Page 1

asia.rbth.com

P8-9

The latest in spacesuits See what Russian cosmonauts will soon be sporting P12

This supplement is sponsored by Rossiyskaya Gazeta, which takes sole responsibility for its contents and is wholly independent of Nation Multimedia Group.

NASA

Startup boom RBTH profiles a few of the outstanding performers of the new tech generation

REUTERS

Thursday, August 27, 2015

August 29 - September 4, 2015

Russian performers set to cast a spell on Bangkok

RUSSIAN ARTISTS TO PERFOM AT BANGKOK’S INTERNATIONAL DANCE AND MUSIC FESTIVAL

PAGE 3 PRESS PHOTO

To those who lost loved ones in the act of terrorism committed in Bangkok, on Monday, August 17, we at Russia Beyond the Headlines offer you our sincerest condolences. Our thoughts are with you and those who were injured in the attack and their friends and families.


02

RUSSIA BEYOND THE HEADLINES

Far East

A global media project, sponsored by Rossiyskaya Gazeta (Russia) asia.rbth.com

Vladivostok Changing times

City gets welcome makeover from stifling Soviet era There is a sea change in official attitudes in the once-closed city. Old-school paranoia has been replaced with a large degree of openness. AJAY KAMALAKARAN RBTH YURI SMITYUK / TASS

This October the Far Eastern city of Vladivostok will become a free port

Logistics Strategic location alone will not ensure growth of free port

Vladivostok faces hurdles in achieving its ambition On the eve of Vladivostok a city in Russia’s Far East becoming a free port, despite many handicaps, let us look at the prospects for growth. VLADISLAV INOZEMTSEV SPECIAL TO RBTH

The port’s shortcomings Vladivostok is not an ideal location for a free port because it has a major naval

KOMMERSANT

In the early 20th century, Vladivostok was the largest port in its region, but now its significance is minimal. In 2014, it processed only 15.3 million tonnes of cargo, compared to the 390 million tonnes at the Chinese port of Dalian, 330 million tonnes in Busan, Korea, and almost 230 million tonnes in Nagoya, Japan. In an ocean-economy era, when the share of the maritime transport in international trade turnover amounts to 67-68 per cent and when more than 60 per cent of the global gross domestic product is produced in territories separated from the sea by less than 160 kilometres, this gap requires action. However, several factors are preventing Vladivostok’s port from increasing its throughput.

Dr Vladislav Inozemtsev is Director of Centre for Post-Industrial Studies.

There are few large stretches of free space in the city for the creation of industrial parks base and other military installations, together which use many of the city’s harbours. Another shortcoming is that there are few large stretches of free space in the city for the creation of industrial parks. Vladivostok is also more than 100 km away from the Chinese border. These three factors make it difficult for the city to compete with free zones in neighbouring Asian countries. Looking at a map, it is

easy to see the strategic importance of Russia’s Primorye Territory and also the fact that it cuts off a huge area of northern China from the sea. This includes three provinces: Heilongjiang, Jilin and Inner Mongolia areas which have a combined population of 90 million people and a GDP of $US750 billion.Goods produced here should be delivered to the ports of Dalian and Yingkou to be loaded on ships 1,100-2,300km away from the places where they were produced, to be sent both abroad and to the ports of southern China. Ideally, the port should be established at a minimum distance (20-25km) from the Chinese border and connect with the territory o f m o d e r n C h i n a by highway and railway - infrastructure that could also be given extraterritorial status. An area of about 200-250 square kilometres could be set aside around the port, surrounded with a wall, with customs and border check points set up, as has been done, for example, in Shenzhen, the Chinese province adjacent to Hong Kong.

Servicing China Given the scale of the econ-

omy of northern China, a new port could easily start processing 80-100 million tonnes per year as early as in five or six years. And according to experts at the Far Eastern Federal University, growth at Vladivostk’s port could increase Primorye’s GDP by 30-35 per cent above current levels, if growth levels at other ports, like Dubai, are anything to go by. The experience of rapid industrial development in China has shown that socalled greenfield projects – projects not developed in the course of “modernisation”of long-obsolete facilities, but set up “from scratch”– proved and continue to prove to be the most successful. The most recent example of this is the development of the project of“informational metropolis” in Qianhai near Shenzhen. Russia has long dreamt of becoming a leader in logistics, serving cargo flows between Asia and Europe. But as long as there is the Suez and as long as business leaders care about the price and quality of transport on Russian railways, why does Russia not try to cash in on the far shorter and more lucrative transshipment routes?

Just a few years ago, a visit toVladivostok gave foreigners a chance to see some of the rather unpleasant legacies of the Soviet Union. As soon as a domestic flight landed in the city, a police officer would come inside the aircraft and check the passports of all passengers before letting them get off. The police would also carefully scrutinise the documents of all passengers flying out of the city to make sure they registered with the authorities if they stayed more than three days. Long-term residents of the city used to mock such procedures by saying that the police were just following rules to the letter.

The airport experience in the city has been totally transformed and is hassle free On a flight from Hong Kong to the Russian Far Eastern city this week, I asked the crew for the migration card that all foreign visitors have to fill when entering Russia. When an airhostess of the Russian airline said she had no idea what I was talking about, I braced myself for a long session at the airport, filling the card and then waiting in a long queue at passport control and dealing with a visibly irritated immigration officer, since my flight landed at 12.40am. Instead, I was surprised to see that the airport had the automated printing system in place for migration cards. I was later told that this was done in time for the 2012 Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit. Passport control took less than 3 minutes and there was even a warm

smile on the face of the immigration officer. I spotted my suitcase almost immediately after clearing immigration. This was in contrast to my last trip when I waited half an hour for my suitcase (on a domestic flight that had about 25 passengers). The customs officials were also polite and (dare I say) friendly. I did not need to use the train to the city centre since a friend offered to pick me up from the airport, but I watched an official guide a couple from Hong Kong to the platform, and he spoke very good English. In the not-so distant past, another problem with the airport, which is located in the small town of Artem, an hour’s drive away from Vladivostok, was the taxi mafia. There would be no buses after 6pm from the airport and the taxi drivers waiting outside the airport would ask for ridiculous prices. Now, there are dedicated prepaid taxi offices inside the terminal. The airport experience in the city has been totally transformed and is hassle free. Visiting the city after a gap of eight long years, I was happy to see the transformation that it has undergone. All the heritage and pre-Civil War buildings in the city center have been tastefully restored. The famous rotunda with a view of the Amur Gulf has also been restored, but unfortunately, vandals have sprayed it with graffiti yet again! The parks and the lawns across the city centre are maintained well, and Vladivostok now feels more like an elegant European city than a rundown Soviet outpost. It remains to be seen how the city can compete for business with the likes of Busan, but the change in official attitudes has transformed Vladivostok, which is now one of the most tourist-friendly cities in northern Asia. Ajay Kamalakaran is the guest editor for asia.rbth. com and was editor of the Sakhalin Times.


RUSSIA BEYOND THE HEADLINES

Festival

A global media project, sponsored by Rossiyskaya Gazeta (Russia) asia.rbth.com

03

READ ONLINE:

QUESTIONS & ANSWERS

Russia to prioritize the development of its Far East asia.rbth.com/48583

Bangkok set for Russian cultural extravaganza

Which countries have benefited from Russia’s food embargo? asia.rbth.com/48587

PRESS PHOTO

Chinese devaluation of yuan is threat to Russian economy asia.rbth.com/48523

The Novosibirsk Ballet Theatre Company will have four performances of Swan Lake at The Bangkok International Festival.

JS Uberoi, the chairman of the Bangkok International Festival of Dance & Music, spoke to RBTH.

What are the Russian highlights at this year’s festival? We have a very interesting line up from Russia this year. The Novosibirsk State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre is staging three ballets: Swan Lake, La Bayadere (a Golden Mask-2009 production) and a Gala Performance. All the events are under the direction of Artistic Ballet Director Igor Zelensky, who is a People’s Artist of Russia and a winner of the Golden Mask, as well as a laureate of the State Prize of Novosibirsk. The Prima Ballerina is Anna Zharova, a People’s Artist of Russia and a winner of the Golden Mask Award. All three ballets are accompanied by the Thailand Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Alexander Novikov, also a Golden Mask winner at the National Theatre Festival, 2013. A fantastic collaboration is taking place be-

tween the two countries for the first time, and this is very significant. The other Russian company travelling with over 190 artists, singers, dancers and musicians is the Samara Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre, which is bringing two operas. The two-act Prince Igor and three-act Tosca. Both operas are accompanied by the Symphony Orchestra of Samara under the baton of Alexander Anissimov, Golden Mask winner for the best conductor in the 2005 Golden Mask Festival. Both Prince Igor and Tosca are enormous productions and both productions haveYuri Alexandrov, another Golden Mask awardee as director. The art director for both is Vyacheslav Okunev, yet another Golden Mask recipient. The productions of the Novosibirsk State Academic Opera and Ballet Thea-

PRESS PHOTO

The Bangkok International Festival of Dance & Music was established in 1999 to strengthen Thailand’s cultural ties with the rest of the world and to improve the standard of music and dance in the country. It is now one of the largest cultural events in Asia. There is a large Russian presence at this year’s festival. JS Uberoi, chairman of the Media Transasia Group, who is also the chairman of the festival, spoke to RBTH about the Russian programmes being offered to audiences at the event.

