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Politics Pussy Riot’s Nadezhda Tolokonnikova moved Andrei Tolokonnikov speaks about his daughter’s case P.02 EPA / ITAR-TASS

In Depth

Revealing secrets of Siberia R Ian Frazier reveals his fascination with the region in an exclusive interview P.04 Wednesday, November 20, 2013

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A Design Firm responsible for the High Line wins competition to design a new park beside the Kremlin

One Park, Many Visions

Greenpeace Activists Await Hearings, Four Released Four of the 30 people arrested aboard the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise have been released. Photographer Denis Sinyakov, ship’s doctor Katherine Zaspa, Greenpeace Russia’s Spokesman Andrei Allakhverdov and Brazilian activist Ana Paula Alminhana Maciel were freed on 2 million rubles bail ($62,500). The remaining 26 people who were arrested aboard the ship on Sept. 19 remain in custody in St. Petersburg, awaiting hearings on charges of hooliganism.


L.G.B.T. Protest Shuts Down N.Y.S.E. Russia Day


A jury in Moscow has selected the New York architecture firm responsible for designing the High Line to build a new park just steps away from the Kremlin on the site of the demolished Rossiya Hotel. Moscow officials announced last week that an international group of companies headed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro has been selected as the winner of a competition for the best landscape concept for the new park. DS+R architect and Project Manager Zoe Small told RBTH via email that the main idea of the winning concept for the park, known as Zaryadye after the historic name of the site, is a wild urbanism: “a hybrid landscape where the natural and the built cohabit to create a new type of public



Architectural renderings of the design for the new Zaryadye Park were shown in an exhibit in Moscow earlier this month. The new park will fill a space just off Red Square.

space. The Park incorporates four Russian landscape typologies: tundra, steppe, forest and wetland. Using a unique paver system that seamlessly knits landscape with walking surfaces, the Park is pathless and people are free to move about in entirely unscripted ways.” Competition participants were told to consider a budget of between $171 million and $230 mil-

lion for the realization of the design. Moscow Deputy Mayor Marat Khusnullin has designated between 5 billion and 6.5 billion rubles ($150 million to $200 million) for the construction. Chief city architect Sergei Kuznetsov had said previously that the park would cost nearly twice that amount. According to Khusnullin, the project will be paid for solely with government

funding without outside investors. “They would demand that there be commercial areas,”Khusnullin said. Despite the attention paid to Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s victory, the realized park may differ substantially from the concept. Another competition will be held to select the chief designer of the park, who will work according to a technical assignment developed by city planners. Kuznetsov, who will head the committee to select the designer, said the design firm would likely be a Russian company. “We do not have any law that says that the team that wins the concept competition must be the chief designer,” Kuznetsov said, adding“but Diller Scofidio + Renfro will of course participate in the realization of the project.” Work is scheduled to begin next year and should be completed by 2018. Read the full story and see more images at

Read more about L.G.B.T. life in Russia and the anti-gay propaganda law at




Multiple microclimate zones and a pedestrian bridge are some of the winning features of the concept for Zaryadye Park, which will be built along the Moscow River.

The third-annual Russia Day on the New York Stock Exchange Monday was disrupted by L.G.B.T. activists protesting Russia’s anti-gay propaganda legislation. The controversial legislation, enacted last summer, prohibits the“promotion of non-traditional lifestyles to minors.” For the past two years, N.Y.S.E. Russia Day has involved an investor conference and a Russian delegation ringing the closing bell. This year, at the request of protestors, the conference venue refused to host the group and the offer to ring the closing bell was withdrawn. The conference went on at a different venue.

Mari Vanna Offers Russian Hospitality in New York

Foreigners Riots in a multiethnic Moscow neighborhood part of a larger problem



On Oct. 13, Russian TV channels broadcast live footage of thousands of people sweeping across

Moscow’s southern residential district of Biryulyovo, wrecking a local supermarket and breaking into a vegetable warehouse. The rioters overturned parked cars and kiosks that they suspected might be owned by immigrants. The angry crowd was made up mostly of nationalist youth from across Moscow. The nationalists

For each bottle of vodka,

For each Moscow traffic jam,

For each of you,

had come to Biryulyovo in support of 40 local residents who were demanding justice forYegor Shcherbakov. Shcherbakov, 25, an ethnic Russian, was stabbed on the night of Oct. 10 after he and his girlfriend were confronted by a mugger on their way home from a club. CONTINUED ON PAGE 3

Immigrants from former Soviet republics living in Moscow are often employed on construction sites or in low-skill jobs such as street sweeping.


Russian authorites are forced to confront tensions between ethnic Russians and immigrants after nationalist-led rioting rocked Moscow in late October.


Debate Over Immigration Revived After Riots

there is a glass of kvas.

Russian Actor to Appear in Game of Thrones RBTH.RU/31593

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there is a magnificent subway station.

there is a Russia of your choice.






MOST READ Lawyer Denies Snowden Traded Secrets for Money


Pussy Riot Nadezhda Tolokonnikova is transferred to new prison following hunger strike

A Birthday Behind Bars for Band Member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, a member of the punk group Pussy Riot, marked her 24th birthday on Nov. 7 en route to a new prison in Siberia.

A turbulent two years


On Aug. 17, three members of the all-female punk band Pussy Riot — Maria Alekhina, Ekaterina Samutsevich and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova — were convicted of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred and sentenced to two years of imprisonment in a standard regime penal colony. Tolokonnikova began her sentence at a prison camp in the region of Mordovia, but began a hunger strike in October to protest conditions there. She was moved from Mordovia on Oct. 21, but her whereabouts were unknown during her transfer. She has four months remaining on her sentence.


Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, shown before her sentencing, is scheduled to be released in March 2014.

Tolokonnikov said that one of the reasons for his divorce from Tolokonnikova’s mother was because his wife didn’t want to

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova is now serving time in a prison camp in her native region of Krasnoyarsk. leave the north and move to Moscow. Nadya, then 5, stayed in Norilsk with her mother after her parents separated. Verzilov said that Tolokonnikova’s childhood in Norilsk factored in the decision by the authorities to transfer her to Krasnoyarsk.

“In the opinion of the FSIN [Russian federal prison service], her transfer to the Krasnoyarsk Territory should contribute to her resocialization, as she was born in the region,” Verzilov told Voice of America. Tolokonnikov said that his daughter also possesses a lot of important character traits that would help her survive the rest of her prison sentence. “At all times there were women who were revolutionary minded, who fanatically worked toward implementing their ideas, who fought for their rights and went to jail for their beliefs,” Tolokonnikov said, adding that his daughter is one of these types of women. Although Tolokonnikov re-

spects his daughter’s willingness to fight for her beliefs, he said he wouldn’t like for her to go into politics and would actually prefer if she emigrated after being released from prison. “I would have been very happy if she decided to emigrate,” Tolokonnikov said.“She could engage in public community work somewhere in France, for example, as a dissident. It is hard to say what Nadya will want. As far as I understand, she is not planning on leaving Russia. She will continue her education in the [Moscow State University] and will work as a human rights activist.” Originally published in Moskovsky Komsomolets


After more than three weeks without commuication from authorities on the whereabouts of Pussy Riot’s Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Russia’s Human Rights CommissionerVladimir Lukin revealed on Nov. 12 that she had been transferred to a prison in the Siberian region of Krasnoyarsk. Tolokonnikova’s husband Peter Verzilov confirmed that his wife was indeed in Krasnoyarsk, in a penal colony in the village of Nizhny Ingash.Verzilov also confirmed reports that Tolokonnikova was in the prison hospital, but noted this was not because she has tuberculosis, as was rumored, but because her health had been compromised by her hunger strike. Tolokonnikova’s supporters claim that her move from a prison camp in Mordovia was a reaction to the hunger strikes and her open letters about the prison conditions. Tolokonnikova was sentenced last summer to two years’ imprisonment for her participation in Pussy Riot’s 2012 punk prayer, anti-Kremlin protest in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior. Tolokonnikova’s father, Andrei Tolokonnikov, said that his daughter should be able to cope with the conditions in Siberia since she was born in the remote northern Russian city of Norilsk. “Our Nadya is a northern girl,” he said.“Just like her mother and me, she was born beyond the polar circle.”



1) Tolokonnikova’s husband Peter Verzilov and their daughter, Gera. 2) Andrei Tolokonnikov spoke to reporters on his daughter’s birthday.

