Feature Faster, higher, stronger MIKHAIL MORDASOV
Get into the spirit of the 2014 Olympic Winter Games!
Were LGBT calls for a boycott the right move? An activist weighs in
Russian coaches help American athletes go for gold on the ice P.02
Wednesday, February 5, 2014
This pull-out is produced and published by Rossiyskaya Gazeta (Russia) and did not involve the news or editorial departments of The Washington Post
SNOWBOARDER WILD FOR RUSSIA
here will be several naturalized athletes representing Russia at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, but only one became Russian for the love of his life. Vic Wild, a snowboarder from Washington state, fell in love with fellow snowboarder Alena Zavarzina. They were married in 2011 when Wild decided to move to Russia to compete. The 27-year-old athlete appears happy with the decision, particularly as he also may be reaching the pinnacle of his career. On January 12, Wild won a World Cup parallel slalom for what sports reporters called his first great career victory – a significant morale boost weeks before the Olympic Games in Sochi. Being Russian suits this snowboarder. Wild knew that the transition from America to Russia, both personally and professionally, would not be easy at first. As an athlete, he received his passport quickly, but Wild was aware that as part of the process, he would have to miss a whole season of international competitions before he could join the Russian team. He sat out the entire 2011/12 winter season, spending his time focusing on training. In May 2012 Wild received his Russian citizenship, and in January 2013, he won bronze for Russia at the parallel giant slalom competition of the Snowboarding World Championship. This January, he won his first gold at the World Cup stage, his best performance ever. Wild’s wife, snowboarder Alena Zavarzina, 24, was born in Novosibirsk, about 1,750 miles east of Moscow. She began snowboarding at the age of 10, when her mother took her to the regional sport school. Zavarzina’s greatest achievement so far is a gold medal at the 2011 parallel giant slalom competition of the World Championship. In addition to snowboarding, Zavarzina’s interests include painting and photography.
Vic Wild is an American-born snowboarder from Washington state who will compete for Russia in the Sochi Olympics its people. “My first encounter with Russia happened when I was seven years old; that’s when I saw the movie ‘The Hunt for Red October.’ It depicts Russians as aggressive and unpleasant. As I grew older, I realized that the film is ridiculous, and that Russians are a pleasant and cheerful lot. There are many stereotypes about Russia in the United States. I can’t say the one about vodka is wrong, but bears roaming the streets? Come on! Although, come to think of it, when I first came to St. Pe-
Zavarzina met Wild at the World Cup, where competitions for men and women are held simultaneously. Their friendship became something more during a competition in Moscow in March 2011. “Vic came to Moscow without his coach,” Zavarzina said. “I was recovering from an injury at the time. I could barely walk, but I was still able to help him at the training sessions, and I showed him around Moscow. Even though I was still receiving treatment for my injury, I spent the next two months in an excellent mood. That’s despite the fact that we hardly even saw each other because we were living in different countries.” A Russian wedding, vodka and bears The couple married in Novosibirsk – a cultural baptism by fire for Wild. “There were huge crowds of people,” he recalled. “People started coming to our house early in the morning. I don’t really like drinking, but the company being what it was, I had to down about 10 shots of vodka. I had never drunk so much before, but I just could not refuse; all the Russians were asking me too nicely to refuse.” Wild said he is not afraid of the Russian winters because it often gets seriously cold in America’s Northwest corner. Although Wild grew up with many stereotypes about Russia, today he has a better sense of the country and
tersburg, I was almost immediately accosted by a street photographer who was walking around with a small bear.” In addition to training, Wild spends a lot of time working on his Russian. After he met Zavarzina, WIld spent a month studying the language intensively, with six hours of Russian language coaching every day. He has time to study, partially because of Russia’s system of state support for athletes. “Back in the States, I had to worry about lots of things, such as booking flights and hotels, and even looking for sponsors. Here in Russia, the government provides a huge amount of support to the sportsmen on the national team. I don’t have to worry about anything but snowboarding. So I am very happy with how my life has turned out. I have a loving wife, and everything I need to win competitions. But, frankly speaking, snowboarding is a lot more popular in the United States than it is in Russia.”
Wild and Zavarzina’s friendship became something more during a competition in Moscow in March 2011.
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Through hardships to Sochi The New Year brought new challenges for the couple. Just as Wild delivered a winning performance at the World Cup stage in Austria’s Bad Gastein, Zavarzina fell during qualifications and injured her arm. She had to have immediate surgery, and her participation in the Sochi Olympics was put into question. Fortunately, the athlete recovered sooner than expected, and on January 20, when Russia announced the composition of its snowboarding slalom team, Zavarzina was on the list. Both husband and wife will go for the gold in Sochi.
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Vic Wild, now on the Russian snowboarding team, is competing better than ever.
A paid supplement to
■ILYA TRISVYATSKY SPECIAL TO RBTH
Skating towards victory Along with hockey, figure skating is one of the top attractions of the Winter Olympic Games. While athletes in the individual and pairs events tend to get the most attention, Charlie White and Meryl Davis are hoping to bring ice dancing into the spotlight.
P2 // rbth.ru // February 5, 2014
Russian coach is a winner for ice dancers
NEWS IN BRIEF
Russia’s Facebook loses its Zuckerberg Pavel Durov, the founder of Russia’s largest social network, VKontakte, announced at the end of January that he was selling his remaining shares in the company. Users worry that the new ownership will be more likely to share information with government agencies, including security services, and crack down on the vast amounts of pirated media stored by users on the the site’s servers. Analysts have argued, however, that the sale is linked to preparations for an IPO. InTimur Nigmatullin of research firm Investcafe said that the block of shares sold by Durov could form the core of an offering. READ THE FULL STORY at rbth.ru/33617 Twitter co-founders to be sold to collectors as Russian nesting dolls
Davis and White first performed RimskyKorsakov’s “Scheherezade” in 2013.