tre and Samara Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre are exactly of the same standard and quality as those staged in Russia. These are huge productions with elaborate sets. Both companies are bringing in four 40-foot containers each. So you can well imagine the scale of the production, eight container loads is huge. Besides the operas, the Symphony Orchestra of Samara Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre will also present a Symphony Concert. The orchestra is also accompanied by a chorus and singers. The first part of the programme is devoted to Tchaikovsky’s Fantasy Overture ‘Romeo & Juliet and Festival Overture 1812, Opus 49, while the second part showcases Beethoven’s Symphony No.9, Opus 125 What do you think Thai audiences find most attractive about Russian performing arts? Thai audiences are attracted to the quality and the grand spectacle that Russian companies bring to the stage. Russian operas and ballets have also inspired local artists and thus have helped improve the quality of performances in Thailand. In the seventeen years the festival has been running, it’s hosted many outstanding Russian artists. Which companies and performers do you think really captured the hearts of local audience? Russian theatre groups that

performed for the Bangkok International Festival of Dance & Music have had an enormous impact on the art and culture scene. They have delighted the audiences and inspired local artistes. Bangkok had only three ballet schools and no opera theatres. Today, inspired by productions of companies like Theater, Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Music Theatre, Helikon Opera Moscow and Kremlin Ballet, Bangkok has more than 20 ballet schools and three opera companies. The festival has many sponsors in Thailand, but does it also have any official support from Russia theatre companies? So far in its 17 years, the festival has received no support from the Russian government, but of course they support their own opera and ballet companies. Bear in mind that Russian companies have been well represented at the festival almost every year. In contrast, several European nations and the US have supported the festival every time their companies have performed. For 17 years, the festival has single-handedly promoted Russian art and culture, and educated Thai audiences about the greatness of Russian art and culture. I feel it is time the Russian government showed its appreciation by providing support. Interview by Irina Vinokurova

Gazprom puts cost of Turkish Stream at €13.6 billion asia.rbth.com/48479

Wheels of change: Russia’s cycling revolution gathers speed asia.rbth.com/48517

Rise of the clones: Chinese knockoffs undercut Russian arms exports asia.rbth.com/48345

SUBSCRIPTION


04

RUSSIA BEYOND THE HEADLINES

Business

A global media project, sponsored by Rossiyskaya Gazeta (Russia) asia.rbth.com

Trade Blacklisted companies may face difficulties amid the ongoing political tug-of-war

Russia unfazed by US sanctions ALEXEI LOSSAN RBTH

IN NUMBERS

300 tonnes On August 6 the Russian authorities destoyed 300 tonnes of illegal food imports.

The distruction of illigally imported Western food products sparked huge protests online.

US companies are forbidden from doing any business with members on the blacklist

deputy director of the Department of Capital Markets and Financial Engineering at the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, described the extension of the sanctions list as “more of

a political move rather than economic,” speculating that the decision may be related to Russia’s recent blocking of a UN Security Council resolution on creating a tribunal to try those responsible for the shooting down of Ma-

REUTERS

The extension of the sanctions against Russian companies and individuals will first and foremost lead to greater import substitution, Russian experts told RBTH. The American government once again expanded the scope of the sanctions against Russia on July 30, imposing restrictive measures against 11 individuals and 15 legal entities supposedly involved in schemes aimed at bypassing the earlier sanctions, introduced gradually since March 2014 to punish Russia for its role in the Ukrainian crisis. The new list includes relatives and business partners of Gennady Timchenko and Boris Rotenberg – considered close friends

of Russian President Vladimir Putin – but also i n t ro d u c e s s a n c t i o n s against branches of Russia’s main development institute,Vnesheconombank, and the country’s largest oil company, state-owned Rosneft. Rotenberg’s son Roman has also been included on the list, along with the Finnish company Langvik Capital, whose properties include a small hotel near Helsinki called Langvik. According to Finnish media, this hotel is supposedly owned by the Rotenberg family. Finnish businessman Kai Paananen also appears on the list“for his material support to Mr Timchenko”and to a series of companies owned by Russian. American companies are forbidden from doing any kind of business with members on the blacklist, whose assets on US territory will be frozen. Konstantin Korischenko,

SERGEY MEDVEDEV / TASS

The expansion of the scope of US sanctions against Russia in July will only lead to the strengthening of import substitution, many experts believe.

laysian Airlines Flight MH17 in July 2014. The American government believes that the Russian companies that were earlier placed on the US blacklist are using their subsidiaries to bypass the sanctions, so subsidiaries belonging to Rosneft and Vnesheconombank, including the bank’s VEB Capital subdivision, have been placed on the list. VEB Capital is one of the investors in the construction of the Turkish Stream gas pipeline in Greece. The project presupposes the laying of a pipeline along the Black Sea seabed from Russia to a distribution hub in Turkey and then to the countries of southern Europe. Russian experts believe that the blacklisted companies may experience problems with payments in American currency. “The United States’ decision is a logical part of the latest events of the sanctions war being fought by the two countries, which is why we can’t call it unexpected,” said Anton Soroko, chief analyst at the Finam investment holding. “It should not have a big influence on the Russian economy.”

BEYOND THE FUTURE Russia Direct is a forum for experts and senior Russian and international decision-makers to discuss, debate and understand issues in geopolitical relations at a sophisticated level.

RUSSIA-DIRECT.ORG June Report HI-TECH AND SCIENCE CITIES

In June, Russia Direct released a new brief examining the topic of Russian hi-tech and science cities. New efforts to modernise the Russian economy have taken on an even greater significance with the introduction of Western sanctions and the recent volatility in global energy markets. This report highlights the early successes and challenges of Russia’s modernisation drive, with an emphasis on the role of the state in supporting innovation efforts at the local level, primarily through creation of new technoparks.

REGISTER TODAY AND GET A 30% DISCOUNT AT: WWW.RUSSIA-DIRECT.ORG/SUBSCRIBE

SCO’s next big challenge: Keeping the peace in Asia Rakesh Krishnan Simha JOUNALIST

T

he Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) – founded by Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan – is often mocked in the western media as the“Club of Dictators”.With India, the world’s largest democracy, joining this regional security forum, such jokes have started going stale. Unlike the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Afria) which is a rock star in the global media, the SCO has mostly operated away from the limelight. But the SCO has a wider footprint that stretches from Europe to the Pacific Ocean. And with India’s inclusion, the group covers nearly half the world’s population.The group has been

remarkably effective at keeping the peace in Central Asia. Pan Guang, director of the SCO Studies Centre in Shanghai, writes that the organisation has stabilised some 15,000km of land borders in Asia, constituting a major contribution to regional security. “The SCO’s counter-terrorism campaign is of strategic significance for the whole of Asia. Not least because the terrorist groups in Southeast Asia (which are potentially capable of disrupting energy supplies throughout the Indonesian archipelago) have close ties with the groups in Central and South Asia,” he says. In “Rising States, Rising Institutions: Challenges for Global Governance’”Gregory Chin writes: “Despite its brief history, some experts see the SCO as potentially evolving into one of the more powerful international organisations

to emerge out of post-Cold War Asia.” Nikolas Gvosdev writes in the National Interest that the SCO was a product of efforts in the 1990s to finally and definitely resolve the border disputes between China and the successor states of the Soviet Union. “When that process was completed, both Moscow

The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation has stabilised 15,000km of borders in Asia and Beijing realised that the possibility for rivalry between them in Central Asia, plus the shared interests of all the states of the region in beating back challenges to the political status quo – particularly the threat of violent insurgencies against

the existing authoritarian rulers – created a need for some sort of ongoing forum to continue the high-level contacts that had been forged during the negotiations over the final disposition of the frontiers.” According to authors Zhang Yunling and Tang Shiping,“the SCO is becoming an anchor for stability in the Eurasian heartland” and is mainly a response to the growing western presence in the region. Gvosdev agrees. “Worries about the ability of the US to project its power deep into the Eurasia also helped to bring together Vladimir Putin and Jiang Zemin to move ahead with the transformation of the more informal Shanghai dialogue into an actual international organisation in 2001,” he says. Rakesh Krishnan Simha, a New Zealand-based writer, writes for asia.rbth.com


RUSSIA BEYOND THE HEADLINES

Business

A global media project, sponsored by Rossiyskaya Gazeta (Russia) asia.rbth.com

Aviation A new lease of life for Russia’s struggling civil aircraft industry

COMMENT

Sukhoi set for take-off to lucrative Chinese market

The road ahead for Thai-Russian trade ties Sourat Rakhimbabaev EXPERT

T

A new agreement with China should help Sukhoi tap into the Asian market. The Superjet faces tough competition from other manufacturers. ALEXANDER KOROLKOV SPECIAL TO RBTH

MARINA LYSTSEVA / TASS

Russia will supply 100 civilian aircraft Sukhoi Superjet (SSJ) to China over the next three years, Russian Industry and Trade Minister Denis Manturov told media in July. According to the minister, five SSJ planes will be delivered to China this year. However, it is necessary to take into account that the planes are not sold, but transferred to a joint leasing company, which will distribute them in the markets of China and neighbouring countries, where everything will depend on the demand of local carriers. The once-powerful Soviet civil aircraft industry fell into decline a long time ago. This decline continued throughout the 1980s, when the number of aircraft produced was gradually reduced. Soviet aircraft became obsolete, while the defeated and disintegrated industry could offer nothing new to replace them. The share of domestic passenger aircraft in Russia’s largest airlines’ fleets only amounts to about 6 per cent. In 2014, the United Aircraft Corporation (UAC), which was created to save the domestic aircraft indus-

Russia plans to supply 100 civilian SSJ to China over the next three years.

