Distributed with www.rbth.ru
Special supplement from Rossiyskaya Gazeta (Moscow, Russia) which takes sole responsibility for the contents. Saturday, February 8, 2014
© RIAITAR-TASS NOVOSTI
Economy The Russian stock market is ready to face new challenges. P.03
Olympics High hopes for international recognition as curtain goes up on record-breaking Games
Technology Cold War bunkers still lie hidden in the Moscow metro. P.06
Russia goes for Olympic gold
WINTER OLYMPICS AP
The Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics promise world-class ski resorts in the Caucasus Mountains, futuristic stadiums beside the sea, and a vast new Olympic Park framed by subtropical palm trees. DOMINIC BASULTO SPECIAL TO RBTH
The development of Sochi as a Winter Olympics host city was an epic undertaking that, if all goes as planned, will formally introduce “the new Russia” to the world as both a great power and a modern economy. What makes Sochi’s transformation all the more ambitious is that none of this actually existed a few years ago. When Sochi won its Olympic bid in 2007, there was much grumbling that Pyeongchang (which finished 2nd) and Salzburg (which finished 3rd) were more worthy choices. Indeed, the finishing touches on many of Sochi’s Olympic venues - including Fisht
Olympic Stadium, the site of the opening and closing ceremonies were still being applied as the New Year arrived. As a result, the opening ceremony will be a moment of high drama not just for the rest of the world, but also for the Russian Olympic organisers. While all of the new competition venues in Sochi have now hosted international events, they are nearly as new to the Russian Olympic team as to the arriving foreign athletes. The ski jump area went into service just recently after significant delays and cost overruns – overruns so outrageous that the head of the project was publicly reprimanded on national TV by President Vladimir Putin. This ski season is also the first time the new mountain train – trusted with the job of whisking Olympic visitors between the Coastal Cluster and the Mountain Cluster - started making trips back and forth to the mountains.
What Russia did by selecting Sochi as the host city for the 2014 Winter Olympics was to completely turn the traditional model on its head. That model – which had existed as long as the Olympics had taken place in the US, Canada and Europe – was to take a proven winter resort area, spruce it up, add a few modern touches, and not worry much about anything else – like whether or not it actually snows. What Russia proposed instead was to start from scratch in a city with no alpine ski tradition to speak of, in a city better known to Russians as a summer resort on the “Russian Riviera.” Given Sochi’s subtropical climate, whether or not it will actually snow in Sochi is still a matter of global speculation. A decade ago, Sochi did not have a single world-class ski resort, and certainly nothing that would have hinted at Sochi becoming a future Olympics host city. That all
changed when President Putin made the mountains of Krasnaya Polyana his personal ski retreat. To convince wealthy Russians who might have gone abroad to visit Sochi’s ski resorts instead, no expense was spared. Rosa Khutor, the crown jewel, has one of the longest vertical drops in the world and was built with the help of Western European and American ski experts. At the highest elevations, if you blink, you’ll think that you’re in Switzerland or Austria. Sleepy mountain roads are now lined with European-style ski chalets and pastel-coloured hotels. US Olympic skiers who have come back from Sochi say it is surreal, as if Russia has just built a winter Disneyland in the mountains. Critics – and there are many, both in Russia and abroad – would argue that Sochi 2014 is simply Putin's personal prestige project, a grand attempt to put Russia back
SOCHI'S LIMITED INFRASTRUCTURE AND WARM CLIMATE HAVE CONTRIBUTED TO THE HIGH COSTS
on the map by wildly overspending. Others point to the escalating price tag - $50 billion – which officially makes Sochi the most expensive Olympics in history. Western critics have complained that the $50 billion price tag has been inflated by both endemic corruption and Russia’s byzantine bureaucracy. There is no doubt that Sochi will be one of the biggest, most extravagant Olympics in recent memory, perhaps ever. The 123-day Olympic Torch Relay has already included a space walk aboard the International Space Station, a visit to an active volcano, and a trip underwater to Lake Baikal. And the Olympics themselves promise the highest medal count ever in the history of the Winter Games and the largest number of events ever. READ MORE ON PAGES 4-5, 8
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RUSSIA BEYOND THE HEADLINES WWW.RBTH.RU GULF NEWS_SATURDAY_FEBRUARY_08_2014
Society An unusual Orthodox tradition
International Delhi and Moscow are working on a deal to supply military hardware to Kabul
Taking the plunge into icy waters Despite frigid temperatures, many Russians relish the annual ritual of dipping in a hole cut into the ice of a frozen river. LUCIA BELLINELLO RBTH
ARUN MOHANTY SPECIAL TO RBTH
Delhi and Moscow are working to reach a deal under which Russia would supply some military hardware to Kabul, the bill for which would be footed by India. During his last official visit to lndia, Afghan President Hamid Karzai made a request to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for the supply of military equipment to Kabul in order to improve its defence capabilities to meet security challenges following the planned withdrawal of NATO troops. Kabul wants the transfer of this military equipment for its armed forces under the strategic partnership deal signed with India. However, India, the world’s largest arms importer, has an arsenal largely equipped with weaponry of Soviet and Russian origin. India cannot re-export Russian-made weapons to a third country under an existing bilateral agreement. Therefore Delhi and Moscow are working towards an understanding under which Russian-made military hardware would be supplied to Kabul, a transaction for which Delhi would foot the bill. Some of the Russian-made arms can be re-exported to Kabul with Moscow's blessing.
Afghan security teams have already visited India with their wishlist and made an assessment of the kind of equipment they need. Kabul has apparently expressed its desire to have battle tanks, field guns, military aircrafts, armoured vehicles and trucks. The Indo-Afghan negotiations on these issues are believed to be at an advanced stage. Under the Indo-Afghan Strategic Partnership Agreement
The primary concern for both India and Russia remains the possibility of the Taliban staging a comeback. signed in 2011, India is already providing some military training to Afghan armed forces. Afghanistan is keen to have Russian-made military hardware as its armed forces have been wellacquainted with Russian weaponry for decades. The USSR and Afghanistan had historically close military ties and the Afghan army was trained and equipped by the Soviets for a long time in the past. This explains the preference for Russian weapons and defence systems displayed by Afghanistan's present-day government and military leadership. Russia and Afghanistan are currently developing their defence ties under a bilateral military-technical cooperation agreement. An idea which is also on the table is to source some weapons from Central Asian
countries, whose defence forces are equipped with Russian armaments and military systems. This type of tripartite arrangement facilitating military supplies to Afghanistan is not the first of its kind. Under a deal between Moscow and Washington, Russia supplied Afghanistan with military hardware, including military helicopters, while the US picked up the tab. Even NATO forces have used Russian helicopters in Afghanistan. However, some experts cast doubt that any agreement for this kind of arrangement can be signed unless and until Afghanistan completes the process of inking a bilateral security arrangement with the US, a deal which seems to be running into difficulties. Indo-Russian military cooperation in the Afghan sphere is not going to be confined to military supplies alone. Both countries are reported to have already taken decision to renovate a Soviet military hardware maintenance facility in the suburbs of Kabul. Having strong stakes in Afghanistan, both strategic partners are extremely concerned that the security situation in the country might deteriorate in the aftermath of withdrawal of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and believe that the pullout is being conducted in a hurry. Though India and Russia share close views on the Afghan issue, they seem to differ in their assessment of the planned US military presence in Afghanistan (in the
Both nations are concerned that the withdrawal of ISAF troops will imperil Afghan security.
Sergei Lavrov RUSSIAN MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS
The removal of international security forces is justified by the fact that by the end of next year, the Afghan security forces, and the Afghan army, will be able to take control of law and order in the country – although so far this has not been the trend. The closer the date of withdrawal of foreign troops approaches, the more evidence appears that Afghan security forces will not be ready.
form of a military base). Russia is completely opposed to the idea of a foreign military presence in Afghanistan without a UN mandate. The primary concern for both Russia and India remains the possibility of the Taliban staging a comeback in the country. The Taliban–led Afghanistan of the late 1990s was a breeding ground for international terrorism that caused huge problems for India in Kashmir and for Russia in Chechnya. Therefore a situation in which the Taliban recaptured power in Afghanistan would clearly be against the interests of both nations. In the light of attempts to negotiate with the Taliban abroad, both countries strongly advocate that the peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan should be exclusively Afghan-led.
