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

HOCKEY

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Wednesday, Wednesday,March June 12, 13, 2013

LEGEND INSPIRES A NATION

BIOPIC OF SOVIET ICE-HOCKEY HERO BREAKS RUSSIAN BOX-OFFICE RECORDS

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MOST READ Legend No.17 inspires Russia's Olympic hockey team rbth.asia/46949

PICTURES AND NUMBERS

DANCE

PHOTOSHOT/VOSTOCK-PHOTO

Bolshoi Ballet visits Brisbane

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A scene from La Corsaire, a swashbuckling tale loosely based on Lord Byron’s poem.

Queensland’s Performing Arts Centre in Brisbane hosted the Bolshoi Ballet’s first visit to Australia in almost two decades, in a two-week season from May 30- June 9. Presenting the 19thcentury pirate tale Le Corsaire and Dmitri Shostakovich’s The Bright Stream, it was the first time both ballets had been performed in Australia. Even regional Queenslanders were able to experience Russia’s most celebrated ballet company for free when, on June 4, Le Corsair was streamed live via simulcast to nine regional venues across the state. The performances were accompanied by the Queensland Symphony. However, the Moscow dance company’s artistic director, Sergey Filin, was absent. He is still undergoing treatment for the eye and skin damage he sustained after he was attacked with sulphuric acid outside his Moscow home in January.

ENTERTAINMENT

Soviet hockey legend draws over $31 million tional Russian Resurrection Film Festival. Director Nikolai Lebedev will be attending its Sydney screening, on July 24, at Paddington’s Chauvel. Starring the popular actor Danila Kozlovsky as Kharlamov, and veteran of Soviet and Russian film and theatre Oleg Menshikov as his coach Anatoly Tarasov, the film focuses on the relationship between the two characters. Soviet ice-hockey fervour reached its heights in the Soviet Union between 1972 and 1974, when the national teams of the USSR and Canada faced each other in the Summit Series.

1300 Olympic and Paralympic medals will be up for grabs in Sochi in 2014, with 12 new events being included in the Olympic programme. Sochi will break the previous medal record set by the Vancouver Winter Olympics in 2010, in which there were 1014 medals.

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Billion dollars have been assigned to the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games by the Kremlin. Long-time Kremlin critic Boris Nemtsov says more than half the funds are missing.

2500

Drug tests will be conducted at the Sochi Olympics, surpassing the Vancouver Winter Games in 2010, where there were 2149 tests, exposing three counts of doping.

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Russian blockbuster Legend No. 17, released this April, grossed more than $31 million in its first month of release – according to IMDb – making it Russia’s most successful film at the box office to date. Shot in 73 days and meeting its budget of $10.3 million, the biopic of Soviet iceh o c k e y p l ay e r Va l e r y Kharlamov brought in almost $8.5 million on its first weekend alone, with 14,000 screenings across Russia. The film will be making its international premiere in Melbourne on Saturday, July 13 at the Como Theatre, heading the program of the na-

SOCHI 2014 BIGGEST OLYMPIC MEDAL TALLY EVER

On September 2, 1972, in Montreal, Quebec, in game one of an eight-game series, a little-known Kharlamov gained international recognition when he scored two decisive goals, leading his Soviet team to a 7:3 victory against Canada. This game is the climax of the film and runs for more than 30 minutes on screen. In 1981, Kharlamov died,

aged 33, when his wife lost control of their Volga car on a suburban Moscow road. Kharlamov is one of Russia’s most celebrated national heroes and the Kharlamov Trophy is awarded annually to the best Russian National Hockey League player. Kharmalov was also posthumously inducted to the International Ice Hockey Federation’s Hall of Fame in 1998.

Why Australia should scratch F-35s and fly Sukhois RBTH.ASIA/45927

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CURIOSITY

Ten Network to air Olympics

New dialect

Ten will be Australia’s Winter Olympic Games network in 2014, following an agreement between Ten Network Holdings and the International Olympic Committee. “Australia will field its largest-ever Winter Olympics team at Sochi and we are confident that some of those 56 athletes will be among the Games’ star performers,” Ten Network Holdings CEO and managing director Hamish McLennan said.

Linguists have discovered a new Russian dialect in Alaska (sold to the US by the Russian Empire in 1867). Spoken in the small village of Ninilchik, established when Russian settlers arrived in the area in 1847, the language has followed a separate path of development for more than a century. It contains words borrowed from Siberian dialects, Eskimo, English and Indigenous Athabaskan.

According to the company’s statement, the agreement covers the rights across all broadcast platforms, including free-to-air TV, internet and mobile phones. The XXII Winter Olympics will be held in Sochi, Russia, from February 7 to 23 next year. Australian Olympic Committee president John Coates said Australia is aiming to be a top-15 nation on the Winter Olympics medal tally.

REUTERS

SOCHI 2014

Australian Olympic Committee president John Coates.

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Feature

MOST READ Roman Abramovich named Russia's most charitable billionaire rbth.asia/46557

Charity Donating clothes and possessions to those less fortunate is just starting to catch on in Russia.

Youngsters ramp up the gift of giving PRESS PHOTO (2)

Where to find them SPASIBO (THANK YOU) IN ST PETERSBURG The team at Spasibo doesn’t Yekaterinburg-based social entrepreneur Valery Koverchik serves a customer in his charity shop, the Da Ra Shop (left).

Charity shops have finally opened in Moscow, St Petersburg and Yekaterinburg, but polls show that Russians find the concept hard to comprehend. TATYANA MARSHANSKIKH SPECIAL TO RBTH

When Valery Koverchik decided to openYekaterinburg’s first charity shop 18 months ago, he spent all the money he had saved for a car on fitting out the empty premises. “I went to my day job at 7 or 8am in order to finish by lunchtime and go to the shop; I didn’t get home till 10pm,” Koverchik said. “I lived like that for months.” Finally the day of the opening arrived. The bare concrete walls, lit only by a single light bulb, had been transformed. Inside the little shop, which Koverchik named the Da Ra Shop, clothes hung neatly on racks and tea and biscuits were prepared for the shop’s first customers and guests. But nobody came; no one that Koverchik had invited, either personally or through social media networks, showed any interest. “The word ‘charity’ scares away many Russians. When they hear it, they think,‘Now they're going to ask for something,’” Koverchik said. But he persevered and today the shop has more than 1500 social media fans who support its work by visiting the shop or ordering online. The Da Ra Shop is no longer in the red, and Koverchik donates the money left after paying rent and utilities to a local animal shelter. All of Russia’s 17 charity shops are private initiatives, typically run by energetic young people looking to improve the world around them. Unlike in some Western countries, charity shops don’t benefit from tax exemptions. According to Polina Filippova, the director of the Rus-

sian branch of the UK-based Charities Aid Foundation (CAF): “The problem is that the attitude to the idea of charity in Russian society leaves a lot to be desired.” “For the majority of Russians, charity means giving alms to a beggar on the subway. They’re suspicious of organisations working in the sphere, and not-for-profits are under tough government control,” Filippova said. Moscow’s Lavka Radostei (Shop of Joy) doesn’t officially sell goods at all; rather, it exchanges them for donations. This is one of the conditions of the shop’s existence, since legally it is a charity. Visitors to the shop select items and then say the price they are willing to pay. OwnerYekaterina Bermant has been surprised by the amount and quality of the donations that make their way to her shop. Lavka Radostei’s donors are typically members of Moscow’s upwardly mobile middle class.They often bring in designer goods, which Bermant, along with sales attendant Maria Timofeyeva, ensure don’t go for too little. “I recommend that people think of the price of a similar item new and then give 20-40 per cent of the cost for the second-hand piece,” Timofeyeva said. Lavka Radostei takes in about $8000 a month. The money is then transferred to Vse Vmeste (All Together), a not-for-profit umbrella group for Moscow’s grassroots charity and volunteer organisations. VseVmeste then distributes the money among 30 funds, including those working with low-income families, orphans and people with disabilities. “We want to clothe the whole city,” states the slogan on the social network page for Spasibo, Russia’s first charity shop.

THE NUMBERS

17 

charity shops operate in Russia today. They are typically run by energetic young people looking to improve the world around them.

QUOTE

Yulia Titova PROJECT CO-ORDINATOR AT SPASIBO CHARITY SHOP IN ST PETERSBURG

Russian legislation doesn’t have a ‘charityshop’ concept, so we had to become a commercial organisation. We sent people interested in starting up similar projects information packages. Now about 20 shops have opened in Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and Kazakhstan using our model. Spasibo positions itself as a shop, where you can get cool second-hand clothes.

Olga Anokhina MANAGING DIRECTOR OF LAVKA RADOSTEI CHARITY SHOP IN MOSCOW

Moscow is 113 years behind London when it comes to opening its first charity shop. The reaction to Lavka Radostei was positive despite the fact that this project is new for Moscow. For about eight months it has existed because of the help of our friends, who allowed us to use part of their premises for free. Now we're waiting for proposals from the Moscow government. We want it to become a place where you can turn stuff you don't need into a good deed, that helps others.

Spasibo (ThankYou), which opened three years ago in St Petersburg, was the brainchild of Yulia Titova, who got the idea after visiting the UK. “My friends and I were fresh out of university and full of ideas. Charity shops! Great! They make for a better world,” Titova said. “But we had no idea of the legal requirements. It was only three months after we opened Spasibo we realised that we would have to pay tax.” Today, Spasibo has expanded into two shops and a distribution centre. The shops have also become a venue for classes, exhibitions, concerts and book exchanges. Each month, Titova’s team receives on average between four and eight tonnes of dresses, jackets, shoes, books and toys. Only about 10 per cent of the items end up being resold; the rest are given away for free. Those in need can visit the shop to select items three times a week. Titova now dreams of quadrupling the net profit from the two shops to $12,000 a month. Her other dream is to gradually educate people in Russia that their old clothes can be used again and again. She believes that people aren’t opposed to the idea of charity; they just aren’t aware of the many ways they can contribute to helping others. The growth in the number of charity shops from zero to 17 in three years is a significant accomplishment, but much more could be done. The CAF World Giving Index, which ranks countries according to the percentage of people who donate money to charity, volunteer their time and help strangers, rated Russia 127 out of 160 countries worldwide in 2012. This was already an improvement for a country, which was ranked 138th in 2011.

LAVKA RADOSTEI (SHOP OF JOY) IN MOSCOW

just work to clothe Russians to help the homeless. They're also involved in social and environmental activism projects.