try, produced only 37 civilian aircraft. The project to create the SSJ began in 2003 and was initially focused on the global markets. The creators of the aircraft from the design bureau Sukhoi, who have never been engaged in major civil aircraft, opted for a broad partnership with foreign companies, citing the need to accommodate all the best technology into the plane and to make it as globally competitive as possible. As a result, the share of foreign components in the aircraft is greater than 50 per cent, and it would be a stretch to call the SSJ Russian. The Superjet competes in the 100-seat class with Bombardier and Embraer. In two years, it will have two more strong competitors, China’s Comac and Ja-

The successful Superjet-100 The Superjet-100 is said to be the most important and successful civil aircraft programme of the Russian aerospace industry. Russian aircraft manufacturer Sukhoi has created the Sukhoi Superjet-100 in a partnership with the well-known Italian aviation company Alenia Aermacchi. The SSJ-100 is the first

100-seat jet with a full flyby-wire (FBW) system, which provides full flight protection, enabling the aircraft to operate safety under the widest range of conditions. The 100-seat airliner can sustain flight at 870kph. In December 2014, Thailand signed a contract to buy three SSJ-100 for the royal court.

pan’s Mitsubishi Regional Jet (MRJ). The global market for regional aircraft is estimated at 3,000 units, of which the US and EU markets, which “are effectively closed for Russian producers,”account for 70 per cent, according to UAC head Yury Slyusar. As a result, Russia can

count on its own market as well as the Latin America, Africa and Asia. Outside Russia, the SSJ has so far achieved its only notable success in Mexico, where a local company purchased 20 Russian aircraft. All other sales of the plane have been limited to one plane at a time.

YOUR RELIABLE SOURCE FOR NEWS & CURRENT AFFAIRS IN RUSSIA’S UNCHARTED AREAS

83% say they trust asia.rbth.com as a source of opinions from Russian experts 81% say that asia.rbth.com provides information and analysis that goes beyond other media coverage of Russia

77% say our online products are relevant to everyone − not just to readers with a special interest in Russia T h i s d a t a i s f ro m t h e R BT H o n l i n e a u d i e n ce re s e a rc h st u d y, M a rc h 1 5 , 2 01 5

he sixth RussiaThailand Intergovernmental Commission on Bilateral Cooperation met in Moscow in July. The meeting was co-chaired by Denis Manturov, Russia’s Minister of Industry and Trade of Russia and Tanasak Patimapragorn, Thailand’s Deputy Prime Minister and then Foreign Minister. A large delegation representatives of major Thai ministries accompanied Patimapragorn. The sides discussed the progress in the implementation of agreements signed between the countries when Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev visited Thailand in April. There were the usual expressions of desire to increase cooperation in manufacturing, agriculture and investment. Do such meetings and subsequent agreements bring any tangible benefits for businesses and ordinary citizens? Ten agreements were signed as a result Medvedev’s April visit to Thailand. We, the members of the business community, truly hope that all of them will be implemented. The Russian prime minister noted that last year our trade turnover grew by almost 20 per cent to around US$5 billion, according to Thai estimates. The positive trend continues this year as well, despite economic difficul-

JOIN A GLOBAL ONLINE NETWORK WITH A RUSSIAN FOCUS

05

ties. Trade ties have been on the upswing for a while. There is already an agreement for Russia to supply Sukhoi Superjet-100 (SSJ100) civil aircraft. Russian truck manufacturer KamAZ has successfully entered the Southeast Asian market. We will celebrate when passengers in Thailand fly on SSJ-100s. KamAZ is eyeing big orders in the Kingdom and offers quality trucks that are more competitively priced than its Japanese or European counterparts. Russia and Thailand have set a bilateral trade target of US$10 billion in the next five years. For this, we also need to remove trade barriers. Areas of mutual interest include energy, food supplies, Thai participation in the Russian agricultural sector, as well as global navigation systems and space exploration. Moscow and Bangkok recognise the benefits of further investment cooperation, especially in sectors such as food processing and automotive parts. Thailand is also keen to invest in Russia’s upcoming special economic zones. The countries also decided to establish five pairs of so-called cluster cities: Bangkok-Moscow; RayongVladivostok; Samut Prakan-Yekaterinburg; Songkhla-Kazan; and Chiang Mai-Sochi. The writer is the executive director of the Thai-Russian Chamber of Commerce.

asia.rbth.com


06

RUSSIA BEYOND THE HEADLINES

Business

A global media project, sponsored by Rossiyskaya Gazeta (Russia) asia.rbth.com

Military Indonesia needs a military transport plane after one of its C-130 Hercules aircraft crashed recently

RBTH looks at Russian alternatives to the C-130, and other possible options that could be chosen for the modernisation of the Indonesian Air Force. ALEXANDER KOROLKOV SPECIAL TO RBTH

After a C-130 Hercules military transport plane crashed in Indonesia and claimed 140 lives, the country’s air force said it would conduct “market research to find a replacement for these aircraft and upgrade its fleet.” The United States, France and Russia were named as some of the countries that could supply replacements for ageing Indonesian aircraft. RBTH looks at Russian alternatives to the C-130, and other options for

The Indonesian air force said it would conduct market research for replacements

a modified wing was used for the Il-476.The plane also has a new control system, new fuel system, new autopilot, a new digital sighting and navigation system, as well as a ‘glass’ cockpit (controls were made using LCDs). The Il-476 is capable of carrying loads of up to 60 tonnes with a cruising speed of 770-800 km/h over a distance of up to 5,000 km.

Il-476 (Il-76MD-90A)

MTS (Il-214)

This is a modification of the Il-76. The Russian military took a liking to the new plane, and ordered 39 aircrafts. The only thing the Il-476 has in common with its predecessor is the fuselage. New engines were installed and

The multi-purpose transport aircraft (MTS) is a joint project between Russia and India. It was created to replace the An-12, An-26 and An-72.The project’s research and development documentation is being completed at the moment. The Il-214 can

the modernisation of the Indonesian Air Force. So what might interest the Indonesian military in the arsenal of Russian aircraft manufacturers?

PRESS PHOTO

Russia has options for new aircraft in Indonesia Il-476, a military transport aircraft, may well be of interest to the Indonesian Air Force.

be operated in mountainous areas. It can also land on unpaved runways. The dimensions of the prospective aircraft’s cargo hold correspond to the characteristics of the Il-76, but at the same time, it is a lighter class of aircraft capable of carrying only up to 12 tons over a distance of up to 3,700 km or 20 tonnes over a distance of up to 2,000 km.

Tu-330 This aircraft is also in a developmental stage. It can re-

place both the An-12 and the heavier Il-76 on middledistance flights. Like other Russian military transport aircraft, it can be operated from unpaved runways. It is similar to the civil version of the Tu-214, which is already being produced. In case of an urgent order, the aircraft can be designed and certified in a very short time. Tu-330 can carry up to 35 tonnes over a distance of up to 3,000 km, and with a load of 20 tonnes, can fly over 5,600 km.

Il-112V This small military transport aircraft is another model that could potentially interest the Indonesian Air Force. These aircraft are designed to carry up to 6 tons of cargo over a distance of 6,000 km. The aircraft can be used for takeoff and landing on short runways, with a length of 1000 metres. An important feature of the Il-112V is an increased width and height of the cargo hold.

Energy ESCAP brings together experts to share their insights

July Monthly Brief

BRICS and the changes in globalisation This summer, Russia Direct takes a look at the BRICS countries. Since the creation of the term in 2001, much has changed both in the global economy and for the countries themselves. What role can these emerging economies play in the global economic scene today? This brief examines the way the BRICS have performed at different stages of globalisation and what BRICS 2.0 looks like. It also takes an in-depth look at BRICSspecific initiatives, such as the new development bank.

REGISTER TODAY AND GET A 30% DISCOUNT AT: WWW.RUSSIA-DIRECT.ORG/SUBSCRIBE

Preparing for challenges ahead A meeting in Irkutsk in September will give energy experts the chance to discuss the development of the energy sector in Asia. IRINA VINOKUROVA RBTH

The Melentiev Energy Systems Institute of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Irkutsk will host the 2015 Expert Group Meeting (EGM) on Energy Integration for Sustainable Development in Asia and the Pacific, organised by the ESCAP secretariat, from September 14 to 16. The meeting will enable experts to share insights on the development of the energy sector in the region, and will be divided into four main sessions. 1. The current energy scene and emerging energy trends in Asia and the Pa-

ALAMY/LEGION MEDIA

RUSSIA DIRECT IS A FORUM FOR EXPERTS AND SENIOR RUSSIAN AND INTERNATIONAL DECISION-MAKERS TO DISCUSS, DEBATE AND UNDERSTAND ISSUES IN GEO-POLITICAL RELATIONS AT A SOPHISTICATED LEVEL.

600 million people in Asia don’t have access to electricity.

cific; 2. Review of the progress of the Asian and Pacific Energy Forum Plan of Action; 3. Promotion of trans-boundary power trade; 4. Increasing access to modern energy services through strengthened policies, institutions, and programmes. “The meeting in Irkutsk

will mostly be devoted to a discussion of what the AREF Plan,”Sergey Tulinov, Economic Affairs Officer in the Energy Security and Water Resources Section of the Environment and Development Division, ESCAP, told RBTH. He added that the priorities and execution of the

plan would be discussed. “At the moment, more than 600 million people have no access to modern energy supplies in Asia,” he said. The findings of the expert meeting in Irkutsk will be presented for consideration to the countries during the ESCAP Energy Dialogue, to be held in Bangkok on November 24 and 25. ESCAP will also hold another event in Irkutsk on September 17 – a round table on cooperation in Northeast Asia to discuss joint projects in the field of electricity. It will involve experts and representatives of the largest energy companies from the Russian Federation, China, Japan, Mongolia and South Korea. The results of this round table will also be presented at a meeting in Bangkok in late November.


