclear power plants (25.2 GW). The company’s engineers are working on reactor technologies based on “natural safety” systems. These will form the basis for the fourth generation of reactors, where any serious accidents resulting in radioactivity leaks will be fully excluded, an expert explained. The world energy market has spawned demand for integrated and comprehensive

Partnership with APEC economies

Nuclear power is unlikely to fade away. Photo: Photoshot/Vostock-Photo

Scenarios of global nuclear energy development

Despite the Fukushima fallout, it is obvious that nuclear power is an economically efficient and safe source of energy with numerous multiplier effects on the economy nuclear power solutions. Only major companies that are global nuclear industry leaders can offer solutions of such a degree of complexity. Russia’s Rosatom is one such leader, as it incorporates more than 250 Russian nuclear industry companies and research organisations. Globally, Rosatom offers a universal solution covering every possible aspect of establishing a fully-fledged nuclear energy

complex in a customer country. It includes elements such as a power solution, an industrial solution, a financial solution, expertise and knowledge transfer, personnel training, legal support, and creation of the requisite infrastructure, in addition to fostering public loyalty to the project. For example, in the power sphere, Rosatom offers design and construction of two models of generation 3+ NPPs, either EPC (Engineering, Procurement, Construction), or BOO (Build-Own-Operate). Its industrial solutions provide for broad involvement by local engineering plants. Rosatom is prepared to localise up to 85% of the project’s total value. In the financial area, the Russian state-owned corporation provides a full range of financial instruments, including government loans on preferential terms. “Both countries involved in developing an existing nuclear power sector or creating a nuclear industry from scratch normally not only want to build NPPs but also to deploy the requisite infrastructure and

Rosatom has already been cooperating actively with a number of APEC countries. Its subsidiary Rusatom Overseas has registered an office in Singapore with a view to marketing and promoting Russian nuclear technologies in SEA and Australia. It is planned to establish a Russia-Singapore radiation technology research centre in order to facilitate commercialisation of scientific ideas and research. Rosatom is also ready to assist Singapore in building a nuclear reactor for carrying out research, producing isotopes and training specialists. Vietnam has become the first SouthEast Asian country to select Russian technology for developing its own nuclear power industry. 2012 will see the construction launch of Vietnam’s first NPP equipped with the generation 3+ power unit, complete with the requisite safety systems. A similar project has been implemented at China’s Tianwan NPP, built according to a Russian design. International experts have recognised it as one of the safest power plants in the world. Russia is cooperating on nuclear technology with South Korea (Moscow supplies Russian uranium products for one fifth of its NPPs), Japan (whose companies have been able to transport nuclear materials from Europe across Russian territory and to process feedstock from Kazakhstan and Europe at Russian facilities), and Australia. A contract has been signed with the latter for supplies of Australian uranium to be enriched in Russia.

plan on involving their national industry and creating jobs. As a result, a new nuclear power plant tends to give an impetus to development of local industry,” a Rosatom representative said, citing his company’s cooperation with the Czech Republic as an example. Asia is one of the world’s key regions where demand for clean energy is only set to grow. “Despite the events at Fukushima, APEC countries today drive development of nuclear power worldwide. Even Japan, which shut down all reactors after Fukushima, has announced the launch of two power units,” a Rosatom representative said. None of the global problems facing the international community can any longer be resolved quickly and easily. This includes the problem of affordable clean energy. Despite the Fukushima fallout, it remains obvious that nuclear power is an economically efficient and safe source of energy, which also has numerous multiplier effects on the national economy.


