Page 1

Distributed with



Fashion brand finds inspiration in some (very) unexpected places

Russia's Internet giants challenge for supremacy

Sharapova leads Russia's Australian Open charge




A special supplement produced and published by Rossiyskaya Gazeta (Russia), which takes sole responsibility for the contents.





Thursday, 15 November, 2012

Trade In a change of emphasis away from Europe, Russia predicts foreign trade will balance in favour of Asia within five years


A new horizon beckons to the east


Canberra, Moscow: After APEC, what's next?

While hosting the APEC summit in Vladivostok, Russia highlighted its expectations for greater trade with the AsiaPacific region.

Australians in Russia Loving the life, but ... where's the seafood?




What does it mean to be 'Made in Russia'?


Big foreign car maker finds a way to avoid Russian import taxes. PAGE 5



The east's Golden Horn tween Russia and Australia are developing quite successfully. Last year, our trade turnover exceeded $US1 billion and, in 2012, we have already recorded a 30 per cent increase in supplies over last year.” The APEC summit provided a platform for discussion on the risks and opportunities of free trade, resulting in a number of

The Russky Island bridge in Vladivostok, the longest cable-stay bridge in the world, is just one of the big recent infrastructure upgrades in the region.

significant investment deals for Russia’s far east. New investment projects included the launch inVladivostok of the first Mazda assembly line outside of Japan – the launch was attended by Russian President Vladimir Putin immediately before the summit – a Hyundai engine plant and a deal with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshi-

hiko Noda to build a liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant outside Vladivostok. A similar plant built in conjunction with American and Japanese firms opened on nearby Sakhalin Island in 2009; the project transformed Sakhalin from a debtor into one of Russia’s few regional donors to the federal budget. The key purpose of the sum-

Next year Russia will host the Rugby Sevens World Cup, an event organisers hope will inspire a new generation of players and fans. LEO ZAITSEV

RUSSIA took part in the rugby World Cup for the first time last year, losing all its four matches and finishing last in its group. But it did leave its mark on the world's premier rugby tournament. Not only did the Russian Bears set a new fashion for winter hats with ear flaps, they also scored three tries against Australia, despite being comprehensively beaten 68–22. No other team scored that many points against the Wallabies during the tournament. In all, the Russians scored eight tries,



Russian Vasily Artemyev takes a high ball during the World Cup.

setting a record for tournament newcomers. The Russian team approached the 2011 World Cup by embracing the Olympic creed: "The most important thing in the Olympic

Games is not to win but to take part ... " That the team made it to the World Cup's final stage was a huge achievement for a country where rugby continues to be viewed as an exotic sport.

growth rates in the far east. Within 10 years, we want our trade volume with APEC states to be greater than with the EU (European Union)." While the EU accounts for around half of Russia’s foreign trade at about $US320 billion ($A310 billion), APEC trade stands at less than CONTINUED ON PAGE 4

Fashion Traditional felt footwear take on Uggs

Sport Russia hopes to break its way into the global rugby elite

Rugby enthusiasts count on tournament to provide a big leap forward

mit, however, was summed up by Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov at one of the opening sessions: “All of the infrastructure is in place aroundVladivostok now – a new airport, roads, railroads, educational and medical facilities. Within five years, our foreign trade should balance in favour of Asia and guarantee high

But for the quirks and timing of world history, Russia’s international debut may have turned out far differently from the one in which it suffered that big defeat to Australia last year. Why? Russia produced one of the greatest rugby players the world has ever seen. In 1916, Prince Alexander Obolensky was born in Petrograd, capital of the Russian Empire. But, like many of the Russian nobility at the time of the Bolshevik Revolution, Obolensky and his parents fled Russia for England when the boy was just three. He went on to study at Oxford University and earned two rugby Blues playing on the wing. Obolensky quickly became one of England’s best players; in 1936, the 'Flying Prince', as his fans called him, was granted British citizenship and was selected for the country’s national team, scoring two tries in an epic England victory over New Zealand - the first time England had beaten NZ. Two years ago, a statue to the great Obolensky was unveiled in the English town of Ipswich, CONTINUED ON PAGE 8

The glamorous renaissance of Russia's 'San Francisco'

Day trips in Vladivostok Nature, history and the world's longest street await visitors PAGE 7


Your grandmother may give this trend the boot Valenki, worn for centuries in Russian villages, have come back into fashion thanks to an unlikely intruder – the trendy Australian brand Ugg.

Russia's space agency sets its sights on Mars


A FEW years ago, Russian journalist Natasha Nemirova proudly posted in her internet blog some pictures of her latest fashion find: a pair of valenki – traditional Russian felt boots – coloured white, with blue flowers embroidered on them. At the time, Nemirova’s decision to choose valenki for her winter wear put her in the minority among fashion-conscious Muscovites. Everywhere, people were wearing Uggs. “I didn’t want to buy Uggs for two reasons,”Ms Nemirova said. “First, it is not that easy to find real Uggs. Our shoe stores are filled with fake ones. Second, everyone is wearing Uggs.” Although Russians have been


RUSSIA is quickly shifting the focus of its trade policies to Asia, after centuries of concentrating on Europe. Fresh from hosting the AsiaPacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in its Pacific coast city of Vladivostok in September, Russia is strengthening its links with Asia-Pacific neighbours through new initiatives. Vladivostok’s reconstruction for the 24th APEC CEO summit was achieved on time, without a hitch. David Gray, managing director of PricewaterhouseCoopers, said on the final day of the summit:“Costs aside, the development they did here inVladivostok will allow Moscow-based expats like me to convince our bosses in London, New York or wherever about the benefits of long-term investment in Russia’s regions. Now they’ve seen it with their own eyes.” He added: “A few months ago people were saying the summit would be a disaster. They said we’d be living in tents; the bridge wouldn’t be ready and we’d be taking the ferry to Russky Island. Now that’s all been quickly forgotten.” Moscow’s shift in focus to Asia also comes at a time of improving trade links between Australia and Russia. Vadim Saltykovsky, deputy chairman of the Committee for Economic Cooperation with Asia and Oceania of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Russia, said in an interview with Russia Beyond the Headlines: “Relations be-


wearing valenki for centuries, they lost much of their appeal for Russia’s urbanites in the middle of the 20th century. Traditional valenki were made of dried sheep’s wool and had no hard soles. They were usually produced only in black, gray or CONTINUED ON PAGE 3

Young Russians are fond of the new, redesigned, traditional felt boots called valenki.

Does anyone really pay $1000 for dinner in Moscow? RBTH.RU/19257






MOST READ Foreign ministry to improve diplomatic security



Pursuing 'excellent prospects'

Why Russia and Australia can forge a solid partnership Vladimir Morozov RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR TO AUSTRALIA

BILATERAL relations between Russia and Australia are hampered by a lack of information about possibilities on both sides, says Vadim Saltykovsky, deputy chairman of the Committee for Economic Cooperation with Asia and Oceania of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Russia. He spoke to Ekaterina Zabrovskaya of RBTH about ways to fill this vacuum, as well as about prospects for simpler visa formalities between the two countries and better cooperation across a range of areas.


Oh, for seafood and roast lamb Alexander Higgs JOURNALIST

Are there any big Australian companies working in Russia? And is Australian business becoming more interested in Russia? Of the big Australian companies operating in Russia I should mention Tiger, which is engaged in coal mining in Chukotka, and the pharmaceutical company Solagran, which was founded by a Russian emigrant. It works in the Tomsk Region, producing medications from Altai herbs. These are the two biggest Australian projects in Russia. We would certainly like to have more partners of this kind. What needs to be done to enhance the appeal of Russian projects for Australian business? First, we need to improve the business environment in the country. Second, we should fill the information vacuum between Russia and Australia. We are unaware of what happens there and they don’t know what is going on here. We should also promote town twinning. For example, we signed an agreement between Perth and St Petersburg five years ago, but very little has been achieved since then. The main thing is that there is no framework investment agreement between the governments to regulate investment exchange between the two countries. Nevertheless, the Australian Embassy in Russia reports an increasing number of Australian tourists visiting the country: the number has doubled over the past two or three years. Last year, about 60,000 Austral-




How would you describe the status of bilateral trade relations between Russia and Australia? What are the focus areas of these relations? Relations between Russia and Australia are developing quite successfully. Last year, our trade turnover exceeded $US1 billion and, in 2012, we have already recorded a 30 per cent increase in supplies over last year. Naturally, exports and imports are not balanced, but this is also true for many other trade partners.

Flashback: Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Dmitry Medvedev, then-Russian President and now Prime Minister, at APEC in 2011.

ians received Russian visas, which is a good result, given the distance between the countries. It seems to me that this area for cooperation still has a potential that needs exploiting. There have been reports that the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service plans to hold another round of talks over possible resumption of kangaroo meat supplies to Russia. Could you elaborate? We did, indeed, halt kangaroo meat deliveries. It wasn’t a political move. There were some ingredients in the meat that might have caused problems for consumers. During the G20 summit, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard discussed this issue with then-President Dmitry Medvedev, who said that we didn’t mind opening up this market but that the problem should be resolved. What about Russian business in Australia? Are there any big companies operating there? Is Russian business showing more interest in Australia? I’d start with the Baltika brewery, which has bought into several Australian beer companies and sells its beer in Australia – it is the best-known Russian brand in Australia.

Sydney is seven hours ahead of Moscow. Vladivostok, the largest Russian port on the Pacific Ocean, is located in the same time zone as the east coast of Australia.


How did you end up in Russia? I majored in Russian studies but it was like learning the piano by correspondence – you need the practical experience. I’ve had a lifelong interest in Russia, so I became an English teacher in order to come and work here. That was a great way to meet people and hear different points of view. I hadn’t intended to stay so long, but I married a local. What has been challenging about living in Russia? There’s a perception that you either speak Russian like a native or you don’t speak it at all. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been asked “So, you don’t understand Russian at all?” and replied, “How do you think we’ve been talking to each other?” Of course, there’s the usual bureaucracy, the lack of smiles in shops and in the streets. Still, that’s just stuff you get used to. What do you miss about Australia? I miss the beaches, having a garden and outdoor living in general. Foodwise I miss the tender roast lambs, the quality of the produce generally.

Campbell Bethwaite

Merchandise trade between Australia and Russia (in $Am)


Second, Kaspersky Lab has an office in Sydney and enjoys a strong demand for its products in Australia. When it comes to Norilsk Nickel and RusAl, as I understand it, they have bought several deposits in Australia but have not started developing them yet. In your opinion, what is the future of the bilateral relations between Russia and Australia? We need to create more opportunities for contacts in various

areas. For example, the Australian side has asked us to help organise a tour of the Mariinsky Theatre to Australia after a 20-year gap. I believe these areas – culture, cooperation between universities and twin-city relations – have excellent prospects. In the trade sector, we need to increase supply volumes. We might also think about mutual payments in national currencies – we seem to have sufficient trade volumes. The third thing

The distance between Sydney and Moscow is 14,492 kilometres. If there were a direct flight between these cities, the flying time would be about 16 hours. The nearest airport to Moscow is Sheremetyevo Airport (SVO). To enter Russia as a tourist, Australians require a visa. Tourist visas are good for no longer than 30 days.


is establishing joint investment alliances in third countries. We might also negotiate exchanges of specialists. Australia is short of specialists in the mining industry. We know that many Australian mining companies would like to invite Russian specialists – engineers and operators – to work for four to six weeks on a rotational basis. We would also like to have our specialists work there – it would be a good chance to develop personal relations.


