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Women as war heroes

Grim forecasts

The Russian film festival features war films with a difference

Big earthquakes on the way for Russia's Far East

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This supplement is sponsored by Rossiyskaya Gazeta, which takes sole responsibility for its contents and is wholly independent of Fairfax Media. The supplement did not involve Fairfax Media editorial staff in its production.

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ALAMY/LEGION MEDIA

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Distributed with The Age. Other distribution partners include: The International New York Times, The Daily Telegraph, Le Figaro, El Pais, Mainichi Shimbun. See the full list at page 8.

The long march to limbo: Syria’s refugees flee chaos to a life of uncertainty RUSSIA MUST DECIDE HOW TO RESPOND TO THE THOUSANDS SEEKING ASYLUM IN MOSCOW

PAGES 4-5

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ENGAGING THE WEST GOING EASTWARD Read, watch and listen to RBTH’s weekly analytical program, featuring three of the most high-profile recent developments in international affairs.

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News round-up

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TEN REASONS YOU SHOULD NEVER VISIT MOSCOW asia.rbth.com/multimedia/394137

ONLY AT ASIA.RBTH.COM

EUROPE

Moscow wary of NATO plans

A magnificent Art Nouveau mansion has been the official residence of Australian ambassadors to Russia since 1959. ASIA.RBTH.COM/MULTIMEDIA/396019 EPA/VOSTOCK-PHOTO

NATO defence ministers have announced plans to beef up the alliance’s presence in central and eastern Europe to counter perceived threats from Russia. At the NATO summit in Brussels on October 8, Moscow was again accused of targeting moderate rebel groups instead of ISIS militants in its bombing campaign in Syria. Opening the summit, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg welcomed the UK’s decision to deploy troops to the Baltic states and Poland on a rotational basis. Stoltenberg also announced NATO’s plan to establish additional command centres in Slovakia and Hungary (six such centres already exist in central and eastern Europe) and the decision to increase the strength of its rapid-reaction force to 40,000 troops. The secretary general said that the need to “fortify the alliance” was because of the

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NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the alliance summit in Brussels.

Ukrainian crisis and Russia’s operations in Syria. The announcements in Brussels provoked an expected reaction from Moscow. Russian presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov ac-

cused NATO of concealing its actions to further expand the a l l i a n c e t o R u s s i a ’s borders behind “fictitious pretexts of an apparent Russian threat”. Peskov also underlined that

FINANCE

the alliance’s actions “will lead to retaliatory measures in order to create the necessary parity”. Read full version at asia.rbth.com/49959

CULTURE

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Kremlin may offer dollar, yuan bonds Moscow may enter foreign markets with bonds denominated in US dollars and Chinese yuan in 2016, Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov has announced. “We might enter foreign markets, as a number of our companies are doing now,”he said. “Let's see what the demand is like for our bonds and what investor interest is like. If it’s acceptable, we will enter in the standard way, as we did three years ago. “We could also place [bonds] in the currencies of our Asian partners, so as to pay in these currencies in our trade with these partners.” Siluanov said these propos-

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Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov.

als were under consideration and no final decisions had yet been made. “But we don’t rule out that we could enter the foreign market and borrow there next year,” he added. When asked which Asian partners the government was considering, Siluanov said: “Mainly Chinese partners.We will work with our Chinese partners and look into these issues. “If they show interest, we will be prepared to enter the markets and borrow in yuan. “We will explain our financial policy and debt potential to our Asian partners and Western partners. “Money on the domestic market will be the main borrowing source next year, but we are also exploring the possibility of entering external markets to get in aggregate up to 200 billion roubles.”

Russian animation nominated for award Russian animated film Snow Queen 2 has received a nomination for best animated feature at the 9th Asia Pacific Screen Awards, to be held in Brisbane on November 26. “We're very pleased that our project was nominated for this prestigious award,” saidYury Moskvin, producer of Wizart Animation, which created the Snow Queen series. Moskvin said the Asia Pacific Screen Awards were growing in prestige every year and were increasingly being referred to as the “AsiaPacific region’s Oscars”.

RBTH has chosen the top 10 most beautiful uninhabited islands in the territory of the Russian Federation. ASIA.RBTH.COM/MULTIMEDIA/480167

RUSSIAN CULTURAL EVENTS IN AUSTRALIA THE VOLATINSKY TRIO OCT 25

The Australian trio celebrates the eastern European backgrounds and musical training of its members, who play the cimbalom (a Russian hammer dulcimer with 78 strings), the domra (a Russian mandolin), the guitar and the cello. › stickytickets.com.au/26430/ the_volatinsky_trio_%40_ django_bar.aspx

NATASHA MOROZOVA CONCERT OCT 25

ARTS

Hermitage to open museum in Moscow by a new complex which will feature a theatre and concert hall as well as the new Hermitage museum. According to Dmitry Ozerkov, the curator and director of the Hermitage 20/21 project, the Moscow branch of the museum will focus on contemporary art. “Moscow is not as conservative as St Petersburg,” Ozerkov said.“People are accustomed to contemporary

art here and give it the attention it deserves. “The Hermitage already has a lot of experience in organising large-scale exhibitions of this kind.” Ozerkov also said there would be exhibitions of Impressionist and post-Impressionist paintings from the Hermitage collection and from its vaults, as well as exhibitions of contemporary artists from St Petersburg.

