Ambitious space projects Russia’s new cosmodrome and its plans for lunar exploration P 8-9
World in a nation Ten diverse destinations for a trip with a difference P 12-13
This supplement is sponsored by Rossiyskaya Gazeta, which takes sole responsibility for its contents and is wholly independent of Fairfax Media. The supplement did not involve Fairfax Media editorial staff in its production.
Thursday, October 16, 2014
Distributed with The Age. Other distribution partners include: The New York Times, The Daily Telegraph, Le Figaro, La Repubblica, El Pais, Mainichi Shimbun, Gulf News.
Four-legged guards protect a great museum's treasures
FOR CENTURIES, CATS HAVE KEPT MICE UNDER CONTROL AT THE HERMITAGE IN ST PETERSBURG
PAGE 15 YURI MOLODKOVETS
RBTH's monthly editions are distributed with the world’s leading newspapers. The content of each edition is carefully chosen for its audience.
We tailor our content to each of our platforms
Read our publications in digital format >> rbth.com/e-paper
RBTH has daily updates, with the latest current affairs, commentaries, interviews, photo galleries and videos from Russia. Subscribe now >> rbth.com/subscribe
RUSSIA BEYOND THE HEADLINES IS A GLOBAL MEDIA PROJECT, SPONSORED BY ROSSIYSKAYA GAZETA (RUSSIA), DISTRIBUTED WITH THE AGE
LEGENDARY THEATRE DIRECTOR YURI LYUBIMOV DIES rbth.com/40403
PICTURES AND NUMBERS
Suicide bomber hits Grozny
© RIA NOVOSTI
Chechen president Ramzam Kadyrov has promised a tough response to the attack in Grozny.
Tumbling oil prices put budget in peril
The price of Brent crude oil has tumbled to below $US90 a barrel, putting the Russian federal budget in jeopardy. Russia’s budget is closely linked to oil prices, and according to the Ministry of Finance, the budget can be balanced only if oil prices recover and reach $96 a barrel. Alexei Kozlov, chief analyst at UFS IC, was more optimistic, though. “It can confidently be said that the average oil price in
Temperature rises in the north
rbth.com/ sanctions_against_ russia
CONTINUE RUSSIA TO IC M ON ECONO PITE S E D E S R U CO IONS, RESTRICT S PUTIN SAY 03 47 /4 rbth .co m
perature was higher than the climatic norm. “We are now witnessing a stable climate warming, and on the Kola Peninsula its speed is a bit higher than in the rest of Russia,”Yelena Siekkinen, a senior meteorologist at the Murmansk Hydrometeorological Centre, told RBTH. The change will force animals and fish to adapt their behaviour and habitats.
GAS DISPUTE RUSSIA IS READY FOR A COMPROMISE Russian energy giant Gazprom has proposed to pay for gas transit through Ukraine using debt owed by Ukraine’s national oil and gas company Naftogaz. Commentators say the proposal will speed up the renewal of gas supplies to Ukraine.
$5.3 $3.1 Gazprom virtually stopped supplying Ukraine with gas in June, when it changed its payment system because of $US5.3 billion in energy debts.
According to the European Commissioner for Energy, Ukraine has agreed to pay $US3.1 billion of the debt and Russia will renew gas supply.
Best of British follows path ONLY AT RBTH.COM from Morris to modernity
2014 will allow the Russian budget to be deficit-free,” he said. “As well, we don’t expect the cost of oil this year to go below the minimal price fixed on September 2.” But according to a study by Citigroup, in order for the federal budget to be balanced this year Russia will need oil prices to go as high as $105. Russian analysts have said that the recent fall in oil prices has been related to demonstrations in Hong Kong, the strengthening of the US dollar and the drastic growth in oil production in the US and the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
According to forecasts, from October this year until spring 2015, the average air temperature in the Russian north will be 1-1.5C higher than the norm. The average temperature on the Kola Peninsula in north-western Russia increases every 10 years by 0.6C, changes that meteorologists have been registering for the past 40 years. Throughout 2014 the tem-
An explosion in the centre of Chechnya’s capital, Grozny, on October 5 killed five police officers and wounded 13 others. Russian security experts have not ruled out the possibility the attack was linked to the self-declared Islamic State (ISIS). The bomb was detonated at the entrance of a city concert hall by a suicide bomber, named as 19-year-old Apti Mudarov. Mudarov was a Grozny resident who had been missing from his family home for two months before the attack. Chechen president Ramzan Kadyrov said the attack would not influence the situation in Chechnya, where law-enforcement agencies were in full control.
The exhibition British Design: from William Morris to the Digital Revolution, organised by Moscow’s Design Museum, has opened in the Russian capital. Running until the end of November, it is being hosted by the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts and is one of the final events of the UK-Russia Year of Culture. Moscow’s Design Museum began planning for the show last year. Project director Alexandra Sankova, who is also the museum’s head, says the installation focuses on the relationship between the 19th century and modernity. To reinforce this theme of the relationship between epochs, the exhibition is being held adjacent to the ancient sculptures of the museum’s Greek Court. Built around a shop decked out with designer goods – including coasters, egg boilers and table accessories from the 1960s and ’70s – it is more a contemporary art experience than a museum exhibit. Nearly all the pieces from the exhibition are normally housed in London’s Victoria and Albert Museum.
The Devil’s Swamp: a zone known for mysterious deaths and disappearances RBTH.COM/40401
SLAVA STEPANOV / GELIO
The Bureya Dam: the largest in Russia’s far east and a hydroelectric powerhouse RBTH.COM/40293
SIA'S NT OF RUS 25 PER CE IN JEOPARDY ET OIL MARK PARTNERS N AS FOREIG BACK OUT 03 2 5 /4 rbth .co m
ICKEL NORILSK N SINESS IS U 'B : OWNER RT' O P S A T NO 0137 4 / m .co rbth
RUSSIA BEYOND THE HEADLINES IS A GLOBAL MEDIA PROJECT, SPONSORED BY ROSSIYSKAYA GAZETA (RUSSIA), DISTRIBUTED WITH THE AGE
NEW LAW SIMPLIFIES OBTAINING RUSSIAN CITIZENSHIP rbth.com/40369
Khodorkovsky Former oligarch and controversial commentator relaunches his Open Russia project
After prison, could Kremlin be next?
Decline in the understanding of democracy
For the first time since his release from prison, former Russian oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky has expressed intentions of getting back into Russia’s political melee. DARYA LYUBINSKAYA SPECIAL TO RBTH
Last month former Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky announced the re-launch of his Open Russia project. The one-time head of the oil and gas company was released in December after more than 10 years in prison for embezzlement. Upon his release Khodorkovsky promptly announced his plan to focus on the promotion of human rights. Many observers consider the relaunch of Open Russia the first step in his plan, albeit one with a more overt political agenda. Open Russia, which was founded byYukos shareholders and other private individuals in 2001, developed charitable and educational projects throughout Russia. By the time Khodorkovsky was convicted in 2005, Open Russia was operating branches in 50 regions. The new Open Russia will have a different focus. “We share what is called ‘European values’ and do not agree with the political system that declares these values illegitimate,’’ Khodorkovsky told French newspaper Le Monde. “In order to resist efficiently, we don't need another ‘vertical’ party fighting for power,
Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who spent a decade in prison, was released last December.
Mikhail Khodorkovsky FORMER RUSSIAN OLIGARCH IN AN INTERVIEW WITH RADIO FREE EUROPE
The essence of the project is to enable the Europe-oriented part of Russian society to communicate together, to find one another, and to learn how to act together... that is, to become an influential political force in Russia. We think this will take some time, but the first step is the elections in 2016."
but a ‘horizontal’ alliance of many small social groups that would act together.’’ Khodorkovsky wants Open Russia to spearhead this alliance. According to Alexei Mukhin, general director of the think tank Political Information Centre, Open Russia’s success depends on its funding. “It seems that Mikhail Khodorkovsky is planning on spending his personal resources on what he says is the creation of a civil society,’’ Mukhin said.“But taking into consideration the Russian reality, this money will not last long. It will be necessary to attract funds from elsewhere, from emigre-oli-
garchs for example, or from other countries.’’ Open Russia, in Khodorkovsky’s words, will not participate in elections as an independent political force or a political party, but will provide support to “dignified’’ candidates. “The resistance’s main objective is the elections at all levels, but first and foremost, of course, elections to the State Duma in 2016,’’ Khodorkovsky said. Valery Solovei, a professor at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, thinks the group will face more than just financial challenges.“There will be administrative and political
pressure,’’ Solovei said. He added that both Khodorkovsky and liberal politics have an image problem in Russia. “His reputation in the eyes of the Russian population and in the eyes of the liberal movement is far from positive,’’ Solovei said. According to a 2013 survey, only 2 per cent of respondents would support a Khodorkovsky presidential candidacy. It is unclear, however, whether Khodorkovsky harbours political ambitions. In the Le Monde interview he denied having presidential ambitions if Russia“is developing normally’’. However, Khodorkovsky said that he would be “willing to accept part of the effort” to implement constitutional reforms with the aim of redistributing authority to the judiciary, the legislature and civil society. Russian newspaper Vedomosti interpreted this as a sign he did indeed intend to run for president, but Khodorkovsky responded with an enigmatic remark:“When this government leads the country into a crisis, which will not take long, perhaps a few years, and if people will want to change the government system to a more modern one, at that stage, I will be ready to carry out the work.” Russian presidential spokesman Dmitri Peskov told radio station Kommersant FM that there was no reason for the Kremlin to comment on Khodorkovsky’s announcement.
G20 Ukraine crisis will be discussed informally in Brisbane
Full agenda in store for Putin at leaders' summit
GLEB FEDOROV RBTH
The conflict in Ukraine and the crisis in the Middle East will be the focus of discussions of the G20 summit, which will be held in Brisbane on November 15 and 16, Paul Myler, Australia’s ambassador to Russia, told Russian news agency RIA Novosti this month. A source in the Russian presidential administration confirmed this information to RBTH, and added that an informal retreat is planned for the discussion of Ukraine within the framework of the
summit. The fact that Russian PresidentVladimir Putin will in fact take part in the G20 summit became clear in mid-September. Prior to this, there was much speculation about whether Australia and the US would reach an agreement with the other members of the G20 to prevent Putin from attending. Australia could not make an independent decision on Putin’s participation in the summit, however. The G20 is an informal organisation of countries that makes decisions by consensus. “In the case of the G20, Australia is the host, but we don’t have the right to rescind invitations that have been sent,” Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said. “That would
have to be a consensus view within the G20 and there is not that consensus.” Treasurer Joe Hockey said he consulted with a number of G20 members about Russia’s involvement in the leaders summit and the“emphatic view”was that Russia still ought to attend, despite international condemnation of its actions in Ukraine. Russia presided over the previous G20 summit, in 2013. The meeting, in St Petersburg, is remembered for the consensus that was reached on the situation in Syria. All the same, the G20 is not a political organisation and the essence of its work is to find solutions for the world economy. In particular, the work of G20 helped manage the fallout from the global financial crisis in 2008.
Despite anti-Russia rhetoric over the crisis in Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin will be attending the G20 summit being held in Brisbane this November.
A recent poll conducted by Russia’s Public Opinion Foundation (FOM) provided new insights into how Russians understand the term democracy. According to the survey, the majority of those polled thought democracy was important, but a third of respondents were unable to explain what it was. Forty-three per cent of those surveyed said it meant democratic rights and freedoms, such as transparency, freedom of expression and the press. The number of Russians who associate these concepts with democracy has declined. In a 2007 poll by the All-Russian Public Opinion Research Centre (VTsIOM), 55 per cent of those polled had said that democracy meant freedom of expression and the press, and freedom of religion.
Czech PM’s call to trade again
The EU should ease its economic sanctions against Russia if it resumes natural gas deliveries to Ukraine, Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has said. “If Russia continues to show its goodwill, and the tension [in Ukraine] subsides and both parties deliver on their promises, then the EU should consider easing or winding down its sanctions,” he said.
Sanctions ‘not meaningful’
PM Tony Abbott has taken a tough stance against Russia.
