Wednesday, September 2, 2015
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RUSSIANS NOT FAZED BY WEB CENSORSHIP N
Commemorating the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, RBTH published a special edition, “Brothers in Arms,” which focuses on cooperation between the United States and the Soviet Union during World War II. A PDF version of the booklet is available at rbth.com. RBTH.COM/46255
Economy Arctic - the land of cooperation or conﬂict? In an application to the U.N., Russia lays claim to a potentially profitable underwater area of the Arctic. P3
Opinion What is the future of democracy in Russia? Several U.S. NGOs have been deemed “undesirable” by Russian authorities and told to leave. P4
Feature Russian music in D.C. Discover Russian ‘Romances’ in the American capital. P6
early half of Russians (49 percent) believe information on the Internet should be subject to censorship, while 58 percent would not mind if – in the event of a national threat – the Russian segment of the Internet were shut down completely, according to a February 2015 report that drew attention from Russian media in early August. Titled “Benchmarking Public Demand: Russia’s Appetite for Internet Control,” the report was written by Erik Nisbet, associate professor of communication, political science and environmental policy at Ohio State University, as part of the Internet Policy Observatory, a program at the Center for Global Communication Studies (CGCS) at the University of Pennsylvania. The Russian Public Opinion Research Center (VTsIOM), in partnership with the CGCS, designed and implemented the survey that formed the basis for the study. Among the most “dangerous” content that should be banned, Russians name homosexual propaganda (59 percent), social network groups linked to organizing anti-government protests (46 percent) and videos by the Pussy Riot (46 percent). “From the perspective of assessing the public’s demand for Internet freedom, the results are somewhat discouraging,” concludes Monroe Price, head of the CGCS, in the report.
Source of a vague threat Although the study came out in English in February 2015, national Russian media took notice of it only in early August, after VTsIOM published the findings. The poll reached Russian residents more than 18 years of age in 42 regions of the country. Of those polled, 42 percent use the Internet all the time, 20 percent use the Internet from time to time, and 38 percent do not use it at all. Margin of error aside, the number of Russians who support Internet censorship remains stable at 54 percent as of an October 2014 poll, according to the Levada Center, another pollster that spoke with RBTH. “They are in favor of censorship when it comes to things like child pornography,” Levada Center analyst Denis Volkov explains. “And there is an important distinction between the opinion of those who use the Internet and those who do not. For the latter, the Internet is a source of a vague threat. They do not know what to do about it and so it seems to them that the best thing may be just to ban everything.” An invisible ban It is important to note that the question about a total ban was a hypothetical one: Russia’s constitution bans
49 percent of Russians are not opposed to Internet censorship censorship, and President Vladimir Putin has more than once declared that “Russia has no intention of restricting access to the Internet or taking it under total control.” But however supportive Putin may be in word, the Kremlin has created an environment of self-censorship on the Internet. In April 2014, the Duma passed amendments to an anti-terrorist bill that would allow Russian bloggers to be prosecuted or fined for publishing content that might threaten national security. In fact, since 2012, the number of initiatives aimed to block various Internet resources has grown steadily, says Karen Kazaryan, chief analyst with the Russian Association of Electronic Communications. “Not all of them become laws, but a large number of those initiatives, our experts conclude, were restrictive in nature, i.e. aimed not at developing the industry but rather at controlling the Internet,” Kazaryan points out. For example, 2012 saw the introduction of a mechanism for blocking websites without a court order, as
“From the perspective of assessing the public’s demand for Internet freedom, the results are somewhat discouarging.” well as a register of banned Internet resources. Since 2014, it has become possible to block Internet resources containing calls to extremism and mass unrest without a court ruling for an indefinite period of time. However, in an interview with the BBC Russian Service, Anton Nosik, a prominent Russian blogger and online media expert, questioned whether the study was truly representative. In practice, he added, censorship in the Russian segment of the Internet already exists. “There are several dozen or several thousand district courts in Russia, each of which has powers to ban
websites, including Wikipedia, YouTube, Google,” Nosik says. “All it takes is a ruling by a district court. When that ruling comes into force, the Justice Ministry enters the website banned by the court on the federal register of extremist literature. From that moment on, the website in question must be banned in the whole territory of Russia.” Obligation of the state Nevertheless, attempts to control the Internet are natural while the state is trying to develop the Internet sector, as there are also cyber threats to be taken into account, according to Irina Levova, director of strategic projects at the Institute of Internet Studies. “It is a direct obligation of any state to ensure the security of its basic infrastructure and citizens,” Levova says. “In the USA too, there is the first amendment that bans censorship; however, in 2001, the Patriot Act was adopted, which in effect makes it possible to do anything when it concerns national security.” On Aug. 24 the Federal Service for Supervision in the Sphere of Telecom, Information Technologies and Mass Communications (Roskomnadzor) instructed telecom providers to block access to a Wikipedia article about the drug charas. Although Roskomnadzor ordered providers to block access only to the page that contains the article in question, since Wikipedia operates on the basis of the HTTPS protocol (which does not allow for individual pages to be blocked), access to the whole of Wikipedia was blocked. On Aug. 25, though, the article was removed from the unified register of banned information, and access to Wikipedia was restored. Overall, most people prefer not to pay attention to restrictive initiatives because they are not directly affected, conclude experts. At least, so far there has been no rise in protest sentiment toward this issue. “Many people took notice of the proposal by the Russian Union of Copyright Holders to charge 300 rubles ($4) a year from every Internet user for the benefit of copyright owners,” Levova points out. “But that was more of an exception since the move concerned people’s financial interests. Everything else is received normally; after all, people are not expected to grasp what legal risks these initiatives may cause for individual companies.” Denis Volkov of the Levada Center agrees: “The majority of people certainly do not see it as an attempt to restrict their right of access to information.” ■ YEKATERINA SINELSCHIKOVA RBTH
Politics & Society P2 // rbth.com // September 2, 2015
NEWS IN BRIEF Kremlin moves to attract Islamic funds Russia may amend its financial regulations to allow Islamic banking in a bid to attract funds from Muslim countries, as its economy struggles with a recession and Western sanctions. Officials have created a task force charged with implementing Islamic banking in the country. Islamic law places restrictions on certain types of financial transactions, such as interest payments. The market for Islamic finance is expanding rapidly and should reach a total size of $2.6 trillion by 2017, according to a report by global consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers. Another estimate by the IMF said total global Islamic assets would reach $3.4 trillion by the end of 2015. Russia has a significant Muslim minority, estimated at about 10 percent of the population, which could make the practice attractive here.
An effective fight with ISIS?
A member loyal to the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant waves an ISIS flag in Raqqa, Syria.
ISIS cannot be defeated with force alone, so Russia is fighting the radicals in other ways Muslim youth need a viable alternative In the past, Russia has mainly used force against radicals in the country, experts say. But although force is “definitely necessary,” according to Caucasus expert and professor Sergei Markedonov, combat operations alone are not an effective solution. “It seems that these radicals are disappearing, but three or four years pass and they start reappearing because the environment that creates them is still there.,” said Markedonov, a professor at the department of Foreign Regional Studies and Foreign Policy at the Russian State University for the Humanities. “There needs to be more ‘soft power.’”