How did you end up in Russia? My boss at the investment bank in America I was working at asked me casually in a lift one day if I’d like to work in Moscow, and I said yes. So here I am, and I’ve been here six years. I like the pace of life here, and the fact that when you wake up each day, you have no idea what will happen next. What has been challenging about living in Russia? As a foreigner who came to Russia not knowing any Russian, it was difficult to become fluent in the language. It was a painful process. Apart from the usual challenges – the climate, the traffic, the corruption – it is sometimes difficult to get things done here. What do you miss about Australia? I miss the outdoor lifestyle – here in Moscow, for nine months a year you mostly have to stay inside. It's very different from back home in Sydney. I miss sports. I also miss the fantastic fresh Aussie fruit and vegetables, and particularly fresh seafood.

Russian-Australian boxer Kostya Tszyu, who moved to Sydney in 1991, won four world light welterweight titles. He has returned to Russia and is training leading boxers, according to latest reports.


HIS year marks the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Russia and Australia. But while diplomatic relations were established on October 10, 1942, our countries have a rich history of cooperation that dates back more than 200 years. The first Russians to arrive in Australia were Leonty Gagemeister and the crew of the sloop Neva, which sailed into Port Jackson (now Sydney) in 1807 to stock up on supplies en route to Russia’s colonies in North America. Russia was then an ally of the UK against Napoleon's troops, and the governor of NSW, William Bligh, held a ball in honour of the Russian sailors.


It was in 1807 when the first Russians to arrive in Australia sailed into Port Jackson on the Neva. During the 19th century, Australia was visited by many famous Russian explorers, including Fabian Gottleib von Bellinsgausen, Mikhail Lazarev, Ivan Krusenstern and Ivan Vasilev. Nikolai Miklukho-Maclay, a famous Russian anthropologist and ethnographer, settled in Australia and married Margaret-Emma Clark, widowed daughter of Sir John Robertson, the premier of NSW. His legacy includes the Marine Biological Station at Sydney's Watsons Bay. After the Crimean War (18531856) and the renewal of Russian-British trade relations, the first Russian consulate was established in Australia and in the early 20th century, Russia's diplomatic network extended to Sydney, Brisbane, Darwin, Hobart, Newcastle and Perth. However, following the Russian Revolution of 1917, official relations between the two countries endured a long hiatus. Full diplomatic relations between the Soviet Union and Australia were finally established at the height World War II. On October 10, 1942, People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs of the USSR Vyacheslav Molotov and Australia's External Affairs Minister, Herbert Evatt, agreed to exchange diplomatic representatives. Nevertheless, until the early 1990s relations were uneasy. After the fall of the Soviet Union, the mutual desire to grow political, economic and trade ties prompted Moscow and Canberra to reconsider their approach to each other. In recent years, Russian-Aus-

Vladimir Putin became the first Russian president to visit Australia when he attended the APEC Leaders Week in Sydney in 2007. President Putin signed an agreement with Australia for the export of uranium for use in Russia's civil nuclear power program. The fuel is for domestic civil use only, under the nuclear safeguards agreement.


tralian relations have shown dynamic development. Political contacts have expanded, including at the highest levels. The countries' foreign ministries are engaged in a strategic dialogue, and hold regular ministerial consultations on key regional and international issues. Our countries see eye to eye on a number of key global issues, including strategic stability and security, the fight against international terrorism, trade liberalisation and non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Russia looks forward to fruitful cooperation with Australia under the UN Security Council, and collaboration in key regional spheres — APEC, the ASEAN Regional Forum on security, East Asia Summits and the G20 — is also continuing apace. Contacts between the countries' business communities have also seen growth. Of particular interest are the fields of mining, agriculture, energy, including nuclear energy, space, IT, telecommunications and biomedicine. The opportunities are manifold. Other highly promising partnership vectors include humanitarian relations, education and sport. Student exchanges and direct contacts between universities and research centres are in full swing. Also, this has been a landmark year in terms of our cultural relationship. Many people in Australia are well acquainted with Russia’s long history of cultural accomplishments, so it was pleasing to see the reception given the Eifman Ballet Theatre, the Imperial Ballet and the Russian National Ballet this year. Huge interest has also been

The past 70 years of diplomatic relations have laid a solid foundation for true friendship. shown in the exhibition Alexander the Great, to be presented by the State Hermitage. Scheduled for 2013 are tours by the Bolshoi Theatre and the Hermitage's new exhibition, Catherine the Great. The binding role played by my compatriots is important. As an integral part of Australia's multicultural society, the Russian community contributes enormously to our bilateral ties, enabling Australians to better understand Russia. Overall, the past 70 years of diplomatic relations have laid a solid foundation for the development of true friendship, and have clearly outlined that only by working together can we improve bilateral cooperation, solve the complex issues facing the world economy, and respond to the serious political challenges ahead.

Sydney’s St Vladimir Cathedral was Australia’s first Russian Orthodox cathedral when it opened in 1938 to mark the 950th anniversary of the baptism in Russia. According to the 2011 census, 2.6 per cent of Australia's population identify as Orthodox.


Our news, your language WELCOME to the first Australian edition of Russia Beyond the Headlines, appearing with The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age. We hope you will find it enlightening and engaging. The aim of Russia Beyond the Headlines is to introduce you to our country through compelling stories, insightful opinions, and analysis that encourages readers to discover more. Russia is a diverse and complex country in a state of major transformation, still coming to terms with its long – sometimes painful, sometimes curious – history. We believe this can only be understood through in-depth analysis. Even so, Russia punch-

es below its weight in global media. We aim to address that with stories that are topical, enjoyable and – above all - objective. Many of these stories are ones that currently fall under the radar of major international news outlets. Our authors are professional journalists who write for well-known publications in Russia and internationally, while our expert columnists embrace a wide range of views about Russia's future and its place in the world. Sitting in Moscow, it’s easy to forget that Russia is a part of the AsiaPacific region, so it is especially important for us to reach out to people across this part of the world to tell our story. We already publish

in China, Hong Kong, India and Japan, and as Russia is this year celebrating its first chairmanship of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum and 70 years of diplomatic relations with Australia, the timing for our first edition could not be better. However, despite this long-established relationship, Australia remains a very distant place in the mind of many Russians. As a result, there is much room for development in Russia's political and economic relationship with Australia. I recently made my first trip to Australia and found it a fascinating place — one that I want to learn more about and visit again. We hope that our publication will encourage


you to feel the same way about Russia. If this print edition whets your appetite (as we hope it will), you can learn more about our country through our website,, where you can find additional news, commentary and multimedia features — including videos, photo galleries and podcasts. There you can also download our iPad app, and take part in the interactive debate about Russia through our Facebook and Twitter pages. We hope you enjoy our publication, and we look forward to hearing from you! Eugene Abov RBTH PUBLISHER







MOST READ A taste of Siberia in Moscow



beautiful. Most importantly, they have soles.” Today, valenki come in various colours and are embroidered with designs ranging from ones aimed at children to elaborate modern concepts. They can be decorated with print or made with fur trim. They are not just keeping Russian city goers' feet warm in winter, they are glamorous, customised pieces of folk art. “They are popular among young and old, rich and poor. There is a great variety of models – short and tall; for slim feet or for stout ones; with narrow or wide top. Some of them (have) flowers or snowflakes to appeal to a younger audience. Some valenki are more traditional, black or white. The choice is indeed tremendous,” Mr Larin said.


How to make Russian felt boots The word "valenki" derives from "valenok", which means "to felt". Traditional valenki are made by rubbing together raw wool fibers until they begin to felt. The first piece of material is placed on a boot mold and additional pieces of wool are felted and attached to the original piece of wool with a felting needle until the material covers the mold. The boot is left on the mold for at least 24 hours until it hardens. Once the boot is hard, it can be embellished with embroidery or decorations either by sewing patterns into the felt or pressing dyed, felted material into the upper of the boot. Today, about 4.5 million pairs of valenki are produced in Russia annually.

PHOTOGALLERY Check out the production process for valenki.

1. Valenki are featuring in magazine fashion spreads. 2. Embroidered valenki 3. Valenki with leather trim 4. Valenki in the traditional style with attached rubber overshoes.

Denis Detkovskii, head of the sales department at the Russian footwear producer Elche, claims that his company was the first to produce “the new valenki”,or city valenki. “Our company started producing them three years ago. There was nothing like today’s valenki



IN 2008, thanks to trade promotion organisation Wine Australia, I took my first trip to Australia’s wine regions – from Margaret River and Mount Barker, to the Barossa and Clare Valley, to the Hunter in New South Wales. At that time, Australian wines were in the spotlight in Russia, as were other New World wines. In this era before the global economic crisis, the market was booming – at least, in Russian terms, which meant a rising level of imports and consumption reaching 6 litres of wine per capita a year. I came back from my trip inspired about the brilliant future of Australian wines in Russia – partially because of the interest in New World wines in general, but also because Australian wines are warm-climate wines, mostly reds, aromatic, dense, full-bodied and rich – perfectly suited for the


Drops from Down Under kept a secret colder Russian conditions. But much has changed since 2008. The Russian wine market has suffered serious shrinkage and a consolidation of players, and as a result some smaller importers have disappeared. While today there are still Australian wines in the portfolios of major wine importers, the number of events aimed at promoting these wines and the flow of information from official bodies whose job it is to create awareness of the attributes of wines from around the world are miniscule. Wine Australia also went through a big management change and today the focus of its United Kingdom-based office is a long way from Russia. As Aaron Brasher, Wine Australia's regional director for Australia and emerging markets, wrote in an email: “Wine Australia’s position in Russia is a passive one. We work with Austrade to identify any opportunities and resource accordingly. Russia currently is not a priority market and there are numerous barriers to entry. It is a market that we continually monitor to assess the environment”.

Australian red wines – aromatic, dense, full-bodied and rich.