The possibility that Australia might seek to prevent Putin from attending the summit was first suggested by Prime Minister Tony Abbott in July, immediately after the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 in Ukraine. Australia has also exerted pressure on Russia with economic and political sanctions. Early last month, Abbott said on the subject: “We remain determined to see the perpetrators of the cowardly attack on Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 brought to justice. Our government is not ruling out further sanctions.
“Russia must understand that if it does not act to defuse the current situation, the cost to its economy and international standing will grow.” Russia’s Foreign Ministry has repeatedly denied Russia’s involvement in the disaster, demanding an independent investigation. But so far, results of the investigation of the catastrophe conducted by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), which might indicate the guilty party, have yet to be published.
Western economies are not strong enough to impose meaningful sanctions on Russia over the crisis in Ukraine, former Russian oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky has said. “The West itself isn’t capable of taking the level of loss that would be required to impose sanctions that would really affect the Russian economy,” he said.
RUSSIA BEYOND THE HEADLINES IS A GLOBAL MEDIA PROJECT, SPONSORED BY ROSSIYSKAYA GAZETA (RUSSIA), DISTRIBUTED WITH THE AGE
Gas Investment funding runs dry
Resources Mining companies are cutting costs to try to counter global trends
Energy firms look for new options as sanctions take toll
Metals are starting to shine again
Western sanctions are having an impact on Russia's liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects – previously one of the country's most promising market segments. ALEXEI LOSSAN RBTH
Russia’s largest oil and gas companies are looking to the government to help them realise liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects affected by Western sanctions. Kommersant, a daily newspaper in Russia, has reported that the American company ExxonMobil, still considered Russian oil and gas giant Rosneft’s main future partner in its long-term LNG project in Russia’s far east, no longer plans to invest. However, according to the newspaper, Rosneft has already found a solution. The project may become a part of Sakhalin-1 – a consortium effort to locate and produce oil and gas on Sakhalin Is-
DAVID MILLER RBTH
Russia’s metals and mining industry, the country’s second-most important sector after oil and gas, has faced its share of adversity since the salad days of the past decade, when commodity prices were pushed up by a hike in demand from China and India. Today, as lower commodity prices put pressure on resource producers around the world, many Russian metals and mining companies are nevertheless showing respectable profit margins, after shedding non-core operations and taking difficult steps towards rebuilding. Iron-ore prices fell to a five-year low last month as Chinese demand slackened off and economic activity in Europe and Japan remained weak. Even so, signs are emerging that the future may be looking brighter for Russian firms. “The global aluminum industry has turned a corner,” declared Rusal chief executive Oleg Deripaska after the firm, which produces almost 9 per cent of the world’s aluminium, posted an income of $US116 million in the second quarter of 2014. Those results marked the first time Rusal had reported a quarterly profit in more than a year. Meanwhile, aluminium prices have been rising in the third quarter. “Positive price momentum is supported by strong fundamentals,” Deripaska said. Another hallmark of the sector is that Russian industries outside of oil and gas are better insulated from the blast furnace of Russian pol-
itics than their cousins in the hydrocarbon trade. As US and European officials pursue sanctions against Russian energy, arms and finance firms, the producers of Russian steel, coal, diamonds, iron, palladium, aluminium and potash are labouring quietly in the background – not fully removed from politics, but further from the heat. Coal especially may be due for a renaissance in Russia, thanks to new investment plans in the country’s east, even as coalminers in the US and Australia face some of the most difficult years in the history of their industry. Russia, the largest land mass in the world, has some of the planet’s biggest reserves of minerals and natural resources. Russia holds some 25
Was Russia's biggest aluminium producer Rusal's share of global aluminium output in the second quarter of 2014.
25bn The Russian Federation holds some 25 billion tonnes of iron ore – the third-largest reserve in the world after Australia's and Brazil's.
21% Novolipetsk Steel became the world's most profitable large steelmaker in August, with a margin of 21 per cent and an income of $US584 million.
billion tonnes of iron ore – the third-largest resource in the world after Australia and Brazil. High up above the Arctic Circle, a company called Norilsk Nickel produces 14 per cent of the world’s nickel and 41 per cent of its palladium. Norilsk is also a top-four producer of platinum, covering 11 per cent of global output, and a significant player in the copper industry, with 2 per cent of world supply. Statecontrolled Alrosa, the world’s biggest diamond miner, taps rich deposits in Siberia to yield 26 per cent of global diamond production. Its South African rival, De Beers, is second with 22 per cent. Despite years of tight control by the Russian government, Alrosa finally opened to public investment last year, raising $US1.3 billion on the Moscow Stock Exchange and reportedly selling 60 per cent of shares to US investors. Russia is also the thirdlargest exporter of primary aluminum and steel and has the second-largest coal reserves in the world. Amid this trove of underground resources lie the crown jewels: the largest reserves of natural gas in the world and the eighthlargest reserves of crude oil. The importance of oil and gas production in Russia to the country’s economy has led the Kremlin to take a stronger hand there than in other commodity markets. Russia’s two largest energy producers, gas giant Gazprom and oil champion Rosneft, are both majority state-owned. But many of the large Russian extractive firms outside of oil and gas are privately held by owners who have also sold significant minority stakes to international investors through stock exchanges in Moscow, London and New York. Efforts have been under way among Russia’s big steel-
makers to sell assets, cut costs and refocus their efforts domestically. To be sure, net profits are less frothy than another indicator of underlying profitability, earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation, known as EBITDA. Novolipetsk Steel, known as NLMK, became the world’s most profitable large steelmaker in August after cutting costs. According to Bloomberg data, the firm’s most recent results yielded an EBITDA of $US584 million for the second quarter, a margin of 21 per cent, beating 24 of its biggest peers. Severstal, the steel and mining firm majorityowned by billionaire Alexei Mordashov, had previously been among that top 25, with a 19 per cent margin, according to Bloomberg data. This summer, Severstal reached agreements to sell its North American assets in Columbus, Mississippi, and Dearborn, Michigan, for a total of $US2.3 billion, and used $US1 billion of the funds to pay a special dividend. Mechel, the coal and steel producer, is considering selling $US2 billion to $US3 billion worth of assets to help pay down more than $US8 billion in debts, its chief executive Oleg Korzhov told Moscow’s Vedomosti in September. Mechel is in talks with state banks to restructure its debt. Russian news agency ITARTASS has reported that the government has approved two bailout schemes that would allow the firm to avoid bankruptcy. Rusal emerged as Russia’s champion of aluminium after consolidating the assets of smaller competitor SUAL and of international commodities trader Glencore in 2007. Today, Rusal operates in 19 countries on five continents, and is headquartered in Moscow.
Russia's far-east LNG project is not the only venture that has experienced financing problems land (and offshore) in Russia’s far east – which has not been affected by the sanctions. In addition, the government may compensate the project’s participants for their infrastructure expenses. Rosneft has stated on many occasions that it needs ExxonMobil primarily to obtain technologies and financing. However, in the summer of 2014, Rosneft was hit with US sanctions. The American company then began to distance itself from the project, not because of the sanctions, according to Kommersant, but because of the project’s economic model. Sakhalin-1 is owned by Rosneft (20 per cent), ExxonMobil (30 per cent), India’s ONGC (20 per cent) and Japan’s Sodeco (30 per cent). “The world has been using LNG for several decades now,
Metals and mining companies are facing a tough time with falling commodity prices. Russian companies are costcutting and refocusing on domestic assets.
RUSSIA TO CONTINUE ITS ECONOMIC COURSE
Trying to stay afloat: Russia's LNG industry.
whereas in Russia, this segment of the gas market started developing only recently,” says Dmitry Baranov, a leading expert at investment holding Finam Management. According to Baranov, some of the results are already clear: the first LNG plant has been opened in the far east, contracts for supplying Russian LNG to other countries have been signed and other projects for liquefying, transporting and using natural gas in Russia are being developed. “All this should help the volume of LNG production in Russia and increase the country’s share on the world market,” Baranov says. As well, he argues, this will help achieve the goal of Russia’s energy strategy: to increase the volume of LNG exports to 30 million tonnes by 2020. Russia’s far-east LNG project is not the only venture that has experienced financing problems. French company Total announced on September 23 that it was looking for new sources of funding for its Yamal LNG project in Russia. The company is working on this project with Russia’s largest independent natural gas producer, Novatek. Total has a 20 per cent share in the project and an 18 per cent stake in Novatek itself. According to Total’s chief financial officer, Patrick de la Chevardiere, “access to dollar financing is closed due to the sanctions”. Novatek was hit by the US sanctions back in July 2014. As a result, in the words of de la Chevardiere, Total is negotiating new financing from French and Italian exportcredit agencies and Chinese and Russian banks. Novatek itself has asked Russia’s Ministry for the Economy for 100 billion roubles ($US2.5 billion) from the National Wealth Fund – a special reserve made up of Russian oil and gas earnings. The development of LNG, according to experts, can be viewed as an object of national importance, and therefore worth financing.
GAZPROM WILL COMPROMISE WITH UKRAINE ON GAS rbth.com/40375
Energy Thermonuclear power a hot topic in St Petersburg
Russia is participating in an international project, based in France, that aims to develop and build a nuclear reactor that does not need uranium. HENRY KENNETT SPECIAL TO RBTH
Fr o m O c t o b e r 1 3 - 1 8 , St Petersburg is hosting the 25th Fusion Energy Conference (FEC 2014). The conference is expected to be an important forum for discussing prospects for thermonuclear energy. Another area of discussion will be how the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) is progressing. The US, the EU, Switzerland, China, India, Japan, South Korea and Russia are participating in the creation of the ITER pilot installation in the French town of Cadarache. Many of the reactor’s parts and systems are being built under the co-operation of several governments, and some countries are individually responsible for some important sections of the work. So, for instance, India is developing for the ITER a
unique cooling system, known as cryostat. ITER is the first large-scale attempt to produce energy by using a thermonuclear reaction: the fusion of nuclear deuterium and tritium, which are hydrogen isotopes. In essence, the project reconstructs on Earth a process that continually occurs on the
A thermonuclear reactor is much safer than a nuclear reactor in terms of radiation Sun. If the project succeeds, it will give humankind an inexhaustible energy source. International consultations and discussions on the topic have been held for more than 20 years. An inter-governmental agreement on building an experimental thermonuclear installation was not signed until 2006. European nations are providing about 45 per cent of the project’s finance. Russia’s contribution amounts to about one-10th of the total,
but Russian investment will be made through high-technology equipment rather than direct funding. The completion of the Cadarache construction site had been projected for 2016, and total expenditures were initially estimated at $9.2 billion. Now costs have practically doubled, and the start of pilot experiments at the reactor has been postponed. According to Osamu Motojima, director-general of the ITER organisation, the first plasma may not be created before 2020. Steady work on deuterium-tritium fuel is slated for 2027. Only after this, if all goes according to plan, will the experimental thermonuclear reactor in Caradache be able to produce up to 500 megawatts of energy. The ITER leadership anticipates that a fully fledged power plant using thermonuclear fusion cannot be built before 2050. Ten million times more energy comes from thermonuclear fuel per unit weight than from burning the same quantity of organic matter, and about 100 times more
International effort for a safer tomorrow
ITER is a multinational project aimed at developing an inexhaustible energy source.
than from uranium nuclear fission. However, unlike the commonplace reactors that currently exist, in which uranium fission releases energy, in a thermonuclear reactor the processes are much more complicated. The fusion of the nuclei of the deuterium and tritium is possible only at very high
temperatures, up to 150 million degrees Celsius. At the same time, one of the most complex tasks is to contain the hot plasma. ITER’s practical task is to confirm the technical feasibility of the solutions that are established in the project and their future suitability for creating industrial thermonuclear power plants.
A thermonuclear reactor is much safer than a nuclear reactor in terms of radiation. First and foremost, the quantity of radioactive substance involved is comparatively small. The energy that might escape as a result of an accident would also be small and would not be enough to destroy a reactor.
Sanctions President believes West-imposed measures can be turned into an opportunity to shake up Russian economy
Putin sees trade setback as chance to profit The Kremlin is trying to put a positive spin on Western sanctions against Russia, suggesting that the sanctions can be an impetus for muchneeded economic reform.