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Special Report

Vladivostok excited to be center of attention at the APEC summit Vladivostok-ers hope that tourism will flourish in a city once closed to foreigners, writes Vaughan Winterbottom The gritty Russian port city of Vladivostok— where the main business is importing righthand Toyotas, Hondas and Nissans — will host the 24th Summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum on September 2-9. About 600,000 locals are aware that the leaders of 21 countries and accompanying media will descend on the city. However, the real party is reserved for infrastructure projects that will be completed on the eve of the summit, and the hopes that tourism will flourish in the formerly closed naval outpost. Chief among the building efforts is the construction of two massive bridges, one from the city centre across Zolotoy Rog (Golden Horn) Bay to the residential area of Churkin. The other is from the city’s Nazimov Peninsula to Russky Island, where the APEC meetings and conferences will take place. The bridge to Russky Island became the longest cable-stayed bridge in the world when it was completed in June. An opening ceremony for the Russky Island Bridge was scheduled for July 2 to coincide with the anniversary of the city’s founding 152 years ago. However, it was delayed for a month due to rain damage. Bridge construction hasn’t been without incident. A large fire on the Zolotoy Rog Bridge last December led to rumours that a collapse was imminent. Locals said rain was a timely excuse, but the pomp and ceremony on July 2 went ahead. Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev flew in for the aborted occasion and said: “As someone not living in Vladivostok, I can objectively say that the changes here have been huge. I’m glad that the 152-nd anniversary celebrations of the city coincide with another very important event – the beginning of test operations on our beautiful bridges. Although they are yet to open, they have already become symbols of the city.” Anniversary celebrations were extended to a full week to unveil a host of other urbanrejuvenation projects. On the final day of festivities on July 7, the old Arbat pedestrian street in the city centre was packed. Girls posed in front of new fountains. Fireworks dazzled to the accompaniment of live music. “I’d give a high rating to what I’ve seen,” said New Zealand’s ambassador, Ian Hill. “The scale of construction on the island is truly impressive; I have no doubt the site will be ready. Russky Island is a great place for APEC, and for a world-class university.” Island residents aren’t so impressed. Many chose to live there to escape Vladivostok’s

The long-awaited bridge over Zolotoy Rog Bay united the centre of Vladivostok with Churkin cape. Photo: ITAR-TASS

NUMBERS

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BILLION US$ was spent on building over 50 facilities and reconstructing public utility networks for the 2012 APEC summit in the Far Eastern city of Vladivostok this September

Key infrastructure built for the summit

STATE LEADERS will arrive in Vladivostok to attend the APEC summit, which is held to promote economic cooperation and better connectivity between countries of the Asia-Pacific region

The city’s preparation for the APEC summit was a key priority for Russia. The infrastructure projects for the summit include: 1,388-metre bridge across the Golden Horn Bay and 1,885.53-metre bridge to Russky Island, the world’s largest cable-stayed bridge. Two new hotel complexes with a total area of 75,400 square metres and cost US$2 billion. The 42km route along which summit participants will be first taken from the village of Novy, across the De Vries peninsula, cost almost US$8.1 billion.

The construction of a new airport terminal, including the terminal, took almost US$3.24 billion. The capacity of the new terminal exceeds 3.5 million passengers a year. With the terminal in place, Vladivostok Airport is expected to handle 1.8 million people by year’s end. A new Aeroexpress line has been built, costing more than US$2.16 billion to link the airport and the city. More than 8,000 new jobs have been created to build the facilities for the summit.

urban bustle, and say newcomers will spoil the environment. “We’ve seen the bridge getting closer and closer, and for us it seems like a giant snake [coiling] up to us with its mouth wide open,” said Konstantin Voronchuk, 28, an army sergeant who lives on the island. “Besides, the slick, new roads only pave the side of the island closest to Vladivostok, and most of the present population lives on the far side. The construction isn’t for us,” he added. Back in the city, many believe pre-APEC

beautification is a poor solution to the infrastructure problems. The expression “Potyomkin Village” has been popping up, referring to a historical myth of fake settlements erected to fool Empress Catherine II on a visit to the Crimea in 1787. There is some truth to this accusation. While the Arbat sparkles, it’s not unusual for the city’s water supply to be cut off for weeks in the summer. Massive potholes in suburban roads make four-wheel drives a necessity. The city is in need of reconstructive surgery, not a makeover, some say.

On the whole, however, locals seem excited by the flood of money and projects in the region. “The hope is that these bridges – along with all the other beautification projects in the centre – will attract more tourists,” said Katya Zebzeyeva, 24, a local journalist. “At present, tourism here is essentially a trickle of tour groups from the Chinese border. The geography of the city is stunning – a sort of Far East San Francisco, only colder – and the bridges emphasise that,” she added. Postcards featuring the bridges are already

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Transport

Russia to improve transport ties with Asia CONTINUED FROM THE COVER PAGE

Vladivostok wants pre-event clean-up and bridges to lure tourists. Photo: ITAR-TASS

Nation’s first island-based university

The Far Eastern University to be based on Russky Island. Photo: RIA Novosti

As early as 1 October, all venues erected on Russky Island ahead of the APEC summit will become the property of the Far Eastern Federal University – the region’s biggest university. This year, it will open its doors to 50,000 new students, to become Russia’s first island-based university. The five presidential hotels that will accommodate the heads of the APEC states in September will be subsequently turned into residential buildings for professors and lecturers working at the university. The conference and the press centres will be used as academic buildings, while the 11-storey structure between them will serve as premises for student organisa-

tions and associations. The centre will feature a conference hall with 900 seats, as well as shops, clubs, cafés, a sports section with several swimming pools, indoor courts and various track and field sports grounds. Several more buildings will be transformed into hostels for 15,000 students. A park or, rather, a system of public gardens cut across by numerous trails, bicycle lanes, and artificial water canals and waterfalls, will cover an area of 54 hectares surrounding the campus. The campus will cover an area of 800,000 square metres. The university is expected to transform into the region’s main educational centre and even welcome students from abroad.