This shop technically doesn't sell anything, but instead accepts contributions in return for clothes and other donated items.

› spasiboshop.org

› vk.com/lavkaradostej


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MOST READ Bridgestone to build a production facility in Ulyanovsk rbth.asia/46661

AUTO MARKET REPORT AS RUSSIAN INCOMES INCREASE AND DEMAND FOR HIGH-QUALITY CARS GROWS, RUSSIAN AUTO MANUFACTURERS ARE JOINING WITH GLOBAL GIANTS TO CREATE PRODUCTION-SHARING ALLIANCES

SURGING CAR MARKET GOES INTO HIGH GEAR Russia will soon emerge as Europe’s largest car market, with demand focused on foreign, compact models. Only one major domestic manufacturer remains. ANDREI SHKOLIN SPECIAL TO RBTH

Private car ownership was shunned in Soviet times because of the shortage of vehicles and because most couldn’t afford them. But car ownership in Russia has gone through an unprecedented boom since 2000, with 12 per cent growth in 2012 alone. Competition in this market has been fierce, but Russian carmakers have not been competitive enough. Last year, 2.93 million cars were sold in Russia, which, according to the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA), marks a full recovery in sales since the 2008 global financial crisis. Car production in Russia stands in contrast to the entire European Union, where car sales last year dropped by 8.2 per cent to 12 million – the lowest level in 17 years, according to the ACEA.

High oil prices were a major factor in Russia’s carsales boom. With their country being the world’s secondlargest oil exporter, Russians have seen their nominal monthly incomes increase 16fold over the past decade to hit an average of $800 per month last year. This, coupled with a burgeoning credit market and recovering demographics – due to an increase in the national birth rate from 2011 to 2012 – has seen the Russian Federation become Europe’s leading market in many consumer areas. Two factors have contributed significantly to the growth of component imports for local assembly: a 30 per cent import duty on new cars (before Russia’s ascension into the World Trade Organisation last year) and low duties on parts, thanks to a state policy aimed at localising production. Ford was the first to move production to Russia, in 2002, when it opened a $150 million Australian-managed production facility in Vsevolozhsk (outside St Peters-

THE NUMBERS

2.9 

million cars were sold in Russia last year, says the European Automobile Manufacturers' Association

16 

Russians have seen their nominal monthly incomes increase 16-fold over the past decade to hit $800 per month.

70 

billion dollars is the estimated value of Russia's auto market this year, says PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Two factors contributed to the growth of component imports for local assembly: a 30 per cent import duty on new cars and low duties on parts.

burg). Ford was followed by Renault (2005), Volkswagen (2007), Toyota (2007), GM (2008), Peugeot, Citroen and Mitsubishi (2010), and Hyundai (2011). The number of domestically assembled foreign cars sold in Russia increased more than four-fold from 2007-12, with 290,000 being sold in 2007 and 1.22 million in 2012. Over the same period, sales of imported cars rose from 750,0 0 0 in 20 07 to 970,000 in 2012, according to data from the Association of European Businesses. PricewaterhouseCoopers predicts these figures will hit 1.33 million and 990,000 cars respectively this year for a predicted market value of $70 billion. The most popular foreign brands in Russia last year were all small cars: Hyundai Solaris (110,776 cars sold), Ford Focus (92,219) and KIA New Rio (84,730). “The myth that Russians mostly drive big SUVs doesn’t

LORI/LEGION MEDIA

play out in numbers – the topselling models, both domestic and foreign, are all compact, economical cars,” said Sergei Litvinenko, senior manager at PricewaterhouseCoopers Russia. State policies and rising incomes ultimately hit local automobile producers, whose cars are considered by many Russians to be of inferior quality due to outdated assembly technology, rundown fixed assets and low-

quality parts. Their primary competitive advantage, low price, has been eroded as increasingly wealthy local consumers have demanded a better product. Sales of new cars under Russian brand names dropped from a peak in 2002 of 920,000 to 580,000 last year. Among passenger cars, only Togliatti-based Lada sedans and Ulyanovsk-based UAZ off-road vehicles and SUVs have survived, with

Recycling tax irks importers Auto companies exporting to Russia have criticised the new “scrappage tax,’ saying it targets foreign companies while unfairly exempting domestic producers. FEDOR KIKTA SPECIAL TO RBTH

When Russia’s record 18-year bid to join the World Trade Organisation finally succeeded last year, one of the last stumbling blocks was car-import tariffs. For the previous decade, the Russian government had skilfully used a carrot-and-stick approach to encourage international auto giants to produce cars (and eventually car parts) in Russia — and this approach was suddenly under threat. The negotiators reached a compromise: by 2018, duties on imported cars would decrease from 30 per cent to 15 per cent, and on buses from 10 per cent to 5 per cent, mak-

ing Russia’s burgeoning $70 billion auto market more accessible to European car makers. But there was a catch. In September last year — during Russia’s official “Year of Ecology” — the Russian Parliament passed a law imple-

The EU cried foul, saying the tax amounted to nothing more than veiled protectionism. menting a car recycling (or “scrappage”) tax on all imported automobiles. The EU cried foul, saying it amounted to nothing more than veiled protectionism. Fredrik Erixon, the director of the Brussels-based European Centre for International Political Economy, called the tax “blatantly discriminatory”.

The tax ranges from $550 for certain new cars up to $55,000 for old trucks (the levies increase with age and recycling costs). In the first two months after its introduction, the tax put more than $200 million into Russian coffers, according to Forex analyst Narek Avakyan. Russian producers were exempt, as long as they committed to setting up auto-recycling centres. The EU criticised this, saying it gave Russian manufacturers a price advantage over foreign competitors. In response, the Russian government announced that all manufacturers would have to pay the tax by year’s end, thereby creating a level playing field, while still encouraging sustainability measures in the sector. rbth.asia/47069


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MOST READ Russia's response to the "shale gas revolution" rbth.asia/46449

Resources Moscow sizes up the best Asia export strategy Small cars are winning out: Hyundai Solaris, Ford Focus, and KIA are Russia’s three most popular foreign cars.

Easier exports to win LNG market share Russia aims to win 10-15 per cent of the global market for liquefied natural gas by 2020 by liberalising export policies and attracting more privatesector investment. OLGA SENINA SPECIAL TO RBTH

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The main market for Russia's future exports will be in the Asia-Pacific region, but tapping into Asian markets long ignored will not be easy. Competition from former customers and international producers could make it hard to meet growth targets. Russia produces about 10 million tonnes of LNG every year, just 4.5 per cent of global sales totalling 240 million tonnes in 2012. Global demand for LNG is tipped to reach 380 million tonnes by 2020. Russian companies may increase production fourfold to 35-40 million tonnes by then if they meet targets set by Russia's energy minister, Aleksander Novak. Gazprom, the world's leading exporter of natural gas, accounts for about 30 per cent of global pipeline gas supplies and generates a fifth of the revenues for the Russian federal treasury: $84.5 billion ($87.6 billion) out of $428.7 billion in 2012. But the Russian monopolist is finding it increasingly difficult to maintain its position on top of the global pecking order. Almost all Gazprom exports are destined for Europe, where economies are stagnating and competition is growing. As a result, the company has been forced to offer its customers significant price reductions. Having already secured large discounts from Gazprom, the EU continues to make demands. Last September, the EU energy commissioner, Gunther Oettinger, said that the prices the Russian supplier charg-

duction-sharing agreements with global giants. These alliances include FordSollers and Renault-NissanVAZ. VAZ – owner of the Lada brand – is Russia’s largest domestic car manufacturer. VAZ is now majority-owned by the Renault-Nissan alliance, which uses its facilities to continue the Lada brand and assemble foreign-brand vehicles. The long-term aim of this

KOMMERSANT

The EU said the tax gave Russian firms a price advantage.

alliance – which was announced in March this year – is to export the new economy-class Lada Granta sedan to Western markets, such as France and Slovenia, to partially compensate for slumping domestic demand. “The UAZ brand will survive based on a joint platform with Ssang Yong,” said UBS analyst Kirill Tachennikov. Russian truck producers have fared better than car makers. Tatarstan-based KAMAZ, which is 15 per cent owned by Daimler and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, increased its sales by 19.4 per cent in the first half of 2012 to $1.846 billion. Over the same period, the Nizhny Novgorod-based GAZ group saw profits increase by 10.4 per cent, thanks to a restructure largely organised by its former general manager, Bo Andersson, a Swede who had previously built a successful career at General Motors. These two producers have successfully competed with growing competition in the truck sector from Hyundai, Ford, Isuzu and lesser-known Chinese rivals. The aim of the Russian government’s auto industry gambit has been to maximise local production and bring foreign technology into the country. “Although the documents outlining state policy in the automobile industry don’t say this explicitly, one can clearly see between that lines that the aim is to localise assembly and reduce imports,”said Tachennikov.

Almost all Gazprom exports are destined for Europe, where economies are stagnating. Speaking at the governmental energy commission earlier this year, President Vladimir Putin said the Russian treasury was losing billions over falling gas exports. He also cited projections for global growth in demand for gas, especially in Asia. Problems with transit countries forced Gazprom to review its export routes in the late 1990s. In the early 2000s some 80 per cent of the company’s European exports were routed via Ukraine. By 2012 the figure had fallen to just over 50

per cent. In January 2013 it shrank to 42 per cent. Any reduction in overall Gazprom exports to Europe will not be nearly as drastic, however, since the company plans to invest 25 billion euros by 2020 in expanding the capacity of gas pipelines. That includes the construction of two North Stream lines, the South Stream pipeline and the renovation of the Belorussian gas transit system. Nevertheless, Gazprom’s gas exports fell by 8 per cent in 2012 — there was more than sufficient demand in Asia-Pacific to pick up that slack. So far, Russia has launched only one LNG plant as part of the Sakhalin-2 project, coowned by Gazprom (50 per cent plus one share), Shell (27.5 per cent), Mitsui (12.5 per cent) and Mitsubishi (10 per cent). The plant’s output is destined for Japan (63.9 per cent), South Korea (16.17 per cent) and the western seaboard of the US (19.94 per cent). The plant’s nominal annual output is 9.6 million tonnes. The operator, Sakhalin Energy, is looking to increase that figure to 15 million. The expansion would enable Russia to ramp up its LNG exports from 2015-2020, before other large exporters launch new capacities.

