Politics & Society Ukraine: fractured and split Moscow advises non-intervention as the country slides into political turmoil
Sochi 2014 Russia’s golden days The Winter Olympics were a dazzling success for the host nation and its athletes P.02
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
This eight-page pull-out is produced and published by Rossiyskaya Gazeta (Russia), which takes sole responsibility for the contents
AN INVITATION TO THE DANCE
he biggest cultural celebration ever staged by Britain and Russia together was launched this week. Carefully selected and thoroughly planned, the UK-Russia Year of Culture 2014 is hoped to have an impact that will last for years and generate a positive mood in the two countries’ political and economic relationships. Hundreds of events will be organised in both countries during 2014, covering everything from classic literature to modern art, fine china to film, and fashion to space travel. Arguably, though, it is Russian ballet that most captures the British imagination, and theYear of Culture, which was officially launched in Britain on February 24, promises to rekindle the British love affair with this most Russian of all art forms. The exciting programme includes several exciting productions that will add to the long history of dance diplomacy between the two countries. That history was further enriched last year, when Russian principal dancer Natalia Osipova signed a contract with the Royal Ballet. A former star of the Bolshoi, Osipova has charmed the world with her vitality. She in turn, has been charmed by London. “I really like it,” she tells the Telegraph’s Mark Monahan. “I’ve liked it from the first time I came here. It’s an amazing atmosphere in this city. I like the big culture and the traditions, and at the same time something new happening. “For example, in the morning I see what people are wearing: very stylish, very nice. But when I work on a Saturday night, I’m really surprised how different the crowds are from the morning, wearing things that are really bright. I really like it, that contrast”.
The Russian dance revolution Britain’s first exposure to Russian ballet was in the form of Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes shortly be-
As the UK-Russia Year of Culture begins, Leyla Guchmazova looks at the lasting legacy of Russian ballet in Britain fore the First World War. Emotional and fresh in its approach, the itinerant Russian company took London's cultural life by storm. These larger-than-life aristocrats of dance fascinated fans almost to the same degree as royalty. Britons would adopt the dancers’ costumes and manners; all things “extravagantly Russian” became modish and spread from high society to all the other classes. In 1917, a British diplomat’s 13-year-old son was so taken by Anna Pavlova’s dancing that he decided to become a ballet dancer himself. Against his family’s wishes, he gave up a City career to enrol in one of the numerous ballet schools that had sprouted up in London to cater to the universal Russian Ballet craze. Thus started the career of renowned British ballet choreographer Frederick Ashton. Royal Ballet founder, Irish-born Ninette de Valois and Alicia Markova, who co-founded the English National Ballet, both began their careers dancing in the Ballets Russes. They later modelled their respective companies on that of Diaghilev. After marrying British diplomat Henry Bruce in St Petersburg, Tamara Karsavina, the sister of philosopher Lev Karsavin and another star of the Ballets Russes, moved to London with her husband in 1918 and spent the rest of her life there. Karsavina strengthened ballet’s reputation in the eyes of the British public. High society adored her: she was the smartest of all the Russian ballerinas of the time. Soviet ballet dissidents merit special mention. Rudolf Nureyev defected in Paris during the Kirov Ballet’s European tour, but he found real fame at Cov-
ent Garden and created a romantic myth through his partnership with ballerina Margot Fonteyn – they were the perfect ballet couple of the second half of the 20th century. Nearly a decade later, Kirov prima ballerina Natalia Makarova followed Nureyev’s example and applied for asylum in London. Makarova, too, became a star at Covent Garden.
Emotional and fresh in its approach, Ballets Russes took London’s cultural life by storm
In the mid-20th century, Russian ballet broke through the Iron Curtain, reviving the western public’s interest in the art. British choreographers Frederick Ashton and Kenneth MacMillan were impressed with the Soviet dramatic ballet school and, eventually, the Russian ballet tradition blended with the strong British theatrical tradition. Russia is not only exporting its ballet these days, the reverse is also true: the Russian public warmly welcomes companies such as the Royal Ballet and Sadler’s Wells. There is an appreciative audience for the intellectual Wayne McGregor with his Random Dance company (who was invited to work with the Bolshoi) and for the popular Matthew Bourne with his New Adventures company (who caused a Russian sensation in 2007 with his touring all-male version of Swan Lake). The latest development in the history of RussianBritish ballet relations is that Russian dancers are now being invited to teach at British ballet companies. Globalisation may have done away with state borders, but the Russian dance school still remains unique and prestigious, and Russian mentors are high-
ly valued in the West – perhaps even more so than they are back home. The UK-RussiaYear of Culture 2014 includes three major ballet events. First, on March 9, the London Coliseum will stage the Russian Ballet Icons Gala, which celebrates the rich history of Russian ballet. The gala will feature significant excerpts from the Russian classical repertoire and will be complemented by several contemporary masterpieces by choreographers such as Kenneth MacMillan and Alexei Ratmansky. Part of a project that has run since 2006 dedicated to iconic Russian dancers, the programme will be performed by leading dancers from companies including the Bolshoi, Mariinsky, Royal Ballet and English National Ballet. In addition, on March 30, the Bolshoi will present The Golden Age with music by Dmitri Shostakovich at the Barbican. This delightful ballet will offer jazz and cabaret musical scenes, an extraordinary corps de ballet and, of course, the world-renowned Bolshoi principal dancers. From April 15-17 at the London Coliseum, the Eifman Ballet will present two shows by its acclaimed choreographer Boris Eifman. The shows will be the British premiere of Rodin, which has received good international reviews, and Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, which was first performed in the UK two years ago. “The British choreographer most important to me is Kenneth MacMillan, who combined the art of ballet and the very strong British culture of dramatic theatre,” says Eifman. “This artistic unity of dance and dramaturgy, of plastics and literature, is very important to me.” Apart from the live tours, British cinemas will be airing live broadcasts of Bolshoi ballets: Jewels by George Balanchine and Alexei Ratmansky’s Lost Illusions.
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High four: Russia’s four-man bobsled team (Alexander Zubkov, Alexei Negodailo, Dmitry Trunenkov and Alexei Voevoda) celebrate their victory at Sochi
Russia celebrates a golden Games to remember
33 medals in total were won by Russia's Olympic team, a record.
13 were gold, including six in sports that Russia won for the first time. REUTERS
1 Russia’s ranking in the overall medals table of countries at the Games.
Sochi success A dazzling Olympics confounds the critics and delights the world JAMES ELLINGWORTH
Amid the lavish arenas and glittering ceremonies of the Sochi Olympics, it was always going to take something special for Russia’s athletes to grab the spotlight. They did it by topping the medal table for the first time in 20 years with a record number of medals, a testament to their talent and the way Russian sport has been rebuilt from the ground up in time for Sochi. The Games were a resounding success for the hosts, defying earlier predictions that the Sochi Olympics could become a fiasco. “We all have enjoyed exceptional conditions in these Olympic Winter Games,”International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach said at Sunday’s closing ceremony. “Our Russian hosts had promised excellent sports venues, outstanding OlympicVillages and an impeccable organisation. Tonight we can say Russia delivered all what it had promised.”
Success didn’t come easy for Russia, which, halfway through the Games, looked headed for failure with just two gold medals
Four years ago in Vancouver, Russian sport seemed broken.The Soviet-style production line of champions had ground to a halt, and the country finished a lowly 11th in the medal table – its worst ever showing and a scandalous result for a country that prided itself as a winter sports powerhouse. All that changed in Sochi, with Russia leaving other winter sports titans like Norway and Canada in its wake. A new generation of champions emerged, led by figure skating’s ice princesses Yulia Lipnitskaya, 15, and Adelina Sotnikova, 17. Lipnitskaya’s sensational solo performance in the team figure skating competition helped Russia to win gold and created an instant global star. The adulation led to predictions that she would sweep all before her to win gold in the individual contest, but perhaps nerves and youth finally told under the pressure and she was unable to claim a medal place. Glory went instead to Sotnikova who, after having been left out of the team
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Alexander Tretiakov took the skeleton title and figure skater Yulia Lepnitskaya became the youngest gold medallist of the Russian team
Surprise packages deliver the goods in Sochi Outsiders A look at some of the Olympic unknowns who went from zero to hero JAMES ELLINGWORTH
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RUSSIA 27 PARALLEL GIANT SLALOM
In the minutes before the opening ceremony of the Sochi Winter Olympic Games, a squad of Russian police strutted into the Fisht Olympic Stadium – and promptly burst into Daft Punk’s disco-funk chart-topper Get Lucky. That performance could have been put on specially for Chinese speedskater Li Jianrou, who won 500m gold almost by default in Sochi when all her rivals, among them Britain’s Elise Christie, crashed out in front of her. Up in the mountains, there were more than a few lucky winners, too, as warm temperatures and rain turned the snow to mush, giving rise to what America’s giant slalom Olympic champion Ted Ligety called “funky results.” Meanwhile, in men’s ice hockey, tiny Latvia and Slovenia stunned big-name rivals to reach the quarter-finals. There will always be athletes who get lucky at any Olympics, but Sochi has also seen more than a few under-the-radar medallists whose skills went largely unrecognised before the Games. Chief among them is Vic Wild. Four years ago, he was an unremarkable
snowboarder from the US Pacific Northwest struggling to make ends meet. Wild’s discipline of parallel giant slalom has plenty of fans in Europe, but is desperately unfashionable among American snowboard fans more concerned with Shaun White’s latest halfpipe tricks. That all changed when Wild switched allegiances to Russia, following his wife Alena Zavarzina. Funding and support flowed, and Wild’s Olympic dream came true when he and Zavarzina both won medals in Sochi within minutes of each another – gold for him, bronze for her.