Security New order would allow security services to access private, online communication

Laws New law holds relatives responsible

Web Users to Be Watched

Families to Pay for Acts of Terror

Internet users are up in arms over a proposal by Russia’s communications ministry to implement a Prism-like system of electronic surveillance. YAROSLAVA KIRYUKHINA

Russia’s Ministry of Communications has drafted an order that would require Internet providers to install monitoring equipment to give the country’s security services access to all traffic through their servers. The proposal stipulates that from July 1, 2014, all Internet providers should buy and install recording equipment that would store up to 12 hours of Internet traffic, with direct access provided to the F.S.B. Under the new intiative, all users’ account names on email services, I.P. addresses, phone numbers and the whereabouts of users of Skype, Google Voice and otherVoIP services will fall under authorities’ control. Russian Internet users voiced their concern over the initiative immediately after it was announced on Oct. 21, fearing that the move would lead to the kind of government surveillance revealed by Edward Snowden. Experts, however, see no reason to panic, because under current law, Internet and telecommunications operators are required to provide information about their clients’ phone number and location to the security services. Up to this point, however, they are have not been obligated to store this data. According to Russian daily



A new order would provide private emails to the F.S.B.

Kommersant, telecommunications company VimpelCom, one of Russia’s“big three”mobile providers, has sent a letter of complaint to the ministry, saying that the proposed order violates the privacy provisions of the Russian Constitution.VimpelCom argued in its letter that no mail, telephone or other communications may be monitored without a court order. The ministry issued a statement to calm wary Internet users, which read in part: “The system is not a threat to a law abiding citizens; it only brings additional security.” Russian President Vladimir

Putin has previously called data surveillance an acceptable measure if done within the law, adding that surveillance “is becoming a global phenomenon in the context of combating international terrorism,” and that, in Russia, “you cannot just go and tap into someone’s phone conversation without a warrant issued by court.”

Russia’s version of Prism? Russian tech expert Eldar Murtazin says that Russian security services have had access to Russian Internet communications since 2008, when obligatory con-

nection of servers’ dataflow to the F.S.B.’s Operational-Investigative System was introduced. “Now, the F.S.B. is simply upgrading the existing system in cooperation with Russia’s Communications Ministry. And, while the information volume is growing exponentially, F.S.B. servers cannot handle the data stream,” Murtazin wrote in his blog, indicating that this problem is why the new order will require telecommunications companies to store data. “They want to keep doing what they have been doing, just spreading the workload,” wrote the expert. Andrei Soldatov, an author of several books on the Russian security services, says that the Russian surveillance system is more advanced than the N.S.A.’s Prism. “There has also been a massive increase in its activity recently, provoked in part by the Moscow opposition protests … and by the changes in the political situation,” he told the the newspaper Moskovskiye Novosti. According to Soldatov, the surveillance system known as SORM was initially developed by the F.S.B.’s predecessor, the K.G.B., in the mid-1980s to monitor telephone traffic. The system itself is quite simple: After obtaining a court warrant, the F.S.B. can order an Internet provider to buy, install and maintain a SORM device on its networks. Under current law, the F.S.B. is not required to disclose any information about whom it is monitoring and why, or even show the warrant to the provider.

WWII Lend-Lease Posters: campaigning for Soviet troops

1920s Soviet fashion: Leather jackets and geometric patterns

Under recently enacted legislation, families of terrorists may have their assets confiscated to compensate victims of terrorist acts. MARINA OBRAZKOVA RBTH

Families of convicted terrorists will be liable for payments to victims of terrorist acts, according to a new Russian law passed on November 17. The new legislation states that “compensation for damages as a result of terrorist attacks are at the expense of the person who committed them, and at the expense of close relatives and other persons with whom [the terrorist] developed personal relationships.” The law creates a mechanism to examine the origin of assets of the terrorist and his or her family members, and if the examination finds that there are sufficient reasons to believe that the assets in question were acquired through terrorist activities, those assets will be confiscated and used to pay compensation to victims of terrorist attacks. The families of suspected terrorists will have to face questions only if and when the suspect has been convicted, and once the court ruling has entered into force. In the event of suicide attacks, positive identification and DNA testing of the terrorist’s body will most likely be considered sufficient evidence.

Alexander Cherkasov, the head of the human rights group Memorial, doubts that the new law will be an effective deterrent. “The question is: Does the new legislation target only ill-gotten assets, or any assets owned by the terrorists’ relatives? This must not become some form of collective punishment meted out to people who may have had no idea what their brother or uncle were up to,”Cherkasov said.“Such collective punishment is actually what the terrorists do.” Andrei Epifantsev, an expert in Caucasian affairs, argues that collective responsibility is actually part of the Caucasian tradition. “I support these amendments; there is plenty of evidence that such measures can be the most effective deterrent in the Caucasus. Such communities aid and abet terrorists purely on the collectivist principles: In other words, they believe that the terrorist is always right because he is one of them,” Epifantsev said. “As soon as people come to realize that they will be personally worse off because of some individual members of their community, they stop giving shelter and protection to those members.” The law will be effective, Epifantsev said, as long as “the government demonstrates that it means what it says.” Read more at

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All you ever wanted to know about Dostoevsky

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MOST READ Understanding the Specifics of Russian Xenophobia



Debate Revived After Riots CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1

The murder came after years of pent-up discontent among Biryulyovo residents with what they saw as indifference and inaction on the part of the local police and district administration. This was not the first time local residents had taken to the streets demanding stricter immigration controls and the closure of the nearby vegetable warehouse, which employs thousands of immigrants and is widely viewed by locals as a nest of crime. The face of Shcherbakov’s suspected murderer, which was captured on CCTV cameras, strongly resembled those of immigrants from the Caucasus. About 400 arrests were made after the riot, but within two days, the protesters’ demands were met in full. The best detectives were i nvo lve d i n i nve s t i g a t i n g Shcherbakov’s murder, and the suspected perpetrator was tracked down and delivered personally to the Russian interior minister. The warehouse, the largest such facility in Europe, was closed, officially for breaches of sanitation regulations.


Warehouse “a nest of crime”

Russia’s demographic crisis means that the country could benefit from foreign workers, particulary in low-wage industries.

Attitudes towards immigrants have worsened over time

New call for visas The Biryulyovo events gave a new impetus to public discussions of whether visas should be introduced for citizens of Transcaucasian and Central Asian countries, most of which were part of the former Soviet Union. According to a survey conducted by the Levada Center polling agency in June this year, 84 percent of Russians support the idea. However, President Vladimir Putin has spoken against such a move, saying that it would prompt members of the Commonwealth of Independent States (C.I.S.) countries to turn away from Russia. As in United States, where the impact of immigration on jobs and public services is fodder for politicians and talk show hosts alike, unchecked immigration is

The poll on immigration was conducted by the Levada Center among 1,603 people from 45 Russian regions at the end of October.

beginning to worry ordinary Russians. Although polls suggest that the problem ranks only eighth on the list of the population’s greatest concerns, the proportion of those viewing immigrants as the cause of the country’s greatest

problems has increased from 7 percent to 27 percent over the past eight years.

Xenophobia on the rise According to sociologists, rising xenophobia in Russia first became

noticeable in the second half of the 1990s. “After the beginning of the [economic] reforms, following the frustration caused by the destruction of the [Soviet] social system, came the time of negative selfassertion and searches for a national identity,”said Lev Gudkov, the director of the Levada Center. “Since there was not much left to be proud of [in post-Soviet Russia], this self-assertion mostly took the form of people projecting their personal complexes and antipathies on to all who could be considered ‘other.’”

Criminals dodging prosecution Russian Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev said in September that he believed criminals were using visa-free travel between C.I.S. countries to avoid prosecution.


According to the Russian Investigative Committee, nearly one in six murders and one in three rapes recorded in Moscow in the first nine months of 2013 were committed by foreigners, despite Mayor Sergey Sobyanin’s statement that immigrants account for only around 5 percent of the population in Russia’s capital. All this adds fuel anti-immigrant sentiment, particularly in socially disadvantaged neighborhoods like Biryulyovo. The district, on the southern outskirts of Moscow, is isolated from the rest of the city with no subway line. The result is the lowest housing prices in Moscow, which makes Biryulyovo especially popular with immigrants working at the local vegetable warehouse, the district’s main employer. “Biryulyovo is where people with low incomes choose to live; xenophobia is higher there because of the people’s overall proneness to conflicts and readiness to vent their aggression at foreigners,” Gudkov said. And Biryulyovo is not the only community with this combination of factors, so more violence may be yet to come.“Such a social environment is common to other neighborhoods, so the Biryulyovo protests and riots will most likely be replicated [elsewhere in Moscow] in the next several months,” Gudkov said.

Integration on the agenda The Biryulyovo riots have already prompted the Russian government to review its immigration policy. The Duma is discussing amendments to tighten immigration laws and compel foreigners to integrate into Russian society. Various measures are being discussed, from fingerprinting foreign workers to setting up a special force to fight ethnic crime. A proposed law would require immigrants to learn Russian. In the meantime, the flow of people to Russia shows no signs of abating. According to a United Nations report released in September, Russia ranks second in the world after the United States for the number of immigrants, with 11 million foreigners compared with 143.5 million Russian nationals.