1 trillion Access to foreign capital is restricted for state oil companies with a revenue of more than 1 trillion roubles ($US25 billion).
ALEXEI LOSSAN RBTH
1.3 billion Last year, Russia imported about $US1.3 billion (52 billion roubles) worth of food and agricultural products.
1.5 billion US dollars France will pay Russia if the Mistral contract is annulled.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said last month that the Western sanctions against Russia should be turned to the country’s advantage. Russia needed to increase the competitiveness of its economy, he said, and this could be done with a focus on increasing gross domestic and national product, consumption, savings and capital formation. “In the next one and a half to two years, it will be necessary to take a leap in the improvement of the real sector’s competitiveness – something that in the past would have taken years to accomplish,” Putin announced. He also said that the efforts of all federal and regional government organs should be oriented towards the development of the real sector. In particular, key instruments should be accessible credits
and new competitive conditions for financing business. The Russian government plans on using the domestic market to develop the real sector. “The competitiveness of Russian enterprises will depend directly on whether they will be able to put out a sufficient quantity of production
that isn’t inferior to foreign production, in price and quality,” Putin explained. “We need to use one of the country’s most important competitive edges: the capacious domestic market.” Putin says the domestic market needs to be filled with quality goods, made by the real sector.
Economic analysts reacted to the president’s words with caution. “Talk of accessible credit has been around in Russia since the fall of the USSR, but enterprises have still not received it,” says Anton Soroko, analyst at Finam Investment Holding. “Furthermore, the situation in Ukraine hasn't helped.”
Vladimir Osakovsky, chief economist on Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch, also isn’t counting on the growth of the Russian economy in the near future. “We expect that the macroeconomic situation in Russia will worsen as a result of
the accelerating inflation caused by the restrictions on food imports, the fall of consumption and the volume of investment,”he told business daily RBC. According to Osakovsky’s new forecast, in the second half of 2014 and the first half of 2015, Russia will sink into a recession, which will be followed by a recovery generated mainly by the base effect. Alexei Kozlov, chief analyst of UFS IC, has a different opinion:“The proposal to accelerate the development of the Russian economy that we heard during the State Council session is completely realistic.” According to him, these objectives have a maximalist character, but without setting such high goals, it will be impossible to make a radical change in the way the Russian economy functions. “On the whole, Russia has been voicing its intention to reduce its raw material dependence for a long time,” Kozlov says. “In light of the recent events, this goal has been expanded and is now attainable."
THE EXPAT WHO CAME IN FROM THE COLD rbth.com/40275
Genetics Growing interest in health-related testing contrasts with Soviet-era suspicion
A healthy curiosity in our DNA Russia is a growing market for companies offering genome research services, with the number of clients growing at a rate of 100 to 120 per cent per year. VICTORIA ZAVYALOVA
In September, a new project of the Atlas Biomed Group hit the Russian market. The irony of the recent growth of this industry is that in Soviet times, geneticists were persecuted and imprisoned. The market for genome research is developing rapidly. The number of people resorting to DNA tests, according to data provided by the Genotek laboratory, is steadily growing by 10 to 12 per cent per month. “The market for genome research is very dynamic and a large number of people in Russia are now working to obtain genomic information,” says Marianna Ivanova, founder of Oftalmik, a company that provides the genetic diagnosis of eye diseases. More and more DNA research companies are entering the market. Another new project by Atlas, inspired by the American company 23andMe, has just been launched. Companies offering health-
related and genealogical DNA testing appeared in Russia only recently. The company My Gene has been in operation at MSU Innovation Park since 2007. It offers a non-invasive prenatal diagnosis of fetal chromosomal pathologies. My Gene’s method was de-
than 1500 DNA samples from patients with cystic fibrosis. Not long ago, the international pharmacological group Roche began genome research in Russia. Several years ago Genotek, another new company offering genome testing, appeared on the Russian market. Its business model was
veloped just two years ago and is used by only six other labs in the world: one in China and the rest in the US. Companies focusing on the research of specific genetic conditions are also enjoying success. For instance, the St Petersburg company Sequoia Genetics has collected more
The bulk of the world's mammoth remains have been found at Yakutia, the coldest inhabited region of the world, in northeastern Siberia.
Biotech Scientists closer to cloning extinct mammal
ARAM TER-GHAZARYAN SPECIAL TO RBTH
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 opened last month, as part of Russia’s Mammoth Resurrection project. The researchers have plenty of material to work with. Seventy-five per cent of the world’s known mammoth remains have been found in remote areas of Yakutia, and every year the ice yields new remains. After the laboratory is upgraded with the necessary equipment for genetic research, the Russian research team will begin working to isolate DNA from the remains and clone mammoths.
In 2012, the directors of the Lazarev Mammoth Museum of the North-Eastern Federal University’s Institute of Applied Ecology, and Soam – a Korean foundation for biotechnology research – agreed to co-operate 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 bought several million dollars’ worth of equipment and North-Eastern Federal University has provided space for researchers to work. Russian scientists have been studying mammoth DNA for years, but it was only last year that the museum sent its employees to South Korea to learn cloning methods. Mammoths found in northern Russia that are unsuitable for study or exhibition are returned to the finder. However, most of the discoveries are goldmines for ge-
netic scientists. “You need well-preserved stem cells to be able to clone a mammoth,” said Valery Ilinsky, scientific director of a genetic test service Genotek. 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 said. “The main obstacle to cloning a mammoth is the small amount or absence of cells with a preserved core.” The Centre for the Collective Use of Molecular Palaeontology was created to accelerate the cloning process. Scientists will be able to conduct research in Russia without having to transfer the material to colleagues outside Russia (transporting genetic material abroad is a complex bureaucratic procedure). Russian experts began working on resurrecting the
Collaboration helps to make mammoth task a little easier Resurrecting the mammoth is a key project of a new research centre in the northern region of Yakutia, which will study the cells of extinct prehistoric animals.
also inspired by 23andMe, which was created in 2008 by Linda Avey and Anne Wojcicki, ex-wife of Google founder Sergey Brin. In 2013, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned the sale of kits for personal genetic testing that 23andMe was producing due
Critics wary of genetic pitfalls To clone mammoths, the centre plans to implant genetic material from mammoth cells into egg cells from the Asian elephant. If the experiment is successful, the centre says it will settle the mammoth clones in Siberia. Not surprisingly, the project has attracted criticism.
“These experiments haven't been done anywhere in the world,” said Svetlana Borinskaya, a geneticist at the Institute of General Genetics, who says using current technology, to clone could result in “genetic errors that are incompatible with the life of the animal”.
mammoth long before the centre opened. The best-pres e rve d re m a i n s o f t h e Malolyahovsky mammoth have already been transferred to Korean scientists. Results of the genetic study of this animal were made public at the opening ceremony of the centre. As well, this summer an international expedition was made to Yakutia, in northeastern Siberia, where scien-
tists found another mammoth, near a river, in a remote location.The partially thawed carcass was examined, but it was too large to move. So the scientists took only part of the remains with them, including a foot and wool. The mammoth’s remains were delivered to the city of Yakutsk, where the expedition has already brought about 700 kilograms of palaeontological materials.
to concerns about possible errors that could harm clients. 23andMe stopped offering clients tests that checked for predisposition to diseases and focused on research in the field of genealogy. Wojcicki, naturally, is not too pleased with the FDA’s actions.“You can already see what the Genomics Institute in Beijing is doing,”Wojcicki said in an interview with the medical portal Medscape. “Saudi Arabia announced plans to genotype 100,000 people… the rest of the world is moving forward aggressively with this, but we are somewhat stuck.” Russians are mostly interested in health-related testing because genetic research is expensive and people are not willing to spend money simply to satisfy curiosity. However, some clients are interested in genealogy testing, such as a notorious Russian politician who did a haplogroup test. “We found out that he had common ancestors with Napoleon, Einstein and Hitler,” Valery Ilinsky, director of Genotek told RBTH.“He was proud of it and told other politicians that Napoleon was his relative.” Clients of Russian companies still have to pay more for genome research than in other countries. While in the US a test can be done for between $US100 to $200, in Russia it costs $600 to $800. So it is hardly surprising that many clients search for testing opportunities abroad. However, removing biomaterials from Russian territory is illegal, so people have had to come up with various tricks. Tubes with saliva are often sent via friends and acquaintances living in the US or Europe. From the 1930s, Soviet geneticists were targeted in terror campaigns. The American scholar Hermann Muller, a Nobel Prize laureate, compared being a geneticist in the USSR to being Galileo in the time of the Inquisition. The director of the Institute of Genetics of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR himself, Trofim Lysenko, stood at the head of the campaign to persecute researchers. Many talented geneticists were arrested and killed. For example, NikolaiVavilov was accused of being an English spy. He consequently died of malnutrition in a Saratov prison. In 1948, Josef Rappoport, who had discovered chemical mutagenesis, was told to renounce the chromosomal theory. He refused and was dismissed from the institution where he worked. Student geneticists who visited their professors in prison were also harassed and arrested.
VOLUNTEER INITIATIVE HELPS RUSSIA’S LGBT YOUTH rbth.com/40205
Security Move to counter online threats
Early this month, Russia's Security Council met to discuss the issue of internet security in times of emergency.
VICTORIA ZAVYALOVA RBTH
On October 1, the Russian Security Council discussed issues of internet protection in emergency situations, such as military action or mass protests within Russia. The Council also considered the possibility of handing over domain administration functions to the state. Official statements by the Kremlin said that the main purpose of the meeting was to discuss cyber-security, in light of recent unpredictable actions by Western countries, and to defend the country against possible external actions. But some Russian bloggers and internet experts have said the meeting may herald new action to restrict online freedom and isolate Russia from the global internet. “I'd like to stress that we’re
not planning to limit access to the web, put it under [government] control, make it state-run or limit lawful interests of individuals, public organisations and businesses in the information sphere,” said Russian president Vladimir Putin. In the same speech, he said that Russia would gradually close websites which promote violence and extremism. “We will be working [like other countries] in a consist-
Kremlin bid for greater control of the internet The government shutting off Russia's networks from the global internet is highly unlikely.
resilience of the internet in Russia and preventing the possible disruption of service in the event of “unfriendly” action. According to the ministry, the exercise, undertaken by Russia’s Federal Security Bureau and the Ministry of Defence, showed that the Russian segment of the internet was vulnerable. “It's common knowledge who the main administrator of the internet is,” Russian media quoted Peskov as saying in relation to the meeting. “Given this unpredictability, we must think of how to ensure our national security.” From Peskov's statement, it seems the Kremlin fears an internet shut-down or an outside attack – for example, a repeat of what happened in Syria in 2012, when the Syr-
From Peskov's statement, it seems the Kremlin fears an internet shut-down or an outside attack ent and strict manner, closing such websites in accordance with the law,”Putin said, adding that young people should be protected from the risks of modern internet networks. In July, this year, Russia’s Communications and Mass Media Ministry conducted an exercise aimed at testing the
ian internet was basically cut off for two days. It is still not known who was behind the attack, although the Syrian government blamed it on hostile forces in the West. Russian IT experts say that a scenario in which the Russian internet could be shut down from outside the country is possible but not very probable. “Of course, there is a system of centralised control over the allocation of IP addresses and DNS server support and, in theory, its administrators could make changes to root zone files,” said Oleg Demidov, director of the Moscow-based NGO research organisation the PIR Centre.“Then links between IP addresses and domain names could be cut. And Russia could lose its connection
to the outside world for two weeks. “However, in reality, such an eventuality is unlikely since the organisations that run the system are not state-
Given the experience of the Arab Spring, the real targets might be social networks... such as Twitter controlled. They’re outside politics and any sanctions are irrelevant to them.” Demidov added that a repetition of the Syrian scenario was unlikely since in Syria there had been an attack on telecom equipment. “It is simply impossible because of the way the internet has historically evolved [in
Russia]. We have back-up capacity,” he said. It is another question whether Russia “can shut itself off”and whether Russians are ready for that. “For the masses it is possible, as successfully demonstrated by China,”saidVadim Chekletsov, head of the Internet of Things research centre.“However, more advanced users would be able to find ways of circumventing these restrictions.” Chekletsov saw no point in cutting Russia off from the global internet in order to ensure security. “Our defence networks aren’t connected to the American or European networks,” he said. Demidov said that given the experience of the Arab Spring, the real targets might be the social networks from abroad, such as Facebook and Twitter. “In the event of mass unrest, it would be possible to shut down all the resources [of Western social media] with one push of a button,” he said. In his opinion, however, to be able to do this would require an overhaul of the whole of Russia’s internet infrastructure, which would be difficult and costly. But prominent blogger and IT expert Anton Nosik believes that it would be easy. “All trunk lines are owned by operators which operate on a licence from the Communications Ministry,”Nosik wrote in his blog. “A breach of licence terms results in the licence being revoked. “Therefore, any Russian internet provider, having received an instruction from the Communications Ministry to shut down certain channels, would follow it within minutes, just so as not to have its licence revoked.”