Wild listed the ways Russia had helped him, saying: “My board here, this golden plate (his medal), the bindings, outfit, helmet. They take care of everything for me. They just expect me to get some results.” Another Russian snowboard sensation is Nikolai Olyunin. Despite Russia’s aggressive promotion of its Sochi medal hopes, Olyunin was not considered a podium prospect. He was a marginal figure even two years ago and did not compete at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Since then, however, Russia has ramped up its support for snowboard cross, a chaotic sport in which six riders race each other at the same time along a track with jumps, drops and steeply banked turns. But it still came as a welcome surprise when the unknown, stocky 22 year-old from Siberia claimed a stunning silver in the snowboard cross final. Olyunin was the fastest rider in contention in Sochi and his prize would have ben gold if not for some smart defensive manoeuvring by France’s Pierre Vaultier.“I think I’m a pioneer because I only got to world championship level recently,” Olyunin says. Referring to his regular, lengthy alpine training camps, he adds: “I’ve put in huge, huge work. I was rarely at home.” Paying tribute to Russia’s rapid rise towards the top of the global snowboard cross landscape, Alex Deibold, the American bronze medallist behind Olyunin, says: “Boardercross has been around for a long time and the Russians kind of came on to the
'm so, so surprised right now at what's just happened and I can't believe I made it on to the podium JENNY JONES
event, gave the performance of her life in the free skate routine. She defeated the favourite, Korea’s Yuna Kim, to become the first Russian woman ever to win the individual Olympic gold in figure skating. There were wins for new Russians, with the naturalised South Korean speed skater Viktor Ahn winning three medals and American-born snowboarder Vic Wild taking two back to his apartment in Moscow. There was victory, too, for veterans such as bobsled gold medallist Alexander Zubkov, 39, their champion potential finally unlocked by extra funding and support. Success didn’t come easily for Russia, which halfway through the Games looked headed for failure, with just two gold medals, while the Olympics themselves were flooded with mocking #sochiproblems tweets.Then the jeering subsided and gold medals began to pour in until the host nation finished with 13, six of them in sports where Russia had never won gold before. The total haul of 33 medals of all colours exceeded that of every Russian and Soviet Winter Olympic team in history. The expensively built facilities in the Olympic Park and the Caucasus mountains saw plenty of drama. A gold medal for Lizzy Yarnold in the skeleton helped Britain to match its bestever Winter Olympics performance – from 90 years before, in 1924. Snowboard slopestyler Jenny Jones also gained the first ever British medal in a snow sport. On the ice of the Olympic Park’s Adler Arena, there was unprecedented dominance by a single nation in speed skating as Dutch athletes won 8 of 12 events, sweeping gold, silver and bronze in four of them. Alpine skiing was one of the few events where the Russian presence was negligible, but that took nothing away from the passion of the crowd at Rosa Khutor. They were rewarded with an event unique in Olympic history as two athletes – Slovenia’s Tina Maze and Dominique Gisin of Switzerland – were awarded gold in the same event after clocking exactly the same time in the women’s downhill. The men’s ice hockey gold medal game is the most hyped event of any Winter Olympics, especially so in Russia, where the sport has a fanatical following. So Russia’s meek quarter-final exit to unfancied Finland sparked waves of angry commentary in the Russian media. But the mostly local crowd at the Bolshoi Ice Dome remained passionate, roaring Canada on to retain its title with a 3-0 win over Sweden in the final. They were right behind Canada in their semi-final victory over the US, a match that had just a single goal but was full of technical brilliance. Why Canada? A disallowed Russian goal in the group stage had helped the US to beat the hosts, infuriating home fans so much they backed the Americans’ old enemies from then on. What does the future hold for Russian sport? If Sochi is any guide, things could get better at the next Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, in 2018. One little-noticed feature of Sochi was the five gold medals won by Russian-born athletes who had switched allegiances to other countries. They were athletes who had left in the chaotic days before Sochi won the right to host the Games, and when funding and support for athletes was patchy. Fast-forward four years and that generation of athletes will have largely moved on, replaced by youngsters who have grown up with the lavish support of recent times, a trend that can only boost Russia’s performances on the snow and ice in 2018. In the end, the real #sochiproblems are for athletes of other countries – it looks like they might have to get used to Russians winning gold. FIND MORE sochi2014.rbth.ru
scene late. They’ve really surprised a lot of people, worked super hard and come up over the last couple of years. Five years ago, no one had heard of [them].” Though still a young many, Olyunin now plans to retire and go into business after a short but glorious career. That puts him on almost the exact opposite trajectory to Britain’s own snowboard surprise of Sochi, Jenny Jones. The 33 year-old from Bristol scraped by for years in short-term jobs, including a stint in a cardboard factory, before her preferred discipline of slopestyle was added to the Olympic snowboarding programme in time for Sochi. “I’m so, so surprised right now at what’s just happened and I can’t believe I made it on to the podium,” says Jones, who made the quintessentially British admission that she had watched Downton Abbey the night before her first Olympic final. Russia’s equivalent of Jones is probably speed skater Olga Graf, a tough veteran finally winning recognition. An Olympic novice at the age 30, she stunned the country by winning bronze in the 3,000m. An engaging character, Graf initially picked up speedskating on the recommendation of her martial arts coach, with whom she was studying so that she could protect her classmates from school bullies. After coming third in her final at Sochi’s Adler Arena, Graf unzipped her race suit – and almost displayed more than her considerable skating skills, Modern race suits fit so close to the body that wearing anything underneath is impossible. “I totally forgot,” she says. “We have very good suits and they are very tight.” A touch of naïvety at the Olympics is probably excusable – especially if you have just won a medal…
Keep your finger on the Sochi pulse even after the Closing Ceremony with our special section! GO sochi2014.rbth.ru to learn more about Paralympics!
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After the gold rush: what happens when the Sochi crowds go home? Olympic legacy Examining the long-term gains from the huge spending on the Games CHRISTOPHER HARTWELL AND WILLIAM WILSON RUSSIA DIRECT
The investment boost attributed to the Olympic Games accelerates the development of the host city by up to 10 years, according to some estimates. After more than $50bn (£30bn) was spent to prepare for the Winter Olympics, Sochi enjoys a modern communications and transportation infrastructure, which was sorely lacking before. The Black Sea resort can now compete with other destinations in Europe for the tourist dollars of Russians. Creating an improved security environment not just in Sochi, but across the North Caucasus, will also consolidate some of the economic gains from the Games in the region.
Build it – but will they come? Whether this investment in Sochi provides a lasting stimulus for the region depends both on the continued attraction of international events, such as the introduction of F1 racing from October 2014 to 2020 and the football World Cup in 2018, and on the ability of the resort to appeal as a popular travel destination. Sochi is simultaneously attempting to attract new summertime holidaymakers while also luring away elite Russians who might usually go to Switzerland or France for a skiing vacation during the winter months.
to improve Russia’s investment climate, by involving investors from around the world and demonstrating that much of Russia’s reputation as a difficult place to do business may have been overstated. So where does this leave Sochi and the massive public investment programme that has transformed the region? Studies have shown that the effect of the Olympics on a local economy is profound but fleeting, and rarely evenly distributed. Mark Perryman, a research fellow in sports at the University of Brighton, has written a book on the impact of the Olympics and concluded that it is overwhelmingly negative. As he says, the only benefits often are related to tourism, which are short-term and“hotel-specific”(this assessment is backed up in a study by Brazilian economists, which showed that the real beneficiaries of an Olympic event are, perhaps unsurprisingly, private developers and construction firms). A British government report calculated that the London 2012 Games provided a £9.9bn boost to trade and investment in the UK, although the claims were greeted with scepticism by some economists. A 2011 study of the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver by consultants PriceWaterhouseCoopers estimated that British Columbia generated 45,000 jobs and $2.3bn (£1.3bn) in real GDP benefits between 2003 and 2010. Incremental tourism expenditures over the same period were estimated at $463m. But a more recent study found no noticeable long-term gain for Vancouver in tourism or economic performance.
There have been instances where the Olympic Games gave the host city a new lease of life. The industrial centre of Barcelona was transformed and is now a worldwide tourist destination. The Beijing Olympics became a showcase of modern China’s achievements, while the London 2012 Games rejuvenated the run-down Stratford area of East London. However, many host cities have also been left with former Olympic venues that are scarcely used, such as Beijing’s Bird’s Nest and Water Cube, or many of the facilities built for the Games in Athens.
Life after the Games It is possible to imagine Sochi revitalised as a tourist destination, while many of the bigticket venues built for the Olympics fall into disrepair. Whether the broader gains from tourism equal or exceed the investments made on sporting infrastructure remains to be seen, but this infrastructure will need a long time horizon to prove its worth. The good news is that Russia has created a comprehensive plan for adapting sports facilities and even transferring some infrastructure to different regions after the Olympics. The coastal Olympic Village, for example, is set to become a housing development, while the main ice hockey venue – the Bolshoi Ice Dome – will be used for future sporting events, trade shows and concerts. In autumn 2013, it hosted the Sochi Investment Forum.