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Charlie White, a princely skater with the long blonde curls of a surfboarder, lifts his partner Meryl Davis – a mighty porcelain doll – over his head with ease. She lands upright, one skate on his thigh with her other leg majestically extended high in the air. When Sochi-bound ice dancers Davis and White first performed their interpretation of Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Scheherezade,” the crowd gave the skaters a standing ovation for a fluid, flawless dance. Sports pundits and fans have high expectations for Davis and White as the U.S. team arrives in Russia for the Olympic Games. “We’ve had a lot of great moments over the last four years,” Charlie White told reporters in January when the Olympic team was announced. “We feel we’ve put ourselves in a really great position to come home with the gold medal.” No U.S. team has ever won a gold medal in ice dancing since it became an Olympic sport in 1976. But Davis and White are clear favorites, and they have a powerful coach with an international reputation by their side. U.S. Olympic coach and longtime Russian champion ice dancer Marina Zueva has been coaching the duo for 12 years. She is known for her musical, sensuous and lyrical choreography. Zueva chose the dramatic Rimsky-Korsakov “Scheherezade” for Davis and White’s powerful performance. “They’ve grown up with me and I’ve grown up with them.” Zueva said in a recent phone interview from her Canton, Michigan, ice rink where she was doing the final preparations before departing for Sochi. “At this point, we are working on confidence and consistency,” she said, talking about getting Davis and White ready to compete for gold. “It’s mostly psychological now,” she added. “But physically we have still have time to build toward peak form. It’s the same job as usual.” Zueva, a longtime fixture behind U.S. ice dancing, has quietly helped to bring the sport in the United States to an Olympic level. She is frequently called “a master” who helps ice dancers prepare for the unprecedented pressure top competition brings. She also coaches and choreographs for Davis and White’s fellow champions and rivals Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir. With her longtime coaching partner Igor Shpilband, Zueva helped lead a renaissance in ice dancing from a rink outside Detroit. In late 2012 however, Shpilband and Zueva split, causing a fissure in the ice-dancing world: In the end, White and Davis and several other top dancing pairs stayed with Zueva, a blow to Shpilband. In an interview with Figure Skating Universe, Shpilband acknowledged that at that time he was caught unaware. He was invited back to Russia to coach. “I got a call from
Marina Zueva gives American ice dancers a real shot at gold for the first time in the history of the event
Russian ice dancing coach and choreographer Marina Zueva competed for the Soviet Union as an ice dancer with partner Andrei Vitman. They won two national bronze medals at the Soviet Championships. Zueva retired from ice dancing at the end of the 1970s to become a choreographer. She left Russia in 1991 to work as a coach and choreographer in North America, first in Canada. Today she coaches in Michigan and is best known for her success as coach and choreographer to the World champions and sensational rivals in ice dancing, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir (Canada), and Meryl Davis and Charlie White. Both pairs will perform in Sochi.
the Russian Figure Skating Federation,” he said. But ultimately, he decided to stay in Michigan and is again filling his roster with the most promising American skaters. While observers say there is no single “Russian-style” of coaching, it’s clear that Russian and former Soviet ice dancers brought a new intensity to U.S. ice dancing and a vitality and substance to the choreography. And it’s not only ice dancing: At least five Russian coaches are working with U.S. athletes at the Winter Olympics this month. Russian and Soviet coaches are famous for their motivational powers and their loyalty to gifted and hard-working students. Marina Klimova is another former Soviet skater who trained at Spartak in Moscow and skated with Oleg Volkov. These days, she is a well-known coach in California. Her longtime skating partner and fellow coach is also her husband Sergei Ponomarenko; together, they were the 1992 Olympic champions, and were inducted into the World Figure Skating Hall of Fame. They won a silver medal for the Soviet Union at the Olympic games in 1988, and a bronze medal in 1984. Zueva, Shpilband, Klimova and Ponomarenko, along with other Russian and Soviet coaches now living in the United States, were officially selected at young ages to skate. When Zueva was chosen to be an ice dancer, “I was deeply homesick,” she recalled. She was moved to Moscow to skate intensively and live in a dorm with other skaters, away from her family in St. Petersburg. “But I also knew why I was sent there. Fortunately, I loved to dance,and I loved to perform.” ■NORA FITZGERALD RBTH
A team known as The Department of Reckless Abandon is using the Kickstarter crowdfunding platform to raise $30,000 for a limited edition of nesting dolls depicting the co-founders of the Twitter. The dolls were designed by the Australian artist Yiying Lu, the author of Twitter’s celebrat-
ed Fail Whale error message. The souvenirs will be handcrafted in Russia. The first clients are expected to get their Twitter doll souvenirs this March. Those Kickstarter users who invest in the project will be offered extras, from a nestshaped support to the owner’s personalized portrait.
PASSIONATE PATRONAGE, MUSIC AND POETRY Passion of the Empress: Catherine the Great’s Art Patronage February 15 - June 8, 2014 Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens, Washington D.C. A dazzling array of decorative art reveals the power and patronage that marked the reign of Catherine the Great. › www.hillwoodmuseum.org
An Evening of Jewish Music and Poetry: Evgeny Kissin February 24, 2014 The Kennedy Center, Washington D.C. Pianist Evgeny Kissin presents a unique and deeply personal program featuring music and poetry of East European Jews. › www.kennedy-center.org
SPORTS PLATFORM Read more about other athletes and the Sochi games at rbth.ru/sport
FIND MORE EVENTS ONLINE at rbth.ru/culture_calendar
For paralympians, a chance to transform attitudes ment and who work with the disabled, there is much more at stake than medals. The hope is that Russia’s hosting of the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games will help change stereotypical attitudes toward people with disabilities. According to statistics from the Russian Ministry of Labor and Social Protection, there are officially 13 million people in the country with disabilities (9 percent of the population). In 2012, Russia ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and is now beginning to implement the “Accessible
The paralympic movement began in Russia only 18 years ago, in 1996, with the creation of the Russian Paralympic Committee. Environment” program, although it remains fairly localized. Russia faces considerable challenges in the rehabilitation of the disabled, due to a lack of social infrastructure and the lack of unified approaches and standards to ensure accessible environments. In everyday life, people with disabilities encounter difficult and, at times, insurmountable obstacles. Transportation itself becomes a hurdle. Simply traveling to work or school, or meeting up with friends, may
countries will participate in the Paralympic Games, gathering together 1,350 athletes.
On March 7-16, the Winter Paralympic Games will be held in Russia for the first time. The event will bring together team members from 47 countries. The program in Sochi is set to break a record in the history of the Paralympic Games: 72 sets of medals will be awarded during the nine days of competition. Advocates for the disabled hope that the Games will also spur change. Paralympian wheelchair racer Tatyana McFadden enjoys many fans from the United States and Russia: The Russian adoptee from St. Petersburg will compete for Team U.S.A. in Nordic skiing events at the Paralympic Games. These days she attends the University of Illinois. “I lived in an orphanage for the first six years,” she said in a video interview. “But I never saw myself as having a disability. The sports program saved me. It’s just me and the snow out there. It’s beautiful!” The paralympic movement began in Russia only 18 years ago, in 1996, with the creation of the Russian Paralympic Committee. Since 2006 the Russian team has consistently medaled in winter sports team events. In 2012, at the 24th Paralympic Games in London, Russia produced its best-ever performance. In total, the team picked up 102 medals and set 14 world records. It’s little surprise that hopes are high for the Russian team’s performance at Sochi 2014. For those involved in the paralympic move-
Paralympic Games often help change attitudes toward individuals with disabilities.