Giving Nonprofits and companies that want to help them make their own way in Russia

As Russian charities grow more entreprenuerial, companies look to increase their levels of corporate giving — even without government incentives. MARIA PRIKHODINA SPECIAL TO RBTH

Darya Alexeyeva, the director of a workshop for young adults with developmental disabilities, felt like celebrating when her students earned $6,000 at a recent craft fair. “It was an enormous sum compared with previous events,”Alexeyeva said. What made the results of this craft fair so different from previous ones was the combination of social networking and a profit-sharing arrangement that gave the students more of a vested interest in the outcome. “As we were gearing up for the fair, we started promoting our products via

social networks and selling them online,”Alexeyeva said.“As a result, almost everything went by the time of the fair so we had to make new items urgently.” Her students, however, were not particularly motivated to put in the extra effort needed to create more bird feeders, magnets and other small craft items. Then Alexeyeva and her colleagues decided to give the students part of the profit from the creations’ sales. For every item sold, the profit remaining after deducting the cost of materials was split evenly between the student who made the item and the organization, Step Up (Vverkh). The decision to give the money back to the students meant that the organization could not cite the program in any applications for grant money, but Alexeyeva believes the decision resulted in a far more valuable outcome.

grant money, it may help attract attention from businesses looking at expanding their charitable initiatives. Step Up, which has operated in Moscow for about a decade, has benefited from financial support from Merrill Lynch, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Linklaters, Globus and Ernst&Young — and the hope is that Russian companies may soon join this list. Corporate charity is fairly common among Western firms, and many governments, including those in the U.S. and the U.K., have legislation in place to make charitable giving an attractive business practice. Now corporate charity among Russian firms is poised to take off. According to Anton Soroko, an analyst with the consulting firm Finam,“Investment in social business projects is on the rise. The explanation for this is sim-

“We could have launched a series of master classes in occupational therapy instead and claim a grant for this, but we chose to run practical workshops for the children and turn their work into

Experts say that the value of social services provided by Russian businesses could reach $450 billion by 2020. real money. It’s not even about the things we build or the money we make but rather about our students getting involved in something tangible and constructive, being able to earn their own money, and working in groups. Never before have they had such an experience.” Although the economics lesson may not help Step Up win any


Nonprofits Begin to Reap the Benefits of Corporate Giving Nonprofit Step Up (in Russian, above) benefits from corporate giving.

ple: significant demand for highquality social services has already formed in many major Russian cities.” Data from the Russian Agency for Strategic Initiatives shows that the value of social services provided by Russian business, which range from donating money to nonprofits to making jobs available to those with developmental disabilities, could reach $450 billion by 2020. “Further development of social entrepreneurship is being hampered by the relatively slow pace of structural reforms, but there is hope that the process will be sped

up in the next few years,” oroko said. Some are not waiting for the government to improve the conditions for corporate charity. Uralsib Bank has partnered with Opora Rossii, an advocacy group for small- and medium-sized businesses, and the Our Future Fund to provide assistance to businesses interested in engaging in corporate charity. Uralsib has also begun a program that gives loans with lower interest rates to companies involved in charity. Read more about charity at

Healthcare The market is booming, but firm’s reputation unclear

Regions For a second year, volunteers rid Arctic region of waste

Delegating Authority: a Hazard for Pharma

Arctic Cleanup Continues


Twenty years ago a delegation from St. Petersburg went to Switzerland to convince pharmaceutical producer Nycomed Group to set up production in Russia. One of the participants in this trip was a then little-known aide named Vladimir Putin. Today, Putin is in his third term as president of Russia, Nycomed operates a $97 million manufacturing plant in the country and the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies are lining up to set up shop in one of the world’s fastest growing markets. Russian spending on healthcare has nearly quadrupled over the last de-

cade to the tune of $130 billion. But multinationals have reasons to be wary. By 2010, Novo Nordisk, a world leader in diabetic medication, controlled 43.1 percent of Russia’s insulin market. Then, Russia’s Federal Antimonopoly Service (F.A.S.) made an unprecedented decision to fine

Companies face pressure to operate transparently as well as to abide by all local legislation. the company nearly $3 million for“unjustified avoidance of fulfilling supply contracts.” Novo Nordisk, the regulator said, did not have transparent procedures for choosing its suppliers. The case was indicative of what many local offices of internation-

Bely island, a Soviet-era dumping ground for industrial waste, is getting a new lease on life thanks to a program sponsored by a local governor. ELENA MILYAEVA ROSSIYSKAYA GAZETA

On Bely Island, the northernmost point of the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous District, a general cleanup that began last year at the initiative of District Gover-


As pharmaceutical companies expand into the Russian market, the case of Novo Nordisk has exposed a contradiction between sales and transparency.

al companies face: on the one hand, they were under increasing pressure from their head offices to operate transparently. On the other, the local management — having received a carte blanche to fulfill its plans — often wrongly applied anti-corruption criteria while choosing local distributors. This situation coincided with a renewed emphasis by the U.S. Justice Department to enforce the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, or F.C.P.A. The Russian representatives of Novo Nordisk used these criteria to explain their choice of partners, despite the fact that their current distributors ended up embroiled in corruption scandals. In the end, Novo Nordisk settled with the F.A.S. and paid a fine, but last month the regulator again sent a warning that the company wasn’t choosing distributors fairly. The actions of Novo Nordisk’s Moscow office have threatened the company’s international reputation. The case has become important to other global players interested in entering foreign markets and offering a carte blanche to local management.

nor Dmitry Kobylkin is continuing. This summer, 33 volunteers cleaned up eight dilapidated buildings and two large reservoirs for preserving petroleum. They collected and loaded onto barges nearly 300 tons of scrap metal. Dmitry Golikov, one of the volunteers, said the participants in the program had to undergo special training before starting the cleanup effort. The YamalNenets Autonomous District covers nearly 300,000 square miles. Snow started falling there in September, and average temperatures are already below zero.

“The working conditions that awaited us were extreme,” Golikov said. “Even in the summer, the air temperature is low — no higher than 7 degrees Celsius. The physical labor is hard and, above all, there are a lot of polar bears.” Since the cleanup began in 2012, volunteers have cleaned 60 percent of the island’s area of trash that had accumulated during the Soviet era. Kobylkin said that work will continue in the future with the end goal of restoring more than 500 hectares of land. After the cleanup is completed, there are plans to create an international center for Arctic ecological research on the island. The Bely Island cleanup is part of the Russian government’s policy in the Arctic region, which, in addition to ecological efforts, includes investment projects and the revival of the Northern Sea Route linking European and Asian ports.




In Depth


MOST READ Russian Bookworms Meet in Krasnoyarsk



1) American artist Rachel Owens appears with her installation at the 10th Krasnoyarsk Museum Biennial


Regions The word “Siberia” conjures images of snow-covered tundra, but artists show there’s more to the region than just ice

2) A shot from Alexei Balabanov’s film, Brother 2. A Balabanov retrospective is coming to BAM in December.

Artistic Collaboration Brings Siberia to Brooklyn RBTH

This year, the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) began a partnership with the Mikhail Prokhorov Fund to present a series of artistic works intended to introduce Americans to Russian artists and American artists to Siberia. The program, entitled TransCultural Express, has taken a broad view of art, including in the inaugural season a literary evening with the Russian-American authors Masha Gessen and Keith Gessen; a film retrospective; dance company tours; and a large-scale art installation by Irina Korina. BAM and the Prokhorov Fund, which is based in the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk, worked together for the first time in the summer of 2012 with a tour of the Maly Drama Theatre of St. Petersburg, which brought The Cherry Orchard to BAM. TransCultural Express, which is the Prokhorov Fund’s first partnership with a U.S. institution, grew out of that experience. BAM has a long history of collaborating with Russian artists, beginning with the 1909 performance at BAM of Russian prima ballerina Anna Pavlova. During the 1930s, there were tours of opera and ballet troupes and the Don Cossack Choir. During the Soviet era, the focus of the programs was on cultural exchange. In the 1990s, however, when the

certainly some of the most trenchant and indelible films of the post-Soviet era, many of which have never been released in the United States,” said David Reilly from the BAM film program BAMcinematek. Olga Wad, the curator of the project from the Russian side, said this first year of the program has been a resounding success and negotiations are underway for the 2014–2015 program. “There is a very energetic process of exchanging ideas. BAM puts forward its proposals; our fund offers its own ideas; in the end, we are creating the program interesting to the audience both in Russia and the U.S.” Explore Siberia in our special section and plan your own trip to this unique region. See a slideshow of contemporary Krasnoyarsk at


There’s Just Something About Siberia When did you visit Russia for the first time? It was in 1993. I went with my friends, artists Vitaly Komar and Alex Melamid. They emigrated in the ’70s and had not come back for 15 years. They were friends with a man in Ulan-Ude who wanted to bring people for a cultural exchange. So then we went there. That time we visited Baikal. Everything is very different now. That was the Soviet Union that we thought it was (like in a joke). I started my book telling about smells of Russia, these different exotic and exciting smells (diesel fuel, wet concrete). And I almost haven’t smelled them on this trip. The Soviets built everything with concrete, and when concrete gets wet it smells and when I smell that smell, it makes me think of Russia.

train in Siberia, you see only trees out your window for three days. Is that true? Yes. We traveled with BAM to Tynda, where we took another train to the town of Aldan. And I think we were in the train for 52 hours because it was really a slow train. And when you look out the window, you can see just trees and snow, you fall asleep, you wake up and it’s the same. There was nothing: no houses, no people. And then you come to a town with a crazy train station — for example, one building had a gigantic clock. Or when you come into a station and it’s –40. (This is when I learned that –40 Fahrenheit and –40 Celsius are the same) and you see guys are standing around with big beards. And then you go out and your whole car would be completely covered with frost.