Calculating the economic impact Apart from the narrow regional benefits, it is difficult to ascertain the broader gains for Russia of spending $50b on the Games. Some have suggested that the Sochi experience could help
$50bn was allegedly spent on the Sochi Olympics. A significant part of this sum went on building Sochi's infrastracture.
$8.5bn was the estimated cost of the Moscow Summer Olympics at today's values. Sochi built more venues.
20 per cent of the equivalent cost of the entire Soviet space programme was spent on Sochi.
to be held in much larger cities than the Winter Games, which are traditionally hosted in smaller places such as Lillehammer, Calgary, Nagano or Sochi. In this sense, there may not be much regular tourism to displace, while a location such as Sochi, due to other issues (mainly related to Russia’s visa regime), would not expect to see large delegations of visiting Norwegians or South Koreans. Thus, Sochi may gain from an influx of tourism that would not have been possible before. But weighed against the huge costs of hosting an Olympics, including the expense related to the bidding process, Russia will most likely never break-even on its investment, given any rational economic calculation of the benefits. For some, such as Igor Galas, the Regional Minister for Economic Development, this is not a problem because the intangible gains are tied up with national prestige.“If you look at the Games from an accounting perspective, of course they’re a loss. But you just can’t imagine a country like Russia without flights into space and big sporting events like the Olympics,” he said. To put Sochi’s cost into perspective, the Moscow Olympics in 1980 cost an estimated $3bn (£1.8bn) in 1980 dollars, or $8.5bn at today’s values. This means that the Sochi Games have cost more than six times as much as Mosocw spent to stage the summer Olympics, which are traditionally a much larger and more expensive endeavour. For an even starker comparison, to use the minister’s own example, the Soviet Union’s entire (estimated) expenditure on its space programme from its first years until 1972 was approximately $275bn in 2013 dollars; thus, the Sochi Olympics have cost the equivalent of approximately 20 per cent of the entire Soviet space effort, including the launches of the Sputnik satellite and the first man in space, Yuri Gagarin.
The Sochi Olympics have cost more than six times as much as Moscow spent on the 1980 Olympics
The price of prestige A key point is that these studies have looked mainly at the Summer Olympics, which tend
World-class facilities have made a glittering impression, but the dividend on Russia's Olympic investment is harder to quantify.
Opening up Russia As a model of development, the enormous public investment in Sochi is unlikely to be replicated any time soon across Russia. However, the Sochi experience can provide ways forward. Perhaps most important, the Olympics have offered a glimpse of an improved investment environment, starting with a liberalised travel and visa regime. Russia’s visa regime has eased a little in recent years, but remains difficult and stifles the tourism that could make post-Olympics Sochi a preferred destination. The simplified regime put in place during the Olympics demonstrates that sweeping change at the legislative and administrative level is possible. Sochi’s impact may be in showing that making it easier for Americans, Koreans, Norwegians, Chinese or Australians to travel to Russia is a benefit rather than a threat.
A boost for soft power Additionally, the Sochi Olympics show the value of “soft power” in terms of Russia’s influence in the world. This is only the second time an emerging market (loosely defined) has hosted the Olympics, although Russia’s development puts it outside that simple classification. With per capita income approaching $20,000, Russia is now a “high-income” developing country with a middle class that has quadrupled in size over the past decade. Russia also has the largest internet market and the second largest car market in Europe. For many older westerners, who still cling to Cold War stereotypes, the Sochi Games offer a tremendous opportunity to improve Russia’s image abroad. This may be the lasting legacy of the 2014 Games. © RIA NOVOSTI
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Sir Steve Redgrave OLYMPIC LEGEND
Arriving in Sochi, I wasn’t really sure what to expect: what the altitude would be, the style of the place would be, etc. What I found was an all-new, all-sparkling venue, with a real sense of space. It really was a very, very impressive set up. Now I know it cost a hell of a lot of money, but once you are here and see the infrastructure they have put in, you see how spectacular it is. Even the president of the IOC said what the Russians had achieved in seven years would have taken any other Winter Olympic venue decades to complete. Even though the scale of a Winter Games is so much smaller than a summer Games, the Olympic Park was bigger than the London Park. Sochi is big and open but easy to get around from an athlete’s point of view. I saw [GB men’s curling skip] David Murdoch when I was doing my tour around the village and he was saying that, of the Games that he’s been to, this was the best by a long way. You do balance that appreciation with your results, of course. Once you get start getting better results you feel better about everything – and the curling team didn’t do
so well in Vancouver the time before! I was out in Vancouver for three weeks and I really enjoyed the experience, but you were in the heart of the city. Sochi felt really special from the athletes’ point of view, because they felt it had been purpose-built for them. They said at the closing ceremony that this was “the athletes’ Games”, And though they say something like that every time, this time they really meant it. I was only in Sochi for four days and I only got up into the mountains once, to see the women’s half-pipe. I really would have liked to have seen more up there. I did spend a lot of time at the curling, however – for obvious reasons. The day we went up into the mountains it was a 45-minute drive. There is an express train, too, which I didn’t go on but which everyone says is absolutely first-class. I didn’t ski up there, so I don't know what the skiing is like. But the day I was up there I can tell you that it looked fantastic. Sochi is quite a big place, but when you get up into the mountain areas, you can’t relate to it like a town or city any more; it’s more like a large Alpine village with cable cars going off in all directions – to the endurance centre, sliding centre, the mountain and ski resort, etc. There’s been an awful lot of thought put into it, too; it hasn’t just been thrown together. This is always one of the problems when people talk about how much money
Built to order, prepared to perfection
What Sochi achieved in seven years would have taken any other Winter Games venue decades to complete
has been spent producing new venues, because you have to look at the infrastructure behind it all. This is a long-term process of making a winter resort for many, many years to come. We know that a lot of Russians have bought into the traditional European Alpine resorts – all the well-known, nicer, more expensive places. While that may be OK for the seriously rich, perhaps for the next level down, Sochi will become a serious alternative for Russian people within their own country. In that way, as in America, Russia’s winter sports enthusiasts won’t have
Chilled out: snowboarders in Krasnaya Polyana
to travel outside their own borders to indulge their passion. A lot of new sports were introduced in Sochi and they were just unbelievable. Doing The Jump [a winter sport/ski jump celebrity reality show] on TV, gave me quite an insight into the bravery of these guys. In fact, it scared the living daylights out of me! From a British perspective, the athletes and the administration are all delighted with our showing in Sochi where we equalled our best ever haul of four medals. But, overall, the feeling within the camp is that this Winter Games was a springboard. And while we are never going to be a big power within winter sports, with the advent of young people being able to learn on dry slopes – what the Americans call the “fridge kids” – we can improve on the new disciplines (and some of the older ones) and we can be competitive. For Russia? Well, a great success. They would obviously loved to have been in the men’s ice hockey final. But having such a good final day – when they took gold, silver and bronze in the men’s 50km cross-country and won the four-man bob – will have helped a little bit with that disappointment. But topping the table, and with most medals, Russia is going to be well pleased. Sir Steve Redgrave won five Olympic rowing gold medals for Great Britain in five Olympic Games, from 1984 to 2000.
Year of Culture
The official media partner for the Year of Russian Culture in the UK
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CALENDAR UK EVENTS
© RIA NOVOSTI
SINGERS AT SIX: SHOSTAKOVICH, STALIN AND SOVIET RUSSIA MARCH 26 ST GILES, CRIPPLEGATE
This appointment with the BBC Singers at Six will lead listeners on an exploration of choral music from the Soviet period, in a juxtaposition between composers who stayed in the USSR and learnt to survive under the system and those who took their chance abroad. www.bbc.co.uk/events/emcv4f
Cross border co-operation is a m Year of Culture 2014 Creative stars shine as the artists and performers of Britain and Russia embark on an unprecedented cultural exchange
A rare opportunity to see Borodin’s only opera, Prince Igor, when Moscow-based Novaya Opera – on its first visit to the UK – brings this spectacular Russian work to the stage of the London Coliseum. The production will be conducted by Novaya Opera’s artistic director Jan Latham-Koenig and directed by the award-winning Yuri Alexandrov.
