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Economy Russia and UAE eye cooperation in defence industry.

PRESS-PHOTO

AFP/EASTNEWS

International Russia supports urgent action against radicals.

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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Sport The future of the Russian Grand Prix will depend on the success of its maiden race in October

Sochi ready for Formula One debut

REUTERS

On October 12, the curtain will go up on Russia's first ever Formula One Grand Prix, at the gleaming new Sochi Autodrom on the Black Sea coast. Sochi's facilities have received praise from the F1 authorities, but financial success is yet to be measured. JAMES ELLINGWORTH SPECIAL TO RBTH

From the stands for Sochi’s first Formula One race on October 12, fans will see a vast open space and a thin asphalt ribbon twisting around the architectural marvels of the Olympic park. Behind the wheel at over a hundred miles per hour, the view is very different, however. To an F1 driver, the track will resemble a twisting tunnel of concrete walls, where one mistake could spell disaster.

even claustrophobic environment, a far cry from the open, expansive view of the Olympic Park that next month’s spectators will enjoy. The track is brand-new, but for the drivers, that could actually make the task of racing even more difficult. A new track means clean asphalt without the grippy layer of rubber that is left behind by regular hard racing, as reigning champion Sebastian Vettel of the Red Bull team pointed out after becoming the first F1 driver to test the track last month. “There will be very little grip because everything is new, the asphalt is completely new,” he said. “It’s very smooth. We have high speed stretches, the main straight is very long. It should be a fun event.”

Highest standards met Tight track provides thrills and spills The Sochi Autodrom has already seen its first action, hosting Russian national championship events. On-board footage depicts a tight,

The track – one of F1’s longest at 19 corners and 5.853 kilometres easily passed certification as an F1 venue and was praised to the rafters by race director Charlie Whiting of motorsport’s govern-

ing body, the FIA. “Everything is in an extremely good condition. Everything has been done to the highest standards and I’m extremely pleased,”the long-serving official said in comments provided to RBTH by the Sochi Autodrom last month.

Moscou estime que la construction de nouveaux pipelines serait plus logique que la rénovation Organisers have been busy training a small army of track marshals, the brave men and women who volunteer their time to ensure the safety of drivers, if necessary moving into harm’s way to rescue racers from crashed cars. Some of those marshals who will work in Sochi come from Russia’s other main internationalstandard racetrack, Moscow Raceway near the capital, whose marshals have been distinguished

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by their diligence and bravery since that track opened in 2012. Compared to other tracks Whiting has examined in his time, Sochi has certainly been better organised, especially when compared to the chaotic last-minute preparations that greeted South Korea and India’s arrivals on the F1 calendar in recent years. In part, that success is due to the track’s design using elements of access roads from earlier Olympic Park construction – a legacy built into the Olympic plans. Of course, some challenges remain for Sochi’s organisers – most notably the fact that, other than F1, the track has yet to confirm any other major international series, prompting questions about how it can be funded year-round. Organisers say that at least 65 percent of 55,000 available tickets have been sold so far for the opening race weekend, which also includes Friday’s practice sessions and Saturday’s qualifying. Prices range all the way up 49,000 rubles ($1,280) for top-level week-

end VIP packages, while standard tickets allow fans the freedom to pick various points around the track to watch the action. Making the experience easier for the fans will be more than 1,000 volunteers from Sochi and the surrounding area, working as part of a scheme that draws on expertise from the Sochi Winter Olympics’ hugely successful volunteering programme.

Olympic arenas would give the race a “fantastic” backdrop – and in the summer, so spectators can combine watching the race with a holiday on Sochi’s beaches. Still, that all remains far in the future. The 2015 calendar is a long way away from being finalised, and much will depend on how successful next month’s race is seen to be.

No politics so far Organisers pin hopes on a night race in the future If F1 is often compared to a circus, then diminutive British billionaire Bernie Ecclestone is its ringmaster. In almost four decades holding the sport’s commercial reins, he has survived behind-thescenes battles with the teams and brushes with the law. After next month’s race, his opinion could be crucial to Sochi organisers’ hopes to move their plans to a new level. The race’s promoter Sergei Vorobyov wants to hold the race at night – Ecclestone says that the lights on the

Politics has occasionally loomed large in F1 in the past, notably when the 2011 Bahrain race was called off amid protests, but Russia’s race so far seems untouched by the broader political issues surrounding the country. Despite the rumours that Russia's major sporting events may be cancelled due to the US and EU sanctions, the countries' authorities show no signs of doubt about the abmitious projects. One business relationship in particular could be influential – Ecclestone is a personal admirer of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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Politics&Society

GULF NEWS_WEDNESDAY_SEPTEMBER_24_2014

International Moscow is ready to supply arms at discount prices in order to help the global community in the fight against ISIS

Halting ISIS will require teamwork Russian experts are warning of the "mortal threat" posed by the fundamentalist group Islamic State (ISIS), while officials stress the need for the international community to unite against it.

International relations expert Georgy Mirsky believes ISIS can only be destroyed by miitary means.

NIKOLAI SURKOV

REUTERS

RBTH

Earlier this month Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called on the international community "to unite in the face of international terrorism and to deal with it consistently, without double standards." He called the position of the West beyond hope, since it helps fight the militants in Iraq, but is reconciled to them in Syria because they are fighting against the regime of Bashar Al Assad. On September 15 in Paris, where he was participating in the International Conference on Peace and Security in Iraq, Lavrov urged the global community to take a complex approach to the problem of terrorism in the Middle East. He stressed that money and weapons flow to the terrorists, and that terrorist organisations quietly sell oil and use the profits to finance their activities.The Russian foreign minister added that the number of terrorists is also increasing due to poor socio-economic prospects for young people and the unresolved Palestinian issue. Lavrov described the assistance being provided by Russia to the Iraqi government: "Russia provides military assistance to Iraq and other appropriate assistance... Likewise, we provide military and other assistance to Syria and other countries of the region which are facing, maybe to a less severe degree, but nevertheless a very serious terrorist threat. We have partners in Egypt, Lebanon, Yemen, and Jordan."

The recent successes by radical militants in Iraq pose threats far beyond the country's borders.

Ground operation badly needed

of Islam from Spain to Bukhara. If jihadists from ISIS seize Kurdish oil, they will have resources for further expansion. They will invade Jordan and then Saudi Arabia. And it will become a real caliphate." Mirsky added that the extremists are also aiming at the Muslim regions of Russia, primarily the North Caucasus and the Volga region. Mirsky believes that ISIS can only be destroyed by military

Georgy Mirsky, a senior fellow from the Institute of World Economy and International Relations at the Russian Academy of Sciences, said in an interview with RBTH that ISIS poses "a mortal threat" which exceeds all other conflicts, including the one in Ukraine. "Militants in all their statements refer to the restoration of the rule

means - neither economic nor political measures will be sufficient. However, in his opinion, conditions are unfavourable for a large-scale ground offensive. "Firstly, the Western public is tired of war, therefore there is no chance of sending large contingents of ground troops to Iraq. Secondly, the return of Americans to this country will bring ISIS new volunteers willing to fight the alliance of Americans, Jews and Shi-

ites. Therefore, gambling on the Kurds is now justified. But this is not enough, because ISIS militants are based in Syria and it is necessary to cooperate with Bashar Al Assad in order to defeat them," said Mirsky.