› trybooking.com/160976

TCHAIKOVSKY'S SERENADE FOR STRINGS

› mso.com.au

THE IMPERIAL RUSSIAN BALLET'S SWAN LAKE TOUR UNTIL OCT 31

The itinerant ballet company, which was established after the fall of the Soviet Union by the former Bolshoi Ballet soloist Gediminas Taranda, has been incredibly popular in Australia on previous tours. This spring, the company is taking Swan Lake to cities and regional centres across Australia. › russianballet.com.au/

MASTERPIECES FROM THE HERMITAGE: THE LEGACY OF CATHERINE THE GREAT UNTIL NOV 8

The National Gallery of Victoria is showing masterpieces from Russia's most renowned museum. › tngv.vic.gov.au/exhibition/ masterpieces-from-the-hermitage

OCT 27 LORI/LEGION MEDIA

St Petersburg’s world-famous State Hermitage Museum is to open a branch in Moscow. The new museum will be open by 2022. It will be part of the ZILART residential complex on the former site of the ZIL factory, which was founded in 1916 for manufacturing trucks. Some of the site’s heritage buildings will be preserved, while others will be replaced

Morozova, a prize-winning Moscow-born pianist and graduate of the Tchaikovsky State Conservatory, comes from a musical family. She grew up listening to Russian folk music, sacred music and classical, and these influences can be felt in her soulful performances.

tribute to Mozart and is known for the Russian theme of its finale and because it was used as the foundation of George Balanchine's ballet Serenade.

Under the direction of Richard Gill, the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra will perform this 1880 work. The serenade was written as a

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FIVE BEST ANIMATED FILMS FROM THE KROK FESTIVAL asia.rbth.com/49809

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Cinema This year's Russian Resurrection Film Festival in Australia will feature 24 films, 18 of them new releases

Festival shines light on role of women in war To mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, Australia's Russian film festival features 10 war films, including several about women soldiers. KATHERINE TERS RBTH

In Melbourne and Sydney, the Russian Resurrection Film Festival will open with Battalion, while in Canberra and Brisbane The Battle for Sevastopol will head the program. Festival founder Nicholas Maksymow told RBTH that these films – both based on true stories about women – were the strongest war films released in Russia this year.

The Battle for Sevastopol Directed by cinematographer Sergei Mokritsky, this Russian-Ukrainian co-production is about a Ukrainian-born Soviet sniper, Lyudmila Pavlichenko (played by Yuliya Peresild). The film covers her time in combat and a diplomatic mission she went on to rally the US to join the war effort. A film depicting Russians and Ukrainians fighting side

by side, defending the territory of present-day Ukraine and Russian Crimea, has obviously come at a controversial time. The film’s production began back in 2012, and Mokritsky told the Russian media that as tensions in Ukraine turned to violence, he feared the film’s reception would be tainted. But it was released in both countries in April, in Russian and Ukrainian, and it proved to be a box-office success in both. Despite Pavlichenko being regarded as a legendary Soviet war hero, credited with 309 kills, and despite the film showing her navigating the fronts at Odessa and Sevastopol – for the most part – unflinchingly, the character's frailty was played up. On the kinopoisk.ru website (Russia’s equivalent of IMBD), the film received this write-up:“Love under relentless enemy fire, friendship with Eleanor Roosevelt, a speech that could affect the outcome of the war, the desire to live and the fear of losing a loved one – can you cope with all of this, you fragile woman?” Please.

Russia's first all-women army unit was formed in 1917 from volunteer recruits.

A photographic exhibition about the making of Territory (2014), an adventure film set in Russia's Far North, will be part of the festival.

CALENDAR

Festival venues Sydney – city Oct 23 – Nov 4 Event Cinemas 505-525 George Street, Sydney › www.eventcinemas.com.au/ EventsFestivals/RussianFilmFestival

Sydney – Burwood Oct 23 – Nov 4 Event Cinemas – Westfield Burwood Road, Burwood › www.eventcinemas.com.au/ EventsFestivals/RussianFilmFestival

Canberra Nov 4 – 11 Greater Union 6 Franklin Street, Manuka › www.eventcinemas.com.au/ EventsFestivals/RussianFilmFestival

Melbourne Nov 5 – 15 ACMI Federation Square Flinders Street, Melbourne › www.acmi.net.au/film/festivals/

For more details: › http://russianresurrection.com/2015/ sessions

A scene from the New Year family film Yolki (2014) – one of four comedies being shown as part of this year's festival program.

(Russian) male soldiers, and their vulnerability is emphasised, particularly when the indestructible Bochkareva is horrifically publicly beaten by her husband. While this isn’t a film about women's liberation, it does tell an alternative narrative to your average Russian war film. And it was a bold move by distributors to premiere the film on the eve of the Defender of the Fatherland Day – a national holiday which traditionally honours and celebrates men in Russia.