100,000 People in Russia celebrated the Epiphany by diving into the icy water of rivers and lakes despite extremely low temperatures.
India and Russia are holding talks on meeting the defence requirements of Afghanistan, where the security situation is likely to worsen in the aftermath of the US troop pullout from the war-torn country this year.
India and Russia eye tripartite deal on Afghan defence
At 21 degrees below zero Celsius, mobile phones stop working and a thin layer of white frost appears on eyelashes. For many Orthodox Russians, it’s perfect weather for a dip in the Moscow River. It's the Epiphany, the day Christ was baptised, and standing by the river are the local "morzhi", walruses as they are called in Russian, or those who dive into the river’s icy waters. This year they totalled 100,000. In Serebryany Bor, the forest to the east of the capital, more than 2,000 believers have taken a dip in just a few hours. "The first ones arrived last night. Then the ritual continued nonstop the whole morning," says a firefighter, explaining one of the most popular and impressive Russian traditions, as men and women reappear in bathing suits. "This is how Orthodox Christians reminisce about the baptising of Jesus Christ: they dig holes in the ice,” he says. On the night of January 19, a priest blesses the water into which the believers dive in the next day. This year 60 cross-shaped holes ("iordany" in Russian) were cut in the ice for the Epiphany. "The temperature shock can be dangerous. Doctors do not recommend diving to people with heart disease. In the past people used to get sick, but today there have been no problems," he says. Assisted by two safety guards, a woman slowly descends the wooden steps to a iordan, which is the Russian name for Jordan, as in the Jordan River. She makes the sign of the cross, then holds her breath and dips her head three times.“In the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.” As she comes out of the water, a cloud of steam escapes from her
body. She covers herself with a towel and slowly, quietly, moves towards the two heated tents where the faithful get undressed and drink tea. "Leave your fur coat here. Just go in your swimsuit and cover yourself with a towel," a woman tells a younger girl. There is a boy of about six in a bathrobe, jumping and stomping his feet on the ground. This is his first time. "I wonder if he will remember it for the rest of his life," says the woman. A girl walks in through the entrance of the tent, shivering and dripping. She has black makeup smudged below her eyes. "I do not dive for religious reasons, but because it is very good for your health,”she explains.“I do not prepare myself physically, only psychologically." Two Italians working in Moscow have also decided to experience the thrill of Iordan.“I cannot feel my feet,” says Federico Fanti after bathing. "It really is not as terrible as it sounds," adds Mark Minoretti, rubbing his hands together to warm them up.“You feel really cold when you are undressed. Then, as you come into the water, the feeling is almost pleasant. In fact, I went in twice. When we came back to the tent, after the swim, the Russians complimented us and offered us tea to warm ourselves up." As RIA Novosti reports, a total of 116 safety personnel and 2,500 police and security forces were employed to keep an eye on bathers in Moscow during this year's Epiphany celebration.
Russians all over the country were diving into the icy water on Jan. 19.
QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
Arctic 30 promise to continue their campaign Do you consider that Greenpeace’s action was a peaceful protest? I don’t think – well, obviously, if we’re being accused of hooliganism, it’s a distorted view of what really happened. But so far there has been no proof of anything close to hooliganism or piracy, and it was a peaceful and non-violent protest, and if we do those protests, I mean, it happens with activists that know what they’re doing, and safety is always a priority.You always do that by communicating, by telling the company what you’re here to do.
Greenpeace activist Faiza Oulahsen insists last year's protest on the Prirazlomnaya oil rig in the Arctic was peaceful and necessary.
Faiza Oulahsen: "I will continue to campaign to save the Arctic, that’s not going to change."
Did any of you anticipate that the protest would result in your vessel being detained? Well, in the weeks before, because the expedition was longer than just the moment we were there, they did threaten [us] with boarding, and at some point they did force us, under the threat of violence, to [let them] board the ship. But we just kept thinking, “Ok, you know, this is just a way to get us out of there, they know we’re harmless and we’re just there to peacefully protest.” That doesn’t mean that we don’t think about all possible scenarios, whether they’re likely or not. For us, and for myself personally, it definitely was a possibility ending up in jail;
however I thought it would be a very unlikely scenario. Are you aware that the majority of Russians think that the seizure of your vessel was legal? I don’t know if that’s the case, if many Russians think that. I spent two months in prison, and barely had any news, I don’t know. But I do know that many of the Russians I spoke [to] are very supportive, are ashamed of what's happening to us, know our intentions were noble, that we were doing it in a peaceful, non-violent way. In the light of this experience, would you be prepared to participate in similar protests in the future?
Well, I will continue to campaign to save the Arctic, that’s not going to change. However, I have to admit, I do think tactics in the future in Russia are going to be slightly different, and we’re going to have to be more creative. But I will continue to campaign, whether it’s protesting against Shell drilling in Alaska, Statoil in Norway, or companies like Rosneft and Gazprom in the Russian Arctic. Of all the environmental risks associated with drilling in the Arctic, what would you say is the most serious? Well, drilling for oil is never without risk. So you have a significant difference between onshore oil and offshore. And, well, with offshore the risks are always significantly greater. And there’s always a risk of an oil spill, no matter how small
it is. Nobody in the oil industry would deny it. If you look at Prirazlomnaya, at where it is in the Pechora Sea, two-thirds of the year it’s covered in thick ice. There’s a lot of darkness, heavy Arctic storms, mists… There’s a lack of infrastructure, so the chances that something would go wrong are significantly greater, and if it goes wrong, well… if you just make the comparison to Gulf of Mexico BP: So, warm waters – ok, yes, it was deep sea drilling, but warmer waters – quite impressive infrastructure, and it still took two to three months to stop it. So in theory, there is actually a possibility that when you have an oil spill at Prirazlomnaya, it might go on for a year. Alastair Gill Special to RBTH
RUSSIA BEYOND THE HEADLINES WWW.RBTH.RU GULF NEWS_SATURDAY_FEBRUARY_08_2014
Stocks After a fall in 2013, Russian equity analysts expect single-digit returns in 2014
A case for cautious optimism Russian equity had one of its worst years on record in 2013, especially compared to US and European markets. Yet analysts are sanguine about the prospects for Russian stocks in 2014.
Analysts forecast that in 2014 Russia’s benchmark RTS Index will recover from its losses.
BEN ARIS SPECIAL TO RBTH
Russian equities have frequently been among the best-performing in the world since they came into existence.
© RIA NOVOSTI
Despite the country’s image problems abroad, including concerns over minority shareholders’ rights and state influence in the marketplace, Russian equities have frequently been among the bestperforming in the world in the years since they came into existence. After the Russian stock market was founded in 1995, Russian stocks returned at least 8 per cent during 13 out of the past 18 years, and generally returned over 20 per cent in any year where there wasn’t a crisis. The real trouble is that those crises tended to destroy most of the previous gains. In both the crashes of 1998 and 2008, the market lost some 75 per cent of its value in a matter of months. With that in mind, investing in Russian equities may be a relatively simple process of asking,“Is this a crisis year or not?” While predicting a crisis accurately is impossible, predicting which years will not be crisis years should be easier (Notable exceptions to this rule of thumb include 2000, when the RTS fell 18.2 per cent, and 2011, when it fell 21.9 per cent). So what about this year? In 2014, analysts predict the dollar-denominated RTS Index will rise to 1,500, according to a poll of 11 analysts conducted by Reuters. That indicates an increase of approximately 8 per cent relative to the year’s
above the break-even line with a full-year gain of 1.9 per cent). Economists believe 2013 became Russia’s annus horribilis due to a combination of the soggy global recovery with the collapse of confidence inside the country, which hurt investment in particular. However, simply because 2014 is starting from such a low base, many of them expect the new year to be a lot better than the last and for Russian stocks to rise, partly because they are cheap – even by Russia’s historically low standards.