Moscow prefers concrete steps, not words Mikhail Margelov, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Federation Council of Russia,

told RBTH that Russia "is ready to participate in the fight against radicals in the Middle East, but the US does not want this." He noted that, according to US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki, some nations can be more constructive (than Russia) in this regard. "Constructive apparently means air-strikes against ISIS in Iraq and support for militants in Syria," said Margelov. He also said that for the United States ISIS has not yet become a real headache. "If this were so, the Americans would not be supporting ISIS in Syria. After all, in Syria, this group acted in the same way as in Iraq. But no one heard any condemnation from the West." Speaking of concrete steps that can be taken by Russia, Margelov said that "negotiations with the terrorists and verbal condemnation of their actions are a waste of time." "Russia is helping Iraq at the request of its authorities by supplying advanced weapons, including Su-25 strike jets and artillery systems. Russia also agreed to huge discounts on its arms, which has stimulated and accelerated deliveries of American weapons to Iraq," he explained. Speaking about the possibility of creating an 'anti-extremist coalition', Margelov said that there is no clear understanding of who could join it. "There was much talk about this, especially after 9/11. At that time Russia and the United States expressed willingness to join their efforts to fight any terrorist threat. Russia is still ready for such a step. There should be a single anti-terrorism front, but it is impossible as long as terrorists in Syria are called "freedom fighters" by the West, while in Iraq the same people are labelled "extremists".

Society Experts from the Harvard Business School have ranked Russia fifth in the world in terms of obesity rates

Parliamentarians have launched a bill aimed at tackling the growing problem of obesity in Russia. Inspired by anti-smoking campaigns, the initiative is targeted at large fast-food chains. ANASTASIA VITYAZEVA SPECIAL TO RBTH

Fast-food packaging in Russia may soon bear graphic pictures of overweight people with warnings against the negative side effects of obesity, following an initiative from members of the lower chamber of the Russian parliament. A bill containing amendments to the federal laws on advertising and consumer rights protection is being developed by State Duma deputy speaker and head of the supreme council of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) Igor Lebedev and his fellow faction members Yaroslav Nilov and Andrei Sivtsov. The creators of the bill have been inspired by a similar anti-smoking drive, as cigarette packs in many countries now carry picture warnings of rotten teeth or diseased lungs. Under the proposed bill, owners of fast-food chains will

have to mark their packaging with warnings that excessive and frequent consumption of fast food is harmful to one's health. "The situation here is similar to the one with cigarettes: Consumers should be warned of the dangers posed by fast food.That means that fast-food advertising and packaging should carry the relevant information,”says a statement posted on the LDPR website. “In addition, the MPs propose that fast-food packaging should carry pictures demonstrating the consequences of diseases that can be provoked by frequent consumption of fast food.” The MPs' proposal follows a warning issued to McDonald's in late June by the Russian consumer rights watchdog Rospotrebnadzor over the quality of the American franchise’s hamburgers. Russian State Duma deputies subsequently proposed checking other fast-food chains operating in Russia, including KFC and Burger King. In a separate development, the Nizhny Novgorod Region branch of Rospotrebnadzor filed a lawsuit with Moscow's Tverskoi dis-

THE NUMBERS

24.9

Percent of Russians are classified as overweight, according to a study by the World Health Organisation.

59.8

PHOTOXPRESS

MPs take aim at fast food in campaign against obesity

Percent of adult Russians are overweight and risk obesity.

The initiative aims to curb the swelling numbers of obese Russians.

THE QUOTE

Kirill Danishevsky PROFESSOR AT THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH CARE MANAGEMENT AND ECONOMICS OF THE HIGHER SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS AND PHD IN MEDICINE

"

Russians' body mass has been on the rise for the past 20 years. We have caught up and overtaken the U.S. for obesity in women over 30. We have fewer cases of extreme obesity, but there are overweight women starting from the age of 30 onwards."

trict court to oblige McDonald's to provide genuine nutritional facts about its food. Officials suspect the popular fast-food chain of understating the calorific value of its products. However, McDonald’s has defended its policy, with its Russian press service insisting that the firm “calculates calorific value on the basis of methods approved by the

Institute of Nutrition under the Russian Academy of Sciences."

Obesity becomes a threat Russians are indeed facing problems with obesity. "Russians' body mass has been on the rise for the past 20 years. This has been confirmed by research. In addition, doctors are recording a growing number of obese people during regular medical checkups," says Kirill Danishevsky, a professor at the department of health care management and economics of the Higher School of Economics and PhD in Medicine. However, Danishevsky does not believe the fault lies exclusively with fast-food restaurants. "It is, of course, not just the burgers that are to blame. The problem is that the overall food consumption model has changed," he explains. According to him, in Soviet times meat was in short supply, so people ate more vegetables and fruit. In addition, food in the USSR contained fewer additives.

"When food shortages became a thing of the past, people were able to eat everything. At the same time the amount of calories in foodstuffs has increased," Danishevsky explains. Also, as more people in Russia could afford to buy a car, the amount of physical exercise and activity went down, with manual labor becoming less frequent too. As a result, Russians as a whole have become overweight. "In Soviet years, the problem of obesity usually affected women over 4550. Now the age threshold has dropped significantly. There are overweight people among both men and women, starting from the age of 20,” says Danishevsky. “In particular, we have caught up and overtaken the US for obesity in women over 30. We have fewer cases of extreme obesity, but there are overweight women starting from the age of 30 onwards. Many men have remarkable bellies although they are caused not by popular beverages. So, as you

see, the problem is not just in hamburgers but in eating habits and lack of exercise," says Danishevsky. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), 59.8 percent of adult Russians are overweight and risk obesity, indicating a crisis in the nation's health. In a study published in British newspaper The Daily Telegraph, experts from the Harvard Business School have ranked Russia fifth in terms of obesity rates, based on more than 50 separate sets of figures from bodies such as the WHO. According to the study, 24.9 percent of Russians are classified as overweight. The Harvard researchers attribute the trend to an unbalanced diet: An average Russian eats too many animal fats, red meat and butter, and too little fruit and vegetables. Experts from the Healthy Food national research centre, founded by Moscow State University professor Oleg Medvedev, call for increasing the size of the font that nutritional information is printed on food packaging to 12 points and devoting at least half of all packaging space to information about the ingredients. In addition, they propose including guideline daily amounts for different nutrients as a percentage of the recommended daily norm of 2,000 kcal. Energy values should be given not only per 100g, as they are now, but for a portion or a whole package of the product, since consumers seldom notice that the calorific values listed on a food label refer just to 100g of the product. Experts also urge producers to supply a full list and percentage of nutrients and to publish information on potentially harmful ingredients, like saturated fats, cholesterol, trans fats, salt and sugar, on the front of packages.


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Economy

GULF NEWS_WEDNESDAY_SEPTEMBER_24_2014

03

Manufacturing Industrial sector could excel 1.7 percent forecast for 2014 if growth continues

Devaluation and sanctions mark boost for Russian industry ALEXEI LOSSAN RBTH

In spite of a stagnating GDP, Russia has seen an unusual increase in industrial activity since sanctions were imposed by the United States and the European Union. According to research conducted by HSBC Bank and the Gaidar Institute for Economic Policy, Russia has posted an increase in industrial production for the third month in a row. "The manufacturing sector is quite effective in meeting demand and, in spite of the overall economic situation and expert forecasts, it has maintained positive growth,” reads the institute's study.

List of leaders According to the authors of the study, engineering and metallurgical companies, which secured an additional share of the domestic market as a result of a ban on sup-

plies from Ukraine, have posted better results. In addition, in August 2014, sectors focused on domestic consumption, including the food industry, also expect to have replaced some imported food products. However, according to analysts, import substitution could not have started in June 2014, and industrial growth is a consequence of the events of February-March 2014, when the ruble underwent a slight devaluation. According to UFS IC senior analyst Alexei Kozlov, Russian industrial production rose in August for several reasons. "The first reason is the increase in demand for products from the metallurgical sector, as a result of the need to replace the supply of products from Ukraine,” he said. In addition, the analyst attributed the demand for steel and other metallurgical products to the implementation of pipeline construction projects, in particular the South Stream pipeline to Europe and the Power of Siberia pipeline to China. "The second reason is an increase in state orders in the military-industrial complex," Kozlov noted. The third rea-

60% Services

4%

36 % Industry

Agriculture

REUTERS

For the third consecutive month, Russia has seen an increase in industrial activity. Have US and EU sanctions against Moscow helped to breathe new life into Russian production?