There are Australian wines in the portfolios of importers, but the number of promotional events is miniscule. Fewer activities and less consumer education both mean smaller market share. Although Russian wine drinkers are open to trying new things, the knowledge of a general Russian con-

sumer about Australian wines is limited to shiraz and possibly the Yellow Tail label, if they recall the name. Olga Olefir, head of the corporate department of the MBG wine importer, described some of the challenges Australian imports face in Russia: “The Penfolds dinner with Russian clients gave us some interesting insights on the performance of top Australian wines. This flagship wine from Barossa is virtually unknown even among

Clothes by a free spirit, tied to history The fashion team behind OMSK Belgium are happy to explain why trend-setters around the world are suddenly wearing the image of Leo Tolstoy. MARIA AFONINA



IN 2002, Valeria, a slender 25-year-old blonde with Russian origins, graduated from La Cambre Art School of Brussels, where she studied fashion. She went on to present her graduation collection, called OMSK, in France. At the Hyères International Festival of Fashion and Photography, the collection was awarded the Henri Bendel prize and was bought by the eponymous New York store. At the time Valeria had just broken up with her boyfriend, and she was able to channel some of those painful feelings into her collection. She worked through that difficult time by imagining herself surrounded by free-spirited girls who go travelling all over the world and always come back with something fresh and exciting. Out of this idea came the brand GIRLS FROM OMSK. Valeria's ‘girls’ are fictional Lolitas that have leapt from the pages of Vladimir Nabokov’s novel. They live in the Siberian city of Omsk, and share a burning desire to jump on a motorbike and discover what the world has to offer. By 2007, the first collection was ready. It was in a streetwear style: jeans, t-shirts with bright prints and jackets. Over the past five years, the girls travelled to Los Angeles, New York, London, Berlin, Rome and Moscow, always bringing back fresh fashion ideas. In winter 2010, the girls visited Paris and came back with a more feminine look. Streetwear had become casual fashion. "We started using higher quality fabrics, and began making elegant clothing, but with a touch of humour and offering something quirky and alternative. And we changed our name from GIRLS FROM OMSK to simply OMSK, so that the guys wearing our clothes would feel more comfortable,” said Valeria. Valeria is the designer and the driver behind the company, but she’s not completely alone.

Designer Valeria's Russian ancestry inspires her brand, OMSK.

OMSK Icons shirts feature famous figures from Russian culture.

"We're trying to offer something new, not only visually but also intellectually," said Valeria of OMSK. Philippe Koeune manages the commercial side of the business and designs the men's collection. Irina Kikina, a textile designer working in London for various labels, also helps the BelgianRussian label with graphics. "You can find our clothes in multi-brand stores in many countries (Belgium, France, Germany, Japan, Russia, Spain, Hong Kong etc), but now we feel it’s more profitable to develop online trading, rather than open our own store," said Valeria. According to Koeune, who looks after the commercial side

of things, at the moment online sales bring in 25 per cent of their revenue, but the company hopes to expand this sector. Valeria, whose father was born in Omsk, thus providing the Siberian connection, expresses her Russian origins in another of the label’s quirky offerings - OMSK ICONS. This sub-label features t-shirts and sweatshirts printed with the images of certain famous figures from Russian culture and history, including writers Anton Chekhov, Leo Tolstoy and Vladimir Mayakovsky, and musicians Viktor Tsoi and Vladimir Vysotsky. "We try not to bang on about our history. Maybe some people aren’t interested in knowing who the guy with the beard is on their t-shirt, but we’re trying to offer something new, not only visually, but also intellectually," said Valeria.


Wine Russia's wine market has room for Australian vintages – if anyone knew about them.

Australian wines are particularly suited to the Russian climate, but Russian wine drinkers know little about them because of very few promotional events.

Designers OMSK features Russian icons with a European twist


Valenki get a makeover and make a comeback

on the market back then. Three years ago, our designers created new models and developed new looks. We started showing them at various exhibitions, and people got truly interested,”Mr Detkosvkii said. The city valenki were relatively inexpensive and very light, he added.“They are coming to take Uggs' place!” The competition between Uggs and valenki has been attracting plenty of popular attention in Russia.Various groups on social networks and blogs are consumed by the debate over which brand is more hip. Mr Larin, from the Uggi-Valenki internet store, even included a counter on his website to show the sales of Uggs compared with those of valenki. “The competition is very tight. They are battling neck and neck,” Mr Larin said. Tatyana Efimova, who is from a family who have been felting valenki for 15 years, agreed with Mr Larin. “I do feel that valenki are getting more popular today. People are no longer afraid of the word 'valenki'. They enjoy wearing them,” she said. Ms Efimova and her family make valenki with no hard soles, but even this long-time producer from the central Russian Republic of Chuvashia has succumbed to the new trend of decorating the valenki with embroidery and buttons. Also, they have been selling their valenki with silicone see-through covers, which look much more attractive than their traditional, black predecessors. “One day, seamstresses started buying valenki from us. I first watched them doing their job, then came up with my own ideas and started embroidering them myself. Today, I employ several seamstresses,” Ms Efimova said. Valenki are becoming popular outside of Russia, too, Ms Efimova said. "Last year, we were contacted by an American wholesale company who suggested that we should produce valenki for the American market. But this was way out of our league, and we refused.” But others may jump at the opportunity to compete with Uggs globally. Mr Detkovskii, of the Elche footwear company, said his company“has plans”to enter foreign markets.

high-end wine consumers, let alone the ordinary public. Add a huge gap between low-level supermarket plonk and overpriced high-quality Australian reds which is not filled by moderately priced fine wines from stable producers and you will see the picture.” With importers and big producers having to educate consumers at their own expense, Australian wines in Russia are being driven towards low-quality wine sales and a complete absence of high-end Australian wines such as Henschke, Charles Melton, Yalumba and Torbreck, especially in on-trade. Now, Argentina, France, Italy and Spain are capturing the minds of Russian consumers. Even Greece is putting on a significant number of events in Moscow. Veronika Denisova, head of wine education in leading Moscow wine school Enotria, said: “Education is crucial for any country willing to be on this market. With a new emerging flock of younger bloggers and journalists, it’s easier to address the wider public than it has ever been."

Discover Russia's real national drink Jenniver Eremeeva SPECIAL TO RBTH

IF YOU think vodka is Russia’s national drink, think again. A curiously satisfying, slightly alcoholic, mildly sparkling, goldenbrown 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, though versions of kvass are also made with berries, other grains and beets. Today, kvass is commercially produced, but the best kvass is made at home, from scratch. Kvass is mild enough to give to children and is certainly much healthier than soft drinks or sugary juices. It’s also a great way to use stale bread. Give kvass a try. Feel free to play around with the ingredients until you get a taste you really enjoy. Ginger and lemon peel have given my kvass its signature taste.




white, and to protect the valenki from mud, they had to be worn with rubber overshoes – not a particularly attractive look. And so as more options became available to fashionconscious consumers, valenki were replaced in Russian cities with lighter, more water-resistant boots. Then, Uggs entered the Russian market. They quickly became known as “Australian valenki” because of their strong resemblance to the traditional Russian footwear, and suddenly designer felt boots were making their way into the pages of fashion magazines. “This started three or four years ago,”said Lev Larin, owner of an internet store called UggiValenki.“Valenki today are on a new wave of popularity. They used to be shapeless, felt footwear; today they are real felt boots. They are stylish, they are


What you need: - Cheesecloth or a clean tea towel - Glass bottles with resealable plastic stoppers - 4lt boiling water and 3 tbsp warm water - 1 thumb of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced into thin rounds - 15g lemon zest, diced - 50g raisins

- 125g sugar - 750g of dried or stale rye, pumpernickel or black bread, cut or crumbled into small chunks - 1 package (7g) of active dry yeast What you do: - Bring the water to a rolling boil in a large soup pot with a tight lid. - Arrange the bread chunks on a baking sheet and bake at 180C until hard (about half an hour). When the water comes to a boil, remove it from the heat, add the bread and stir briefly to combine. Cover tightly and set aside for five hours. - Line a colander with layers of cheesecloth and 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 to get their flavor. Discard the breadcrumbs. - Combine the yeast with the warm water and set aside for 2 minutes. - Add the yeast, sugar, lemon zest and ginger to the liquid, cover with a towel and set aside overnight (812 hours). - Strain the liquid through a sieve, discarding the ginger and lemon zest, then decant into the glass bottles, taking care not to fill the bottles all the way (leave room for fermentation!). - Add a handful of raisins to each bottle, then seal the bottles. - Chill for 2-3 days before serving.





Special Report

MOST READ Pragmatic partnerships with a global dimension

Transportation By expanding infrastructure and building new terminals and ports, Russia hopes the Trans-Siberian Railway can compete with the Suez Canal


All roads lead east — and then west

Entering a new theatre

Global trade forecasts show trade within the Asian region will grow faster than trade between Asia and either the EU or the Americas. IRINA DROBYSHEVA RUSSIA BEYOND THE HEADLINES

Russia hopes the Trans-Siberian Railway will become an alternative for moving goods between Europe and Asia.

70 2 free trade agreements have been concluded between Asian countries since the 1990s.

is the number of days it takes to deliver cargo from north-eastern China to Japan.

Mainline) and Russian seaports on the Pacific coast require modernisation. It is necessary to develop new transport routes both on the mainland and in the seas washing Russia. If [Russia] does not come up with an initiative, other economies will turn up that will put the initiative forward." Russian Railways vice president Alexander Saltanov has said his company will need multi-billion-dollar investments to promote direct traffic of goods to Europe, including construction of a railway from South Korea through North Korea, with a connection to the Trans-Siberian Railway, and construction of a Russian-gauge railway extension to Vienna.

APEC countries would more than double to $US206 billion ($A200 billion) by 2021. One of the most promising sources for this increase is also its greatest impediment. The Trans-Siberian Railway is arguably the most important component in President Putin’s strategy to turn Russia into a major transportation corridor between Europe and Asia (along with the Northern Sea Route). Already operating at full capacity, it will require billions of dollars to upgrade the single rail line and to build logistics facilities along the way. Russian sea ports also have a role to play in the country’s eastward expansion. "The amount of trade between Europe and Asia exceeds $US1

trillion, and every per cent of the cargo that is transported via Russian territory will bring our economy no less than $1 billion," Ziyavudin Magomedov, chairman of the board of Summa Group, said at the summit. Currently less than 1 per cent of this cargo is transported via Russia. A recently announced federal plan calls for increasing the traffic cargo at all of Russia’s ports from the current rate of 540 million tonnes annually to 900 million tonnes by 2020. About half of this increase is to come from ports on the Pacific Ocean.Yet, bureaucracy is another major impediment to Putin’s transportation goals. Goods passing through Russian ports can


containers are processed daily at the Russia-China border crossing at Kraskino.

The head of the transport development department of the Far Eastern Marine Research, Design and Technology Institute, Mikhail Kholosha, believes there is 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 (on the Pacific coast in Russia's far east). Japan, South Korea and China periodically test the possibilities of freight carriage via the Trans-Siberian Railway and in regional directions, such as the multimodal transport corridors Primorye-1 and Primorye-2. These three corridors form a

mutually complementary transport space,” he said. Advantages through improving transport in the region are not limited to rail. The Greater Tumen Initiative, acting under the auspices of the United Nations Development Program, conducted a survey of experts, government officials and businessmen in north east Asia on the possibilities of cargo flowing between the region and China’s Jilin Province, which borders Primorye Territory. An estimate of the amount of freight to pass through this region in 2030 is 90–100 million tonnes, meaning the port of Troitsa Harbour, in Primorye Territory, would have to be developed. It could become the biggest port in Russia, and in all of north east Asia. This cargo route could earn Russia billions of dollars a year. Last year, the first batch of containers arrived at Troitsa Harbour by truck from the Chinese city of Hunchun, near the Russian border. From Troitsa Harbour, they were dispatched to Japan on a container ship. Jilin Province had been working towards that possibility for almost 10 years. Today, it takes two days to deliver cargo from north eastern China to Japan, and there are plans to use the new transportation line not only as a transit carriage between China and Japan, but also for freight from those countries to Europe via the Trans-Siberian Railway. However, to optimise the project it has been necessary to increase the capacity of the border crossing at the Russian town of Kraskino, which currently processes 30 container vehicles a day. But there is a demand for 200 vehicles to be processed each day, and this number is likely to increase. Also, the crossing's custom procedures need to be simplified. The strategy for improving land and sea cargo shipments between Russia, China and Japan was recently backed by members of a consultative meeting within the framework of the Greater Tumen Initiative. But Russia is still lagging; the pilot projects are being implemented between China and South Korea and between China and Japan, despite the fact the partnership was initiated by China in 2008 as part of a drive to improve cooperation between China’s north eastern provinces and the Russian far east.