Fund, which produced a return of over 3,600 per cent in this period, while the best-performing retail fund was East Capital’s Russia Fund, which rose more than 1,500 per cent over the same period. The year 2013 was one of Russia’s worst on record in which an outright crisis did not occur. The almost universal prediction for 3.5 per cent growth in 2013 made at the start of the year failed to materialise. Instead, the economy sputtered, eventually ending 2013 with about 1.5 per cent growth.
opening at 1,390. That is perhaps not spectacular. But it is no crisis, and it would represent a recovery from the 5.6 per cent loss in 2013. Russian stocks have frequently outperformed their emerging-market peers. From 2000 to 2010, Russia-dedicated funds were the best performing in the world of any asset class, taking spots 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6 out of the top 10, according to fund rating agency Morningstar. The best-performing professional investor fund was Prosperity Capital Management’s Quest
1,500 The level that the RTS Index is expected to reach in 2014, thus demonstrating moderate growth.
$843 billion Was the price of the Russian stock market in 2013.
This poor result affected the value of stocks, which in Russia have historically been driven largely by rising earnings and energy prices, and produced one of the rare years in which the RTS Index fell despite the absence of a crisis. The RTS’s 5.6 per cent drop was mainly due to the impact of a weakening ruble, which lost 10.4 per cent against the Central Bank’s basket of currencies, said Chris Weafer, senior partner at Macro Advisory (the ruble-denominated MICEX finished the year just
At the end of 2013, Russian shares were trading at a 25 per cent discount to their emergingmarket peers, an improvement over the 50 per cent discount shares were marked down to in 2009. One event that spurred cautious optimism was the reopening of the IPO market in 2013. A total of $7.9 billion was raised via a combination of five IPOs and four Secondary Public Offerings. The biggest factor that could affect the markets in 2014, say economists, would be a return of confidence and the resumption of domestic investment, one of the main economic drivers this year. “The key to the valuation of the Russian equity market is not in assets but rather in investments,” said Alexei Zabotkin, an analyst with VTB Capital.“Only once the investment pattern changes will the Russian market start to rerate."
GLOBAL RUSSIA BUSINESS CALENDAR
Investment Foreign entrepreneurs talk about the challenges of working in the Russian capital
The realities of doing business in Moscow
Attracting foreign investors is particularly important for Moscow, which, according to government plans, is aiming to take its place alongside London and New York in the coming years as a global financial centre. Foreigners who have successfully been doing business in Russia for several years shared their experiences at a forum at the Moscow Government Mass Media Roadshow, held in Moscow on December 4. “To open a business in Russia was not difficult, the most important thing was to find the right employees,”said Vincenzo Trani, a forum member and founder of an investment company, who moved from Italy to Moscow 12 years ago. At the time, many friends and relatives were convinced that he was crazy, according to Trani. In their opinion, he was heading for the unknown, leaving a successful career with the world’s oldest bank, Monte dei Paschi di Siena.
With a focus on promoting trade relations between Russia and the GCC countries, this event provides an opportunity for those interested in mutual investments. The forum will address Russia – GCC cooperation in implementing infrastructure projects, developing cooperation in gas and oil services, the petrochemical industry, nuclear plants and alternative energy resources, as well as nanotechnology, communications and telecommunications. The second day will include discussions on the tourism and airlines sector in Russia and the GCC countries, and expanding cooperation in the diamond and gemstones industry. The forum will also cover trade and economic legislation in the UAE, as well as prospects for cooperation in food manufacturing and agriculture.
Vincenzo Trani opened a business in Russia and says that now profits are much higher than in Italy.
Gabrio Marchetti FOUNDER OF AN INDUSTRIAL BUILDING REPAIR COMPANY
For the Russian business community, formalities and flashiness are very important — wearing good watches, driving expensive cars and so forth. There is no European country where you can meet so many people in ties as in Russia."
example of the quality of hires in Russia. “When you’re starting a business in Russia, your chief accountant is extremely important.” In general, Lindeberg advises that if you’re starting a business in Russia from scratch,“you really need to have a plan and interview a lot of people.” Unlike Lindeberg, who specialises in the recruitment of senior and middle managers, another member of the Moscow forum, Gregory Gorelik, the founder of an online interior luxury goods store, said it takes some time to find“presentable and polite staff.” In addition, Gorelik was confronted with the fact that 95 per cent of Russian customers prefer to pay in cash on delivery of the
goods, which slows down the rate of return on investment. “Our investors have to invest more and more money,” Gorelik said. Nevertheless, with more than one million customers, his business is growing, he said. Despite numerous examples of successful companies set up by foreigners in Moscow, the mayor’s office acknowledges that investor confidence is a problem. Moscow officials are now looking at the modernisation of infrastructure, in particular engineering structures, as well as the development of transport networks, energy-saving technologies, and real estate investments as promising areas of cooperation with foreign investors.
“Other markets do not provide such profits as can be earned in Russia,”Trani said, explaining why he decided to start investing in Russia.“Here the yield is 7 per cent to 8 per cent in euros, while in Italy it is 3 per cent to 3.5 per cent, and in Switzerland it’s 1 per cent to 1.5 per cent.” However, by his own admission, Trani prefers to understate expected rates of return when discussing investments with customers. “Western investors fear high percentages,”he said.“If you say that the yield will be 5.4 per cent, then, as a result, they will be very happy when they get 7 per cent to 8 per cent.” An important advantage of doing business in Russia is the attitude of officials to foreigners, he said. “When they see foreigners, they behave more kindly.You will not find this anywhere else.” American Teri Lindeberg, founder of a recruitment firm active in the Russian market since 2000, had positive things to say about managing a business in Russia. “I love being in Russia, I love the business environment, I love the people I know and I even like driving here,” Lindeberg said. “The talent you can hire here is super-strong.”she said, adding that her accountant, who was recruited in the early 2000s, was a prime
11-12 FEBRUARY 2014, ALMAS TOWER, DUBAI
In an effort to find more ways to attract foreign investors to Russia’s capital, authorities in Moscow asked several expat businessmen to give their assessment of the pros and cons of starting a business in the city.
2ND RUSSIA – GCC BUSINESS FORUM
FIND MORE IN THE GLOBAL CALENDAR
RUSSIA BEYOND THE HEADLINES WWW.RBTH.RU GULF NEWS_SATURDAY_FEBRUARY_08_2014
WELCOMING THE WORLD RUSSIA HAS BECOME AN OLYMPIC GAMES HOST NATION FOR THE SECOND TIME IN ITS HISTORY AND IS DETERMINED TO MAKE IT AN OCCASION THAT WILL LIVE LONG IN THE MEMORY
THE MAKING OF A RUSSIAN CHAMPION Breaking from the old model of total state sponsorship and control, many of the athletes preparing for Sochi have worked with foreign coaches and a wide range of training methods. JAMES ELLINGWORTH SPECIAL TO RBTH
Ivan Drago has a lot to answer for. The ice-cold, thankfully fictional Soviet rival of Rocky Balboa has shaped Western perceptions of Russian athletes ever since he punched his way onto the silver screen in 1985. His training regime, especially, stuck in the mind - a sterile laboratory using modern technology and steroids to create an artificial athlete. To many, Russian sports stars are either Drago-like robots or Anna Kournikova-style blonde bombshells of the tennis court. Needless to say, Russians aren’t robots - I’d hardly be working as a Moscow sports correspondent if they were. But Russians do prepare very differently from their US or British rivals, and with the Sochi Winter Olympics coming up, now’s a good time to break it down. The biggest difference is the role of the state. Many of the Americans in Sochi next month will have got there with charity, sponsorship cash and financial hardship.