Media Protection or propaganda? Bid to limit foreign ownership to 20 per cent divides opinion
A bill recently adopted in the Russian State Duma may result in foreign ownership of Russian media being capped at just 20 per cent of total media ownership. GALIYA IBRAGIMOVA RBTH
On September 23, the Russian State Duma adopted a bill on its first reading which restricts foreign ownership in the Russian media to just 20 per cent of total ownership. The bill was written at the initiative of the presidential administration. The administration, however, has refrained from commenting on the draft legislation, saying that it will do so only after it has officially received the document from the State Duma. Konstantin von Eggert, a columnist for Kommersant FM radio, said that many countries, including the US and China, have restrictions
on foreign ownership of the media, but that this bill reflects the Russian government’s particular view on how journalism functions in society. “That function is propaganda, and not the fourth branch of government and independent means of control over the government’s activities,” he said. “This bill is a continuation of the attack on freedom of speech and independent media in Russia.” Ivan Pankeev, a professor in the journalism faculty at Moscow State University and the director of the university’s Centre for Media Rights, agreed that the law needed to be seen in the Russian context. “If there is pressure on the government, it is forced to respond in some way,”Pankeev said.“And Russia is responding.” Dmitry Evstafiev, a professor at the Higher School of
Bill seen as an attack on freedom of speech
The law could affect half of Russia's media outlets.
"The bill is a continuation of the attack on freedom of speech and independent media in Russia," said Konstantin von Eggert, from Kommersant FM
Economics, does not think that anything dramatic will happen if the law is adopted, however. “There are not, and never were, foreign portfolio investors in the political media in Russia,”Evstafiev said.“There were and there still are target investors, who are trying to influence the situation in the country.
“But whereas it is now clear who these people are, transparency would decline if the law was adopted.” According to Evstafiev, if it were adopted, the foreign investors in Russia’s media market would not withdraw, but rather would “create shadowy, illegal schemes”for foreign management in Russian media. “The law would bring about a redistribution of ownership in the media market, and most importantly, corruption,” he said. In contrast, Von Eggert thinks that the law would have serious consequences for the Russian media market.“The bill would affect all publications, regardless of their genre and format,” he said. “Even culinary and homemaking magazines fall under the law’s purview. The law does not add to any democracy in Russia.” Pankeev disagrees. According to him, the quality
of journalism is not affected by who owns a media outlet. “The media is primarily the people who create it,” he said.“Journalistic professionalism does not depend on who pays them money – the government, business, or foreign investors.” Foreign ownership is currently restricted in the media to no more than 50 per cent for live television and radio stations that broadcast on Russian territory, as well as for newspapers and magazines with a circulation of one million or more. According to calculations by Russian businesss newspaper Vedomosti, if the law is adopted, more than half of Russia’s media outlets will be affected by it. The bill must pass through two more readings in the State Duma, during which time, amendments will be able to be made. If passed, it will come into force from January 1, 2017.
RUSSIA’S ROCKET DESIGNERS rbth.com/37581
LATEST PROJECTS FROM CLEARING UP SPACE JUNK TO EXPLORING LUNAR RESOURCES, THESE ARE EXCITING TIMES FOR RUSSIA’S SPACE PROGRAM.
NEW FOCUS ON FINAL FRONTIER AP
VALENTIN HITORIN SPECIAL TO RBTH
Liquidator In August, Roscosmos announced its plan to design a spacecraft for cleaning the Earth’s geostationary orbit from spent satellites and launch vehicle upper stages. The project, called the Liquidator, is planned for development between 2018 and 2025, with a budget of roughly 10.8 billion roubles ($US269 million).We may not have conquered space, but we have already managed to pollute it. According to the US Space Surveillance Network, the Earth has more than 16,200 loose objects orbiting it, and these objects even have the potential to destroy new space vehicles.
Cosmodromes Roscosmos will spend 900 billion roubles ($US22.5 billion) for infrastructure to support its space ports. These funds will be used to build an extension of the Plesetsk cosmodrome, in Mirny, in Arkhangelsk region, as well
READ AT rbth.com/ science_and_tech
as to complete the construction of the newVostochny cosmodrome, in the Amur region, in Russia’s far east. The funds will also be used to support the Baikonur space complex, in Kazakhstan. If Russia and Kazakhstan are able to resolve their current dispute over the existing lease agreement for Baikonur, Roscosmos will be able to get away with spending less on developing the cosmodromes on Russian soil.
Remote sensing Remote sensing of the Earth is one of the Russian space industry’s weakest areas.With no national program in place, Russian scientists have to rely on information from international satellites. But a Federal Space Program (FSP), planned for implementation between 2016 and 2025, promises to enlarge the country’s orbital fleet by adding 26 high-tech satellites at a cost of 358.6 billion roubles ($US9 billion). The different projects within the FSP, and their projected costs, include five major projects: Meteo-SSO, a global hydrometeorological and heliophysical system consisting of four new-generation satellites, which will travel on sun-
Construction continues at Russia's new cosmodrome
16,200 The number of loose objects orbiting the earth, according to the US Space Surveillance Network. These can destroy new space vehicles.
150 The capacity in tonnes of a new super-heavy rocket to be launched to Mars. Preliminary plans were approved by the Kremlin last month.
24 The number of satellites which gather information for the GLONASS navigation system, Russia’s version of the GPS.
Roscosmos will spend $25.6 billion on infrastructure to support its space ports
: H N O LO GY NEW TEC C R E AT IN G O U T O F CE CO M M E R KS R IC E H U S 03 2 7 /4 rbth .co m
© RIA NOVOSTI
Russia’s federal space agency, Roscosmos, recently announced several ambitious projects, some of which it has been incubating since Soviet times.
Construction work at the Vostochny space centre, which is spread over an area of 700 square kilometres, began in mid-2012 near the town of Uglegorsk, in the Russian far east’s Amur region on the bor-
der with China. It is planned that a launch pad will become operational next year, with a maiden operational launch slated for 2018. Russia is building Vostochny to reduce its reliance on its main
synchronous orbits (66 billion roubles/$US1.7 billion). Meteo-Glob will be a global meteorological sensing system that uses visible and infrared bands (86.9 billion roubles/$US2.2 billion). Resurs, a three-satellite program to capture images of the Earth in high and ultra-high resolution (55 bil-
lion roubles/$US1.4 billion). ES-SSO is an operating supervision space system for coordinating actions to deal with emergency situations, such as floods, forest fires and earthquakes. It will be composed of 10 satellites that orbit with the sun (106.3 billion roubles/$US2.7 billion). ES-GSO is another super-
NARY REVOLUTIO : R E G N E S S ME NS ING HAPPE 'EVERYTH ' P P A IN THE /4 02 99 rbth .co m
cosmodrome, the Baikonur space centre, in Kazakhstan. Russia’s new Angara rocket, powered by engines using socalled “green” fuels, successfully completed its sub-orbital test flight in July. Angara is the first new carrier rocket to be developed by Russia since the fall of the Soviet Union. The Angara family of rockets (which has been in development since 1995) will be built in light, semi-heavy and heavy versions, to lift a variety of payloads between two and 40 tonnes into Earth’s lower orbit. It is designed to complement Russia’s Soyuz rocket, currently the only vehicle in the world capable of carrying astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS).
vision space system for major emergency situations. However, it functions on an optical and radar band on a geostationary orbit (44.3 billion roubles/$US1.1 billion).
Moon base Russian spacecraft were the first to fly over the dark side of the moon and take soil
MAKING A RUSSIA IS ON THE K C A B E M CO ARE GLOBAL R KET AR METALS M 024 5 /4 rbth .co m
SPACE TRAINING FOR FEMALE COSMONAUTS rbth.com/23639
Research First Russian female in space for 17 years will study microgravity
Russia's new orbital fleet will include 26 high-tech satellites.
COSMONAUT SEROVA SEES HER CHILDHOOD DREAM TAKE OFF Following in the footsteps of Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space, Yelena Serova is Russia’s fourth female cosmonaut to go into orbit. VICTORIA ZAVYALOVA
Roscosmos is getting serious about moon exploration.
Russia will develop a moon vehicle for mineral exploration.
samples, but they never managed to put a person on its surface. But Roscosmos is getting serious about moon exploration, and between 2018 and 2025 it will develop a moon base, a mobile manipulator crane, a grader, an excavator, a cable layer and a mobile robot for lunar surface exploration. (11.2 billion roubles/$US280 million).
pacity received preliminary approval from Russian President Vladimir Putin last month. This rocket is one of the most expensive concepts to come out of Roscosmos. Its budget is twice as much as the budget for the development of the Angara rocket – a popular spacecraft currently in use. The aim of developing the new rocket is to fly to Mars.
Moon-Mobile A moon base without a moon vehicle would be of limited value, so Roscosmos is developing a new rover (exploration vehicle) that will be used to search for natural resources. The moon is full of rare elements, including titanium and uranium. It is also rich in helium-3 – a potential fuel for nuclear fusion. This new moon vehicle is called MoonMobile. Development should conclude by 2021, with testing lasting another four years.
Rocket to Mars Plans for a super-heavy rocket with a 120-150-tonne ca-
READ AT rbth.com/ science_and_tech
Exploring black holes In 2013, the Russian-German high-energy astrophysics observatory Spektr-RG was ready to be launched, with the idea of exploring galactic clusters and black holes with the eROSITA Roentgen telescope. While the concept has been in existence since the late ’80s, the project was restarted only in 2005. It was put on hold several times because of delays from the German telescope developers. The observatory should be ready by 2017 (5.4 billion roubles/$US135 million).
On September 25,Yelena Serova, with fellow Russian cosmonaut Aleksandr Samokutyaev and NASA astronaut Barry Wilmore, took off from Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, bound for the International Space Station (ISS). Serova is the fourth female cosmonaut in Russian space history and the first to go into orbit in 17 years. With fellow crew members from the Soyuz TMA-12M, she is going to the ISS for 170 days as part of Expedition 41 – the 41st mission to the ISS. Thirty-eight-year-old Serova has been a cosmonaut for Russia’s federal space agency Roscosmos since 2011. In a recent interview with Russian news agency RIA Novosti, Serova said that she was interested in all areas of research being conducted on the ISS. The current expedition’s research projects are focusing on the observation of meteors entering Earth’s atmosphere and studies of animal biology and bone and muscle physiology. The crew also took with
© RIA NOVOSTI
"This is my job": Yelena Serova.