72 sets of medals in five sports will be awarded, and para-snowboarding will make its debut.
64 athletes will be on the Russian team, making it the country’s biggest team ever.
be ruled out because of inaccessible subway stations, trains or buses. The Moscow Metro is not expected to be adapted to meet the needs of people with disabilities until 2017-2018. Of the 2.57 million disabled people of working age in Russia, only 817,200 are employed (6 percent of the total number of people with disabilities); the number of unemployed people with disabilities, meanwhile, is 1.8 million (70 percent of disabled people of working age). In the United States in 2012, 17.8 percent of people with disabilities were employed, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The unemployment rate (the amount
of people looking for work who could not find it) among people with disabilities last year in the U.S. was 13.4 percent. For people without disabilities, it was 7.9 percent. The Paralympic Games are considered a turning point for the culture of the host country, and a chance to remove barriers between people with disabilities and the rest of society. Since the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing, China has undertaken significant efforts to improve life for the disabled. There is hope that the Paralympics will nudge Russia toward some qualitative changes. ■OLEG BOYKO SPECIAL TO RBTH
Teammates turned opponents With so many Russians now playing in the NHL, the U.S., Russian and Canadian national teams facing off on Olympic ice will have plenty of knowledge about each other’s styles and tactics going into the tournament.
rbth.ru // February 5, 2014// P3
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Team Russia looks to take on the U.S. and Canada with players hailing from both the NHL and Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League.
Another ‘Miracle on Ice?’ not if the Russians can help it A post-cold war sports collision is upon us, just like the good old days Changing circumstances mean changing rivalries: while in the 1970s, players like Boris Mikhailov or Phil Esposito knew each other only by reputation – and reportedly didn’t like what they heard of one another – Malkin shares a Pittsburgh lockerroom with Canada’s top star, Sid Crosby. However, the defining battle among fellow Penguins may come in that Russia-U.S. game, when Malkin will have to contend with grizzled defenseman Brooks Orpik, also of Pittsburgh. He’s the kind of gnarled veteran on which successful teams should be based, and his close-up view of Malkin’s game makes him ideally placed to combat one of Russia’s top goal threats. The reverse story could be true in Los Angeles, where the Kings will send Stanley Cupwinning defenseman Slava Voynov to Russia to face his club captain, Dustin Brown, a rough-and-ready forward whose solidly unspectacular scoring is eclipsed by the gritty leadership he brings in tight games. Voynov, a rare example of a strong Russian blue-liner, might also come up against his L.A. Kings colleague Drew Doughty, should we see a longawaited match-up between Russia and Canada. Doughty is arguably Canada’s top guy on defense and was called the top player in the Kings’ 2012 Stanley Cup win. Elsewhere, though, Canada’s roster sprung a few surprises: goal-getter Steve Stamkos got the nod despite struggling with a leg injury of late, but his Tampa Bay line-mate Martin St. Louis missed out, as did the Flyers’ Claude Giroux. Then there was the decision to draft in St. Louis Blues’ defense pair Jay Bouwmeester and Alex Pietrangelo, both preparing for Olympics debuts and seemingly selected with the bigger ice of Europe in mind. But the buzz is still all about Crosby, the golden goal hero of Vancouver and back in action at last. His long spell out with concussion-related problems, followed by the enforced R&R of last season’s lock-out, led some to question whether his career was destined to wind down, but a league-leading 68-point haul in the NHL suggests he’s going to be a threat to any opponent in Sochi. Familiarity has taken some of the edge off this rivalry, but has done little to dampen suspicions: when the Colorado Avalanche’s Russian goaltender Semyon Varlamov was arrested on domesticabuse charges in October, Russian State Duma Deputy Igor Ananskikh, who heads the parliamentary commission on sport, claimed the case was motivated by a desire
CENTER, DETROIT RED WINGS
Growing up in the Urals city of Sverdlovsk (now Yekaterinburg), Pavel Datsyuk wasn’t considered a leading player because of his size. He entered the NHL draft in 1996 and 1997, but was only taken in 1998 by the Detroit Red Wings. In his long career with the Red Wings, Datsyuk has proven to be a consistent top scorer and a leader, both on and off the ice. He will captain Russia’s Olympic hockey team in Sochi.
NHL pitfalls? Ironically, though, a rivalry that started out pitting the virtues of collective effort against the individual expressions promised by the West now sees those prejudices turned back on their homelands. Hockey in Europe is typically played on a bigger rink than in the NHL, and Russian fans insist that their hockey style allows greater scope for individual brilliance, that game-breaking glimpse of skill that leaves opponents stumbling blindly towards defeat. By contrast, they claim, the NHL is a crude exercise in “dump-and-chase,” interspersed with on-ice violence, where creative flair is sacrificed to percentage-based play. The evidence, they say, comes from a host of Russians – from “Russian rocket” Pavel Bure to Nichushkin – who play a daring attacking game in the NHL, securing plaudits as they go. On the rinks of North America, meanwhile, the feeling persists that Russian players are overhyped show-ponies, full of flicks and tricks, but lacking the application and endurance to tough out a potential 100-game season culminating in
IN HIS OWN WORDS
Tony Ambrogio CANADIAN HOCKEY EXPERT AND SPORTS REPORTER
I think [defending Olympic champion] Canada’s forwards are probably deeper but the first two [Russian] lines are as good – if not more offensively talented – than Canada’s. Any team with Ovechkin, Malkin, Datsyuk and Kovalchuk will be dangerous, especially on the power play.”
Stanley Cup glory. Whatever happens in Sochi, it promises to be another lively installment of a rivalry between nations which have been brought up to regard excellence on ice as a given and defeat in “our game” as a crushing blow to national pride. ■ANDY POTTS SPECIAL TO RBTH
Alexander Ovechkin WINGER, WASHINGTON CAPITALS
Moscow native Alexander Ovechkin began playing hockey at age 9 and was quickly recognized as a talent to reckon with. He joined the national team at 17. Ovechkin was the first overall draft pick in the 2004 NHL Draft and has been the star attraction of the Capitals.