IN THEIR OWN WORDS
CHAIRMAN OF THE CC COMMISSION ON THE DEVELOPMENT OF SOCIAL DIPLOMACY AND SUPPORT FOR COMPATRIOTS ABROAD
FIRST DEPUTY CHAIRMAN OF THE RUSSIAN COUNCIL OF MUFTIS
We don’t go out and catch anyone. We try to enlighten, while it is the special forces who identity and apprehend the suspects. People are beginning to distinguish white from black, while the communities are focused on preaching sermons.”
Just recently, the Russian foreign minister announced that 2,000 former and current Russian citizens are now fighting in the ISIS army. Something must be done about it: Russia, as a multinational and multi-confessional country, is very attractive for ISIS militants.”
Russia is employing a new tactic to counter the influence of the Islamic State (ISIS) as the radical militant group expands its global recruitment: a hotline. Launched Aug. 1 by the the Russian Civic Chamber (CC) to help alert authorities to individuals lured in by ISIS propaganda, the hotline is for callers whose relatives believe in the ideology of the Islamic State, a recognized terrorist organization in Russia, as well as those whose relatives have possibly already left to fight under ISIS’s banner in Syria. As of a month after its setup, the hotline had received more than 15 calls, mostly from Moscow, Volgograd, Irkutsk, the Saratov region and the city of Adygeysk. Russian leaders decided to create the hotline after 19-year-old Varvara Karaulova tried to enter Syria to join radical Islamists, according to Yelena Sutormina, chairman of the CC Commission on the Development of Social Diplomacy and Support for Compatriots Abroad. “Later, just recently, the Russian foreign minister announced that 2,000 former and current Russian citizens are now fighting in the ISIS army,” explained Sutormina. She added, “Russia, as a multinational and multi-confessional country, is very attractive for ISIS militants.” Official announcements have warned of a significant ISIS presence near Russian borders, and recent media reports have described attempts to recruit young Muslims and migrants in the regions. ISIS offers these migrants a monthly salary of about $880.
READ THE FULL STORY at rbth.com/48697
Russia should devote more of its effort to engaging the minds of potential recruits before radical propaganda lures them in, according to Markedonov, which means involving Islam leaders in Russia. It is the responsibility of the leaders of this community to create an alternative for young Muslim people who are deciding their careers and futures, Markedonov said. Muslim communities themselves favor a “soft power” approach. These communities rarely see ISIS recruiters, who know their views are unacceptable there. “We don’t go out and catch anyone,” said Rushan Abbyasov, First Deputy Chairman of the Russian Council of Muftis. “We try to enlighten, while it is the special forces who identify and apprehend the suspects.” But although Russia’s Muslim communities are focused on preaching sermons to counter radical Islamist influence, they have not yet started talking of an overarching Islamic project toward this goal, said Abbyasov. ‘Having the possibility to return’ Several years ago, “soft power” methods proved effective even on those who had already been on the side of the militant radicals, said Varvara Pakhomenko, Caucasus expert and International Crisis Group consultant. In 2010, a committee dedicated itself to helping militants readapt. The effort ended with the preparations for the Olympics in Sochi, but not before effecting a significant shift: Today, recruits depart mainly from the Russian republics of Dagestan and Chechnya to fight in Syria, Pakhomenko said. “Many of them had not had time to commit serious crimes,” Pakhomenko said. “They had made a mistake and were given a chance to return to a peaceful life. It is very important to have the opportunity to return.” The committee has recently renewed its work in the neighboring North Caucasus region of Ingushetia. “We are noticing that there are people in the government who understand the necessity of such measures,” said Pakhomenko. ■YEKATERINA SINELSCHIKOVA
READ THE FULL STORY at rbth.com/48105
Historic aircraft find a home in Russia
MARINA LYSTSEVA / TASS
In late August at the aviation show MAKS in Moscow two World War II Douglas C-47 Skytrain planes were inducted into the collection of the Central Armed Forces Museum in Moscow. The planes retraced the historic World War II Alaska-Siberia supply route, which reached from the Ladd Army Airfield in Fairbanks, Alaska to Soviet pi-
lot training facilities in Krasnoyarsk – nearly 4,000 miles. The project recreating the World War II supply flight path was made possible by cooperation between Bravo369 Flight Foundation and Russian aviation company Rusavia. The planes started their journey in Great Falls, Mont., June 20 and reached Moscow Aug. 8.
Russian team fined for leaving ice early The Ice Hockey Federation of Russia has been fined 80,000 Swiss francs ($83,000) over an incident that occurred following the end of the gold medal game of the 2015 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship in the Czech Republic, the International Ice Hockey Federation reported on Aug. 24. The Russian team and staff left the ice during the medal ceremony after Canada had won the gold medal game 6-1 and received the medals, but before the national anthem had been played and the flags raised. The Russian team has apologized for the misunderstanding.
The new voice of the Russian Foreign Ministry wants you to like her on Facebook
Three weeks after her appointment, the first woman to hold the position of official spokesperson of the Russian Foreign Ministry is already ushering in another first for the ministry: a new social media era. Maria Zakharova, whose appointment as head of the ministry’s Press and Information Department was announced Aug. 10, previously served as deputy head and personal PR manager to Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. She accompanied him on foreign trips and regularly posted pictures of the minister taken in informal settings. As a result, one of the strictest – from a perspective of protocol – ministries developed a human touch. Zakharova’s breakthrough achievement is considered to be the ministry’s foray into social media in February 2013. Zakharova likes to recall the incident when the Russian Foreign Ministry’s website was down due to a hacker attack and for a while its main window into the outside world was the ministry’s Facebook account. Zakharova has promised that even after her promotion, a strong emphasis on social media will continue. “The language and communication styles there are quite different, so addressing social network users with the Foreign Ministry’s proverbial concern and expressing emotions that diplomats express in quite restrained
Maria Zakharova is the first official spokeswoman of the Foreign Ministry. language… – we simply realized that the audience was expecting something different from us,” Zakharova said in an interview for TASS news agency. Political analyst Dmitry Babich, a regular contributor to the International Life magazine, a specialist publication for Russian diplomats, pointed out that “Zakharova’s appointment is symbolic.” “In the past 12-18 months, Russia has been constantly under attack and it is necessary
to respond to these attacks and do so robustly, at the same time making sure that the Russian position is made clear,” Babich told RBTH. “Zakharova is a symbol of a new tactic of the Russian Foreign Ministry, of its new style. In order to put the essence of Russian foreign policy across to the general public, a new, striking and exciting personality was needed.” In the past 12 months, Zakharova has been a frequent guest on TV and radio. She attributes it to the Ukrainian crisis and to tensions in Russia’s relations with the West. “Because of the crisis in Ukraine, foreign policy has entered every household,” Zakharova said in a recent interview with the Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper. “That crisis has cut right through our lives. No other crisis has been so painful for our people. Russia and Ukraine are a single body.” However, even under Zakharova’s guidance, the Foreign Ministry may not be completely ready for her social media immersion. In a statement on her Facebook page on Aug. 22, Zakharova asked journalists to view her social media posts only as an expert opinion, not as official statements from the Russian Foreign Ministry.