THEODORA CLARKE SPECIAL TO RBTH
With Russia flying high after the success of the Winter Olympics, and Britain still bathing in the afterglow of the London 2012 Games, it is clear that high-level sport has a major role to play in building international bridges and enriching the lives of many people. Now, at the start of the UK-Russia Year of Culture 2014 – a comprehensive joint programme of literature, art, theatre and cinema celebrating the rich and diverse cultural heritage of both countries – it is time for the artists and performers of both nations to take centre stage. The official launch of the Russian programme took place on February 24 at the House of Commons attended by Deputy Prime Minister Olga Golodets, Lord Speaker Baroness D’Souza, Mikhail Shvydkoy, the special presidential representative, and AlexanderYakoveko, the Russian ambassador to the UK. Later that evening, the cultural year got under way in fine fashion with a performance by the Tchaikovs-
MOSCOW PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA MAY 8 CADOGAN HALL, SLOANE TERRACE, LONDON SW1
The programme of the Zurich International Orchestra Series features a performance by the highly acclaimed Russian ensemble. The Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra is joined by British cellist Julian Lloyd Webber, who will performing Shostakovich’s demanding First Cello Concerto. The programme also includes two of Tchaikovsky’s boldest and most intensely felt works: the symphonic poem Francesca da Rimini and Symphony No 4. www.cadoganhall.com/event/moscow-philharmonicorchestra-140508
SPECIAL TO RBTH
SRETENSKY MONASTERY CHOIR DATE - TBC KENSINGTON PALACE, LONDON, W8
The Sretensky Monastery Choir, which performed the national anthem at the Sochi Winter Olympics opening ceremony, was founded in Moscow in 1397. Supported by Russia’s Ministry of Culture and the Russian Orthodox Church, the concert will feature spiritual music and traditional Russian songs. www.bestchoir.ru/en
Most events – both in Russia and the UK – will stand on their own as examples of the very best that each country has to offer
Two men on a mission: Chekhov and Shakespeare JOHN NAUGHTON
ky Symphony Orchestra, the oldest in Russia, at the Royal Festival Hall in London (see below). More Russian music will grace our shores during the year, with performances by the Sretensky Monastery Choir, which will present spiritual and traditional Russian songs at Kensington Palace in March; a performance of Alexander Borodin’s Prince Igor by the Novaya Opera company in April, and a concert by the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra in May. A Russian Song Festival and Contest will take place in April, featuring performances by Russian and British singers in classical, folk and contemporary categories. An undoubted visual arts highlight will be Tate Modern’s major retrospective of the radical artist Kazimir Malevich from July, the first of its kind for 25 years. This remarkable showcase of Malevich’s career will draw together works from collections in Amsterdam, Moscow, NewYork and Paris, including his famous Black Square.“It will be the first comprehensive retrospective of the artist tracing the major
developments of his career through to his late production of figurative works,” curator Iria Candera says. “The exhibition offers an unprecedented overview of Malevich’s oeuvre, including works from different stylistic periods in a wide range of media, including paintings, drawings, designs and sculptures.” The Victoria and Albert Museum will offer an insight into Russian avant-garde theatre with an exhibition of more than 200 objects including drawings, costumes and photographs. This will be the first time that the Russian avant-garde will be the focus of a dedicated museum exhibition and it will feature loans from the State Bakhrushin Theatre Museum in Moscow. In addition, Russian Art Week in May/June will deliver a series of Russian art auctions by the major London houses. Russia’s seminal role in space exploration will be celebrated with the Cosmonauts exhibition at the Science Museum in London in November. This will feature rare artefacts from the Soviet space programme, some never before allowed out of Russia, including the suits worn by space-dogs Belka and Strelka, the first canines to orbit the Earth and return safely. Curator Doug Millard explains: “Our exhi-
With images of the Sochi closing ceremony fresh in the memory, proceedings to mark the opening of the UK-Russia Year of Culture – launched on a damp Monday afternoon in the musty surroundings of the Members Dining Room in the Houses of Parliament – were, in terms of spectacle, always likely to trail a distant second. Sure enough, in a blizzard of canapes, but without so much as a single sparkler, John Whittingdale, chairman of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, urged a packed room of Russian dignitaries, figures from London’s Russian community and a clutch of MPs to go faster, higher, stronger in their promotion of all things cultural. With Olga Golodets, the deputy prime minister of the Russian Federation, at his side, Mr Whittingdale elicited the afternoon’s biggest round of applause when he drew comparison between the criticisms Britain and Russia had both endured ahead of the staging of their recent Olympics and the triumphant disproving of the naysayers. Looking quite at home with a powerful blonde woman at his side – Mr Whittingdale, after all, was once Margaret Thatcher’s Political Secretary – he alluded to the healing aspects of closer bonds between the UK and Russia and the benefits this could
reap when relations with neighbouring countries were growing more tense by the day. No countries were namechecked directly, but all present thought they detected a reference to Scotland. For Mrs Golodets, the highlight of the year will be Russia’s Space Quest, an exhibition outlining the country’s rich contribution to the development of space travel. As for exhibits travelling in the opposite direction, She professed excitement at the Barbican’s Designing 007: Fifty Years of Bond Style. “I saw my first Bond film when I was a girl,” she laughed. “I don’t remember which one it was, but I remember liking it very much.” However, Mrs Golodets would not be drawn on expressing a preference for any of the actors that have portrayed 007. When asked whether she would opt for Sean Connery or Daniel Craig, she was expertly political – clearly mindful of the dangers of showing a preference for either Scotland or England. “I like them both equally,” she replied with the straightest of bats and just the hint of a smile. Mikhail Shvydkoy, Russia’s presidential special representative for international cultural relations, called the Year of Culture a chance to build bridges “not only pragmatically and rationally, but on a spiritual level. The year of cross-cultural exchange gives the opportunity to both
DYLAN THOMAS (2)
NOVAYA OPERA: PRINCE IGOR APRIL 1-5 LONDON COLISEUM, ST MARTIN’S LANE, WC2
The Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra at the Royal Festival Hall
Lots of exhibits have never been seen outside Russia before. It will be exceptional. SPACE EXHIBITION AS PART OF THE YEAR OF CULTURE IN LONDON OLGA GOLODETS
parties to get to know each other better and increase mutual trust between our governments and people. If the quality of trust improves as a result, I think that Shakespeare and Chekhov have fully accomplished their mission.” As the speeches wound up, which as well as contributions from Mr Whittingdale and Mrs Golodets, also included those of Lord Speaker Barnoness D’Souza and Russian Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko, a string quartet from the Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra opened in a corner of the room with a selection of Russian folk songs and a new interpretation of Greensleeves. In comparison with what later unfolded at the Royal Festival Hall this is like the nursery slopes compared with the acrobatics of the half-pipe. That evening, when Vadim Repin finished his magisterial performance of Tchaikovsky’s fiendishly tricky Violin Concerto to tumultuous applause, it was clear what the staging of today’s event has all been building towards. They had saved the fireworks until the end.
Year of Culture www.rbth.co.uk_Wednesday, February 26, 2014_P5
© RIA NOVOSTI
SPECIAL TO RBTH
Art attack: Clockwise from bottom left, Portrait of Anton Chekhov, by Osip Braz; Moscow’s Sretensky Monastery; envelope from 1961 featuring the image of Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space; Imperial Russian Ballet dancers in rehearsal; Maslenitsa celebrations; Landscape with White House by Kazimir Malevich; Yuri Bashmet plays at his 60th birthday concert in 2013
video installation, The Golden Age of the Russian Avant-Garde, curated by film director Peter Greenaway. The exhibition consists of animations of 400 masterpieces of the Russian avantgarde to tell the story of this groundbreaking period of Russian art history. The show will take place in Moscow’s Central Manege Exhibition Hall before moving to the UK. The Council’s director Paul de Quincey says: “Most events – both in Russia and the UK – will stand on their own as examples of the very best of what each country has to offer; but equally important is what we are able to do together.” Althogether, more than 250 events have been planned, the scale of the programme demonstrating just how seriously each government is taking the Year of Culture. From museum curators to theatre directors, ballet stars to musicians, 2014 is a chance for the best of British creative talent to work alongside Russian colleagues and for the British public to find out how astonishing and rich Russian culture is.
bition will explore the remarkable stories of Russian scientific and technological ingenuity that launched the space age.” Russia’s Foreign Ministry is leading this unprecedented showcase of Russian culture in the UK, which builds on the success of other recent projects, such as the Houghton Revisited exhibition in Norfolk organised with the State Hermitage Museum. It is matched by the largest ever UK cultural programme in Russia, organised by the British Council. It features some of Britain’s best-loved cultural icons for Russians, including the James Bond exhibition Designing 007: FiftyYears of Bond Style and performances of Shakespeare’s Hamlet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream by Shakespeare’s Globe theatre. Major museums and institutions will host film screenings of Alfred Hitchcock’s early silent works, the Young British Artists will be represented in the first major retrospective of their work in Russia, and there will be an exhibition of Wedgwood pottery. Musical offering include works by the late John Tavener and performances by the London Philharmonic Orchestra and Northern Ireland Opera. The year in Russia officially opens with a
Win books on Russia Dear Reader, RBTH is pleased to announce the “Peek-aBook” contest devoted to the London Book Fair, April 7-11, 2014. Prizes of Russian fiction and non-fiction books in English are provided by our partner Read Russia. Learn more at rbth.co.uk/read_russia and good luck!