With fellow crew members from the Soyuz TMA-12A, Serova is going to the ISS for 170 days.
them to the ISS plant seedlings and small fish, in order to examine the influence of microgravity on cells. Since she was a child, Serova has wanted to be a cosmonaut. Born in the small provincial town of Vozdvizhenka, in the Primorsky territory in Russia’s far east, she
stayed true to her childhood dream. She graduated from the aerospace faculty of the Moscow Aviation Institute with a degree in engineering. After she got her PhD, she started working at SP Korolev Rocket and Space Corporation Energia, Russia’s largest state space company. In 2004, she transferred to Roscosmos’ Mission Control Centre, near Moscow. Following training at the Gagarin Research and Test Cosmonaut Training Centre, Serova applied to become a cosmonaut in 2005. After a lengthy period of medical examinations, her application was approved, and she was admitted to general space training in 2007. In 2009 she passed her exams and qualified as a test cosmonaut. Serova’s final test was to survive in the desert as a crew member with fellow cosmonauts Sergei Ryzhikov and Oleg Novitskiy. In December 2011 she was appointed flight engineer for the Soyuz-TMA – a recent model of Soyuz spacecraft. Serova is married to former cosmonaut and test pilot Mark Serov. They have an 11-year-old daughter. During the expedition, she plans to regularly call her family. “There’s no problem with that,”she explained.“The ISS is now equipped with all the modern types of communications. It has IP telephony and email.” Cosmonauts in Russia have traditionally been recruited from the ranks of fighter pilots – which is one reason why there are so few women cosmonauts. Serova said that she was not intimidated by the prospect of the hardships of space travel, saying:“This is my job and my professional choice.”
RUSSIAN/ SOVIET WOMEN WHO WENT INTO SPACE
UTURE IN A SUNNY F ELOPING V E D : IA S S RU IVE ALTERNAT RCES OU ENERGY S 0159 /4 rbth .co m
© RIA NOVOSTI
Valentina Tereshkova The first woman in space, Tereshkova was selected from more than 400 applicants and five finalists to pilot the Vostok6 spacecraft on June 16, 1963, two
years after Yuri Gagarin. Tereshkova spent two days, 23 hours and 12 minutes in space. And at the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics this year, she was an Olympic flag-bearer.
Svetlana Savitskaya Some 19 years after Tereshkova’s flight, Savitskaya was the second Soviet woman in space. She was a crew member of the Soyuz T-7 in 1982. During her second space
VA – TERESHKO ST IR F 'S IA S S RU WOMAN IN SPACE /4 0147 rbth .co m
mission, in 1984, she became the first woman to spacewalk. Savitskaya has been a Russian State Duma deputy since 1995, where she is a representative of the Communist Party of Russia.
Yelena Kondakova Kondakova was the third female Soviet/Russian cosmonaut to go into orbit and the first woman to make a longduration spaceflight. During her first mission, in
1994, Kondakova spent five months on Mir Space Station. After retiring, like Savitskaya she was elected to the Russian State Duma, where she has been a deputy in the Lower House since 1999.
CIENTISTS RUSSIAN S PERIMENTAL X E P LO E V DE GAINST VACCINE A S U EBOLA VIR 010 5 /4 rbth .co m
NATIONS PLAY BY THEIR OWN RULES Fyodor Lukyanov ANALYST
or the first time, economic measures are being applied to a World Trade Organisation (WTO) member state that has considerable economic might. Previous instances of politically-motivated sanctions concerned countries of a different calibre, such as sanctions against Argentina over the Falklands or against Yugoslavia in the early 1990s. But Russia is a different ball game, because of its size and its ability to reciprocate. Indeed, Russian President Vladimir Putin this summer introduced an embargo on agricultural and food supplies from a number of countries. Tellingly, the measure was titled “On applying individual special economic measures aimed at ensuring the security of the Russian Federation.” This wording was deliberate and should be seen in the context of Russia’s membership of the WTO – a body that aims to liberalise global trade. Article XXI of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), on which the
A FRESH LOOK AT RUSSIA IN THE WTO
modern WTO is based, is titled“Security Exceptions.”It says that any member state has the right to take measures that it“considers necessary for the protection of its essential security interests… taken in time of war or another emergency in international relations.” The phrasing is loose; everyone can interpret security interests as they see fit, and
for their goods on our market, so our retaliatory steps are quite justified…” From the very start of this war of sanctions, both sides made statements threatening to contest at the WTO the measures taken against them. That was what Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and Economic Development Minister Alexei Ulyukayev said right after the “first
In a war of sanctions, each side is maintaining that they are operating within the WTO's rules
Geopolitical rivalry between Moscow and its Western partners in the WTO never actually stopped
practically anything can be presented as an “emergency in international relations”. Putin has stressed that the measure does not run counter to Russia’s obligations in the WTO.“In our WTO accession agreement, we set it such that in the interests of ensuring the country’s security, we have the right to impose certain restrictions,” he said. “They have restricted access [for Rosselkhozbank] to credit resources in international banks... In effect, they are creating more favourable terms
alarm”,when the Obama administration decided to exclude several Russian banks from Visa and MasterCard payment systems. For its part, the EU threatened a lawsuit in response to the Russian embargo. However, so far neither has happened. In a war of sanctions, each side is maintaining that it is operating within WTO rules. But even if they manage to prove that the actions they take are in line with the letter of the agreements, the
RUSSIA BEYOND THE HEADLINES (RBTH) IS PUBLISHED BY RUSSIAN DAILY NEWSPAPER ROSSIYSKAYA GAZETA. ITS PRODUCTION DOES NOT INVOLVE THE EDITORIAL STAFF OF FAIRFAX MEDIA. RBTH IS FUNDED THROUGH A COMBINATION OF ADVERTISING AND SPONSORSHIP REVENUES, TOGETHER WITH SUBSIDIES FROM RUSSIAN GOVERNMENT AGENCIES. RBTH'S EDITORIAL VOICE IS INDEPENDENT. ITS OBJECTIVE IS TO PRESENT, THROUGH QUALITY CONTENT, A RANGE OF PERSPECTIVES ABOUT RUSSIA AND RUSSIA'S PLACE IN THE WORLD. PUBLISHED SINCE 2007, RBTH IS COMMITTED TO MAINTAINING THE HIGHEST EDITORIAL STANDARDS AND TO SHOWCASING THE BEST OF RUSSIAN JOURNALISM AND THE BEST WRITING ABOUT RUSSIA. IN DOING SO, WE BELIEVE THAT WE ARE FILLING AN IMPORTANT GAP IN INTERNATIONAL MEDIA COVERAGE. PLEASE E-MAIL EDITORAU@RBTH.COM IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS OR COMMENTS ON OUR OWNERSHIP OR EDITORIAL STRUCTURE. RUSSIA BEYOND THE HEADLINES EVGENY ABOV PUBLISHER PAVEL GOLUB EDITOR-IN-CHIEF KONSTANTIN FETS MANAGING EDITOR GLEB FEDOROV EDITOR KATHERINE TERS GUEST EDITOR (AUSTRALIA) MEDIAXPRESS PRODUCTION EDITORS (AUSTRALIA) ANDREY SHIMARSKIY ART DIRECTOR ANDREY ZAITSEV HEAD OF PHOTO DEPT MILLA DOMOGATSKAYA HEAD OF PRE-PRINT DEPT MARIA OSHEPKOVA LAYOUT
breach of the spirit of the agreements is obvious. These decisions have been driven exclusively by political logic. Rivalries are not economic in nature, but strategic and geopolitical. Economic governance institutions are becoming either an arena for – or instruments in – that confrontation. Of course this is not how it was intended to be. The fundamental premise of the WTO and the other Bretton Woods structures in the early 21st century was that there would be no more large-scale political confrontations in the world. Global economic interdependency would push traditional forms of rivalry into the background, and economic disagreements were to be resolved within the WTO and other similar institutions. Yet the crisis in this approach began long before the Ukrainian conflict.The accession of large developing economies, especially China, turned the WTO from an organisation of like-minded countries into a structure which harboured different interpretations of “fairness”. There emerged a critical mass of countries seeking a different application of the same norms. Western founders of the system realised that the instruments they created were beginning to contribute to the success of others. When economic competition between huge powers increases, it creates big waves in politics, for example in USChina relations. The case of Russia makes this politicisation obvious. Geopolitical rivalry between Moscow and its Western partners in the WTO actually never stopped. Sanctions against Russia show that the market decides things until it runs up against the political will of the world’s strongest power. When that political will interferes, market forces retreat. Should this logic continue, the ideological foundations of globalisation come into question, because countries are closely following events, extrapolating the meaning of the conflict for themselves. All the more so, since the US itself initiated the creation of preferential trade zones instead of universal rules. Fyodor Lukyanov is the editor-in-chief of Russia in Global Affairs and chairman of the board of the Foreign and Defense Policy Council.
CHINA GAS DEAL TURNS UP HEAT ON AUSTRALIA Konstantin Simonov ANALYST
ears of negotiations on the gas contract between Russia and China resulted in a contract being signed by Russian PresidentVladimir Putin in Shanghai in May. The deal is for the equivalent of 29 million tonnes a year of liquefied natural gas (LNG), which is more than Australia’s entire current LNG output, so it is not surprising that it prompted panic among Australian gas analysts. Russian gas will be supplied to the north-east of China, from where it can be transported to the Pacific coast, which is getting infrastructure ready to receive Australian LNG. The contract involves the supply to China of up to 1.032 trillion cubic metres of gas for 30 years, starting from the last quarter of 2018. Both sides have the option to move the start of exports by two years, depending on the availability of infrastructure. Within five years, from the start of deliveries (in 2023-2025), Russian exports should reach the contract level of 38 billion cubic metres per year. Russia’s gas prices are about 15 per cent cheaper than the average price of LNG imported by China in 2013 ($US444 per thousand cubic metres). New volumes of LNG from Australia offered in Asia are even more expensive (above $US600 per tcm). Our estimate of the gas cost on the Russia-China border is $US200-250 per tcm, giving the supplier a comfortable profit margin. If our estimates are correct, the cost of gas on the border is about half that of imports. China will inevitably be forced to increase its share of gas-fired energy generation for environmental reasons, and Russia’s proposal beats its competitors’ on several parameters. Russian gas is not only cheaper than Australian and
ROSSIYSKAYA GAZETA ALEXANDER GORBENKO CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD PAVEL NEGOITSA GENERAL DIRECTOR VLADISLAV FRONIN EDITOR-IN-CHIEF TO ADVERTISE IN THIS SUPPLEMENT CONTACT SALES@RBTH.COM TEL +7 (495) 775 3114 FAX +7 (495) 988 9213 ADDRESS 24 PRAVDY STR, BLDG 4, FLOOR 12, MOSCOW, RUSSIA, 125 993 ANY COPYING, REDISTRIBUTION OR RETRANSMISSION OF ANY OF THE CONTENTS OF THIS PUBLICATION, OTHER THAN FOR PERSONAL USE, WITHOUT THE EXPRESS WRITTEN CONSENT OF ROSSIYSKAYA GAZETA IS EXPRESSLY PROHIBITED. TO OBTAIN PERMISSION TO REPRINT OR COPY AN ARTICLE OR PHOTO, PLEASE PHONE +7 (495) 775 3114, OR EMAIL EDITORAU@RBTH.RU WITH YOUR REQUEST. RBTH IS NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR UNSOLICITED MANUSCRIPTS AND PHOTOS. © COPYRIGHT 2014, FSFI ROSSIYSKAYA GAZETA. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Middle Eastern LNG, it is also “politically safe”. Russia does not have a problem of unreliable transit countries and volatile transit regions. Gas can be sent directly from Russia to China. Unlike Australia, which if there were a conflict between Washington and Beijing would be forced to join the US in sanctions, Russia is unlikely to play that game. According to China’s leaders, the share of gas in China’s energy mix is expected to grow to 8 per cent by the end of 2015 and to 10 per cent by 2019. Domestic production
It’s possible that China will use the Russian contract to put pressure on Australia is growing, but not as rapidly as consumption. In 2013, China consumed 168 billion cubic metres of gas and extracted only 121 billion, and import growth for the year was 25 per cent. China predicts that its consumption will be 300 billion cubic metres by 2020. By 2030 it may exceed 400 billion cubic metres, which means that the share of Russian gas supply would be 10 per cent of total demand, or even 15-20 per cent, if new contracts are signed. It’s possible that China will use the Russian contract to put pressure on Australia. Australian energy companies, in their marketing strategies, will have to consider the factor of increasing Russian gas supplies to Asian markets, particularly given that European energy policy does not give much hope for the growth of the Russian presence in the European Union’s gas market. Konstantin Simonov – National Energy Security Fund, Australia-Russia Dialogue.