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Economy rbth.com // September 2, 2015 // P3
The Arctic: A new economic frontier
BUSINESS IN BRIEF
New gambling complex in the Far East Investors are pushing forward with a multibillion-dollar gambling complex near Vladivostok (4000 miles from Moscow), hoping to bring in at least 10 million visitors per year. Russia, which by national law (adopted in 2009) prohibits gambling outside specially-established zones, has established gambling centers in other areas, including in the European-influenced enclave of Kaliningrad, the Altai Territory in Eastern Siberia and in the Russian Far East. The area’s first casino is set to open its doors this September. Investors are planning to plow a total of $2.2 billion into the gambling resort. Once completed, the 619-hectare space will include a total of 15 hotels, 12 rental villas, a yacht club, a multifunctional trade fair complex and other recreational infrastructure.
With a renewed application to the U.N., Russia hopes to expand arctic borders
The prospects of a solution Russia’s application will not be reviewed in the near fu-
ture for procedural reasons, but will be included in the provisional agenda of the 40th session of the Commission in February / March 2016, according to United Nations deputy spokesman Farhan Haq. “The decision to expand the shelf margins is not only of a geographical and economic nature, but it also risks becoming a political issue,” noted a chief analyst at UFS Investment Company, Alexei Kozlov. With heightening tensions between Russia and the West, the final decision to expand the shelf may be postponed under various pretexts, according to Kozlov. “Sooner or later, however, the issue will mostly likely be resolved positively, but the shelf will become Russia’s territory not without a fight,” Kozlov concluded. Russia’s claim to area in the Arctic will likely be opposed by countries such as Canada and the U.S., due to its rich deposits. Ed Royce, chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs said the U.S. should be prepared to stand up to Russia in this matter. “Russia has been aggressively pushing its claims to the Arctic, especially the resource-rich continental shelf. It now has an Arctic Command to strengthen its military presence in the region,” Royce said. “The U.S. and others bordering the Arctic must maintain a united front against Moscow’s aggressive ambitions toward this vital region.” Ecologists believe ambitions from various countries equally threaten the Arctic. The melting of Arctic ice opens the broad expanses of the northern seas, making them vulnerable, said Vladimir Chuprov, director of the Greenpeace Russia energy program.
“Millions of people are calling on governments to create an international reserve territory around the North Pole, in order that this water area remains untouched by industry and the nature remains wild,” Chuprov told RBTH. “Moreover, there is no economic sense in extracting oil from the arctic shelf, since there are no technologies for drilling for oil in icy conditions at great depths. Economists and geologists are speaking about this more and more, including those from Russia.” In a comment to RBTH, the press office of the Russian Embassy in Washington D.C. said that they see the Arctic as a territory of dialogue and cooperation. “We don’t see any insoluble contradictions in this region, especially questions which would require a military solution. All the calls which we are facing, have no military connections. Minister Sergei Lavrov has stated this several times, emphasizing that it is necessary to leave the Arctic out of military rhetoric. We recognize that all our actions in the region should be regulated within the framework of international law. Russia consistently opposes the politicization of international cooperation in the Arctic. Success can be achieved only when the Arctic states are united and act collectively. The future of the region, the implementation of environmental protection measures and the improvement of conditions for residents of the Far North shouldn’t depend on extra-regional events.”
Sanctions against Russia have not played a significant role in the decline of Russia’s economy, according to a new report by Central Bank analysts. Experts agree that low oil prices are principally to blame. The introduction of Western sanctions against Russia is responsible for only a 0.5-0.6-percent decline in the country’s GDP, with record low oil prices being the real villain, reports the
■ALEXEI LOSSAN RBTH
A little more than a year ago, Russia announced an embargo on Western food imports in retaliation for a series of U.S. and EU sanctions imposed on Moscow over its role in the Ukrainian conflict. Belarus is the country that has shown the biggest increase in its supplies to Russia since the sanctions. In the first five months of 2015, Minsk exported 916,400 tons of food products whose supply from certain countries is banned, compared with 568,300 tons in the same period last year. Other countries that have benefited from the Russian food embargo include Pakistan, Serbia and Chile.
A Russian nuclear corporation is building a data storage center near the Kalinin nuclear power plant, and is offering Western companies use of its capacity. IN FIGURES
MORE ON ECONOMICS at rbth.com/business
of online searches in Russia in 2014 used Google.
million companies who work with personal data in Russia are subject to be audited in upcoming years.
hours per month is the amount of time Russians spend on social networks - the world record.
The law, which requires companies to provide the locations of their databases in Russia, applies to all websites that receive Russian clients’ personal data, from small companies to mega-corporations such as Google and Facebook.
As iPad sales drop in Russia, where are they getting their tech? rbth.com/48575
A law requiring that all websites that receive Russian clients’ personal data to store it within the country’s borders came into force on September 1, 2015. Russian Association for Electronic Communications, said it will not be easy. “Indeed, the question of connection to the electricity supply remains problematic for businesses in Russia,” he said. Access to electricity, as Rosatom has offered, could tip the company’s decision, Kazaryan said. However, Google and Facebook would also need a stable wide communications links, Kazaryan said. “In any case, a project of this magnitude will require additional costs for infrastructure development,” Kazaryan said. If in addition to offering the site, Rosatom would also cover part of these costs, it could make Google and Facebook more willing to build a data center there, Kazaryan said. But neither has announced plans for such construction, he said. “They rent capacities, and they were not going to build their own data centers,” Kazaryan said. “In addition, access to elec-
tricity is not the determining criterion for such companies.” The first phase of work on the data center at the Kalinin nuclear power plant has begun and will be ready to operate in the middle of 2016. The general construction contractor has been chosen, and the process to obtain permits for its erection has already started. “The data center will be partly used for the needs of the concern Rosenergoatom due to the nature of our activities and trafficking of large amounts of data,” Smirnov said. He added: “At the same time, Rosenergoatom, which operates all nuclear power plants in Russia, will take between five and 10 percent of the total capacity of the data center. All the rest will be offered to the market.” ■ANDREI RETINGER SPECIAL TO RBTH
The first data center is to be built next to a nuclear power plant To address the problem of access to the necessary infrastructure in Russia, nuclear corporation Rosatom offered to provide Google and Facebook with a site for a data center near the Kalinin nuclear power plant in the Tver region, 225 miles from Moscow. “With the location next to an energy source, in this case the station’s power units, companies reduce costs and are guaranteed to receive a source of energy,” said Sergei Novikov, Rosatom’s communications director. “Financial costs also decrease due to the shorter distance to the source. We have electricity, and we can launch everything even today or next month.” Facebook and Google declined to comment on the proposal to RBTH. But Karen Kazaryan, chief analyst at the
Kommersant business daily, citing the Central Bank’s analysis. The report describes the GDP dynamics model after the introduction of Western sanctions in the third quarter of 2014 and the drop in oil prices from $110 to $50-55 per barrel. According to official information, Russia’s GDP in the January-June 2015 period fell by 3.4 percent in relation to the same period in 2014.
What countries are benefiting from Russia’s embargo on Western food imports?