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Past meets present But what was once a clash of two seemingly alien cultures – East versus West, communist versus capitalist – is now a very different affair. The 1972 Summit Series, when the notionally amateur Soviet Olympic champions played a team of Canadian professionals from the NHL, was a confrontation between the best of the best. More than that, it was a competition of two unknowns: previously only reputations had filtered through the Iron Curtain. Canada won the best-of-eight series 4-3 (one game was a tie), but only after a shock on home ice that saw the Maple Leafs booed out of the arena by their own fans after four games in Canada. Heading to Moscow, they trailed 2-1 and pride was hurting. The impact was far deeper than a few hockey games, though. Ted Nolan, now behind the bench of the Buffalo Sabres, watched the series as a teenage hockey fan and saw European stars for the first time. “We realized they had some guys who could play hockey,” he said, and that impression stayed with him. Today, aside from his interim role with the Sabres, he is also head coach of Team Latvia, and will lead the former Soviet Republic’s team to the Olympics. Nolan is typical of a new generation of transatlantic hockey enthusiasts, reared on the Summit Series and the “miracle on ice” of the 1980 Lake Placid Olympic Winter Games, when the U.S. national team upset the Soviet juggernaut. Although it took almost two decades to get from the Summit Series to relatively free movement of players and coaches across the ocean, today’s Russian national team is dominated by NHL-based talent. More than half of Russian team coach Zinetula Bilyaletdinov’s roster plies its trade overseas, and the likes of Alexander Ovechkin (Washington Capitals), Pavel Datsyuk (Detroit Red Wings) and Evgeni Malkin (Pittsburgh Penguins) carry the weight of a nation’s demand for gold. The potential breakout player at Sochi 2014 might be Valeri Nichushkin, just 18, and currently playing for Dallas Stars after electrifying Traktor Chelyabinsk’s play-off push last season in Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League.
When Russia’s hockey team faces off against Team U.S.A. in Sochi on February 15, the post-Cold War collision is likely to bring the host nation to a halt. Not only is the men’s hockey tournament the single biggest event of Sochi 2014 for Russian fans, it represents a rare chance to continue the sequence of superpower sporting summits that dates back to the 1970s. The game will be the continuation of a sporting rivalry that once pitted political ideologies against one another (and perhaps still does) – and that remains a barometer of national pride. Additionally, for Russian fans, an Olympic Winter Games on home ice is an unmissable opportunity to land a first-ever hockey gold for an independent Russia and reassert the sporting primacy established by the near-invincible Red Machine of the Soviet Union over the pampered stars of the National Hockey League (NHL).
to scupper Varlamov’s impressive early-season form and see him locked up before Sochi 2014. The charges were dropped, and Varlamov is set to backstop Russia’s line-up.
WHO TO WATCH
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Evgeni Malkin CENTER, PITTSBURGH PENGUINS
Malkin’s father, Vladimir, also played hockey professionally, and Evgeni learned to skate when he was three years old. Malkin began his career with his local team, Magnitorgorsk Metallurg. He began playing for the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 20062007 season and won the Calder Trophy for best NHL rookie.
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Comment & Analysis P4 // rbth.ru // February 5, 2014
BLACK VOLGAS AND THE NSA SPECIAL TO RBTH
f Edward Snowden ever returns to America, he should be sentenced to two months’ probation for revealing intelligence sources and violating other laws – and awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian citation. He deserves that honor because the other freedoms are too easily quashed without freedom of speech. However, the blessings of free speech are drastically diminished when the vast majority has no idea what it’s talking about. How can they know about zealously guarded secrets? A relative handful of officials claim they’re keeping Americans ignorant about vital matters for the sake of the imperiled country. However, there’s much reason to suspect they’re as wrong about that as were the previous American president and his advisors who, operating similarly, plunged us into our disastrous war in Iraq. Snowden’s concerns about the National Security Agency’s ever-expanding exertions recall those of John Adams about never trusting power without checks. The jaws of power, cautioned the Founding Father and successor to George Washington, “are always open to devour. Her arm is always stretched out, if possible, to destroy the freedom of thinking, speaking, and writing.” That warning is timelier than ever. Of course the United States is far from alone in demonstrating the damage of unchecked power. You needn’t remember much history to know how often it has produced catastrophe. I lived in Moscow as an exchange student and journalist during some
of the tensest Cold War years. A sullen man driven around in a black Volga was the bane of most of them. Maybe the bully had helped keep watch on me before I complained to the editor-in-chief of “Molodoi Kommunist” – the journal Young Communist – that an article he’d published about me was full of baloney, to use the gentlest possible word about its innuendo and lies about my supposedly anti-Soviet activities. (It was also stupid inasmuch as I wrote more positively about Russia and Russians than the proverbial 99 percent of Americans then.) The editor invited me to talk it over at lunch with his staff, and not to give anything away about KGB methods, my tormentor posed as one of them. It was only after he’d begun his awkward attempts to recruit me that I realized what his real work was. By that time, we were meeting alone, often in a private room of the Aragvi restaurant, where it was common knowledge that our conversations were being recorded. During one of them, he scoffed at my insistence that no Washington agency could know about my last trip to Moscow because I’d flown in from London and mentioned it to no one. “Impossible,” he scoffed. “Don’t be so American naïve.” I assured myself that if I was naïve, he was hopelessly indoctrinated. Or stuck in the widespread Russian belief that all governments acted as badly as theirs, with its suspicions and open or hidden surveillance. Now I’m not so sure about what
Without Snowden, we wouldn’t even have known what is being done secretly in our name. Washington did or didn’t know. Nor whether it isn’t paranoid. Much later, a free-spirited Moscow artist and I were trying to imagine what people 50 years hence would know about us that we’d never learn. “I’ll bet the better histories being written then will reveal lots of government dirty tricks we never heard of,” my friend suggested in his studio-cum-nightclub. “Not only for the continued spying on us but also much more invasive kinds on your noble citizens than our shepherds with their inferior equipment will maintain on ours. Naturally, it will be in the name of America’s national security. People turned on by power don’t trust other people to applaud them for having it.” I asked who’d said that. “John Adams? Anyway, one of your presidents.” He added that power liked to think it had a soul. That conversation took place 20 years ago, shortly after the Soviet collapse. Now I’m more than ever sure about the wisdom of his political instincts and ever less so about whether The Land of the Free still deserves that name. I hope no one imagines I’m trying to equate the U.S. with the So-
Russians on the effect of Olympic Winter Games
viet Union. What I am suggesting is that our government’s increasingly intense surveillance and justification for it more and more resemble practices of the U.S.S.R. about which we cried to the skies during its last decades. Yes the United States has enemies. Yes they’re dangerous – but less so than the U.S. government’s newfound passion for control and lying. We’re losing other ways too – losing very heavily. Remember when a good share of western progressives and intellectuals saw the Soviet Union as the hope for the future? The crash of the more venerable view of the United States as a model for aspiring people hasn’t been nearly as hard or full. Maybe America can’t yet be called another God that failed. But that’s the direction in which our country is moving: more and more sharply downward. Without Snowden, we wouldn’t even have known what is being done in our name – which everyone now agrees must be discussed. His information did more than anything previously to make western Europeans disgusted with us. It is alienating – even angering – our allies and undercutting our influence. Worst of all, it’s turning us, the people supposedly being served, from trusted citizens toward suspects who need watching. Snowden bears no responsibility for that. The blame lies with our stunning surveillance that was certain to be exposed sooner or later. All life being risky, we must be willing to take some risks of enemy vengeance if we want to preserve our major differences from Soviet rule. Yes too, finding the right balance between protection and freedom of information is supremely difficult. But belief that it should be done in secret, without the benefit of enlightened discussion, is powerful hubris. As usual, the tiny likelihood of having all-wise leaders greatly contributes to grievous mistakes: ours, for now. Worst is the NSA’s indiscriminate, unrestrained bugging of everyone, down to our supposedly best friends. During the Cold War, we manufactured 72,000 nuclear weapons although maybe seven would have been used in the most hideous possible nightmare. Our agencies embrace of massive excess continues. Even if our closest allies who call our current practices “totally unacceptable” are hiding some spying on us, even if Russia joins them in that, we mustn’t become our government’s sheep. Thank you, Edward Snowden, for telling us how badly reform is needed. It would have been impossible without the knowledge you gave us. George Feifer is the author of many acclaimed books, including “Moscow Farewell” and “The Girl from Petrovka.”