COMMENTS AND LETTERS FROM READERS, GUEST COLUMNS AND CARTOONS LABELLED “COMMENTS”,“VIEWPOINT” OR APPEARING ON THE “OPINION” AND “COMMENT & ANALYSIS” PAGES OF THIS SUPPLEMENT ARE SELECTED TO REPRESENT A BROAD RANGE OF VIEWS AND DO NOT NECESSARILY REPRESENT THOSE OF THE EDITORS OF RUSSIA BEYOND THE HEADLINES OR ROSSIYSKAYA GAZETA. PLEASE SEND LETTERS TO THE EDITOR TO EDITORAU@RBTH.COM
THIS ISSUE WAS SENT INTO PRINT ON OCTOBER 13
SPECIAL SUPPLEMENTS AND SECTIONS ABOUT RUSSIA ARE PRODUCED AND PUBLISHED BY RUSSIA BEYOND THE HEADLINES, A DIVISION OF ROSSIYSKAYA GAZETA (RUSSIA), IN THE FOLLOWING NEWSPAPERS: THE DAILY TELEGRAPH, UNITED KINGDOM • THE NEW YORK TIMES, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, THE INTERNATIONAL NEW YORK TIMES, UNITED STATES • LE FIGARO, FRANCE • EL PAÍS, SPAIN • LA REPUBBLICA, ITALY • LE SOIR, BELGIUM • GEOPOLITICA, SERBIA • ELEFTHEROS TYPOS, GREECE • THE ECONOMIC TIMES, INDIA • MAINICHI SHIMBUN, JAPAN • GLOBAL TIMES, CHINA • THE NATION, THAILAND • LA NACION, ARGENTINA • FOLHA DE SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL • EL OBSERVADOR, URUGUAY • JOONGANG ILBO, SOUTH KOREA • THE SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, THE AGE, AUSTRALIA • GULF NEWS, AL KHALEEJ, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES.
HOW IT FEELS TO LOSE YOUR COUNTRY rbth.com/39843
Dmitry Babich ANALYST
he standing ovations Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko won in Canada and the US last month stirred an array of emotions in Moscow. What is there to applaud in the president’s performance and in today’s Ukraine? According to the UN, at least 3000 people, mostly civilians and Ukrainian citizens, have been killed in the fighting in the south-eastern region of Ukraine known as Donbass and the truce established last month is routinely breached, with more killed every day – a situation Ukraine has not witnessed since the Second World War. Even if Poroshenko is right about being a victim of an “intervention by a foreign power,” most of the fighting is done by local people and most of the victims are Ukrainian citizens. This is a situation which deserves empathy and compassion, not applause. This has not yet disqualified Poroshenko as a potential peacemaker. Analysts in Russia and Ukraine are warning him against being lulled into passivity by his fans in the US. And pessimists say the “united Ukraine” Poroshenko says he is defending no longer exists. “The crucial question is not which side has more weapons or who enlists more support from Russia or NATO,” says Mikhail Delyagin, editor-in-chief of the Moscowbased Svobodnaya Mysl magazine. “The question is: will Donbass agree to live in united Ukraine again? After the
Party of Regions declined to run at next month’s Rada [national parliamentary] elections and after Ukraine’s Communist party was de facto banned, I doubt Donbass will have any chance of being politically represented in the parliament and the g ov e r n m e n t o f u n i t e d Ukraine. “So there is little chance that there will be such a thing as a united Ukraine – which includes Lugansk and Donetsk, not to mention Crimea.” The Party of Regions (PR), once the power base of ousted former presidentViktorYanukovych, is sending mixed signals about its stance on the Rada elections. The party is expected to run in individual constituencies, but not on a party list. But even if it participates, its leader Mikhail Chechetov had a point when he said Kiev should end the war before having elections. The power base of the PR was traditionally in the east, primarily in Donbass. It’s understandable why the party doesn’t want to run, since its supporters in the east won’t be able to vote. Authorities in the self-proclaimed new state of Novorossia, whose control is limited to part of Donbass, say they won’t have Kiev-organised elections on their territories. Supporters of European integration for Ukraine fail to take into account the eastwest chasm, a problem for centuries in this region. The divisions are natural, as the west [of Ukraine] had been until 1919 part of the Austro-Hungarian empire, while the east had been part of Russia for three-and-a-half centuries until the collapse
APPLAUSE WON'T HEAL THE WOUNDS
regions may fall off in the same way. “Now I hope people understand why the previous presidents, especially [Leonid] Kuchma and Yanukovych, were so reluctant to say a 100 per cent ‘Yes’ to Russia or the European Union.” After the takeover in Kiev by Maidan activists in February 2014, the Party of Regions lost support. When its office was set alight in Kiev by Maidan activists, it was clear the party would no longer be calling the shots. President Poroshenko, who was one of the founders of the Party of Regions, probably understands that not having this party on the ballot list is a defeat for him. He might need the “regionals” now most of all, as radical
of the Soviet Union in 1991. “Until 2014, Ukraine had kept a fragile balance of eastern and western orientation, due to a certain freedom of
"With Ukraine, if you pull the country too far west too fast, the east may fall off" – Mikhail Pogrebinsky speech and the representation of various regions in the Rada,” says Mikhail Pogrebinsky, head of the Kievbased Centre for Conflict Studies.“With Ukraine, if you pull the country towards the west too fast, its eastern part may fall off. If you push east, towards Russia, the western
Ukrainian nationalists accuse Poroshenko of“selling off the motherland to Russia” by signing the law on special status for Donbass.
Ukrainian nationalists accuse Poroshenko of "selling off the motherland to Russia" “The surrender of Donbass to Putin won’t stop the aggressor,” Oleg Tyahnybok, chairman of the far-right Svoboda party and one of the three top leaders of Maidan, wrote recently in his blog. “Poroshenko wants to make Donbass a kind of occupied terrorist reservation – anoth-
Alexander Yakovenko AMBASSADOR
he investigation of the downing of the Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 raises serious questions.The preliminary report written by Dutch experts can hardly be considered truly comprehensive, thorough, independent or international. It does not shed light on the causes of the tragedy, nor does it contain convincing data about the details. It also does not address Russian concerns and it raises new questions to add to those that had
already been asked by the Russian Ministry of Defence. Full transcripts of air traffic control communications have not been published, there has been no follow-up about reports of another aircraft being seen at the time of the crash, and Ukraine has shown no willingness to share all the information on the deployment of its anti-aircraft systems. The international media may have virtually forgotten the issue, but it is in the interest of all to find and bring to justice those responsible, through a comprehensive, independent and international investigation, as required by
UN Security Council resolution 2166. There is reason to believe that the real purpose of the investigation is not to determine the cause of the downing, but to make a case that puts all the blame on Russia, to clear the way for more sanctions. The delays in the preparation and the publication of the preliminary report suggest deliberate procrastination and soft-pedalling of the investigation process. It is also disappointing that the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) has adopted a passive position in relation to the investigation. It is regrettable that the ICAO
MH17 INVESTIGATION IS NOT FINDING ANSWERS TO THE BIG QUESTIONS
might be subject to outside political pressure. The initiative to convene a “task force of international experts” under the auspices of the ICAO to assess risks for civil aviation in conflict areas, rather than focusing on establishing the truth in this case, seems to be another attempt to impose a biased and politicised version of what happened on the international community.
Russia insists that strict adherence to UN Security Council resolution 2166 is the only route to a comprehensive, thorough and independent investigation of the crash. This resolution contains a list of problems that have to be solved in order to allow for a proper investigation. They include the cessation of violence as a basic condition, the preservation of the crash site, the provision of unhin-
er region like Transnistria – managed from Moscow. In my opinion, terrorists and helpers of the Russian occupiers must be deprived of their voting rights and Ukrainian citizenship and take their place in jail, not in our government or our parliament.” Poroshenko will have to navigate his way between the Russian-speaking conservatives and fiery Ukrainian nationalists. This will be much harder than winning applause in the US Congress. After all, Mikhail Gorbachev won even more applause there just months before losing power, along with the “united” Soviet Union. Dmitry Babich is a political analyst working at the Voice of Russia radio station.
dered access to it and the role of the ICAO in ensuring that the investigation meets international standards. A detailed report by the UN secretary-general on each of these matters should be submitted to the UN Security Council, according to paragraph 13 of the resolution, with a view to taking additional measures to promote an international investigation. It is important to enhance the role of the UN if the process is to be credible. It’s worth looking at the possibility of appointing a UN special envoy to the MH17 inquiry and sending a mission to the crash site, in collaboration with the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, ICAO and other relevant bodies. AlexanderYakovenko is Russia's Ambassador to the United Kingdom. He was previously Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs.
VOLUNTEER PROGRAMS FOR TRAVELLERS travel.rbth.com/1723
VISIT RUSSIA FROM SANDY BEACHES AND VOLCANOES IN THE FAR EAST TO SWISS-STYLE ALPS AND GERMAN VILLAGES ON THE BALTIC COAST, RUSSIA HAS PLENTY TO OFFER VISITORS
AROUND THE WORLD IN ONE COUNTRY LORI/LEGION MEDIA
With its canals and style reminiscent of Italy – thanks to architects including Antonio Rinaldi and Carlo Rossi – it’s no surprise St Petersburg is often called the“Venice of the North’’. Originally built on a swamp by prisoners of war under Peter the Great, the city is Russia’s largest port and has long been regarded as its “window to Europe’’. The tourist city is known for its historic bridges, extensive waterfront and marvellous white nights in spring when the days are long and the sun never sets.
2. Australia Areas of Russia’s far east, on the Sea of Japan, could easily be mistaken for the Australian coastline. Rock formations on Moneron Island, in the Strait of Tartary, are not unlike Victoria’s 12 Apostles. The region known as Primorye is remote, undeveloped and still has vast areas that are difficult to access. There are numerous national parks, including Russia’s first marine santuary. The area is home to rare and endangered species, including the Siberian tiger.
3. Mount Fuji Looking for all the world like Japan’s Mount Fuji, the Kronotsky volcano is in the eponymous national park, on the Kamchatka peninsula in Rus-
6. Istanbul While almost 8000 kilometres from Istanbul, the fareastern city of Vladivostok also has a bay called the Golden Horn with a cable bridge across it. The bridge was built in 2012 ahead of the city hosting an APEC summit. However, Vladivostok is more often compared to San Francisco.
4. Tibet It’s not well-known, but there is a bustling Buddhist community in Russia. In Siberia, not far from the city of Ulan-Ulde, is one of the country’s biggest Buddhist monasteries. Known as Ivolginsky Datsan, the complex was built shortly after World War II and includes seven temples and a university. It is home to the country’s Buddhist leader and is where lamas train to serve newlyestablished temples throughout the region of Buryatia. Ulan-Ude is also famous for having the world’s largest head of Lenin.
Founded in 1255 by the Teutonic Order, Konigsberg was home to German colonials
5. German village Zelenogradsk is in the Baltic enclave of Kaliningrad and was originally known as Konigsberg. Founded in 1255 by knights of the Teutonic Order, Konigsberg was home to German colonials and Teutonic knights and eventually became capital of the Duchy of Prussia. Kaliningrad was part of the Third Reich but came under Soviet control after World War II. The enclave is home to Germans, Greeks, Armenians, Poles, Russians and Lithuanians. People who were expelled from the region after
At one time, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev decided to build a cable tram network in the hilly city, in an effort to transform it into another San Francisco.
7. Ha Long Bay Avacha Bay is world’s secondlargest natural bay, after Sydney Harbour. Situated on the Kamchatka peninsula in Russia’s far east, the area is rich in natural beauty. The famous Koryaksky, Avachinsky andVilyuchinsky volcanoes are visible from the bay, while at its entrance you can visit the Tri Brata, or Three Brothers, a formation of three rocks that rise majestically from the sea. The landmark is considered a natural national treasure and it’s also the symbol of Avacha Bay and the nearby city of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky. The bay is also the main gateway for people and goods arriving to the peninsula. The rocky cliffs around it hide
Russia's superb scenery can by turns look like Switzerland (8) and even China (9) and Easter Island (10). 9
it came under Soviet control often return to wander among the old houses, cemeteries and German castles. Many of the landmarks and towns had different names before Soviet times. For example, Zelenogradsk was called Cranz.