The Russians are there on the government’s account. PresidentVladimir Putin’s ideal in government is the“power vertical”principle, and most Russian sports (except for perhaps football, hockey and tennis) fit that template perfectly - athletes answer to their coaches, coaches to their federations, and the federations to the ministry. Funding goes the other way - if the athletes are obedient and successful. With no need to waste time on promotional activities to grub up funding, Russians often end up fitter than their rivals, too. When it works, the success can be spectacular. In Russia’s strongest Olympic sports, like rhythmic gymnastics, figure skating or synchronised swimming, kids are often receiving intense, lavishly funded training by the age of 10, and helped into elite colleges later on. Many start training when they’re just four years old -“That late!”exclaimed several of the national synchronised swimming team at a press conference when one of their members admitted she had only taken up the sport when she was seven. The results speak for themselves. Russia has won every Olympic gold medal in synchronised swim-
AT SOCHI RUSSIA AIMS NOT ONLY TO FULFIL THE ROLE OF HOST BUT TO TAKE TOP HONOURS
115 Gold medals won by Soviet and Russian athletes at Winter Olympics since 1952.
ming and rhythmic gymnastics since 2000, producing a constant turnover of new champions. Ahead of Sochi, 12 of the last 20 figure skating golds have gone to Russians. The system doesn’t produce Ivan Drago clones, either - there’s plenty of room for emotion. Yelena Isinbayeva, perhaps the greatest Russian track and field athlete of all time, calls her coach her“second father”and they share a unique bond. “Sometimes we don't even need to speak. I understand him from syllables, from brief looks,” she told RIA Novosti in 2012. There’s a downside, though. When a coach’s authority is backed with the power of the state, it creates an environment ripe for abuses of power. That may explain some of Russian sport’s many doping scandals - a young athlete is unlikely to ask too many questions about their daily“vitamin supplements”if the coach has the power to take away
their place in the SDYuShOR, one of the country’s elite athletes-only schools where the pressure to succeed is intense. That sort of isolation can turn into a siege mentality. Those young synchronised swimming champions mentioned earlier were speaking less than two weeks after winning yet another world title, but they detected conspiracies against them everywhere. At August's World Championships in Barcelona, a delayed bus ride to the training pool was a sign“the Spanish wanted to put pressure on us right from the start,”according to Svetlana Kolesnichenko, who left Spain with four gold medals. Russia’s swimmers have a strict no-fraternising policy with competitors unless banned doping products “end up in our water or our food, coincidentally, in some way,” she added with enthusiasm. That’s almost unheard of in modern sport - after growing up in an isolated environment, it seems the isolation can become voluntary.
As for the Americans, “they’ve been trying for several years already to push synchronised swimming out [of the Olympics],”Kolesnichenko claimed. There is no evidence of any such attempt. Synchro is the Russian system at its most successful, most disciplined and most isolated - almost Soviet-style, in fact. But there are signs things are changing. The system has never worked in some sports - Alpine skiing, say, or cycling - and Russia’s record low medal haul at Vancouver 2010 meant there had to be change. The result has been an influx of foreign coaches and athletes into sports as diverse as judo, snowboarding and curling, bringing with them new ideas and greater openness, combined with vast state funds to help win in Sochi. Forget Ivan Drago’s steroids this new fusion of Russia and the West could turn out to be the winning formula.
Style Designers turn to tradition to create Olympic uniforms
Furry trio beat rivals to finish line
Athletes dress to impress on the greatest stage of all
In February 2014, at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, spectators will be entertained by no fewer than three mascots: a snow leopard, a polar bear and a hare. But the host country had a hard time deciding that this trio was the right choice.
Mascot diplomacy In 2008, Russia held a presidential election. In Sochi, however, there was another election taking place at the same time, this one to select an Olympic mascot.The people of the host city for the 2014 Games chose a dolphin on skis, but the city’s views were ignored, and the organisers decided to put the issue to a nationwide vote instead. Curiously, for unspecified reasons, the jury choosing the finalists eliminated the two contenders who had won the qualifying round: a toad called Zoycha and a pair of winter mittens.
ANNA KOZINA SPECIAL TO RBTH
At Moscow 1980 there were two mascots, now there are three.
The host nation of the 2014 Winter Olympics will try to set a trend through a tasteful combination of local flavour and individuality. The emphasis is on convenience, comfort, advanced manufacturing technologies, and… a dash of fairy tale. At the official presentation of the Russian team’s Olympic uniforms just before the New Year, many were surprised by the riot of colour. The women wore furtrimmed down coats in the blue, white and red of the Russian flag, decorated with folk patterns. The Russian men, meanwhile, sported double-breasted overcoats with natural sheepskin trim, and traditional Russian hats with earflaps. As for the Sochi 2014 sportswear the athletes will don in the Olympic village and on other informal occasions, it will be radically different from previous designs. At the last games, Russians
nies. These limited-edition uniforms will only be available to athletes from the national team; the champions’ jackets are not for sale. Pavel Bure, former Russian ice hockey world champion and Olympic medallist, was full of praise for these innovations. "It is when you receive the uniform that it finally hits you: the Games are just around the corner. And when you first put it on, you really start to feel like a part of the team. It brings on this spirit of unity, and you realise that you are an inalienable part of the country you represent,” said Bure.
© RIA NOVOSTI
SPECIAL TO RBTH
could be recognised by the phoenix feather and traditional patterns on their jackets. This time around, they will sport a large RU logo. On the one hand, this is a recognised international abbreviation for Russia. On the other, the letters look like the silhouettes of two fairy tale characters, Pegasus and Griffon, which were first unveiled to Russian fans in 2012. These symbols are supposed to bring good luck. Another distinctive feature of the Russian Olympic collection is special outfits which athletes will wear only at the medal ceremo-
Russia's Olympians will sport a range of colourful new outfits at the Sochi Games. The bold uniforms make use of traditional materials, marrying comfort and style with folkloric motifs.
Interestingly, a few days before the final vote, Father Frost, Russia’s version of Father Christmas, was excluded from the list of contenders. Had he won, this would have meant one of Russia’s national symbols being transferred into the ownership of the International Olympic Committee for a lengthy period of time. The final round of voting took place in early 2011, and was shown on national television, with more than 1.5 million people casting their votes. First place went to the leopard, backed by Russia’s current president,Vladimir Putin. Second came the polar bear, who had won favour with the president at the time, Dmitriy Medvedev, and the hare grabbed third. Luchik and Snezhinka, a little ray of light and a snowflake, were chosen as the mascots for the Paralympics. Notably, this was the first time ever that Olympics mascot had been chosen through a public vote. In the past, endorsing official mascots has been the prerogative of organising committees. All three of the mascots chosen for Sochi 2014 represent animals which are found in the wild in different regions of Russia.
After a public vote, the three mascots for the Sochi Games – a snow leopard, a polar bear and a hare – are hoping to earn their place amongst the best-loved symbols of the Winter Olympics.
Symbols Choosing an Olympic mascot is no easy task
The Olympic outfits feature fur-trimmed coats and fairytale symbols.
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THE FACTS The Russian Paralympic curling team prepares for Sochi 2014 on the ice in Yekaterinburg.
Great champions of the past Lidiya Skoblikova
© RIA NOVOSTI
Legendary Soviet speed skater Lidiya Skoblikova was born in the Urals town of Zlatoust. Difficult living conditions hardened Skoblikova, whose ordinary training included a 40-minute warm-up, a cross-country race and 12 acceleration runs of 500m. She joined the USSR national team at the age of 20. The world press dubbed the 1964 Innsbruck Games as “Skoblikova’s Olympics” as the 24-year-old achieved what no one had ever done before. Lidiya took to the ice four times, and every time she came back with a gold medal. Her record still remains unbroken.