HE 24th APEC (AsiaPacific Economic Cooperation) summit inVladivostok in early September highlighted Russia’s current strategic fixation on the Asia-Pacific-Indian Ocean Region (APIOR) as an area of growing economic and political value. After a period of prolonged decline and self-absorption, Moscow has considerably intensified its engagement with central Asia and APIOR along three lines – political, militarystrategic and economic. The political vector is driven by the inclination to enhance Russia’s regional influence by reanimating old Soviet ties and by establishing close links with former political rivals. The military-strategic vector is based on the heightened threat perception of APIOR when compared to other geopolitical areas of significance for Russia. The vast Asia-Pacific theatre provides the nation with both a challenge and an opportunity, because it allows Russia a platform to display its restored military power to potential allies through outof-area deployments. The economic vector of Russia’s re-engagement is based on the realisation that the centre of global business activity is shifting into the Indo-Pacific, and that Russia’s own economy, including the mighty energy sector, requires market diversification and expansion. Russia is positioning itself as a corridor between Pacific Asia and western Europe, and as a


Scepticism remains about Russia's overall future role and place in the Asia-Pacific-Indian Ocean region.

This story is based on reporting from Kommersant and Interfax.


$US13 billion is being invested into a new Russo-Japanese liquefied natural gas plant and export terminal to be constructed near Vladivostok.

$US1 billion was the cost of Vladivostok’s new cable-stayed bridge, the world’s longest, which connects Russky Island with the city.


half this figure (although it has increased to 23 per cent from 15 per cent of the total since 2006, according to customs data compiled by Bloomberg). While Russia’s leaders have been careful to emphasise that this rebalancing act would not be at the expense of relations with the EU, a raft of free trade incentives with Asian countries has been announced in recent months, in order to facilitate the rapid growth needed. “Russia takes on more risks by not integrating with Asia than by doing so," Shuvalov said. In a recent report, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) predicted that Russia’s exports to


Transport routes in the Asia-Pacific region

Russia shifts its focus to the east CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1


RUSSIA wants to redirect about 10 per cent of trade traffic between APEC countries and the European Union across its territory -- a plan that would offer lower transport costs and an alternative to the Suez Canal. But the country is under pressure to achieve far-reaching upgrades to its far east transport infrastructure before such a plan can be implemented. In a presentation to APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) transport ministers in August, Russian Transportation Minister Maxim Sokolov used a slide showing goods from Asia flowing to Europe not via the Suez Canal, but via Russia using the Trans-Siberian Railway, the Baikal-Amur Mainline and Russia’s Pacific seaports. “A diversification of traffic flows can offer substantial economic benefits by reducing transport and transaction costs, which will mean lower product costs for final consumers,” Mr Sokolov said. Moscow would like Russia to account for about 10 per cent of commodity flows from Asia to Europe in the near future, he added. The South Korean Deputy Minister of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs, Joo Sung-ho, said development of alternative routes via Russia was a priority for the entire region. Global trade forecasts show that trade within the Asian region will grow faster than trade between Asia and either the EU or the Americas due to intensive regional integration. Asia is the world’s leader in simplifying inter-regional customs procedures and cutting the costs of doing business. While Russia was working towards its recent accession to the World Trade Organisation after 18 years of negotiations, many APEC countries opted for regional free-trade agreements and, since the mid-1990s, more than 70 free-trade zone agreements were concluded in Asia. One way in which Russia could benefit from and augment the free-trade agreements is to facilitate the transportation of goods from Asia to Europe. The deputy director of the Russian APEC Study Centre, Gleb Ivashentsov, said at a news conference: "The Trans-Siberian Railway, BAM (Baikal-Amur

Alexey D. Muraviev

A new cable-stayed bridge connects Russky Island to Vladivostok.

spend nearly 2 weeks in customs, while the corresponding figure for Singapore is one day. A step towards creating a full-scale car manufacturing cluster in the region was taken during the summit when President Putin attended the launch of the Mazda production line at the Vladivostok car plant of

Russian car company Sollers. "Initially, $350 million will be invested in the Mazda joint venture," Sollers general director Vadim Shvetsov said. The capacity of the plant will be 100,000 vehicles annually. Over the past 20 years, a significant portion of the region’s economy has come from the re-sale of

secondhand Japanese cars. A recently opened Hyundai engine plant in Vladivostok is a sign that the localisation of car production sought by Sollers is becoming reality. Some scepticism has existed in the far east that the region could ever manufacture exportable goods cheaper or of better

quality than those of neighbouring countries. However, Sergei Kryukov, of the Russian Small and Medium-sized Business Development Bank, said: “All of the problems impeding competitive products from being manufactured in the far east are solvable through proper policies.”

major supplier of energy resources to growing Asian economies. To achieve this goal, the Russian government plans to modernise considerably its existing land transportation infrastructure and to build new marine infrastructure. Sea transport accounts for 97 per cent of transport services offered by the Russians to foreign customers in the Pacific. The role of Russia’s far east seaports will grow, especially in the context of Russia’s economic growth and its expansionist energy strategy. Russia ranks APIOR’s energy market highly. The scheduled opening in 2014 of the 4200 kilometrelong strategic Eastern SiberiaPacific Ocean pipeline network to service customers in east, north and south-east Asia, and the US west coast, would initially allow Russia to supply 30 million tonnes of oil annually. Despite Russia’s leading role in driving the 2012 APEC agenda, scepticism remains about the nation’s overall future role and place in APIOR. Australian policy planners and decisionmakers are likely to continue to view Russia as the weakest link in the regional chain. In part, these perceptions are driven by the fact that both nations are engaged in moderate political and economic interaction. But there is room for a future intensification and broadening of economic links, particularly in agriculture, education, tourism and mining. Russia is the region’s geopolitical wildcard– in-residence, but in the long run, the nation may become a key player in the region. A l e x e y D. M u r a v i e v i s coordinator of international relations and national security programs at Curtin University.






MOST READ Yandex ramps up the competition with Google


Social networks Local players face a battle for every subscriber

Facebook is always in the headlines, but Russian social networks are quietly monetising traffic to stay ahead of the American giant. ILAN GOREN SPECIAL TO RBTH

IN 2006, as Russia was in the throes of a decade-long economic boom, a young entrepreneur named Albert Popkov had a paradoxical idea: to capitalise on his countrymen’s nostalgic tendencies in order to build a 21st century venture. He founded Odnoklassniki (Russian for“classmates”) a website which combined reuniting old schoolmates and social networking. Within a year, a million Russians flocked to the site where they could reconnect with anyone from the kid they shared a tent with at summer camp 30 years ago to their next door neighbour. The site won the country’s top web prizes, and in 2008 Mr Popkov was named GQ magazine’s “Businessman of the Year”. Odnoklassniki flourished, racking up almost 30 million visitors from Russian-speaking countries by July 2008. Today the site boasts the same number of visitors – but each and every day. It’s the second-most-popular social network in Russia, vying to overtake the leader, Vkontakte, which boasts 35 million visits a day. As for Mr Popkov, in early 2008 he was accused of pilfering crucial information from a British company he had worked for before founding Odnoklassniki. He denied the allegations but was let go after selling his pet project for an estimated 10

Vkontakte (meaning“in touch”) in late 2006, he was accused of brazenly cloning Facebook, ripping off even the colour scheme. Yet the English philology student, who went to St Petersburg State University, forged ahead with his brainchild, offering users free sharing of video and audio files. Accusations of intellectual property theft were quick to fly, but users loved the free content. They still do. Vkontakte’s playlists are a hit, especially with teenagers and The average visitor 20-something students. Not only spent 490 minutes a do songs and clips entice users month on Vkontakte to check in, they may keep them and 340 minutes on in. According to data collected by Odnoklassniki., in 2011 the average visitor spent 490 minutes a month on Vkontakte, compared Paid services offered with 340 minutes for Odnoklassby Odnoklassniki niki and a mere 30 minutes for include social gaming, Facebook, which made its first anonymous browsing serious foray into the Russian market two years ago. and virtual gifts. Facebook is now estimated to offered by, its parent have 14 million registered users, and is popular among business company. “Users’ accounts combine both owners who like to promote the email address and the social themselves on other media – parprofile and you can cross link ticularly TV – as having a Facebetween them. This is a signifi- book account. A decision by a Russian apcant incentive for advertisers.” Mr Klimenko said. “Moreover, peal court earlier this year that Odnoklassniki offers video ads free file sharing and downloadwhile competitors don’t. It’s a ing amounted to copyright infringement could have created very strong selling point.” In this market, it seems inte- problems for Vkontakte, but the gration and cooperation are the company adapted. It drew on YouTube’s experience, and alwatchwords. lowed copyright owners to delete pirated content while offerFree songs, costly smileys However, complete assimilation ing help promoting owners’ by external investors is a fate pages. It also paid a fine of that Pavel Durov, the founder of 210,000 rubles (about $A6580). Vkontakte, has been keen to The fine was a punitive drop in an ocean of revenue, which avoid. When Mr Durov launched swelled last year to 3.29 billion to 20 million euros to DST, a holding company later renamed Group. now owns 100 per cent of Odnoklassniki, controls Russia’s most popular mail service and has a 40 per cent stake in Vkontakte. German Klimenko, editor of audience monitoring website, says Odnoklassniki’s current success is fuelled by the integration with services


Russia's brazen challengers enter a critical phase

'In touch': VKontakte founder Pavel Durov at the recent Digital-Life-Design conference in Moscow.

Social networks’ share of Size of Internet ad Internet ad market (%) market ($ millions)


rubles (about $A100 million) while net profit rose to 516 million rubles (about $A16.1 million), increases of 41.7 per cent and 13.9 per cent respectively from the year before. The strong results can be partly explained by Russian marketers’ appreciation of the power of free, though pirated, content. Ten thousand advertisers are registered with the network, each

paying in advance an average of 20,000 rubles ($A626). Analysts estimate Vkontakte to be worth more than $A970 million and Mr Durov’s personal fortune at around $A252 million. Last May, he spent a weekend throwing a multitude of paper airplanes from his St Petersburg office window. They were made of folded 5000 ruble notes.