being sold around town, with titles in English, Japanese, Chinese and Korean. A brand new airport, capable of handling five million passengers per year, is soon to open. Getting to the remote city is still expensive. The two-hour flight from Tokyo and back still costs more than a return ticket to London. Nevertheless, thousands are willing to pay exorbitant ticket prices. The reason being is that a host of touristic events will be waiting for them. “Among the planned activities are performances by famous artists, art exhibitions, video shows,

concerts for children, a laser show, a photofestival and much more. On September 2-3, Vladivostok will also hold the first ‘Day of Peace in the Pacific’,” said the Primorsky Territory’s acting head of the department of culture, Dmitry Chugunov. The city’s new bridges will steal the show, however. If delegates manage to sneak off the express way from the airport to the APEC forum site for a trip downtown, they’ll find a vibrant, pretty city with a population immensely proud of the fact that for once they’re at the center of things.

Mikhail Kholosha, head of the transport development department of the Far Eastern Marine Research, Design and Technology Institute explained the potential for expanding existing Russian transportation infrastructure in the region: “Speaking about the Far East, the best place to start is in the south of the Primorye Territory. Japan, South Korea and China periodically test the possibilities of freight carriage via the Trans-Siberian Railway and in regional directions, such as the Multi-Modal Transport Corridors Primorye-1 and Primorye-2. These three corridors form a common, mutually complementary transport space,” Kholosha said. Several years ago, the Greater Tumen Initiative, acting under the auspice of the United Nations Development Program, conducted a survey of experts, government officials and businessmen in Northeast Asia on the possibilities of cargo flowing between them and China’s Jilin Province. A rough estimate of the amount of freight passing through this region in 2030 is 90–100 million metric tons. This means that the seaport in Troitsa Harbour in Russia’s Primorye Territory should be developed. It could become the biggest port not only in Russia, but in all of Northeast Asia. This cargo transit route alone could earn Russia billions of dollars a year, and there are several such growth points in the region. Last year, the first batch of containers arrived at the Troitsa Harbor marine port by truck from the Chinese city of Hunchun, near the Russian border. From Troitsa Harbor, they were dispatched to Japan on board a container ship. The Chinese province of Jilin,

which borders Primorye, had been working towards that possibility for almost 10 years. Now, it takes two days to deliver cargo from Northeastern China to Japan, and there are plans to use the new transportation line not only for transit carriage between China and Japan, but also to carry freight from those countries to Europe via the Trans-Siberian Railway. However, to optimise the project, it is necessary to increase the capacity of the border crossing at the Russian town of Kraskino. So far, it processes 30 vehicles a day, but there is a demand for 200 vehicles with containers. The construction of a modern border crossing point at Kraskino is slated for completion in the fall, but increasing capacity alone will not solve all the problems at the crossing. Customs procedures still need to be simplified and the port capacity at Troitsa Harbor expanded. The idea of improving combined land and sea cargo shipments between Russia, China and Japan was recently backed by all the members of a consultative meeting within the framework of the Greater Tumen Initiative, held in Harbin in February. Unfortunately, Russia is still lagging behind and the pilot projects are being implemented between China and the Republic of Korea and between China and Japan, despite the fact that this partnership was initiated by China in 2008 as part of a drive to improve cooperation between China’s northeastern provinces and the Russian Far East. Experts are hopeful that Russia’s presentation at the APEC CEO Summit will mean that the country is ready to move forward on greater logistics integration in the Far East.