How many times did you go to Siberia? I was there five times: in winter and in summer, in different times of year. Usually there were people who helped me; only one time I was alone. My longest trip was with a diesel step van. I gave my guides money to buy a car but, I guess, they bought something cheaper ... And then we flew; we took the BAM [The Baikal-Amur Mainline railway]; we took the Trans-Siberian [Railway]. The craziest way was in a boat in the Bering Sea; that was terrifying. But I was scared in the car, as well.

Can you describe briefly what Siberia is for you? It’s frost, really cold air and cigarette smoke. And trees and snow. And the sound of snow when you walk on it when it’s really, really cold. I saw the ice sculpture of Ermak in Yakutsk that is 20 feet tall. I saw a sable in the wild when I was in Sakha. For me that was incredible — a sable, the animal. Unbelievable.

People say that when you travel by

Do you think that Siberians have a unique character different from people in other parts of Russia? I think Siberians are more independent-minded and they are friendly in a way that people in Moscow are not.



Russian-speaking population of New York had reached tens of thousands, visits by Russian artists to BAM became a way to connect with the new Russia. Irina Prokhorova, the head of the Mikhail Prokhorov Fund, who spearheaded the project, said that both concepts are present in TransCultural Express. “It is very important for us to showcase the vibrant contemporary arts of Russia today, particularly coming from Russia’s regions, and to experience the best of modern American culture. In BAM, we see a kindred soul and an ideal partner for this exciting exchange of cultures and ideas.” During 2013, the first year of the collaboration, TransCultural Express held several activities in both New York and Russia. A week of contemporary Russian cinema was held at BAM sites and a restored copy of Andrei Tarkovsky’s film“Nostalgia” was shown for two weeks. The Philadelphia-based dance team IIIStyle & Peace Production brought its unique form of hiphop, tap and beatbox to Moscow and Krasnoyarsk, where the group performed and held master classes. American artist Rachel Owens took part in the Krasnoyarsk Museum Biennale, which ran until the beginning of November, and a retrospective of films by Russian film director Alexei Balabanov, who died in May, is scheduled in BAM as part of this program from Dec. 4 to Dec. 10. “Our hope is that this retrospective will help inspire a newfound enthusiasm for what are


Mikhail Prokhrov is known in New York as the owner of the Brooklyn Nets, but now the charitable fund that bears his name is bringing art from Siberia to the borough.


Ian Frazier is a writer for The New Yorker and the author of the nonfiction works “Great Plains” (1989), “On the Rez” (2000) and “Travels in Siberia” (2010).

In 1901, British author John Foster Fraser wrote a book called “The Real Siberia” in which he compared the region with the United States and said that it had the potential to some day be as developed as that country. Do you think there is any truth in this prediction? No. Parts of it are really developed with gas and stuff like that. They built BAM because of minerals along that line. But by the time they finished it, the Soviet times were over and there were already not many people to develop the area. The author was from an optimistic generation and the future is hard to guess. Now, because of global warming, Siberia could be under water. Who knows? But I have visited big places and I am sure that cities that were closed cities still have to become modern. Interview prepared by Alexandra Guzeva

Read the full interview at



I was impressed with the ability of people to repair their cars. They were just stopping, finding a part by the side of the road and fixing them.


The beauty of Siberia took me much by surprise. I read many things about Baikal but I had never seen water that clear in my life.


In America, the idea of riding into the sunset, riding west, is hopeful. For Russians, riding east is both exciting and frightening. If you look at the roads of Siberia, how they disappear into the horizon, you have mixed feelings: maybe you’re on your way to Beijing or maybe to exile or prison.


I went to Irkutsk and I saw a museum of the Decembrists, and I read everything about them. I even read the memoirs of Yakushkin in Russian with a dictionary and it took me about 18 months.


In the U.S., the tumbleweed is a symbol in Hollywood Westerns — this weed rolling along in a dusty wind. But it’s a Russian plant that never existed in the American West before Russian immigrants brought it with them.




MOST READ Doing Business in Russia: Tricks of the Trade




Internet Russian browser launches new features in its latest attempt to market itself as a serious competitor for web services

Yandex Takes Another Shot at Google SPECIAL TO RBTH

Russian Internet giant Yandex is taking its competition with Google to the next level. At the end of October,Yandex launched two different services for mobile application developers: an analytics system for mobile applications and a cloud-based system for app developers the company has dubbed “Cocaine.” The analytics tool is actually an expansion of the Yandeks. Metrika program, which the company launched in 2009. The original Yandeks.Metrika allowed website owners to analyze the behavior of users and the effectiveness of advertising campaigns. Metrika for apps, however, is designed to make it easier for developers to get feedback from users of their products on both Android platforms and Apple products. The service collects information on how apps are used and can sort the data with various filters including geo-location, application version, type and version of operating system, type of device (tablet or smartphone), model and the manufacturer, screen resolution, language, mobile provider, connection type, and the user’s actions and session. In addition, the tool can identify any

What does “Yandex” mean? The word “Yandex” was invented by the company’s two principal founders, Ilya Segalovich and Arkady Volozh, 20 years ago. At that time, Segalovich was experimenting with different derivatives of words that described the essence of the technology. As a result, the team came up with “yandex” — adding the Russian letter “Ya,” which translates as “I,” to index. The name originally stood for “yet another index.” Today, Yandex is synonymous with Internet search in Russia.


62% of Internet searches in Russia are made via Yandex, compared with 26 percent for Google.

Yandex’s corporate logo is well known to users of the Russian-language Internet.

Nicholas Turubar, an expert on mobile technology, considers the new Yandex products the company’s attempt to increase its market position vis-à-vis Google.“By creating mobile metrics, Yandex seeks to consolidate its position on the international market of mobile applications and to support its own Yandex.Store,” Tu-

Consumers Russia’s burgeoning market for kids gets a new player

Walt Disney to Move Into Russian Retail Disney plans to open stores of its flagship brand in Russia while exploring the possibility of smaller branded outlets negotiated through a local subsidiary. EVGENIYA PERTSEVA, PAVEL BELAVIN KOMMERSANT

Walt Disney has set its sights on Russian retail. According to reports, the entertainment giant is planning to open two Disney Stores in Moscow and one in St. Petersburg as early as next year. In addition, the company is seeking partners to launch two new chains — Disney Play and Disney Style, which will specialize in toys and clothing, respectively. Walt Disney earns 8 percent of its global revenue from retail, a total of nearly $2.6 billion. In Moscow, Walt Disney is exploring facilities at the Mega malls in the southern part of the city at Teply Stan and Belaya Dacha, and in St. Petersburg at Galeria on Ligovsky Prospekt. According to calculations by DNA Realty, the maximum yearly rental cost of these three locations could total $2.7 million. Elena Yamschikova, a representative of Walt Disney in Russia, declined to comment, although another source from the company confirmed the reports. Walt Disney currently manages 216 Disney Stores in North America, 106 in Europe and 47 in Japan. Walt Disney Co. ranks among the largest media businesses in the world. Its assets include Walt Disney Studios; television channels ABC, Disney Channel and ESPN; theme parks; and publishing and music divisions. Its

develop two chains. One of these, Disney Play, will specialize in toys; the other, Disney Style, will specialize in clothing featuring popular cartoon characters. Plans call for each chain to have 100 stores of between 1,0001,500 square feet each. For this project, the Russian partner will negotiate independently with Disney suppliers and pay the company royalties for use of the brand. The timeframe for this project is not known. DNA Realty estimates the cost of opening the 100 stores could total $37.5 million to $60 million. Evgeny Guscha, development director at DNA Realty, said that finding appropriate space will be the biggest challenge for the new stores. “There’s a shortfall of quality space on the market; retailers are already curtailing their plans or exploring not the most successful retail centers,” Guscha said. Darya Yadernaya of Esper Group agreed that the high cost of rental space could require Disney to charge more for its goods, making them less accessible to local consumers. However, the market potential may be too tempting to pass up. According to data compiled by Russia’s Ministry of Industry and Trade, the Russian market for children’s goods in 2012 topped $21.3 billion. Games and toys accounted for $3.9 billion. The largest retail operators on this market are the Russian chains Detsky Mir, Deti, Korablik, Begemot and Dochki-synochki, although their combined share is less than 20 percent of the market, leaving plenty of room for competitors. Leading foreign operators in clothing and children’s retail with a robust representation in Russia include Spanish chain Imaginarium and Hanley’s from the U.K. (specializing in toys) and British firms Mamas & Papas and Mothercare (goods for newborns and mothers).