RUSSIA BEYOND THE HEADLINES

Society

A global media project, sponsored by Rossiyskaya Gazeta (Russia) asia.rbth.com

07

Public safety A new information campaign aims to raise awareness about risks in blind pursuit of memorable shots

Fatal consequences of selfie craze The health and safety risks associated with taking dangerous selfies have become a focus for Russia’s Interior Ministry.

A risky indulgence that can be fatal

IGOR ROZIN RBTH

INSTAGRAM.COM/K177OK/

Russia’s Interior Ministry issued a leaflet this July titled ‘Safe Selfies’, after a number of accidents in which young people died or were seriously injured while trying to take pictures of themselves on smart phones. The Ministry also published a report on its web site, which said that the ‘Safe Selfie’ campaign was primarily targeted at young people. “We have tried to illustrate, using icons, the most dangerous scenarios for taking selfies,” said the report. “We want to warn people against taking undue risks for memorable shots,” it said. The two-page leaflet says that the risks associated with selfies are that a person can be distracted, not look around, not perceive dangers around them or lose their balance. The leaflet also spells out that health-andsafety considerations should be given more priority than getting likes on social media.“Take selfies only after making sure that you are in a safe place and your life is not in danger,”the leaflet says. It also recommends against taking selfies on railway tracks, on water, with animals, on the rooftops, on top of train carriages, while holding weapons, or while driving.

Each tip is accompanied with an icon in the form of a prohibition sign and caption. With a retro look and feel, the brochure on this new phenomeonon looks reminiscent of Soviet-era public information posters. The leaflet’s slogans include: “A selfie on the road – and you’ll have no time to click,”and:“A selfie while driving can make your trip much shorter.”According to the Interior Ministry, since the beginning of this year, more than 100 people have been injured and an estimated 10 have died in Russia while trying to take selfies. For instance, on May 21,

Each tip is accompained with an icon in the form of a prohibition sign and caption

6 ultradangerous Russian selfies

asia.rbth.com/48291

According to Russia’s Ministry of Internal Affairs, the country has seen at least 10 deaths and 100 accidents occur this year when people were trying to take selfies. As rates of smart-phone ownership increase worldwide, accidents associated with their use are also increasing. ABC News reported this July that new research from the UK revealed that one in five young Britons take selfies while driving. The research showed that young men were more likely than young women to snap selfies when behind the wheel. The research suggested that this was a sensation-seeking, citing that the men said that they were more likely to take driving-selfies when they were bored.

a teenager was hospitalised having suffered a head injury and electrocution, in the Moscow region, after he fell and grabbed somepower lines, while trying to take a selfie from on top of some concrete blocks he had climbed. On the same day in Moscow, a 21-yearold woman died after accidentally shooting herself while posing for a selfie with a gun. And on the evening of July 4, another young woman died after she fell from a 10-metre-high bridge in Moscow while posing for a selfie. It is hoped that the campaign will raise awareness about the safety risks.


08

RUSSIA BEYOND THE HEADLINES

Special

A global media project, sponsored by Rossiyskaya Gazeta (Russia) asia.rbth.com

RUSSIAN STARTUPS IN RECENT YEARS, RUSSIA HAS HAD A BOOM IN STARTUPS. RBTH LOOKS AT ONE THAT HAS A PRODUCT TO INCREASE PRODUCTIVITY

Already quite popular in Russia, CrocoTime is designed for big companies and is capable of monitoring up to 10,000 users simultaneously. DINARA MAMEDOVA SPECIAL TO RBTH

With 20,000 employees already under its watchful eye, CrocoTime is quite popular with some of Russia’s biggest companies, including global energy giant Gazprom, leading financer Tinkoff Bank, as well as the local branch of Danish shoe retailer Ecco. But what is so special about the program? CrocoTime is installed on the client company’s server and comes with so-called “monitoring agents” that access employees’ computers. The software tracks websites that are visited

and programs that are used, and sorts all activity into three categories: productive, unproductive and incidental. It is, of course, up to the client to decide what is good or bad for their employees. “Incidental activity is something that stands apart,” says Alexander Bo-

Most companies reduce the amount of wasted time from 25-30 per cent to 5-7 per cent chkin, CEO of Infomaximum. “Basically, this is when an employee uses tools that he is not supposed to use, going beyond his direct responsibilities. Such

’THE IDEAL POSITION HAS BEEN FOUND!’: OUTER SPACE CHIT CHAT rbth.com/48549

activity shows the company has some management issues. For instance, one of the companies we worked with found out their client relations managers spent about 60 per cent of their time working in Microsoft Word, drafting contracts manually after having detected that the department had switched to using document templates.” CrocoTime also has the ability to track idleness: if someone’s keyboard and mouse do not get used for some time, the software considers the employee as absent. A perpetual licence for a “monitoring agent” is currently priced at 2,560 rubles (US$47.80) per employee computer. According to Bochkin, due to his software most companies reduce the amount of wasted time from 25-30 per cent to 5-7 per cent. CrocoTime is not the only employee monitoring software available on the Russian market. Other products include Distsiplina, OfisMETRIKA, Stakhanovite andYawareOnline – all possessing similar capabilities, including tracking website activity and calculating hours worked.“CrocoTime falls somewhere higher than the middle of the price range and is designed for larger companies,”Bochkin says. However, developers claim that CrocoTime has several advantages over other companies. Firstly, the program can track the activity of up to 10,000 users simultaneously. Secondly, it generates statistics not only for each employee, but also for each subdivision of the company for a specified period of time, whether it is a week, a month or a year. Lastly, it includes automatic settings for certain de-

EVGENY KURSKOV / TASS

KEEPING AN EYE ON EMPLOYEES

CrocoTime is a system which lets employers decide what aspects of their employees’ activities they will monitor.

partments such as accounting or IT. According to Bochkin, Infomaximum seeks to promote Crocotime in Europe, North America and Asia. However, Sergei Akashkin, an investment analyst for Prostor Capital, believes demand for the program both abroad and in Russia will be limited. Akashkin believes that the productivity of employees generally depends on the time of day and this factor can influence the accuracy of the data collected by the software and in turn have an impact on the demand and sales growth. Besides, he adds, employees have recently started to circumvent monitoring attempts by using tablets and smartphones to surf the internet while at work. Most managers understand that and do not see the use in installing monitoring software.

Time spent on social media (Jan 2015)


RUSSIA BEYOND THE HEADLINES

Special

A global media project, sponsored by Rossiyskaya Gazeta (Russia) asia.rbth.com

09

Apps People can now chat in private with no Internet

Revolutionary app takes messaging to new heights The developers of FireChat have unveiled a new version of the app that has gained popularity after protests in Iraq and Hong Kong. ANDREI RASKIN SPECIAL TO RBTH

asia.rbth.com/startups

Telegram to rival WhatsApp

GETTY IMAGES

ALYONA REPKINA

In the past five months, the number of Telegram messaging app users has increased by 12 million, reaching 62 million people. Telegram was created in 2013, and it was immediately oriented towards the international market and had an English interface. In an interview with the New York Times, its founder Pavel Durov said the idea of the messenger service came to him after Russia’s Federal Security Service demanded that he delete opposition communities from his Vkontakte social network. Durov refused these demands, and special service agents tried putting pressure on him and searched both his and his parents’ apartments. The entrepreneur then realised that he didn’t have a

safe channel for communicating with friends and family. So he decided to create a secure messaging app. To protect the data that users exchange, Durov created the MTProto protocol. It uses several encryption systems, and the app also offers a secure chat option. Thanks to this, user data is safe and can’t be stolen.

This year the number of FireChat users exceeded 5 million people, and its developers have ambitious plans to raise that figure to 5 billion. Until recently, the messaging app made it possible to communicate in group chats open to everyone, but the new FireChat will allow users to exchange private messages. All private messages in FireChat are coded and only the sender and the recipient can read them.“Forget about SMS and IM; an era of peer-to-peer networks is coming,” said Micha Benoliel, a co-founder and CEO of Open Garden. “Our invention is a step towards the next phase in the development of the Internet: networks created by the people and for the people.” The offline messenger that operates without Internet connection or mobile signal became popular thanks to civil protests. The first to appreciate FireChat were protesters in Taiwan, who in March 2014 took to the streets to speak up against the signing of a trade agreement with China. It then became popular in Iraq, where the authorities restricted access to social networks as a way of countering the spread of radical Islam. The use of the app peaked during the Hong Kong protests in September 2014. It was then in the Google Play store for Android smartphones that FireChat made it into the “from 500,000 to 1 million” users category. The app’s user base grew further thanks to protests in Moscow, and in Paris after the Charlie Hebdo attack. The developers are now trying to shed the image of the app as a revolutionary tool.“Indeed, FireChat became popular thanks to various protests around the

world. But I see it as my task to get rid of this revolutionary subtext,” said Anton Merkulov, the Open Garden rep in Moscow. In order to communicate via FireChat, users must be within 60 metres of each other. This allows them to create a peer-to-peer network. Inside it, messages are sent from user to user. FireChat makes it possible to exchange text messages