Structure of Russia's GDP

The recent growth in production has been driven by the manufacturing sector.

In the best-case scenario, Russian production may keep growing until the first or second quarter of 2015. son is growth in food production and the agricultural sector as a result of the need for import substitutes, he said. As the head of investment firm Russ-Invest’s analytical department Dmitry Bedenkov pointed out, the recent growth in production has been driven by the manufacturing sector. "Over the past seven months, growth in these sectors amounted to 2.6 percent, compared to 0.8 percent in the mining sector," he said. According to Anton Soroko, an analyst at investment holding company Finam, ruble devaluation was the main

reason for growth in the manufacturing sector, along with growing demand from China. "Food producers are going to receive excess profits due to decreases in imported products, which could previously out-compete domestic food products," Soroko added.

Steady growth Olga Izryadnova, head researcher at the Centre for Macroeconomic Research at the Russian Academy of the National Economy and Public Administration, said that the industrial production index was 101.5 percent year-on-year in January-July 2014, with the manufacturing sector experiencing the highest increases in production. According to her, consumer goods production over the same period increased by 3.3 percent, passenger car output by 5.7 percent, and truck production by 12.7 percent.

Textile and clothing production increased by 6 percent, while the production of electronic components for communications was up by 17.6 percent. However, not all sectors of the Russian economy showed growth. " The service sector and the financial sector both lagged, dragging down GDP growth in the second quarter of 2014. Mass revocation of licences from banks, ruble instability, and rising geopolitical risks all had a negative impact on the activities of financial institutions," Alexei Kozlov said. According to Izryadnova, reductions in the consumption of hydrocarbons from Russia also had a negative impact on Russian economic growth. "Decreased exports of commodities and products made from these commodities, as well as reduced construction and property investment, had a negative influence on over-

all economic indicators,”Izryadnova said. Moreover, car production in January-July 2014 fell by 0.7 percent, and truck production dropped by 21.1 percent. Experts note that if industrial production continues to grow, it is likely to exceed even the forecasts made by the Ministry of Economic Development - 1.7 percent for the year. According to a study conducted by the Gaidar Institute, in the best-case scenario, Russian production may keep growing until the first or second quarter of 2015, when the industrial sector will feel the effects of import substitution associated with the ban on food imports from the EU and the US The Russian economy may thus come out of stagnation. However, Anton Soroko predicts that in the short term tensions with the West will have negative effects on the Russian economy.

Russia-UAE Tawazun and Rostec intend to begin joint production and development of arms and defence systems

Moscow and Abu Dhabi eye munitions deal YEKATERINA POKROVSKAYA SPECIAL TO RBTH

Intention to start joint arms production between Russia and the UAE was announced in August 2014 by Igor Sevastyanov, Deputy Director General of Russia’s state-owned arms export body Rosoboronexport. The news came as Rosoboronexport held negotiations on cooperation with a delegation from Tawazun, the leading company of the UAE defence industry, during the Oboronexpo-2014 exhibition that took place in August 13-16, in the town of Zhukovsky, near Moscow. “There is an idea of working in cooperation in the military field with the United Arab Emirates to manufacture weapons,”Sevastyanov stated in a press conference during the exhibition. As Ahmed Al Nayeli, Director of Business Development, Tawa-

zun confirmed to RBTH, Tawazun and Rosoboronexport met at the Oboronoexpo-2014 exhibition and discussed potential cooperation opportunities, which led to reaching an agreement on moving forward with a joint manufacturing project in the defence industry. Al Nayeli did not disclose any product particulars of the agreement due to reasons of confidentiality, but said Tawazun would announce any further developments to come. Earlier, in November 2013, during the Dubai Air Show, the Russian state corporation Rostec and Tawazun, founded by the government of the UAE, signed an MOU on technological cooperation, with a particular focus on joint projects in the defence industry. “We signed an overreaching agreement with the Russians that will cover every aspect in the defence industry that we might want to pursue: from ground weapons to air-defence or air-to-ground arms”, Hamad Mohamed Al Marar, general manager of Tawazun Dynamics, a parent shareholding company of the Tawazun Defence group, told RBTH.

came up with the idea of organising ammunition production in the UAE. As stated by Rostec, a joint committee of representatives from Rostec and Tawazun was set up to make decisions about joint projects. A number of projects have

Russian-UAE military cooperation goes back to the IDEX international defence exhibition in Abu Dhabi in 2013. PHOTOXPRESS

Russia and the United Arab Emirates intend to start joint production of a variety of arms and munitions. The parties plan to share technology and co-develop state-of-the-art defence systems.

Russia's state holding Rostec produces all types of munitions.

The starting point of RussianEmirati military cooperation initiative goes back to the IDEX international defence exhibition in Abu Dhabi in February 2013, where the general director of Russian state corporation holding Rostec Sergei Chemezov and Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan met

and discussed possible mutual opportunities. Following that, Rostec and Tawazun delegations visited each other in Russia and the UAE a few times over the course of 2013 and examined each other’s production facilities to outline future areas for cooperation. In the end, according to Rostec, both sides

been under consideration, the key focus now being on the development and production of different calibre ammunition in collaboration with the Rostec holding’s subsidiary Tecmash. Cooperation in the defence industry is deemed to have significant potential for both Russia and the UAE. As pointed out by Al Marar, Tawazun has been looking into various partnerships to co-invest and co-develop defence systems, and cooperating with the Russians

on defence industry projects has opened up many opportunities. “We think there is lots of potential to actually co-develop new systems for generations to come”, said Al Marar. Signing the MOU in 2013, Sergei Chemezov had commented on the mutual benefits of the agreement on technological cooperation. “This will enable our partners to use the latest technologies of Rostec enterprises, particularly those of Tecmash. In turn, Rostec has the opportunity to enter a major new market and expand its presence in this strategically important region,” he said. The Tawazun holding was formed in 2007 to develop ventures through industrial partnerships and strategic investments that add value to the UAE’s industrial manufacturing sector across a number of areas: defence & aerospace, automotive, munitions, metals and technology. The company has also entered into partnerships with the American company NIMR and Germany's Caracal.

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Science&Technology

GULF NEWS_WEDNESDAY_SEPTEMBER_24_2014

Science Although the work of Russian scientists since the end of the USSR is little-known, their achievements have had a global impact

Post-Soviet scientific successes electricity over long distances with no loss and heavy duty drives that can store energy indefinitely.

The 2014 list of the world’s most influential scientists, published in July by Thomson Reuters,includes eight Russians. RBTH features Russian scientists' most important discoveries in the past 20 years.

Millennium problems In 2002, Russian mathematician Grigori Perelman proved the Poincaré conjecture, one of the seven Millennium Problems set by the Clay Mathematics Institute. These problems have important applications in modern science. The essence of this particular problem was to prove that threedimensional objects without through-holes were topologically equivalent to a sphere. Perelman was able to prove this hypothesis, but declined his reward from the Clay Institute.

DAN POTOTSKY RBTH

Super-heavy elements

Exawatt lasers The PEARL (PEtawatt pARametric Laser) which was built in 2006 at the Institute of Applied Physics (IAP) of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS), makes it possible to create the most powerful light radiation on Earth. This setting is based on the technology of parametric amplifica-

Running out of oil and gas

THE NUMBERS

28 PRESS PHOTO

During the Soviet era, Russian scientists led the race for the inclusion of super-heavy elements within the periodic table. From 2000 to 2010 the Flerov Laboratory of Nuclear Reactions at the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research synthesised six of the heaviest elements, with atomic numbers ranging from 113 to 118. Two of them have already been officially recognised by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) and received the names Flerovium (114) and Livermorium (116). Applications for the discovery of the other elements are under consideration. "It's not just about filling all the gaps in the periodic table,”Sergei Dmitriev, director of the Laboratory of Nuclear Reactions, told RBTH.“It's about creating unusual forms of matter, the properties of which are beyond the scope of what naturally exists on Earth.” Dmitriev says that if it is possible to synthesise super-heavy elements with certain qualities, then humanity will be able to create many new technologies, including durable and thin space suits, gasbased computer screens, antimatter engines, and everlasting batteries and fuel cells.