Other films

Battalion Audiences shouldn’t expect a feminist film in Battalion either. Directed by Dmitry Meskhiev and produced by Fedor Bondarchuk – who made Stalingrad (2013) – Battalion tells the story of Russia’s first all-female military unit, set up as a propaganda tactic by the Provisional Government in May 1917. The unit was formed to shame war-weary male soldiers into fighting, at a time when many were deserting. The plot follows an illequipped group of hastily trained volunteers who are sent to the Belarussian front,

where it’s clear they are little more than sitting ducks. The unit is led by a formidable peasant soldier, Maria Bochkareva, soulfully played by Maria Aronova. The film depicts the women as courageous and honourable but also naive, easily manipulated and mostly incompetent on the battlefield (and in need of rescuing by their male compatriots). It contrasts the battalion members’ deep care and respect for each other with how the unit is treated by the outside world. At the front, the women are ridiculed, sexually harassed and abused by

War movies aside, the program, which has 24 films – 18 of them new releases – includes three thrillers, four dramas, four comedies and two children’s animations. Maksymow said that while art house films had once been a cornerstone of the festival, this year there was only one: The Guards (2015), about the speculation a security guard’s unplanned pregnancy attracts in a provincial steelworks town. Maksymow said fewer indie films were being made in Russia, and that the trend there for churning out Hollywoodformula blockbusters was likely to continue. He said this was because public funding for film production had been reduced as a result of the rouble crisis and because a large chunk of the Ministry for Culture’s budget was now going to a film studio redevelopment in Crimea.

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Syria crisis

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SYRIAN REBELS ASK US FOR ARMS TO FIGHT RUSSIA asia.rbth.com/49841

REFUGEES RED TAPE HAVING RECENTLY TAKEN IN HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF REFUGEES FROM EASTERN UKRAINE, RUSSIA SEEMS RELUCTANT TO DEAL WITH NEW FLOWS OF LARGE NUMBERS OF REFUGEES FROM SYRIA

SYRIANS FLEE CHAOS FOR A LIFE IN LIMBO PAVEL KOSHKIN RUSSIA DIRECT

Before the start of Syria’s civil war in 2011, Ahmad, a stout and robust-looking Syrian and Shia Muslim, lived in a town called Al-Malihah, six kilometres from Damascus. Now Ahmad, 40, and his wife and two children live in a cosy apartment in southwest Moscow. When he saw bombs flying over his head and over the homes and schools of Al-Malihah, and witnessed peaceful civilians being killed, he quickly decided to leave Syria with his family. “I didn’t care about myself, but I did care about my family and wanted to find them a safe place,”he said in an interview. “So we came to Moscow and applied to the United Nations and they gave us letters of recommendation.” Before the civil war, Ahmad had been working in different businesses and his wife was a teacher in Damascus.

In the bombings and shootings which started in 2011 as the political situation became unstable, his poultry shop was destroyed and his property confiscated by radicals who viewed him as an infidel. The family moved to Damascus, but then Damascus started being bombed as well. In 2013 they fled to Russia on tourist visas and were granted temporary asylum, which allowed Ahmad to

cow has been relatively smooth for Ahmad and his family. While he said that he and his wife didn’t speak Russian well, in two years his children had become fluent and had made a lot of friends at school and in their neighbourhood. “I respect Russians very much,”Ahmad said.“They are nice and friendly people.” Ahmad’s main concern with life in Russia is not hav-

Ahmad fled to Russia on a tourist visa and was granted temporary asylum, which let him work

Last year, Russia's federal migration agency refused to renew his temporary asylum status

work. He was lucky enough to pick up a job in a Moscow restaurant. But last year, Russia’s Federal Migration Service refused to renew Ahmad’s temporary asylum status. This may have been influenced by Russia having to deal with a huge influx of refugees from eastern Ukraine at the time. Ahmad is still living legally in Russia and is waiting on a court decision about his refugee status. Adjusting to life in Mos-

ing his documents in order. Because his refugee status is in limbo, most of his official documents can’t be completed. This means that his movement is restricted and he can’t work. The Moscow office of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) has warned Ahmad against doing any business in Russia without proper documentation. It said the risk of being arrested would be high. “My documents are a problem for me,” he said. “I want to get all my papers in order to be independent and to be able to live here like a normal person. “I need stability. I want to do business here and provide safety and a decent future for my children. But without my documents being in order, there is no certainty at all. I can’t even access medical services if I have problems with my health.” Ahmad admits the lack of certainty around these issues has been a psychological strain. If he could get asylum in Europe, or elsewhere, he would happily leave Russia. At the same time, he worries about being deported from Russia and the effect that would have on his children, who are well settled into their new environment.

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New report DECODING SOCIAL TRANSFORMATIONS IN RUSSIA Despite the steepest drop in incomes since 1998, Russians remain optimistic, and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s approval ratings have rocketed. As the “fat 2000s” have given way to the current economic downturn, Russian society has somehow swung from protest to civic apathy. Can this be explained by domestic propaganda and the authorities’ grip on public debate? REGISTER TODAY AND GET A 30% DISCOUNT AT: RUSSIA-DIRECT.ORG/SUBSCRIBE

Syrian refugees in Europe to double There are almost 4.1 million Syrian refugees around the world today, with about 430,000 applications for refugee status submitted in Europe between 2011 and 2015. According to the UNHCR

forecasts, in the next two years the number of Syrian refugees in Europe will double to about 850,000. Most of them will settle in Germany. According to Russia’s Federal Migration Service, 12,000 people have arrived in Russia from Syria since 2011, but only 2000 of them have been successful in gaining temporary asylum. This number is small compared to the number of Syrian refugees in other European countries. For example, the number of Syrians who applied for refugee status from April 2011 to August 2015 in the following countries were: Germany: more than 100,000; Sweden: about 65,000; Hungary: about 54,000; Denmark: more than 12,000; UK: more than 7000; France: about 7000.