MINING

CBM fracking will increase Russia plans to boost its fracturing of coal bed methane (CBM), while coal seam gas mining in Australia is attracting increasing popular opposition because of the associated environmental risks - particularly ground-water contamination. The world’s largest extractor of natural gas, Gazprom, estimates methane resources in Russia will reach 83.7 cubic metric

tonnes - about one-third of the country’s forecast natural-gas resources. According to a statement by Greenpeace, fracking of CBM risks serious long-term water and soil pollution and may increase the chance of earthquakes. Gazprom claims that its Siberian test site suggest that CBM fracking poses no serious enironmental risks.

Russia has ambitions to capture 10 to 15 per cent of the market for LNG by 2020.

© RIA NOVOSTI

other formerly popular models being discontinued before 2000, including ZAZ Zaporozhets, Moskvitch and Zil armoured cars (which carried senior officials in the Soviet era). Lada still sells the three most popular models in the country, though: the Priora (125,951 sold per year), the Granta (121,151) and the Kalina (119,890). Russian car manufacturers are now entering into pro-

es different European countries should be roughly the same. At present they vary by as much as 30 per cent. Moscow has responded by banning Gazprom from offering importers discounts without securing government consent. That move is unlikely to change the overall price scenario.The system of long contracts that has been in place for 30 years is teetering on the brink.


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MOST READ Putin serious about tackling corruption rbth.asia/46555

Parties United Russia weakens

Polling: Public turns against government officials who flaunt wealth

Ruling party challenged from inside and out As United Russia’s reputation continues to suffer and Vladimir Putin voices increasing support for the People’s Front, what’s in store for the party? DAN PELESCHUK SPECIAL TO RBTH

AFP/EASTNEWS

Once an all-powerful vanguard party that helped President Vladimir Putin consolidate support and increase his influence in Russian politics, United Russia is weakening. Now, with its reputation damaged from a string of scandals and growing political awareness among Russia’s opposition-minded classes, some experts say the ruling party faces an uncertain future. The past few months alone have seen numerous corruption scandals, while the persistence of the anti-Kremlin street-movement has also been damaging the party’s reputation. According to a recent survey by the independent Levada Centre polling agency, 51 per cent of the population agrees with the description of United Russia as the “party of crooks and thieves” - coined by opposition blogger Alexei Navalny. That figure is up from 36 per cent last year. So the question is: will United Russia reform or fade from Russia’s political arena? Observers say a downturn in support for the party, which was fuelled by anti-Kremlin protests in December 2011, has led to Putin’s increasingly vocal support for the AllRussian People’s Front — a broad alliance, created in May 2011, which brings together leaders from various civil organisations from across Russia. The president’s support for the group has led observers to speculate whether the People’s Front will replace United Russia altogether as a support base for the Kremlin. Since the outbreak of protests, Putin has gradually dissociated himself from United Russia, over what experts say has been the party’s loss of credibility.

An anti-corruption protester at a recent demonstration in Moscow demands that officials “stop the bribes”.

Intolerance of public service corruption grows A recent independent opinion poll shows that the majority of Russians associate public servants with government corruption.

How Russians feel about officials

OLGA DORONINA

Denis Volkov, from the Levada Centre, said the results were predictable. “Russians have had the sense that the government is corrupt for years now,” he said. In Volkov’s opinion, the popularity of an anti-corruption campaign led by lawyer and blogger Alexei Navalny can be attributed to these feelings. In turn, the popularity of the campaign has spurred the government into action. “Only after that did the government react,” Volkov said. “Now it has begun doing its own anti-corruption exposés.” The list of corrupt officials exposed is growing. Members of both chambers of parliament have been forced to give up their seats. Some, such as Gennady Gudkov and Alex-

ei Knyshov, are suspected of illegal business activities, while others, including Vladimir Pekhtin and Vitaly Malkin, are accused of hiding high-priced assets, including foreign real estate. Investigations into the possessions of high-placed former officials in the Ministry of Defense are continuing. Former defense minister Anatoly Serdukov stepped down last year after a graft investigation. “Russian citizens are firmly convinced that state officials and deputies do the work they do solely to line their own pockets,”saidVolkov.“This undermines the authority of the State Duma, whose work no one sees as independent. It’s a vicious circle: on the one hand, people feel that corrupt

officials should be exposed. On the other, they don’t believe in the results of the [government’s] anti-corruption campaign.” Vyacheslav Smirnov, director of the Institute of Political Sociology, argues that through their behaviour, state officials are responsible for the increasing dissatisfaction among rank-and-file citizens. “In Russia, it’s not the rich we don’t like: it’s the rich who flaunt their money,” he said. “State officials have no sense of proportion and are not ashamed of showing off their financial position.” Smirnov said the first priority should be discouraging people from entering the public service if their aim is to take advantage of their position rather than to serve their country.

Putin wants to remain outside the party so that UR's reputation doesn’t tarnish his image. Nevertheless, United Russia is likely looking down the road at the next Duma vote, which some have speculated could happen within the year should Putin decide to dissolve parliament and call snap elections. And here may lie the key to the party’s future: legislation recently submitted by Putin would enact changes to how representatives are elected to the State Duma. Under the proposed law, half of the legislature would be elected from political party lists and the other half from single-mandate constituencies. This would allow freshfaced Kremlin-loyal candidates from outside of United Russia to run as independents under the banner of the nominally apolitical People’s Front. According to Kryshtanovskaya, that could pave the way for cohabitation in parliament between the People’s Front and United Russia, creating even stronger and more credible parliamentary support for the Kremlin.

AFP/EASTNEWS

Russians are increasingly intolerant of wealth among state officials, according to a recent survey from the Levada Centre, an independent polling agency. Ordinary people not only consider a life of luxury inappropriate for public servants, they also make a direct connection between wealthy holders of government jobs and corruption. Only 13 per cent of poll respondents considered it normal for a state official or Duma deputy to be rich. A third of respondents called that situation “indecent”, while 44 per cent went further, calling it “criminal”. An overwhelming majority of respondents (62 per cent) favoured establishing a cap on incomes for government employees and 20 per cent agreed with the statement that state officials should declare all their property. The poll did not specify what level of income makes a person “rich” in the eyes of respondents. However, previous surveys showed that Russians consider someone who earns at least 110,000 rubles a month (about $40 0 0) wealthy.

ALYONA REPKINA

SPECIAL TO RBTH

“Putin wants to remain outside the party so that United Russia’s reputation doesn’t tarnish his image,” said Olga Kryshtanovskaya, a sociologist, former United Russia party member and expert on the Russian ruling elite. But the Kremlin has not quite abandoned the ruling party. As recently as March, Putin emphasised the “need to preserve the unity of the United Russia faction in the State Duma,” according to reporting by RIA Novosti. At the moment, the party remains by far the most dominant force in politics and, despite some disappointments, secured comfortable victories in last October’s nation-wide regional elections.

Putin speaking at an All-Russian People’s Front meeting.


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MOST READ Russia to promote military service under contract rbth.asia/46273

Religion Ranks of military chaplains start to swell

Recruitment of military chaplains is being stepped up as the government builds on Orthodox values to bolster patriotism.

YULIA PONOMAREVA RBTH

On a snowy field in Ryazan, 160 kilometres south-east of Moscow, five burly, bearded Russian Orthodox priests fall to the ground, arms held skyward.They’re not praying, but preparing for their next parachute jump. Soon, the chaplains will take to the skies with regular military cadets in an Air Force plane, jump and pull the cord – hoping that God is watching over them and that their parachutes open. The priests are the latest recruits to the growing army of military chaplains (now almost 1000) who serve with Russia’s armed forces at bases across the former Soviet Union and abroad. The recruitment of military chaplains has been stepped up in recent months, as President Vladimir Putin has increasingly been putting tra-

ditional Orthodox values at the heart of his administration’s policies. He has also unveiled plans to increase defence spending by 11 per cent a year. The drive to recruit more chaplains has taken off since the appointment of Sergei Shoigu as Defence Minister late last year. The ministry has hired 15

The chaplains also drop a flat-pack church, which they assemble with the help of cadets. chaplains in the past few weeks alone, says Archpriest Sergiy Privalov, who is in charge of the church’s relations with the armed forces. On the field with the parachuting priests is Father Mikhail Vasilyev, 41, a veteran chaplain who has served alongside Russian troops in military conflicts in Kosovo, Chechnya and Kyrgyzstan, and is now in charge of the church’s relationship with the parachute forces.

The chaplains also drop a three-metre by nine-metre flat-pack church, which they assemble quickly with the help of cadets. The IKEA-style kit “becomes very convenient in the mountains, where there are no airfields,” Father Vasilyev says, adding that about 7000 servicemen received communion“in the field”last year. On the last of Father Vasilyev’s 11 parachute jumps, the unthinkable happened: his first parachute didn’t open, and the second one only began to open at 2000 feet, which was too late to cushion the blow completely. He suffered a spinal fracture, and hasn’t jumped since. “I survived by the grace of God,” says Father Vasilyev. “When you jump out of a plane with a bag behind your back, only God knows whether the bag will open into a parachute.” The jumps are just one form of training undergone in two-month courses by prospective chaplains, who also learn to load and fire a rifle, work as a tank gunner, drive an armoured person-

ITAR-TASS

Skydiving for God and Mother Russia

These parachuting priests are among the almost 1000 chaplains in the armed forces.

Keeping faith at the front The Russian Army included a military priesthood from the 18th century till the start of the Soviet era in 1917. The restoration of a full-scale chaplaincy service started in 2009, after a meeting between then-president Dmitry Medvedev and the heads of Russia’s main faiths. According to the Russian Defence Ministry, about two-thirds of the country’s military personnel consider themselves religious. Some 83 per cent of army personnel identify as Orthodox Christian.

nel carrier and use a flamethrower. The chaplains are carrying out the Orthodox Church’s patriotic mission: holding religious services for the military, and consecrating all kinds of military equipment with holy water, from ships to rockets. Father Vasilyev, for example, personally consecrated the tanks, rocket launchers and other military vehicles that rumbled onto Red Square for Moscow’s May 9 Victory Day parade, held in front of Putin and other world leaders, to celebrate the 68th anniversary of the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany. “This tradition started

about 10 years ago,” says Father Vasilyev. “I do it every year with one or two comrades-in-arms. We consecrate all the vehicles in the parade, at the commanders’ request. The church blesses the use of these weapons for defence of the weak, not for conquest.” The Orthodox Church’s association with Russian patriotism goes back a long way, to the times of the tsars, whose credo – “Orthodoxy, Autocracy and Nationality” – has strong echoes now. Although the church was persecuted under the Bolsheviks, during World War II Stalin allowed Orthodox priests to hold services to promote the patriotic crusade in defence of the motherland.