Late December, the state-run public opinion research center (VTsIOM) published a poll on Russian attitudes toward the upcoming Olympic Winter Games in Sochi. It consisted of two parts: The first poll was conducted from Nov. 2-3 among 1,600 Russians and the second, a Social Net-
works Agency poll, was conducted using search engines such as Google and Yandex, as well as the agency’s own online search application. A total of 1,338 messages were analyzed as part of the study, which indicates that Internet users are much more skeptical about the Games.
EXCLUSIVELY AT RUSSIA-DIRECT.ORG Quarterly Report: Going for Olympic Gold Russia Direct explores the special challenges needed to prepare Sochi for the Olympic Winter Games, including building infrastructure, fighting terrorism and turning a seaside resort into a skiing paradise. In this report, experts from Russia and abroad discuss these issues and speculate on the future of the North Caucasus region.
January Monthly Memo: Russia-U.S. Relations Dr. Richard Weitz, director of the Center for Political-Military Affairs at the Hudson Institute, highlights areas of potential progress in the U.S.-Russian relationship to watch for in 2014. These include enhanced business and cultural ties, as well as greater cooperation in crucial areas like counterterrorism and Syria. Subscribe now at russia-direct.org/subscribe
A GAY RUSSIAN-AMERICAN EXAMINES SOCHI PROTESTS
ndoubtedly, the year 2013 was marked by an unprecedented level of attention to the situation of LGBT individuals in the Russian Federation. For most of us who followed the story, two major factors were at play: the signing of the law by President Vladimir Putin banning socalled “anti-gay propaganda” to minors and the upcoming Winter Olympic Games in the city of Sochi. LGBT activists in the United States and Western Europe launched loud and aggressive campaigns to boycott the Games and Russian products, of which the most prominent was the Russian vodka boycott that got the Stolichnaya brand into some hot public relations waters. The media showed a voracious appetite for “Russia-Putin-gay propaganda-vodka-Sochi” hashtags. I think it is high time to ask ourselves what this rainbow tornado of remonstration has really achieved.Just the opposite of what it has purported to, I’d say.
IVAN SAVVINE SPECIAL TO RBTH
An almost exclusive focus on the “gay propaganda” law by U.S. activists, primarily in New York, is an imprudent mistake that makes the Kremlin strategy an ultimate success.
A few sharp voices stated loudly that the “anti-gay propaganda” law is nothing but a public relations campaign by the Kremlin to distract and divert attention from Russia’s many true crises: stagnant economy, corruption, unlawful imprisonment and torture in detention, prisoners of conscience, an epic demographic catastrophe unfolding outside of major urban areas, with rates of HIV infection and illegal drug abuse climbing the record numbers. An almost exclusive focus on the “antigay propaganda” law in Russia by activists is an imprudent mistake that makes the Kremlin’s strategy an ultimate success. While there is no doubt that the law in question is vague and wrong, it is hardly the main reason to critique the sociopolitical climate in Russia. And while we may be having some quality community time dumping Russian vodka in the streets of the relatively tolerant city of New York, many LGBT Russians who
stayed home consider our actions absurd, if not outright treacherous. During the winter holidays, I spoke on Skype with a friend who resides in Moscow with his boyfriend of five years. They are a successful gay couple – good jobs, a spacious apartment near the city center, foreign vacations each year, a spaniel of proper pedigree. My friend is out to his family, friends and colleagues. He’s no activist, but then again not everyone should be. He told me that he and his friends and colleagues are frustrated that Russian gays in the U.S. are trying to disrupt the Olympics that Russia has waited so long to host. Strategic state-sponsored homophobia is no Russian invention. I immigrated to the United States in 2004 when President George W. Bush and his party were trying to push for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to ban same-sex marriages in an attempt to distract the public’s attention from a disastrous war in Iraq and financial meltdown. A
number of African nations passed draconian anti-gay laws, which in comparison with Russia’s “gay propaganda” law make Moscow and St. Petersburg look like magic lands of rainbows and unicorns. Yet I have not seen one protest against Nigerian, Ugandan, or Malawian officials (or Saudi Arabia where consensual homosexual acts between adults are punishable by execution). A poisonous cocktail of ignorance and double standards has thus produced a narrow, exclusive, and not so meaningful discourse, a cornucopia of trending hash tags, yet hardly a profound statement about rights and liberties of those who remain in Russia, gay or straight. Ivan Savvine, born in Russia, is a New York Citybased art historian, writer and curator. He was granted political asylum in the U.S. in 2004.
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Culture rbth.ru // February 5, 2013 // P5
The children of late communism
In Washington, D.C., the orchestra will perform the great works of Prokofiev and Rachmaninoff
© RIA NOVOSTI
During February and March, the St. Petersburg Philharmonic will be touring the United States with Maestro Yuri Temirkanov to present what it plays best: a repertoire of Russian music with works by Prokofiev, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, Rimsky-Korsakov, and contemporary composer Gya Kancheli. The group is a singular one. As Boston Globe critic Matthew Guerrieri remarked on its 2011 tour, “The St. Petersburg Philharmonic is a magnificent musical machine, one in which the engineering is of such precision that it becomes expressive in and of itself.” Or, as concertmaster Lev Klychkov said, “We play with our hearts.” While the orchestra may not be well know to U.S. audiences, Temirkanov is familiar to concertgoers throughout the world from his affiliations with London’s Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the Danish National Symphony, and the Teatro Regio di Parma in Italy, among others. In the United States, particularly in the Baltimore and Washington, D.C., areas, he is remembered fondly for his tenure as music director of the Baltimore Symphony from 2000 to 2006. In St. Petersburg, Temirkanov oversees the International Arts Square Winter Festival, held every December. Many artists have made their Russian debut at this festival, including Leif Ove Andsnes, Lang Lang, and Julia Fisher. Each June and July, Temirkanov directs the “Musical Collection International Festival” with such luminaries as Thomas Hampson, and Helene Grimaud. This festival was actually my introduction to the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, which I first heard in 2001. Although I’d been traveling to Russia since 1973, I had never been in the winter. An American friend was organizing the 2001 festival. The first time I walked into the Philharmonic Hall, it was clear this was a very special place, and that the orchestra and the audience revealed a deep respect for each other. The orchestra’s home is the D.D.