Britain and Russia are intertwined by the threads of history, philosophy and literature. As Molière’s Jourdain was unaware that he actually spoke in prose, English terms are unconsciously woven into Russian speech. Russians croon The Beatles; Shakespeare, Dickens, Wells, Burns and Wilde entered the Russian cultural code on a par with Pushkin, Tolstoy and Chekhov. At the genetic level, we understand each other: Russia’s revolutionaries and romantics were inspired by the visions of Sir Thomas More. Who would have guessed that Orwell and Platonov would both feel that a historic trap for humanity lurked in the Communist experiement? And earlier, Swift and Gogol, those great prophets, held up a mirror into which civilisation would gaze for centuries, convulsed with laughter and horror. The stars of Russian ballet came into their own at Covent Garden: from Anna Pavlova and Vaslav Nijinsky to Rudolf Nureyev and Viacheslav Samodurov. The combination of the Russian romantic tradition of virtuoso dance with the English school of psychological ballet was an explosive cocktail. “London taught me courtesy,” recognises Samodurov, a former principal dancer at Covent Garden and now head of the Yekaterinburg Ballet. The famous British sense of humour has worked its way into Russian anecdotes: the post-war generation got to know British wit through Jerome K Jerome and slapstick in the films of Norman Wisdom. The perestroika generation was introduced to seaside humour by Benny Hill cassettes smuggled into the Soviet Union; the fall of the USSR made way for Rowan Atkinson’s hit TV shows Blackadder and Mr Bean. British cinema penetrated the Soviet Union bit by bit. We fell in love, immediately and irrevocably, with Vivien Leigh in Anna Karenina and Laurence Olivier in Hamlet, and both in That Hamilton Woman. The echo of social protest came from “angry young men” in the cult films of directors Jack Clayton, Lindsay Anderson and Tony Richardson. Rumours of a new superhero in James Bond circulated, but 007 appeared openly on Russian screens only after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Then in 2012, Joe Wright’s take on Anna Karenina took Russian audiences by storm. The film seemed to reveal secrets of the Russian characters unknown even to Russians themselves. Doesn’t the success of the Russian Hamlet (1964) demonstrate our people’s cultural kinship? Or the Russian Sherlock Holmes films, which gained Vasily Livanov an honorary MBE for his critically lauded portrayal of the great detective? While the normal circulation of cultural blood between the two countries is gradually improving, it’s still far from ideal. What of the unique, barbaric interpretation of Hamlet by the Kolyada Theatre of Yekaterinburg, lauded in Paris and yet unknown in London? Britain knows Moscow’s famed Bolshoi Theatre, but few know the Bolshoi of Siberia: the Novosibirsk Opera House. This year of great cultural exchange is only one window opening between the two great cultures. Its mission is to remind us that the world is much larger and more exciting than we think. Valery Kichin is the chief cultural commentator for Rossiyskaya Gazeta.
British apples bear fruit for traditional Russian sweet RBTH
In the town of Kolomna, not far from Moscow, a culinary tradition is being revived, with sweets being made from painstakingly recreated historic recipes. Pastila is a traditional Russian confection, an oven-dried dessert made from whipped berry or apple purée, which was popular in pre-revolutionary Russia. In the 19th century, there was no better pastila than that made in Kolomna. But when the Bolsheviks came to power, businesses were expropriated, production was shut down, the taste forgotten and the recipe lost. “Kolomna lost one of its distinguishing features,” says Natalia Nikitina, director of the Kolomna Museum of Forgotten Flavours. “Now, after nearly a century, we decided to resurrect the process. No one expected that it would be in so much demand. No one thought of doing this.”
spread out on paper or a cloth before drying. “Recreating this process in 2008, we tried to place a small order with… seven different factories and were turned down by each one: no business plan, no certificate, no packing, etc. But that didn’t stop us.”
A cultured treat
Today, the two women manage a bakery, two candy-making facilities and four museums in Kolomna. Their project has created hundreds of jobs, while the number of tourists visiting Kolomna is up by 250pc. Each of the museums welcomes more than 50,000 visitors annually. Most visitors take home a souvenir – a box of Kolomna pastila, jam, herbal tea or a kalach, a traditional type of twisted or braided bread.
Income from sales supports the operation and development of the museums. But this money isn’t always enough, and the partners have searched for investors, competed for grants from private foundations, and negotiated with the city administration to lease space. “It wasn’t easy, but we didn’t take one rouble of government money and we remain a private organisation,” said Ms Nikitina. “Everything we earn, we reinvest.”
State Tolstoy Museum. “In another example, the Darovoye Estate, where Dostoevsky spent seven years of his childhood, is not far from Kolomna,” says Ms Nikitina. “In his second wife’s letters there is mention of his incredible sweet tooth. He always kept raisins, fruit jellies, chocolate, and honey on hand, and always bought red and white pastila. We’ve made these varieties.”
A taste for the creative
British art historian and Kolomna pastila connoisseur Andrea Rose introduced the women to Andrew Jamieson, the owner of an apple orchard in Norfolk and managing director of Drove Orchards Ltd. Mr Jamieson grows Bramley apples, which are slightly sour and well-suited to making traditional pastila. These apples are also “recreations,” the fruit of the “historical” apple, and not subjected to hybridisation for commercial purposes. “These apples are found only in Nottinghamshire,” explains Mr Jamieson. “Our orchard is a direct descendent.”
In the souvenir shop at the Museum of Forgotten Flavours, there’s a considerable choice today. From that first recipe, the range has now expanded to 33 flavours. The wealth of sweets includes a line devoted to Russian writers. There’s Leo Tolstoy’s favorite pastila, the recipe for which was found among the papers of his wife, Sophia Andreevna. “Tolstoy’s Pastila” was number 151 in the cookbook she meticulously compiled and intended to publish. The Kolomna businesswomen reconstructed the recipe together with the
Ms Nikitina found a recipe for the traditional treat in library archives and, together with her friend Elena Dmitrieva, they began to study the historical documents. It turned out that the pastila made in the 15th century was a kind of “medieval preserve” that could be stored for long periods without becoming mouldy or losing its flavour. Add boiling water, wait a few minutes and you’d have a fruit purée that could be eaten in the heat of summer or during the long winter. The Russian word pastila comes from the verb postelit, “to lay”, since the purée is
Natalia Nikitina, director of the Kolomna Museum of Forgotten Flavours
Experiment in purity
Finding a common language with the British grower, the women from Kolomna next investigated a range of London department stores and found that the sweets on sale have very few natural ingredients. “The British are so unfamiliar with products that contain no dyes or thickeners that they are amazed by natural flavours,” says Ms Nikitina. “So we decided to amaze them. We’re opening a representative office and an outlet.” A Russian-British joint venture called Kolomna Pastila and Apple Orchards using Mr Jamieson’s apples has already been registered and the future product will be called Bramley Pastila. Nikitina quotes Dostoevsky: “‘Gardening will save humankind and correct its failings.’ This is our message. We want to work with these heritage apples and make people happy. That’s all.”
DANIIL TRIFONOV, PIANO SEPTEMBER 30 ROYAL FESTIVAL HALL, LONDON SE1
One of today’s brightest young stars, Daniil Trifonov makes his Royal Festival Hall recital debut. Opening the concert with the timeless work of JS Bach, the pianist continues with Beethoven’s Piano Sonata in C Minor, Op 111, and closes with Liszt’s 12 Transcendental Studies. www.southbankcentre.co.uk/whatson/daniil-trifonov-piano81370?dt=2014-09-30
We speak the same language: let’s talk more
major cultural coup
RACHMANINOFF: INSIDE OUT VARIOUS DATES, OCTOBER 2014-FEBRUARY 2015 ROYAL FESTIVAL HALL, LONDON SE1
London Philharmonic Orchestra celebrates the music of one of Russia’s most treasured composers: Sergei Rachmaninoff. The orchestra’s 2014/15 festival, Rachmaninoff: Inside Out, explores the composer’s major orchestral masterpieces, including the complete symphonies and piano concerti as well as the opera The Miserly Knight. Alongside its Rachmaninoff performances, the orchestra will cover works by other composers, including Tchaikovsky, Wagner, Vaughan Williams, Stravinsky and Shostakovich. www.southbankcentre.co.uk/whatson
FIND MORE ABOUT MUSIC AND PERFORMANCES
Politics & Society P6_Wednesday, February 26, 2014_www.rbth.co.uk
Some Russian commentators suggest that Brussels and Washington “radicalised” the Maidan. “The rebellion occurred with maximum political support and apparently with direct operational management of the United States and the European Union,”said political analyst Sergei Markov. These allegations are exaggerated: the radicalisation of Maidan shocked and confused the political elites of the EU and USA, and their common position against Mr Yanukovych appeared only after the Munich conference. A more realistic view is that there were some agreements between the opposition and the West, for example, not to cross certain red lines. Moscow’s position was clear from the very beginning. Russia strictly relied on the principles of international law, reminding everyone that in democratic countries people’s attitude toward authority should be expressed not with Molotov cocktails but through the ballot box. Russia also does not believe in the viability of the postrevolutionary Ukrainian state (especially if the Ukrainian ultra-nationalists who provided militants for Maidan gain political dividend). The events have destroyed not only Yanukovych but also the weak state institutions, and exacerbated contradictions between the west and east of the country. Moreover,Yanukovych’s overthrow and early presidential elections in May (a violation of the agreement brokered by EU foreign ministers, which provided for elections between September and December) will not help to stabilise the situation.“I can hardly imagine how, in such circumstances, the winner of an
Kiev’s Maidan voyage heads for deep and treacherous waters Ukraine The overthrow of Yanukovych may lead to greater division as radicals and nationalists press their demands GEVORG MIRZAIYAN SPECIAL TO RBTH
The demonstrations on the Maidan (Independence Square in Kiev), which began a few months ago, led to the removal from power of President ViktorYanukovych and the establishment of an interim government. “Extremists have overtaken Kiev and the western regions of Ukraine,” said Mikhail Margelov, head of the foreign policy committee of Russia’s Federation Council (the upper chamber of parliament). “And now the members of regular opposition,
including the released Yulia Tymoshenko, will find themselves outside the process. Russia’s Foreign Ministry offered a stark judgment in a statement that accused the new authorities in Kiev of planning to “use dictatorial and sometimes terrorist methods” to suppress opposition from dissenting regions. The European Union, meanwhile, said that proposed aid to Ukraine would have to run to billions of euros, while the United States said that it was ready to supplement any financial support that came from the International Monetary Fund.