Transport Administration launches new infrastructure projects to ease city's worsening gridlock

The crush on the city’s roads, metro system, buses and regional-train system is causing headaches for commuters and authorities. BENJAMIN HUTTER RBTH

Moscow and the surrounding region has a population of nearly 20 million – more than four times that of the greater metropolitan areas of Sydney and Melbourne. Every day, the city’s metro carries 9 million passengers – the highest of any city underground system in the world. Some city metro stations,

such as Vykhino and KitaiGorod, service up to 150,000 commuters daily. Traffic jams in Moscow can stretch for almost 300 kilometres and the region’s Ministry of Transport has identified 53 areas of peak-hour congestion in the city. “Returning from work by car from the Park Kultury metro to Belorusskaya station (8 kilometres) can take me between 25 minutes and seven hours,”says 29-year-old journalist Natalia. “One day, I left work at 5pm and didn’t get home until midnight.” Even President Vladimir

ITAR-TASS

Traffic and train congestion in Moscow reaches crisis levels

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Putin has apologised for the fact his presidential convoys don't help the traffic situation. “I am sorry and I apologise to the people we inconvenience,”he said in an interview on the Russian television station NTV after his inauguration in May last year.“It upsets me, but I have to get to work.” Putin pointed out that the streets of Moscow weren’t designed to carry such a large number of vehicles. Historically Moscow wasn’t a planned city, it developed organically. The 1.6 million passengers

on average travelling by bus are a little better off, but their numbers are increasing. The head of Moscow’s Department of Transport, Gamid Bugalov, has suggested combining all modes of transport so that Muscovites have a smoother journey. The department’s action plan is as ambitious as the problem is serious. The goal is to create 150 to 160 transport hubs by 2020. According to Bugalov, the initial stage will cost $65 million per hub. “The Moscow local government cannot afford to finance all this alone,” he says.


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MOST READ Russian identity: European or Asian? rbth.asia/46605

Sochi gears up for Olympics Preparations for the Sochi Olympics are on the home stretch: test competitions are almost over and the Olympic Village is scheduled to open eight months from now. “The infrastructure for the Games is the most advanced in the world,” said Dmitry Chernyshenko, President of the Sochi 2014 Olympic Organising Committee. “The

June

PHOTOSHOT/VOSTOCK-PHOTO

Adler is a Black-Sea town near Sochi and Krasnaya Polyana, the Caucasus ski resort that will host the Olympic Alpine and Nordic events. Due to open this October, the new route will be capable of carrying up to 20,000 passengers an hour. The 22nd Winter Olympic Games and the 11th Winter Paralympic Games in Sochi will accommodate 5500 Olympic athletes, 1350 Paralympians, 25,000 volunteers and 13,000 journalists. More than 75,000 people will visit the facilities at the Olympic Park daily, while the international TV audience will be about three billion.

Russia’s public external debt is now among the lowest in the world. According to Timur Nigmatullin, from the analytical agency Investkafe, as of April 1, 2013, Russian debt stood at just $49.8 b i l l i o n – w i t h national GDP sitting at approximately $2 trillion. Oil and gas make up more than 50 per cent of Russia’s budget income (according to 2012 figures), making public finances extremely sensitive to fluctuations in world commodity prices, but relatively immune to recessions and global downturns. Drawing on its lessons from the 1990s, Russia now invests some of the surplus profits from its carbon exports into various funds – and these “piggy banks” cushioned its economy from the 2008-2009 crisis, despite a 7.8 per cent

The Russian economy has undergone fundamental changes in the 22 years since the collapse of Communism. VIKTOR KUZMIN SPECIAL TO RBTH

Its command and transitioneconomy experiences have also left it better able to cope with economic challenges than its Western neighbours. In 2009, the Russian GPD fell 7.8 per cent, alarming many Russians, who feared a repeat of the 1998 crisis in which whole industry sectors came to a standstill, the country’s biggest banks went bust and inflation sky-rocketed. For the 13 years following the crisis, the Russian government didn’t allow a budget deficit, and only last year, during the election period, did federal expenditures exceed revenues.

drop in GDP and a three to four-fold drop in world energy prices. Russia’s economy withstood the shock because of financial support programs funded from government reserves. This was acknowledged by rating companies, which have gradually increased Russia’s sovereign rating to investment grade. Moody’s assigned Russia a rating of Baa1 (stable outlook), while Fitch and S&P opted for BBB (stable). “Russia is a more profitable investment today than at some point in the rosy future, when the measures adopted to improve the investment climate and economic growth will kick in.” “The thinking here is the same as on the stock market: it’s more profitable to buy shares when prices are low,

and now prices are modest,” Karina Artemyeva, head of analysis at National Rating Agency, told RBTH. Meanwhile, Russia’s share of oil and gas revenues is decreasing. The government plans to reduce the figure to 8.5 per cent of GDP by 2015 – down from the current 10.5 per cent. When the Soviet Union collapsed, Russia’s economic structure was very different: it was in tune with the requirements of a planned economy but hopelessly illadapted to market conditions. It seems fashionable to criticise Russia for being slow in making progress, but 22 years ago much of the country’s current financial system didn’t even exist, including, for example, its competitive banking sector. Today, Russia’s banks are

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MIKHAIL MORDASOV

facilities have been designed from scratch; they're newer, more innovative and more technologically advanced than any other stadia facilities or tracks. “Russian Railways JSC was assigned the most challenging [Olympic] construction project,” he continued. “And they’ve done an excellent job building a combined road/[railway] from Adler to Krasnaya Polyana.”

SOLID ECONOMY CAPITALISES ON THE LESSONS LEARNED IN TOUGH TIMES

In 2011, the online economy totalled 0.6 trillion roubles – equivalent to 1 per cent of GDP, but 2012 saw the sector grow by almost a third.

Yevgeny Primakov PRIMAKOV WAS CHIEF OF RUSSIA’S FOREIGN INTELLIGENCE SERVICE (1991-1996) AND LED THE RUSSIAN GOVERNMENT UNDER YELTSIN (SEPTEMBER 1998 TO MAY 1999)

AP

CORBIS/FOTO SA

A girl stands on top of a tank in Red Square during the August putsch, or coup, in 1991. The bid to overthrow the president is considered to have hastened the break-up of the Soviet Union.

The statue of Felix Dzerzhinsky, which towered over Lubyanka Square, was toppled with a crane in 1991 after the failed coup against then-Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

“In Russia, the idea of publicprivate partnership was fully formed at the start of the 21st century. The state became established not only as a regulator of the economy alongside the market, but also as the owner of the means

© RIA NOVOSTI

IN HIS OWN WORDS

of production. It became the owner or a shareholder in a few major enterprises and banks. At the same time it was declared that state ownership would gradually be reduced through privatisation, except for a small number of enterprises.”


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MOST READ NATO learns from the Soviet Union rbth.asia/46353

tes all congratula ing in liv s n ia Russ e 23rd th n Australia o Russia f o y ar rs Annive ! Day

Boris Yeltsin First president of the Russian Federation

National Day

AFP/EASTNEWS

PHOTOSHOT/VOSTOCK-PHOTO

I’ve accomplished the most important mission of my life: Russia will never return to the past. From now on, it will only keep moving forward.

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The last Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev (left), and Boris Yeltsin, Russia’s first president (right), following the failed August 1991 coup.

Nobel Peace Prize winner Andrei Sakharov, addressing the Congress of People’s Deputies in 1989, called for an end to Communist rule.

History The origins of the Russia Day public holiday

A day to celebrate building a 'new' nation

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the lifeblood of the economy. In the first quarter of 2013, according to Deposit Insurance Agency, the total portfolio of deposits had grown to 14.74 billion roubles. And, in February and March this year, the Russian public banked 11.3 billion roubles every day – approximately double the previous year’s figure, showing increasing trust and confidence in banks. According to market research by Romir Holding, the proportion of Russian citizens with savings has risen to its highest level in 20 years: 75 per cent of the population. And the share of Russians who keep their savings in Russian roubles has climbed to 80 per cent; previously – in the interests of security and with memories of high inflation – Russians kept their

savings in foreign currencies (usually US dollars). In mid-2005, more than half of the Russians polled said their families didn’t have any significant savings. Back in the days of the Soviet Union, there wasn’t even a stock exchange. Today, market capitalisation stands at 20 trillion roubles, or 32 per cent of GDP. Russian businesses, on average, yield around 20 to 30 per cent profit – which is four to five times higher than the average business in Europe. The Russian government plans to increase this figure to an ambitious 100 per cent of GDP by 2018. Moscow has also set itself the goal of becoming one of the top 10 leading international financial centres, even though, so far, it’s lagging behind – in 64th place.

The tradition began on June 12, 1990, when the Congress of People’s Deputies of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR) voted in favour of a Declaration of State Sovereignty. Russians today still find this slightly incomprehensible, but, back in 1990, the symbolic significance of the declaration was more obvious than its content. One by one, the parliaments of the republics of the USSR had been passing declarations of sovereignty – and the RSFSR wasn’t going to remain on the sidelines. The Congress delegates voted almost unanimously for “independence”to be included in the agenda, although the final document provoked a considerable amount of deliberation, delaying its adoption until June 12. The very first presidential election of the Russian Federation was scheduled for the same date, for both pragmatic and ideological reasons. For one thing, Boris Yeltsin’s team feared that a date change might harm his chances of securing a firstround victory, since voters might be more focused on their summer holidays than

The imperial flag, the tricolor, became the official symbol of a new Russia after the dissolution of the USSR in 1991. In addition to June 12, Russia's National Flag Day is on August 22.

Ekaterinburg unveils Expo 2020 bid “Ekaterinburg has successfully hosted the SCO [Shanghai Co-operation Organisation] and BRICS [Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa] summits, the Russia-Germany meeting, and the annual Innoprom industrial innovation exhibition, attended by guests from 50 countries,” said Evgeny Kuivashev, Sverdlovsk Oblast Governor, of which Ekaterinburg is the capital. Also, the city will host the football World Cup in 2018. Preparations for this are already under way. The Russian government has promised the facilities for the Expo would be built simultaneously. Total construction costs could run into dozens of billions of dollars.