Cars To avoid import tariffs, major Asian brands are now working with Russian car giant Sollers

$A2.42 each. Odnoklassniki now wants to offer its clients the opportunity to borrow virtual money. According to J’son & Partners Consulting, fee-based services in Russia generated $A498 million last year. Group reported that paid services helped it generate almost $A124 million last year. Russian-language social media may be entering its most competitive period, particularly since Facebook has built a 20 per cent market share – which Mr Klimenko describes as “an impressive foothold”. He predicts that the two big local players will be “pitched in a battle for every subscriber in order to continue thriving”. Mr Popkov, the man who brought Odnoklassniki to the world, believes the Russian web “might remain a very good place for local players". "Foreign projects rarely succeed here," he said. "It’s possible that in a few years there will be just one or two leaders and all the others will shrink and virtually disappear."

Average daily number of visits (millions)


Mr Durov’s company is not so generous with all its services, however.“Russian operators, and particularly Odnoklassniki, made clear to users from day one, ‘For some things, you have to pay’. You want to play online with your friends or share an emoticon? That game or that smiley will cost you,” said Ariel Weiss, a former executive with ICQ, an instant messaging program


owned by“They understood they have to monetise and they know how to adapt western models to their audience’s needs.” Paid services offered by Odnoklassniki include anything from social gaming, through the right to remain anonymous while peeking at another user’s page, to sending virtual gifts such as songs, which can cost up to

Start-ups New products coming soon to a computer near you

Keep an eye out for these newcomers GIANTS such as Yandex have proved that Russian IT companies have what it takes to go global, but what comes next? Moscow’s leading tech entrepreneurship centre Digital October offers investors six little-known companies to watch.

Once a shipyard, now a car plant RUSSIA BEHIND THE HEADLINES

AT THE peak of the economic crisis in late 2008, Russia’s far eastern city ofVladivostok erupted in protests after a decision in Moscow to raise import duties on cars. Residents took to the streets to defend a major source of revenue for the whole of Russia's far east region – driving Japanese second-hand cars to the country’s western territories to resell them for a hefty profit. As thousands of riot police were flown in from Moscow to restore order, then Prime Minister Vladimir Putin proposed a solution: assemble the cars in the far east, thereby making the Japanese and Korean brands domestically manufactured and not subject to the same duties. A year later, the Sollers car plant was launched in Vladivostok after production was moved from Tatarstan.The plant currently manufactures five models of the Sang-Yyong SUV.“It was a political decision,” said Vasily Avchenko, Vladivostok correspondent for the daily Novaya


Alexander Korneychuk

Several foreign brands are assembled in Sollers' Vladivostok plant.



People know and like them (Japanese cars) so much that they don't require any advertising, a huge saving in costs. The original phase of this project was done to convince international partners that it was possible to assemble cars here, and we did that. Once Japanese cars are assembled here, we're going to make a huge dent in the market.

Sollers built the factory nearly from scratch in record time on the territory of a defunct ship repair station. “When we get the gas hooked up later this year, we’ll be able to start painting and sweltering the cars here on the spot. We’ll have a full scale vehicle production by 2014,” Mr Korneychuk said. All components are imported





from South Korea. Each model is assembled piece-by-piece until, at the end of one of the two types of assembly lines, a process that workers call “the wedding” attaches the frame to the body of the car. The cars then undergo safety testing before being shipped by rail to western Russia. Fewer than 5 per cent of the cars produced at the Sollers Vladivostok plant are purchased in the far east. The location has been ideal for the operation Sollers is running. “We take the assembly kits off the docks right here and put them on the railway ...” Mr Korneychuk said. "Everything is within one kilometre. Our factory has no warehouse because we don’t need one. If a shipment is delayed, we are forced to stop production.”Moving the assembly line to the Vladivostok plant allowed Sollers to lower the price of the Ssang Yyong models, which currently range in price from between $A23,250 to $A38,750.

Critics point out the operation has been profitable thanks to federal subsidies that give Sollers a big discount on shipping the cars by rail across Russia – subsidies that will eventually run out. But Mr Korneychuk has set his sights higher: “Over the last two decades Japanese cars have developed a certain reputation throughout all of Siberia. People know and like them so much that they don’t require any advertising, a huge saving in costs.” During September's APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) summit in Vladivostok, a Mazda production line was launched at the Sollers' Valdivostok plant. Sollers is also negotiating with Toyota.“The original phase of this project was done to convince major international partners that it was possible to assemble cars here, and we did that,” said Mr Korneychuk. “Once Japanese cars are assembled here in Vladivostok, we’re going to make a huge dent in the second-hand car market.”

Designed by a team from Russia’s industrial city of Perm, RealtimeBoard is a browser-based whiteboard that utilises Massive Multiplayer Online (MMO) technology (similar to online games) to facilitate an easy exchange of ideas. It was created by Multivitamin, also responsible for the Art Multitouch project with artist Konstantin Khudyakov.

ResumUp compiles the resumes and social network data of job candidates into an individualised portfolio that guides them through their professional career. The site can tell you what you need to know to achieve your career goals based on data from social networks. The service has attracted 7.2 million active Russian-speaking users.

Ecwid enables users to set up an online store on their website or a social network within minutes. It currently supports 185,000 accounts in 174 countries and 43 languages. The founding team from Ulyanovsk was a finalist of the 'Next Web 2010' contest in Amsterdam. Last year, the project received about $A1.45 million from Runa Capital.





A digital assistant for your Smartphone, comparable to Siri, SpeakToIt was named among the top 10 Android apps of the year by The New York Times. Since launching in May 2011, it has been downloaded over 2.5 million times and is currently available on iOS and Android.

LinguaLeo offers online English instruction via popular TV series, books and dialogues. After a rough start and a break of several months during which it was inactive, the site now has 1.5 million registered users and enjoys 80,000 daily visits, comparable with Western counterparts such as LiveMocha and Busuu. In June 2012, LinguaLeo secured about $A2.9 million from the Runa Capital Venture Fund; it intends to use the money to go international and cash in on demand for English all over the world. “Our first target will be Brazil, then Germany and finally south-




Taking advantage of Russia’s online tourism market (which is reportedly growing at a rate of 70 per cent annually) and catering to a booming middle class that is increasingly connected to the Internet, OneTwoTrip has managed to raise about $A8.8 million from Phenomen Ventures only one year after launching its convenient website for booking cheap air tickets and comparing prices across carriers. Total bookings are projected to stand at about $A390 million



Gazeta.“It was part of a broader carrot-and-stick strategy for localising car production in Russia.” Now, after more than two years of work, the project is being hailed as a success by the Sollers management, which is quick to deny any political intervention. “Sollers is a private company with an independent board of directors; the government doesn’t decide our development strategy,” said Alexander Korneychuk, Sollers far east director, from his third-floor office in the factory, which overlooksVladivostok’s harbour.“We were thinking of relocating production of the SsangYong models from our plant in Tatarstan to the sea coast for some time." The facility now employs 650 mostly young workers; the average age is 27, and nearly a third of the workforce occupies either management or training positions. Sollers built the factory almost from scratch in record time on the site of a defunct ship repair station. When the company moved in, water was available for just two hours a day. So far, $US60 million has been spent on infrastructure at the plant, but a gas connection is still almost a kilometre away.

east Asia,” founder Aynur Abdulnasyrov told East-West Digital News.



Built on a defunct ship repair yard more than two years ago, the Sollers car plant is now at the centre of car manufacturing in Russia's far east.

by the end of this year, of which OneTwoTrip enjoys 6 to 7 per cent.

Moscow's Digital October startup incubator provides a home for many developing companies. Anastasia Demina Russia Beyond the Headlines





Read Russia

MOST READ Lydia Pasternak steps out of the shadow


Horror The psychologically terrifying tales of a Russian woman are being compared to those from such masters of the genre as Stephen King and Philip K. Dick rience proved calamitous, as their own sense of reality was eventually shattered. Starobinets, however, is not afraid of anything like this happening: “I think a comparison with Strugatsky's 'zone' [from Roadside Picnic] is appropriate here," she says, "[Writing is] a dangerous area filled with strange, unpredictable and evil magical items that you can, nevertheless, sometimes drag out and put to some use (although definitely not for their intended purpose). "Simply put, inside every person there exists such a zone and some stalkers – people of art – venture into it on expeditions, some just a short way in, while others go deeper and further. I would not overestimate the danger of such trips.” Starobinets joined other Russian writers in representing Rus-

Anna Starobinets: Creating a fear that can devour the self


Anna Starobinets sees horror as a way of "packaging" thoughts and feelings.

The young writer didn't consciously choose horror fiction, but An Awkward Age is bringing her critical acclaim.


THERE was once a little boy who was so fat and so hideous that he repulsed even his own mother when she looked at him. He would stitch up candy in his pillow, which would then melt into an abhorrent sticky mess. His twin sister refused to live in the same room with him. After some time, his mother finds a diary in the boy’s handwriting where a

queen ant living in his mind lays bare her insidious plan: to capture the boy’s body and use it to conquer all humanity. Will the boy bend to his new nature like Gregor Samsa in Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis? This is the central question that compels readers of An Awkward Age, the story that launched the literary career of Anna Starobinets.

Starobinets began writing as a child, starting with fairy tales. She rarely mentions this fact, however, since she does not see it as the start of her creative writ-

i n g c a r e e r. “Horror”came into her life when she wrote An Awkward Age, her selection of stories that have now been translated into English. It was also precisely her horror fiction that brought her critical acclaim. Starobinets explains her choice of genre: “I did not consciously choose horror fiction in the sense that I never sat at my desk musing, with my fist under my chin à la Rodin’s Thinker, on the point in defining writing by genre. "Horror, mysticism, sur-

real thrillers, etc. just seem to be a way of ‘packaging’ thoughts, feelings, sensations, and possibly, even fears, that intuitively works for me," Starobinet says. After An Awkward Age was published, Russian critics labelled Starobinets the Russian Stephen King or Philip K. Dick. Despite the flattering comparisons, Starobinets insists she is different from her literary icons: “I believe no serious writer can ever [be] defined by the genre he or she technically works in. Or another writer, come to that. In any event, I’m neither King nor Philip Dick nor Gogol nor any other writer I have been compared to.” Starobinets’s horror takes various forms, from fantasy (An Awkward Age) to mystery (Asylum 3/9, which is based partially on Slavic folklore), to a novel suggested by the namesake Russian-Japanese animation project (The First Squad: The Truth, 2010) to a futuristic dystopian novel (The Living One shortlisted for the reputable National Bestseller Award in literature in 2011). Literary critic Lev Danilkin wrote about The Living One: “[It] is a ‘pure genre’ piece: a classic anti-utopia, imbued with Zamyatin’s seriousness and George Orwell’s acrimony, loaded with the author’s somber expectations regarding mankind’s future, masterfully conveying a sense of repulsion towards worship of ‘the wisdom of crowds'."

The imagination, the self In some works, Starobinets bores into irrational depths, embracing the point at which mental illness devours people.