Picking up the pieces: A young resident of Kiev surveys the aftermath of the deadly Maidan confrontation
Scan this code to read more about the situation in Ukraine, plus Russia’s reaction and role.
early presidential election will be recognised throughout the country. If he is a representative of the East, the West will not accept him, and vice versa,”said Konstantin Zatulin, director of the Institute of CIS countries. “In this situation, says Zatulin, it is much easier and more humane to organise a partition process, as happened in Czechoslovakia, when the West and East of the country voluntarily agreed to live in peace, but not in the same state. But I think that the selfishness of the Ukrainian authorities and the opposition will not allow them to come to this decision.” According to Gleb Pavlovsky, director of the Fund for Effective Policy, elections can be sabotaged by internal forces. “The people of ‘Right Sector’ in general are not interested in presidential elections, they are interested in the creation of non-governmental institutions to monitor the authorities and to put pressure on them. So there can be a controversial union between the passive population of the eastern regions and the active radical nationalists. These two forces can put into doubt even the organisation of the voting process across the country.” Moscow cannot wait for the “reformation” of Ukraine’s elites but must defend its interests here and now.Therefore, Russia decided to withhold the issue of a new credit tranche for Ukraine, at least until the formation of the country’s new legitimate authority. “As the political situation has changed, we need to understand what government we are going to co-operate with. So we shall wait for its appearance, then we must understand the new government policy and after this we shall make the decision,” said Russian finance minister Anton Siluanov. Many Ukrainians fearful, given the sharp statements of powerful Ukrainian radicals (in particular, their intention to ban foreign TV channels that are said to offer “biased coverage of facts and events and calls for separatism”, and moves to infringe the rights of Russian-speaking citizens of the country).“There are attempts to tear Ukraine from Russia, for example using the language issue,” said Leonid Slutsky, head of the State Duma Committee for CIS, Eurasian Integration and Relations with Compatriots. “This will definitely stimulate us to enter into partnership, and in the most practical way, with each family in Ukraine that does not want to break away from the Russian language and Russian world, so that the children in these families can get an education and speak Russian.” Veteran diplomats point out that Ukraine is much more important for Russia than Syria.“The Russian border with China is a strategic nightmare. The Russian border with Islam is an ideological nightmare. Russia has a border with Europe, historically a very shaky one, which is constantly changing,”said former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.“It is not in our interest to bring them to a state of ‘siege’ when they decide they need to show us what they can do.” FIND MORE at www.rbth.co.uk/ukraine
Natural disaster Residents in Russia’s Far East fully understand the devastating impact of the floods now being experienced by people across Britain
When the rains came: how we defeated the deluge NIKOLAI GORSHKOV SPECIAL TO RBTH
SERGEY SAVOSTIANOV / RG
The current devastating floods in Britain are a reminder of what happened when the heaviest floods in 115 years hit Russia’s Far East six months ago. Between July and August, an area covering over 300,000 square miles – three times the size of the United Kingdom – was battered by tropical-force rain in the Khabarovsk and Amur regions. The rain fell on ground already saturated by the meltwater after an extremely snowy winter. This was the first time that all the major rivers in this vast area along the RussianChinese border became swollen at once. The main waterway, the Amur, rose by almost a foot every other day and reached a record 26½ft in Khabarovsk, the regional capital. This city of 600,000 people stands proudly on the high bank of the Amur, overlooking the Chinese lowlands, and its ornate Russian Orthodox churches on the cliffs can be seen from deep inside China. It was impossible to fathom that the Amur would be splashing at their porches but it nearly did. The historic high street, with its ornate red brick and art deco buildings and leisurely cafés, became a strand. The Russian blogosphere filled with images of flooded streets and houses. It was a lot worse in the fertile agricultural lowlands, the region’s breadbasket. More than 150,000 people in 235 towns and villages were affected, with damage to 13,000 homes across the Far East. Thousands of families had to be evacuated by the emergency services. Miraculously, or perhaps thanks to the timeliness and professionalism of the relief operation, not a single civilian life was lost. In neighbouring China, the floods claimed 100 lives.
President Vladimir Putin flew over the disaster area by helicopter early in the crisis. Later he told Russian television: “When I flew over the flooded area it seemed to me that I was flying over the high seas. The only things that reminded me of the land were chimneys sticking out of the water.” The scale of the rescue operation was unprecedented. Almost 45,000 emergency services and army personnel, as well as volunteers, were engaged in erecting flood defences. RT’s Paul Scott, reporting from the flood-hit areas, said: “It’s a race to lay thousands of sandbags and dig kilometres of draining trenches to keep the water from claiming more towns and villages.” An impressive feat was achieved at Komsomolsk-on-Amur, a city of 250,000 inhabitants 221 miles north-east of Khabarovsk. Army units quickly built a two-mile, 20ft-high dam around an aircraft factory that produces Sukhoi fighter jets. The area around Komsomolsk-on-Amur was the worst hit. Yuri Varakin, head of the emergency situations department at Russia’s Hydro-Meteorological Centre, remarked: “It’s not the same Amur River any more. It’s almost an Amur Sea, 20 to 30 kilometres wide and over 1,000 kilometres long.” This sea had also gobbled up the natural habitat of the region’s wildlife. Brown bears, cut off from their forage, had to be airlifted to save them from starvation – and the local people from their ravenous attention. The floods would have caused even more damage but for an extensive system of dams and reservoirs, built mostly in Soviet times. One of the dams was eventually breached, apparently due to negligence, which cost the presidential envoy in the region his job. His replacement, Deputy Prime Minister Yuri
High and dry: residents of Komsomolsk-on-Amur take to the street – in boats
Trutnev promised a package worth £216m in aid to areas devastated by the floods. The immediate priority is to resettle the thousands of people who lost their homes. Anyone whose property was more than 75pc damaged is entitled to a new house or a flat by September 30 this year. To top up the state aid, Russians donated funds worth £14m during a TV appeal. Just as some local councils in England were not averse to charging residents for sandbags, local authorities in Russia’s Far East were economical with their estimates of damage to property. An estimate just 1pc short of the required 75pc damage deprived residents of the right to a new home. This invited the wrath of Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev who chastised officials for the
Miraculously, or perhaps thanks to the timeliness and professionalism of the relief operation, not a single civilian life was lost
“insulting” practice. President Putin apologised to those who had been decamped to barely comfortable army barracks and, in a strong show of support, chose to celebrate New Year in the region, in the company of residents displaced by the floods. One big difference with the UK was that the Russian floods were followed by a harsh winter, with temperatures dropping well below zero. About 1,000 houses froze into the ice, making it impossible to inspect and assess the damage until spring. The enormous damage to local agriculture is estimated at £1.2bn. The fertile plains were flooded with sewage and then frozen over. Farmers lost all their crops and cattle fodder. Some are desperately trying to collect hay from under the snow to save their dairies, afraid their cows will have to be put down. The government has promised emergency aid worth £15 million. More problems are anticipated when the snow and ice melts in a couple of months. Contaminated flood waters will pose health risks. The region, Mr Trutnev’s agency estimates, will need billions of roubles to build new drainage and flood defences. Now that the worst is over – at least until the spring – there is no shortage of claims and counterclaims about who’s to blame and what’s to be done. According to Yolanda Kakabadze, president of the World Wide Fund for Nature, the underlying causes of the massive flooding are deforestation and expanding farm land that encroaches on fragile wetland and water systems. This is a worldwide problem of a conflict between the drive for economic growth and the need to preserve ecosystems. The Russian Far East is acutely aware of this dichotomy, as Moscow has plans for massive development of the region. It will need £50bn worth of investment, according to Aleksandr Galushka, minister for Far East development, to attract people to live and work in this vast, underdeveloped area.
Yandex challenges Google in mobile firmware dex is also offering The Russian internet users a bonus 50Gb of company Yandex has space on its Yandex. launched a free Disk cloud storage Android firmware kit in a bid to replace pre- service. The company has previously agreed installed Google firmwith Nokia (Windows ware on devices. The Phone 7) and Samfirst Huawei and sung (Bada and SymExplay devices with bian) to pre-install its the preinstalled search engine on their Yandex.Kit should hit stores this spring. Yan- smartphones.
Russians to spend more on online games there is strong potenThe Russian videotial for further growth. games market will The Russian market is reach $1.4bn by 2015 as developers focus on dominated by international bestsellers such the mobile and online as GTA 5 and Battlesegments of the boofield 4. But dozens of ming sector, analysts smaller Russian stuSuperData Research dios are developing predicted. An estimamobile games and seted 16.6 million Rusveral titles have gained sians play video gainternational success. mes and experts say
NEWS IN BRIEF Want to be Russian? Hand over £167,000 Russia will qualify for The Federal Migration a simplified naturaliService and the sation process, along Economic Developwith foreign graduates ment Ministry have of Russian universities drafted a law to make who have worked in it easier for foreign the country for three businessmen to gain years. Currently, only Russian citizenship. foreigners who maKommersant reporrry Russian citizens, or ted that people who were born in the Soinvest at least 10m viet Union, are eligible. roubles (£167,000) in
Central Bank bans Bitcoin transactions Supervisory Authority The Central Bank of Russia has banned the of Denmark has cautioned against its use. use of virtual currenSome economists fear cy Bitcoins in Russia. that Bitcoin, which is The Bank also issued an official warning that not backed by any central monetary Bitcoin transactions authority and generawould be considered ted through computer potentially suspicious. The currency is already algorithms, could become a new banned in China, and financial bubble. the Financial
Russia plans a new decade in space the programme would Prime Minister Dmitry take effect when the Medvedev has approved a proposal to pre- present plan expires in 2015. Russia plans a pare a new 10-year second rocket launch programme for devesite at Vostochny and lopment of Russian to develop the infrasspace centres from tructure at its Plesetsk 2016. Deputy Prime centre. “This will Minister Dmitry ensure access for our Rogozin, who is country to outer sparesponsible for the space sector, said that ce,” Mr Rogozin said.