Temirkanov has been at the helm of the Philharmonic for 26 years.
Shostakovich Philharmonic Hall. Under the auspices of Carlo Rossi, architect Paul Jacob designed the hall in the early 19th century as an assembly hall for the nobility with special emphasis on acoustics. The hall, subtly altered since its construction, has been witness to much history, from Tsar Nicholas I addressing the nobility, to a distraught Rachmaninoff after the premiere of his first symphony, which failed not because of the power of the piece, but underrehearsal. Under happier circumstances, the first ball of Grand Duchess Olga, the eldest daughter of Tsar Nicholas II, was held in the hall shortly before the beginning of World War I. Perhaps the most famous event held there was the performance by a skeletal group of musicians of Shostakovich’s Leningrad Symphony during the horrific 900-day siege of the city during World War II. Although the hall was renovated in 2007 to install much-needed air conditioning, the acoustics are still among the finest in the world. Today, the hall is also home to the St. Petersburg Academic Symphony Orchestra and also hosts a variety of musical events. On December 14, 2013, Temirkanov celebrated his 75th birthday at Philharmonic Hall, with a gala concert in his honor. Conductor Mariss Jansons led the St. Petersburg Philharmonic with soloists Vadim Repin, Denis Matsuev, Yuri Bashmet, Natalia Gutman, Sayaka Soji and others.
A Philharmonic Rich in History Founded in 1882 by order of Tsar Alexander III, the orchestra is the oldest in Russia. After the 1917 Revolution, it became known as the Leningrad Philharmonic and from 1938 to 1988 the venerated conductor Yevgeny Mravinsky was at the helm. Because of his friendship with Shostakovich, the orchestra premiered many of
the composer’s greatest works. The orchestra also toured in Europe, Japan and the United States. When Mravinsky died in 1988, Yuri Temirkanov, the director of the Kirov (Mariinsky) Theatre, began his tenure. In 1992 the orchestra took the name St. Petersburg Philharmonic. In 2013, Maestro Temirkanov celebrated his 75th birthday.
Petersburg Philharmonic in U.S.
PHOEBE TAPLIN SPECIAL TO RBTH
Americans may know the Bolshoi or Mariinsky, but the St. Petersburg Philharmonic is a singular treasure of sound.
It is a fitting tribute to the esteemed conductor who through his orchestra and the Maestro Temirkanov Foundation for Cultural Initiatives does so much to ensure that music is brought to people of all ages. The orchestra is famous for its resplendent strings. Concertmaster Lev Klychkov, an award-winning graduate of the Leningrad Conservatory, was selected by Conducter Yevgeny Mravinsky to join the orchestra in 1982. His first tour to the United States was in 1990. “I was only 29 years old. My wife had just given birth to our son while I was away. I remember going to the A&P store in New York City and buying boxes of Pampers to take back. No one in Russia had seen these. It was a difficult time for my country, and meeting Americans was like an injection of energy for me. I have been to America more than 15 times, and I love the American people and their open hearts.” These warm sentiments are felt by many of the orchestra’s musicians including Pavel Popov, the associate concertmaster, who joined the orchestra in 2004. “I feel wonderful about the countryside of America, the small cities and nature which is so different. I love Carnegie Hall and to perform in that great place.” What makes the St. Petersburg Philharmonic special? The musicianship for one. Many of the musicians attended the School for Gifted Children and later the St. Petersburg Conservatory, so they learned from the best. They rehearse almost daily and often in sections before and after rehearsals or at a special time, to prepare for their concerts. On their off hours, most teach at the Conservatory and participate in chamber groups, adding much to the rich musical life of the city.
TITLE: “BEFORE I CROAK” AUTHOR: ANNA BABYASHKINA PUBLISHER: GLAS
magine the bloggers and bitchers of the early Internet-generation, born in the late 1970s, thrown together in a retirement home. This is the basis for Anna Babyashkina’s debut prizewinning novel “Before I Croak,” deftly translated by Muireann Maguire. “I think this is very much a portrait of a generation,” Maguire said, describing the narrator as a modern-day version of Mikhail Lermontov’s Pechorin in “A Hero of Our Time.” “Before I Croak” (Glas, 2013) is set in a future that is almost identical to the present. The women in the old people’s home still “wear G-strings, epilate our bikini lines and sauté ourselves in tanning salons.” The interlocking series of stories is entertaining and contemporary. The denizens of “Before I Croak” are the children of late communism. Born in 1979, Babyashkina grew up in a village in the Yaroslavl Region of central Russia. Hers was not a wealthy family; her mother worked in the post office and her father was a driv-
er, but she graduated with honors from the journalism department of Moscow State University and was determined to fulfill her childhood dream of being a writer. She worked as editor on the Express newspaper and later on high profile magazines, as a screenwriter, cultural and psychological columnist and ghostwriter for Russian celebrities. Babyashkina believes that her varied professional experiences have influenced her writing. She said that journalism is an ideal way to meet a wide variety of people, and learned more about human behavior while writing psychological columns. Babyashkina has been working since last June as chief editor of a new online literary project called ReadRate.com. Babyashkina is a novelist with a fresh style and a strong voice. She sees a legacy of fear in Russia: “…our great-grandfathers, grandfathers and parents fell into the great meat-grinders of their time. They sent us a message of terror… But that was our challenge,” she writes. She urges her generation to stop waiting for “some kind of midwife to draw the new day out of us” and instead to seize life and live it now.
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■AMY BALLARD SPECIAL TO RBTH
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John Steinbeck’s journey to Stalingrad NORA FITZGERALD
Film ‘The Notorious Mr. Bout’ premiered at Sundance Film Festival in the end of January.