total capitalization is $123 billion. The company opened a Russian office in 2006, mainly to work on entertainment projects. Disney is a co-owner of the Russian film distributor Walt Disney Studios Sony Pictures Releasing, which is currently responsible for distribution of “Stalingrad,” Russia’s submission for the best foreign film Oscar. Disney also co-owns the Russian version of the Disney television channel, which handles its own film and television production. Last year, the rev-

Walt Disney earns 8 percent of its global revenue from retail, a total of nearly $2.6 billion. One Disney retail store will specialize in toys, the other one in clothing featuring cartoon characters. enues of the Russian subsidiary under Russian reporting standards totaled more than $83 million, according to data compiled by SPARK-Interfax. According to SPARK-Interfax, licensing of consumer goods makes up onethird of Walt Disney’s revenues in Russia. Disney has other plans for Russia besides its traditional retail stores. Sources in the company say that the company’s Russian office is conducting a tender among nongrocery retailers to

ing systems. Yandex.Store, launched in 2012, consists of two parts: one for developers and one for users. The store currently offers more than 50,000 applications, according to its official site. There is a precedent for blocking Yandex applications. Facebook banned Yandex’s Wonder mobile app from receiving infor-

rubar said.“However, no one can predict how Google will react. There is a risk that the company will attempt to prevent its competitor from developing its own app store.” Should this happen,Yandex will not be able to integrate with GooglePlay, the largest app store for devices with Android operat-

mation about Facebook users within hours of the app’s launch. At the beginning of this year, Yandex had 62 percent of the Internet search market in Russia, compared with 26 percent for Google. Yandex issued an I.P.O. on the Nasdaq exchange in 2011 and is currently valued at more than $11 billion.


Russia Will Not Abandon Market Reforms Boris Titov became presidential ombudsman for entrepreneurs’ rights in 2012. RBTH spoke to him about his office’s efforts to improve the country’s business climate. How many complaints has your administration received from entrepreneurs? To date, we have received more than 4,000 complaints. This was a huge amount, which required the creation of an institution for handling complaints. In the past year, we have established such a system. Its main distinguishing feature is that it is the most publicly open institution in Russia. What is the most difficult part of dealing with entrepreneurs’ complaints? It is very important to distinguish between those who are right, and those who are wrong. We receive very many requests from people who are trying to use us in order to improve their own situation. Our public procedures center, Business Against Corruption, must first determine the“purity” of the request. Can foreign entrepreneurs address complaints to you? Yes. For this we have a special


Before becoming business ombudsman, Boris Titov served as chairman of Delovaya Rossiya, a nonprofit group that lobbied for pro-business policies. He also chaired the ethics committee of the All-Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs.



drawbacks of running the application on mobile devices. For example, it can show how many glitches Russian users experience per week when running the application on a tablet. App developers can receive data fromYandeks.Metrika in real time or over a long period. Unlike Google Analytics for mobile apps, Yandeks.Metrika does not yet provide data on conversions (number of installations following a click on an ad) or performance (such as the number of users who make a purchase with an app).Yandex does plan to offer these features in the future. “The next step in developing the service will be to offer marketing tools. With their help, developers will be able to see the traffic sources, funnels, conversions and much more,” a representative of the company’s press service said. Yandeks.Metrika for applications is available for free to developers worldwide in English and Russian. Cocaine, the name of Yandex’s new cloud service, is an acronym for Configurable Omnipotent Custom Applications Integrated Network Engine, but also reflects company hopes that the service will become addictive. The service, which will be used to create individualized cloud hosting applications, is an open source platform (PaaS) similar to Google App Engine or Heroku. It is not completely clear how Yandex plans to monetize the project.


With the launch of an improved analysis tool and its own cloud system, Russia’s leading search engine hopes to grow its market share at home and abroad.

ombudsman for the protection of foreign investments. However, we received far fewer applications from foreign entrepreneurs than from Russian ones. Foreign entrepreneurs in our country have it much better than our domestic, small and medium enterprises. The law enforcement system protects them much better. You have also proposed an amnesty for illegal migrants. What will this achieve? If we suddenly deport all the migrant workers, the economy of the country will just crumble! Today, Russia desperately needs workers. One in every 15 jobs is

taken by a migrant, and Russia’s need for workers will only grow. How do you see the further development of business in Russia? Russia will not swerve from the path of market economy. It has no other way to stimulate the growth of entrepreneurship. We used to build the economy as a resource-based one, where we imported everything and produced little. Now Russia does not use all its available opportunities in a very good way; however, things are changing for the better. Interview prepared by Gleb Fedorov

Russian Entrepreneurs telling you their success stories.

Originally published in Kommersant


$83 million The revenue of Walt Disney Company in the C.I.S. in 2012. The company opened a Russian office in 2006.

$21.3 billion The Russian market for children’s goods in 2012, in which games and toys accounted for $3.9 billion.

$2.7 million AP

Disney manages 216 Stores in North America and 106 in Europe.

The maximum yearly rental cost of three locations for Disney stores in Moscow and St. Petersburg.

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rom the start of the 1990s, Russia broadly built an enlightened liberal society. The country was integrated as a partner into global political, financial and banking systems, and was no longer a center of power lined up against the rest of human civilization. Today, Russians are indisputably availed of fundamental liberal freedoms; anyone with the requisite resources can move freely around the country and abroad; there are hundreds of sufficiently independent media; and with five minutes of Internet research, Russians can dig up a ton of dirt on pretty much any state official. Residents and guests of the Russian Federation are able to open any business within the bounds of the law and freely dispose of revenues earned here, including send them out of the country, provided that its strictly for personal use. People can access any literature and music, and there is an independent film scene and even freer theater. Droves of private clinics sprang into existence along with private schools and universities, and hundreds of other firms and institutions now provide all manner of private services — competition is there before your eyes. Upon close inspection, no one could seriously try to argue that Russia as a liberal country differs substantially in any way from others that chose the liberal course of development, such as Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Romania, Poland, Turkey, Ukraine and the Czech Republic. Moreover, enlightened Russian liberals prefer to orient themselves toward such countries as Switzerland, although it is not so clear what we share in national, historical or geographical terms to allow us to inherit from the successes of this genuinely comfortable country. If we are talking about models of liberal reforms, is it not more feasible to cite such countries as Greece, Italy or Spain, with their looming economic collapse and mass of intractable social problems? True, we have a high level of corruption. But there are a whole lot more typically liberal countries that also have serious corruption issues. True, we have political prisoners, including some of my own associates with antiliberal views. But surely no one believes that participants of antigovernment actions in other liberal countries would immediately find a place in parliament and not, for example, in jail.




n Saturday, Nov. 23, 1963, the Soviet headlines were catchy as usual: “Uzbek cotton growers set new record,”“Prepare now for spring,” and a report on a visit by then-Soviet Leader Leonid Brezhnev to Iran. The news of the assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy was placed in the lower part of the front page, barely discernible from other international events. However, the priority of local news over international was the norm for Soviet newspapers, and no one raised an eyebrow. But the Soviet reader, savvy at interpreting the meaning of political events from circumstantial signs, such as the arrangement of leaders atop Lenin’s Mausoleum during the May Day and Revolution Day parades, understood with just a casual glance at the seemingly inconspicuous column inches that the news from the U.S. had alarmed the Soviet leadership to an extraordinary degree. Published under a portrait of Kennedy were the texts of telegrams of condolence from all the top leaders of the country — even one from Nina Khrushcheva, the wife of the First Secretary of the Communist Party, addressed to Jacqueline Kennedy. A few days later, the Soviet Union dispatched Khruschev confidant Anastas Mikoyan to the funeral ceremony in Washington — the only socialist country to send a representative. Stories on Kennedy s life and personality, and analyses of the circumstances of his death, were published daily in the newspapers until the spring of the following year, sometimes taking up several double-spreads. It should be said that even before the tragic events in Dallas, the image of John F. Kennedy in


the Soviet press had acquired traits wholly uncharacteristic of any other White House leader during the Cold War period. Kennedy faced almost no criticism, and his policy initiatives often received cautious but at the same time obvious approval. Two episodes in particular were cited by Soviet propagandists: Kennedy’s speech on June 10, 1963, in which he called for peaceful coexistence between socialist and capitalist countries, and his administration’s signing in August 1963 of a treaty to ban nuclear tests in three environments. The papers constantly highlighted Kennedy and his team’s political standoff

months of his life really and so radically change the assessment of his personality in the Soviet Union? A more likely explanation is that Kennedy’s image was a product of Soviet propaganda and was the result of his help in resolving a key issue — for both the Soviet leadership and Khrushchev personally. As revealed in his memoirs, Khrushchev to his dying day was anxious about the international community’s assessment of the Cuban missile crisis. The accusation of cowardice and shameful backpedaling under U.S. pressure could only be countered by proving that, in reality,

Even before the tragic events in Dallas, John F. Kennedy faced almost no criticism in the Soviet press.