Comment & Analysis www.rbth.co.uk_Wednesday, February 26, 2014_P7
ART OF DIPLOMACY
WILL UKRAINE’S HOTHEADS TRIGGER A NEW COLD WAR?
Cultural pageant allows British to meet Russians on home soil
Fyodor Lukyanov INTERNATIONAL ANALYST
Alexander Yakovenko AMBASSADOR
T VOX POP
What RBTH readers think about the hot topics. From facebook.com/ russianow Doug Alexander on the Sochi Olympic Games The final product looked good from this end. I especially enjoyed the skiing, ski jumping, snowboarding, bobsledding, skating and, oh yeah, curling lol. How can you not love something so ridiculous?
Like 10 years ago following the “Orange Revolution”,there’s been a dramatic shift in power in Ukraine and a formerly stable political system has collapsed. Unfortunately, this time around events were more tragic, with numerous casualties, bloodshed, and mutual hatred. Now there is hope and romanticism among the victors, who promise not to repeat past mistakes. None the less, independent commentators remain sceptical, fearing that the country could once again follow the same trajectory. Various factors led to the bloody climax in Kiev, including the failure of the Ukrainian political class which, after more than 20 years of independence, has yet to realise its responsibility to the country. The tragedy should serve as a lesson for external players. All too often, neighbouring Russia and the European Union have viewed Ukraine as an object of competition for geopolitical influence. The principal conclusion to be drawn from the turmoil is that Ukraine should never have been forced to choose once and for all between Russia and the West. Ukraine’s heterogeneity creates a situation in which any attempt by the government to side with a particular foreign power leads to a sharp increase in internal tensions. Ukraine’s problems can only be addressed when its largest foreign partners work together. A zero sum game is destructive for a country sandwiched between two large powers. Last week’s convulsions have demonstrated just how polarised Ukrainian society is. The interpretations of events in both Russia and Europe are dangerously black and white, and loaded with ideological clichés. They support the extremist forces on both sides – the extreme nationalists of western Ukraine and the revanchists in the east. A period of stabilisation is needed to reduce the risks. The issue that will soon be at the top of the agenda is the revision of Viktor Yanukovich’s foreign-policy legacy. At the core of that legacy are Ukraine’s non-aligned status and the agreement on deployment of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol until 2042. The new regime’s desire to eject the fleet as well as to raise once again the issue of Ukraine’s Nato membership, could trigger an extremely negative reaction in Moscow and rekindle geopolitical rivalry. This, in turn, could force Russia to reconsider all possibilities, all the way up to encouraging some provinces to secede. Politicians in Kiev immediately returned to the issue of the association agreement with the EU, which triggered the revolution in the first place. It is clear that politicians in Brussels, Warsaw, and Berlin would like to reverse the failure at the Vilnius summit. But the problems that led to the failure in November have not vanished with the change of government in Kiev. Ukraine’s economic success is possible only if it is able to maintain opportunities in the Russian and European markets. Tripartite consultations and the co-ordination of interests are needed to make this happen. President Vladimir Putin proposed such a course of ac-
Ukraine should never have been forced to choose once and for all between Russia and the West
tion last autumn, but the EU wasn’t interested. If last year’s scenario is replayed, the new Ukrainian regime will face even greater challenges from Russian obstruction. A possible attempt by the most militant of the victors to “punish” their opponents, particularly in the east and the south, is another threat. The West is trying to ignore Maidan’s ultra-nationalists, who worship the nationalists of the past that fought on the side of the Nazis. The National Revolution that Maidan is proclaiming has the following items on its agenda: the definition of “anti-national" forces, a ban on ideologies associated with the“accursed past”,lustration (the disqualification of those guilty of past abuses from participating in a new government), and a requirement to swear loyalty not even to the new government, but to a new system of symbols. Such a practice could stoke up major tensions between different parts of the country and provoke a backlash in Russia, to whom the eastern population will appeal. This new page in Ukraine’s history may be similar in content to what happened in East-
ern Europe following the demise of the Soviet Union. However, given the size, complexity and specificity of the country, all the pressing problems that faced the post-communist states will be expressed in a more vivid and perverted form. At the beginning of the Nineties there was no great competition for influence (given that Russia had dropped out of the race), whereas now such competition is inevitable. We’ve heard many times since 1989 that the Cold War is over. But time after time events have shown that the inertia of confrontation and rivalry has not disappeared, and that old instincts are very much alive. Ukraine represents a turning point, beyond which there are two possibilities. Either Russia, the United States and the European powers work together to untie the knots of European history, one of which is Ukraine, or a new Cold War will begin in Europe, potentially symbolised by a divided state. Fyodor Lukyanov is Chairman of the Council for Foreign and Defence Policies and Editor in Chief of the journal Russia in Global Affairs.
World-beating Paralympians deserve world-class support Richard Winterbottom SPECIAL TO RBTH
For the past 17 days, Sochi and Russia have been bathed in the Olympic spirit, that elusive but unforgettable atmosphere that was also one of my lasting impressions of the London 2012 Games. I have been witness to gruff-sounding taxi drivers commenting on the latest figure skating results, flag-clad Russians cheering on the Swiss women’s ice hockey team, standing ovations to speed skating champions and commiserating claps and cheers to those who fell during the women’s super combined final. This is a new Russia, one I have not seen in my seven years of living here, and I like it. The country has never seemed so cheery, open and proud, and I am still pinching myself that I have been able to see it all for myself as a volunteer at the Games. For those of us working on the Winter Games, however, the job is only half done. Once again, Sochi is abuzz with changes as it prepares to host the XI Paralympic Winter Games from March 7-16. The Olympic rings will be exchanged for the Paralympic agitos, workers are retesting new ramps and stair lifts, textured pavement slabs and high visibility lines are being repainted and the Sochi Olympic mascots, Leopard, Hare and Polar Bear, are making way for their
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Russia has one of the world's best Paralympic Winter Games teams, one that topped the medal table at Vancouver 2010
Paralympic counterparts, Snowflake and Ray of Light. The airport, stations and bus stops are a hive of activity as waves of fresh volunteers, participants and guests arrive. For me, this is Russia’s biggest test yet. Disability is still quite a taboo topic here, and the number of wheelchair users, amputees and those with visual impairments on the streets is low, even in Moscow and St Petersburg. People are simply not exposed to these issues, and their reaction to it for an outsider like me can be baffling. A snowboarding colleague I was chatting with recently serves as a perfect example. When I suggested that she should grab a ticket or two to see some of the parasnowboard events, which are making their official debut at these Games, she replied: “Oh no, I don’t think I could watch that”. When I asked why, she mumbled something about “not feeling comfortable” and sought to change the subject. This is exactly the sort of reaction that the Sochi 2014 Organising Committee has set itself the task of challenging. During training sessions, where I have been helping to improve the Englishlanguage skills of helpers at the Games, we have tried to teach the Paralympic movement’s key idea of looking at a person’s abilities and not their disabilities. After all, what these athletes do is truly remarkable; my own feeble attempts at snowboarding or skating are laughable compared to the
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record-breaking feats of these guys. I also find it a shame that many Russians don’t seem to be aware that they have one of the world’s best Paralympic Winter Games teams, one that topped the unofficial medals table at the last Games in Vancouver in 2010. I really hope that these Russian athletes, some of whom I have been lucky enough to meet before the Games, will show their country just what they can do. It’s not all about the athletes, however. I was more than pleased to meet a few international volunteers with disabilities who came to help out at the Olympics. While admitting that things here may not be “fully accessible” in the western sense of the term, they were treated like any other volunteers, with none of the sort of pity I feared might have been the case. For me, this is a good sign of things to come. I am sure, too, that the Paralympics will be a real eye-opener for the people of Sochi. Seeing people with disabilities out and about, sightseeing, eating in restaurants and going about their daily lives in the city will show locals that these people are no different from them and deserve the same respect and rights as they do. I hope this will trickle down into the larger society and that the situation in Russia as a whole will improve dramatically for those with disabilities. I have survived seven years here by keeping the mantra: “This is Russia; things are different here,” in my head. I know that, when it comes to conditions for people with disabilities, Russia is somewhat behind the UK, but I see signs of change here. I am looking forward to these Games, not only because I scored tickets for the final of the Ice Sledge Hockey, but to see if Russians can ignite the flame of Paralympic values and spirit as well as they did for fans and athletes at the Olympics.
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Thames Loris on the blocking of sites after unlawful use of music content I don't like the fact that they're going down this route... one of the nice things about Russia was that they aren’t so draconian about copyright issues.