In a section of An Awkward Age called The Rules, a silent voice is constantly setting tough rules for the main character: how to walk, how to arrange things on a shelf, how to live. In this section, Starobinets poignantly reveals the gradual disintegration of a personality, describing the grip of schizophrenia from within. For both Edgar Allan Poe and Dick, who also engaged in such writing experiments, the expe-

sia at the New York Book Fair in June. Asked whether she believed the Russian presence at the fair would help boost interest in Russian literature, she replies:“No exhibition of ‘achievements of the national economy’ can, by itself, turn Russia into a major producer of global bestsellers, or (as in the age of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky) leading exporters of big idea novels. For this purpose, we need to have our own Joanne Rowlings, and new Leo Tolstoys and Fyodor Dostoevskys.” Starobinets acknowledges, however, the value of book fairs in helping show Russian books to their best advantage, at least to foreign publishing houses and literary agents, increasing the chances for Russian writers to have their works published abroad and find readers in new markets.

The horror! The horror! Meet Russia's new queen of scream Mental illness is a motif for Anna Starobinets, but it alone does not account for the way her disturbing plot unfolds in An Awkward Age. NORA FITZGERALD SPECIAL TO RBTH

MAXIM, the central character in An Awkward Age, metamorphoses into something demented, and even darker than Frank, the child in Iain Banks’ controversial book, The Wasp Factory. Just as mental illness explains Maxim’s evil deeds, the story veers into visceral horror focusing on molt and decay and hideous rebirth. Still, Maxim’s wretchedness is not utterly unsympathetic. Like other Starobinets characters, he is spawned in an oppressive and unhappy atmosphere: his parents appear to at least enable his metamorphosis. His mother stands by haplessly as he turns inward except to threaten others. The story The Rules starts out

simply enough with a child who has obsessive-compulsive tendencies and Starobinets shows a deft understanding of the plodding, day-to-day strategies and reasoning of the mentally ill. Many kids have times when they have to count or repeat words,

believing if they don’t something awful will happen. But something awful does happen to this little boy, and a voice in his head tells him that “the rules” are about to get much more complicated. Mental disorders and illness are a motif for Starobinets. At first this allows the reader to explain some of the misfortune, tragedy and evil of these stories, but illness does not explain the depths of the hideousness. There is a theory that all of the anxiety and helplessness and anger of a family can stow away and fester in one vulnerable family member, the one who gets sick, or even becomes a monster. Starobinets applies this theory to society itself. So is Starobinets more than a horror writer? In Russia, she has been compared to Stephen King and even Franz Kafka. Her stories communicate something urgent, if elusive, through schizophrenic characters in anti-fairy tales.

Writers Grigory Chkhartishvili wants to translate the frustrations of Russia's intellectual class into action

Dystopia Russian writers collectively envision a bleak future

Author cast as unlikely crusader

'Stifling stability' spawns cruel chaos



IN 1970, a geography teacher in a Moscow school was distributing countries among his students for an assignment. The assignment was simple: the students had to collect newspaper clippings about specific countries. One of the students got Tunisia, Ecuador and Japan. Soviet newspapers wrote virtually nothing about Japan, until one day the student came across the news that a Japanese writer had attempted a coup. And that’s how Grigory Chkhartishvili became interested in Japan. Since then, Chkhartishvili has undergone several metamorphoses. He studied languages at Moscow State University in the Institute of Asian and African

Before last year, Chkhartishvili never saw himself in politics.

German roots, an intellectual and an athlete who is infinitely noble and honest. Chkhartishvili has written 14 books about Fandorin, whose character develops throughout the series. Since last year, Chkhartishvili has been writing a LiveJournal blog in which he focuses on historical topics. Like most Rus-

sians, before December 2011, Chkhartishvili did not see himself in politics. But then came the parliamentary elections, followed by rallies. Chkhartishvili turned from a writer and blogger into a public political figure. The story of Chkhartishvili’s involvement in the movement is the stuff of legend. The writer is

in his house in St Malo, France, writing a new book, and then he jumps up, gets into his car, drives 500 kilometres to Paris, takes a flight to Moscow and finds himself at the December 10 Bolotnaya Square rally, where more than 50,000 were gathered for the biggest anti-government rally since the fall of the Soviet Union. Similar rallies took place across Russia, with demonstrators alleging that the country's December 4 elections had been rigged. “I never thought I would be speaking at a rally. It is hard to imagine anything more alien to my whole temperament,” Chkhartishvili wrote on his blog after the Bolotnaya appearance. Chkhartishvili proposed establishing a coordinating council for the opposition. He became a member of the council, first temporarily, and then permanently. He hopes this latest transformation can help translate the frustration of the Russian intellectual class into action.

Supernatural The Night Watch series's creator has become something of a literary celebrity

The popular author's portrayal of good and evil in contemporary Moscow is influenced by his experience living through the fall of the Soviet Union. SPECIAL TO RBTH

LONG before Stephenie Meyer's Twilight and less than a year after the first Harry Potter book, Sergei Lukyanenko wrote the tale of a uniquely Russian supernatural world. The eponymous first novel in Lukyanenko’s Night Watch series was published in 1998 and became a bestseller, a cult movie and a magnet for magic fans. Witches, warlocks and werewolves, sorceresses, succubi and yes, vampires, inhabit a gloomy Moscow.


Check out the Night Watch trailer



Anton, the novel’s hero, is a Light Mage in the Night Watch who patrols the activities of Dark Others (humans with special powers). While riding the Moscow metro in search of vampires, he notices a dark spinning vortex above the head of a young woman and his journey begins. Lukyanenko's tale has sold millions of copies worldwide and he has just delivered a fifth book in the series, The New Watch, to his Russian publishers. The publication of Night Watch was a breakthrough for the writer, but it was the 2004 movie adaptation that really made Lukyanenko the literary celebrity he is today. In a 2005 interview with the BBC, director Timur Bekmambetov said:


Sergei Lukyanenko: Reimagining the battle between good and evil

Surgei Lukyanenko's (top) Night Watch was adapted to film in 2004.

“Night Watch is a very Russian movie. It’s impossible to imagine this kind of movie somewhere else: a movie with a depressing ending, a lot of inexplicable storylines and strange characters.” Russian writer Mikhail Bulgakov is clearly an influence on Lukyanenko, as is American scifi veteran Stephen King. But

Lukyanenko's most enduring influence might be living through the collapse of the Soviet Union. As he told Strange Horizons magazine:“I don’t think that everyone in the States realises what a tragedy the fall of the USSR was for many ordinary people: how crime, corruption and unemployment levels rose," he said.

"This feeling of ongoing catastrophe is, of course, present in the book.” Despite the bleakness of his settings, Lukyanenko’s prognosis for the future is basically optimistic. As he wrote: “Humanity is getting better, century by century. Perhaps, one day we will even stop fighting one another."

In the first 12 years of the 21st century, disillusioned Russian authors have written a bewildering number of futuristic and post-apocalyptic novels. PHOEBE TAPLIN SPECIAL TO RBTH

MUTANT humans live in primitive huts eating mice; the secret police rape and burn all day and relax with drug-fuelled orgies; people are continually reincarnated and copulate or die en masse at festivals; warring factions survive in the tunnels of the disused subway. These are just a few of the dystopian scenarios that Russian writers have conjured in the past decade. Readers, writers, critics and bloggers have numerous theories about this outbreak of dystopia. What excesses of the new capitalism prompted the master of postmodern sci-fi,Victor Pelevin, to create an underground night club where naked women held in drug-induced states are used as live decorations? How has literary bad-boy Vladimir Sorokin, infamous for a gay sex scene between clones of Nikita Kruschchev and Joseph Stalin, become a mainstream figure? And what is the message behind his satire, Day of the Oprichnik, which resurrects Ivan the Terrible’s murderous guards and sends them lusting and looting across Russia in 2028? Dmitry Bykov — a multiaward-winning author, journalist and flamboyant media personality — has written one of the most outstanding recent examples of the genre, translated into English as Living Souls. This crowded and ambitious novel imagines a never-ending civil war in Russia between nationalists and liberals. Bykov attributes the new flood of dystopian fiction to the stifling stability ofVladimir Putin’s presidency: “They promised us terror — none came; liberalisation — none came; war — things



Countries and worked as a translator from Japanese and English. His most famous translations were of the work of Yukio Mishima, whose coup attempt had such an impact on him. In the 1980s and 1990s, Russia saw a boom of Japanomania, largely thanks to Chkhartishvili and other Japanese studies experts. But he realised later that he didn't want to continue to work as a translator. "I wanted to find an occupation that better corresponded to my inner self," he told Russky Reporter magazine. And in 1998, the famous translator became an astonishingly popular fiction writer after he began writing historical novels under the pen name B.Akunin. His fans later christened him 'Boris'. Chkhartishvili's novels feature a charismatic protagonist, a serial narrative and a literary game with the reader. The protagonist is Erast Petrovich Fandorin, a Russian Sherlock Holmes with

Dmitry Bykov is critical of President Vladimir Putin.


Former teacher and translator Grigory Chkhartishvili won acclaim creating Russia's answer to Sherlock Holmes but has now turned his hand to politics.

Vladimir Sorokin satirises authoritarianism.

They promised us terror — none came; liberalisation — none came; war —things have stalled. have stalled; and everyone’s caught, unable to arrive at any decision." At the other end of the spectrum, Sorokin is committed to satirising the authoritarian tendencies of the Russian government. In an interview with Spiegel magazine, Sorokin de-

scribed Day of the Oprichnik, as searching for “an answer to the question of what distinguishes Russia from true democracies”. Julia Sukhanova, a keen reader of contemporary Russian fiction, ascribes the prevailing pessimism to the background of many writers: “Contemporary Russian writers have been raised by their well-educated parents in the atmosphere of liberal discussions, and they all saw their parents hit hard by the last 20 years. Is it any wonder that these people are critical of the state, its morals and its future?”