Russia's proposed new law on refugees In an interview with Russia Direct, Elena Burtina, deputy head of the Civil Assistance Committee on Refugees, said that current Russian legislation was favourable to refugees. It provides scope for them to apply for asylum for a wide range of reasons. These include domestic and international conflicts, famines, epidemics, human-made catastrophes or any threat to their health, she said. Despite this legislation, many refugees to Russia are not being granted temporary asylum or refugee status. Burtina said this perceived reluctance to take refugees was a result of how policies were being implemented and not about the law. However, a proposed new law on refugees which is in the early stages of development and discussion may seriously change things. Burtina had mixed feelings about the proposed legislation. She said the new law could make it more difficult for refugees to get temporary asylum because only those at risk of torture, death or human-rights abuses would be made eligible for the status of political refugee. As well, under the new law, refugees could find it more challenging to find housing and would certainly have fewer opportunities to appeal court decisions about their refugee status.

GETTY IMAGES

As Europe is responding to its largest influx of refugees in many years, the weaknesses in Russia's asylum-seeking processes are becoming more evident.

Families Helping to ease the transition

Learning centre helps children to overcome hurdles Olga Nikolayenko, director of a centre that assists refugee children, spoke to RBTH about the difficulties refugee families can face in Russia. DARYA LYUBINSKAYA SPECIAL TO RBTH

Created in 1996 by the public charity the Civic Assistance Committee, the Learning Centre for Refugee Children in Moscow helps families deal with the problems that new arrivals to Russia typically face. According to the centre’s director Olga Nikolayenko, it has 73 child students, most of them from Syria, Afghanistan, the Congo and the former Soviet republics of Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, with smaller numbers from Ukraine and Yemen. “We have a family from Afghanistan,” Nikolayenko

said.“Their father, Harun, fled to Russia after the Taliban killed his father and threatened the rest of the family. “Harun has already been in Moscow for three years and hasn’t been able to get official status, so none of his nine children are able to study at Russian schools.” Red-tape barriers and having the right documents can be major problems in Russia. This is an area where the centre tries to assist parents, so that where possible the children can attend local schools. Last month, two children, Marichal from Congo and Judd from Syria, were finally accepted by a Russian school. “ We w e re s o l u c k y,” Nikolayenko said.“It's a good private school with small classes. We managed to agree to pay very little for it. “The principal sympa-


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Syria crisis

IS MOSCOW PLANNING GROUND OPERATIONS IN SYRIA? asia.rbth.com/49869

IN NUMBERS

12,000 According to Russia’s Federal Migration Service, 12,000 people have arrived in Russia from Syria since 2011.

OPINION

Ukraine conflict cooling while Syria overheats Vladimir Mikheev ANALYST

2000 Only 2000 of them have officially been granted temporary asylum – far fewer than in other European countries.

100,000 From April 2011 to August 2015, Germany had more than 100,000 applications from asylum seekers from Syria.

QUOTES

Adam Hanna A SYRIAN REFUGEE, SPEAKING TO KOMMERSANT.RU

ALYONA REPKINA

Some Syrian refugees have been using Russia as a stepping-stone for travelling to Europe, while others have applied for official asylum status.

PRESS PHOTO

The centre offers school subjects as well as language lessons.

thised with us. And volunteers helped collect the amount that was needed. “Before this, Judd had been rejected by 16 schools. So he and his mother are very happy that he’s finally been accepted somewhere.” Another barrier that refugee children often face at school is that they don’t speak Russian. For this reason, Russian training at the centre starts very early – from preschool age. “The earlier the kids learn Russian, the more likely that they will speak it freely by the time they start school,” Nikolayenko said. She added that refugee children sometimes struggle because they have had long absences from education or

are having difficulties adjusting to a new school system and curriculum. So as well as Russian-language training, the children can study other school subjects at the centre. Another core service offered by the centre is counselling. “We have a psychologist, who helps children process the stresses associated with leaving their home country and adapting to a new country,” Nikolayenko said. She told us that Judd, aged 7, and his brother Moris, 5, seemed to have found the counselling helpful. “Their mother Renee managed to escape from Syria a year and a half ago,”Nikolayenko said. “The children

were traumatised and very shut down. “Now, since they have been working with our psychologist, they have really come out of their shells.” She described how refugee children also often face xenophobia and intolerant attitudes in Russia, and how the psychologist helps them learn ways to cope with that. The centre has many success stories. Aminat, for example, came to the centre in 2000, at the height of the second Chechen war. “My sister learned English here, and I tagged along behind her,”Aminat said. "But not because of the lessons, because it was interesting and I liked spending time here. “There were a lot of good people at the centre – some of whom I still see now.” Animat studied at the centre before going to the Russian State Humanitarian University. After she graduated, she returned to the centre where she now works as its administrator. Another boy from Chechnya, Amirhan, went on to study in America with the help from the centre, and is now working in the banking sector. A girl from Tajikistan studied physics at the centre and now attends Baumanka (Bauman Moscow State Technical University).