Felipe An Muñoz on efforts at conflict resolution in Syria We need Iran and Saudi Arabia in this peace process. Both of them are great players in that conflict.
wo weeks ago, an estimated three billion people around the world tuned in to watch the opening ceremony of the Sochi Olympic Winter Games. Like Danny Boyle’s acclaimed ceremony for London 2012, our event gave a whistle-stop tour through our nation’s proud history and culture, albeit with a little less British humour. The popularity and indeed scrutiny of these events is a powerful reminder of the importance of culture and history in shaping both a country’s own national identity and its understanding and appreciation in the international community. The UK and Russia are nations that have both been blessed with rich cultural heritages, with great artists, composers, writers and performers known throughout the world. And alongside this history, we also have vibrant contemporary cultures, which is why I am delighted that this year, starting on February 24, has been designated the first UK-Russia Year of Culture. Organised by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the British Council, the scope of the festival is ambitious: more than 50 major events will take place across the UK alone. But what does this blaze of culture mean for the two countries? Relations between our two great countries do not always run smoothly and we would be mistaken to think that a cultural festival such as this is the answer to all the challenges we face. I do, however, believe that it signals a way in which relations can be reinvigorated, refreshed and revived. This is important because there are many things that we share culturally. But it is equally important because it helps us recognise and appreciate our differences in a way that builds understanding about each other as well as ourselves. I think this can manifest itself in two important ways. Cultural linkages and connections lead to more creativity. From Shakespeare to Dostoevsky, Pushkin to Dickens, the Tudors to the Romanovs, Wren to Thon, great artists, architects and writers and statesmen have enriched the dialogue between our countries. This cultural interaction and sharing helps us question the simplistic stereotypes that programmes such as the Fox series, Meet the Russians, all too easily shape. The second important factor is that cultural linkages lead to better business and trade ties, too. In recent years, Russia has become an increasingly important trading partner for the UK. The country is the UK’s fastest growing export market, and in 2012 British exports to Russia increased by 15pc, reaching £5.5bn. With trade comes cultural interaction. Deeper cultural links are the vital grease that oils the cogs; without it the great potential for further business growth could be missed. And we should not forget the importance of the creative industries to the economies in both our countries. In the UK, the sector is one of the fastest growing industries, contributing 6pc of GDP and employing more than two million people. In Russia, cultural and creative arts hubs in St Petersburg and Moscow are gaining momentum and filtering into the fabric of these celebrated cities. Greater cultural ties between our countries have the potential to be a catalyst for more growth and collaboration in these sectors, too. In a year when we have opened our country up to the world through the Sochi Winter Games, I hope that by building our cultural and creative links through this cultural Olympiad, our nations will find further understanding, new opportunities and greater awareness of what brings us together rather than what divides. This can be the legacy of the UK-Russia year of Culture, and I cannot wait for it to start.
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Feature P8_Tuesday, January 28, 2014_www.rbth.co.uk
Great Britons: the men behind the magical monuments of Moscow Art and architecture A journey round the Russian capital reveals an enduring cultural legacy of the British in Russia
GEORGY MANAEV RBTH
ST ANDREW'S ENGLISH CHURCH
From the Bolshoi Theatre and the Kremlin’s Spasskaya Tower, to the Hotel Metropol and the English club on Tverskaya, several buildings and spaces in Moscow have preserved the memory of a strong British influence in the city’s history.
ENGLISH CLUB From 1831 the club was located on 21 Tverskaya, which was the former palace of Count Razumovsky.
The Victorian Gothic building was designed by English architect Richard Neil Freeman and erected in 1884.
THE BOLSHOI THEATRE The Bolshoi Theatre began its history as an Englishman's enterprise.
First English merchants and craftsmen The first known Brit to visit Moscow was Richard Chancellor, who accidentally reached Arkhangelsk in August 1553, while seeking the North Sea route to India. This was reported to the Russian Tsar Ivan the Terrible, who invited Chancellor to Moscow, treated him as an important guest and agreed to establish duty-free trade between the two countries. Thus, the first Englishmen to begin living in Russia were largely merchants; they used a stone chamber-house not far from the Kremlin (on 4 Varvarka) as their residence. The house also served as a storage chamber and the English Embassy. One of the rare remaining examples of 16th-century architecture, the building now houses a museum called the Old English Court, which was opened in 1994 by the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh on their visit to Moscow. Englishmen and Scotsmen worked in Moscow as merchants, doctors and craftsmen. Their skills were in demand in the 17th century – a time of rapid technical development for Russia. Scottish architect and engineer Christopher Galloway was hired by the first Romanov, tsar, Mikhail, to assemble a clock for Spasskaya Tower. The clock was unusual: The dial spun round and its only hand stood still. Galloway explained: “The Russians are unlike other nations, so their clock should be different from the others.” In addition, Galloway contributed to the image of Spasskaya Tower by creating its famous tented roof in 1626.
became the setting for the ceremonial dinner in honour of General Pyotr Bagration, described by Leo Tolstoy in War and Peace. In 1831, the club moved to a permanent location on 21 Tverskaya, which was the former palace of Count Razumovsky. The club boasted a huge library of Russian and European periodicals, and the club’s cuisine was considered the best in Russia. Many famous Russian writers and officials were members of the club, including Alexander Pushkin, Nikolay Gogol, Mikhail Kutuzov, Leo Tolstoy, so the club certainly had an influence on Russian culture. Today, the building of the club houses the Museum of Contemporary Russian History, with some historical interior still intact. In the 19th century, the number of Englishmen in Moscow increased, along with industrial growth and the rising popularity of the English language among Russian nobility. The British society in Moscow now required an English church, which was founded in 1829 as a chapel on 8 Voznesensky Lane. In the 1870s, it became clear that the chapel was too small for the growing parish, so a new Victorian Gothic building – designed by English architect Richard Neil Freeman – was erected in 1884. The church was sanctified in the name of St Andrew, as the most important people of Moscow’s British diaspora were Scottish. Apart from a church, the building also housed a library, meeting room and an archive. The church was closed in 1920, and in Soviet times it was used as a dormitory. Later, because of the fascinating acoustics of the building, the church served as a recording studio for Melodiya – the Soviet Union’s largest record label. The church reopened in 1991, and in 1994 it was visited by the Queen.
The cultural life and soul
Peter’s Scottish friends In late-17th-century Moscow, the British were mainly living in the German Quarter on the banks of the Yauza River (the contemporary Basmannyy District). Peter the Great, who frequented the German Quarter as a boy, later had Scotsmen at his service: Patrick Gordon, the best foreign general in Russian service; and James (Yakov) Bruce, the general, engineer and scientist who is still remembered in Moscow to this day. The latter’s house was situated near Sukhareva Tower (demolished in 1934) – a spectacular 196ft building from 1695, located where Sukharevskaya Square now stands. Bruce hosted the first Russian astronomy school, which used the tower for observations; he also executed experiments in chemistry and predicted the solar eclipse of 1709 – all of which made Muscovites believe he was some kind of warlock. In reality, James Bruce was a senator, a minister in the Russian government, and a fearless war commander who accompanied Peter on his harshest campaigns. His descendant,Yakov A Bruce, was governor general of Moscow (1784-1786) and the first governor of Moscow to inhabit the house on 13 Tverskaya, which has been the residence of the city’s head ever since.
Welcome to the club As the English manufacturers and merchants multiplied in Russia, they found themselves in need of a social club. On March 1, 1770, the first English club was organised in St Petersburg. One year later, an English club opened in Moscow. The club became hugely popular among Russian nobility: In 19th-century Moscow, to be a member of the English club meant tto belong o be b lo on ng g to the elite. From 1802 0 to 1812, thee club clu ub rentrent re nted a house on 15/29 Stra Strastnoy which y Boulevard, lev evarrd, dw h ch hi
The new building of the British Embassy in Moscow is located on the Smolenskaya embankment.
Scottish engineer Christopher Galloway was hired by Tsar Mikhail to assemble a clock for Spasskaya Tower.
THE BANKS OF THE YAUZA RIVER In late 17th-century Moscow, the British mainly lived in the German Quarter on the banks of the Yauza River.
Another symbol of Moscow, the Bolshoi Theatre, began its history as an Englishman’s enterprise. In 1776, Petrovsky Theatre was opened at this location by English entrepreneur Michael Maddocks. Open to the public in general and not just to the nobility, the theatre was a huge success. Petrovsky Theatre hosted 425 plays before it burnt down in 1805. Its foundation and three walls were used as a base for the famous building of the Bolshoi Theatre, which was designed by Russian architect Osip Bove. Michael Maddocks later retired and became the head of a big family, whose descendants still live in Russia to the present day. In 1898, Savva Mamontov, a famous Russian merchant and patron of the arts, opened a contest for a project involving a hotel and cultural centre to be located across the square from the Bolshoi Theatre. The jury awarded the job to renowned Moscow architect Lev Kekushev, but Mamontov himself chose the project of English architect William Walcot. After Mamontov was jailed for fraud, the building site was taken over by Petersburg Insurance, and Kekushev was assigned as a co-architect. Walcot and Kekushev hired outstanding artists and architects – Golovin, Vasnetsov, Korovin, and Andreev, among others – to decorate the building. Metropol became the largest pre-Revolution hotel, famous for its magnificent Princess of Dreams mosaic panel by Mikhail Vrubel. William Walcot was also the architect of Gutheil House (8 Prechistensky Lane) and Yakunchikova House (10 Prechistensky Lane), and a dormitory for English governesses at 9 Spiridonievsky Lane – all very fine examples of, according to contemporary critics, English decadent art nouveau architecture. FIND MORE www.rbth.co.uk/russia-uk_relations
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RUSSIA-BEYOND YOUR IMAGINATION! Explore 10 places you would never believe were in Russia and even more destinations with TRAVEL.RBTH.COM