TIMELINE

Three milestones in post-Soviet Russian history

1994 AP

RUSSIA presented Ekaterinburg’s bid for Expo 2020 in November at the 152nd session of the International Exhibitions Bureau in Paris. Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich led the Russian delegation, saying: “Ekaterinburg is a young city; it’s developing rapidly and has a high industrial, as well as research and educational, potential. We’re confident that holding Expo 2020 there would help provide new incentive for its development.” Ekaterinburg is Russia’s third city, after Moscow and St Petersburg, in terms of most socio-economic indicators, and the city already has experience of hosting major international events.

the time before the Bolsheviks” became a key symbol of the new Russian government. It’s no accident that June 12, 1991 saw a referendum about restoring the imperial name of Russia’s northern capital: St Petersburg, which had been called Leningrad in Soviet times. But, at the same time, the authors of Russian statehood wanted to copy the US model, which explains the decision to make the date of the adoption of the declaration – with all its inherent symbolism – a national holiday. Gennady Burbulis, the chief ideologue of Yeltsin’s early presidency, attached great importance to symbols: the president of the new Russia had to be elected on the same day as the Declaration of Sovereignty – that was part of the approach: build-

politics if the election date was delayed. But the ideological motives ran deeper. The construction of the new Russia was based on ideological premises: the foremost being a return to the traditions of pre-Soviet Russia. At the time, Russia was seeing the reappearance of pre1917 traditions, such as merchants guilds, the reintroduction of words such as gospodin (mister) and an almost automatic return to the imperial tricolor flag, which had became the official symbol of the RSFSR, eventhough there were no legal grounds for it until August 1991. In some ways, this was similar to what was happening in Eastern Europe. En masse, the nations of the former Soviet bloc were shaking off the vestiges of socialism under the slogan “Back to Europe”. The idea of returning “to

ing a new country, a new state, a new public domain, and new traditions, so the date also had to have ideological significance. The Congress of People’s Deputies of the still-extant RSFSR (as a republic within the Soviet Union) supported this and June 12 became an official holiday by resolution of the Supreme Soviet in 1992. In 1994, it was substantiated by a Yeltsin decree which called it “Independence Day”. But by this time, the holiday was beginning to lose some its shine. And it wasn’t for nothing that the day’s informal name, Independence Day, become a controversial issue. People were wondering: independence of what and from whom? That’s why, ever since the mid-Nineties, June 12 has been welcomed but not necessarily understood by all: a kind of coffee-break sandwich between the May and summer holidays. But, as time has gone on, the holiday has assumed a more official and ceremonious air. The final break from the original Independence Day concept occurred in 1998, when Yeltsin renamed the holiday “Russia Day”.At this point, the Declaration of Sovereignty and the march back to pre-Bolshevik symbolism were left behind.

THE FIRST Chechen War started after Islamic insurgents breakaway bid. More than 35,000 civilians died.

1999 VLADIMIR PUTIN was appointed Prime Minister in 1999, but soon became Acting President after Boris Yeltsin’s resignation.

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GLEB CHERKASOV

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'Independence day' was confusing since no-one was sure who Russia had actually declared independence from.

2011 ALLEGATIONS of fraud in the 2011 Duma elections triggered the biggest public protests in Russia since fall of the USSR.


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Comment

MOST READ How can Russia best use its G20 presidency? rbth.asia/46957

A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE Fyodor Lukyanov

BUILDING THE TIES THAT BIND

OGONYOK

t is lmost exactly 15 years to the day that the first G8 meeting took place in Birmingham. It was an informal forum of the world’s eight leading industrial nations, to which Russia had just ascended. Fifteen years later, Moscow has not only become a member of nearly every international club, but it has also gained experience chairing most of them. But have we taken our place among the global leaders? Birmingham 1998 was a crucial milestone for the new Russia. Since the collapse of the USSR, Boris Yeltsin had sought membership in all the exclusive clubs for Russia to start to reclaim the symbolic status of a great power. Three months after its Birmingham debut, Russia defaulted on its debts and sank into a painful economic and political crisis. The illusion of equal status with the great powers dissipated quickly when Russia had to beg Western governments for urgent financial aid, only to be turned down. It’s strange looking back on all this now, since Russia has long turned from a debtor into a donor, and has been discussing with the countries it used to ask for money how to help the single European currency or how to bail out certain Eurozone members. Russia has long since earned its place in the most prestigious club on the planet. But the state of affairs within the club and the environment surrounding it have changed dramatically since the late 1990s – and not for the good of the G8. In the mid-1970s,

John W.H. Denton

I

SPECIAL TO RBTH

NIYAZ KARIM

at a time when a mechanism for informal consultations among the leading Western economies was just emerging, the point was to hold frank discussions about the real state of affairs in as closed a format as possible. As these consultations expanded (from the original G5) and attracted more attention, the summits gradually turned into political shows. The more transparent the environment, the more dangerous frank pronouncements are. Even with closed doors at multilateral meetings, there’s really no way to pre-

vent leaks. But without frank discussions, the meetings no longer made any sense – at least not according to how the original format’s founders conceived of them. On the other hand, fundamental shifts in the global power balance have stripped the narrowcircle meetings of much of their importance. At some point, it became clear that discussing the global economic outlook without China was simply impossible. But welcoming Beijing into the G8, supposedly a community of democracies, wasn’t acceptable either. The emergence of the G20 during the 2008 crisis has resolved this dilemma, even though the G20 has failed to become a global government. Russia has repeatedly presented initiatives on global issues over the past few years, yet all of them have fallen flat.

There are two reasons: first, Russia is yet to demonstrate leadership in the new world because of its inferiority complex about the collapse of the Soviet Union. Second, global initiatives no longer work in the modern world. There is no infrastructure, whether formal or not, through which to implement ideas. During the 15 years since Yeltsin first attended the G8 meeting as a fully-fledged member, Russia has fulfilled and even over-fulfilled the task of achieving a high international status set by its leadership back then. And yet, it’s still unclear what actual role Russia will play in this international sphere in the years to come. Fyodor Lukyanov is editor of the Russia in Global Affairs magazine. This comment first appeared in Ogonyok magazine.

TIME TO KEEP ECONOMY SIMPLE Alexei Kudrin KOMMERSANT

ussia's economic policy is in urgent need of reform. It needs to be more simple and predictable. Its more recent economic model, which has been based on the wealth generated by carbon exports and a 20 to 40 per cent annual growth rate in public spending, has not been able to ensure the pace of economic growth required. In turn, attempts to spur economic growth with injections of public funding have been stymied by the poor efficiency associated with that spending, and, sadly, national projects and modernisation programmes in health and other sectors have yielded few concrete results. Instead, Russia should be moving towards a model which, rather than artificially trying to stimulate de-

R

hen heads of government gather to discuss global policy, almost as much goes on behind the scenes as at the high-level meetings. Amid the formal events at APEC Russia 2012, held near Vladivostok in September last year, a group of business people and politicians gathered for the inaugural meeting of the Australia-Russia Dialogue – an idea conceived when Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov visited Australia last year. Australians involved in the Australia-Russia Dialogue include economist, lawyer and former BHP Billiton senior executive John Fast; Tigers Realm Coal chief executive Craig Parry; political scientist and former nonexecutive chairman of Dow Chemical (Australia), Tom Harley; and former senator and Liberal government minister Robert Hill. Although geographically distant, Russia and Australia have a lot to share in terms of business, education and culture. Russia is in need of infrastructure, and Australia’s experience in delivering infrastructure across geographic and funding hurdles could be put to good use there. Most importantly, the number of Australians of Russian extraction runs into the hundreds of thousands – this is a resource in itself, asking to be put to good use.

W

Russia is yet to demonstrate leadership in the new world because of its inferiority complex.

mand, works at a more basic level: improving the competitiveness and the quality of work and services. There’s no need to rush; instead, it would be more effective to make the Russian economy more attractive, step by step. A basic yet mandatory principle of economic policy is that growth in spending should not be higher than revenue growth in real terms.

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Last year, state revenues in Russia rose 3.5 per cent from pre-GFC in 2008 while spending increased 27 per cent. The business community, including investment banks, views this kind of imbalance as something which will inevitably lead to increasing debt or rising taxes. Once oil prices decline over the medium term, the logic behind the budget rule introduced by the government will

become apparent. But the recent talk about revising it is undermining the confidence of the business community, which, at the start, supported the rule’s enactment. I often meet with investment bankers, and they advocate the softening of monetary and credit policy. But Russia’s business climate is not just about the economy. Legislative restrictions on social and political life are reminding Russia’s entrepreneurs of a throwback to the worst of the Soviet era. They see the situation with NGOs in Russia as suppression of civil society. And this is the group of people Russia is counting on for investment and innovation. Our entrepreneurs need to be brought in as allies in the country’s modernisation process. Alexei Kudrin chairs the Committee for Civil Initiatives. This comment was first published in Kommersant.

Members of the Dialogue hope to establish a range of interactions that currently don’t exist, such as the exchange of ideas and academics between Russian and Australian universities – in the areas, for example, of medicine, engineering and culture. They also hope to initiate business contacts between companies engaged in enterprises with mutual interests. The opportunities in mining in Russia are well known, but this is just one of many areas where there are opportunities for Australian collaboration.

Russia and Australia have a lot to share in the areas of business, education and culture. Other areas include trade, agriculture, manufacturing, performing arts and tourism. The Dialogue is open to membership from individuals, companies and professional organisations alike. A number of meetings have been held already, with the input and approval of Kevin Rudd, foreign minister at the time of APEC, and Bob Carr, the current minister for foreign affairs. It’s not just about business; it’s about like-minded people fostering relationships between two countries. John W.H. Denton is a prime ministerial representative on the APEC Business Advisory Council.