SPORT: SPEED SKATING AGE: 64
Lyubov Yegorova SPORT: CROSS-COUNTRY SKI
Society The Paralympics play a vital role in raising the profile of those with disabilities
ANNA KOZINA SPECIAL TO RBTH
The Paralympic Games in Sochi 2014 are expected to yield all kinds of achievements. Before the 1,650 Paralympic athletes and team members from over 45 countries have even arrived for the competition, the organisers have already started to set records. The first records are of a national scale: The Russian delegation will For daily workouts you need consist of 162 athletes - this is persistence. You shouldn't the biggest team that Russia has forget your goals. And on the ever sent to the Paralympics. This road, when you are fighting with your was followed by a world record: rivals, showing them your character, during nine days of competition you can switch on your ambitions." in Sochi, for the first time in the history of the Paralympic movement, 72 separate events will be old athlete plans to defend his tiheld in five sports: cross-country tles and then retire from sport. "I skiing, biathlon, ice sledge hock- hope my farewell to sport will be ey, wheelchair curling and ski- positive, then I plan to start a poing. Some of these sports will in- litical career," said Zaripov (conclude new disciplines - biathlon firmed by one of the leaders of the short-track (6 events) and Para- Russian Paralympic Team and relympic snowboard cross (two cently the deputy of the State Asevents). sembly of Bashkortostan). "But Of course, besides the other fignow of course all thoughts are ures and achievements, viewers focused on my performance will be interested in the numin [our] home Paralympics." ber of medals won in the comIrek is now confident, petition. At the last Games, successful and strong. Sochi's in Vancouver in 2010, the But there was a time Fisht Olympic Russian team won 38 Stadium seats medals - 12 gold, 16 40,000 and will silver and 10 bronze, host the opening all of these in two and closing ceresports: cross-country monies. skiing and biathlon.The It cost $US63 Russians' gold haul was million. second only to that of the Germans (13-5-6). At Vancouver the Russians rightfully earned the title of one of the world's strongest teams. Here are the stories of two Russian champions who know the value not only of winning, but also of life.
Training, training and once again training. You have to force and overcome yourself, to be stubborn and run until the end."
when he was unable to find himself or his place in life. When he was 17, Irek was left without legs after an accident. He had an amputation, then other operations in various hospitals. And then there were two years of despair and loneliness. Irek remembers that he lived like a plant: just eating, drinking and sleeping. During the time he spent confined to his bed, he gained almost 100kg, though now he weighs about 65kg. His parents pulled him out of his despair, and helped their son to
Irek became the most decorated Russian athlete at the Paralympics in Vancouver, winning four golds and one silver in skiing and biathlon. At Sochi, the 30-year-
Paralympians like Svetlana Konovalova train just like ordinary athletes.
pull himself together. Irek took up various sports: He did athletics, went swimming and skiing, and rode for kilometres in a wheelchair alongside biathletes on roller skis. Eventually he was noticed by a coach. "When I started doing sport, I realised that it was for me," says Zaripov. "Life was no longer dull, I had a goal - to reach the pinnacle of sport." He has now achieved this, and not only in sport. "I am absolutely happy," says Irek. "I have my parents, wife, chldren, my favourite job. What more could I want?"
Anna Milenina Anna Milenina (Burmistrova) suffered a pinched nerve at birth, causing partial paralysis of the arm. With such an injury, doctors categorically forbade her to do any sport. But Anna was from an athletic family. Her mother is a master of sport in cross-country skiing, and her father is also a skier. In fact, her parents even met on the piste. Her aunt, meanwhile, is a trainer - and it was her who took on the responsibility of training Anna, contrary to medical advice. Anna began to do sport at the age of six and joined the national team when she was 14. She immediately began to participate at international level, and went to her first Paralympics in Turin when she was 19 years old. She became a champion straight away in ski racing at 10km and a triple silver medallist in cross-country skiing and biathlon. In Vancouver, Anna reaped the rewards of a responsible and conscientious performance: two gold, silver and bronze medals. Back home another surprise was waiting: Anna’s boyfriend (now husband) Viktor Milenin proposed to her. Also a Paralympic athlete, he was a bronze medallist in volleyball at the Beijing Olympics. A year after the wedding, the couple had a son. Motherhood brought new perspectives: "Life is procreation. So I want to be not only a good athlete, but also a good mother and wife. I think children should always be in the foreground," said Milenina.
itive for a forbidden medication at Trondheim, resulting in a two-year disqualification, and that was the end of her skiing career.
Paralympic sport is a great example of man's capacity for overcoming disabilities through grit and determination. RBTH tells the incredible success stories of several Russian Paralympians.
© RIA NOVOSTI
How they scaled their own personal Mount Olympus
At the Albertville Games in France in 1992, skier Lyubov Yegorova won gold in the 5km and 15km ski races. In the skiing relay, the Russian women outran their Norwegian rivals by 20 seconds, and an ordinary girl from Siberia became a threetime Olympic champion. At the 1994 Games at Lillehammer in Norway, Yegorova showed her superb skill again by securing victory in the 5km and 10km races, and in the 4 x 5km ski relay. But in 1997 she tested pos-
SPORT: BIATHLON AGE: 66
Read in Special issue
Russia's most decorated winter sports champion, biathlete Alexander Tikhonov was born with valvular heart disease, and spent a year in hospital with severe burns when he was only five after falling into a pot of boiling water. After picking up the rifle on a trip to Estonia, the young man from the Chelyabinsk Region was to break all biathlon records. In just 15 years he became a four-time Olympic champion, a silver medallist at the Grenoble Winter Olympics in 1968, won the world championship eleven times and the USSR championship fifteen times.
- Sochi 2014: Two trials for Russia - The scale and score of Sochi`s modernization program - Security threats & policy recomendations - The Paralympics as a model for success - Top10 Twitter accounts for #Sochi
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QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
Health New treatments could help more people to survive various kinds of cancer
YULIA GUTOVA SPECIAL TO RBTH
“Essentially, we synthesise new chemicals," said Anatoly Baryshnikov, head of the Institute of Experimental Diagnostics and Cancer Treatment.“We then study their ability to fight cancer, and turn them into usable drugs. One of the promising areas at the moment is chemicals derived from plants. They have a different mechanism of anti-cancer activity, and they are less toxic." This promising new research is conducted at the institute's transgenic pharmaceuticals laboratory. The special plants grown in the lab produce“human”proteins that can fight cancer. This new drug is not expected to become a universal cure - but it does promise several key advantages over the existing treatments. “This is our greenhouse,” said
Scientists hope to bring the new drug to clinical trials in two years’ time.
Several laboratories in Russia are working hard to develop cancer treatments. RBTH asks scientists about the latest advances and the current situation on the market for cancer drugs.
Yekaterina Kosobokova, one of the researchers working at the lab, as we walk into a small room full of plastic pots with little seedlings. “This is Australian tobacco, which grows in the wild. It is similar to the tobacco plant which is used to make cigarettes," Kosobokova explained.“These are not the genetically modified plants which everyone is so afraid of. But they produce antibodies to the HER2 cancer protein. We are talking about chemicals that fight some types of cancer. These antibodies are already used in a cancer drug called Herceptin, which is very expensive. There are no locally-made versions of that drug on the Russian market. We hope that these plants will help us produce a much cheaper version of the same chemical, which may also have other important advantages." Scientists first create specially modified bacteria whose genetic makeup forces the tobacco plant’s leaves to produce the anti-cancer protein. The leaves infiltrated by these bacteria are no different from all the others. The only distinctive thing about them is the tiny circles left by the jet injector that was used to plant the bacteria. The leaves are then harvested, and the protein they produce is purified from the biomass. The Russian lab hopes to bring its new drug to clinical trials in two years’ time. Its antibodies have already proved effective against breast and ovarian cancer. “There are many different kinds of cancer,” says Vyacheslav Kosorukov, the head of the laboratory. “All the available treatments can do is increase the percentage of people who survive the specific kind of cancer any particular drug is effective against.”
QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
Is there a way of actually curing cancer? More from RBTH's interview with Vyacheslav Kosorukov, head of the laboratory at the Institute of Experimental Diagnostics and Cancer Treatment:
all we can hope for is to produce an effective treatment for those 30 per cent of patients whose cancer has the HER2 protein marker. The remaining 70 per cent of breast cancer patients don't have that protein, so they need some other drug. And then of course, there are some cases where none of the available drugs are effective.