This year’s annual Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, included major Russian players in short, documentary and feature premieres. “It’s the biggest thing I’ve been a part of,” said Sandhya Daisy Sundaram, a graduate film student from India whose documentary, “Love. Love. Love.” received a short film special jury award for nonfiction. The film was the result of her participation in 2013’s Cinetrain, a Russian cinema project in which filmmakers from around the world travel by train across Siberia for one month, completing a film on a given topic. This year, filmmakers and producers from 15 countries worked on seven short films. Sundaram’s prompt? Women. “All I had known about Russia was from books and movies. There seems to be a whole lot of talk about vanity in Russian women, but for me, it seemed like such a small part of them,” said Sundaram. Set against a frigid Russian winter, “Love. Love. Love.” seeks warmth from its subjects, searching to uncover how love is shaped in Russia through the singular voice of its women. From ballerinas to babushkas, Sundaram invites women to share tales of sacrifice, and moments of vulnerability and intimacy. “The idea of the film is to not categorize people,” said Sundaram. “I wanted a snapshot of
Russian presence at Sundance Film Festival is richer than ever
A shot from the film “Love.Love.Love.,” which won a special jury award at Sundance.
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women in Russia, women who really work hard in their daily lives for family and love.” Also premiering at Sundance was Anton Corbijn’s “A Most Wanted Man” — the first Englishlanguage major motion picture for 27-year-old Russian actor Grigory Dobrygin. As Issa Karpov, a Russian-Chechen immigrant to Hamburg who raises investigators’ suspicions, Dobrygin shares the screen with Rachel McAdams, Robin Wright, Daniel Brühl, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, and Willem Dafoe. While Sundance proved a new adventure for Sundaram and Dobrygin, for documentary filmmaker Maxim Pozdorovkin, it’s quickly becoming old hat. In his feature follow-up to the much-buzzed documentary “Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer” (co-directed by Mike Lerner), which earned a Special Jury Prize at Sundance in 2013, Pozdorovkin debuts “The Notorious Mr. Bout.” The feature documentary, co-directed by Tony Gerber, follows convicted Russian arms smuggler Viktor Bout, as primarily told through Bout’s own home movies. “What’s so interesting about “The Notorious Mr. Bout” is that it is very much about the film Viktor was making of his own life,” said Pozdorovkin, who completed his dissertation at Harvard on found footage, and dedicates about two-thirds of the feature to Bout’s home videos. “I love documentary film. Especially with these found footage documentaries, you’re essentially reinventing the form of film in response to the material that you have. I think it’s the golden age of documentary right now. That being said, my next film is a fiction film,” said Pozdorovkin, who next writes and directs an interracial sex comedy about an Internet marriage between a Russian woman and black man in New York City. ■RACHEL BARTH SPECIAL TO RBTH
Seventy-one years ago, on February 2, 1943, the Battle of Stalingrad finally ended; after five months of unrelenting fighting, the retreat of the Nazis became a turning point in World War II.
ust four years after the Battle of Stalingrad ended, in the fall of 1947, John Steinbeck checked in at the city’s repaired Intourist Hotel with the great photographer Robert Capa. “We seemed to go on endlessly across the steppe,” Steinbeck wrote, “until at last, over a little rise, we saw Stalingrad below us and the Volga behind it.” Steinbeck and Capa published “A Russian Journal” with Viking Press 66 years ago, yet it is still considered honest reporting for its keen powers of observation, droll humor and sheer lack of conclusion about the Soviet Union. Penguin Press reprinted the work and it is still available, a treasure for readers interested in a wideeyed, open-minded (and occasionally naive) view of the Soviet Union after World War II. Capa’s photos are touching, candid and heroic. In the 1948 New York Times review, “A Russian Journal” was called “superb.” In Stalingrad, “our windows looked out on acres of rubble, broken brick and concrete and pulverized plaster,” Steinbeck wrote, “and in the wreckage the strange dark weeds that always seem to grow in destroyed plac-
es.” During their time in Stalingrad, they became intensely fascinated by the resurrection of life among the ruins. The place was still horrifically gutted two years after the war, but it was far from deserted, they found. Stalingrad was a large city, and people had gone back to life and work. “Underneath the rubble there were cellars and holes, and in these holes many people lived. We would watch out of the windows of our room, and from behind a slightly larger pile of rubble would suddenly appear a girl, going to work in the morning, putting the last little touches to her hair with a comb. She would be dressed neatly. How they [the women] could live underground and still keep clean and proud and feminine we had no idea. …It was a strange and heroic travesty on modern living,” Steinbeck observed. Yet the two understood both the enormity and simplicity of their task. “This is just what happened to us,” Steinbeck wrote. “It is not the Russian story, but a Russian story.” Nora FitzGerald, a guest editor for RBTH and longtime freelance writer, is a former Moscow expat.
For the Olympics and beyond The Rosa Khutor ski resort in the mountains above Sochi has undergone an amazing transformation that hotel owners hope will attract Russian and European ski tourists long after the Games come to an end.
P6 // rbth.ru // February 5, 2014
A ski resort finds its groove
The Rosa Khutor ski resort will host most snow events at the Olympics Breaking in Rosa Construction began in 2003 on the ambitious ski resort. In 2011, Rosa Khutor hosted it first international competitions with the European Cup circuit. February 2012 brought World Cup Alpine Skiing events in the downhill and supercombined for both men and women. American athletes Bode Miller (pictured), Ted Ligety, Lindsey Vonn and Julia Mancuso took participated. The race courses were designed by 1972 Olympic gold medalist Bernhard Russi.
45 miles is the total length of ski trails, most of which are more than 5,000 feet long.
7,600 feet is the height of the tallest peak in the resort’s 4,500 acres.
With the grand opening of Rosa Khutor in December, the Caucasus region found a firm footing among international ski enthusiasts. The resort is now closed for the Olympic Games, but what better publicity is there than the worldwide television broadcast of Sochi 2014? In the nerve-wracking, final days before the Olympics begin, Rosa Khutor resembles a fairy land in slumber. From the foot of the resort (Rosa Dolina, 1,837 feet) to the summit of Rosa Peak (7,611 feet), a thick coat of snow covers the slopes, ready to be streaked by the most competitive and skilled skiers and snowboarders. To protect itself against the whims of Mother Nature, the resort got a new, powerful artificial snow system, fueled by two pristine-blue artificial lakes that will supply the countless snow cannons if they are needed. If December 2013 was any indication, the slopes have a solid future after the Olympians pack up and go home. That month thousands of tourists came to see the new resort in action. “We were at nearly 100 percent capacity for the whole week,” said Jean-Marc Farini, who has served for three years on behalf of Compagnie des Alpes as general manager of the resort’s slopes. Farini pays particular attention to the resort’s hope for commercial success and consequently to the services it offers its clientele. “Rosa Khutor is the first Russian resort to meet the highest European standards,” Fa-
Bode Miller on the slopes in Rosa Khutor.