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MOST READ Remembering Soviet cuisine rbth.asia/44785

Traditions Russian-Australians reconnect with their heritage by foraging for wild mushrooms

COOKING

On the hunt for forest treasures

Russian mushroom pot-roast

SPECIAL TO RBTH

Mushrooms top the list of Russia's most popular appetisers. Permitted in Orthodox fasting periods and abundant in Russian forests, they are served in soups, pancakes, with sour-cream, or pickled. This protein-rich fungus is a staple of Russian cooking. Mushroom pot-roast makes for a warming mid-winter dish. SERVES SIX

We're going after saffron milk caps (ryzhiki) and slimy slippery jacks (maslyata). We learn the signs of a hidden mushroom: a bump rising under pine needles, at the foot of a tree.

tria, in 1948.“Europe was in turmoil after the war and there were extreme food shortages,” she says. Lyuba migrated to Australia with her family four years later. She is heartened to see the enthusiasm among us for Russian recipes. Like many Russian-Australians, I was raised with the understanding that food should never be taken for granted. Just as the Russian dacha (summer house) was a place for a serious vegetable garden for many Russian

families in Soviet times, mushroom picking was another way that food supplies could be supplemented – whether during wartime or when collectivised farming and poor distribution resulted in food shortages. Preserving mushrooms is easy. They’re boiled, then pickled in their own water and a vinegar marinade. rbth.asia/47141

Russia's best-known mushrooms Porcino – edible

Russula – edible

Death cap – poisonous

Fly agaric – poisonous

Porcinos are popular across many culinary traditions. They grow wild across Europe, Asia and North America. They’re considered to be one of the safest wild mushrooms in Russia because there are no poisonous varieties that look anything like them.

These brightly coloured mushrooms are hard to miss, even in dense scrub. There are about 60 species of them in Russia and several hundred around the world - and most are edible. Some varieties taste like seafood, while others have a spicy chilli flavour.

This is one the world’s deadliest mushrooms. It is responsible for the majority of deaths from accidental poisonings. Just one stem of this redcapped white-spotted mushroom, which smells faintly of roses, has enough poison to kill an adult.

The fly agaric is a toadstool that contains psychoactive compounds. Despite being poisonous, it isn’t associated with deaths from poisoning. It is prized in Siberian Indigenous cultures for its hallucinogenic properties and is used in religious and shamanic rituals.

NATALIA MIKHAYLENKO (4)

In Russian food culture, mushrooms are revered. Used as a meat replacement during Lent and a rich protein and vitamin source in times of famine, mushrooms have nourished and saved lives throughout Russian history. It was a love of Russian food that brought together our group of young, mostly second-generation, RussianAustralians. From sharing recipes on social media, we began to gather for cooking classes at the Brunswick East Russian church hall, in Melbourne, as a way to connect with our cultural heritage. It was only a matter of time before we excitedly set out on our first autumn mushroom-hunting expedition. Thousands of kilometres from Russia, but just 40 minutes north-west of Melbourne, we make our way down Black Forest Drive, reaching a pine forest at the foothills of Mount Macedon. Around the emerald tracts of pines, eucalypts grow thickly, reminding us of the natural terrain. Dozens of cars are already parked along the unsealed roads of the state forest. Slavs are here in numbers, easy to spot in their camouflage jackets and hunting caps. We hear Polish and Serbian through the trees. This promises to be a competitive event as our food collective – which has grown to 16 – stakes out a swathe of forest untouched by earlier arrivals. We’re going after saffron milk caps (ryzhiki) and slimy slippery jacks (maslyata). Known throughout Eastern Europe, they’re the only two edible mushrooms in Australia we’re familiar with. The ground is marked with

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VARIA KARIPOFF

Yaroslava Kiryukhina

© KONSTANTIN CHALABOV / RIA NOVOSTI

upturned earth; somebody has already come through here with their knife and bucket and taken the most visible mushrooms. “Somebody has outsmarted us,” says a Serbian man when I point at the holes in the ground. He stalks off in a different direction. We persevere and learn the signs of a hidden mushroom: a bump rising under pine needles at the foot of a tree. We look under logs and admire fairytale-like toadstools. Our efforts are rewarded and there are happy shouts, particularly from the children in our group. Among us is Lyuba, 36, who migrated to Australia in 2006 from Kirov – a small Russian city west of the Ural Mountains. This is the first time she has gone mushroom picking in Australia. She surveys the forest, which is still closer to the woods around Kirov than the dry olive tones of the Australian bush.“In Russia there are a lot more varieties of mushrooms that are edible,” she explains. The forests there are complex ecosystems, unlike this pine plantation arranged in neat rows that will be cut down in a few years. Tetya Lyuba, our head chef and leader at the church“sisterhood” , was born in a displaced-person camp in Aus-

Mushrooms have a folkloric place in Russian life, a tradition that is being enthusiastically embraced by a new generation on another continent.

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Ingredients: • 800g of boneless beef, pork or veal • 800g of fresh mushrooms • 3-4 onions • 12-14 potatoes • 3 carrots • 6-8 chopped cloves of garlic • 200g cheese • 6 tablespoons butter • 400-600ml water • mayonnaise, green garnish, oil, salt, pepper Preparation: 1) Wash the meat, mushrooms and vegetables. Cut the potatoes into sticks, slice the meat and mushrooms, dice the carrots and chop the onion and garlic. 2) Fry the meat slices in oil til they’re partly cooked. Fry the mushrooms and potatoes separately, and the onions with the carrots in another pan. 3) Divide the vegetables into six ceramic pots. Add the meat with onion and carrots and sprinkle with garlic. On top of that put potato sticks, salt, pepper, greens and mushrooms. 4) Put 1 tbsp of butter and half a glass of water in each pot. Cover with grated cheese and mayonnaise. 5) Put pots into a preheated 180°C oven for 40 minutes. Remove from and let rest for 15 minutes. Sprinkle with greens.

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Travel

MOST READ The truth about Russian bears rbth.asia/46167

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CENTRAL RUSSIA IN A BID TO RAISE THE AREA'S INTERNATIONAL PROFILE AND ATTRACT VISITORS, NINE REGIONS HAVE JOINED FORCES TO CREATE "THE GREAT URALS" BRAND

URALS LAUNCH TOURISM INITIATIVE NATALYA RULEVA SPECIAL TO RBTH

Outside Russia, people might have heard of the Urals because of Yuriatin – Boris Pasternak’s fictional town (thought to be Perm) nearby, where Dr Zhivago had his country house and where his relationship with Lara played out. They may also know it’s where the imperial Romanov family were exiled, before their execution by firing squad in Yekaterinburg in 1918. Not satisfied with their current international profile, the regions of the Urals are joining forces to create and promote a single tourism brand, the Great Urals, with the aim of increasing travel in the regions that straddle this mountain range that runs north to south, from the Arctic Ocean coast in the north, to Kazakhstan in the south. The Sverdlovsk Regional Tourism Development Centre is behind the initiative, which it announced at a convention in Yekaterinburg in April this year. Governments and tourism bodies from nine regions plan to soon sign an agreement that will see them pooling resources to develop a single set of symbols, take part in international conventions and develop special events to attract tourists. The meteor that fell in Feb-

ruary this year in Lake Chebarkul, in the southern Urals (Chelyabinsk Oblast), has already resulted in a tourism boom, attracting visitors from the UK, Germany, China and the US, giving Chelyabinsk a taste of what might lie ahead. Tourist attractions in the Urals include monuments along the unofficial border where Europe meets Asia (there are numerous inYekaterinburg); star-gazing at Kourovskaya Observatory, one of the best in Russia; and gold-mine tours and mineral museums across the region. The mineral-rich area was home to Russia’s first gold mines, and it’s still renowned for its precious and semiprecious stones, including aquamarine, jasper, rhodonite and malachite. Another attraction is Perm Oblast, known for the Molebsky Triangle – a cult destination for ufologists and“ghost hunters” – where numerous anomalous phenomena have been observed and attributed either to extraterrestrials or tectonic faults. There are also opportunities for eco-tourism, with white-water rafting in summer on the numerous rivers that run through the region. In winter, hot springs are a luxurious attraction, particularly in Tyumen Oblast. Independent travel in the Urals is possible, although it may come with some linguistic challenges outside of major cities for travellers who don’t speak Russian. Elmira Tukanova, head of the Sverdlovsk Region Tour-

ism Development Centre, said they had received positive feedback about the branding concept at the ITB-2013 convention hosted by Berlin earlier this year. Key markets for the branding campaign are countries that have direct flights to Yekaterinburg’s Koltsovo Airport: the UK, Germany, China, Turkey and the Czech Republic. The region is also accessible from Moscow and St Petersburg; flights take about two-and-a-half hours. On the Trans-Siberian train, Yekaterinburg is 24-30 hours from Moscow.

Federal regions around the Ural mountain range

NATALIA MIKHAYLENKO

Yekaterinburg honours the ill-fated Romanovs Memorials have been built in Yekaterinburg to commemorate the murders of Russia's last royal family. YAROSLAVA KIRYUKHINA RBTH

Named after Peter the Great’s wife, Katherine I,Yekaterinburg, the capital of the Sverdlovsk Oblast, is notorious as the city where the imperial Romanov family were executed in 1918. The man allegedly responsible for their deaths, Yakov Sverdlov – a Bolshevik party leader and chairman of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee, was, ironically, the person the city and

region were named after in 1924.Yekaterinburg received its pre-Soviet name in 1991. Tsar Nicholas II, his wife, Empress Alexandra (who was the granddaughter of Queen Victoria), their five children and several servants were killed by a CHEKA execution squad in a tiny basement of Yekaterinburg’s Ipatiev House on July 17, 1918. The house was demolished half a century later by order of BorisYeltsin, who was then a Communist Party official in the city. After the collapse of the USSR in 1991, a church (named the Church on the Spilled Blood) was built on

© RIA NOVOSTI

Little known outside Russia, the Urals are historically regarded as being on the edge of civilisation, marking the unofficial boundary between Europe and Asia.

the site of the execution and remains a revered pilgrimage destination. A second memorial to the royal family is in the small village of Koptyako, 15km north of Yekaterinburg. There, in Ganina Yama (Ganya’s Pit) – an old mining

shaft – the bodies of the Romanovs were burned on the night of their execution. The Orthodox Church has declared the site holy ground, and seven wooden chapels have been constructed there – one for each member of the imperial family.


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LESSER KNOWN SPOTS

The Dyatlov Pass, in the northern Urals, is a Russian backpacker destination because of an unexplained incident in 1959 in which nine students, who had been on a ski trip, were found dead, having torn their way out of their tents and wandered halfdressed in temperatures of -30C. With no obvious external injuries, some had internal trauma, one a missing tongue, and their clothes had radioactive contamination. A Soviet inquiry declared they had died from “a compelling natural force”. The Komi Republic is home to the Seven Brothers, seven 30m-high megalithic formations said to resemble giants. The Kungur Ice Cave, near the city of Kungur, in the Perm Region, contains underground lakes and more than 120 kinds of ice formations. Each year it attracts 100,000 visitors.