Rosatom invites Google or Facebook to store Russians’ data next to a nuclear power plant Google, Facebook, and countless other companies large and small are now required to store their Russian clients’ data within the country’s borders, according to a law that took effect Sept. 1. The law, which also requires companies to provide the locations of their databases in Russia, applies to all websites that receive Russian clients’ personal data, from small companies offering hotel reservations or the purchase of tickets online, to megacorporations such as Google and Facebook. All these companies will now have to build data centers in Russia to store the data of Russian users taking part in their services. Google has several million physical servers residing in at least 14 data centers around the world and three major European data centers in Finland, Belgium and Ireland, according to various reports. “Such centers are large arrays of servers, consuming huge amounts of electricity. Therefore, it is necessary to build them with a guaranteed secured supply, which will not be interrupted,” said Sergei Smirnov, an expert at the Energy Efficiency Union. “Otherwise, the company’s losses will be in the millions every day, and in the case of large corporations – hundreds of millions.” In addition to electricity, such centers require access to huge amounts of water for cooling equipment.
© ILIA PITALEV / RIA NOVOSTI
Source: Arctic Council/University of Durham/UN document
SERGEY MEDVEDEV / TASS
The main justification The potential economic benefits of claiming this underwater region are incalculable. “The Laptev Sea, as has already been proven, has a diamond canal on the surface of its shelf, which will allow Russia to become even more competitive with other countries in the production of diamonds,” said Vera Smorchkova, professor of labor and social policy at the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA) Institute of State Service and Administration. Russia had applied to gain possession of a smaller part of territory the Lomonosov Ridge in 2001, but did not have required proof that the territory was an extension of the continent and belonged to Russia, said Smorchkova, also assistant to the chairman of the Senate Committee on the Affairs of the North and Indigenous Peoples. The 1982 U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea allows countries to expand their economic zones, provided that the seabed beyond their bounds is a natural extension of the continental margin. Denmark, Canada, Norway and the U.S. are also laying claims to sometimes-overlapping territories under the Arctic Ocean. This collective interest in the northern seas is based on geologists’ collective opinion that the seabed contains almost 30 percent of unexplored natural gas reserves and 15 percent of oil reserves. In the application, Russia lays claims to the Lomonosov Ridge, Alpha Ridge and Chukchi Cap, and to the Podvodnik and Chukchi Ocean Basins separating them.
The GDP’s real ‘villain’ is oil, not sactions
After 14 years, Russia is renewing an effort to claim a vast territory on the outer margin of the Arctic’s continental shelf abutting Russia’s land mass. Aug. 4, Russia submitted to the U.N. a revised application to claim the 1.2-million-square-meter (463,000-squaremile) underwater territory extending more than 350 sea miles from the coast, according to an announcement posted on the Ministry of Foreign Affair’s site. “For justifying its claim to this territory, Russia used a large collection of scientific data, accumulated in the course of many years of arctic research,” reads the announcement.
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Opinion P4 // rbth.com // September 2, 2015
‘NGO SCARE’ TAKES HOLD IN RUSSIA In July, Russia’s Federation Council unveiled the so-called “patriotic stop-list,” made up of 12 foreign organizations whom officials suspect of activities detrimental to national interests. The list consists of eight American, three Ukrainian and one Polish organization, and includes well-known institutions such as Freedom House, the MacArthur Foundation, the Soros Foundation and others. Some of the listed organizations have already an-
nounced that they plan to end their activities in Russia. The law has provoked strong opinions in Russia and the U.S. The two opinions below originally appeared in Russia Direct. Both refer to a historical precedent for the law while shedding light on the consequences of removing foreign organizations from Russia. One author is a professor of international relations and the other is the co-author of the law on ‘undesirable’ foreign organizations.
IVAN TSVETKOV SPECIAL TO RUSSIA DIRECT
THE FUTURE OF ‘MCCARTHYIST’ RUSSIA
he list of “undesirable organizations” drawn up by Russia’s Federation Council, combined with the subsequent announcement by the MacArthur Foundation of its departure from Russia on July 21, can hardly be called a sensation. Given the current policy of the Russian authorities, the sensation is more that the MacArthur Foundation and other similar organizations continued to operate thus far in Russia at all.
The political era in today’s Russia is reminiscent of the McCarthy era in 1950s America, when U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy launched a “Red Scare” campaign to eradicate “hostile” foreign influences. Now, following the MacArthur Foundation’s exodus from Russia, the resemblance of the names makes the connection even more striking. The departure of the MacArthur Foundation certainly marks the symbolic end of an era. The foundation opened an office in Moscow back in 1991 on the wave of enthusiasm for restructuring and democratic reform. For international philanthropists, Russia seemed a near ideal place to invest time and resources, since the collapse of the old Soviet institutions had created a unique set of circumstances for transformations aimed at “improving” the world. Although most of these ambitions remained on the drawing board, Western charities stayed active in Russia for a quarter of a century. This was contingent on two conditions: confidence on the part of philanthropists that not all the money was “going down the drain,” and neutrality (or least not hostility)
on the part of the Russian government with regard to international philanthropy. In 2014-2015, as a result of the events in Ukraine and the ensuing crisis in relations between Russia and the West, both these conditions ceased to exist. For the Russian government, any uncontrolled financial flows from Western countries began to look like a potential threat – perhaps even an existential threat – capable of toppling the regime. And no one in the Kremlin was interested in what exactly the charities did, or what scientific and educational projects were jeopardized by the imposition of bans and restrictions. Philanthropists themselves realized the futility of the situation. Their investments were not “improving” the world, but creating problems for both investors and (even more so) for recipients in Russia. NGOs caught taking foreign funds were forced to undergo the humiliating procedure of registering as “foreign agents,” while individual recipients were at risk of being charged with “collaboration with the enemy.” In this climate, the decision taken by the
IRANIAN DEAL CAN HELP TO UNRAVEL UKRAINIAN KNOT
he agreements reached between the six international mediators (known as the P5+1) and Tehran on the Iranian nuclear program are one of the most significant positive developments in world politics recently. The nuclear non-proliferation regime has been strengthened; additional opportunities are emerging to bring together the efforts of the world’s leading powers in the Middle East and other crisis regions; and a positive response from the international markets can be expected. The Iranian precedent has been set and it deserves a thorough analysis in order to use the experience accumulated to deal with other international issues. First of all, it should be noted that the agreement was reached against the negative background of relations between Russia and the West. The negotiators managed to exclude these external factors from the negotiation process, prevent the collapse of the P5+1, preserve a common position and bring the matter to a successful conclusion. In this situation, the goal was clear and specific, not allowing for arbitrary understandings and oneway interpretations. The P5+1 and Iran also generally managed to isolate the negotiation process from the impact of domestic policies. In the years since the start of negotiations, most member countries changed presidents and prime ministers, while the composition of the negotiating team changed as well. However, the political will and determination to solve the problem on both sides won in the end. The negotiations, of course, were tough, but were carried out with respect for participating countries and with an effort to understand the partner’s position, without pumping up hostile rhetoric and unleashing propaganda wars. The agreements on Iran’s nuclear program have once again demonstrated the importance of Russian-American dialogue at the present stage. It was the concerted efforts of Russia and the U.S. that largely ensured the achievement of these agreements. Iran’s example, and the recent example of the elimination of chemical weapons in Syria, have once again demonstrated that the U.S. and Russia remain guarantors of strengthening the regime of non-proliferation of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction.