CUISINE A LA RUSSE
GOLD MEDAL SATSIVI
culent flavors fuse together into the unforgettable taste of one of the region’s most beloved dishes. Most satsivi recipes call for a turkey or several chickens, to be boiled. To bring the recipe down to three-guyswatching-hockey proportions, I substituted chicken thighs on the bone, which I feel are tastier and easier to handle. To improve the flavor by reducing the cooking time, I brined the chicken thighs overnight, then broiled them briefly at high heat until they were almost done (a meat thermometer should read about 150F), then let the hot sauce finish the job. It’s a meal worthy of a gold medal!
Well, here we are! The Olympics are upon us, and that means I will be eating most of my dinners on the coffee table. I am not myself a sports fan, but I am married to a die hard Russian one, so I’m busy this month planning Sochi-centric dinners. In addition to the usual microwavable casseroles, stews, and soups, I decided to try something indigenous to the Caucasus, which can be made ahead of time, refrigerated and enjoyed in front of the TV. Chicken satsivi meets all of these criteria, and has the added advantage of being downright delicious! If you’ve ever indulged in a Georgian meal, then you’ve had satsivi: that wonderful, creamy walnut sauce, redolent with the flavors of Sochi’s subtropical climate and Persian-inspired cuisine. Walnuts play a big part in the region’s cuisine and they dominate in satsivi, which also features fenugreek, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, marigold leaves and garlic. Satsivi comes from the Georgian word, tsivi, meaning “cold,” which is simultaneously a description and an instruction. When the walnut sauce is done, the final, and many Georgian cooks believe, most crucial step is to pour it over chicken and then set the dish aside to cool to room temperature. As the sauce cools, it thickens; the chicken slowly finishes cooking, and all of the suc-
Ingredients: For the Brine: 2 quarts of water • 1 cup of sugar • ½-cup of salt • 1 Tbsp of crushed coriander seeds • 1 cinnamon stick • 1 bunch of fresh tarragon • 1 cup of dry white wine • 1 Tbsp of lemon zest For the Satsivi: 8-10 chicken thighs (bone in) • 4 cups of shelled walnuts • 1 head (12 cloves) of garlic, finely minced • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped • 1 tsp of whole fenugreek seeds • 1 tsp of ground cloves • 1/2 tsp of ground cinnamon • 1 tsp of ground coriander • 1 tsp of paprika • 1-1/2 tsp of salt plus more salt and pepper to taste • 3 Tbsp of olive oil • 1 quart of chicken stock For the Garnish: 1 handful of fresh cilantro or parsley, roughly chopped • ¼-cup of pomegranate seeds • ¼-cup of chopped walnuts Instructions: 1. Combine all of the ingredients for the brine in a stockpot and simmer for 10 minutes until the salt and sugar have dissolved. Cool to room temperature. 2. Submerge the chicken thighs into the cooled brine, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. 3. Pat the chicken dry and arrange on a rack set in a shallow baking sheet. Salt and pepper the skin side of the chicken. Allow the chicken to come to room temperature while you preheat the oven broiler to its highest setting. 4. Pound all of the dried spices except the paprika and the salt in a mortar and pestle. Mince the garlic with 1 Tbsp of salt. Combine these with the walnuts, garlic, and ½-cup of the chicken stock in a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Process for about a minute, until the mixture is the consistency of wet sand.
Writers and their wives: Together in love, work and legacy 10 varieties of Russian smiles
rini said. “This is a beautiful, top notch, international-quality regional resort. And it is just two hours from Moscow.” While Americans may not jump to the Caucasus immediately in droves, it is hoped that a few American businessmen and women will show some interest in the area’s future. So far, the impressions of the first tourists have been positive. “I see great progress compared to other Russian resorts,” said Aliona, a 25-year-old Muscovite with a snowboard in hand. “I usually ski at Dombay [a Caucasian resort built during the Soviet era]. It’s anarchy there — you need to pay at every lift because each one has a different owner! The service here is excellent.” Because of to the Olympics, the tourist season will be short. From February 7 through March 17, Rosa Khutor is reserving its trails for athletes. “The area won’t be completely open until next winter,” Farini said. “I think we’ll be able to attract some curious people, those who have skied on all the European trails and want to see something new. Foreign skiers who ski a lot will want to try it at least once.” “I don’t think this will decrease the number of Russians who go to Europe,” he added. The number of Russian who ski is projected to jump in the coming years, thanks in large part to the popularity of the Sochi Games.
An American professor’s love affair with Yekaterinburg rbth.ru/32749
In terms of price, Rosa Khutor is aiming at the middle class with lodging-skiing combination deals to rival those of European resorts in the same range. The extension of the skiable area to the neighboring resorts would make the deal even more enticing, but negotiations with them are just starting. Compagnie des Alpes also would like to offer free admission at Rosa Khutor to people who hold tickets to the Savoy resorts it operates, and vice versa. “It’s a marketing stunt more than anything,” said Farini, who above all would like to talk about Compagnie des Alpes’ first major international venture. The Caucasian resort has indisputable assets: spread over a North slope, it offers fresh snow due to the nearby Black Sea. The view from the top is breathtaking. There are runs of widely differing levels, all the way up to two black trails with 68 and 69 percent “walls.” Connoisseurs will appreciate this, while others may cast terrified looks and continue on their way. “The Russians are truly not afraid of anything,” said Farini, pointing out a group of snowboarders taking to one of those trails. Farini, himself a former rescue worker, said the resort guarantees the skiers’ safety “on the condition that they stay on the marked trails.” ■PAUL DUVERNET RBTH
JENNIFER EREMEEVA SPECIAL TO RBTH
5. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan, and then sweat the onions until they turn translucent. Sprinkle the paprika and remaining ½ tsp of salt and sauté for an additional minute to let the flavors combine. 6. Add the walnut paste to the onions and toss to combine. Then, slowly add the remaining chicken stock, using a wooden spoon to scrape the bottom of the pot. 7. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover and let simmer for 20 minutes. 8. When the mixture has been simmering for 10 minutes, place the chicken in the oven and broil on each side for 4 minutes. Do not worry if it seems underdone. 9. While the chicken is cooking, use a hand-held mixer to puree the sauce. 10. Arrange the chicken pieces in a shallow serving dish, and then pour the hot sauce over them. Set aside until completely cool. 11. Garnish with fresh cilantro, pomegranate seeds, and chopped walnuts! Jennifer Eremeeva is a a freelance writer and longtime Moscow residen. Her first book, Lenin Lives Next Door: Marriage, Martinis, and Mayhem in Moscow, goes on sale this month.
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