The value in megagauss of a magnetic field generated by physicists at the Russian Nuclear Centre in the early 1990s - a record for an artificially created magnetic field.

Russian scientists continue to make important breakthroughs.

tion of light in nonlinear optical crystals, and can provide the spark for 0.56 petawatts of power, significantly greater than the capacity of all existing power plants. There are also plans to launch the XCELS project, which involves creating laser power up to 200 petawatts, and later up to 1 exawatt. Physicist Efim Khazanov, says such laser systems will explore the fundamental laws of the universe. "The electric field in the light pulse exceeds the field holding the electron near the nucleus by several degrees,” he says. “The radiation intensity can reach values at which the vacuum could produce matter and antimatter.”

The existing facilities’ main function is to research exawatt lasers. However, if the results of the work are able to enter the planning phase, the range of applications for these lasers could expand, Khazanov explains. "This could make the treatment of cancerous tumours significantly cheaper and less harmful than X-ray treatments,” he says.

Heavy-duty magnetic fields In the early 1990s, physicists under Alexander Pavlovsky at the Russian Nuclear Centre developed a way to obtain records of strong magnetic fields. With explosive magneto generators, in which the

blast wave squeezes the magnetic field, they managed to record the field’s value at 28 megagauss. This is a record for an artificially created magnetic field and is many millions of times higher than Earth's magnetic field strength. With the help of these magnetic fields, it is possible to study the behaviour of matter under extreme conditions, including the behaviour of superconductors. "Modern particle accelerators were built with the use of superconducting magnetic systems,”says Vladimir Pudalov, a physicist at the Physics Institute of the Academy of Sciences (FIAN). “Strong magnetic fields are needed to get

62-93 The depth in miles in the Earth's crust at which conditions have been identified by Russian scientists as suitable for the synthesis of complex hydrocarbon systems.

the reaction of controlled thermonuclear fusion.” According to him, with the help of super-magnets, the behaviour of superconductors can be controlled. The impact of this would be cables capable of transmitting

The media and environmentalists regularly remind us that oil and gas reserves will be depleted in the next 50-100 years. However, through experiments and theoretical calculations, scientists from the Gubkin Russian State University of Oil and Gas have shown that oil and gas can be formed not only by the decomposition of organic matter, according to standard theory, but also via abiogenic or non-biological means. They discovered that in the Earth's upper mantle, conditions for the synthesis of complex hydrocarbon systems are found at depths of 62-93 miles. "This allows us to think about natural gas as a renewable and inexhaustible source of energy,” Vladimir Kucherov, a professor at Gubkin University, told RBTH. "The Russian economy is large and it depends on energy prices. Oil production in Russia is primarily associated with a variety of climate-related difficulties, which makes production very expensive. In the future, the technology of artificially synthesising oil could solve many economic and environmental problems.”

INNOVATION

St. Petersburg to welcome fusion energy experts MARK COOPER SPECIAL TO RBTH

St. Petersburg is to be the venue for the 2014 International Atomic Energy Agency's Fusion Energy Conference, held on Oct. 13-18. The event is expected to be attended by some 1,000 delegates from 59 countries, including scientists, government officials and representatives of major energy corporations. A key topic for discussion will be the technological and innovative possibilities for using nuclear fusion as a source of energy. In the mid-20th century, the world's leading physicists, in search for new sources of energy, turned their attention to the sun. At its core, at temperatures of nearly 20 million degrees, a fusion reaction takes place, releasing tremendous amounts of energy. The knowledge and experience in controlled nuclear fusion first obtained in the Soviet Union later became the foundation of a project, symbolising humanity's energy dream, the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER), now being built in Cadarache (France).

THE NUMBERS

1,000 The number of delegates who are expected to attend the conference on fusion energy in St. Petersburg.

10 billion The estimated cost in euros of construction of the test reactor currently being built for the ITER in France.

2020 The year in which experiments are now scheduled to begin at the ITER test reactor following delays in construction.

AFP/EASTNEWS

For the first time ever, Russia's second largest city, St Petersburg, will host the International Atomic Energy Agency's Fusion Energy Conference (FEC 2014). The event will be held on Oct. 13-18, 2014.

Work is continuing on the construction of the ITER reactor in France.

In 1985, theoretical physicist Evgeny Velikhov, on behalf of the USSR, invited scientists from Europe, the United States, and Japan to jointly build a thermonuclear reactor. In 1986, an agreement was reached on designing the facility, which became known as ITER. In 1992, the partners signed a quadripartite agreement on developing an engineering project for the reactor. The first phase of the construction is scheduled to end by 2018, with the first plasma expected to be produced in late 2019.

In terms of radiation, a thermonuclear reactor is a far safer option than a nuclear reactor.

In terms of radiation, a thermonuclear reactor is a far safer option than a nuclear reactor. To begin with, there are relatively few radioactive materials inside it. The energy that may be discharged as a result of an accident or a technical fault is also small and cannot destroy the reactor. Furthermore, the design of the reactor envisages several natural barriers, preventing the spread of radioactive materials. A test reactor is being built in France, about 60km from Mar-

seille. Originally, the construction, whose cost was at first estimated at 5 billion euros, was set to be completed in 2016. However, gradually the original cost estimate doubled, while the start of experiments was pushed back to 2020. The purpose of the experiment is to demonstrate the scientific and technical possibility of producing fusion energy for peaceful purposes. The project is being implemented by the European Union, India, China, South Korea, Russia, the US, and Japan.

Delegates to the conference will have an opportunity to visit the institutes that conduct controlled nuclear fusion research and produce equipment for ITER as part of Russia's project obligations. The event is also expected to feature an exhibition of the ITER International Organisation, with input from all the participating nations. Enterprises of Russia's Rosatom state corporation will present information on their participation in the project, which consists in the production and delivery of high-tech equipment, key units of the reactor. In late July 2014, a PF (poloidal field) conductor, made jointly by Russian and European experts, underwent successful testing in Switzerland. The unit is an essential element of the reactor since it will create a magnetic field to hold the plasma together. The Russian side made the cable, while the Europeans put it in a steel casing. Russia will continue to supply the conductors till 2017. In addition, in early June, it was announced that Russia will produce and supply diagnostic systems for ITER, which will allow scientists to monitor plasma behaviour inside the reactor. Overall, as part of its contribution to the ITER project, Russia is expected to produce nine of the 45 systems needed to monitor the operation of the thermonuclear reactor.


RUSSIA BEYOND THE HEADLINES www.rbth.com GULF NEWS_WEDNESDAY_SEPTEMBER_24_2014

Science&Technology Projects Research begins in Yakutia

Technology New customised solutions for water purification have appeared on the market

A mammoth task: The quest to clone an Ice Age giant

Russia’s battle with water pollution continues

A new centre dedicated to molecular palaeontology is to open in the remote region of Yakutia in north-eastern Russia as part of an ambitious project to bring the mammoth back to life. ARAM TER-GHAZARYAN SPECIAL TO RBTH

GETTY IMAGES/FOTOBANK

SPECIAL TO RBTH

Every third sample from sources of drinking water in Russia fails to meet acceptable standards due to chemical contamination, according to Russian consumer watchdog agency Rospotrebnadzor. Moreover, nearly half of Russia’s population lacks safe drinking water. As recently reported by Greenpeace, water pollution is widespread: “Thousands of companies have dumped dangerous chemicals into rivers and lakes, and these pollutants are inevitably absorbed into the human body through water and food.”According to Greenpeace,“companies are not adopting clean technologies, and the government is ineffectual when it comes to preventing criminals from poisoning the water.” At the same time, in recent years the number of companies in Russia that offer unique technologies for purifying water, including water with radioactive contamination, is increasing. In late August, RosRAO, a subsidiary of state nuclear energy corporation Rosatom, qualified to participate in research to determine the technologies that will be the most effective in purifying the polluted water from the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan. The Japanese government will invest more than $9.5 million in this research.