The lessons of Iran Of course, talking about the final resolution of the Iranian nuclear issue is premature. But the main conclusion is obvious: political will, clarity in setting objectives, the high professionalism
MacArthur Foundation seems quite natural and logical. It is sure to be followed by many – if not all – other Western benefactors still operating on Russian soil. The international Project Russia, born in the crucible of Gorbachev’s perestroika, now seems dead and buried. It is distressing that Russian authorities and a significant portion of Russian society have no regrets in this regard. The assertion that Russia can finance its own scientific research and education, and create all the institutions of civil society it needs, seems to many as undisputed as the assertion that Russia can look after all its children in orphanages, including ones with disabilities, without the need for adoptive parents from abroad. For many Russians who have never received a grant, either foreign or domestic, the MacArthur Foundation’s exit has prompted no emotional response at all, and news about the shortfall of millions of dollars in funding for Russian science is of no consequence to ordinary TV viewers. For Russian political leadership, meanwhile, the shift toward conscious isolation from the West is becoming increasingly irreversible. The list of “undesirable” organizations is another big step in that direction. At the same time, Russian authorities are desperate to create the impression that, far from trying to build a new Iron Curtain, they are open to the “good” outside world, and are fencing the country off only from “bad” and aggressive elements. Russia is initiating international cooperation as part of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and the Eurasian community. The “bad” West finds itself juxtaposed with the “good” South and East. It is symbolic that the role of the Russian McCarthy, the architect of the “undesirables” list, belongs to Konstantin Kosachev, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee of the Federation Council, who some time ago headed Rossotrudnichestvo, a key departments in Russia’s public diplomatic mission. It is well known that international charity is one of the most important channels of public diplomacy. Kosachev and his fellow legislators who drafted the list could not have been unaware that by declaring the activity of Russian-based U.S. private charities as undesirable, they were essentially outlawing U.S. public diplomacy in Russia. Yet public diplomacy is officially listed as a priority of Russian foreign policy, and the Russian authorities intend to pursue it, including in the U.S. and Europe. Can we expect a “symmetrical response” from the West, including the introduction of restrictions on “hostile” Russian organizations? The implacable logic of the new Cold War suggests that might indeed be a distinct possibility.
CO N V E RT I N G M O N O LO G U E S I N TO D I A LO G U E
Igor Ivanov is the president of the Russian Council on International Affairs and served as the Russian foreign minister from 1998-2004.
SPECIAL TO RUSSIA DIRECT
This opinion is extracted from a Russia Direct interview with Alexander Tarnavsky, a State Duma deputy from the Just Russia party, co-author of the law on undesirable organizations.
irst, there is the law on foreign agents. This legislation deals with Russian noncommercial organizations, or NGOs that receive money from abroad. Second, there is the law on undesirable organizations. This law deals with foreign legal entities, not with Russian ones. According to the law, foreign organizations – both commercial ones and non-commercial – could be recognized as undesirable for their activities in the territory of Russia. In this case, the Russian prosecutor general’s office and the foreign minister will decide if the activities of these organizations threaten the country’s political regime, its defense capability and security. Regarding NGOs, there has already been such legislation regulating their activity for more than 10 years. Just look at Article 17 of the Federal Law on Fighting Extremism. And it is likewise about the threats to Russia’s constitutional regime. So, basically, there is nothing new that we are applying to deal with foreign NGOs. But there is the other side of the coin of undesirable organizations: First, it is surprising that some human rights organizations focus on certain problems, while neglecting others. We also do understand that, mostly, foreign NGOs don’t earn any money by themselves. They receive this money. They are the channels for others who earn and consume. They get grants and scholarships and, thus, they depend on those who give them money. And money comes either from very rich philanthropists, who direct the money for certain projects, or transnational corporations, owned by these philanthropists, or the budgets of other countries. Those who pay order the music. And this is the problem of all sectors of NGOs, including foreign ones, beginning with Human Rights Watch and ending with the Carnegie Moscow Center. They have a target for funding, they have to work off it and promote their own agenda in Russia. We don’t like it, and find it suspicious. Read the full interview at russia-direct.org
AN ANALYTICAL PUBLICATION THAT FOCUSES EXCLUSIVELY ON THE COMPLEX CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES SHAPING THE U.S.-RUSSIA RELATIONSHIP
August Monthly Report FROZEN CONFLICTS IN THE POST-SOVIET SPACE The latest Russia Direct report explores the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, Russia’s tense relations with Georgia, and Russia’s ability to ensure stability on its borders. Can the Kremlin efficiently address potential security risks while avoiding the outbreak of new crises?
Finding a holistic approach The only way out of the Ukrainian impasse is the qualitative improvement of cooperation between the major international players interested in resolving the crisis as soon as possible. This applies equally to the intensity of the work of the negotiating mechanism, the set of problems discussed and the composition of the participants in the Minsk process. It concerns the formation of a broad international consensus about the stages of Ukraine’s exit from the crisis and the future of the country in a new system of European security. It also concerns a set of incentives – both positive and negative – that the international community must have at its disposal, working with all parties to end the conflict in Ukraine.
Dr. Ivan Tsvetkov is an associate professor at the School of International Relations of St. Petersburg State University.
of the participants, their willingness to compromise, the consistency and continuity of the stages of the negotiation process – all these factors make it possible to achieve success even in the most complex international situations. The Iranian precedent deserves special attention in the context of the continuing crisis in and around Ukraine. Unfortunately, we must note that the current “Normandy format” for discussion of the Ukrainian crisis in many respects is clearly inferior to the format of the negotiations between the P5+1 and Iran. Not all the participants of the Minsk process demonstrate the political will required to reach agreements. The objectives of the negotiations are not always clearly defined, except when immediate, tactical aims are set. In addition, the willingness of all parties to compromise and to take mutual interests into account is by no means always manifested. The propaganda war between the West and Russia does not provide even a temporary truce for a period of preparation and implementation of agreements.