The first to appreciate FireChat were protesters in Taiwan in March 2014 and pictures. In the future, developers hope it will be able to transmit voice and video too. Open Garden will now focus on boosting daily use of FireChat. The top four countries where it is most popular are the US, Hong Kong, India, and Russia. Anton Merkulov points out that the company is now mostly interested in developing countries, where there are still areas with patchy cellular coverage. According to experts, one of FireChat’s weaknesses is

security. A Finnish expert in cyber-security, Mikko Hypponen of F-Secure Corporation, told the Slush conference in November 2014 that some of the messages during the unrest in Hong Kong were sent to the protesters by the Chinese government in order to identify the organisers. However, according to the developers, registration does not require data that would make it possible to identify users. In addition, FireChat has an in-built algorithm that makes it possible to control any technical interference with the system, including spamming. Open Garden has already presented a prototype of a personal server, GreenStone, the size of a key ring, which will make it possible to store and send messages via FireChat. The developers are convinced that it will make the app even more reliable. FireChat: ‘Everything happens in the app’

asia.rbth.com/40299

RUSSIAN START-UP WANTS TO CLEAN ASIA rbth.com/48403


10

RUSSIA BEYOND THE HEADLINES

Opinion

A global media project, sponsored by Rossiyskaya Gazeta (Russia) asia.rbth.com

FRANCE CANNING WARSHIP SALE MAY BE A BLESSING

IORSH

Georgy Bovt ANALYST

F

rance’s controversial plan to sell Mistral helicopter carriers to Russia has finally been scrapped, by the French government, and the issue of compensating Moscow for this decision has been resolved. There is a Russian saying which may be fitting in this situation: Whatever happens, happens for the best.” Russian officials first came up with the idea to purchase the ships back in 2008. This was largely a politically motivated deal: Russia-France relations were on the rise thanks to French President Nicolas Sarkozy not only playing a crucial part in re-

solving Russia’s conflict with Georgia, but also helping to minimise its impact on relations between Russia and the West in general. While Russia’s then-president Dmitry Medvedev supported the deal, Russian President Vladimir Putin, then prime minister, was not keen on it. Moreover, as Putin revealed two years ago, “We signed these contracts primarily to support our partners and offer some work to their shipyards. Frankly speaking, it’s of little consequence to us or our defence capability.” Indeed, the French warships were doomed to become an outcasts within the Russian navy from the start. First and foremost, Russia would become reliant on foreign replacement parts

which would not comply with Russian standards. Granted, this is something you can live with – provided you are on good terms with the supplier. But what happens if the country faces sanctions? Secondly, there were some serious doubts as to whether the navy actually had any need for these expensive “toys”. The Mistral-class vessels are versatile: They can serve as both flagships and as command and control centres during naval combat. Incidentally, one of the reasons for the purchase was to try and obtain some insight into modern naval combat techniques used by Western countries. However, the main purpose of the Mistral ships is to land and support ground forces on enemy

RUSSIA BEYOND THE HEADLINES (RBTH) IS PUBLISHED BY RUSSIAN DAILY NEWSPAPER ROSSIYSKAYA GAZETA. ITS PRODUCTION DOES NOT INVOLVE THE EDITORIAL STAFF OF NATION MULTIMEDIA GROUP. 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 EMAIL EDITORTH@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 EXECUTIVE PRODUCER GLEB FEDOROV EXECUTIVE EDITOR KUMAR KRISHNAN ASSOCIATE EDITOR (THE NATION) DARIA STRELAVINA ASSISTANT EDITOR

territory while remaining far from shore. The problem is Russia does not stage such operations – they are not even mentioned in the country’s naval doctrine.The only thing Moscow would use these ships for would be landing a force in Syria to help President Bashar al-Assad’s regime and, maybe, fighting pirates near the coast of Somalia. But do those missions really justify such a high cost? In fact, the Mistral ships did not fit into the traditional strategy for the deployment of Russian naval infantry troops. To elaborate, unlike Russia’s amphibious warfare ships (which, admittedly, are obsolete and in need of modernisation), Mistral ships cannot approach beaches. Moreover, they need supplementary equipment to be able to land heavy vehicles, not to mention the fact that they are not capable of carrying a great number of such vehicles in the first place. The deployment of this equipment takes time, and in the interim each vessel needs to be protected by a group of escort ships – which, given the standard strategy for amphibious warfare described above, are not at all numerous within the Russian navy. These technical issues and inconsistencies were numerous, so the ships would probably have needed to be modified further once delivered to Russia – while it was doubtful they would see any use at all. But it is a pity Russia wasted seven years on the Mistral deal. But, to recap, “anything that happens, happens for the best”. The author is a political scientist and a member of the Foreign and Defence Policy Council. Full version at asia.rbth.com/48515

A YEAR AFTER MH17 CRASH Vitaly Leibin JOUNALIST

O

n July 17, 2014, the world witnessed the most horrible of tragedies in the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine. That afternoon, in Ukraine’s Donetsk region, Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was brought crashing to the ground, killing all 298 people on board. Social opinion in the West and in Ukraine has been convinced from the very beginning that the guilty party

Killing of civilians in Donetsk is as unacceptable as the deaths of the MH17 passengers in the tragedy is either proRussian Donbass rebels or the Russian government. And it’s possible that the official investigation will confirm one of these theories. But as long as the inquiry remains incomplete, people are forced to base their judgments on politically motivated and emotionally charged statements from representatives of the various parties involved in the investigation. Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has said that the investigation is close to identifying the culprits, but has not named them. The report already exists in a preliminary version, which has been sent to specialists from various countries. For now the pub-

ANDREY SHIMARSKIY ART DIRECTOR ANDREY ZAITSEV HEAD OF PHOTO DEPT MILLA DOMOGATSKAYA HEAD OF PRE-PRINT DEPT MARIA OSHEPKOVA LAYOUT 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) 988 9213 FAX +7 (495) 988 9213 ADDRESS 24 PRAVDY STR, BLDG 4, FLOOR 7, 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 EDITORTH@RBTH.COM WITH YOUR REQUEST. RBTH IS NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR UNSOLICITED MANUSCRIPTS AND PHOTOS. © COPYRIGHT 2015, FSFI ROSSIYSKAYA GAZETA. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED THIS ISSUE WAS SENT INTO PRINT ON AUGUST 25, 2015

lic knows about this version only from the leak broadcast by CNN, citing unnamed sources. Concerning the most important moral and political point of view, in the last year world public opinion has had to satisfy itself with not always plausible statements made by governments that have their own aims in the Ukrainian war. The second most important source of information – “unnamed sources”– has been the often mendacious or partly edited material from social networks or opinions from experts who base their conclusions on“open information”. In all wars, lies are told on all sides. In the Ukrainian conflict, not only are the direct participants lying, but so are their influential backers – the West on one side and Russia on the other. Never before has there been such a loss of criticality in western public debate than there has been in the discussions and evaluations of this event. The main reason for the tragedy is the war in Ukraine. In order to discover the truth and not unleash a new spiral of bloodshed, public debate in the West needs to become more critical. The killing of civilians in Donetsk or in Gorlovka is just as unacceptable as the deaths of the passengers of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17. Vitaly Leibin is a Russian journalist and editor-inchief of the magazine Russky Reporter. Full version at asia.rbth.com/47847

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 EDITORTH@RBTH.COM

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, THE WASHINGTON POST, UNITED STATES • LE FIGARO, FRANCE • LE SOIR, BELGIUM • HANDELSBLATT, GERMANY• LE JEUDI, TAGEBLATT, LUXEMBOURG • LA REPUBBLICA, ITALY • EL PAÍS, SPAIN, CHILE, PERU, MEXICO • EL OBSERVADOR, URUGUAY • LA NACION, ARGENTINA • FOLHA DE SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL • THE ECONOMIC TIMES, INDIA • MAINICHI SHIMBUN, JAPAN • GLOBAL TIMES, CHINA • THE NATION, PHUKET GAZETTE, THAILAND JOONGANG ILBO, JOONGANG R MAGAZINE, SOUTH KOREA • THE SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, THE AGE, AUSTRALIA• GEOPOLITICA, NEDELJNIC , SERBIA • NOVA MACEDONIJA, MACEDONIA.


RUSSIA BEYOND THE HEADLINES

Technology

A global media project, sponsored by Rossiyskaya Gazeta (Russia) asia.rbth.com

11

Aviation The amazing success story of the Komsomolsk-on-Amur aircraft factory

Building a super-modern military plant and a city deep in a remote forest in the Russian Far East with few transport links might seem to defy all logic. ALEXANDER VERSHININ SPECIAL TO RBTH

FROM PERSONAL ARC HIVES (2)

As the industrialisation of the Soviet Union gained pace in the early 1930s, the Russian Far East was still an uninhabited wilderness. Fewer than a million people lived across a territory the size of Europe. There were no large industrial enterprises that could support the region’s economy. There was not enough in place to build the factory, let alone a city with apartment buildings, shops and hospitals that had to be built from nothing in just a few years.The only human settlement in the vicinity was the main encampment of the indigenous Nanai people, where factory buildings were now to be built in place of the animal skin tents, or yurts, in which they lived. In January 1932, the government decided to build the aviation plant on the

banks of the Amur River. Within six months, the Communist Party had dispatched several thousand civilian workers and members of the Komsomol youth organisation to their new place of work and residence in the Far East from the central regions of the Soviet Union. The city was named Komsomolsk-on-Amur in their honour, while a discreet veil of silence was drawn over the assignment of several thousand prisoners to build the aircraft factory and surrounds. In 1934, everything was ready for laying the foundation of one of the country’s largest aviation plants, which turned out its first aircraft in just two years. The work was driven on relentlessly since the looming conflict demanded a fast spike in production volumes. The first Komsomolsk-built product was the P-6 light reconnaissance aircraft, designed by a future star of Soviet aircraft design, Andrei Tupolev. However, the speciality of the far eastern engineers