St Petersburg (1, above) was designed under the direction of Peter the Great by Italian, British and French architects. Its Italian-style cathedrals, English gardens, well-planned roads and Parisian streets give the city a European look and feel. Only a handful of onion-dome churches in the city’s old town give away that this is actually a city in Russia.
sia’s far east. The Kronotsky National Park has numerous volcanoes, both active and extinct. It also has a rugged coastline and is home to geysers and thermal springs. Its geyser fields have been officially named one of the Seven Wonders of Russia and is the only place in Eurasia where they are found. The area is also sometimes called the land of fire and ice.
The world's best scenery is at your fingertips in Russia, where the diverse landscape invokes comparisons with Europe, Asia and even Australia.
The river is the best way to get to the pillars.
These “idols” are rock formations, carved by the wind.
IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF ANCIENT KARELIANS travel.rbth.com/1715
many beautiful grottos, which can be visited by kayak.
8. Switzerland Almost 6500 kilometres east of the Lena Pillars, in southern Siberia on Russia’s border with Mongolia, sit the spectacular Altai mountains. Due to poor infrastructure, the breathtaking Altai range isn’t the easiest destination to get to. But it is worth the effort for anyone interested in hiking, climbing, white-water rafting and summer music festivals. The only urban area is the regional capital of Gorno-Al-
taisk, which has a population of 60,000. Most other inhabitants live in villages. Locals say that the mythical kiingdom of Shambhala is located somewhere in this region, dubbed the "Russian Tibet".
Avacha Bay, on the Kamchatka peninsula, in Russia’s far east, is the second-largest bay in the world
9. Chinese forest The Lena Pillars Nature Parc, a UNESCO World Heritage site, boasts spectacular rock formations along the banks of the Lena River in the Sakha Republic. The rocky columns look similar to the Shilin linestone formation in China's Yunnan province. Formed 540-560 million
The geyser fields at Kronotsky have officially been named one of the Seven Wonders of Russia
GORKY PARK An autumn selfie or an Instagram picture are guaranteed to all visitors to Gorky Park, where there is free WiFi as well as stands for charging laptops and mobiles. In Gorky Park, visitors can find a wide variety of backgrounds for photographs – one of them being the park’s symbol, the legendary Girl with an Oar sculpture. And with a little luck, it’s also possible to capture that perfect shot of falling leaves dancing on a bank of the Moscow River. Walking and cycling paths connect Gorky Park with Sparrow Hills, where visitors can enjoy the autumn colours from the banks of the river or the funicular railway.
THE BOTANICAL GARDENS The centrepiece of the Botanical Gardens is the Japanese garden, arranged according to traditions of Japanese landscaping. This is one of the best places in Moscow for solitary contemplation of the harmony of nature. It also creates the ideal opportunity to practice Momijigari, the traditional Japanese custom of admiring maples. The Manchurian maples, gingkoes, spindles and chestnuts bring autumn colours to the garden and create beautiful reflections in the ponds. In the centre of the grounds, there is a stone pagoda that symbolises a Buddhist temple, and tea ceremonies occasionally take place in the garden’s tea house. KOLOMENSKOYE The old Dyakovo, Kazansky and Ascension apple orchards are symbols of Kolomenskoye. These orchards, in the highest part of the park, provide the best view of the Moscow River in the whole city. Here, visitors can almost taste the scent of apples and the sweet smell of ageing foliage. Few places in the city are quieter, lovelier and more pleasant than the apple orchards in Kolomenskoye Park. Take a blanket and a picnic basket and spend the whole day in a completely different world. Kolomenskoye also offers another way to enjoy the autumn view of the capital, with free panoramic binoculars available to visitors on Ascension Square.
years ago, the pillars sit on a bed on Cambrian limestone in eastern Siberia. The dramatic red sandstone pillars reflect majestically in the calm waters of the river and are surrounded by a forest of tall trees. The river is the best way to get to the pillars and most visitors catch a boat or ferry from the city of Yakutsk. Some of the pillars can be climbed and there are several observation platforms – about 100 metres high – from which visitors can take in the natural beauty of the Siberian landscape and the mighty river traversing it.
MOSCOW IS ONE OF THE GREENEST MEGACITIES IN THE WORLD, WITH MORE THAN 50 PLACES WHERE VISITORS CAN ENJOY THE COLOURS OF AUTUMN. IF YOU HAPPEN TO VISIT RUSSIA'S CAPITAL, THESE ARE SOME OF THE CITY'S MOST FAMOUS AUTUMN SPOTS.
A VISITOR’S GUIDE TO THE BEST PLACES TO EXPERIENCE MOSCOW IN AUTUMN
10. Easter Island You might expect to see huge stone idols on islands in the Indian and Pacific oceans, but not in Russia’s Manpupuner plateau.Yet deep in the taiga, or snow forests, of the northern Ural mountains, there they are. These “idols” are actually rock formations, carved by the wind over thousands of years. Standing up to 40 metres high, the seven formations are a“must-see’’ in Russia’s Komi Republic. The Manpupuner is a popular destination for eco-tourists who either hike or helicopter in.
Rock formations at Moneron Island, in Primorye, in Russia's far east (2). The Fujiesque Kronotsky volcano, also in Primorye (3). The Buddhist Ivolginsky Datsan, near Lake Baikal, in Buryatia (4). Zelenogradsk – a German village in Kaliningrad (5). The bridge over Golden Horn Bay, Vladivostok (6). A rock formation called 'The Three Brothers' on the Kamchatka Peninsula (7). The Altai mountains, in southern Siberia (8). The UNESCO-listed Lena pillars on the Lena River in the Sakha republic (9).
IZMAILOVSKY PARK This park is the best place for autumn walks within the city. Izmailovsky Park, unlike many of Moscow’s parks and estates, isn’t formally landscaped, which gives it the natural appearance of a real forest. Park visitors can feel the crackle of autumn leaves under their feet and pause to take in beautiful bouquets of autumn foliage. The Izmailovsky Park grounds cover more than 285 hectares, so for those who want to see the whole park, it’s ideal to rent a bike. Or, to see it all at once, it also has a ferris wheel.
TSARITSYNO Tsaritsyno is the only English-style landscaped park in Moscow. This park has a rare and wonderful spectrum of colours which contrast with the red brick with white stone ornaments in its grounds. Pseudo-Gothic palaces, pavilions, arches and lacework bridges set the stage for magnificent autumn vistas. The cascade of ponds acts as a mirror, doubling the beauty of the surrounds. In autumn, it gets dark early, but it’s wonderful to sit and watch the music fountain late into the evening on Horseshoe Island in Tsaritsyno pond.
KUSKOVO ESTATE This French formal garden decorated with original marble sculptures of mythological characters, as well as a preserved summer palace with authentic interiors and porcelain collections, make this estate a worthwhile destination. There is no better spot in Moscow for admiring the vibrant colours and shapes of the autumn landscape. It is a treat to escape to this beautiful location on the weekend, especially in early autumn, when the trees are painted in the brightest colours nature has to offer. T R AV E L 2 M O S C O W. C O M
THE FIRST CELEBRATION OF GEEKDOM IN MOSCOW rbth.com/40389
Business Russia had the potential for its own Silicon Valley had innovators not been stopped in their tracks
How computer industry lost its byte The Soviet computer industry underwent rapid growth and development until the 1970s, when the government curtailed innovation in the once booming area. ARAM TER-GHAZARYAN SPECIAL TO RBTH
After World War II, Russia's escalating Cold War with the West meant mobilising intellectual resources was vital to the country's development. The Soviet government of the day made it a priority to sponsor technical breakthroughs in science and industry. By the early 1950s, the USSR had established a modern computer industry.Yet by the early 1970s, the government had put a stop to the industry’s unique developments and instead resolved to pirate copies of Western systems. As a result, an entire industry’s progress was halted.
Early progress The first steps towards creating a small electronic computing machine (MESM) were made in 1948 in a secret laboratory near Kiev. The work was overseen by Sergei Lebedev, director of the Institute of Electrical Engineering. He proposed, justified and implemented the principles of an electronic computing machine with a stor-
age program. In 1953 Lebedev led a team that created the first large electronic computing machine, known as the BESM-1. It was assembled in Moscow at the institute. Personal computers were produced by the Kiev Institute of Cybernetics in the 1960s, in a series that included the Mir-1, 2 and 3 computers. These were full-scale personal computers – with their own memory – that could be used in industrial production facilities of the time. The original computer systems in the USSR were not unified under a common standard, even within the confines of a single series. Modern computers could not “understand”their predecessors. The machines were incompatible based on criteria such as digit capacity and peripherals. Because of the lack of unified standards and a misguided development strategy, the Soviet computer industry had begun to seriously lag behind the West by the beginning of the 1970s. Andrey Ershov, one of the founders of computer technology in the Soviet Union, openly stated that if Viktor Glushkov had not c e a s e d
developing the Mir series, the world’s best personal computer would have been created in the USSR.
The big mistake
In 1969 Soviet authorities decided to terminate roubles these developments and average cost of a Soviet PC start creating computers in 1980s based on the IBM/360 platform. In other words, they decided to pirate Western systems. “This was the worst roubles possible decision,”says average salary in 1980s Yury Revich, a historoubles rian and programmer. average cost of a “The Soviet governTV set in 1980s ment, and partly the builders themselves, were to blame for the fact that the industry ceased to develop independently. “Each group cooked in its own juices and the regime of secrecy made it easier for several technological solutions The Agat was the first versatile to be borrowed from Western 8-bit personal computer scientific magazines.” mass-produced in the Soviet In Revich’s opinion, this Union. It was primarily used in caused the Soviet computer public education. Developed industry to lag behind the rest from 1981 to 1983, on the of the world. By the time the basis of the Apple II, it was USSR launched its first ES produced from 1984 until 1993. EVM mainframe in 1971, the Some Russian schools US had already transitioned continued using Agat machines to the next generation until as late as 2001. IBM/370.
The Agat – a pioneering PC
COMPUTERS SOLD IN SOVIET TIMES
Mikrosha was the name of one of the first Soviet personal computers. The model, which was produced from 1987, might not have been much in technical terms, but it was extremely popular.
The Robotron was a computer engineering development that the Soviet Union presented to Europe. The computer was developed at a research institute, outside Moscow, but production was transferred to the German Democratic Republic. In 1984, production of the Robotron 1715 began. The model had two drives, but no sound and no mouse ports.
BK (which stood for "home computer" in Russian) was a family of 16-bit home and school computers. In Soviet times, more than 162,000 of this model were built, and around 78,000 of them were sold. The BK 0010-01 series cost less than a colour television, but that was till two to three times more than the monthly wage of a Soviet engineer.
“Developers had to perform a momentous amount of work – no less than they had to do to create computers from scratch – including translating the programs and much more,”Revich explains. “But the result was totally inadequate.World science lost a lot because of that decision.” By the 1980s the Russian computer industry was stagnating. “I caught the end of the 1980s and the beginning of the ’90s when there were two or three types of computers in the country,” recalls Maxim Moshkov, the founder of Lib.ru – Russia’s first electronic library. “At work, I had two boxes the size of an office desk, 1.5 metres tall, that handled ordinary wage calculations.” Moshkov explains that the boxes contained 16 megabytes of RAM and were maintained by a 15-member team of programmers, administrators and technicians. “ Fo r e i g n c o m p u t e r s worked in a similar way,” Moshkov says. Many masterminds behind Soviet computing moved abroad.Vladimir Pentkovsky, who worked at the Lebedev Institute of Precision Mechanics and Computer Engineering, became the
leading microprocessor developer at Intel, and it was under his leadership that the company created the Pentium processor in 1993. Pentkovsky used knowledge acquired in the USSR to assist with Intel’s development. By 1995 Intel had launched the Pentium Pro processor, which in terms of its capabilities was close to the Russian El-90 microprocessor of 1990.