Transport routes in the Asia-Pacific region


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New Russia’s ministry to start the development of the Far East? Sergei Luzianin Voice of Russia

DMITRY DIVIN

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he upcoming APEC summit in Vladivostok and the creation of the Federal Ministry for the Development of the Far East of the Russian Federation means that Russian society and business elites are ready to take a new look at Siberia and the Far East. Rather than being considered simply a distant outpost on the periphery, these developments indicate that these regions should now be viewed as a potential center of economic development. Usually, the economies of Siberia and the Far East are described only in critical terms. Experts writing on the subject use terms like stagnation, conservation, deindustrialization and depopulation. For example, the share of the Siberian and the Far Eastern Federal Districts in Russia’s gross regional product (GRP) decreased from 16.4 percent in 2001 to 16 percent in 2011. The region’s population continues to decline, and according to the data from Russian Public Opinion Research Center (VTsIOM), up to 40 percent of the region’s inhabitants say they are ready to move immediately. Some experts think the region’s salvation lies in energy resources, but facts indicate the opposite. In 2008, when the Irkutsk Region first became an oil-producing area, the real income of the region’s inhabitants

It is quite possible that, thanks to this new ministry, the development of the Far East and Siberia will finally begin

decreased significantly, and this is not the only example of that kind in Siberia. At the beginning of 2012, Sergei Shoigu, who was then Emergency Situations Minister, came up with the idea to establish a state corporation for the development of Siberia and the Far East. On April 29, Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov confirmed the Russian government’s support for this idea. This project has yet to be realized, which is

probably good. Russia’s experience with state megacorporations has not been exactly positive. The creation of a new federal ministry for the development of the Far East is much more promising. The Federal Ministry for the Development of the Far East of the Russian Federation will cover the territory of the Far Eastern Federal District; its main headquarters will be located in Khabarovsk. Its leader will be Viktor Ishayev, an academic and former governor, whom many believe has the ability to pull the region out of the abyss. This project is a real alternative to the establishment of a state corporation, and the scope of the minister’s powers will serve only for the benefit of the region, especially regarding the regulation of foreign investments in the local economy. Big Chinese companies have already indicated that they are ready to cooperate with the new ministry directly, and some of them have talked about investing dozens of billions dollars in the infrastructure and energy facilities of the Far East. It is quite possible that, thanks to this new ministry, the development of the Far East and Siberia will finally begin and the catastrophic out-migration of the population will be suspended. One idea to consider would be the payment of bonuses to those willing to live and work in the region. This practice was accepted during the Soviet era, and it is no secret that the majority of those who moved east made the decision for monetary reasons, not the charm of the taiga. The APEC summit may become a very suitable occasion to present this new ministry to the world. The new Eastern policy of Vladimir Putin is set to rise in Khabarovsk and Vladivostok, on the Amur banks and the Pacific Ocean shores. Sergei Luzianin is the deputy director of the Institute of the Far East at the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Russia to act in line with the rest of Asia-Pacific Victor Sumsky Special to RBTH

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mong the news referring to the forthcoming APEC summit is the report that the Russian representatives in the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) have presented a list of priorities recommended to the Summit leaders. On that list are the ideas related to the promotion of food security, improvements in transportation and logistics, promotion of green economy, and the improvement in technology transfers. One could say, firstly, that this is an important instance where the Private-Public Partnership (PPP) can mature as it is understood in the Russian context. What is even more important is that you can see a degree

of experts’ input in the composition of this list. Secondly, while it obviously reflects Russia’s national interests as the APEC Chair, it has also received several positive reactions from other APEC members. This means there’s a degree of similarity between Russian national aspirations and expectations of the international business community. And finally, if one takes this set of initiatives as a whole, he would see that it is basically focused on improvement of all sorts of linkages or what might be called connectivity between Russia as a participant in the Asia Pacific integration processes and its partners in that region. In fact, the term ‘connectivity’ has become quite popular in the economic and political discourse of East Asia after the Oc-

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tober 2010 Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity: a set of ideas intended to increase and facilitate linkages between its members. So, the fact that Russia came forward with this same kind of initiatives means that our country is starting to think and act very much in line with the rest of Asia-Pacific, which is especially important on the eve of the Russian chairmanship of the APEC summit. In fact, all these propositions are actually made within the context of this chairmanship. Talking about developments in Asia Pacific as a whole, one can’t help but pay attention to ASEAN simply because this regional group is now acknowledged by its partners as occupying a central place in what was once called a new emerging architecture of security and cooperation in the AsiaPacific. And in processes like this it is very

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important to maintain a sufficient degree of cohesion within the Association itself. What was somewhat disturbing was the fact that for the first time in the history of ASEAN ministerial conferences, its foreign ministers in the meeting at Phnom Penh in July failed to produce a final statement — a communiqué. Of course, the reason for that was the situation in the South China Sea, perceptions of which vary from country to country. After the meeting, however, ASEAN managed to come to a consensus on a sixpoint statement of principles on the South China Sea. As such, some sort of agreement within ASEAN seems to have been restored. Dr. Victor Sumsky is the Director of the ASEAN Centre in Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO University).