LORI/LEGION MEDIA (4)

2

The Ural region gets its name from one of the world’s oldest mountain ranges, estimated to be 250 to 300 million years old. The range runs roughly north to south, through western Russia (photo 1 and 3). Home to many lakes and hot springs, the Urals also have health spas and resorts, which take advantage of the area’s medicinal waters and mud (photo 2). The Urals are famous for semi-precious stones, and these, known in Russian as samotzvety, are mentioned in Russian fairytales and allegedly inspired Sergey Prokofiev’s ballet, The Tale of the Stone Flower (photo 4). The Kourovskaya Observatory, in Sverdlovsk region, has been involved in joint research projects with Australian and US astronomers (photo 5).

Lake Chebarkul’s tourist trail

ITAR-TASS

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2  3 

Lake Chebarkul gained international fame last February when it was said to be the landing site of the meteorite which hit the Chelyabinsk Region with a boom so loud that it blew out windows and damaged thousands of buildings around the city of Chelyabinsk. After the strike, the region was gripped by meteor fever, with thousands of people trying to find space fragments that they could sell. Though scientists from the Ural Federal University said the meteor fell into the lake, authorities haven’t confirmed this. Nevertheless, the local government has created a tour called “In the Footsteps of the Meteorite”.

10 MAJOR EVENTS COMING UP IN THE URALS SPRING ADRENALIN AVIATION TECHNICAL FESTIVAL

INTERNATIONAL INDUSTRY FAIR “INNOPROM”

UFA, MAY, 2014

More than 500 companies will present technologies developed in Russia at this trade event, which last year attracted 50,000 visitors and closed with 34 agreements being signed to the value of $6 billion.

Aiming to promote air sports, this festival will include parachuting, ballooning and RC plane displays. › www.takeoffpoint.ru/

CELESTIAL FAIR AIR BALLOON FESTIVAL

5

YEKATERINBURG, JULY, 2013

› www.innoprom.com/

KUNGUR, JUNE 29 - JULY 6, 2013

Hot-air balloonists from 48 Russian regions will take part in this week-long festival in the Urals’ third-oldest city. This colourful summer event is a highlight of the Perm Region’s calendar. › www.ballooning.ru/

RUSSIA ARMS EXPO

INTERNATIONAL MUSIC FESTIVAL EURASIA

› www.rae2013.ru/en/expo/about/

YEKATERINBURG, OCTOBER 4-16, 2013

NIZHNY TAGIL, SEPTEMBER 25-28, 2013

This military expo, held since 1999, will showcase the latest in military equipment, arms and ammunitions from more than 300 Russian and international arms manufacturers from across 50 countries.

OLYMPIC FLAME RELAY

This event, an initiative by the Sverdlovsk State Philharmonic, aims to foster cultural connections between musicians from Asia and Europe. This year, it welcomes orchestras from Amsterdam, Mannheim and Hong Kong.

YEKATERINBURG, PERM AND OTHER CITIES, 2014

› www.eurasiafestival.ru/en/

› www. olympic.org/

WORLD JUDO CHAMPIONSHIP

FIFA WORLD CUP MATCHES

CHELYABINSK, 2014

Eleven Russian cities will come under the spotlight when Russia hosts the World Cup for the first time, in which 32 national teams will compete.

This is the second time the International Judo Federation has held its world championship in Russia; the last time was in 1983, in Moscow, USSR. › www.ijf.org/

In the buildup to the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games, the Olympic torch relay takes 123 days and will involve a record number of torchbearers, about 14,000 people.

YEKATERINBURG, 2018

› www.fifa.com/

EUROPEAN SPEED SKATING CHAMPIONSHIP WORLD PROGRAMMING CHAMPIONSHIP FINAL YEKATERINBURG, 2014

ITAR-TASS

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RUSSIA BEYOND THE HEADLINES

This IBM-sponsored event encourages teamwork, innovation and creativity in software development. More than 2000 programmers from 100 universities worldwide will compete. › www.icpc.baylor.edu/

CHELYABINSK, 2015

Chelyabinsk’s Uralskaya Molniya Ice Palace, with its 400-metre ice track, will host this event. › www.isu.org/

FIND OUT MORE IN THE GLOBAL CALENDAR at rbth.ru


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Tech

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MOST READ Russia goes high-tech to tackle terror rbth.asia/46831

QUESTIONS & ANSWERS

Russia leads radar system innovations cluding for our military installations and weapons. This is why all the components we purchase from abroad get certified and thoroughly inspected. We desperately need a serious breakthrough in development of the national micro-electronics industry. Apart from everything else, it would help our country to overcome its dependence on energy exports. A kilogram of micro-electronic components has the market price equivalent to that of 110 tonnes of oil.

BIO

Sergei Boyev AGE: 59 POSITION: RTI JSC GENERAL DIRECTOR

The Qabala radar can detect missile launches at up to 8000 kilometres away, from Africa to China and Australia. Is the Voronezh radar capable of similar performance? TheVoronezh radar in Armavir is designed to exceed the performance of the radar in Qabala. What will become of the radars which Russia is leaving behind? Will Azerbaijan and Ukraine be able to operate the radars Russian is leaving behind? The radars can perform limited space observation functions, but they certainly no longer have the functionality that was there when they were serving as part of the Russian missile warning system. It is not about the equipment itself but rather about the software, which belongs

Could a third party come up with the necessary software, power the radars up again and use them against Russia? It’s highly improbable. In theory, the radars can still be used as intended, that is to monitor missile launches in the south and south-east. We did invite the US and the UK to set up joint projects with the use of our radars abroad. Unfortunately, those invitations were declined. Are Russian radars on a par with their Western equivalents? The current US warning radars are inferior to the Voronezh radar across a number of parameters. We are also researching future radar technology, hoping to create mobile air and space attack warning assets that could be rapidly deployed in threatened areas. We have used the innovative developments by Nobel Prize-winning academic Zhores Alferov to create a new amplifier that can dramatically improve a radar’s performance. Russia had to use foreign micro-electronic components because of a lack of local equivalents. Do the current Russian missile warning systems have Chinese and Taiwanese chips at their core? Last year we launched a facility producing 80-nanometre technology-based microelectronic componentry. Russia became the eighth country in the world to have this technology, which allows us to develop space and military-grade micro-circuits. However, our micro-electronics facility – which is currently unparallelled in Russia – is not running at its full production capacity at the moment. We have developed a new micro-chip with perfect cryptographic protection. It can be used in RFID tags, in new passports and

AFP/EASTNEWS

Russia has decided against prolonging the lease agreement for the Daryal early warning radar in Qabala, Azerbaijan. And it has been announced that the new warning radar in Russia’s Armavir will make up for the resulting loss in radar coverage. Will it? We are set to complete official tests on the Voronezh radar in Armavir in the second quarter of 2013, after which it will be put into operation with the Russian armed forces. The radar will indeed make up for the information losses from the discontinued Qabala radar and the Ukrainian installations in Mukachevo and Sevastopol.

to Russia and has been removed.

Space-junk cloud around the planet is growing The recent collision between Russia’s BLITS nano-satellite and a piece of orbital debris from a 2007 Chinese anti-satellite test is another example of spacecraft having a run-in with space-junk. According to NASA, a growing debris cloud around the Earth contains 500,000 objects bigger than a marble and 22,000 larger than a softball. Last month Australian company EOS Space Systems pioneered laser technology to tackle space-junk congestion – it's set to become the most effective way to clean up space debris.

NASA

PRESS PHOTO

How can military technology help manage livestock? Are Russian radars better than their US equivalents? Are radars really capable of detecting an egg-sized object in orbit 2000 kilometres away? How did a Nobel Prize contribute to Russian radar technology? Sergey Boyev, general designer of the Russian missile early warning system, reveals some trade secrets to Rossiiskaya Gazeta.

EXPERIENCE: Sergey Boyev, a missile-attack-warning-system designer, serves as General Director of JSC RTI – an organisation that develops and supplies high-tech products and systems in radar technology.

public transport cards, in pay and ID documents – in all government-controlled areas. It can actually create new jobs as well. Having a local micro-electronics industry ensures the country’s technological security. The current world leaders

in micro-electronics – the US, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, Germany, France – all have their own national development programs in micro-electronics. If we return to military micro-chips, concerns are often voiced that their original

foreign manufacturers can control their operation to arbitrarily deactivate the platforms they are installed on: to incapacitate satellites and radars, sever communications lines etc. Is that true? Undoubtedly. Threats of cyber-attacks on electronic componentry do exist, in-

Is it true that Russia’s new warning radars can detect objects the size of an egg in orbit? We conducted such an experiment in conjunction with the US 20 years ago. Our goal was to see whether contemporary missile defence radars were able to detect smallsized space objects. There was also a practical aspect to that experiment: the possibility to detect space debris. The objects we used back then were of course not eggs but micro-satellites – metallic spheres measuring 5, 10 and 15 centimetres in diameter released into orbit from Space Shuttle Discovery. All the ground-based radars involved in the experiment, both Russian and US ones, proved capable of detecting the 15cm spheres. Three of them – two Russian radars and the US Cobra Dane installation in Alaska – detected the 10cm spheres. However, only our Don warning radar managed to detect one of the 5cm microsatellites. This unique installation was built in Sofrino, outside Moscow, in the late 1980s. Not only did it detect the minuscule object from 2000 kilometres away, it also plotted the micro-satellite’s trajectory. The Don remains unparallelled in the world. It continues in active service, guarding the skies above Moscow. Could these military radars be used in asteroid early warning systems? Missile warning and asteroid warning are two totally different fields. Asteroid watch requires a completely different system architecture and technology, since asteroids and missiles have different trajectories and speeds. There is no future in combining these two technologies into a single system. The interview first appeared in Rossiyskaya Gazeta


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RUSSIA BEYOND THE HEADLINES

15

Culture

MOST READ Bolshoi Ballet captivates Australian audiences rbth.asia/47119

Cinema Retrospective on post-Soviet film director

confronting 1950s-era Soviet repression – was the first Russian musical in decades. Shot in 110 days for $13.5 million and starring Oksana Akinshina (Lilya 4-Ever), Hipsters was a major boxoffice and critical success in Russia, winning four Nika and Golden Eagle awards.