Can you actually cure cancer or can you only keep the tumour under control? People sometimes think that a medicine is something you take and get cured right away. But even your regular painkillers are effective in only 90 per cent of patients; for the remaining 10 per cent, they make no difference. So, talking about breast cancer,
So you can offer a cure only for some, but not others? We are not even talking about a cure. We are talking about remission. Those who have had cancer are at a
very high risk of developing a tumour once again. So can you please explain to your readers that there is simply no such thing as a ‘cure for cancer’. People need to understand that there are hundreds of different drugs, and each one is effective only against some particular kinds of cancer. There are dozens of research centres in our country that are looking for new cancer treatments. Foreign companies are spending billions of dollars on such research, in the hope of earning even more from selling these treatments.
Russia’s GPS: the myths dispelled and on which a significant portion of the national economy is based should not be reliant on one country.
© RIA NOVOSTI
Russian lab targets new cancer cure using tobacco plant
Alexander Gurko, president of the non-commercial partnership GLONASS
Alexander Gurko, president of the non-commercial partnership GLONASS, attempts to clear up some of the myths surrounding the system in an interview with RIA Novosti. Why do we need GLONASS if the whole world is using the global positioning system (GPS)? A user can solve the same problem — that of finding their location on a map — by using signals from both GLONASS and GPS. There is no motivation for the customer to simply exchange one system for another. The situation changes if equipment is used that is able to receive and process signals from both systems. Moreover, the user gains a significant advantage both in terms of the speed at which the coordinates are processed and their reliability. In this case the operator of the navigation system — for GPS this was and remains the Pentagon— has the option of either switching off the civilian signal for a specific area or of desensitising it artificially. The latest generation of GPS satellites also supports this function. This is not even about military conflict, as the threat of turning off the navigation switch can in itself be used to achieve political or economic aims. The critically important infrastructure that the entire world uses
Russia has claimed more than once that GLONASS is the only alternative to GPS. How does this correspond to reality? This is true today. The situation, though, will change in the next three to four years. The Chinese BeiDou system at the moment operates as a regional system (that is to say it supplements GLONASS and GPS) within the limits of the Asia-Pacific region. The EU has begun to deploy the Galileo system. In the absence of some kind of force majeure, both systems will be deployed globally in the next few years. This, however, is the problem for the pioneers. Both GPS and GLONASS were developed in the 1970s, and do not take into consideration all the modern technology. Galileo, and especially BeiDou, were designed decades later, which allowed more modern and more technically advanced systems to be developed. It is often said that GPS is significantly more accurate than GLONASS. Is there any truth in this? GLONASS’ actual user accuracy is currently less on average to GPS. If a GPS receiver can theoretically fix a position in an exposed location to within no more than 3 to 4 metres, for GLONASS the figure is within 7 to 10 metres. This theoretical difference is not important in practice for two reasons. The first is that there are no receivers that support just GLONASS and not GPS, and the second is that the client’s receiver will normally carry out additional signal processing, averaging out the result. First published in Russian in RIA Novosti
Satellites are needed for the GLONASS navigation system to function properly.
Was the year when the first GLONASS satellite was launched into orbit.
Was the year GLONASS became fully available to civilian users.
Mysteries The capital's metro system conceals a vast hidden network of tunnels, nuclear bomb shelters and command posts
Discovering Moscow's subterranean secrets GEORGY MANAYEV RBTH
Bomb shelters that can withstand a nuclear hit, tunnels from the Kremlin to Stalin’s suburban cottage, subterranean airports and tank tunnels – isn’t it all nonsense? Yes, but only partly. Underground shelters and transport links for the Soviet government did – and still do – exist.
The unhidden evidence After World War II, construction began in Moscow of underground shelters meant to protect civilians from nuclear attacks. But the highest government and military officials – the only ones capable of making key decisions in wartime – needed special protection.
Specially fortified shelters were built in strict secrecy. To escape the city in case of bombing, the authorities also needed a secure means of transport. The regular metro system offered too little protection, so a “second metro” was built. Linking government shelters and underground command centres, and even vast shelters outside the city, the system was dubbed “Metro-2” by Muscovites. We’re not disclosing state secrets here, as the evidence proving the existence of these systems is quite public. First, there are ventilation kiosks and capped mining shafts used to construct the metro. One such shaft can be seen near the Kitay-gorod metro station, and there are several active shafts in suburbs and outside city borders, in areas where there are no metro stations. Despite the shabby appearance of these shafts, they are guarded and impossible to enter. Evidence can also be seen inside the Moscow metro. There are
blocked stairways and gates leading “nowhere” in some stations, and a dead-end line that can be seen to the left from trains travelling from Sportivnaya station to Universitet station. The line, as amateur explorers report, ends near a massive gate, which is believed to be one of the entrances to Metro-2. An inside source told RBTH that each of the officers with access to Metro-2 is allowed only into one part of the system, meaning that nobody is in possession of the whole plan. This makes the declassification of the whole installation almost impossible.
Stalin bunkers: real or fake?
In Moscow, there are many urban myths about government shelters and a secret metro system. RBTH presents an overview of the military communications located deep under the Russian capital.
Many of the stations in Moscow's metro system contain blocked stairways and gates which appear to lead nowhere. Some of these are believed to be entrances to the city's secret metro, "Metro-2."
Moscow also has two "Stalin" bunkers, easily seen on a guided tour. The first of them was allegedly built in the ‘30s but in fact is a former storage area, decorated in the ‘90s as a tourist attraction. The second, Bunker-42, is near Taganskaya metro station, and this one is real; however, it also has no link
to Stalin since construction was completed only after his death. Built as a shelter for LongRange Air Force HQ, the bunker is 200 feet below ground. In the ‘60s, it was equipped with life-support systems and enough food and water to support officers for a long time, but it later deteriorated and in 1995 it was declassified. Its main entrance shaft, with an elevator down to the bunker, is protected by a concrete cap 20 feet thick, hidden inside a fake 19th-century house with blank windows. This cap is nuclear shockwave proof and can withstand a direct hit by an aerial bomb. The bunker now houses the Cold War Museum, a private enterprise that also organises guided tours, parties and presentations – the world premiere of the popular computer game “Red Alert 3’ was held in the bunker. rbth.ru/24403
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WHY I WILL WHOLE-HEARTEDLY BACK RUSSIA AT SOCHI 2014
Opinion THE YEAR CLASSIC DIPLOMACY ROSE FROM THE DEAD
t was a cold late-winter night inYuzhno-Sakhalinsk in March of 2003. I was excited about a sporting event that captivated all of India, but in a distant corner of the Russian Far East, a few expats from England and its former colonies were the only people who knew that India was playing in the final of the Cricket World Cup in South Africa. I’d been in Russia for less than a month at that time and stayed up to date on the Indian cricket team’s progress to the final. There were a series of memorable wins, including convincing victories over England and Pakistan. This was our year, or so I thought before Zaheer Khan had a bad day, a really bad day. A Russian friend with satellite television arranged for a long party, where we’d watch the match and cheer on India. It was obvious after the Australian innings that India did not have even a remote chance of winning. An amused group of Russian friends watched the match with me until I threw in the towel. They enthusiastically cheered on India and tried to console me as my team was trounced by a stronger Australian side. Being 10 time zones ahead of South Africa, where the match was being played, we were all in a dazed state and our sorrows were drowned out by the choicest of beverages well into the morning.“It’s okay, we reached the final anyway,”a friend of mine said. He meant the “we.” Russia was not a cricket playing nation and by default my new cricket-loving friends would support India. Amazingly enough, three of the friends who were with me on that night in Sakhalin happened to be in Delhi in April 2011, when India did win the World Cup, and joined complete strangers near India Gate and celebrated the win throughout the night. A week after the 2003 World Cup final, I was invited to go ice-climbing by Sakhalin’s Tikhaya Bay. As someone who had long suffered from a fear of heights, this seemed