Private companies offer new solutions Small firms are increasingly offering innovative new solutions for water purification. Recently, a team of former equipment suppliers to Gazprom, Russia’s largest energy company, implemented a new solution developed by the Novosibirsk Institute of Mining. The result is Aquifer, a complex water purification system. The Novosibirsk Institute’s new technology is an ejector-dispersant that stirs the water intensively, saturating it with oxygen. The system has no mechanical moving parts, and as a consequence will save a significant amount of energy. Moreover, it will reduce the amount of hypochlorite needed to oxidise iron and other impurities. Aquifer will oxidise all light im-

Water pollution: Where, when and why Russia is uniquely rich in water, possessing almost a quarter of the world's water resources. However, they are poorly accounted and managed, and unequally distributed across the country. The majority of Russia's high-quality water resources are concentrated in the mountain regions, Lake Baikal, and the rivers of Eastern Siberia and the Far East, from where it is difficult to deliver water to other regions of the country. As a result, many regions have to use poor quality water. Water pollution is Russia's leading environmental concern. Municipalities are the main source of pollution, followed by industry and agri-

Making water safe to drink The Aquifer idea came to Pyotr Mikheyev at the beginning of the 2000s, when he and two of his partners were supplying water treatment equipment to Gazprom camp sites. “We got together $100,000 in personal funds to launch assembly plants,” he says. In order to make water potable, there are several classic methods: chlorination, ozonation, UV treatment, ultrafiltration, and electrolysis. Unfortunately, chlorine is dangerous to store, transport, and use, as it is a poisonous substance. Since the end of the 20th century, ultraviolet light and ozone have been used in purification. But ozone is poisonous, and ultraviolet light purifies water only near the source. Within a metre and a half, nothing of this effect is left in the water flow. Therefore, when using this method, a chlorination installation has to be added to the purification cycle. Ultraviolet lamps are longitudinally complex, and the surfaces require constant cleaning. Electrolysis is still the safest and most effective method of disinfecting.

Technical details There is another technological subtlety used in the system. The developers combined electrolysis with dispersion (stirring water) and dramatically increased the efficiency with which impurities are oxidised. This is important, because water from underground sources is usually almost free of bacteria but contains a significant amount of iron and other impurities that must be oxidised. Usually in large water treatment plants, this is done with the help

culture. By the end of the 1990s, according to the government, "practically all" of the water courses in the Volga watershed – an area covering two thirds of European Russia – did not meet Russian standards. For a long time, no real measures were taken to address the situation in Russia. In the last 20 years, the situation in the utilities sector has deteriorated significantly, and now providing potable water and meeting international quality standards are extremely acute issues. Eleven million residents of the Russian Federation use water that is unsuitable for drinking. 50 million Russians use poor quality water daily.

In Yakutia, one of the northernmost regions of Russia, the International Centre for the Collective Use of Molecular Palaeontology for the Study of Cells of Prehistoric Animals will open in September as part of the Mammoth Resurrection project. The researchers have plenty of material to work with. Seventyfive percent of the world's known mammoth remains have been found in remote areas of Yakutia and every year the ice yields new ones. After the laboratory is upgraded with the necessary equipment for genetic research, the Russian research team will begin working to isolate DNA and clone mammoths.

of oxygenation or by a catalyst, oxidising iron. But these methods have disadvantages: catalyst loading is expensive and requires constant replenishment, while oxygen saturation requires an electric compressor to be constantly run-

THE NUMBERS

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$100,000 3

Percentage of samples from drinking water sources in Russia that fail to meet acceptable standards due to chemical contamination.

Amount of personal funds poured into setting up assembly plants for Aquifer technology by Pyotr Mikheyev and his business partners.

Number of Aquifer water purification units already in operation in Russia - in Surgut, Yakutsk, and the town of Elektrostal.

ning. This makes for high energy costs. But then came the convenient solution invented by the Novosibirsk Institute of Mining. The Aquifer is installed in modules, or “cubes,” depending on the composition of the water and the purification requirements. If, for example, desalination is necessary, it is added at the corresponding stage. If the water is underground, the decontamination unit is removed, or the deferrisation module if the water is on the surface. The technology can be used not only for potable water supply systems, but for treating domestic and industrial wastewater and swimming pools. Two Aquifer units are already in operation in Surgut andYakutsk, plus another in Elektrostal near Moscow, for purifying water used in industrial processes. Many industries have the same problem in Russia: The water contains too many impurities to be used in industrial processes.

The mammoth has become a kind of mascot for Russia, where a significant number of carcasses of the animal have been unearthed. Mammoth tusks and bones found by locals are on display at small museums in the Moscow Region, the Caucasus and Siberia. According to Wikipedia, the woolly mammoth was roughly the same size as modern African elephants. It was well adapted to the cold environment during the last ice age. It was covered in fur, with an outer covering of long guard hairs and a shorter undercoat. The colour of the coat varied from dark to light. The ears and tail were short to minimise frostbite and heat loss. It had long, curved tusks and four molars. Its behaviour was similar to that of modern elephants, and it used its tusks and trunk for manipulating objects, fighting, and foraging.

Mammoth Resurrection Project In 2012, the directors of the Lazarev Mammoth Museum of the Northeastern Federal University's Institute of Applied Ecology, and Soam, a Korean foundation for biotechnology research, agreed to cooperate on the Mammoth Resurrection Project. According to Semyon Grigoriev, the head of the museum, the international centre was established as a joint Yakut-Korean laboratory. The Korean partners have purchased several million dollars' worth of equipment, and Northeastern Federal University has provided and upgraded space for the researchers to conduct their work. Russian scientists have been studying mammoth DNA for years, yet it was only in 2013 that the museum sent its employees to South Korea to study cloning methods. "You need well-preserved stem cells to clone a mammoth,” says Valery Ilinsky, scientific director of the Genotek Centre. As there are no living mammoths left, the main difficulty is locating cells for standard cloning procedures. “The process is basically taking out the core of the original cell and transplanting it into the nucleus of the egg cell of another organism," he continues. "The main obstacle to cloning a mammoth is the small number or absence of cells with a preserved core."

Streamlining the process

The new technology is an ejector-dispersant that stirs the water intensively, saturating it with oxygen.

What does it look like?

The Centre for the Collective Use of Molecular Paleontology was created to accelerate the cloning process. Scientists will be able to conduct research in Russia without having to transfer the material to colleagues abroad. The best-preserved remains of one mammoth have already been transferred to Korean scientists.

Results of the genetic study of this animal will be made public at the centre's opening ceremony. Additionally, this summer from July 21 to August 16 an international expedition was made to northern Yakutia. Scientists reached another mammoth discovered last year near a river. The partially thawed carcass was examined, but as it was too large to move, the scientists only took part of the remains with them, such as a foot and wool. They will soon be delivered toYakutsk, where the expedition has already brought about 700 kilograms of paleontological material.

Lots of work ahead The genetic map of the mammoth has already been created. It can be compared with the chromosome of the Asian elephant. After that, changes will be made to the elephant's chromosome and a live mammoth chromosome will be created. The resulting material will be implanted into an elephant’s egg cell for subsequent fertilisation. If the experiment is successful, the researchers plan to settle the mammoths in Siberia. But some members of the scientific community in Russia consider the idea unrealistic. "These experiments have not been carried out anywhere in the world,”says Svetlana Borinskaya, a geneticist and biotech expert at the Institute of General Genetics. “Yes, bacteria has been cloned, but bacteria is not a mammoth. At this stage of science all comments on such a complex project boil down to ‘technically unfeasible.’ If you do it with known methods, there will be a huge number of genetic errors that are incompatible with the life of the animal."

ITAR-TASS

SOPHIE TEREKHOVA

purities with air and kill bacteria through electrolysis. Earlier, as a rule, similar technology was used in large-scale water treatment systems. The Aquifer system is unique in that it can be used by smaller companies that consume 20-50 cubic metres of water per day.