"

Refugees should be helped by all leading European countries. [...] [The refugees] should get the opportunity to work, to live a decent life and to be integrated into society. But the main thing that the West should do is bring an end to war in the regions that people are fleeing from. Otherwise, flows of angry and hungry migrants will deprive Europe of peace."

Vladimir Gimpelson DIRECTOR, CENTRE FOR LABOUR STUDIES, NATIONAL RESEARCH UNIVERSITY

"

I have no doubt that Europe will cope with the current wave of migration and make the right conclusions about how to act in such critical situations for the future. [...] But to say exactly where and how to use the refugees who arrived in Europe is impossible now – structure, language training and [the] professional competence of these people are unknown."

Alexander Rahr GERMAN POLITICAL SCIENTIST, IN AN INTERVIEW TO KOMMERSANT.RU

ussia’s air strikes on what it says are ISIS targets inside Syria have raised the stakes in Moscow’s policy of engaging the West in what it claims is a joint fight against Islamic terrorists. The heating up of the situation in Syria has come as hostilities in eastern Ukraine appear to be cooling off – something which appears to be the result of efforts by the leaders of Ukraine, Germany, France and Russia to ensure the implementation of the Minsk Peace Accords, which were signed back in February. The summit between these four nations, which took place in Paris at the beginning of the month, was devoid of the usual nameand-blame rhetoric, with few, if any, accusations targeting Moscow as the apparent protector of the self-proclaimed republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The discourse of the four leaders could be summed up by two points:“None of the articles of Minsk have been respected completely”(German Chancellor Angela Merkel) and some progress has been made on the military aspects of the accords (French President Francois Hollande). But the key message of the summit was that there had been no sign of advance on a crucial element of the agreement: political reform. This would amount to amending the Ukrainian constitution to include spe-

R

cial status for Donetsk and Lugansk and guarantees on the observance of human rights for ethnic (Russian) minorities. Germany and France said the implementation of the Minsk agreements can be extended, giving all sides more breathing space. So, is there a chance that putting the Donbass crisis on the back burner and achieving a modest military success in Syria could set the stage for more meaningful cooperation between Russia and the Western powers? Political analyst Sergei Stankevich, a senior expert with the Anatoly Sobchak Foundation says yes:“If Russia shows readiness for a full political settlement in Syria, the West could accept her as a partner. If Russia limits its activity to military strikes, neglecting political dialogue, I’m afraid it could bring more tension in Russia-West relations.” On the other hand, Stankevich said that if we see a normalisation of the situation in Ukraine and the weakening of ISIS in Syria as a result of Russian military action, then we could expect the re-emergence of areas of cooperation with the West and the “de-escalation” of sanctions against Russia. Moscow’s double-track policy seems to be aimed at slowly pressing for a political settlement in Ukraine and a political resolution to the civil war in Syria, based on the preservation of the regime in Damascus. Sergey Strokan also contributed to this report See full report at rbth.com/world/troika

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"

This should be done by the EU leadership in Brussels, it has enough authority to cope with it. It must explain to its countries that the EU is not paradise on earth, and cloudy weather happens there, too. There is now a 'storm' over Europe such as had not occurred for 25 years. These are the crises in Ukraine and Greece, the possible withdrawal of the UK from the EU, and now refugees. The EU can cope with this only by acting together."

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Education

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Higher education Investment efforts rewarded with international recognition

FROM PERSONAL ARCHIVES

Russian unis start to make global mark The achievements of Russian universities in the 2015-16 Times Higher Education World University Rankings are their best yet. GLEB FEDOROV RBTH

Lomonosov Moscow State University (MSU) was ranked 161 out of 800 in the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings 2015-16, released this month. Thirteen Russian academic institutions made this year’s list, compared to just two in 2014-15. MSU was once again ranked highest of the Russian universities. Last year, MSU was ranked 196 out of 400 (the 2015-16 list was expanded to 800).The only other Russian university in the list last year was Novosibirsk State University, ranked 301 of 350. This year, it fell to 401 of 500. In the 2015-16 rankings, the Russian top five also included Peter the Great St Pe-

IMPROVING EDUCATION FOR ALL RUSSIANS

tersburg Polytechnic University (201 of 250), Tomsk Polytechnic University (251 of 300), Kazan Federal University (301 of 350) and the National Nuclear Research University MePhi (301 of 350). “It’s great that Russia has 13 institutions in this list, with five of its universities sitting in the top 400,” said Phil Baty, THE rankings editor. “Russia has made huge efforts to improve its higher education system in recent years, including the launch of its Project 5-100 initiative.” Baty said Russia would have to continue to work hard

to compete with China and other global rivals who, he said,“are also investing heavily in higher education”. Russian Deputy Minister of Education Alexander Povalko praised the fact that more Russian universities were in the rankings and said he was hopeful of even better results next year. “Universities are investing in their scientific research base and are recruiting the best people to enhance their international competitiveness,” Povalko told RBTH. Novosibirsk State University (NSU) Rector Michael

THE World University Rankings 161 Lomonosov Moscow State University 201-250 Peter the Great St Petersburg Polytechnic University 251-300 Tomsk Polytechnic University 301-350 Kazan Federal Univer-

sity and the National Nuclear Research University MePhi 401-500 Novosibirsk State University and St Petersburg State University 501-600 Bauman Moscow State Technical University