MARINA LYSTSEVA / TASS

How a forest became a home to fighter jets

Su-27 has for many years been the primary specialisation of the Komsomolsk plant would be another aircraft, the DB-3, one of the first Soviet long-range bombers, which was created in the design bureau of Sergei Ilyushin, who won prominence in aviation before the Second World War. Soviet DB-3 pilots set world records performing non-stop flights from Moscow to the

El ELECTRONICS

ASIA.RBTH.COM/SCIENCE_AND_TECH

Me MEDICINE

Bi

BIOLOGY

Ar

ARCHAEOLOGY

Far East and North America. During the WWII, the Amur plant supplied almost 2,800 units to the front. However, the facility’s heyday did not come until the post-war years, when the country’s distant former backwoods grew into a huge center for the production of new combat aircraft, unrivaled by any others at the time. The plant was also given the daunting task of mastering the production of fundamentally new jet aircraft and Komsomolsk rose

to the challenge. The first Soviet MiG-15 jet fighter rolled off the line in 1949. In the 1950s, the plant’s fate became inextricably linked with the work of the Sukhoi Design Bureau, and the resultant Su-7 became the first Soviet fighter plane to break the sound barrier. This was followed by a series of outstanding“hits” from the enterprise: the Su17, a pioneer among thirdgeneration fighters, followed by the Su-27, the first fourth-generation fighter and its various modifications, the Su-27SK, Su

SP

rbth.com/47913

30MK, Su-33 and Su35, which still form the backbone of many air forces in the world. The Su-27 has for many years been the primary product and specialisation of the Komsomolsk plant, and since 2010 the company has been working on a new breakthrough development, a prototype of a fifth-generation fighter. The aircraft, which has the working name of the T-50, has the potential to rival the only existing aircraft of this type, the US F-22 Raptor.

Ch CHEMISTRY

SPACE

‘THE IDEAL POSITION ITION TER IS FOUND!’: OUTER AT SPACE CHIT CHAT rbth.com/48549

As ASTROPHYSICS

MYSTERIOUS CHILD MUMMY FOUND AT THE SITE OF AN EXTINCT SIBERIAN CIVILISATION

The aircraft factory in Komsomolsk was the place where the most sophisticated Soviet and Russian jets were made.

Ec ECOLOGY

Pa PALEONTOLOGY

Ph PHYSICS

UNLIKELY SOLUTION POTENTIALLY DISCOVERED TO CLEAN UP NUCLEAR WASTE

rbth.com/47885


12

RUSSIA BEYOND THE HEADLINES

Science

A global media project, sponsored by Rossiyskaya Gazeta (Russia) asia.rbth.com

Technology Makers of the Orlan-MKS proudly claim that this spacesuit is the very best in the world today

DARYA KEZINA RBTH

The Orlan-MKS spacesuit was the main attraction at the Innoprom International Industrial Trade Fair held in Yekaterinburg in July. Companies from 70 countries around the world participated in the event. However, the Russian spacesuit set an expo record for popularity as measured by the number of people who wanted to take selfies with it. The organisers lost count, but believe the number was somewhere in the thousands. The spacesuit was ordered by RKK Energia, the main supplier of components and equipment of the Russian segment of the International Space Station (ISS).The testing of the new system, which is supposed to be finished by the end of 2015, is being done according to 50 parameters. The creator of the new spacesuit, the Russian Techn o dy n a m i c a H o l d i n g brought the suit to the exhibition straight from the testing facilities of Zvezda’s – the suit’s developers. Presenting the novelty, Maxim Kuzyuk, the holding’s general director, said that currently this is “the most perfect spacesuit in the world.” The new Russian spacesuit has three main distinguishing particularities. Most importantly, it has the first automatic thermoregulation system in the world, which ensures that astronauts do not get distracted by monitoring and regulating their own body temperature while working in space. The suit’s computer can control their temperature and create optimal conditions.

“It is very difficult to measure the astronaut’s condition and enter the data into the cooling or heating system,”said a representative from Technodynamica. “No one in the world has yet been able to develop an algorithm with the correct sensor location.” If the computer system suddenly fails, the spacesuit is equipped with a manual control, increasing its dependability.

The suit’s computer can control their temperature and create optimal conditions. The second unique feature of the suit is its use of polyurethane sealed enclosures, which are lighter and more resistant, instead of rubber ones. This helps increase the length of service for the suit from 15 to 20 outings in open space and extend its use from four to five years. Due to its special design, the astronaut can easily put

the spacesuit on in about 5-7 minutes without any help. Until recently, putting on a spacesuit was quite an ordeal, taking almost an hour and requiring the help of colleagues. Additionally, previous spacesuits could maintain full pressure in the case of rupture for only 30 minutes, while the Orlan-MKS can keep the suit pressurised for 50 minutes in such instances. In the event of an emergency or as needed, all necessary data appears on a liquid-crystal display screen. According to a representative from Technodynamica, currently only Russian astronauts preparing to work on the ISS are testing suits from this line. “Space technologies are similar to military technologies and are sometimes even more secret, which is why international cooperation in this field is a complicated process,” the representative said. If the testing is successful, a new moon suit can be developed based on the Orlan-MKS.

A visitor poses at Yekaterinburg’s Innoprom trade fair with the Orlan-MKS space suit.

‘Outer-space cosmonaut chit-chat broadcast online What do people talk about during a spacewalk? Is it all work and serious, or are there lighter moments? RBTH recorded.

tos of the Russian orbital segment. RBTH followed the mission’s live online broadcast to hear what Russian spacemen talk about.

YELENA TEMCHENKO SPECIAL TO RBTH

“Pinnned you down...”

On August 10, two Russian cosmonauts on the International Space Station (ISS) ventured outside. The commander, Gennady Padalka, and flight engineer, Mikhail Kornienko, completed several tasks cleaning windows, collecting debris samples from the station’s solar panels, installing mounts for new antennas, and taking pho-

Cleaning a space station’s windows is not an easy task, and the cosmonauts said they could not find a comfortable position to do it. Padalka: Is it OK like this? I’ve pinned you down from the top. Well? Kornienko: Just wait, we’ll be comfy soon! (A little later) K: Finally! The ideal position is found!

REUTERS

There are plans to send the Orlan-MKS space suit, which is equipped with a unique automatic thermoregulation system, into space later this year.

DARIA KEZINA

Space suit of the future will go into orbit in 2015

The chit-chat was broadcast live from the orbit on August 10.

P (to Mission Control): I’m sitting right on top of it, Artyom! And that’s the most comfortable way to do it!

“The iPad only got your legs” One of the mission objectives was to take several photos of the Russian seg-

ment of the ISS. But while at it, they took a couple of photos of themselves. K: By the way, when I took pictures of you I was facing the Sun, so the iPad only got your legs. P: Why didn’t you tell me? You should have told me! K: It’s not a big deal, we’re going to take some more! Padalka asked Oleg to take photos of him through one of the station’s windows. Kornienko commented that:“From this distance everyone will see that you didn’t shave today. Can you imagine that – a cosmonaut with a five o’clock shadow?”


RUSSIA BEYOND THE HEADLINES

Science

A global media project, sponsored by Rossiyskaya Gazeta (Russia) asia.rbth.com

13

Environment Russian scientists discover a new technology for quick decontamination of radioactive water

New tech for Fukushima waste Radioactivity can be decontaminated in less than an hour, according to new findings at Russia’s Prokhorov General Physics Institute in Moscow.

6

SVETLANA ARKHANGELSKAYA

FACTS ABOUT RADIATION

SPECIAL TO RBTH

1

In 1942 the world’s first nuclear reactor was built under the football field at the University of Chicago, in the US. At that time, this type of equipment was used to as an under-the-hood for nuclear bombs.

GETTY IMAGES

This year, a research group led by Georgy Shafeyev from the Russian Academy of Sciences’s Prokhorov General Physics Institute announced that it had discovered a new way to rapidly decontaminate certain types of nuclear waste. The group has said that certain radioactive elements can be quickly converted into neutral substances if placed in particular chemical solutions and exposed to light from lasers. The discovery, the group says, was accidental and happened during nanoparticle experiments. In the experiments, radioactive substances appeared to be literally knocked out of metal when placed in certain aqueous solutions, which prompted the researchers to go on to experiment with a variety of metals and solutions. When Shafeyev and his colleagues put gold in a solution of radioactive Thorium 232, for example, they found that the thorium stopped emitting radiation. Cesium-137, a major pollutant from the nuclear accident at Fukushima, Japan, is a radioactive isotope produced by nuclear fission. This powerful radioactive pollutant spreads easily, is highly soluble and normally has a half-life of around 30 years. However, when the experiment was done with Cesium 137, the dangerous isotope was turned into

Victims of nuclear accidents FUKUSHIMA, JAPAN

This devastating accident in 2001 caused the meltdown of three reactors, which resulted in the worst radiation contamination being concentrated within several hundred kilometres of the plant, especially to the northwest of the facility. CHERNOBYL, UKRAINE

In 1986, this nuclear acci-

dent affected at least 6 million people in the area and has been estimated to have caused between 4,000 to 93,000 premature deaths. MAILUU-SUU, KYRGZSTAN

This project produces radiation from large-scale uranium mining and processing activities. It caused around 1.96 million cubic metres of nuclear waste in the area.