Legend has it that Valery Todorovsky was born immediately after his mother watched a rare print of Hitchcock’s Psycho that had slipped into Odessa in 1962. GRAHAM OSBOURNE SPECIAL TO RBTH

The horror classic hadn’t officially been released in the Ukraine, but Todorovsky’s father Petr – also a renowned film director – borrowed a single copy that turned up at the Odessa Film Studio where he worked, and took it home to watch with his pregnant wife (a film producer). Growing up surrounded by filmmakers, Todorovsky soon wanted to make films of his own. “All my life, I dreamed of making a musical,” said Todorovsky, whose 2008 film Hipsters – a portrait of rebellious, jazz-loving hipsters

Observers note parallels between the political tensions in Hipsters and the political climate Hipsters is one of six films of this post-Soviet film director to be screened at this year’s Russian Resurrection Film Festival – where Todorovsky will be a guest. “While at film school, I saw Hollywood musicals starring Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly,” Todorovsky told RBTH,“and

later Bob Fosse’s Cabaret – which left me ‘infected’.” “Everybody told me that this is not a Russian genre,” he told an audience at the Seattle International Film Festival. “But these characters took a position against the system, against the grey people surrounding them. They expressed themselves through the music and dance, but it was not just about having a good time.” “It is 100 per cent political and 200 per cent anti-Soviet,” film critic Yury Gladilshchikov wrote in Newsweek in 2008. He likened the film’s Komsomol characters to today’s pro-Kremlin groups who hold rallies in praise of President Vladimir Putin. “The question of freedom will always be the most charged issue in our country,” Todorovsky told Izvestia newspaper in 2009. “Things considered normal in other

Cinema Russian film festival celebrates 10 years

Now showing in six cities Russian Resurrection Film Festival: Melbourne: Jul 3-14, Canberra: Jul 16-21, Sydney: Jul 24 - Aug 7, Brisbane: July 25 - Aug 4, Perth: Aug 1-11, Byron Bay: Aug 2-4. KATHERINE TERS

A lingering nostalgia for attending Soviet film festivals as a kid motivated Australian-born Nicholas Maksymow to start Russian Resurrection. Sydney’s Soviet film festivals, which were held at the Barclay and Mandarin theatres, stopped with the fall of the USSR in 1991, but Russian Resurrection – the largest festival of Russian cinema outside Russia – has been filling that space since 2004. This year, the festival is celebrating its 10th anniversary and is being held in six cities, including – for the first time – Byron Bay. It opens July 3 in Melbourne, at South Yarra’s Como Cinema, and July 24 in Sydney, at the Chauvel in Paddington. Since it began, close to 65,000 people have attended the festival. Its growth and the fact that 60-70 per cent of audiences are not Russian show that Australians have an appreciation for Russian cinema. The program this year has 18 new films, including the international premieres of Legend No. 17 (2013) and the children’s animation The

PRESS PHOTO

RBTH

Actress Oksana Akinshina in Hipsters, screening at the festival.

Snow Queen (2012). There will also be two retrospectives: one of post-Soviet director Valery Todorovsky, the other “the most-quoted” Soviet comedies, including Beware of the Automobile (1966), The Diamond Arm (1969), Gentlemen of Fortune (1971) and Ivan Vasilievich – Back to the Future (1973). Festival celebrations will include a series of openingnight parties with live Russian music and Q&As with special guests: directors Nikolai Lebedev and Valery Todorovsky, as well as actor Konstantin Khabensky, known for his roles in Night Watch (2004) and Day Watch (2006) and who stars in The Geographer (2013), which is screening at the festival.

Maksymow’s involvement in Russian community affairs has not been limited to Russian Resurrection. He was President of the Russian Ethnic Community Council of NSW and a board director of the Russian Relief Association. His community work, he says, has been inspired by the example set by his late godfather Bill Jegorow – a councillor at Sydney’s Ashfield Council, who was recognised for his work in ethnic affairs. Maksymow’s parents, who met in Sydney – his mother having migrated from Harbin, in China, and his late father from Kiev – proudly attended Russian Resurrection, watching it grow into an annual national celebration of Russian culture.

PRESS PHOTO

Russian Resurrection revisits Todorovsky

Todorovsky (51) directed his first film in 1990, a year before the Soviet Union collapsed.

countries need to be won here through struggle,” adding: “there were times when walking around in coloured socks was a heroic deed.” “Raucous and vibrant”proclaimed the Los Angeles Times, while Screen Daily described Hipsters as a Russian version of Grease, “but with more of a political subtext to sustain it.” “A punch-drunk, decadently-designed slice of eye c a n dy,” a d d e d t h e L A Weekly.

Films being screened at RRFF Love (1992) – a film about anti-Semitism from the director’s own screenplay. Under Moscow Nights (1994) – winner of three Nikas, including best actress for Ingeborga Dapkunaite. The Lover (2002) – two men love the same woman, featuring the late Oleg Yankovsky – who won a Nika for best actor.

My Stepbrother Frankenstein (2004) – the story of a mentally and physically damaged solder returning home from war, it won best film at the Open Russian Film Festival Kinotavr. Vice (2007) – a crime thriller about a young DJ who gets mixed up with a drug lord. Hipsters (2008) – a major box office and critical success.


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Sport

MOST READ Sochi – the most expensive Olympic Games ever rbth.asia/46993

Universiade Top student athletes head to Kazan for Summer Universiade

Rugby Sevens makes Kazan debut

Growing popularity wins Games spot

Russia's third capital welcomes athletes

Rugby sevens will make its Summer Universiade debut this year, with the inaugural tournament set for July 14 to 17. YAROSLAVA KIRYUKHINA RBTH

Student athletes from 170 countries will compete across 27 categories – from gymnastics to water polo – at the XXVII Summer Universiade in Kazan. GETTY IMAGES/FOTOBANK

YAROSLAVA KIRYUKHINA RBTH

Australia’s best “The Qantas Australian Athletics Championships and Selection Trial were the basis for selection to the athletics team for the World University Games, and we’re very proud to be able to pick such a strong team,” said Dion Russell, Athletics Australia's chair of selectors. “With the exception of one athlete, who had a medical exemption, all those selected competed at the Nationals and have achieved at least one qualifying standard for

GETTY IMAGES/FOTOBANK

The historical Russian city of Kazan will host this year’s Summer Universiade – a biennial competition organised by the International University Sports Federation (FISU). The first Summer Universiade, held in Turin, Italy, in 1959, involved 1000 athletes. Now, the event is one of the largest sporting events in the world, and Australia will be sending its brightest student athletes to join 13,000 competitors, in the games running July 6 to 17. A 28-strong squad heading to Kazan confirmed by Athletics Australia boasts six national champions. There are two stand-out names in the team: Hobart’s javelin thrower Hamish Peacock and Commonwealth Games bronze medal-winning triple jumper Alwyn Jones, from Adelaide.

the World University Games”, he added. Two rhythmic gymnasts, Commonwealth Games gold medallist Danielle Prince from Brisbane and Sydney’s Enid Sung, will be flying the Australian flag during the Games opening ceremony. The Australian squad achieved its highest-ever medal haul in 2011, at the last Summer Universiade in Shenzhen, China. Taking 16 medals, the team was only two golds short of breaking into the medal tally top ten. “U are the world”is the official motto of this year's Games, and a winged snow

ABOUT

leopard – an emblem of the Tartarstan Republic – is the official mascot of the event.

About Kazan Eduard Shakirov, head of the consular section at the Russian Embassy in Canberra, happens to be from Kazan – a city which, he proudly points out, is older than Moscow. Shakirov talked to RBTH about the planning and infrastructure development involved in preparing for the games. “The high levels of capital investment have come not just from the Republic’s budget [Republic of Tartarstan], but

Visa-free entry

About the Universiade

© RIA NOVOSTI

The Universiade is an international sporting festival for student athletes aged 17-25. It is held biennially in different cities by the International University Sports Federation (FISU). It includes 10 compulsory sporting cate-

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gories and up to three optional categories. Also known as the World Student Games, this event is second only to the Olympics in the number of participants and countries represented. It was last held in Russia, then the USSR, in 1973.

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree granting visa-free passes to foreign athletes ahead of multiple international sporting events in Russia. Visa-free entry will be valid for the duration of the competition. The decree says that foreign athletes, coaches, team leaders, referees and members of official delegations will only need a valid ID and accreditation to be able to enter and leave the Russian Federation.

Australia has big hopes pinned on Commonwealth Games bronze medal-winning triple jumper Alwyn Jones (above) and javelin thrower Hamish Peacock (left).

also from the federal government,”he said.“The event and the new infrastructure – which includes an Olympic village to house 13,000 visiting athletes – will give the city a boost and will increase its international profile.” Kazan, the capital of a Muslim-majority ethno-republic on the Volga and Kazanka rivers, east of Moscow acquired the right in 2009 to brand itself as the “Third Capital” of Russia from the Russian Patent Office. Two months ago, when Russian President Vladimir Putin inspected sports facilities built specially for the Universiade, he declared that Kazan was on its way to becoming Russia's premier sporting city. Since 2000, Russia's eighth most populous city has had a facelift, with its historic centre and Kremlin (listed as a World Heritage Site) being rebuilt in time for the city’s millennium celebrations in 2005. “The Summer Universiade is just the beginning for Kazan,” Shakirov said. “The city will also host the World Aquatics Championship in 2015 and the FIFA World Cup in 2018.” This is a sporting city that we will be seeing more of.

For the first time in its short history, a rugby sevens competition will be held as part of this year’s Summer Universaide, where 16 men’s and women’s teams from 19 countries will be taking part. Rugby was first played in the Soviet Union in the 1920s, but didn’t manage to gain widespread support or popularity under Soviet rule. Although initially the variation of the game was not taken seriously in global terms, in the 1980s rugby sevens teams started forming in the Soviet Union, and today Russia has more than 300 clubs, with about 22,000 players. The Soviet Union rugby sevens team played its first world tournament in Hong

Kong in 1988. Then, in 2007 and 2009, the Russian Federation’s team won the prestigious European Sevens Grand Prix Series. Russia’s rugby team is currently ranked 19th in the world by the IRB (International Rugby Board). Despite these successes, the game’s popularity in Russia lags far behind that of other sports such as soccer. Further, the game doesn’t attract government support or corporate sponsorship in the way that football does. Despite this – and following its inclusion in the Summer Universiade program – rugby sevens will also make its debut as an Olympic event at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Even though an Australian team won’t be playing at the Universiade, the Australian sevens will be competing in Moscow at the Rugby World Cup Sevens later this month.

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14 August NEXT Issue


2013 06 au all  

Russia Beyond the Headlines supplement distributed with the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age in Australia

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