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Cuisine

Recipe

Russia’s real national drink

With 10 times fewer restaurants per capita in Moscow than in New York, there’s room for development. Photo: PhotoXpress (2), ITAR-TASS

Easy cooking from scratch Russian cuisine is only beginning to form an identity, says Julia Vysotskaya, one of Russian TV’s leading cooks, writes Inna Soboleva Actress Yulia Vysotskaya is Russia’s best-known cooking personality. Her TV shows are watched by millions. She has published nine cookbooks and recently opened a restaurant in Moscow. In addition, her culinary empire includes a cooking magazine, a social network website, and a cooking academy. Lovely and captivating, she knows how to put people at ease and make the process of cooking entertaining. “I’m not a cook, I just love to cook,” says Vysotskaya, a mother of two. She is foremost a professional actress who works both in theatre and film. She says that her passion for cooking developed during childhood when as a 14 year-old girl she won praises from her classmates for her little culinary masterpieces. “I think it is emotionally addictive to cook. To me it is such a joy when I get together around the table with people I love and they say: ‘Oh, that’s really nice, it’s better than in a restaurant’,” Vysotskaya admits. The idea of starting a culinary career and creating her own TV show was actually thought up by her husband, renowned film director Andrei Konchalovsky (pictured). Once, watching Vysotskaya bustling around in the kitchen, he said: “Listen, we should film this!” And they did. Her cheerful and bubbly personality immediately attracted viewers. Today, she has two TV shows – ”Let’s Eat at Home!” in the evening and “Breakfast with Julia Vysotskaya” in the morning. Vysotskaya’s easy, fast, home-style cooking has become a symbol of contemporary Russian cuisine. She invents new recipes and localizes international dishes to the Russian palate. “I carefully prepare for each show. I spend a lot of time looking up new recipes, adopting them to our realities, and then cooking them,” Vysotskaya explains. One of her widely recognized dishes is “grechetto,” a variation on risotto made with “grechka” (buckwheat). Others include tiramisu with pear, sweet cherry sorbet and Eas-

If you think vodka is Russia’s national drink, think again. A curiously satisfying, slightly alcoholic, mildly sparkling golden brown beverage called “kvass” has been slaking Russian thirsts since ancient times and is enjoying a lively patriotic revival today. Classic kvass has the texture and tartness of a mildly alcoholic cider and is made from fermented black or rye bread, spring water, and herbs. The best kvass is made at home, from scratch. Kvass mild enough to give to children. It’s also a great way to use up stale bread. So, give kvass a try!

Yulia Vysotskaya’s culinary career 2003 — Starts presenting “Let’s Eat at Home!” for Russia’s TV channel, NTV 2006 — Publishes “Let’s Eat at Home” – the first of nine cookery books 2008 — Is invited to be the culinary supervisor at a Russian evening held during the World Economic Forum in London 2009 — Becomes editor in chief of the Khleb Sol (Bread Salt) cooking magazine; starts presenting “Breakfast with Yulia Vysotskaya” for NTV; sets up the www.edimdoma.ru cooking social network and launches the online cooking TV channel www.edimdoma.tv 2011 — Opens Yornik restaurant, a joint venture with her husband, film director Andrei Konchalovsky; opens her cooking academy

Vysotskaya’s easy, fast, home-style cooking has become a symbol of contemporary Russian cuisine. She invents new recipes and localizes international dishes to the Russian palate ter cakes. When asked about her attitude to traditional Russian cuisine, she offers a surprising answer. “I don’t know what Russian cuisine is like,” she admits. “Borscht is a Ukrainian dish, pelmeni (meat dumplings) is Chinese; all peoples have pancakes and flat bread,” she adds. Vysotskaya argues that the Russian cuisine began its development very recently when Russians finally got access to more ingredients. “Before the (1917) revolution, 90% of Russians would eat turnips and porridge, and the remaining 10% would bring chefs from abroad,” she claims. “The Soviet period significantly influenced

what is believed to be Russian cuisine. Dishes became heavy and monotonous: white salad, red salad, cold cuts…Oh, and the mayonnaise that would go with everything. It’s terrible!” Vysotskaya exclaims. “Now [Russians] have the opportunity to eat well,” she states. Russian home cooking is where Vysotskaya has made the most impact. Her entertaining and easy way of hosting the TV shows has reopened the tradition of cooking at home for millions of young housewives. She is surprised how popular her recipe website has become. “I think of food as a hobby, as a passion that is just developing,” she said, adding that classes at her cooking academy are often sold out. Her recently opened restaurant, Yornik, on the other hand, has very little to do with her home cooking. It is sophisticated, perfectionist and headed by a trained London chef. Vysotskaya states that she wants to introduce Russians to “what is happening in the world” of food. After all, cosmopolitan Moscow only boasts one restaurant per 3187 inhabitants versus 365 in New York City and 126 in Paris. Based on reports from The Moscow Times, The Moscow News and Caprice café de femme magazine