MOST READ Vladivostok: From military enclave to economic centre

Travel The gradual transformation of Vladivostok has reshaped the now vibrant city by the bay as the 'Soviet San Francisco'. Travel Tips

The Golden Horn of the east

at travel


Located in Russia's far east, Vladivostok is one of the country's most diverse cities in terms of population, cuisine and architecture. DARIA GONZALES RUSSIA BEYOND THE HEADLINES

THE dark blue waves in Golden Horn Bay turn red as the light slowly creeps along the shoreline, gradually illuminating the houses, the little cars of the funicular railway and the gently sloping tops of the hills that surround Vladivostok. This Pacific port city is one of the first in Russia to greet the dawn. When Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev visited Vladivostok in 1959 after a trip to the United States, he declared that the then-closed city would be 'our Soviet San Francisco'.The phrase stuck, even though the transformation from dreary Soviet port into a gleaming city-by-the-bay took far longer than Khrushchev envisioned. In some ways, it has just been completed; as part of the preparations for September's Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit, the city finally got a bridge worthy of comparison with San Francisco's Golden Gate. Vladivostok, located on the north-west corner of the Sea of Japan, was founded in 1860 as a military post, and the city's importance as the home of the Pacific Fleet meant that the port was closed to commercial traffic for most of the 20th century. Now, however, it is a big source of business for this city of nearly 600,000. The population has been steadily declining, however, and not just because of Russia's demographic crisis. Living in — and even visiting — Vladivostok has its challenges. Summer lasts just three months — June, July and August — and even these can be spoiled by monsoon rains and temperatures averaging above 30 degrees. In winter, the temperature varies from minus 10 to minus 30, and it’s extremely difficult even for a native to walk through the icy wind. The city makes up for these inconveniences with amazing views over the varied landscape, available from almost every rooftop. The most popular place to see the city, however, is the viewing platform by the funicular railway on Orlinaya Hill. The Vladivostok funicular was created at the initiative of Khrushchev himself, in 1962. It is 183 metres long, a distance that the tramcars cover in about two minutes. Alongside the funicular runs a stairway of almost 400 steps. Other symbols of the Soviet

era are also preserved in the city — from the names of the local districts (Leninsky, for Vladimir Lenin; Frunzensky, for Mikhail Frunze, a hero of the Russian Revolution; and Pervomaysky, for May 1, International Workers' Day) to old warships and numerous monuments to Lenin and other leaders of the proletariat. These Soviet place names combined with a number of remaining pre-revolutionary buildings, the 21st century bridges, and right-hand-drive vehicles mixed into the left-hand-drive traffic create an unusual colour that it’s impossible to find in any other Russian city. Residents of the European part of Russia consider Vladivostok the end of the country, but natives of Vladivostok see the city as the beginning — after all, the sun rises in the east. When construction began on the Trans-Siberian Railway, the foundation was laid inVladivostok. According to a plaque at the city's railway station, the distance from Moscow to Vladivostok via the Trans-Siberian Railway is 9288 kilometres. Paradoxically, the equivalent plaque at the Yaroslavsky station in Moscow has a different figure – 9298 kilometres. Somewhere along the line, 10 kilometres were lost.


Off the beaten path in Vladivostok Moscow


Trans-Siberian Railway

Occum fuga. Nam quam qui

Razdolnoye is a village near Vladivostok. The residents of Razdolnoye claim that they have the longest street on the planet — it stretches for 14 kilometres.


Kovrizhka is a tiny uninhabited island in the Amur Bay. At the end of the 19th century, convicts were sent to live on Kovrizhka, and evidence of an ancient settlement has also been found there.

Shamora is a popular beach on the outskirts of Vladivostok on the shore of the Ussuriysk Bay. It is officially called Lazurnaya Bay, but locals prefer Shamora, which by some accounts, is translated as “sandy desert".

Egersheld is the popular name for the Shkot peninsula in southwestern Vladivostok. It is home to a small cape with a famous lighthouse and the Maritime University.

Vladivostok natives see their city as the beginning of Russia — since after all, the sun rises in the east. the very centre of the city. The buildings themselves feature arches, balconies and complex latticework while the streets of the district form a confusing labyrinth that calls visitors to explore. Various explanations are offered for the origins of the name Millionka. According to one, the Millionka was first named after a building at 3/8 Semyonovskaya Street that

Russky Island separated from Vladivostok by the Eastern Bosphorus Strait, is the home of the Far Eastern Federal University.

Mt Pidan (Mt Livadiyskaya) a 1333-metre mountain in the taiga, is supposedly the home of the Flying Man — a spirit whose job it is to protect the hill from evil.

served as a dormitory for several thousand Chinese workers. According to another, the residents of these run-down houses were called “millionaires” because of their poverty. At the beginning of the 20th century, the district was known for its brothels, gambling houses and opium dens and was mainly populated by smugglers, counterfeiters and other members of the underworld. In the mid-1930s, the area was cleaned out in a special operation of the secret police and today it is popular with artists. Since the mid-1980s, one of Vladivostok's busiest districts is Zelyony Ugol, the country’s biggest market for used Japanese cars. The cars, which are imported from Japan, are the reason right-hand drive cars are so common on the streets ofVladivostok. Zelyony Ugol is situated to the north of Golden Horn Bay, which is located more or less in the centre of the city. This crescent-

shaped body of water was named in honour of the bay of the same name in Istanbul, because of its visual similarity. The channel that separates Vladivostok from Russky Island, just off the mainland, is known as the Eastern Bosphorus.

The call of the sea In Vladivostok everything that is not directly connected with the sea is still influenced by its presence. Some of the city's most popular sites include the oceanarium, the marine conservation area, the S-56 submarine museum on the Korabelnaya embankment and the Krasny Vympel memorial ship. The Vladivostok Fortress is also an important tourist site. Begun in 1889 as a base for Russia's Pacific Fleet and to defend the Russian Empire's new lands in the Far East, the Vladivostok Fortress is considered one of the

world's last major sea fortresses to be constructed. The main site was supplemented by small batteries and forts throughout the city. The fortress was upgraded during the Russo-Japanese War and again during the Russian Revolution. In the Soviet era, a system of bunkers and underground tunnels were built between the fortress and the city centre so that the Pacific Fleet command and senior officials could be evacuated by sea. In 1996, a museum of the Vladivostok Fortress was opened at the Bezymyannaya Battery in the city centre. But in Vladivostok, even the military installations call back the sea. Since 1970, a ship's cannon m o u n t e d o n Ti grovaya Hill, fires a single shot every day at noon.

How to get there Korean Air and Air China fly from Sydney or Melbourne to Vladivostok, with stopovers. Flights average $A1600.

Where to stay Versal (10 Svetlanskaya Ulitsa, is located in a historic building on Vladivostok's main street. Prices start at 5000 rubles ($A158) a night for a single. The slightly more modern Hyundai Hotel (29 Semyovovskaya Ulitsa, hotelhyundai. ru) has 155 rooms, with prices starting at 7000 rubles ($A220) a night.

Where to eat For traditional Russian food, try the elegant Nostalgia restaurant (6/25 1st Morskaya Ulitsa,

VLADIVOSTOK was the temporary home of Pyotr Nesterov, pilot, aircraft designer and pioneer of aerobatics. Nesterov was the first pilot to fly a plane in a loop. He also created the aerial warfare technique of ramming. Nesterov was a native of Nizhny Novgorod in central Russia but decided to take a posting in the east because of love. At the time, junior officers in central and western Russia were not allowed to marry without providing a substantial financial guarantee. This rule did not apply, however, in Siberia and the far east.



A jumble of eras Walking through Vladivostok is like being trapped in a film about time-travel. The city centre, full of steel-and-glass office buildings, has long since yielded to the new millennium, while the outskirts of the city are full of the apartment towers common in the 1990s. In the lowlying areas between the hills are districts made up of shorter, more elegant buildings from the early 20th century. One of Vladivostok's most iconic districts is called Millionka. It is a collection of quaint, run-down red-brick houses in


VLADIVOSTOK native Anna Shchetinina became the first woman in the world to command an ocean-going ship. She did it in 1935 at the age of 27. During World War II, she served in the Baltic Sea, evacuating people and transporting supplies. She also captained a Liberty ship carrying lend-lease supplies. Cape Shchetinina, on the shore of the Amur Bay of the Sea of Japan, was named in her honour in 2006.


IGOR Sokolov, a motorcycle traveller better known as Sinus, was also born in Vladivostok, and most of his journeys have begun there. in January 2005, Sokolov travelled from Vladivostok to Australia and spent 90 days exploring the country on a Honda Supemagna V45.

What to eat Seafood: The most popular sea fish among locals are plaice and smelt. They are caught just offshore and are best eaten grilled or dried. Bird’s Milk candy: One of the most popular candies in Russia, these candies that taste something like marshmallows dipped in chocolate were invented by An-

na Chulkova at the Primorye Confectioner factory in Vladivostok. Ferns: A popular edible wild plant that grows in the taiga from the suburbs of Vladivostok onwards. Antlers in honey (in cognac): A local alcoholic drink made in part from the antlers of Altai deer that have not yet properly hardened.


When to go Spring – the “Far East Spring” festival of classical music and the “Equinox” festival of amateur music. May – the “Elektrosvalka” festival of amateur music. June – the “Stars of Primorye” international sport dance festival. End of the summer – the Pacific

Meridian international film festival for countries in the Asia-Pacific region. September – the “Young Captains of the World’s Oceans” international festival of maritime universities. The Far Eastern food festival. November – the Vladivostok International Jazz Festival.


The Vladivostok fortress, begun in 1889, is considered one of the world's last major sea fotresses to be constructed.

One end of the Trans-Siberian railroad.

The funicular is one of the best ways to see Vladivostok.






MOST READ NHL lockout returns superstars to hometown fans

Tennis After a disappointing year, Russia's men hope the Australian Open will mark a new beginning


Sharapova to the fore as Russian women seek success Russian tennis will be hoping for plenty of improvement next year, starting in Melbourne, as it reflects on a 2012 of very mixed fortunes. NICOLA SELLITTI SPECIAL TO RBTH

RUSSIAN tennis fans will soon be focussing on Australia, home to the first grand slam tournament of 2013, in the hope of seeing resurgent Russian performances after a disappointing 2012. The Russian Tennis Federation has endured a difficult year, one with significantly more downfalls than triumphs. Russian women players produced acceptable performances, but their male counterparts struggled and will have much to prove when the Australian Open begins on January 14. The Russian men's team, which is suffering its biggest crisis in 20 years, is hoping the tournament will mark its comeback. The Russian men recorded their latest loss at the hands of Brazil in the Davis Cup. Following the 5-0 defeat, they were relegated to the zone group. Captain Shamil Tarpishchev's team comprised Alex Bogomolov Jr., Igor Andreev, Teimuraz Gabashvili and Stanislav Vovk - all good players but none appearing destined to be stars of the game. The Russian team has only four players among the top 100 in world rankings, and only two in the top 50. Russia's best hopes in Melbourne are Nikolai Davydenko, a player nearing the end of his career, and Mikhail Youzhny, viewed as being one of Russia's purest tennis talents who

has never become a champion. Davydenko, once the third-best player in the world, won the Tennis Masters twice and collected 21 ATP titles. But he now lacks the power and consistency to keep up with the likes of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. The same goes forYouzhny, whose recent victory at the Zagreb Indoor tournament and a semi-final appearance at the St Petersburg Open will have little relevance in the heat of Melbourne. Aside from Davydenko and Youzhny, Russian men’s tennis has no other real prospects. The ATP seeding system suggests Bogomolov, Dmitry Tursunov, an-

Russian men's tennis, suffering its biggest crisis in 20 years, hopes to stage its comeback Down Under. other unrealised talent, and Andrei Kuznetsov may be players of the future, but they will have to prove their seedings on the court. One of the reasons for the critical state of the Russian men's team is its lack of funding. The federation has insufficient resources to invest in young players and, as a result, many go abroad. For example, Russians Andrei Golubev, Mikhail Kukushkin and Yury Schukin have played for Kazakhstan in recent years and, while they are not giants of the game, they have produced consistently good performances. “It can cost up to $US2000

finals this year, winning at Roland Garros, and she reached the semi-finals of the US Open.Winning the Australian Open could be the beginning of a new chapter in the story of Sharapova’s tennis career, a victory that would underline her maturity as a player. Another player to watch is Maria Kirilenko. Although better known as the girlfriend of Russian ice-hockey superstar Alexander Ovechkin, Kirilenko enjoyed a fine season this year. She narrowly missed out on a bronze medal at the London Olympics; she lost to Sharapova in straight sets in the semi-final, and then to Belorussian Viktoria Azarenka in the bronze-medal match. Nadia Petrova is another Russian hopeful at the Australian Open. She is ranked inside the top 20, but

($A1940) per year for an under16 player. Tennis is the only sport in which players have to pay out of their own pockets to play,” Shamil Tarpishchev, Russia's Davis and Federation Cup captain, said.