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Culture rbth.com // September 2, 2015 // P5
Dystopia in a disjointed republic
The Russian Library will give English language readers access to a comprehensive range of Russian works. Although many Russian masterpieces have won a place in the catalogue of classics thanks to their literary merit and the quality of their translations, they don’t tell the whole story. Each of these well-known works is only a small part of a vast, complex canon that has been largely inaccessible to Westerners, who have struggled to understand Russian literature without a view of the larger narrative – until now. Read Russia, a nonprofit founded in 2012 to connect readers to Russia’s rich literary tradition, has partnered with the Institute for Literary Translation in Moscow to fill in these missing gaps. The goal of the 10-year Russian Library project is to translate 125 Russian works into English and publish at least 10 print and e-books per year. “Russian literature is...almost a natural resource,” says Peter Kaufman, executive director of Read Russia. “It’s like the ocean, and we’ve only explored part of it.” An editorial advisory board of academics and translators will choose and vet the books, and Columbia University Press will publish the series. Board members come from institutions such as Oxford, Harvard, Princeton, Columbia, the Literary Museum in Moscow and the Institute of Rus-
sian Literature in St. Petersburg. Studying Russian masterpieces in isolation, many Westerners don’t see that Russian literature exists as a conversation, with one work answering or challenging another. Turgenev questions the benefits of nihilism in “Fathers and Sons,” (1862) to which the cultural critic Nikolai Chernyshevksy responds with his utilitarian manifesto “What Is to Be Done?” (1863). This work in turn inspired Dostoevsky to produce “Notes from Underground” and “Crime and Punishment,” both of which emphasis moral responsibility over utopian ideals. The library will showcase “the breadth and richness of the tradition” and will include modern works and even genre fiction, says Columbia University Press director Jennifer Crewe. Crewe also hopes English language readers will “appreciate how funny Russian literature can be.” “We know Gogol because he’s taught, but some of the early 20th century works are really comic, and much less well known here,” Crewe says. In upcoming meetings, the editorial board will finalize the list of works to be printed, which will require determining copyright availability and pairing the right translators with the texts. Kaufman
Russian literature: ‘a natural resource’
The Russian Library’s first board meeting at Moscow’s Festival of Books in June. hopes the first set of books will come out by December 2016, in time for Russian Literature Week. Held in New York City, this Read Russia event celebrates the work of literature’s backstage heroes: translators. Literature has a daily impact on Russia, which is now celebrating its Year of Literature. Crewe, who travelled to Russia for the first time in June of this year to attend a Read Russia conference during Moscow’s Festival of Books, noticed “even the airplane next to us was called Joseph Brodsky” (under whom Crewe studied poetry at Columbia). “It’s clear how revered the writers are,” says Crewe. “That was my standout impression of Russia.” But while more than 40,000 English language books have been translated and published in Russia in the past 35 years, the U.S. has translated only 3,390 Russian books to English, according to the Translationum, a UNESCO data warehouse. Ultimately, the Russian Library project will help correct this imbalance in cultural understanding. “We could say that English speaking readers have been under-served in translation,” says Kaufman. “A lot of people have this view of Russian lit of being long, depressing, macabre, but it also can be short and depressing and macabre. It reflects a history that is full of war and religion and faith and famine, crises, and at the same time... it’s the full spectrum.” ■RANDIANNE LEYSHON RBTH
READ THE FULL STORY at rbth.com/48667
WHICH BOOKS SHOULD BE INCLUDED IN THE RUSSIAN LIBRARY PROJECT?
HARVARD UNIVERSITY, SLAVIC LANGUAGES & LITERATURES
COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY, HARRIMAN INSTITUTE
PROJECT MANAGER, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY PRESS
I think for the Soviet and post-Soviet periods we want to look at neglected works, works that have potential for becoming future classics, works that have not previously appeared in English, or that appeared in translations that did not do them justice, or for whatever reason did not receive the attention they merit. It will be a mix of [new and old] translations.
One of the great things about the Russian Library is the sheer scope of the project. I’m excited that we’ll be able to publish a real range, from Nobel Prize winners like Bunin and Pasternak to writers less known thus far in the West, like historical novelist Leonid Yuzefovich and the great experimental poet/novelist/visual artist Dmitri Prigov.
Writer Dmitry Bykov on teaching, conspiracies and books
This is your second year as a visiting lecturer at Princeton University. Among other things, your lectures explore how the image of the U.S. changed in Russian and Soviet literature. Could you please tell us briefly what it was like in the 19th and 20th centuries, and what image of America is dominant in contemporary writing? Those were one-off lectures that I read at my students’ request. And I once delivered this lecture at my favorite Brooklyn Public Library, whose assistance in digging out some rare sources was invaluable. In modern literature, the prevalent image of the USA derives from Ana-
TITLE: “THE MOUNTAIN AND THE WALL” AUTHOR: ALISA GANIEVA PUBLISHER: DEEP VELLUM
t is hard to imagine a more topical theme than how ordinary people could ever turn to a twisted, despotic version of Islam. The setting for Alisa Ganieva’s “The Mountain and the Wall” is Russia’s mainly Muslim Republic of Dagestan, sandwiched between war-torn Chechnya and the Caspian Sea. Ganieva’s family comes from the largest of Dagestan’s many ethnic groups, the Avars. She was educated in Moscow, but grew up in Dagestan’s coastal capital city, Makhachkala. In her dystopian-yet-real version of Makhachkala, there are rumors that the Russian authorities are planning to build a Berlin-style wall to isolate the troublesome Caucasus. Shamil, a young Dagestani reporter, wanders the streets, watching protests and the violent imposition of Sharia law. Despite the influence of the Caucasus on Russian writers like Tolstoy and Lermontov, a Dagestani perspective is new for most Western readers. Ganieva vividly portrays the disrupted patterns of contemporary life, the disjuncture between the rational, modern world and the primitive ex-
toly Ivanov’s novel “The Eternal Call” (written in 1971-76). You won’t believe it but everything that we are being fed today about a Dulles Plan to destroy Russian spirituality in fact comes from the monologue of émigré Lakhnovsky, a former White Guard officer. [Editor’s note: the Dulles plan refers to a conspiracy theory in which the CIA is attempting to subvert the morality and cultural mores of the Soviet Union.] An America that is undermining our selfhood and sawing away at our spiritual binds was invented by a Soviet reactionary, who must have had some talent after all, since his ideas have quite taken root. Generally speaking, at times of uplift, Russia is always interested in America, is not afraid of America, and is a partner for America, whereas when things are down, it becomes susceptible to conspiracy theories and suspiciousness and is dreaming of shutting away from the rest of the world. Incidentally, the same is true
HIS STORY Dmitry Bykov is, among other things, the author of satirical poetry and the biographer of Boris Pasternak and Maxim Gorky. At Princeton University, Bykov gives a seminar on Russian contemporary art, which covers not only literature, but also cinema, television and performance art. For graduate students, he is teaching a course called “Strategies of Survival in Soviet Literature.” In the new academic year, he will also offer a seminar about the history of Soviet science fiction called “Utopia, dystopia, post-utopia.”
READ THE FULL INTERVIEW at rbth.com/48595
tremism that threatens it. She harnesses the tropes of apocalyptic fiction: cellphone blackouts, boarded-up airports, anarchy, the rise of cults, just as Emily St. John Mandel does in her recent bestseller “Station Eleven.” Like Mandel, Ganieva is less interested in the mechanics of the doomsday scenario than its social and psychological repercussions. Images of disaster form a flickering background: morbid jokes about bus bombings or senseless glimpses on the news of “guard towers, armed soldiers, barbed wire, women screaming incoherently.” The foreground dramas are the protagonists’ differing reactions: Shamil’s girlfriend dons a hijab and heads for the hills to marry a murderous zealot; his restless young cousins are excited, “ready for something to happen.” Arip, a Moscow-educated mathematician, returns to Dagestan to find his world divided. In one scene, he sees the museum’s collection of antiques smashed, prehistoric bronze statuettes melted down. A bonfire of “idolatrous” art from several continents and religions becomes a potent image: Christian saints and plaster Madonnas, mythical birds and mountain tribesmen. “They melted and fused in the heat” while oil paint “dripped down flaming canvasses like tears.”