Ingredients: 4 liters of boiling water and 45ml of warm water • 1 thumb of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced into thin rounds • 15 ml of fresh lemon zest, diced • 50g of raisins • 125ml of sugar • 750g of dried or stale rye, pumpernickel or black bread, cut or crumbled into small chunks • 1 package of active dry yeast (2-1/4 tsp) Instructions: 1. Bring the water to a rolling boil in a large soup pot with a tight lid. 2. Arrange the bread chunks on a baking sheet and bake for about 30 minutes at 180C/350F until hard. 3. When the water comes to a boil, remove it from the heat, add the bread, and stir briefly. Cover tightly, set aside for 5 hours. 4. Line a colander with layers of cheesecloth, set it over a clean bowl or pot. Strain the bread and water mixture through the cheesecloth, using the back of a wooden spoon to press the remaining breadcrumbs. 5. Combine the yeast with the warm water and set aside for 2 min. to proof. 6. Add the proofed yeast, sugar, lemon zest and ginger to the liquid, cover with towel and set aside for 8-12 hours. 7. Strain the liquid through a sieve, discarding the zest, decant into glass bottles, leaving sufficient room for the fermentation process to continue. Add a handful of raisins to each bottle, cap them and set aside for 2-3 hours. Chill in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. Jennifer Eremeeva


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Culture

Google Art Project brings the best museums straight to your home Users can walk through five Russian museums without having to leave their chairs, writes Alexandra Guzeva Although the idea of putting art exhibits for view on the Internet is not a new phenomenon, the Google Art Project has taken the concept to a whole new level, allowing users to access collections from museums around the world on a single portal. Russia was one of the first countries to join the project, and now five Russian museums are participating, along with 150 others. The impressive list of participants includes the Tate Gallery in London, Versailles, the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza in Madrid, the Uffizi Gallery, the Metropolitan Museum, the Museum of Islamic Art in Qatar, Museums in China and Hong Kong, and even some paintings that are currently hanging in the U.S. White House. The project can be accessed by telephones and tablets with Android and the finishing touches are being applied to a version for iPad. In Russia, initially only the Tretyakov Gallery and the Hermitage were a part of the project, but in April they were joined by the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, the Russian Museum and the Nikolay Roerich Museum. The project’s comprehensiveness, made manageable by an extensive search function, is not the only way Google’s project is different from anything that has come before. There are three main elements to its uniqueness. First, thanks to the same special

Tretyakov Gallery contains unique works of Russian fine art. Photo: Alamy/Legion Media

Hermitage occupies the former residence of Russian monarchs. Photo: Lori/Legion Media

camera used for shooting the streets and buildings in Google Street View, parts of the museums have been photographed in panorama. So rather than looking at separate slides, users can see how pictures or statues look in the museum’s surroundings, thus giving the viewer a much better idea of the curator’s intentions. The second bit of innovation is that some of the pictures have been photographed at an ultra-high resolution of 7 billion pixels. Of particular note were two exhibits that were photographed in two different Russian museums this year – Canaletto’s “Bucintoro Returning to the Molo on Ascension” at the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts and “the Last Day of Pompeii” by Karl Briullov at the Russian Museum. Users with high-quality screens

and a lot of patience can now study each of these paintings in the finest detail. The third and final advantage is that users can enter the Google Art Project via their Google accounts and create their own personal collections. The next step in the project will be a function allowing users to share their collections via social networking sites and choose friends whose interests coincide in much the same way as musical and literary preferences are currently shared on these sites now. The site is open to new partners. “We are glad to hear from any organization that expresses an interest in our project. Our site has a special form that any museum can fill out including Russian ones,” said a Google representative, adding “we are not creating an alternative to actually going to the museum, but not everyone can actually go to the museum themselves. Our project will be extremely useful to students or other people with a limited budget.” Being involved in Google Art Project is only one way in which Russian museums are taking an active role in the technical revolution. In February, the Hermitage launched its own free i-phone “Hermitage Museum app” including a version in English. This app allows visitors to take standard excursions, buy tickets online and get the latest news from the Hermitage. Its developers are planning to translate the app into several other languages. The State Tretyakov Gallery contains more than 160,000 works by Russian artists from the early religious paintings to the modern art objects. The State Hermitage’s collection includes more than three million works of art and archeological findings.The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts has a large collection of original impressionists and post-impressionists’ works, including Claude Monet and Pablo Picasso. The Russian Museum is the first state museum of Russian fine arts in the country which today contains 400,000 exhibits. Finally, the Nicholas Roerich Museum contains the extensive collection of Himalayan sketches painted by Nicholas Roerich.