PHOTOXPRESS

Water pollution continues to be widespread in Russia. However, companies offering new customised solutions for water purification have recently appeared on the market.

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A scientist measures the carcass of a mammoth found in permafrost.


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RUSSIA BEYOND THE HEADLINES www.rbth.com

Culture

GULF NEWS_WEDNESDAY_SEPTEMBER_24_2014

Theatre Under Valery Gergiev’s leadership, the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg has become a cultural icon once again

Imperial legend joins the modern age

rbth.com/39297 PHOTOSHOT/VOSTOCK-PHOTO

St. Petersburg's illustrious bastion of classical opera and ballet, the Mariinsky Theatre, has recovered from its post-Soviet slump and is now looking boldly to the future with renewed confidence. JOY NEUMEYER SPECIAL TO RBTH

They face off across the canal, the twin peaks of Russia's classical world - the mint-green Mariinsky Theatre, the pride of the tsars, and the sleek modernist glass of Mariinsky II, completed last year. Together, they are home to the opera and ballet that have produced some of history’s greatest singers and dancers: Fyodor Chaliapin and Anna Netrebko, Anna Pavlova and George Balanchine. Today, the Mariinsky (known affectionately in Russian as the “Mariinka”) premieres six or seven major new productions annually, compared with the Bolshoi’s typical two or three. It plays host to Petersburg’s annual Stars of the White Nights festival, which this year presented 118 works by companies from Russia and abroad. But its current glitter and bus-

tle is far from inevitable. After the Soviet collapse brought the proud imperial theatre to its knees, the Mariinsky’s reincarnation as a modern juggernaut is due largely to one man: Valery Gergiev, the maestro who has headed the company since 1996.“Under Gergiev,” writes critic Dmitry Rezansky,“the Mariinsky transformed into an immense theatrical multiplex working if not to the breaking point, then to the brink of its ability.”

Gergiev and Mariinsky II THE QUOTE

Murray Frame HISTORIAN

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The Mariinsky was the centrepiece of official theatrical culture, and the resources lavished upon it allowed it to produce some of the finest opera and ballet of the period."

The Mariinsky’s golden age The institution first opened its doors in 1783 as the Bolshoi Stone Theatre. In 1860, when it was rebuilt after a fire, it was rechristened the Mariinsky in honour of Maria Alexandrovna, the wife of Tsar Alexander II. Under the tsars, it was the social pantheon of the ruling class, frequented by the imperial family and luminaries such as poet Alexander Pushkin. In the latter half of the 19th century, the theatre premiered ballets like “The Nutcracker,” “Swan Lake”and“Sleeping Beauty,”and operas such as“Boris Godunov” and “Prince Igor.” Under

the leadership of Marius Pepita, it produced the canonical versions of ballets that became the bedrock of classical repertoire all over the world. In the Soviet era, the Kirov (as it was renamed in the 1930s) continued to be lavished with official resources, and staged important versions of ballets and operas such as “Eugene Onegin” and “The Queen of Spades”—though it lost two its of its most celebrated dancers, Rudolf Nureyev and Mikhail Baryshnikov, to the West.

Adherence to tradition ‘I don’t know how they do it’ The Mariinsky’s immense repertory and size would daunt many other theatres.When its two theatres and concert hall are working simultaneously, there are over 5,000 seats to fill.“It’s a huge programme,”critic Raymond Stults says. “I don’t know how they do it.” Gergiev is legendary for his breakneck pace. In addition to overseeing all aspects of the Mariinsky, he conducts regularly at the Metropolitan Opera in New York and the London Symphony, among others, and is set to take over as musical director of the Munich Philharmonic next year. He explains his drive as a product of the theatre’s once-precarious position.“In the most difficult

Today, the theatre continues to produce big premieres in both opera and dance, including Alexei Ratmansky’s new staging of “Anna Karenina.” But some criticise its emphasis on familiar older productions, especially in touring. “The ballet often seems to be a lot of ‘Swan Lakes’ and ‘Giselles,’” Stults says. “It’s not the exciting place it once was.” There are changes to come next year, when the historic theatre is set to undergo renovation. Meanwhile, ballet stars Vishneva and Lopatkina are getting close to retirement age, clearing the stage for a new generation of stars. Through it all will be the indomitable Gergiev, who at the age of 61 still has a long career ahead of him.

CITY DISCOVERY For more adventurous travellers and lovers of urban legends, City Discovery offers a night walking tour through the secret tunnels of Metro-2, the KGB prison, and the infamous “middle of nowhere”. Participants will ride on a night tram, see Moscow’s “zero kilometre” and visit Khitrovka, the centre of crime in early 20th-century Moscow. Adult tickets are $33. www.city-discovery.com/moscow

All of these tours are conducted in English, but guided tours in other languages are available upon request

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AFTER SUNSET, THE RUSSIAN CAPITAL IS A DIFFERENT PLACE. COOL BREEZES DRIFT IN FROM THE RIVER AND THOUSANDS OF LIGHTS ILLUMINATE THE CITY’S MANY PARKS. TAKE ONE OF THESE NIGHTTIME TOURS TO SEE MOSCOW FROM A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE.

MOSGUIDES Night Tours in Moscow from Mosguides offer a variety of routes and schedules. The participants themselves determine the duration of the tour and the company’s guides can book a table at a special restaurant or club in advance. Tours can be taken on foot, by car or by boat. The prices and schedules of tours are available upon request. www.en.mosguides.ru/moscow/ night

time for myself and the Mariinsky, the late 80s to 90s, if I’d stopped, we would have lost our team,”he said in an interview with Rossiyskaya Gazeta last year. “I still can’t stop, because there’s an instinct in my subcortex that if we don’t work all the time, we might lose our position.”

TOURS BY LOCALS The Moscow branch of Tours by Locals offers a variety of night tours of the capital, for groups (up to $240 for up to 8 people) or individuals. The average length of a trip is three hours, but the route is entirely dependent on the wishes of the participants. Every Tours by Locals guide is ready to offer a unique route through the city. www.toursbylocals.com/nightmoscow

MOSCOW BY NIGHT

VISIT RUSSIA The Visit Russia tour company offers night tours of Moscow by car or minivan with a personal guide. The three-hour tours are $84 and cover sites outside the city centre, such as the Moscow City business district, as well as the capital’s best-known monuments. The tour includes a visit to Sparrow Hills and the main building of Moscow State University, where visitors can enjoy an unforgettable panorama of the city from a special viewing platform. www.visitrussia.com

The country’s collapse in the ‘90s hit the illustrious theatre hard. Gergiev, the fiery young maestro from North Ossetia who took over as chief conductor in 1988, put it on a heavy touring schedule to keep it afloat. Gergiev brought a strong vision to the theatre, reviving forgotten works by RimskyKorsakov and Prokofiev. He also recognised the importance of nurturing and promoting top talent; under his tenure, the Mariinsky has been home to star singers Netrebko and Olga Borodina, and prima ballerinas Diana Vishneva and Ulyana Lopatkina. Under Gergiev, the theatre also began to expand. First came a new state-of-the-art concert hall in 2007, which hosts everything from intimate solo performances to major events. With the backing of close ally PresidentVladimir Putin, Gergiev was also able to achieve his dream project: Mariinsky II, the gleaming 2,000-seat theatre that cost over $700 million. Mariinsky II, which hosts both opera and ballet, eschews the royal chandeliers and gilding of its pre-

decessor for a sleek wood auditorium and onyx wall, as well as windows that offer views over the canal (a bridge connects it to the old theatre across the water). Despite early snubs by the city’s intelligentsia, who derided what they considered its bland architecture, its crisp acoustics have earned enthusiastic reviews.