Here come the women It will be up to the Russian women to uphold the country's honour in Australia. Wi t h 1 0 p l aye r s ranked inside the top 100, and about 40 inside the top 500, Russian women have a major presence in the WTA rankings. But numbers do not always reflect quality. With the exception of Maria Sharapova, Russian w o m e n p e rformed disappointingly at the grand slam tournaments t h i s y e a r. Sharapova remains Russia's brightest hope at The Open, although there is always the chance she will come up against her long-time rival Serena Williams, who defeated her at Wimbledon and at the London Olympic Games. At 25, Sharapova is in her tennis prime. She played in two grand slam

if past performance is an indication, she is unlikely to reach the final stages of the tournament. While two other wellknown players, Vera Zvonareva and Svetlana Kuznetsova, are suffering from injuries, there is depth in the women's contingent. This may be the year for Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. At 21, she is talented and powerful, was ranked 13 in 2011, but fell to 35 after a disappointing 2012. Meanwhile, the Australian Open has given itself a boost to make it as attractive a destination as the French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open by increasing its prize money by 15 per cent to a record $A30 million, making it the richest tennis tournament in the world. The $A4 million increase in prize money is the biggest single increase in the history of the event. Every player will receive more money, including those who exit in the first few rounds. The decision to increase prize money was taken to discourage players unhappy about their share of revenues from boycotting the tournament. The tournament organisers have also introduced new practice facilities for players, including eight new clay courts, and they have expanded the use of the cutting-edge Hawk-Eye technology, used to check line calls, to show courts two and three.

Maria serves up Sugarpova Maria Sharapova has taken off in the business ... of sweets. The Russian tennis player launched her Sugarpova brand of sweets in New York on August 20. The sweets are available in 10 different flavours and come with various playful names and shapes, including those that look like tennis balls. "It’s the most exciting project I have ever been involved in," Sharapova said at the launch, "because it’s my business, my in-

vestment, my money.” The tennis star’s partner in this initiative is industry expert Jeff Rubin, founder of the international distributor It's Sugar. Her sweet business also has a charitable aim: part of the proceeds from the sweets, to be sold for $US5 ($A4.85) per pack on the Internet and in boutiques of luxury hotels all over the world, will go towards the Maria Sharapova Foundation, which works with the victims of the Chernobyl disaster.


Soccer Russia aims to be ahead of schedule for 2018 World Cup

Building towards soccer's greatest showpiece event World Cup matches will be spread among 11 Russian cities and regions, providing as many fans as possible with access to the action. Left: a Russian fan; Right: Russia's Vladimir Ostroushko fends off Italy's Matteo Pratichetti

Eleven cities will host Cup matches


Russian rugby fans hope for that big leap forward CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1

where he is buried – he was killed in an RAF training accident in 1940. Russian billionaire and Chelsea Football Club owner Roman Abramovich donated part of the funds for the monument. Referring to next year's Sevens tournament in Russia, Dmitry Shmakov, Russian Rugby's director of development, said: "The fans are our first priority. As you know, Moscow is overflowing with all kinds of entertainment and it will be very hard to fill the stands. We are currently working on this and we have a number of activities in the works, including entertainment events and a music festival. The tournament is expecting somewhere in the region of 10,000–15,000 foreign fans. We are hoping that Russian fans will show up, too.” Russian rugby is paradoxical in that as much as people love it, hardly anyone comes out to watch the matches. Russian

rugby fans cheer the Wallabies and the All Blacks, but only a few know the match schedule for the national team. Alexei Sokolov, chairman of the board of Zenit Bank and a rugby fan, said: “Russian state corporations are pouring huge amounts of money into football (soccer) and hockey. At the same time, far less money is required to advance rugby in our coun-

Russian rugby fans cheer the Wallabies and All Blacks, but only a few know the national team's schedule. try, especially among children. We need government support to do this. Look at Italy – (former prime minister) Silvio Berlusconi has turned rugby into an elite sport in just 10 or 15 years.” Mr Sokolov has been the chief patron of Russian rugby in recent years. His bank finances the

Share your opinion

Organisers have announced the slogan for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia: "Hot. Cool. Yours." "Hot" is meant to symbolise the intensity of the competition, "cool" refers to how Russia is perceived, while "yours" expresses how the crowd can empathise with the athletes, the organisers said.






THE 11 Russian cities to host matches during the 2018 World Cup have been named by FIFA, soccer's international governing body. The World Cup cities are: Moscow, St Petersburg, Kaliningrad, Nizhny Novgorod, Kazan, Samara, Saransk, Volgograd, national team and in 2008 he Rostov-on-Don, Sochi andYekafounded the National Charita- terinburg. Over the summer, ble Foundation for the Develop- FIFA inspectors visited all of ment of Children’s Rugby. Ian them before making the final deHill, NZ’s ambassador to Rus- cision on the host cities. Matchsia, is one of the fund’s sponsors. es in some of the cities will take “When we tell the government place at existing stadiums while about rugby, we try to get across others are to get new ones. And the fact that rugby can tackle a in Moscow, in addition to the new lot of social challenges, such as stadium currently under conproviding youngsters in regions struction for the Spartak team, with something to do. Rugby is matches will be hosted at the a great sport for just this pur- Luzhniki sports complex. Construction of many of the pose. It tempers you, while also being a sport for everyone. And new stadiums is underway. Kait is practically free to play when zan's new stadium is nearing you compare it with other sports,” completion, and Saransk's is due to be finished in 2015. In Samara, Mr Sokolov said. His bank became the chief authorities are looking to begin sponsor for the Rugby Sevens construction of a new stadium World Cup, donating €500,000 in January 2014, to be complet(about $A625,000). But the real ed by the end of 2016. Matches dream for Russian rugby fans is in St Petersburg are scheduled for their country to be the World to take place at the Zenit soccer Cup holders, and doing so will team's new stadium, on the site require much more investment, of the Kirov stadium on Krestofirst and foremost, from the gov- vsky Island. Construction of the ernment. There is hope Russia's stadium began in 2007 and is 2018 soccer World Cup may help still ongoing because of cost and deadline complications. to bring about this change.

In total, 13 cities in 13 regions were in competition for the right to host matches, and in the end FIFA dropped Krasnodar and Yaroslavl. President Vladimir Putin said that cities not selected to host World Cup games will be the venues for team training and recreational facilities, so that local residents will get a chance to see the players. "If need be, we are ready to subsidise transport between cities so that people can get to the games cheaply; that applies to rail and road," President Putin said. He added that if necessary, authorities would subsidise other modes of transport, including aircraft. According to Russia's Minis-

Find news from Russia in your inbox!

try of Sports, the construction of basic infrastructure and stadiums alone for the World Cup will cost a minimum 662 billion rubles ($A21 billion) and the total costs could rise as high as 1.4 trillion rubles ($A44 billion). More than half the cost will be met by the regions and private investors. However, if the 2014 Winter Olympics are any indication, the bill could go higher. Costs for the 2014 games were initially projected at 314 billion rubles ($A10 billion); Sochi’s tab is now hovering at the 1.4 trillion-ruble mark. The Government has already allocated the first 5 billion rubles ($A160 million) for the construction of new stadiums.

Russia beyond the headlines Asia


Five mascots to symbolise Games

Volunteers to be housed and fed

The Sochi Games will have five official mascots - a hare, a polar bear, a leopard, a ray of light and a snowflake. The mascots were selected from more than 24,000 entries submitted to the organising committee in a public competition.

More than 29,000 volunteers are expected to help run the Games. They will be provided with free housing, meals, transportation, and a uniform comprising a jacket, thermal pants, a hat, gloves, thermal underwear and t-shirts.


Del Piero in Sydney: A comfortable swan song? Leo Zaitsev SPECIAL TO RBTH

HE Italian soccer legend Alessandro Del Piero recently signed a two-year contract with Australian side Sydney FC, immediately raising the profile of Australian football. With all due respect to the local stars, Australia has never seen such talent play on its fields. If you don’t count international games, that is. After his contract with Juventus expired, the 37-year-old forward had a few tempting offers from European clubs. He was approached by Liverpool, but rejected the idea out of respect for the victims of the Heysel disaster, when 39 Juventus fans died in riots staged by Liverpool supporters during the 1985 European Cup final at the Heysel Stadium in Brussels. Del Piero eventually found himself in Australia, a move which caused nothing short of a sensation among pundits and fans alike. It is common knowledge that football stars seek happy retirements in the United States, Russia or Qatar.Thirty-seven-year-old David Beckham, for example, is quite happy to spend his sunset years in the US as part of LA Galaxy. And Russian captain Andrei Arshavin was invited to move to Qatar by Arab sheikhs as soon as he lost his place in Arsenal’s starting lineup, although eventually the 31-yearold halfback decided that he was too young for such a journey. Now it seems as if the Australian A-League is following the lead of American Major League Soccer, which is ready to pay big money and offers excellent infrastructure, but


cannot elevate its game to the level of the leading football leagues. Older players go the US for lucrative contracts that will tide them over in retirement when they feel they are not good enough to play in Europe. Buying ageing football stars is an effective treatment for the developmental disease of many national championships – Turkey and Russia have been heavily involved in it in recent years. When Nigerian defender Taribo West accepted the invitation from Russia’s Saturn in 2002, a leading national sports newspaper wrote: “We have never had such a player before.” But while West was a fine player, he would have been no match for the current stars of the Russian Premier League. What’s more important, Cameroonian Samuel Eto'o and Brazilian Hulk came to Russia in their prime as leaders of their national teams. Russian experts and fans often debate whether it is wise to pay loads of money for foreign soccer and hockey stars. Even President Vladimir Putin had something to say on the subject recently: “I’d like to emphasise the fact that they are paid by companies rather than the state. Sports fans also want to see stars play for our clubs, not retired players, but rising stars as well." Russia still beats Australia's A-League when it comes to players’ salaries. But Russians have contributed to the Del Piero sensation. The Italian will be paid a record $A2 million a year to play for Sydney FC, owned by Russian businessman David Traktovenko, the former chairman of the board at Zenit St Petersburg. Who knows, maybe Andrei Arshavin will replace the retired Alessandro Del Piero in Sydney after a couple of years, when salaries in Australia grow.

Use your favorite way to read

on actual themes russianow russiabeyond

SUBSCRIBE to top weekly news

Now in Google Currents and Pulse

RBTH for The Sydney Morning Herald  

RBTH for The Sydney Morning Herald

RBTH for The Sydney Morning Herald  

RBTH for The Sydney Morning Herald