Cinema

Classic Russian films now available on YouTube Russian film fans have free online access to a wide range of excellent movies – with subtitles, writes Walter G. Moss Thanks to Russian film studio Mosfilm and RussoTurismo, any viewer can now enjoy free online access to a huge archive of excellent Russian films from the days of the great film pioneer Sergei Eisenstein to the present era of popular directors such as Alexei Balabanov, complete with English subtitles. Internet users can check out Eisenstein’s greatest films: “The Battleship Potemkin,” “October,” “Alexander Nevsky,” and “Ivan the Terrible,” as well as his first major silent film, “Strike.”

The most celebrated films of Andrei Tarkovsky are also readily available. They include his wartime drama “Ivan’s Childhood;” “Andrei Rublev,” about the life and times of the gifted Russian medieval icon painter; his scifi classic “Solaris;” “Mirror,” which the New York Times called “a somber futuristic fantasy;” “Nostalgia” and Tarkovsky’s final film, “Sacrifice,” which has been compared to the work of Swedish master Ingmar Bergman. Many of the films uploaded are based on great Russian literary works. At least three of Alexander Pushkin’s works have served as a basis for films now available on YouTube: “Ruslan and Lyudmila,” “The Tale of Tsar Saltan,” and “Boris Godunov,” the first two directed by Alexander Ptushko and the third by Sergei Bondarchuk. From Leo Tolstoy’s works, Mosfilm has adapted “Anna Karenina” and “The Cossacks,” although its “War and Peace,” di-

rected by Sergei Bondarchuk, contains no subtitles. Naturally, many of the great Russian films take on World War II as their subject matter. Mosfilm, for example, offers such movies as “The Fall of Berlin,” made under Stalin and glorifying him. Films from the last 20 years of the 20th century are also featured, including “Moscow Doesn’t Believe in Tears,” which received an Academy Award for best foreign film in 1981. Two of the most important films of the perestroika era, “My Friend Ivan Lapshin” and “Repentance,” both of which were stylistically innovative and dealt with Stalinism in their own unique and critical ways, are on YouTube. Pavel Lungin’s “Taxi Blues,” for which he was recognized in 1990 at the Cannes Film Festival as best director, is also available online.

A poster for Eisenstein’s silent film “Strike.” Photo: Press Photo


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Travel

A not-so-extreme vacation in the Russian North attracts adventurous travellers

The Yamal-Nenets autonomous district has seen a significant increase in tourists since 2010. Pictured: Tundra in Yamal peninsula. Photo: Lori/Legion Media

Tourism infrastructure is growing in the Russian North, writes Sergey Cherkashyn The Russian North is fast becoming a popular destination for tourists, and not just extreme adventurers. In the past two years, the number of visitors to the Yamal-Nenets autonomous district alone has more than doubled, to 30,000 people. The increase in traffic should come as no surprise; the area offers breathtaking nature, tundra, great fishing, archaeological finds, and the lively and welcoming traditional culture of northern peoples. Even the reindeer are friendly, allowing guests to pet them and feed them bread. “Here on the Yamal peninsula, life is free in every sense: no boundaries, no pressures. The fishing is abundant, and you even get a tent with heating, light, gas stove, and a bed with linen, pillow, and blanket,” wrote a tourist in an online forum. According to residents, one of the best rafting trips is on the Sob River. Just 20 miles long, it does not require any experience or special training. For those more advanced at river travel, there are many other challenging routes to try. Many visitors to Yamal-Nenets try to take at least one tour that allows the opportunity to experience local culture. There are seasonal trails following the route taken by the nomadic Nenets people, as well as short trips to explore the traditional culture and way of life of reindeer herders. And no trip would

A local woman among reindeer. Photo: Alamy/Legion Media

be complete without trying the local cuisine: stroganina (thinly sliced meat or fish), reindeer broth, cranberries, and cloudberries. Many of these “ethnic” tours also allow travelers to try their hand at traditional local sports: throwing the tynzyan (a loop for catching reindeer), sled jumping, and ax throwing. The Yamal-Nenets autonomous district is the traditional territory of the indigenous Nenets, Khanty, and Selkup peoples, who make up around 7 percent of the region’s population. But there are more reindeer than people. Yamal-Nenets is home to the largest population of reindeer anywhere in Russia – the region boasts more than 700,000 of them. For three millennia, the indigenous peoples have followed ancestral laws and traditions, according to which reindeer are