CITY SIGHTSEEING MOSCOW Moscow’s traffic jams are not severe after dark, making it easier to drive through the city streets on City Sightseeing Moscow’s “Moscow Never Sleeps” double-decker bus tour. Buses depart from Red Square every day between 7:30pm and 10pm The hour-long sightseeing trip is an excellent way to see the major sights of Moscow’s historic centre. Adult tickets for the hop-on-hop-off tour are $23 and are valid for 24 hours. www.city-sightseeing.com


RUSSIA BEYOND THE HEADLINES www.rbth.com

Opinion

GULF NEWS_WEDNESDAY_SEPTEMBER_24_2014

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CAN RUSSIA AND THE US LIVE APART? worry is that such negative political rhetoric has an unpleasant tendency to morph into political practice. Already we see that Russian-US cooperation is coagulating, contacts at different levels are breaking off, and the edifice of bilateral interplay between Russia

Igor Ivanov HISTORIAN

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Very few would deny that the moratorium on Russian-US cooperation jeopardises the solution of international issues.

DAN POTOTSKY

ever have post-Cold War relations between Russia and the US sunk to such a nadir. Bilateral contacts in almost all spheres and at all levels are either frozen, suspended, or sluggish at best. The two sides are competing to outdo each other with hostile rhetoric, while mutual suspicion and negative perceptions have moved beyond the political elites towards shaping the public mood in both countries. You can argue long and hard about the who, how and why — that conversation is bound to take place sooner or later. But it is more important at this juncture to understand what such poor RussianUS relations hold in store for the two countries and the world at large. First up in that regard is the ongoing crisis in Ukraine. The acute political crisis in Ukraine has been the focus of international politicians, experts, and journalists for more than six months now. On the face of it, the dramatic situation there should act as a powerful incentive for a critical rethinking of modern European and global policy, for new approaches to international security, for major conceptual breakthroughs, and for a firm rejection of outdated doctrines. After all, any major crisis is a time for renewal and a catalyst to replace the prevailing intellectual and political paradigms.

Unfortunately, in the case of Ukraine, this general rule does not seem to be working. Such conclusion is unavoidable on observing the discussions on Ukraine in the US For all the pluralist views on the causes, dynamics, and likely consequences of the Ukrainian crisis, US political and expert opinion is almost exclusively centred on two points: first, the sanctions against Russia — their scope and consistency, mechanisms to apply them, and the potential impact on the Kremlin; second, the apparent and rather blinkered belief that the US is capable of solving major international issues without Rus-

sia, of which the US political and intellectual elite is trying to convince itself and its partners. The debate in Washington is remarkably similar to the one in Moscow. On the one hand, Russia is repeating over and over to itself that sanctions will not hurt, and indeed that the West is unlikely to take any action that could backfire. On the other, newspaper and TV headlines endlessly proclaim that America is not the only fish in the sea, and that Russia would not lose much were it to minimise cooperation with the U.S. and shift its foreign policy focus to other countries and regions.

In this so-called polemic by correspondence (since meaningful contact between Russian and US experts, politicians, and journalists is limited) it is difficult to find fresh ideas and innovative proposals to resolve the crisis. At the same time it is becoming very easy to spot Cold War-style propaganda clichés and stereotypes, which just a few years ago seemed hopelessly archaic and obsolete. The revival of the phantoms and phobias of this bygone era could be ascribed, on both sides of the conflict, to the heightened sense of emotion inherent in any serious international crisis. But the

and the US, fragile at the best of times, is now crumbling. This dangerous trend is fraught with risk for both sides and the wider world. First of all, the idea that during a crisis contact should be minimised is absurd. On the contrary, it is in times of crisis that dialogue is most needed, since without dialogue no agreement can be reached, not even in theory. Dialogue is necessary at the level of parliamentarians, independent analytical centres, media, civil society, and the private sector. Such dialogue has the ability not only to dampen political tensions and stem the flow of radical sentiment; across various platforms it can also engender practical solutions that often elude government leaders and ministers in their inevitably short meetings and phone calls. As for the claim that Russia can survive perfectly well without the

WHERE NOW FOR EASTERN UKRAINE? ANALYST

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he ceasefire in the east of Ukraine is a long-awaited step that has put an end to a brutal and pointless bloodshed. However, it has brought the sides no closer to an agreed solution and the political process ahead is likely to be very difficult. The first stage after exchanging prisoners should be to delineate areas of responsibility. Any conflict of this type is a war without a clear frontline, so a "border" has to be agreed after the truce. Since in terms of international law, the territory of Ukraine is under Kiev's jurisdiction, while the breakaway Donetsk and Lugansk people's republics are unrecognised, the agreement requires goodwill primarily from the Ukrainian side. Goodwill in this case implies the recognition that real control over part of the country has been lost, which is not easy and may cause serious upheavals in Kiev. After the demarcation comes the question of control over the line of contact. As the OSCE has been involved in the political process from the start, it would be logical for it to assume a monitoring function. To do that, it will need

a mandate, so we can expect heated debate at OSCE headquarters in Vienna as to the powers and makeup of the relevant mission. Next, talks about status should begin. Statements coming from the sides make it impossible to assess the probability of reaching a compromise. Needless to say, statements made for the benefit of the public usually appear rather uncompromising, while behind closed doors, a more nuanced discussion is possible. However, the experience of other frozen conflicts, be it Transnistria (in Moldova) or Abkhazia and South Ossetia (in Georgia), shows that it is

very difficult to reinstate control that has been de facto lost. That is why, in order to secure Ukraine's territorial integrity, extra efforts and a very creative approach to autonomy rights are needed. The authorities of the self-proclaimed republics now face the task of establishing administrative structures that should be grounded in some legitimacy. Therefore, there must be elections and, consequently, political parties taking part in them. Clearly, as in other similar cases, the role of "veterans", i.e. members and leaders of armed groups, will be quite significant. For instance,

NATALIA MIKHAYLENKO

Fyodor Lukyanov

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in Nagorno-Karabakh (in Armenia) or Abkhazia, the ruling faction simply cannot perform its functions without the support of veteran groups or, rather, the political elite is formed primarily of members of the military elite. A separate strand is the interests of outside forces, which have raised the stakes and the degree of tension in the conflict. Russia faces a difficult choice because the moral and financial responsibility for the territories that have de facto separated from Ukraine lies on Moscow. Obviously, economic assistance in rebuilding the region will follow, but the lack of agreement on its status makes any investment there risky. An ideal scenario for Russia, it seems, would be a united Ukraine with considerable autonomy for Donetsk and Lugansk and guarantees of their rights and freedoms as parts of the neighbouring country. Then assistance to those regions could be rendered as part of international efforts to restore Ukraine, which will inevitably follow. Furthermore, these regions remaining part of Ukraine would create a certain lever of influence on domestic Ukrainian politics. As regards the European Union, which has contributed to the crisis considerably, its priority task

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US and vice versa, there is an obvious need to clarify what is meant by the phrase “survive perfectly well.” Economic ties between the countries are not the be-all and end-all for either. And it goes without saying that a lack of strategic interaction between the Kremlin and the White House will not automatically lead to nuclear war. Nonetheless, there is hardly anyone who would deny that the moratorium on Russian-US cooperation jeopardises the solution of a wide variety of international issues, while other problems will prove insurmountable.This applies to regional crises and nuclear nonproliferation; to the fight against terrorism and drug trafficking; to the management of natural resources and global migration; to space exploration and international cooperation in the Arctic, and to other highly acute problems facing the global community today. Despite the seriousness of the Ukrainian crisis, it is by no means the only one on the global agenda. And to hang the entire spectrum of bilateral Russian-US relations on just one — albeit very dramatic — international event would be short-sighted, to say the least. The author is a historian and the academic director of the “Orthodox Russia: The Romanovs”exhibition now being held at St. Petersburg’s Lenexpo exhibition centre. We thank the exhibition organisers for their help with this article.