Read our updated literature section! rbth.com/literature
The secret history of Russian nesting dolls
of the United States, there is a lot of symmetry between us.
ALEXANDRA MUDRATS / TASS
A poet, novelist, journalist and visiting lecturer at Princeton University, Dmitry Bykov tells RBTH how modern readers perceive America, which books are essential to decipher the mysterious Russian soul and how American students are different from their Russian counterparts.
SPECIAL TO RBTH
Stephanie Sandler We have such riches to choose from that surely we can’t go wrong: Well-known writers and famous “big” books should mix well with strange fictions, weird heroes, and the “little” men and women whose stories are told so compellingly. There are wonderful in-between genres, part-documentary and partfiction, or even part-poetry and part-prose, that can be much better represented in English.
Are American students different from Russian ones? When giving an assignment to an American student, you can be sure that it will be done well and on time. Ambition is the best motivation. An American student knows that for their career it is better to be active and to talk a lot. Whereas a Russian student knows that for their career it is better to keep silent, or at least to bide one’s time. There is much less control in the U.S. education system and no incentives apart from personal growth. Relations between professors and students are more relaxed and friendly, there is less hierarchy. An American student is like Hermione, while a Russian student is more like Harry: everybody knows that he is a hero and a martyr but it does not show in his studies. He is just different. And he is very good at Quidditch. As the author of the encyclopedia “A Hundred Books That Everyone Should Read,” what three Russian books should a foreigner read to understand the Russian soul? And what three books by American authors do you consider it essential for Russians to read? Russian books: “Anna Karenina” by Leo Tolstoy, “Dark Avenues” by Ivan Bunin, and “Kolyma Tales” by Varlam Shalamov. American books: “Moby-Dick; or, The Whale” by Herman Melville, “In Cold Blood” by Truman Capote, and “The Sound and the Fury” by William Faulkner.
■OLGA MAMAYEVA SPECIAL TO RBTH
ELENA KOSTOMAROVA SPECIAL TO RBTH
Sergei Malyutin, the first painter of the traditionally-dressed Russian matryoshka doll, was born 156 years ago this September.
he Russian nesting doll, or matryoshka, is one of the most recognizable symbols of Russia – but while many see it as an example of the nation’s ancient traditions of woodworking and decorative handicrafts, the matryoshka is far younger than she appears. In fact, the doll dates back only to the late 19th century and is not an exclusively Russian creation. Sergei Malyutin is credited with painting the first Russian matryoshka in 1890. Malyutin, born Sept. 22, 1859, was a member of the Abramtsevo artist colony, which worked toward reviving folk art and traditional crafts. The dolls gained their iconic status after appearing at the 1900 Paris World’s Fair. Some believe that the wife of the famous art patron and merchant, Savva Mamontov, brought the prototype of the matryoshka to Russia from Japan. In the second half of the 19th century, a vogue for everything Eastern swept over Russia: clothes, prints, statuettes. Even Emperor Nicholas II carried a netsuke in his pocket as a talisman. The story goes that Mamontov asked Malyutin to make something similar to the Japanese Fukuruma doll. This wood-
en sculpture of the God of Wisdom contained another six figurines painted as his relatives or as other Japanese gods. The craftsman Vasily Zvezdochkin made the wooden models, and Malyutin painted eight dolls in what is now thought of as a traditional Russian style. The biggest matryoshka was a peasant maiden in a sarafan (dress) with black rooster in her hands. The middle of the 1930s saw the introduction of factory production of the matryoshka, after which the doll achieved the status of the country’s main souvenir. From the 1990s onward the matryoshka in Russia became a unique canvas for the self-expression of various types of artists. All foreign tourists visiting Russia in that period remember the souvenir rows on Moscow’s Arbat street with the differently painted matryoshkas representing politicians, pop stars, and actors, sometimes as caricatures. The doll also underwent thousands of experiments in color, form and size, with the record sample consisting of 80 pieces. Elena Kostomarova is a journalist and copywriter.
Feature P6 // rbth.com // September 2, 2015
Wooing America with ‘Romances’ The Russian Chamber Arts Society: Celebrating Ten Years of Cultural Engagement
UPCOMING CONCERTS Oct. 2 Tenth anniversary Gala – Classic Romances by Tchaikovsky, Rimsky-Korsakov and Rachmaninoff, as well as 20th-century songs by Georgy Sviridov, Rodion Shchedrin and Valery Gavrilin Dec. 4 A tribute to Shostakovich
“My goal is to expose the audience to pieces that they may not have heard before,” says Danchenko-Stern. Performances are hosted at the Austrian Embassy, whose acoustics work well for chamber singing, she says. One energetic piece to be performed in October, “I Remember the Wonderful Moment” with music by Mikhail Glinka and lyrics by Alexander Pushkin, is sung by a tenor who tells of falling in love at first sight, only to fall into deep despair “in the gloom of captivity” until his beloved appears again. “In the Midst of the Ball,” with music by Pyotr Ilich Tchaikovsky and lyrics by Count Aleksei Tolstoy, also tells of love from afar: A man spots a beautiful woman across the room at a ball and is captivated by her. The music matches the mystery, sadness and longing of the poetry. Danchenko-Stern has worked with vocalists singing Russian music for decades, including teaching voice (Singing in Russian) at the Johns Hopkins Peabody Institute. Many musicians and vocalists who perform with the RCAS are American. Several, such as Timothy Mix, are Danchenko-Stern’s former students that have gone on to international music careers. “Vera’s efforts show Americans that the language is not insurmountable for non-na-
tive speakers,” says Mix. “Often after a concert I’ve had native speakers walk up to me and begin to speak in Russian only to have me tell them that I don’t actually speak the language. At least not yet.” The Russian Chamber Art Society has also created an opportunity for exchange between Russian and American student musicians. As part of the 2008 season, RCAS organized a concert for the winners of the Three Centuries of Classical Romance Competition in St. Petersburg, Russia. In addition, American students from the Peabody Conservatory of Johns Hopkins University, Howard University, and Morgan State University have visited Moscow and St. Petersburg several times to take part in the International Festival Week of the Conservatories. Baritone Carl Ratner, an RCAS performer and longtime student of Danchenko-Stern, first learned pieces by Tchaikovsky because “his music seemed to fit my voice like a glove.” “Vera is a force of nature: she is a brilliant pianist and coach and understands this music on a gut level,” Ratner says. “We Americans just try to absorb as much as we can.”
POPULAR SONGS WITH RUSSIAN ROOTS
Pianist Vera DanchenkoStern feels that combining music and poetry in the classic style of the Romance allows listeners to understand an entire culture even without knowing the language.
ALL BY MYSELF, BY ERIC CARMEN “All By Myself” is a ballad by American artist Eric Carmen, released in 1975. It became popular after Celine Dion performed it in 1996. The verse is based on the second movement (Adagio sostenuto) of Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 18. Carmen initially composed the song’s interlude, then took the bridge from Rachmaninoff. Carmen called Rachmaninoff his “favorite music.”