El ELECTRONICS

Schools Demand stretches resources

Fedoruk said his university has been rising in the ranking by subject category because of the quality of its fundamental research work. He attributed the fall in its general ranking to a change in the methodology used. Nikolai Kudryavtsev, Rector of the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT) also noted the change in methodology and added that this year THE apparently did not take into account scientific publications that have many co-authors. According to both rectors, when it comes to physics, it is also impossible to undertake fundamental research with a small group of scientists. Substantial investment and large teams are required. Another hurdle for Russian specialised universities such as NSU and MIPT is the limited number of humanitarian courses they offer. “We only have three specialisations at our institute: physics, mathematics and informatics,”Kudryavtsev said. “This makes it very hard for us to deliver better results in the general rankings.” A factor in the success of Russian universities was their cooperation with international and Russian companies such as Boeing, Siemens and Uralwagonzavod. Peter the Great St Petersburg Polytechnic University, which built the best university engineering centre in Russia, cooperates with companies like Porsche. “Our research in the field of innovation is used in shipbuilding, aircraft building, aviation and transport systems,”Rector Andrei Rudskoy told RBTH.

601-800 Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, the National University of Science and Technology MISIS in Moscow, the Southern Federal University in Rostov-on-Don, Tomsk State University and the Ural Federal University in Yekaterinburg.

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Moscow school mergers meet parent protests Reforms in school funding in Moscow, which aim to cater for increasing demand and more evenly distribute resources to students, have been unpopular with parents. ALEXEI STROGANOV SPECIAL TO RBTH

When it was announced in 2012 that School 122 in central Moscow would be merged with another school, parents were up in arms. The school, home to the Moscow Boys Cappella, is one of the few places outside Russia’s music conservatories where students can do course work towards a special diploma in music. Parents were afraid not only that the merger would result in the loss of the music course but also, as one parent said, that it would “destroy the school’s unique culture”. The school was slated for consolidation under a controversial federal policy, introduced in 2010, to merge small and under-performing schools with larger ones, primarily to distribute financial and administrative resources more evenly. Under the policy, funding for schools would be distributed on a per capita basis – a move officials said was necessary to accommodate an increase in demand. “In our very large country, it is essential to ensure equal access to early-childhood services as much as possible, and supplementary education,” said Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, defending the changes, which went into effect from January, 2011. Russia experienced a small baby boom with the economic prosperity of the early 2000s. Russia’s state statistics service, Rosstat, reported

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a steady increase in births from 2007 to 2012. In Moscow, 101,000 children were born in 2007. By 2012, that number had risen to more than 134,000. While some schools in the centre of Moscow are undersubscribed, schools are overcrowded in Moscow’s dormitory suburbs – high-density and high-rise housing areas on the outskirts of the city. Parents at Intellectual, a state-run boarding school for gifted students in western Moscow, took to the streets to protest against the merger and expansion of their school, which previously had a student-teacher ratio of 2-1. Moscow Deputy Mayor Leonid Pechatnikov responded in an interview with Russian daily Kommersant that if the parents wanted to keep that level of staffing, they would have to pay for the extra salaries themselves. “We can’t afford to allocate 378,000 roubles ($A8250) per student,” he said. “Two students for one teacher is, in fact, a system of tutoring. We have a law on universal education, but we don’t have a law on universal tutoring.” The average amount spent per student in Moscow schools today is 63,000 roubles ($A1375). School 122’s merger went ahead two years ago with new administration, but students stayed in the same building and the music curriculum continues. Scan this QRcode to read the full article online

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BIOLOGY SCIENTISTS DISCOVER BIOLOGICAL MARKERS FOR BIPOLAR DISORDER

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Seismology Grim predictions

Scientists monitoring seismic activity off the coast of Russia’s Far East expect powerful earthquakes to hit the region as soon as next year. SVETLANA ARKHANGELSKAYA SPECIAL TO RBTH

In recent years virtually no seismic activity has been recorded in parts of Russia’s Far East, in the Kuril Islands and the Kamchatka Peninsula. For Russian seismologists, this lack of activity is a cause of serious concern. “The past year and the six preceding years have been very calm for seismic activity," Ivan Tikhonov told RBTH in an interview. Tikhonov is the head of the seismology laboratory at the Institute of Marine Geology and Geophysics in YuzhnoSakhalinsk, the capital of Russia’s Far Eastern region of Sakhalin. “A quiet period like this means that enormous amounts of energy have been accumulating below the surface,”he said.“And this pentup energy could set off several powerful earthquakes.” Tikhonov said he expected large quakes in the region in the next 18 months. He believes an earthquake of at least 8.0 on the Richter

scale is likely to hit near Urup Island in the southern part of the Kuril Islands somewhere between January 2016 and February 2017. Urup was at the epicentre of the seismically quiet zone, Tikhonov said. He also said that a 7.7-magnitude earthquake is expected to hit near the northern Kuril Islands before 2018, and that a quake of 6.0 or 7.0 magnitude may hit the southern part of Sakhalin Island before the end of next spring.