Kennedy’s assassination punched a hole through the carefully constructed drama of Soviet-U.S. relations.

against right-wing forces, racists from the Southern states, and ardent anti-Communists, who, by the fall of 1963, were personified by future Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater. The massive campaign in the Soviet press, replete with heartfelt sympathy toward the young, forward-looking president, cut down in his prime, had a surprisingly powerful effect, the traces of which can be found in modern Russia. Many of the older generation still single out Kennedy from other U.S. presidents, remember the most important events connected with his name, and are always ready to offer their version of the mystery of his assassination. Why did this president, who in fact clashed with Moscow more than any other, suddenly became a near icon, the embodiment of all things good and progressive in the eyes of the Kremlin? Did a handful of initiatives in the last

Soviet policy had served to seriously reduce the threat of a U.S. attack on Cuba. Since this reduction was, in essence, only as good as Kennedy’s word, it became necessary to turn the conniving, unprincipled go-getter as he appeared in the Soviet press in 1961 and 1962) into a progressive champion of peace and civil rights, and a trustworthy guy. Kennedy’s assassination was a terrible blow to the designs of the Soviet leadership, and it punched a hole through the carefully constructed drama of Soviet-U.S. relations. Less than a year later, Khrushchev was removed from all his posts and pensioned off. The Cuban gamble was one of the main, if unspoken, reasons. But the propaganda machine had no reverse gear. Perhaps nowhere else in the world were the events in Dallas interpreted so plainly and straightforwardly as in the Soviet Union. By Nov. 23, reporters from the scene had ac-


cused the“far right”of the act. It dovetailed nicely with what they had been writing for the past few months, and diverted attention from the dubious past of suspect Lee Harvey Oswald, who had lived for some time in the Soviet Union. This version soon became official. In a four-volume history of the United States published in Moscow in 1987, the authors of the relevant section were tightlipped:“It was clear that Kennedy fell victim to hysteria and int o l e r a n c e , i m p l a n t e d by right-wing circles.” In the Soviet Union, as well as in the United States, the ruling elites tried to inculcate into the public consciousness the most convenient version of the assassination from a propagandist point of view. Both the conclusions of the Warren Commission on the “lone assassin,” and the Soviet concept of “right-wing conspiracy,”were designed to airbrush the other far less salubrious explanations — such as the rumors of C.I.A. or K.G.B. involvement. Interestingly, the wider American public refused to accept the official point of view, while people in the Soviet Union, highly skeptical of much of what appeared in the Soviet newspapers, took their government’s version to heart. This is perhaps down to the prestige enjoyed by many of the international journalists who covered Dallas, who were a special, privileged caste among Soviet reporters. The over-hyped “right-wing conspiracy”has been passed down from generation to generation, so much so that Russians today are the least likely people of all to question who killed President Kennedy. Dr. Ivan Tsvetkov is an associate professor at the School of International Relations of St. Petersburg State University and an expert in U.S. domestic policy.

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Five Reasons Sochi Is the Next St. Petersburg

Forbes has named Russian President Vladimir Putin the world’s most powerful person. Does it follow that Russia is ascendant in geopolitics while the United States — and its president — are in decline? Russian and American experts debate the question.

The decision by Peter the Great to build a new capital for Russia on a swamp on the country’s northwest edge was a massive undertaking criticized by many. Are there parallels in President Vladimir Putin’s transformation of the Black Sea resort into an Olympic city?



Is Putin’s Forbes Ranking Really a Game Changer?

November Monthly Memo: Redrawing Eastern Europe

RD Quarterly: PostWithdrawal Afghanistan

The Eastern Partnership summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, in late November may change the dynamics of the relationship between the E.U. and six post-Soviet countries, effectively marking the end of Russia’s dominance in post-Soviet Eastern Europe. RD explores the implications of the expected moves.

Russia Direct’s final quarterly report of 2013 will feature analyses by Aleksander Sharavin of the Russian Institute of Political and Military Analysis, George Joffé of the University of Cambridge and Mark Katz of George Mason University. The report will be available to RD subscribers on Dec. 9.



True, we have specific problems with the media, and there are cases where journalists were forced to resign over their work. But in the liberal world there are also taboo themes and even journalists who sit in real bricks-andmortar jails for failing to observe these taboos. Our own president is surrounded by a liberal entourage and almost all of those close to him could hypothetically be a participant in antigovernment demonstrations, in the sense that they also espouse liberal values. Russia has yet to divide its parliament into Republicans and Democrats, who after forging a mutual nonaggression pact, will bounce power back and forth between themselves. The day will not be long in coming, but I for one do not want it to come to this. I do not want to live in your liberalism. All of us, liberals and antiliberals, need honest courts and ramps for the disabled, a functioning electoral system and a normal police force, social protection and decent medical care.

Freedom is not a synonym for liberalism. All too often freedom is seen as the antonym of liberalism. But who said that these are evidence of liberalism? Liberals have genuinely convinced themselves of some peculiar things: that a country that lives off oil and gas (exploited incidentally as a result of the deeply un-liberal policies of the Russian state) does in fact owe this existence to the untiring work of liberals and should be duly grateful; that all the good things in the world (freedom, chewing gum, wine, elections, good novels, ice cream, flowers, miniskirts) are liberal, and all the bad things (war, prison, emigration, jingoist films) are antiliberal. It would never occur to them that war, absence of disabled ramps, jingoistic films and prejudice on the grounds of nationality almost always take root in liberal countries, while China meanwhile is busy building up an enviable auto industry, and in Cuba they stage gay parades and shoot raunchy movies. Freedom is not a synonym for liberalism. All too often freedom is seen as the antonym of liberalism. Economic independence is even less a synonym for liberalism. And, ultimately, state independence is not a synonym of liberalism either. Zakhar Prilepin is an author and journalist. His opinion originally appeared in Svobodnaya Pressa.

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Greenpeace Support Overstated Dear Sirs, In reference to your comment by Chris Fleming (page 2, Oct. 16), I disagree with the assumption by this writer claiming that outside Russia there has been an uncharacteristic outpouring of support for the activists with protests being held in 45 countries. Our research into the increase of militancy and radicalization of the civil society, and the environmental movement found surprisingly wide and large public support for the Russian government’s reaction of detaining the Greenpeace activists by the public “outside Russia.” The statements made by Chris Fleming are not supported by the public view outside of Russia, and we should not be surprised if a similar overwhelming support for the Russian Federation’s decision is present. The statement is not only a misrepresentation of facts but reflects a narrow view and does not take into account that the voices against

Greenpeace are increasingly getting louder. The protests held in 45 countries were organized, paid and managed by Greenpeace itself or with help of, which collaborated in the protests in Istanbul. They are not generic outpourings of support by the public and discredit the otherwise peaceful environmental movement. The article also only covered a snapshot of policy changes underway. Besides being defeated and found guilty in U.S. courts, the New Zealand High Court cancelled the charity status of Greenpeace because of criminal behavior; Indonesia changed its N.G.O. laws; Germany applied a new tax ruling concerning N.G.O.s; and even the U.K. is currently reconsidering N.G.O. legislation. At the end of the day, the politics of Greenpeace, Nobel Peace Prize supporters, media blitzes and propaganda efforts by Greenpeace to free the activists aside, the legal argument of breaches of Russian Federation laws and/ or violation of the U.N. Convention of the Law of the Sea applies. Even for Greenpeace. ANDREAS WIMMER, PRINCETON, NJ




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The Arts




Literature A new ad campaign hopes to make classic books relevant to the digital generation

In the Soviet Union, a Culture of Solidarity Kept Rock Alive Vasily Shumov SPECIAL TO RBTH

t the height of Leonid Brezhnev’s era of stagnation in the 1970s, students at the Moscow Institute of International Relations and the Moscow State Linguistics University began to stage concerts on a commercial basis not seen before. Tickets cost between three and five rubles each and were nothing more than half-sized postcards with homemade stamps on them.There was no entrance fee, dates or addresses shown on this “ticket.”All the information was passed around by word of mouth. Today, it is hard to say who organized the first underground rock music concert in Moscow, but historians of the time often mentionYuriy Ayzenshpis (19452005). In 1970, he was arrested and even sentenced to 18 years for illegal currency operations. Underground showbiz was a criminal offence in the Soviet Union, along with private enterprise and many other breaches of the law. These included forging documents, preparing and selling illegal tickets, composing uncensored songs, illegal gatherings of people and consuming alcohol in a public place — all of which could take place during the organizing of a rock concert.