In 1992, 1,000 cubic metres of radioactive waste spilled into the river when a landslide broke open one of the dumps. The waste contaminated the Mailuu-Suu River, which is the water source for more than 2 million people. SEMIPALATINSK, KAZAKHSTAN

More than 456 nuclear tests were carried out from 194989 here — the highest num-

ber of nuclear explosions in one area in the world. Some 200,000 residents are currently suffering health effects from these explosions today. One in every 20 children in the area is born with serious deformities, cancer rates are higher than in other areas and more than half of the local population has died before reaching 60.

2

Every human body is radioactive. We all contain Carbon-14, which has a half-life of nearly 6000 years.

3

On June 27, 1954, the world’s first nuclear power plant started operation at the Soviet city of Obninsk near Moscow. On April 29, 2002 it was shut down. In its 48 years of operations there were no significant incidents.

4 neutral Barium in just one hour, according to the research group. “Neither we, nor nuclear scientists, are yet able to provide a scientific explanation of this phenomena,” said Shafeyev, who is head of the Academy of Sciences’ Laboratory of Macrokinetics of Nonequilibrium Processes. “Most likely, by placing the solution in these conditions, we’ve been able to change the environment of the nuclei of the atoms – the state of the outer shells of electrons.” To enable this process, Shafeyev said, the solution

had to contain a refractory metal, like gold, silver or titanium.“The rate of decay of a substance depends on the chemical environment – the outer electrons of its atoms,” he explained. “We are changing their electron configuration because the nanoparticles are able to locally enhance the laser electromagnetic field.” Shafeyev’s team is currently waiting for their results to be tested by the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research (JINR) – another Moscow research centre. For the experiment, JINR scientists will use a sensi-

tive gamma-ray spectrometer based on ultra-pure germanium to watch the process in real time. The experiment will be done with Cesium 137. Some are sceptical about the claims of the research group and are doubtful that the JINR experiments will work. “We need to see this process with our own eyes, and then look for an explanation,” says Sarkis Karamyan, a senior researcher at the Laboratory of Nuclear Reactions at JINR. The researchers who made the discovery, however, are already looking at

specific applications for their findings. They have said it is unlikely that it could be used for ground contamination, in places like Chernobyl, because the penetrating power of lasers in soil is measured in micrometers. But when dealing with radiatiation-contaminated water, it could be useful. “In other words, in Fukushima, where Tritium and Cesium continue to pour out of the [plant’s decontamination] pool even today, this kind of development could solve a lot of problems,” Shafeyev said.

Out of the 170 grams of Potassium in the adult human body, around 20mg of it is radioactive Potassium-40.

5

The Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant (Niigata Prefecture, Japan) is the world’s largest nuclear generating station. It has seven reactors, which provide 8,212 net power.

6

Men are more radioactive than women — men have more muscle fibre than women, and muscle fibre is where the body concentrates Potassium.


14

RUSSIA BEYOND THE HEADLINES

Science

A global media project, sponsored by Rossiyskaya Gazeta (Russia) asia.rbth.com

Archaeology Remains of mummified child found at archaeological site in western Siberia

This July archaeologists opened a bark cocoon from western Siberia and found it contained the remains of a 13th-century child wrapped in fur. ARAM TER-GHAZARYAN SPECIAL TO RBTH

Archaeologists unearthed a grave tentatively dated to the 13th century in the village of Zeleniy Yar in the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Region in Western Siberia. The grave contained a bark cocoon 1.30 metres in length and 30 centimetres wide, and when it was opened on July 15 scientists were astonished to find the mummified remains of a child. According to archaeologist Alexander Gusev, who works at the Centre for Arctic Studies, the mummy is well preserved. “After the season ended we opened the mummy in the museum in Salekhard,” said Gusev. “We did not open it in the field because we wanted to examine the body carefully. Under the bark cocoon we discovered

the mummified body of a child. It was wearing characteristic fur clothing. Next to it there were many metallic domestic items and decorations. It seems that the child had died of some kind of disease, and was not violently killed or traumatised.” Gusev said examination of the body continues, and conclusive results will be possible only after scientists finish their research. Excavations in Zeleniy Yar began in 2013 when scientists discovered seven objects that led them to suspect a burial site. “After the news, I immediately joined the archaeologists working here,” says Evgeny Svyatov, an anthropologist from Yekaterinburg. “My goal is to thoroughly study the remains of the buried people. This is important for understanding what they ate, from where they migrated, their hygiene practices, as well as that society’s customs and rites.” Excavations continue at Zeleniy Yar, with scientists flocking there from various

russia-direct.org Co nve r t i n g m o n o l o g u e s i n to d i a l o g u e

AND GET DIRECT ORDERS FROM AROUND THE WORLD

PRESS PHOTO

Burial remains found at Siberian site

According to archaeologists, the mummy is well preserved.

The mummies in Zeleniy Yar well preserved A mummy of a red-headed warrior was found in Zeleniy Yar during an expedition in 1999-2002. It was dated to 1282 and was well preserved,

New species of dinosaur unearthed in Siberia Paleontologists from the Tomsk State University in Siberia have collected the skeleton of a giant titanosaur after years of painstaking efforts.

SPECIAL TO RBTH

Contact our team on cooperation matters via: russia-direct.org/about-us | contact@russia-direct.org

same year. The area is divided into three parts: the 6th8th centuries; and two burial grounds, the 8th-9th and the 12th-13th centuries.

Paleontology ‘Graveyard of dinosaurs’ in Siberia yields a unique find

YANA PCHELINTSEVA

An analytical publication that focuses exclusively on the complex challenges and opportunities shaping the US-Russia relationship.

thanks to the permafrost and the oxidation of copper items found in the grave. Mummified remains of four children were discovered the

Russian regions – the Urals, St Petersburg, Western and Eastern Siberia – to see the unique site. Besides archaeologists and anthropologists, geneticists are also participating in the excavations. The Yamalo-Nenets region is one of the most northern regions in Russia, and has a very short excavation season due to its Arctic climate; the earth defrosts only towards the end of May, and in August work is halted because of the large swarms of midges, mosquitoes, gnats and horseflies. This year, scientists plan to excavate a field that totals 80 square metres. “For now we only have preliminary data about those who were buried in Zeleniy Yar,” notes Roman Gilmintinov, a historian from the St Petersburg European University and a member in the expedition. “It is difficult to say what the results will be because the civilizations of the Russian North do not resemble any other; they are a completely unique world.”

Scientists from Tomsk State University have found the remains of an ancient creature enclosed in blocks of stony rocks in southwestern Siberia. It took several years for paleontologists to free bone fragments from sandstone. However, when they were fully engaged in their work, the researchers realised that they had discovered a whole new species of dinosaur.

“We determined that we came across the remains of a very large herbivorous sauropod dinosaur belonging to the herbivorous Saurischian dinosaur [branch],”Tomsk State University researcher Stepan Ivantsov told RBTH. “But only once we took out all the pieces, did it become clear that it was an entirely new species, previously unknown by scientists.” The bones belonged to an adult titanosaur, a four-legged Saurischian dinosaur that lived from the Jurassic period and until the end of the Mesozoic era. The dinosaur, whose skeleton is being assembled by Tomsk paleontologists, lived

in the Late Cretaceous period about 100 million years ago. It was a large animal with a long neck and tail. The total length of the species could reach 30-40 metres and they weighed several dozen tonnes, growing steadily throughout their life. This discovery by Tomsk paleontologists is the first sauropod found on Russian territory. Now scientists at Tomsk State University will assemble the available fragments of the dinosaur into a single model. The largest bones that made up the titanosaur’s sacrum will soon be connected. In addition, parts of dinosaur shoulder and vertebrae have been assembled from multiple pieces. “We have repeatedly found the remains of other animals – mammals, amphibians, lizards – close to the site where our titanosaur was discovered. This indicates that there was

once an entire prehistoric ecosystem functioning here in southwest Siberia.” Next summer, these Tomsk paleontologists will continue to work on the “graveyard of dinosaurs”, which is known in the scientific world as Shestakovsky Yar. More than half a century ago, excavations and the search for the remains of ancient fauna were conducted near the village of Shestakovo in the Kuzbass region in south Siberia. Russia’s largest dinosaur cemetery was discovered by scientists from Tomsk State University in 1953. Russian scientists attempt to clone a mammoth

asia.rbth.com/39395


RUSSIA BEYOND THE HEADLINES

Culture

A global media project, sponsored by Rossiyskaya Gazeta (Russia) asia.rbth.com

15

© VLADIMIR VYATKIN / RIA NOVOSTI

3

PRESS-PHOTO

2

© EKATERINA CHESNOKOVA / RIA NOVOSTI

KOMMERSANT

ZURAB DZHAVAKHADZE / TASS

1

4

5

Composition Five of Russia’s most influential contemporary composers and the reach of their work

Russian composers show great talent RBTH looks at the five biggest names in composition in Russia today and reveals the diversity among them.

Founder and leader of St Petersburg’s first ensemble of contemporary music ensemble.

positions are equally influenced by rock music and by the academic tradition, from Bach to Rachmaninoff to Grieg.