Powerful developments Between 2007 to 2010, the Russian government resumed science funding after a 15year hiatus. Scientists from Russia and Belarus jointly created the SKIF super-computer series - SKIF is the Russian acronym for SuperComputer Initiative Phoenix. Another super-computer, the AL-100, was launched in 2008. It has 336 Intel Xeon 5355 processors and 1344 gigabytes of RAM. The Lomonosov supercomputer, created in 2009, has three types of computational nodes and processors with varying architectures. This super-computer is used to solve resource-intensive science problems with its powerful computing systems and is in the top 500 most powerful super-computers in the world. ©R IA N OV OS TI
HERMITAGE RATED EUROPE'S BEST MUSEUM FOR 2014 rbth.com/39909
Hermitage Four-legged treasures
JOY NEUMEYER SPECIAL TO RBTH
St Petersburg’s Hermitage Museum is the treasure chest of Russia. Founded by Empress Catherine the Great, the teal palace on the bank of the Neva River contains one of the world’s most renowned art collections. But beneath the baroque grandeur lies a netherworld of heating ducts and storage rooms. Here, the walls are not covered with Rembrandt and Caravaggio, but cat photos. The cats’ story parallels that of the institution they have guarded for centuries, from splendour to poverty and back again. “It’s a true symbiosis of animal and human,” Maria Haltunen, assistant to the director and the cats’ press secretary, told RBTH.
Pre-revolution Cats have resided in St Petersburg’s Winter Palace since the time of Empress Elizaveta Petrovna. In 1747, she issued a decree arranging for a chauffeur to bring “house cats suitable for catching”to the palace. A carriage full of Russian Blues was ferried post-haste from theVolga city of Kazan to the imperial residence in St Petersburg. It was Elizaveta’s successor, Catherine the Great, who transformed the palace into one of the world’s greatest art institutions. “Very early on, she realised that [art] was a status symbol among the rulers of Europe,” said Geraldine Norman, author of The Hermitage: Biography of a Great Museum and adviser to the Hermitage’s director.
In 1771, Catherine brought the first Raphael painting to Russia. Eight years later, she bought the nearly 200-piece collection of British Prime Minister Robert Walpole, which included works by Rubens and Velazquez. In all, Catherine acquired about 4000 Old Masters and an astounding 10,000 engraved gems, which Norman called her “great love”. “It was a love affair, but also state policy, and a very clever state policy,” Norman told RBTH. “She was competing with the French, the Germans and the English and she was steadily outclassing them in her purchases of art.” The rising prestige of Catherine’s collection, which was opened to the public as Russia’s first public museum in 1852, was mirrored by the status accorded to its guardians. Under Catherine, the palace began making a distinction between house and court cats — the latter had free rein of the halls. Their work was more important than ever. In a letter Catherine wrote: “There are few visitors to the galleries — only me and the mice.” In 1917, the October Revolution drove Tsar Nicholas II from the Winter Palace. According to Haltunen, the last Romanov rulers had a soft spot for animals, owning several dogs and cats. While the dogs were shot alongside their owners, the cats were left behind at the palace.
Soviet industrialisation and the blockade The Bolsheviks nationalised the Hermitage, beginning a traumatic period for the museum that would last for more than three decades. In the 1930s, Stalin began selling off the Hermitage’s art to finance Soviet industrialisation. (The Old Masters pur-
As the world-renowned Hermitage celebrates its 250th year, RBTH traces the history of the museum's relationship with its many feline residents.
The great survivors of museum's turbulent history
Russia's greatest museum has been home to anti-mouse defence force since the 18th century.
Hermitage offers history in hi-tech The Hermitage has released two smartphone apps in English: The Hermitage Museum and Audio-Guide to the Hermitage. These apps allow visitors to learn about the museum's many exhibits and they should help visitors find their way through the palace's many rooms and hallways. Read more rbth.ru/37611
The siege of Leningrad was the only time cats were absent from the mumeum's rooms
chased by American industrialist Andrew Mellon would become the foundation of the National Gallery in Washington DC). The darkest days came during World War II, when the 872-day siege of Leningrad (St Petersburg) resulted in the deaths of up to 1.5 million people. The Hermitage collection was evacuated to the Urals and only empty frames were left behind. Meanwhile, the city starved. “All the animals in the city vanished, even the birds,” Haltunen said. “There was simply nothing to eat.” But the cats of the Hermitage sustained their keepers — that is, they were eaten. The siege of Leningrad was the only time cats were absent from the museum’s rooms and halls. After the war, the Hermitage recruited new cats from cities such as Novgorod and
A look at Anton Chekhov's home rbth.com/39791
Pskov. As the country stabilised, the museum’s growing cat population paralleled the expansion of its displays. After Stalin’s death, the museum once again showed post-Impressionist and modernist canvases.
Post-Soviet times In the early ’90s, the collapse of the Soviet Union left the Hermitage destitute. In the documentary Hermitage Revealed, museum director Mikhail Piotrovsky recalls there wasn’t even enough money to repair the roof. In 1995, shortly after she began working there, Haltunen went to the basement and was shocked to see dozens of cats staring back at her. The cats, like their home, were in dire straits, hungry and neglected. Haltunen and a friend began bringing porridge down from the cafeteria to
feed them. They started a “Ruble for a Cat” campaign to raise money for food and medical treatment, and won Piotrovsky’s support to devote an area of the basement to the cats’ care. Today, it’s full of scratching posts, food bowls and blankets on top of the heating pipes, where the cats cluster in winter. Under Piotrovsky, the museum has gained new life.Two years ago, it opened an innovative contemporary art department, and this summer it hosted the contemporary art biennial Manifesta. For his video installation Basement, Dutch artist Erik van Lieshout spent nine months living with the cats in the basement of the Hermitage while it was being renovated. “The cats are the soul of the building,”Lieshout told RBTH.“They are a subculture for me.” Though the cats no longer roam the halls as they did in Catherine’s day, the more sociable among them venture into the courtyards or down to the riverbank, pausing to scratch their claws on the entrance gate. Today, they have their own passports and boast a dedicated legion of volunteers and veterinarians, as well as an annual holiday in their honour, when visitors line up for the chance to meet (and adopt) them. Now, they are less hunters than cultural ambassadors – or “spoiled house cats,” as Haltunen jokes – but they still deter mice. They remain a part of the Hermitage's history, no less essential than its Monet paintings or its ancient gold, or the splendid halls of the Winter Palace.
Anna Karenina will be read and broadcast online rbth.com/40301
MADSEN: ‘RUSSIA IS LIKE ANOTHER PLANET’ rbth.com/40323
Cinema Russian Resurrection’s 11th year includes retrospective marking Mosfilm’s 90th anniversary
Prize-winning film without words leads 2014 festival
For kids, the program includes the animation Space Dogs 2 (Belka & Strelka’s Moon Adventures), and festival founder Nicholas Maksymow told RBTH that the festival always included a family film now because he thought it important to give young Australians the chance to see foreign films.
IN BRIEF Celebrated theatre director Lyubimov dies
Actors Yelena An and Danila Rassomakhin in The Test, which won three awards at the Kinotavr film festival in June.
In its 11th year, the Russian film festival, Russian Resurrection, will be running in six cities across Australia, from October 28 to November 23. KATHERINE TERS RBTH
Russian Resurrection will screen 14 new films from Russia and six Soviet-era films, as part of its retrospective on Mosfilm – Russia’s oldest film studio, which this year is celebrating its 90th anniversary.
New films Leading the program is The Test, or Ispitanie (2014), which won three prizes at Sochi’s Kinotavr film festival in June. With its surreal soundtrack and desolate desert landscapes, this visually rich film was awarded Kinotavr’s main prize, as well as the Elephant trophy (the prize of the Guild of Film Critics and Film Scholars) and the award for best cinematography.
Set in 1949 in north-eastern Kazakhstan, the story follows the impact of a nuclear explosion on a father and daughter who live near the Soviet Union’s largest test site, at Semipalatinsk. From 1949 to 1989, the Soviet government conducted 456 nuclear tests at Semipalatinsk, with little care for the local population or the environment. The public health impact of the testing was not known until after the collapse of the USSR in 1991, and it is now estimated that radioactive fallout affected at least 200,000 residents, many of whom developed cancers and thyroid abnormalities. Film director Alexander Kott said wryly that he chose this story because he was interested in “everything to do with the end of the world”. Kott said he had been dreaming of making the film since he graduated 10 years ago from VGIK – Moscow’s Gerasimov Institute of Cinematography, one of the world's
oldest film schools. Reflecting on why Kinotavr awarded him the main prize for the “realisation of a dream”, he said: “Because I made this film the way I wanted, without following a producer’s dictates. The film industry is tuned to commercialisation, so to find a way to make a film – without words – where
life of Ivan Poddubny, a Soviet wrestling hero from the first half of the 20th century. Poddubny, whose sporting career spanned 45 years, began in a circus but went on to win six world championship and Olympic titles. Iron Ivan, which was a success with younger audiences, brought in $6.4 million at the
The Soviet government conducted 456 nuclear tests at Semipalatinsk
Film festival Kinotavr awarded The Test its main prize for the "realisation of a dream"
the story rests on the picture, that was the realisation of a dream for me.” Kott emphasised that The Test didn’t have the usual ingredients for box-office success, which he said were“sex, violence, murder, and blood”. A more mainstream popular film in the program's lineup is Iron Ivan, or Poddubny (2014) – a drama about the
Russian box office – something that surprised its director, Gleb Orlov. Orlov told RBTH that he had feared that the life of a Soviet strong man might prove too obscure for contemporary audiences, but these fears proved to be false. He said the story only seemed to spur people on to find out more details about Poddubny’s life.
Mosfilm's logo – Vera Mukhina’s sculpture The worker and the woman from the collective farm in front of the Kremlin’s Spasskaya Tower – is a striking example of Soviet monumental art. It is an image which has come to be associated with some of the world’s best cinema. The Soviet Union’s oldest film studio, which was established as Russia’s “first film factory” in 1923 by motion picture maker Aleksandr Khanzhonkov, produced works by Sergei Eisenstein and Andrei Tarkovsky. By 1991, Mosfilm had made more than 3000 films. The best-known of those included in this year’s retrospective is Akira Kurosawa’s Dersu Uzala – a 1975 SovietJapanese co-production, shot on 70mm film, which won the Golden Prize and the Prix FIPRESCI at the 9th Moscow International Film Festival and the 1976 Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. Made in Russia’s far east, the film is about an indigenous Nanai guide who agrees to help a Russian explorer and a troop of soldiers through the wilderness, and in doing so risks his life. The story is based on the 1923 memoir of Russian explorer Vladimir Arsenyev. Other films in the retrospective are the New Year comedy Carnival Night (1956), The White Sun of the Desert (1969) – an adventure classic, the war drama Liberation (1971), director Nikita Mikhalkov's award-winning Oblomov (1979) and the musical comedy Winter Evening in Gagrakh (1985). In Sydney, the festival will screen at Event Cinemas, in the city and Burwood, from October 30 to November 9, and in Melbourne, it will run at ACMI, Federation Square, from November 13 to 23. Tickets are already on sale. For more information, go to russianresurrection.com.
Just days after his 97th birthday, theatre director Yury Lyubimov died in his sleep on October 5, three days after being admitted to hospital in a Moscow. A key figure in Soviet and Russian theatre, Lyubimov was also internationally acclaimed. He directed performances at London’s Covent Garden, Milan’s La Scala and the Grand Opera in Paris. He is perhaps best remembered for his work at Moscow’s Taganka Theatre, where he resurrected avantgarde dramatic traditions of the 1920s that had been banned under Stalin.
Russian shares Michelin honour
NewYork restaurant Betony has been awarded a star in the latest Michelin Guide New York City 2015, which was released this month. This is the first time in the 114-year history of the guide that a Russian-owned restaurant has received a star. Betony’s owner, Russian restaurateur Andrei Dellos, heads the restaurant and catering company Maison Dellos, which has two restaurants in NewYork and eight in Moscow, with a ninth due to open next month. The highest Michelin rating is three stars and a restaurant cannot get more than one a year.
NEXT issue Discover more about Russian cuisine and culinary traditions with: useful tips from our authors workshops from Delicious TV and recipes from The Soviet Diet Cookbook
This issue was published with The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald on October 16th.