Ad Campaign Aims to Make Classics Relevant Initiatives from state agencies and publishers alike hope to increase the amount of time Russians spend with classic literature. ALENA TVERITINA

though visitors at some news portals seemed not to realize it was a joke: One news item based on Maxim Gorky’s novel “Mother” had the headline,“Mother of opposition leader may be sentenced to long-term imprisonment.”


theaters offering a special treat to theater buffs

visiting Moscow – no knowledge of Russian required

Finding the right words The movement to popularize literature is one response to a troubling decline in reading among Russians. In summer 2013, the Public Opinion Foundation released a survey showing that 44 percent of respondents had not read a single book in the course

The movement to popularize literature is one response to a troubling decline in reading. Forty-four percent of respondents to a recent survey had not read a book in an entire year. of an entire year. Just as unsettling is data from the market research company T.N.S. Russia, which showed that Russian citizens use media for a total of around eight hours per day, but the time they spend reading books amounts to about nine minutes per day. Given these numbers, it is not surprising that initiatives to popularize reading are being given particular attention, including on the governmental level. The National Program for Reading Promotion and Development began in 2006 and includes other memorable initiatives. For example, in last year’s project by Rospechat, which was entitled “Read” and targeted at teenagers, the organizers portrayed the powerhouse Russian writers Leo Tolstoy, Anton Chekhov and Alexander Pushkin in athletic uniforms and had them rap soulfully along with Nikolai Gogol and Fyodor Dostoevsky. Besides Rospechat, publishers themselves, social organizations


A Cacophony of Voices Creates Fractured Fables Phoebe Taplin SPECIAL TO RBTH


n the middle of Peter Aleshkovsky’s“Stargorod”is a story about the town archivist. A fortress of a man in a worsted coat and thick glasses, Pavel Ogorodnikov sorts through ancient files to unearth the old town’s stories and complaints: “the usual fervent Russian begging, laced with despair and abandonment. And all of it local, Stargorodian.” At the novel’s heart there is a powerful sense of a place and the people who live in it, slowly building into a broader picture. Despite being called a novel in the subtitle, the work is really a collection of short stories. This translation, by Nina Shevchuk-Murray, combines the 1990 hit“Stargorod”with 2010’s “Institute of Dreams.”Although


Find out more online! Explore Russian literature through reviews, podcasts and multimedia. Read exerpts from classic and modern Russian literature at

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“Ecologists Sound the Alarm: Developers Threatening Ancient Forest,”“Playboy Shoots Friend Over a Passing Flirtation,”“Wife of High-Ranking Official Kills Self After Argument With Lover” — these and other headlines greeted readers of major Russian news sites this fall. Within the texts of the alleged news stories, there were encoded plots of classic Russian literary works: Anton Chekhov’s “The Cherry Orchard,” Alexander Pushkin’s “Eugene Onegin” and Leo Tolstoy’s “Anna Karenina,” among others. Readers who could not independently identify the works were not left hanging: The headlines led to a specially created portal that connected the news text to the corresponding literary work, which users could then read or download for free. Yuri Pulya is the head of the Periodicals, Book Publishing and Printing Division of the Federal Agency for Press and Mass Communications (Rospechat), which organized the campaign to encourage reading along with the Russian Book Union and Slava advertising agency. He said that the main goal of the initiative is to attract attention to Russian classic literature, which for many Russians remains just something they read in school. “This way, we are demonstrating to Internet users that the plots that can be found in the modern news have already appeared in Russian literature,” Pulya said. “The result has been appealing, interesting, and, most importantly — beneficial,” he continued.“At the very least, people read these news items, post them on social networks, and a conversation about literature takes place on several levels.” Anyone could contribute a headline to the campaign, al-

and even the city of Moscow are zealously promoting reading. Noteworthy initiatives have appeared regularly over the past several years. Some have been more traditional. For example, in “A Word for the Book,” a large-scale 2008 campaign by the publisher A.C.T., famous Russian writers were pictured on posters describing the importance of reading.There were also projects by the Eksmo publishing house (“Read Books — Be a Character”and“Read Books!”), in which popular figures and musicians, along with Russian soccer players and coaches, discussed the benefits of reading. Other promotional campaigns surprise potential readers with text. Moscow’s subway system boasts “Reading Moscow” and “Poetry in the Metro” in many cars, whose walls are covered not with advertisements but with excerpts from literary works, authors’ biographies, illustrations of their works and original graphics. The exhibitions are thematic and change periodically. The“Books in the Parks”campaign, which Rospechat launched in 2012, turned five popular Moscow leisure venues into arenas for meeting with writers. In addition, the campaign equipped these venues with “Gogol modules”— kiosks where visitors can purchase books for the lowest prices in Moscow. To round out the campaign, grass art portraits of authors were cut in the parks. Next on the agenda is the creation of book clubs across Russia. In addition to reading and discussing works, the clubs will organize videoconferences with writers and publishers.

In contrast to those who were motivated purely by profit and dealt illegally in other goods in short supply, rock managers were dedicated people. They really did love music. For many young people at that time, rock music was akin to a religion. It was for this reason that the system had such a hard time fighting underground rock: this was a powerful youth movement devoted to alien values and was oriented toward the West. By the end of the 1970s, more than a dozen rock managers were operating in Moscow. This business was commercially viable, and could return a 3,000 ruble to 5,000 ruble profit. The risks, however, were enormous: At any moment, the organizers, musicians and even the audience could end up behind bars. This happened all too often. Concerts were arranged without any financial reports or contracts so that there would be no evidence. If a criminal investigation was started into an illegal concert, everyone would say unanimously: “No money changed hands, nobody organized it. I just happened to wander into the hall after I heard the sound of a guitar as I walked down the street.” If people showed solidarity (and they did), the police had no choice but to release all the detainees.

Recent ads to encourage reading portray Leo Tolstoy, Anton Chekhov, Alexander Pushkin as coaches.

Aleshkovsky claims the two parts of “Stargorod” are “a single expansive story, woven by a great multitude of voices,”the 2010 section has a different feel. Instead of the perestroika-era grimness with hints of magic realism and folk motifs, there are modern fables, full of flying ballerinas, enchanted chimpanzees, poisoned pickles and ghostly princes. Inspired by Nikolai Gogol’s “Mirgorod,” a collection of short stories published in 1835, Aleshkovsky’s title replaces Gogol’s “world” (mir) with “old” (stary). The idea of a set of stories, chronicling the life of an old town (Stargorod) is borrowed directly from Nicolai Leskov. There are echoes of both writers in Aleshkovsky’s satirical storytelling. Despite recurring themes and characters, those expecting a continuous plot will be disappointed. The stories often seem to start in the middle of an ongoing conversation and finish abruptly. Enjoyment depends on the leisure and willingness to hear these voices, just as Aleshkovsky did:“I listened to the human choir around me and stole from it everything that was worth stealing.”

There are more than 50 theaters in Moscow. Some, like the Bolshoi, are world-famous, and their new productions are always an event in the city’s cultural life. Others are little-known, but unique in their own way. Several of them, such as the Moscow English Theater, cater specifically to the Russian capital’s English-speaking community. The Pyotr Fomenko Theater is reaching out to non-Russian speakers through an innovative use of technology. Theater buffs are bound to find something to their liking in the Russian capital, whether they are visiting for a few days or making Moscow their home for a few years. Here is a brief description of just a few of the offerings available on stage this winter. T H E R U S S I A N C A P I TA L H A S M U C H T O O F F E R T H E A T E R L O V E R S — F R O M C L A S S I C O P E R A T O S I LV E R A G E R U S S I A N D R A M A T O B R I T I S H C O M E D Y

M O S C O W E N G L I S H T H E AT E R The Moscow English Theater was founded in March 2013, thanks to the efforts of Jonathan Bex, a professional actor and graduate of the Drama Studio London, who currently resides in Moscow. The theater, which only casts foreigners in its productions, chooses plays that have enjoyed success in the U.K. and, they think, might appeal to the Moscow audience. The theater does not have its own performance space, so at the moment it productions are put on in the small stage of the Mayakovsky Theater. On November 30 the Moscow English Theater will present another performance of “Educating Rita.” The play, by British playwright Willy Russell, is directed by Gillian King, and stars Bex as Frank and Emma Dallow as Rita. Susan, 26, a hair-

dresser who also goes by Rita, decides to make some changes in her life. To begin, she decides she needs to get an education. She is accepted into a correspondence course, where her tutor is Frank Bryant, who is more fond of whisky than his students. But Rita proves an eager and intelligent pupil, and he finds an unexpected pleasure in conversing with her about literature. As he nurtures her literary tastes, they gradually fall in love. The play clearly echoes George Bernard Shaw’s “Pygmalion,” but Rita is not an object of an experiment. The play is essentially about human relationships, snd the way people can change and how these changes can affect others. Rita’s decision about which path her life should take is left unresolved.