Rafting in Yamal-Nenets. Photo: PhotoXpress

NUMBERS

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TOURIST ROUTES are there In Yamal-Nenets. Fishing, mountain climbing, hiking, rafting, and skiing are popular ways of experiencing the ethnic flavor of the indigenous peoples

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LBS PIKE can be fished out in Yamal-Nenets, local fishermen claim. Fishing facilities are available at Lake Varchato, which translates from the local Nenets language as “mountain lake”

a source of food, clothing, transportation, and much more. “Reindeer” in Nenets means “giving life.” The Arctic Circle is one of Yamal’s calling cards, drawing tourists from around the world to the “edge of the earth” (translated from Nenets, “ya” means “edge” and “mal” means “earth”). Anyone who arrives in the regional capital of Salekhard and crosses the Arctic Circle receives a personal certificate confirming the achievement. The tourism industry of Yamal-Nenets already employs more than 11,000 people, and as the infrastructure increases, so will the number of tourists Based on a story from Russky Reporter


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Theatre

Russia’s famous clown comes to Singapore Funny and touching, Vyacheslav Polunin’s “Snowshow” is a journey into the world of dreams and childhood, writes Ekaterina Zabrovskaya They call Vyacheslav Polunin “the best clown in the world.” His “Snowshow” is a brilliant and fascinating collection of theatrical sketches: meetings, partings, joys, losses – just as in life. The only difference is that the characters are not people but amusing and touching oddities in yellow overalls or green coats. They are expressive clowns with amazing mimes, gestures and appearances that are unsurpassed in skill. The show creates a kind of Alice’s Wonderland – a land of forgotten feelings and emotions where there is happiness, gentleness and love in abundance. The spectator cannot help but be drawn into this amazing world, and adults once again recall what it is to be children. There are no familiar circus tricks in “Snowshow.” The artists do not juggle or walk on tightropes. “I have removed anything that looks like a circus skill, in order to leave only that which is naïve. So the clowns move from one corner to another, and the spectator should get the feeling that he can do the same too,” says Polunin. According to him, the clowns only pretend to be clumsy, so that during the performance the audience will gradually yield to this deception and begin to think, “Yes, he’s just the same as me.” “The person sitting in the audience sees the clown as himself in the acting space and literally becomes part of the performance. In other words, this humorous oddity becomes the representative of the spectator in that unreal world,” Polunin has said in the past to various newspapers. And then the spectator is not just sitting in the theatre: it’s as if he’s on the stage, and

Polunin wants to teach people to be happy. Photo: PhotoExpress, ITAR-TASS (2)

The show creates a kind of Alice’s Wonderland – a land of forgotten feelings and emotions where there is happiness “Don’t pick the show to pieces, don’t compare it, don’t try to dig deeply into it: the child inside you will make it all clear!”

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the theatre building itself, with its walls and ceiling, its scenery and wings, is his inner world, which exists on the outside. “We are not running away from the existing reality but creating a new one in which we are happy, and we want to teach this to other people,” says Polunin. The spectators are responding sensitively to this idea. “An hour and a half of childhood – that’s great! Don’t pick the show to pieces, don’t compare it, don’t try to dig deeply into it: the child inside you will make it all clear! If you go looking for happiness, for a fairy tale, for a dream, this show has everything!” wrote Marina on the internet after seeing the show. “Snowshow” is so original and interesting at its heart that it is travelling the world with phenomenal success. It is notable that Polunin always adapts the show to the mentality of the audience and the traditions of the country where he is performing. The artist does not have a permanent com-

pany, but reportedly relies on dozens of friends from around the world. “Every time we go somewhere, I ask myself what kind of country it is, what’s the atmosphere there, who would be able to convey it best. Then out of all my friends I choose the ones who will be most appropriate for that situation,” says Polunin. That’s why “Snowshow” is always different. “It’s like jazz. It’s constant improvisation,” the artist adds.

Performance schedule 28 August - 9 September 2012 Sands Theater at Marina Bay Sands Showtimes: Tues - Fri: 8pm Sat - Sun: 2pm and 8pm Duration: 75 minutes (including 10 mins intermission)

Catch the vibes of Moscow Back to Moscow: Lessons learned living at “home”. My husband likes to say that there is no thing so permanent as that which is temporary, and yet for us it seems the reverse has been more often true.

Russia beyond the headlines Asia

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