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will probably be a search for partners in the task of rebuilding Ukraine, in other words somebody to share the financial burden of it with. Europe has realised that without Russia's assistance, the task of restoring Ukraine will be unmanageable, so once the truce is signed, the Europeans will be searching for ways of interacting with Moscow in order to reduce the economic pressure on Kiev. The most destructive position is that of the United States, which views the Ukrainian crisis largely through the prism of its own strategic interests in Europe and its goal of containing Russia. The events of 2014 have clearly shown that fundamental processes are still at work in the former Soviet Union. These will affect the borders and the national consciousness of different peoples as well as the geopolitical balance of powers. The fate of eastern Ukraine is part of a big and complicated picture of the future, which remains impossible to predict. Fyodor Lukyanov is editor-inchief of the magazine Global Affairs and chairman of the board of the Foreign and Defense Policy Council, an independent body that contributes to the development of Russian political strategy.

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mannequins with larger garments, but not to promote the normalcy of needing a larger size, but so that the clothes fit the models loosely. The message it sends is, ‘It’s your body, you can throw whatever you like on it,’" Larina explains, outraged. Ideals imposed by society are difficult to change. Katalina Gorskikh, a plus-size model from St. Petersburg, said that the best way to break down stereotypes is to lead by example and show that you can lead a very full life, even as someone with a large figure. "With a full-sized model, you can really create an unusual image; you are attracted to it out of an ancient instinct. A thin model, on the other hand, just evokes a desire to feed the person," a popular Russian photographer using the psudeonym Beliy Den told the Rossiya TV channel. Larina explains that for plussize models, what is most important is not necessary being curvy, but having a beautiful face and inner strength. “The body of a beautiful, well groomed woman attracts male attention," she says. “I love my weight because it's mine. In it, I find something even dearer than my body itself. In it, I find something that satisfies the soul.”

Dilyara Larina hopes that her successful modeling career will help to break down stereotypes about female beauty.

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Models in Russia are strictly judged on their figures, and girls of heavier build typically have to discard dreams of the catwalk. Yet some have made a successful career out of plus-size modelling.

THE QUOTE

Dilyara Larina FOUNDER OF THE PLUS-SIZE MODEL AGENCY

MARINA STARODUBTSEVA SPECIAL TO RBTH

The modelling industry in Russia and throughout the world continues to close its doors to women who do not meet its standard of beauty. Girls who aspire to become models have to commit themselves to dieting, or else forget about a modelling career. However, Dilyara Larina has found a solution. Larina has been promoting plus-size models and has written a book on the subject called Living in a Non-Standard Body. She has also opened her own modelling agency, called Plus-Size Model Agency. It all started when Larina found herself trying to lose weight to maintain her relationship with her

"

One senses that in Europe, the designers do not ever go outside, where they would see real women, women who are a size 50. We strive to represent the women who are the potential customers of the products that we promote.

Participating in photo shoots helps build selfconfidence and freedom from complexes.

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boyfriend. She eventually reached her goal and was able to wear tight, figure-hugging outfits that made quite the impression. Nonetheless, the couple broke up in the end. The episode brought Larina to the realisation that you have to be faithful to yourself and your own body, paving the way for her to embark on a career as a plus-size model.

How to destroy fashion stereotypes According to the national research centre Healthy Eating, almost 59 percent of Russian women are overweight. The imposition of model beauty standards on everyday Russians is a multi-million dollar industry. One reason for this has to do with retail stores themselves and the lack of variety when it comes to size. "You come into a store, and the plus-size collection is tucked away in the back corner. Designers adorn

Feature Meteorite invigorates Chelyabinsk

Falling star sparks entrepreneurial wave in Urals city A year and a half ago the Urals city of Chelyabinsk awoke to see a large meteorite falling nearby. The unusual event has inspired local artists and entrepreneurs, as well as boosting tourism.

Being plus-size in the fashion world

DARYA KEZINA

The world of high fashion accepts plus-size models with reluctance. Those who walk the catwalk or appear in the top glossy magazines are the exception rather than the rule. "We are the freaks of the fashion industry. There’s no alternative," Larina says. Meanwhile, overseas, demand for plus-size models is growing every year. According to Gorskikh, she is constantly receiving job offers from abroad. However, the requirements for plus-size models in Europe are quite different and more stringent than in Russia. "One senses that in Europe, the designers do not ever go outside, where they would see real women, women who are a size 50. We strive to represent the women who are the potential customers of the products that we promote," Larina says. In trying prove to society that there is a place for them in the fashion world, the ladies employ their favorite method. "I am the organiser of a beauty contest for plus-size women called Northern Aurora. I lead workshops in St. Petersburg and Moscow, and in 2011, I won the La Donna Dolce beauty contest,” says Alexandra Shcherbakova, a plus-size model from St. Petersburg. These girls' main aim is to achieve equal rights for all when it comes to beauty. Participating in photo shoots helps build selfconfidence and freedom from complexes, allowing them to break down female beauty stereotypes. "I am not worried about this being a difficult path. I do not want to go to another country where it might be easier,” Larina insists.“I want to dig deeper here and change what I do not like. “I do not get angry at our backwardness; I just press forward and work hard. Anyway, given the number of fans I have from other countries, I think I’m doing pretty well.”

On February 15, 2013, the whole world learned of the small Ural town of Chebarkul, located in the Chelyabinsk Region 1,050 miles east of Moscow. It was a few miles from this town that a meteorite, the largest such space object since the legendary Tunguska meteorite, fell into Lake Chebarkul. The rock from space awakened the imaginations of local residents. “It’s great that it fell here, and not in Kazakhstan,”cheered Chelyabinsk residents after recovering from the initial shock. The city opened an extreme sports park in the asteroid's honour and erected a monument. It was even proposed that the image of a meteorite be added to the region’s coat of arms.

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A triptych, a fantasy film, and a Twitter account Local artist Albert Rastyapin created a four-metre triptych depicting Chelyabinsk residents at the moment of the incident. Rastyapin painted them using a dozen of his friends as models. The painting features rescue workers, people injured by broken windows, onlookers with phones, and a half-naked man who ran outside after being awakened by the meteorite. The

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Proving that big can be beautiful too

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Style Plus-sized models in Russia's fashion industry

One local entrepreneur created a meteorite-scented perfume.

The Russian Far East: on the edge of the Pacific rbth.com/travel

Meteorite-scented perfume, a trademark, and tours Entrepreneurs came to life in the first week after the meteorite, registering trademarks including Chelyabinsk Meteorite, Ural Meteorite, Chebarkul Meteorite, and Mysterious Meteorite. Merchants offered sweets and baked goods with a symbol of the meteorite, as well as stationary, coffee, and tea. Similar projects also took off in the wake of the cosmic event. One Chebarkul entrepreneur created a line of meteorite-scented perfume. Local authorities supported the project and even provided a piece of the meteorite so he could get the smell. The businessman wanted to create a fragrance symbolising people’s ability to survive any disaster. The perfume’s packaging is emblazoned with a picture of Lake Chebarkul, where the meteorite fell. Tourism has also flourished in the region. “A number of different orders are coming from foreigners – everything from individual visits to the site where the meteorite fell to organised tour groups of 48. Most of the interest is from the Japanese,”said Marina Alexeyeva, owner of Chelyabinsk travel agency Akbest Tour, in an interview with Ria Novosti.

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artist created his epochal canvas in about a year, using his free time and sitting in front of his easel until late at night. This year, a group of enthusiasts from the small Moscow studio SCArt began filming a science fiction thriller about the meteorite. This will be a feature film, albeit a lowbudget one, that will give an alternative version of events on that day a year and a half ago when the meteorite fell to earth. Some Twitter users created a microblog, @Che_meteorit, only a few hours after the meteorite fell. “I’m destroyed. I’m lying all over the Urals,” said the very first person to post. Now“Chelyabinsk meteorite” has 1,035 followers and still sometimes posts.

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Russia Beyond The Headlines  

Special supplement from Rossiyskaya Gazeta distributed with Gulf News (UAE)

Russia Beyond The Headlines  

Special supplement from Rossiyskaya Gazeta distributed with Gulf News (UAE)

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