like a joke, but my friends who watched the match with me insisted that I return the favour and camp by the frozen sea in biting cold and then attempt to scale an ice-covered hill. As soon as we arrived by the bay, I knew that this
Complete strangers gave me a standing ovation. That's when I saw the Russian sporting spirit for the first time. would not be an easy weekend. Sure, we were dressed for the occasion, but even the task of walking on the frozen layer of the sea for a few kilometres with heavy backpacks took every bit of physical and mental strength that I had. Of course, when it was my turn to climb up, I managed without much of a problem, but climbing down was a problem and I made a mess of the whole situation. This particular area where we set up camp had many sporting enthusiasts and embarrassed as I was,
I was expecting to be laughed at. The reaction was quite the opposite. Complete strangers gave me a standing ovation and people walked up to me and praised my courage for coming out there and even attempting the climb. That’s when I saw the Russian sporting spirit for the first time. Over the next few years, whenever I fell while skiing and skating and trying various forms of winter sports, there was always a hand to help me up and encourage me. Eleven years after that camping trip by Tikhaya Bay, I no longer have a fear of heights and more importantly, the city slicker in me, who was raised in New York and Mumbai, has given way to someone who swears by the Great Outdoors. It was Russia that turned a quintessential urban dweller into both a sportsman and a naturelover. When the Olympics get under way in a few weeks, I will naturally be rooting for Shiva Keshavan, Himanshu Thakur, Hira Lal and Nadeem Iqbal, who will be playing under the Olympic flag since the Indian Olympic Association has been kicked out by the
RUSSIA AND BRITAIN: CAN CULTURE HEAL THE DIVIDE? Theodora Clarke JOURNALIST
t would be an exaggeration to say that the upcoming UK-Russia Year of Culture 2014 marks a“reset”in relations between our countries, though it is a platform from which to build stronger links. I spoke at a conference this month in London on the topic of cultural diplomacy in anticipation of the Year of Culture. The question we considered was whether culture really does make a contribution to international relations. Critic and broadcaster Andrew Graham Dixon, chairing the conference, voiced perhaps the most telling statement of the night: that cultural diplomacy is a place where people can meet when they can’t agree on anything else. This statement may well hold true for the UK and Russia.The From Rus-
sia exhibition at the Royal Academy in 2008 took place during a particularly rocky period. Russia was hesitant to lend art to the UK, fearing works could be seized due to their disputed ownership. The impasse was even-
tually resolved by legislation protecting the works and the show was exceptionally well received by the British public. Governments can have a huge impact on cultural relations. A cultural co-operation agreement
international governing body. But in the categories that don’t involve these athletes, I will be happily waving another tricolour. Right since 2006, I have been seeing advertisements on Russian television about the Sochi Games, encouraging children to take up winter sports. These games will be the culmination of years of dedicated efforts by young Russian athletes to represent the country on such a grand stage. Such is the dedication that young skiers even practise in the summer using skates. This is the most prepared Russia has been for the Winter Olympics since the days of the Soviet Union, and the Olympic fortnight promises to be an exciting period. I will try and be as enthusiastic about the Russian winter athletes as my Russian cricket-loving friends are in supporting the Men in Blue. Of course, much to their chagrin, I am not making any commitments when it comes to the FIFA World Cup coming up later in the year in Brazil. The author is a a journalist and travel writer based in Mumbai
signed by Cameron and Medvedev, Russia’s then-president, led to several Russian projects. A recent collaboration by Houghton Hall and the Hermitage Museum allowed UK curators to bring works from Catherine the Great’s collection that had not been seen in Britain for generations. The many organisations I have spoken to are all planning major cultural projects next year and acknowledged the importance of building links with their Russian counterparts. TheV&A has forged a strong relationship with fellow institutions, and the Science Museum has negotiated outstanding loans from the Russian Space Agency for a forthcoming exhibition. These loans would have been difficult, if not impossible, without the cultural year as an impetus and political will at the highest level. As tense as ordinary relations may be, especially in the shadow of the recent Greenpeace debacle, culture somehow always finds a way to break down barriers. Theodora Clarke is Director of Russian Art Week in London and Editor of Russian Art & Culture.
he year 2013 may well go down in the history of world politics. Its tumultuous and chaotic events once again brought to the fore the need for negotiations, mutually beneficial solutions, and scenarios that suit all parties. It would appear that these are all indispensable fundamentals of diplomacy. However, diplomats seem to have had to make do without them for the past couple of decades. The end of the Cold War left the world without a structural balance of power to force opponents to appreciate each other's interests. For a long time afterwards, the winner in the great standoff could do pretty much what it wanted, without any regard for the rest of the world - all the more so as the Cold War had ended peacefully, through the voluntary self-elimination of the opponent. This gave the victor a feeling of moral and ideological superiority, evinced by its subsequent approaches to local conflicts around the world. Previously, outsiders with vested interests in one of the con-
2013 demonstrated that wherever there is a will to solve a problem, there is a way. flicting sides would usually step in as referees and mediators, forcing the parties to compromise. This all changed in the 1990s, when the world's leading powers began to define who was right and wrong in foreign wars. The right party would receive active support in the form of political backing and surgical strikes on its opponent, as in Bosnia, or by direct armed intervention aimed at toppling the incumbent regime, such as in Libya. Consequently, diplomatic talks - the crucial component of any peaceful settlement - stopped being about seeking compromises and became entirely focused on negotiating the conditions of the "bad guys'" capitulation. September 2013 saw the end of this model, when the United States failed to carry through with its previously announced plans to launch strikes on Syria. There are several reasons for this, but the primary explanation lies in structural changes
that have occurred. Gone are the times when the US and its allies had an overwhelming and indisputable say in international affairs. Their clout is dissipating, partially due to domestic complications in America and Europe, partially because of China's growing influence and the revival of Russia's political faculties, and partially as medium-sized players like Turkey, Brazil, Iran, and Indonesia are increasingly gaining political weight. The global system is yearning for a restoration of the erstwhile balance, and time-tested diplomatic methods are once again in vogue. The most crucial of such methods implies fastidious, openended diplomacy that caters to everyone's interests and encourages professional bargaining. The Syrian drama is far from over; it is still unclear how the agreement on the destruction of Damascus' chemical weapons can be converted into a political settlement. But 2013 demonstrated that wherever there is a will to solve a problem, there is a way, no matter how many technical and political obstacles have to be overcome in the process. In spite of the universal scepticism of experts back in September as to the viability of Russia's plan for Syria, it is being implemented as you read. Other important events during the last year proved that change was afoot – or called for change. It suddenly transpired, for example, that what appeared to be a hopeless clinch over Iran's nuclear problem could in fact be solved by a peaceful resolution. Arguably, that resolution secured nothing more than a breathing space, but this is already progress in its own right. Another manifestation of the new trend was the amnesty for exYukos head Mikhail Khodorkovsky, which became possible thanks to the behind-the-scenes efforts of German diplomacy. The end of this affair came only after the sides switched from ultimatums and harsh public speeches to secret diplomatic talks, resulting in a scenario that suited all the major players. The Ukrainian affair, for its part, is an example of proof by contradiction. Here, the excitement of rivalry and the desire to gain the coveted prize at all costs were chosen over attempts to find a universally acceptable compromise. It is utterly pointless to try to look even a year ahead. We can assume, however, that the trend described above will persist. Fyodor Lukyanov is chairman of Presidium of the Russian Council for Foreign and Defence Policy.
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Time out Where to relax in Krasnaya Polyana T
WEBSITES FOR FINDING CHEAP ACCOMODATION IN SOCHI
Eat, drink and be merry: tips for the Mountain Cluster
Renting an apartment in Sochi is as easy as pie, but not during the Olympic Games, when the prices will be 8 or 10 times higher than usual. RBTH has picked 5 main websites which will help you find proper accommodation in Sochi for good prices even during the Winter Olympic Games.
Krasnaya Polyana has a host of bars, cafes and restaurants to suit all tastes and budgets. RBTH brings you a guide to seven of the best spots to turn to when there's a break in the sporting action.