Tikhonov said he expected large quakes in the region in the next 18 months These forecasts have been made using no fewer than eight earthquake-prediction methodologies. One of them is the LURR theory (Load/Unload Response Ratio), developed by Chinese seismologists. The theory takes into account the impact of the gravitational forces of the sun and moon on the Earth’s crust. Another method used is the Seismic Gaps Hypothesis, put forward by Japanese seismologist Kiyoo Mogi. Mogi noted that the epi-

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Major quakes may hit the Far East, say researchers

Earthquakes have been forecast for the Kuril Islands and southern Sakhalin some time in the next 18 months.

centres of powerful earthquakes have usually had no seismic activity leading up to the quake. All the methods used to date confirm the grim forecasts, although the seismologists admit that there is always the possibility of error. “Earthquakes originate from deep beneath the Earth’s crust, and scientists only have surface observations to work with,’’ said Mikhail Rodkin of Russia’s Institute of Earthquake Prediction Theory and Mathematical Geophysics. “It’s a little bit as though meteorologists only had data collected from wormholes.” Over the past 20 years, a research group led by Tikhonov has been working on a fundamentally new method of short-term earthquake prediction, and their studies have yielded some interesting results. “Our method allows for the detection of imminent

Forecasts aid rescue teams The Expert Board for Earthquake Prediction and Seismic Hazard Assessment sends its earthquake predictions to EMERCOM, the Russian state emergency services agency. In 2005, thanks to one such reliable forecast in the Kamchatka Peninsula, EMERCOM deployed a rescue team that was prepared to act in the event of an earthquake in the region.

earthquakes – ones that will occur within several days,” Tikhonov said. Although he said the method developed by his team yielded very few false alarms, he emphasised that it should be used in conjunction with other medium-term prediction methods. The method developed by Tikhonov’s team only takes into account seismic data from up to 24 hours before a quake, so there is not much time for authorities and residents to take action in response. Long-term forecast meth-

The most unstable regions at risk More than 8000 earthquakes of varying magnitude are detected in Russia each year. More than half occur near the Kuril Islands and Kamchatka. The rest strike in the Kola Peninsula, the Kaliningrad region, Crimea,

the Caucasus, the Urals, Western Siberia, the Altai and the Sayan mountains, the Pribaykalsky and Zabaykalsky districts, Sakhalin Island, the Commander islands, the Republic of Yakutia and the Arctic regions.

ods are considered the most efficient because the greater the time frame, the lower the likelihood of errors. “Research on short-term earthquake forecast methods is also under way in the US, Japan, New Zealand and Switzerland in the framework of the Collaboratory for the Study of Earthquake Predictability (CSEP),” said Vladimir Kosobokov, an expert at the European Advisory Committee on Earthquake Prediction.“But these methods have yet to prove their effectiveness.” Kosobokov also doubts that the research by the Tikhonov team will yield any useful results. The new method reportedly uses a mathematical algorithm based on a non-linear differential equation developed by Russian scientist Alexander Malyshev. So far, it has only been used with earthquake data from Russia, Japan and Turkey.

Energy Rosatom is building a super-fast reactor to be 'the reactor for the world's nuclear energy industry of the future'

Last month, construction work began on what Russia's nuclear energy corporation Rosatom says will be the world's most powerful fast neutron research reactor. ANDREI RETINGER SPECIAL TO RBTH

MBIR is the name of a new nuclear reactor being built in Dimitrovgrad, a town 970 kilometres from Moscow. Rosatom plans to have the $US1 billion reactor up and running by 2020. It says the new reactor will have thermal power of 150MW, 2.5 times more than the most powerful nuclear reactors in Russia today – BOR-60s, built almost half a century ago. Rosatom hopes that MBIR will become a hub for atom-

ic research. It plans to set up a centre there called the International Research Centre, which will explore new types of nuclear fuel, construction materials and heat-transfer fluids. The reactor will also be used in the production of radioisotopes for various purposes, including for medical research. According to Vyacheslav Pershukov, Rosatom’s deputy director-general and the director of the Innovation Management Bloc, scientists from France, South Korea, Japan and China are interested in working on MBIR. “MBIR will significantly reduce the time of development for new fuels and structural materials needed for the global nuclear power indus-

try of the future,” Pershukov said. “We’ve never had a reactor like this before. “It is the reactor for the world’s nuclear energy industry of the future. “The greater the power of the reactor, the faster we get results. If we were using the standard low-power reactors operating in the world today, research would take decades. The MBIR reactor will let us do the research three to four times faster.” In terms of its significance for the global nuclear energy industry, the MBIR has been compared to the International Space Station (ISS). “Russia invites states interested in developing their nuclear energy programs to participate in this project,”

TIMUR SABIROV

Russia aims to spearhead nuclear power development

Rosatom says MBIR will accelerate atomic energy research.

atomic energy expert Alexander Uvarov said. “In this respect, the MBIR project resembles such major projects as the ISS.” Pershukov said preliminary

talks had already been held with technology companies and large research centres: “They’re all interested in conducting research at the new reactor.”

There are virtually no comparable projects in the world to the MBIR. The European MYRRHA is still at the draft stage. The Chinese CEFR is a demonstration, not a research reactor. The Indian FBTR works for the needs of the national program and is not available for third-party customers.The American FFTF has been closed and is already partially dismantled. The Japanese fast reactors JOYO and Monju are currently not operational as a result of accidents and court cases. Their futures are uncertain, in part because of the reexamination and re-regulation of Japan’s atomic energy industry after the Fukushima tsunami disaster.