■CATHERINE TRAINOR SPECIAL TO RBTH
Feb. 26, 2016 The “Silver Age” of Russian poetry in music
THOSE WERE THE DAYS, BY MARY HOPKINS This popular song from 1968 is an English translation of the Russian Romance song “Dorogoi Dlinnoyu” (“By the Long Road”). Poet Konstantin Podrevskii wrote the original Russian words, and Boris Fomin composed the tune in the early twentieth century at the height of the Romance genre’s popularity. The song was a number one hit for six weeks after its release.
April 15, 2016 “...Tender tears and love and life” – Songs by Anton Rubinstein, Anton Arensky, Alexander Glazunov and Mark Minkov All concerts will take place in the Embassy of Austria. Find more information at: › www.thercas.com
GOD BLESS AMERICA This song, which you hear during the 7th inning stretch, was written by Irving Berlin. He was born in Siberia and immigrated to the United States in a wave of Russian Jewish immigrants in the late 19th century. Knowing his rags-toriches story adds an extra feeling of soulfulness to the songs that he wrote.
Ask any American to name a piece of music by a Russian composer, and you’ll likely hear them mention Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker” or “Swan Lake,” or perhaps Prokofiev or Shostakovich. They’d likely describe the music as grand, emotional and often dramatic. But there is a softer, less-known genre of Russian music that weaves together voice, music and poetry. This distinct fusing of artistic styles is called the Romance. Originating in the late 18th century, the genre combines lyrical Russian poetry with the sounds of traditional Slavic folk music. Composer Mikhail Glinka (1804-1857) is credited with bringing the Romance into the houses of Russian nobility and subsequently making it a national art form. The Romance came to Washington, D.C., 10 years ago when Vera Danchenko-Stern, a Moscow native who graduated from the Gnessin Institute of Music in Moscow with honors in piano, solo performance, chamber music, vocal and instrumental accompaniment, founded the Russian Chamber Arts Society (RCAS). Danchenko-Stern, who moved to D.C. in 1990, has been responsible for all of RCAS’s programming. The upcoming 2015-2016 concert season will celebrate a decade of performing Romances for American audiences. “My feelings come through this music,” says Danchenko-Stern. “I’m interested solely in the legacy of this particular genre. As a pianist, all my life I’ve enjoyed working with musicians and vocalists, and I want this music to be sung without fear by Americans or who[ever] else wants to approach it.” The genre of the Romance is poignant and heartfelt; the poetry takes on a new meaning when set to music. DanchenkoStern estimates that a surprising 95 percent of her audience is typically American, with the remainder being Russian. Timothy Mix, a student of DanchenkoStern, explains the most striking part of Russian vocal chamber music “is how the music relates to the time and the place in which it was written.” “It’s a lot like the idea of ‘terroir’ in wine and food,” Mix says. “This music can transport you to that time and place.” Danchenko-Stern feels that combining music and poetry in the classic style of the Romance allows listeners to understand an entire culture even without knowing the language. “Art would not exist without poetry,” she says, “and what would be more interesting than learning about Russian poetry along with the music? From Alexander Pushkin to Boris Pasternak, the Russian poetry legacy is wide. I am going for a very challenging program for my audience, which includes a wide range of poets and lots of chamber singing.” The Russian Chamber Arts Society will celebrate its 10th anniversary with a special gala concert Oct. 2 at the Embassy of Austria in D.C.
PRINCE IGOR, BY THE RAPSODY The Rapsody found its inspiration in Borodin’s opera “Prince Igor” in this 1997 release (the rap lyrics are unrelated). The album “The Rapsody Overture: Hip Hop Meets Classic” also includes “Schwanensee” by Scoota, inspired by Tchaikovsky’s ballet “Swan Lake.”
Marmalade — an easy, sweet homemade apple treat Although apples are traditionally associated with autumn, now that they are available year-round, there’s no time like the present to try making homemade candies and wine. I really like the idea of eating seasonal food. Unfortunately, having grown up in a big city and knowing rather little about agriculture, I’m used to eating anything anytime – with some exceptions, of course, such as berries and watermelon. Apples are amazing in September – I love the sour Russian varieties, and autumn is the season when everyone with a dacha is trying to use up their apples, giving them away to friends, family, neighbors and colleagues – sometimes even strangers. I should also explain that what we call marmalade is more like jelly candy and not jam. The homemade type is less settled than the gelatin-based ones from the shop, although I’m not speaking from a great depth of experience – before this experiment, I’d never tried homemade marmalade before. My grandmother tells me that back in the day there
ANNA KHARZEEVA SPECIAL TO RBTH
were state “cooperatives” that would drive around to people’s dachas during apple season and buy apples from them to make jam, juice and marmalade. The buying price was low, but people were happy to get rid of the excess fruit. And still there was enough left over to make jam, and even nalivka – a homemade fruit-based alcoholic drink – and wine. I remember the first time I ever tried alcohol was at granny’s place: My great-grandmother, Mun’ka, had made cherry nalivka and I licked some off a spoon. It was sweet and really yummy to a teenager, and it took
WATCH “MY LIFE IN RUSSIA” ABOUT FOREIGNERS LIVING ABROAD! DESPERATE FOR BORSCH? LEARN TO COOK WITH OUR “DELICIOUS TV” SERIES!
me a while to develop a taste for dry wines afterward… it was worth the struggle though! Mun’ka also used to make nalivka from grapes and other fruit. She would put a 3-liter jar with fruit and sugar in it on the windowsill by the sun and just leave it there for a month. She would then strain the liquid – and voila, the nalivka was ready! I remember Mun’ka would always demand a glass of wine (the size of a thimble) at every celebration, even when she was more than 100 years old. Granny says everyone made nalivka at home, and there was a famous type called “my grandmother’s bouquet” which just included the entirety of all the unwanted fruit in the house. In season, fruit and berries were very cheap and even if you didn’t have a dacha, you could get plenty at the market. These days, it’s cheaper to buy ready-made alcohol than to buy enough fruit and berries to make your own. It’s a shame fruit is expensive, but I’m so grateful we have decent wines to choose from! Some people still make rowan tree “wine” at home. It’s supposed to be ‘good for you’ — like normal wine isn’t! This fall I might try making a nalivka — I can already imagine my husband’s face when he sees the big glass jar taking up space on the windowsill. I’ll have to make plenty of marmalade to soften the blow for him, and I’ll probably have a helping or two as well.
READ MORE RECIPES at rbth.com/russian_kitchen
R B T H . C O M / M U LT I M E D I A SCAN WITH LAYAR TO WATCH INTRODUCTORY VIDEO
THE SOVIET COOKBOOK
September is apple season; make marmalade. Ingredients: 500 grams apples; 400 grams sugar Instructions: 1. Wash and cut each apple in half. Remove the core, and bake in an oven. After baking, rub through a sieve. Into this puree, add the sugar. Mix well. 2. Cook over medium heat (350 degrees), stirring, until thick – 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat. Before the mix cools completely, form into the shape of a pie or cake.
RBTH the will return to ost Washington P on Oct. 7 !
Published on Sep 2, 2015
Published on Sep 2, 2015
In this issue: Russians not fazed by web sensorship; The new voice of the Russian Foreign Ministry wants you to like her on Facebook; Writer...