Travel Alluring day trips just a stone's throw from the Olympic city
Steal away to Sochi's great outdoors Canyons, waterfalls, caves, natural springs, mountaintops - a wealth of spectacular natural beauty is waiting to be discovered in the area around Sochi.
Sochi is also a popular resort for mountain tourism and has outdoor thrills aplenty
SVETLANA SINEPOSTOLOVICH SPECIAL TO RBTH
Cosy Trikoni not only serves the best gluhwein in the city, it’s also an iconic après-ski haunt for Krasnaya Polyana's skiers and snowboarders. Try the delicious borsch, kholodets (aspic) and other traditional dishes from Russia and the CIS. During the Olympics, Trikoni will also host live guitar and saxophone music, and - if you have the energy - gigs by local rock bands.
Opening hours: 11:00 to 23:00. No smoking. Cash/credit cards accepted. Krasnaya Polyana, 1/1В Michurina Street. Phone +7 (918) 001-19-7. Free transfer to/from your hotel!
At first glance the French restaurant Le Chef might seem like the perfect place for those with a sweet tooth. However, it's also a real English pub serving some of the world’s finest beers, American pies, burgers and snacks. The bar screens live sporting events, and you can also play darts and sing karaoke. Opening hours: 10:00 to 00:00. No smoking. Cash/credit cards accepted. Wi-Fi. Krasnaya Polyana, 23 Pchelovodov Street. Phone +7 (8622) 438-168.
Olympic visitors can take a break from sport and get out into the area's picturesque canyons and valleys
three Agursky falls, which are a beautiful sight even in winter. Sochi, Khostinsky district, Staraya Matsesta
Vorontsov Caves Not far from the city is one of Russia's most extensive cave systems – the Vorontsov Caves. Over 11 kilometres in length, the caves were inhabited by prehistoric people 15-20,000 years ago. The "Prometheus" grotto stuns tourists with its size and beauty: 120 metres long and 20 metres high, it features limestone blocks, frozen rivers, and stalactites and stalagmites, as well as a hanging "chandelier" – a result of composite deposits. The caves are located 20km from Khosta village
A car journey from Adler to Krasnaya Polyana along the valley of the Mzymty river can turn into an unforgettable adventure. Just a few kilometres from the airport is a well-known local trout farm, where you can buy live fish or catch your own. Trout is prepared with various spices and sauces in the Canyon restaurant nearby. Five kilometres from the village of Kepsha is a hamlet called Medvezhy Ugol ("Bear Сorner"), well-known for its mineral springs. On the way there are apiaries, where you can try mountain honey. You will find numerous cafes and restaurants with a Caucasian flavour along the route. Trout farm: Sochi, Adler district., Kazachy Brod, Ul. Forelevaya, 45a Medvezhy Ugol: Sochi, Chvizhepse village, Ul. Narzannaya 5
SKY Club & Concert Hall is one of the hottest places in town with the local young crowd. Parties here last until dawn and attract hundreds of electronic music fans – international DJs play here every weekend. On other days the club puts on retro film nights, karaoke nights, and rock/retro nights.
Founded on the idea that "there's more to travel than visiting a checklist of tourist attractions", this site has received praise from all over the world since it was launched in 2009. On the website you can find a rather short, but nevertheless excellent list of still unoccupied accommodation units in Sochi. The price is a minimum of $30 for a four-person bedroom during the Winter Olympics.
Opening hours: 12:00 to 06:00. Smoking/No-smoking zone. Cash/credit cards accepted. Wi-Fi. Krasnaya Polyana settlement, Esto- Sadok village. Phone +7 (928) 2-333-222.
IN SOYUZ A travel website covering all the CIS states. Not only will it help you find a room or apartment in Russian cities, but it also offers information on Ukraine and Belarus. Don't forget that the Ukrainian border is not that far from Sochi. So if you are planning on visiting either of these former Soviet countries before travelling on to the Winter Olympics, then it is definitely worth spending some time checking out the options available on this website. › http://www.insouz.com
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Opening hours: Mon - Sat: 12:00 to 01:00, Sun: 14:00 to 01:00. No smoking. Cash/Credit cards accepted. Wi-Fi. Krasnaya Polyana, 30, GES Street.
The drinks menu at Genis will surprise even those with the most refined tastes. Here you can try all kinds of beverages from all over the world. Make sure to take a tour of the cellar, which stocks the best produce from Russia's southern regions. Opening hours: 10:00 to 23:00. Cash/credit cards accepted. Smoking/No-smoking zone. Krasnaya Polyana, 10 Esto- Sadok village, ChetyreVershini hotel. Phone +7 (988) 239-888-3.
Czech Restaurant is famous for its home-made beverages, which you can accompany with various European and Caucasian dishes. We recommend trying everything from the grill. Opening hours: 10:00 to 00:00. Smoking/No-smoking zone. Cash only. Krasnaya Polyana, 5/1Michurina Street, Utomlenniye Solntsem hotel.
Good value Olympics-oriented accommodation options can be found on this site, run by an Olympic services support company which has been helping tourists and visitors with finding the perfect apartment, cottage or house at Olympic Games since the 2004 event in Athens. They can also order a personal driver and guides both for individuals and groups for the Olympics. You can reach them through the official website. › http://www.sochi2014accommodation.com/
Darya Gonzalez RBTH
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Natur focuses on Italian and French cuisine. The highlight of the menu is, without doubt, the various dishes and desserts prepared by the head chef. It’s a great place to bring a group of friends and you can even bring your own beverages, though there is a corkage fee.
Le Chef is more than just a French restaurant - it's also a pub.
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Opening hours: 07:00 to 23:00. No-smoking zone. Cash/credit cards accepted. Wi-Fi. Krasnaya Polyana, Tulip Inn Rosa Khutor.
At a height of 380 metres, the Eagle Rocks offer great views of the Black Sea and Mount Akhun. Old-timers say eagles once nested here. It is believed that this place was where mythological Greek hero Prometheus was chained to a rock for stealing fire from the gods. Each day an eagle would fly to him and peck out his liver. A statue of Prometheus in chains stands on the cliff here. Below the Eagle Rocks are the
SPECIAL TO RBTH
A world-famous website giving you the possibility to stay with locals for free. Not only do you have a roof over your head, but also the chance to see Sochi through the eyes of a native and check out the city's most interesting spots. If this sounds like your cup of tea, then go ahead and look for couchsurfers in Sochi - there are plenty of them in the area, and they can’t wait to host foreign guests. Just keep in mind that someday they may ask you to return the favour!
At 663 metres above sea level, densely forested Mount Akhun is the highest coastal point in Sochi. A winding road, built on the orders of Joseph Stalin, leads 11km up to the summit, where an observation tower made of local natural stone was erected in 1936. The Akhun tower is open to tourists all year round. Sochi, Khostinsky District, Mount Akhun
You can take a break from city life in the famous Navalishchenskoye ravine, a beautiful mile-long canyon hollowed out by the Hosta River between dramatic cliffs. The small lake here attracts tourists in the summer with its cool water, and in winter with its incredible crystal blue hue. In the ravine there is a place called “Devil’s Gate,” where the water gushes through a narrow cleft during heavy rains. As the Russians say, "the devil himself would not stick his nose in there." Navalishchenskoe Ravine: Sochi, Hosta village Devil's Gate Canyon: Sochi, 5km from Khosta village
This is probably the best online resource for those who want to find a place to stay in and around Sochi quickly and keep their budget down. At present it lists more than 450 properties ready to be leased - you can rent flats, cottages, rooms, beds (as cheap as $15 a night) or deluxe accommodation ($500 a night). Besides these traditional options, travellers can even stay in an eco-friendly tent with an inbuilt heating system to keep warm on Sochi's coldest nights.
Located in the Tulip Inn Rosa Khutor hotel, in the heart of Krasnaya Polyana, the Amsterdam Restaurant features a broad and varied menu of European dishes put together by chef Nicholas van Riemsdyk. The stunning view of the Mzymta river and the Aybga ridge will leave an unforgettable impression!
SKY Club's popular DJ sets raise temperatures late into the night.
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