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Environment

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Endangered species Strategic approach in the Far East aims to protect the small Amur tiger population from further decline

Conservationists fight to save the tigers Experts on tiger conservation speak to RBTH about the strategies which are proving effective in protecting the small Amur tiger population in the forests of the Far East.

for the illegal felling of trees and poaching of tigers and other animals. The Ministry of Emergency Situations helps put out fires.

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3. Treat wounded tigers GLEB FEDOROV RBTH

4. Dispel unhelpful myths Statistics show that tigers don’t seek out confrontations with humans, and in the overwhelming number of cases humans are responsible for violent encounters with them. To make the image of the tiger less frightening, the city of Vladivostok started celebrating Tiger Day each year, while the popular children's program Good Night, Little Ones! has created an Amur tiger cub character.

1. Introduce strong laws A law was introduced in Russia in 2013 which made keeping tiger body parts illegal. Violations can result in large fines and even imprisonment.

2. Protect tiger habitat Laws should not just protect the tiger but also the forests where they live and prey. The Amur tigers’ habitat is about 160,000 square kilometres. The oak and cedar forests are protected by government authorities which manage forests and hunting. Local police also look out

Instead, try these:

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A wildlife survey last winter in the forests of Russia’s Far East revealed that there were only 523 to 540 tigers left in the area, about the same number as a decade ago. A move to halt the decline of tigers in the Far East was largely a result of conservationists lobbying the government to change legislation and introduce new approaches to conservation. These efforts were helped by Russian President Vladimir Putin taking a personal interest in protecting tigers in 2008. RBTH spoke with Pavel Fomenko, species program coordinator at WWF Russia’s Amur branch, and Sergei Aramilev, director of the Amur Tiger Centre in Vladivostok, about what is being done to help protect the Amur tiger.

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In the Primorye and Khabarovsk territories, the government agency which manages hunting has created special groups for dealing with tigers if they have had violent encounters with humans. If a tiger is wounded or sick, she or he will be put into a rehabilitation centre and after treatment returned to the wild, if possible.

5. Monitor tiger numbers Every decade, a detailed survey is undertaken into Amur tiger numbers. The organisation and scale of the survey is like a military operation and takes nearly six months. Only qualified specialists (scientists and professional hunters) take part. The information gathered is essential for developing and adjusting conservation measures, not only for tigers but for other endangered species, such as the Amur leopard. As well, an annual survey

is performed in a sample area of just a quarter of the Amur tigers’ habitat.

6. Rehabilitate tiger cubs Tigresses don’t teach their cubs how to hunt, they raise them until they are old enough to hunt on their own. In Russia, it is not common to raise tiger cubs in captivity and return them to the wild. It has proved easier and more cost-effective to focus on the preservation of the existing wild population. If orphaned tiger cubs are found, they are rehabilitated before being released. The main aim of rehabilitation is to teach them to be afraid of human domestic activity and humans in general. Only then are they likely to survive in the wild. Read the full version at asia.rbth.com/49593

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How to behave when you run into a tiger If you've ever wondered what you should do if you come across a tiger, here are some expert tips. They may come in handy if you ever travel to Russia's Far East. GLEB FEDOROV RBTH

Don't even think about: 1. This may seem obvious, but never try to take food away from a tiger – this is will certainly make it unhappy with you. 2. Don’t even try running away from a tiger. They are very curious animals, and running will only encourage

them to follow or chase you. Besides, you’re not going to be able to outrun it. 3. Just as with other predators, never look a tiger in the eye – it may scare them and provoke an attack. 4. If you come across tiger cubs, don’t touch them. Their mother is likely to be nearby, and a tigress with cubs is even more dangerous than a wounded tiger. 5. Don’t shoot tigers. Apart from the fact that it’s a crime in many countries, including Russia, your chances of killing it are low. You will definitely attract its attention.

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1. If there are any signs of a tiger nearby – a fresh footprint or the sound of a roar – turn back and try to leave the area. If a tiger is near a populated location, call the police. 2. If you actually see a tiger, stop and wait for it to go away. Tigers usually go out of their way to avoid humans, so most encounters, if they do happen, don’t usually last more than a few seconds. 3. Try to make yourself look bigger than you are. For instance, you could raise your backpack above your head. If there are other people with you, you could hug them to make yourself look like one large creature to the tiger. 4. Speak to the tiger in a loud and calm voice. 5. Tigers are scared of fire and arc flashes. So if you happen to be carrying a flare, and the tiger is closer than 15 metres from you, light it. 6. If you have something you can throw, throw it, aiming at the space between you and the tiger. Don’t try to hit the tiger, as this also will make it unhappy with you. 7. Unnatural loud noises that aren’t found in nature may scare the tiger away. Clapping won’t work, but some music or banging metal on metal may frighten them.

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The long march to limbo: Syria's refugees flee chaos to a life of uncertainty  

This October issue was distributed with The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald in Australia on October 15, 2015

The long march to limbo: Syria's refugees flee chaos to a life of uncertainty  

This October issue was distributed with The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald in Australia on October 15, 2015

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