Anton Batagov (2) YULIA BEDEROVA SPECIAL TO RBTH

Boris Filanovsky (1) He is a representative of the St Petersburg school of composers. A conceptualist composer with a brilliant academic education, a music critic and promoter of new European music in Russia, he is also the Winner of several international awards, including the IRCAM Reading Panel (1997, Paris) and the Irino Prize (2003, Tokyo). Filanovsky’s music is performed by legendary European ensembles, including Louis Andriessen’s Orkest DeVolharding as well as the Integrales and Da Capo Chamber Players. Filanovsky is also the

Batagov is a follower of American post-minimalism, and a pianist with a Tchaikovsky Competition prize to his credit. He does not have formal education in musical composition. He performed in the Philip Glass Ensemble and was the first to perform many post-avant-garde compositions in Russia. Batagov’s works have been performed in Russia and the US by the Philip Glass Ensemble at concerts and festivals, including the Diaghilev Festival in Perm and the Bang On a Can festival in New York. Batagov is opposed to complexity in new music and to dividing it into low and high genres. His com-

Dmitri Kourliandski (3) Kourliandski is one of the leaders of the new Moscow generation of composers. He is the founder of the Structural Resistance (StRes) group of composers, the first informal professional association in post-Soviet Russia, which made new music known not only to a narrow circle of specialists but to the general public too. A graduate of the Moscow Conservatoire, he was a guest of the Berliner Kuenstlerprogramm 20 08 (DAAD Artist-in-residence). After winning international competitions (Gaudeamus, 2003, Johann Joseph Fux, 2011), Kourliandski

became one of Russia’s most renowned living composers, whose music is performed internationally by famous ensembles that include the Paris-based Intercontemporain. Many of Kurlyandski’s compositions were commissioned and first performed in Europe, including the opera Asteroid 62 (staged in 2013 in Graz by director Barbara Bayer). Currently Kourliandski is the artistic director of the International Academy of Young Composers in the town of Tchaikovsky in the Perm region and is the musical director of the Stanislavsky Electrotheatre in Moscow.

Alexander Manotskov (4) One of the most unpredictable composers on the Moscow music scene, Manotskov does not belong to any school or movement. Author

of operas, symphonies, cantatas, oratories, vocal cycles, church music, music for theater and cinema, he is a musician, a singer, a multiinstrumentalist, a member of ensembles of old and contemporary music. His opera Gvidon, based on the works of Daniil Kharms, has been on the repertoire of the School of Drama Arts Theatre in Moscow for several seasons, while the opera Four Quartets has toured in the US. Manotskov’s latest major premier, the opera Titus the Irreproachable, has become a theatre sensation this year and has been nominated for the independent critics’ award of the Moscow association of music critics.

Sergej Newski (5) Another leading figure on the Moscow music scene and co-author of the manifesto of the Structural Re-

sistance (StRes) group of composers is Newski. Newski, who studied in Moscow, Dresden and Berlin, is a connoisseur of old and new music, an historian and educator. Newski is A winner of the composition competition in Stuttgart (2006) and of the Russian national theatre award, the Golden Mask (2014), for the opera Francis staged at the Bolshoi Theatre. One of his most high-profile European premiers was the opera Autland (performed at Ruhrtriennale). Listen to the 5 most interesting composers on the Russian music scene asia.rbth.com/47757

Leisure A board game based on Fyodor Dostoevsky’s novel “Crime and Punishment” is coming out in St Petersburg

Innovative board game brings players into the world of Rashkolnikov Literature lovers will soon be able to retrace Raskolnikov’s steps around St Petersburg by playing a new board game. SERGEI RUBLEV FEDORDOSTOEVSKY.RU

The players will take on characters from the book and use dice rolls to move

around a board representing the centre of St Petersburg, where the main plot takes place. They will be able to visit Raskolnikov’s house and spend their last money in the Crystal Palace tavern. Dostoevsky was famous for describing the streets of his city with incredible accuracy and the

game attempts to recreate this for his fans. The game itself consists of cards with questions about the novel’s plot and the writer himself, which makes it educational as well as entertaining. This aspect is very important in the context of 2015’sYear of Literature in Russia, which,

according to Russian PresidentVladimir Putin, aims to “remind everyone of [literature’s] exclusive significance and special mission”.Indeed, the game’s webpage specifically references the president’s words as the inspiration for creating and playing it. Yulia Kumaneva, the

project’s organiser, notes:“It all began on Dostoevsky Day, when I saw the interest – how many people came to the readings. To start with, we wanted to use several works, but we just chose one in the end.” During the game the players will have to experience events related to their selected characters, as well as test their knowledge of the novel and literature in general. They will have to immerse themselves into the yellow, hot, stuffy, dusty

St Petersburg – a city of people who are half crazed – and see if“you, trembling creature, have any rights”. “We will raise funds for the project on the Boomstarter platform [a crowdfunding website],” continues Kumaneva. “We plan to collaborate with bookstores and toy stores. We are trying to make the game interesting for both children and adults.” Find the price at asia.rbth.com/48315


16

RUSSIA BEYOND THE HEADLINES

Cuisine

A global media project, sponsored by Rossiyskaya Gazeta (Russia) asia.rbth.com

Delicacies In Soviet times, theatres, and even to voting stations, were known for their tasty and spreads

Delicious dips were called “caviar” in Soviet times

RECIPE

ANNA KHARZEEVA

Recently I was looking for ideas for summer dips, and to my surprise, I found them in the Soviet Diet Book. It really does have just about any recipe. ANNA KHARZEEVA SPECIAL TO RBTH

I’ve previously made pate, which can be served as a dip, and it’s since become a regular on my snack table – and no guests have complained. This time I decided to try three dips, which are usually called caviars (ikra) in Russian. I picked eggplant, beets and mushroom to try and make into dips. The

eggplant and tomato variation will certainly appear on my table again – it was delicious! I remember zucchini spread was popular when I was growing up. It was mostly store-bought, though. At that time, dips and spreads weren’t served with pieces of bread or cut vegetables to be dipped into them. Instead they were served with bread slices and butter, so maybe it makes sense that they weren’t called dips. Today, Russians who have acquainted themsel-

ves well enough with Western food call these things “dipy” and “spready,” putting the Russian plural forms onto English words. I don’t even dream of saying something like that in front of my grandmother — she hates all Ruslish. Back in the day, Granny reminisces, all these kinds of dips were called “ikra” and they were consumed like sandwiches before the main courses. There was never beet ikra, though — and I’m not surprised. Honestly I think it’s the weakest link in the dip selection. “As for mushrooms,”

Granny said, “there were – what do you call baked mushrooms with cheese? juliennes in every cafeteria. The best cafeteria was in the Kremlin concert hall – anyone who went for a concert there would go to the buffet during the intermission to get some julienne and other snacks. They were affordable, too. In general, theatres and concert halls had good buffets – the better the venue, the nicer the spread of starters.” Maybe Russians’ deep love for theatre lies with julienne. But the buffets at

Mushroom caviar

Eggplant caviar

Ingredients: 250g pickled mushrooms (or 50 grams dried mushrooms); 1 onion; 1-2 Tbsp vegetable oil.

Ingredients: 300 grams eggplant; 1-2 onions; 2 Tbsp vegetable oil; 1 tomato.

Mushroom caviar can be prepared from fresh cooked, pickled or dried salted mushrooms. If using dried mushrooms, add water to them, let sit and drain before cooking. Chop the onion and then fry it in vegetable oil. Cool and mix with the mushrooms, adding a little pepper. For a more tangy taste, add lemon juice or vinegar, salt and pepper and sprinkle with finely chopped onions. pan and add 2 cups of water. Put on the stove and boil for 5 minutes. Then strain and keep the juice. Add sugar to the juice and boil again on the stove until the sugar dissolves. Add starch and boil, stirring, until starch dissolves and mass has thickened. Add the reserved juice to the thickened mixture and stir well.

theatres today wouldn’t inspire anyone to sit through a play. I remember coming down to the buffet at the Bolshoi Theatre during intermission to find that most of the food was gone and there were only a few overpriced salami and smoked fish sandwiches left. Maybe I was spoiled before, but the quantities and prices were certainly not up to Soviet standard. “Another place to get great julienne and other treats,”Granny noted,“was at voting stations – they had very good food. “A lot of people only

VISIT A SPACE CREATED FOR ALL THOSE WHO WOULD LIKE TO DISCOVER MORE ABOUT RUSSIAN CUISINE AND THE COUNTRY’S CULINARY TRADITIONS.

Learn the secrets of perfect Russian dishes:

a s i a . r bth .co m /r u ss i an _ kitc h en

• Russian Salad • Borsh • Schi

Bake or boil the eggplant. Peel it and chop the pulp. Add a little fried onion and tomato, salt, pepper, vegetable oil and a little vinegar. Stir all together, then simmer over until mixture reduces. Cool before serving.

Beet caviar Ingredients: 500 grams beets; 2-3 Tbsp sugar; 2 Tbsp butter; ½ lemon. Wash, peel, boil and mince the beets. Add sugar, butter, lemon zest and lemon juice to the beets. Stir and put in a saucepan over low heat for 5-10 minutes, stirring frequently as not to burn.

went to vote to get hold of some delicacies like julienne, salami, vobla [dried salty fish] and canned food. Another reason to go was so the agitator who walked around apartments urging people to vote wouldn’t get into trouble. I’ve been an agitator and people would tell me: ‘We feel sorry for you, so we’ll go.’ The nature of the elections was, as we called it, ‘voluntary-compulsory.’” Luckily we don’t have to rely on voting station and theatres to feed us delicacies anymore, although they could do with a nice spread of dips!

NEXT issue

24 September

Russian performers set to cast on Bangkok  

This August issue was distributed with The Nation newspaper in Thailand on August 27, 2015.

Russian performers set to cast on Bangkok  

This August issue was distributed with The Nation newspaper in Thailand on August 27, 2015.

Advertisement