P YO T R F O M E N KO T H E AT E R It’s hardly surprising that many visitors to Moscow limit themselves to opera or ballet rather than trying to decipher classic Russian drama in Russian. The Pytor Fomenko Theater, however, has found a solution for those who want to see Chekhov in Moscow, but don’t speak Russian. Four of the theater’s productions based on Russian classics are now available with subtitles for foreign visitors and the hearing impaired. The plays are “Wolves and Sheep,” based on a comedy by Alexander Ostrovsky; “Three Sisters,” based on a Chekhov play; and two stage adaptations of Leo Tolstoy: “Family Happiness” and “War and Peace: Beginning of the Novel.” The plays are subtitled by native

speakers and specialists in literary translation. Theatergoers pick up a tablet when they arrive at the theater. There is no charge for the service, but guests are requested to leave a passport or other type of identification as a security deposit. The tablets display white text on a black background, so there is little light spillage to distract other theatergoers. The theater is now working on a new version of the software that will allow spectators to use smartphones and tablets after installing a free app. There are also plans to offer a dubbed soundtrack via headphones. More information on the program can be found at

B O L S H O I T H E AT E R The Bolshoi Theater is a must-see attraction for any tourist to Moscow. Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s masterpiece “Eugene Onegin,” based on the novel in verse by Alexander Pushkin, has long been one of Bolshoi’s most popular offerings. Since it was first performed there in 1921, the production has undergone a number of changes, but it has a solid place in the repertoire. The current Bolshoi staging is by Dmitry Chernyakov; it opened the 2006–2007 season. The current Bolshoi season also includes the classic ballets “The Nutcracker” and “Ivan the Terrible,” both in productions by Yuri Grigorovich, and “Jewels,” George Balanchine’s choreographic masterpiece as interpreted by Alyona Pikalova.

In addition to Russian classics, the Bolshoi is also staging “La Traviata” as part of the celebration of the 200th anniversary of Verdi’s birth. The current production, by American director Francesca Zambello, is the theater’s 11th interpretation of the opera. Zambello’s masterful use of costumes and props has helped her to combine an authentic 19th century atmosphere with a very modern way of storytelling that nevertheless, does not detract from Verdi’s masterpiece. Bolshoi tickets can be bought online. More information on the schedule for upcoming productions and ticket prices can be found at the theater’s website,






MOST READ American Realizes Dream as Sochi Olympics Volunteer


Fashion Olympic uniforms are a reflection of national image

From the way the Soviet Olympics delegation looked, the world would judge the quality of life behind the Iron Curtain. Today, companies with international reputations join Russian firms in designing the uniforms for Russia’s Olympians. Games in Squaw Valley, California, Soviet female athletes walked out for the medal ceremonies in slim blue jackets and elegant blue pants. In 1964, in Innsbruck, the Soviet team descended from their plane in luxurious fur coats made of golden seal pelts. A special love for the Olympic uniform was nurtured in the Soviet Union itself. First, the Olympic costumes were of an excellent quality, completely different from the everyday clothing of Soviet citizens. Second, they had a


States, Canada and other countries. But in 2002, in Salt Lake City, everything changed. Now everyone envied us! And the fans were noticeably happy,”Yagudin said. For the 2004 Athens Games, Bosco worked with world-famous Italian fashion house Etro to create a Russian team uniform inspired by the Soviet uniforms of 1930s. In 2006, the fashion house of Ermanno Scervino joined Bosco and Etro. At the opening ceremony of the 20th Olympic Winter Games in Turin that year, Russian athletes entered the stadium in stylish red-and-white suits that featured a twisting pattern. The suits consisted of down-filled jackets with fur and corduroy trousers by Ermanno Scervino, blazers and knitted vests by Etro, and accessories by Bosco. Svetlana Zhurova, who won gold in the 500-meter, women’s speed skating event in Turin, said of the uniforms that year: “Before, our Olympians were distinguished from others by the inscription on the back of our hoodies, but then they knew us by the pattern.” At the upcoming Olympic Games in Sochi, the Russian national team is expected to wear a red-blue-and-white color scheme, but the exact cut and materials remain a secret. However, fans and atheletes are expecting nothing short of spectacular.




Since 1936, when the decision was made that each country participating in the Olympic Games should establish a uniform for all participants, the public appearance of Olympic athletes has become a way for countries to project their national image on the international stage. Several countries regularly invite well-known designers to design their uniforms: French athletes, for example, have worn the designs of Pierre Cardin andYves Saint Laurent; Italian athletes received uniforms from Giorgio Armani, and British competitors were given attire by Stella McCartney. During the Soviet era, the question of the Olympic uniform design was particularly thorny. From the way the Soviet delegation looked, the world would judge the quality of life behind the Iron Curtain. The decision on the uniform for the team was made at the highest levels of government and had to meet both ergonomic and ideological requirements. The uniforms were created by the leading designers of the Soviet Union who worked for the All-Union Fashion House in Moscow, the main fashion design studio of the state. Although there was among some designers a desire to dress Olympians in the latest fashions,

particularly patriotic look. Many Russians who grew up in the Soviet Union remember dreaming of a sweatsuit with the proud inscription “U.S.S.R.” on the back. Perestroika and the collapse of the Soviet Union only strengthened the Russian love for the fashion of sport. The Olympics became a reflection of the influx of Western fashion into the country. The decades-long restrictions on designs and colors for clothes in the Soviet Union led to a desire to dress brightly and mimic global trends. The uniforms for the Russian team in the 1994 Winter Games in Lillehammer, Norway, and the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta, Georgia, reflected these changes. They were developed by designer Valentin Yudashkin, who was one of the first Russian designers to gain fame abroad. In every Olympics since, the Russian uniforms have reflected the very latest trends in design, colors and fabrics. In a relatively brief period of time, Team Russia has moved from sweatshirts to pullovers of the finest Italian wool. Today, companies with international reputations design the uniforms for Russian Olympians. Since 2002, Russian firm Bosco di Ciliegi has held the title of official “image maker” of the Russian Olympic team. Olympic figure skating champion Alexei Yagudin remembers the 2002 Salt Lake City games as a turning point for Russian Olympic fashion: “I remember a time when we looked with envy at the skaters from the United



exceptionally bold and avantgarde variants rarely made it past the censors. Russian designer Vyacheslav Zaitsev, who was the chief designer of the All-Union Fashion House in the late 1960s, said of the Olympic uniform designs, “They had to remain within the framework of consumer goods — this was pragmatism, not art.” Yet, Soviet fashion designers occasionally managed to surprise the world. In 1960, at the Winter

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When the Opening Ceremonies begin on Feb. 7 in Sochi, what the national teams wear will be as much of a focus as the athletes themselves.


Team Russia’s Medal-Winning Olympic Style



1) Bosco’s Sochi-themed clothes are a hit with Russian consumers this year. 2) The winners of the women’s skating competition at the 1960 Winter Olympics; Lidia Skoblikova of the Soviet Union, center. 3) Members of the 1976 Soviet Olympic team. 4) Russian Olympians in 2006.

The 2014 Winter Games will take place in two areas around the host city of Sochi. The mountain cluster will host skiing, snowboarding and bobsleigh events. Figure skating, ice hockey and the Opening Ceremony will be in the coastal cluster.

There are three official mascots for the 2014 Winter Games. They are a polar bear, a snow leopard and an arctic hare. Designs for the mascots were submitted by people from across Russia. After the top designs where announce, they voted for their favorites by text message.

This month in RBTH for Kids, we’re getting ready for the Winter Olympics, which will open in the southern Russian city of Sochi on Feb. 7. More than 2,500 atheletes from 51 countries are expected to participate.

Learn Russian! Olympics - Олимпиада (Oh-limp-ee-ah-dah) Snow - снег (sneg) Medal – медаль (med-ahl) Sochi is the warmest city ever to host the Winter Olympics. The average temperature in February, when the Games will take place, is 50 °F! The city is located on the Black Sea and has always been a popular beach destination for Russian. is just But the popular ski area of Krasnaya Polyana saved have ls officia ic Olymp north of the city, and more than 15 million cubic feet of last year’s ’t snow for the Olympic courses in case it doesn snow enough this year.

Mountains – горы (goh-ree) Torch – факел (fah-kel) Skis – лыжи (lee-zhee)

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Skates - коньки (kohn-kee)

Person of the Month

Olympics, snow, medals, torch, skis, snowboard, ice skates, Sochi, victory, uniform, mountain

Evgeni Plushenko (born 1982) took the silver medal in men’s figure skating in his first Olympic appearance at the 2002 Games in Salt Lake City and won gold four years later in Turin. In his third Olympic appearance at the 2010Vancouver Games, Plushenko lost the gold by 1.31 points to American Evan Lysachek. Although he has had back surgery Plushenko says he is in good health and hopes to skate for the gold in February.

Find out everything you need to know about the Olympics and Sochi at our website! Check out our special Olympic section © RIA NOVOSTI

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Ice skating legend Evgeni Plushenko hopes to go for gold in Sochi!


RBTH#11 New York Times  

Russia Beyond the Headlines supplement distributed with the New York Times in the U.S.