A different kind of presidential debate
How Balanchine taught America to love ballet
Presidents Putin and Obama both spoke at the 70th U.N. General Assembly with well-aimed barbs at each others’ foreign policy plans.
Born in St. Petersburg, the 20th century choreographer remade himself into an American ballet fixture.
A paid supplement to
This pull-out is produced and published by Rossiyskaya Gazeta (Russia) and did not involve the news or editorial departments of The Washington Post
Wednesday, October 7, 2015 AP
Today almost 4.1 million Syrian refugees are scattered throughout the world. Since 2011, 12,000 Syrians have arrived in Russia.
SYRIAN REFUGEES: STRUGGLING TO GET ROOTED The first thought for many Syrian refugees flowing into Europe is of asylum. Only later do they focus on creating a home. But just how many will be able to call Russia their home is being called into question not just by the Russian government, but by refugees themselves. This includes Ahmad, 40, a robust, stout Syrian and Shia Muslim, who declined to give his last name due to his pending asylum status. After the start of the Syrian civil war in 2011, Ahmad found himself living legally in an apartment southwest of Moscow. “I didn’t care about myself, but I did care about my family and wanted to find them a safer place,” he told RBTH. “So we came to Moscow. We applied to the United Nations [Refugee Agency] and it gave us recommendation letters.” Ahmad fled to Russia in 2013 via a tourist visa, received temporary asylum and worked at a Moscow restaurant. However, in 2014, Russia’s Federal Migration Service refused to prolong his asylum status, interrupting his ability to work and provide for his family. He is now waiting on a court decision on his residency status while continuing to live legally in Russia. Ahmad and his wife assimilated into their Russian community easily, he said. “They are very nice and friendly people, who respect ordinary Syrians, and I respect Russians very much,” Ahmad said. But Ahmad’s status as a refugee is in limbo. The Moscow office of the U.N. Refugee Agency warned him against doing any business in Russia without documentation. The risk of being arrested is high. Ahmad relies on the help of his Syrian friends based in Moscow. But the sense of
Syrian refugees and their asylum advocates are asking whether Russia should play a greater role in alleviating the problem of mass migration to Europe insecurity will haunt Ahmad as long as his political refugee status is undecided. If he could get asylum in Europe or elsewhere, he said, would happily leave Moscow to find a reliable income and confidence in the future. Syrians in Russia: Understanding the culture and their civil rights Muiz Abu Aldjail, a Syrian journalist for the Open Dialogue media outlet and a human rights activist, looks at the refugee crisis from a different angle. A political refugee who found asylum in Sweden, Aldjail sought asylum from Russia several times after graduating from the Russian University for People’s Friendship, but did not receive it. Today Aldjail helps Syrians to adjust to life in Russia, prodiving legal assistance to through the Moscow-based Civil Assistant Charity Committee. “Before the civil war most Syrians were just migrants in Russia or elsewhere, but since the onset of the war, we all became refugees,” Aldjail told RBTH. One of the most difficult challenges for refugees is getting temporary asylum, which carries a high price that has been fluctuating since 2012, according to Aldjail. In 2012, the price was set between 70,000 and
100,000 rubles ($1,070-1,500 today). That price plummeted to 20,000 rubles in 2014 after Russia’s Federal Migration Service issued the order to accept Syrian refugees, Abu Aldjail claims. But prices jumped once more with the rumors that Russia would no longer accept refugees. In 2015, the cost for temporary asylum shot as high as 40,000 rubles ($600). Price isn’t the only obstacle to finding sanctuary in Russia. Challenges include corruption and bureaucracy, according to Aldjail, as well as the risk of being exploited by employers and vulnerability to human rights abuse. “What does matter is the lack of [knowledge of Russian] cultural and civil code by the Syrians, so they don’t even know their own rights or the rules of behavior,” Aldjail said. “This leads to . . . a misunderstanding that Russia is against them.” That’s why so few Syrians are content to stay in Russia, said Abu Aldjail – they have tried to find their families shelter from famine and the civil war, but instead experienced cold rejection or negligent treatment. In fact, refugees prefer to use Russia as a transit point to Europe, in particular Finland or Norway. “The refugees themselves hardly seek shelter,” said Dmitry Polikanov, a board mem-
ber of the PIR Center and political analyst. “They seek good living standards and benefits of being in Europe, so they don’t need other destinations.” The official statistic from Russia’s Federal Migration Service seems to confirm this trend: In 2015, 7,103 Syrians came to Russia, while 7,162 left the country. Is Russia reluctant to take in Syrians? Today almost 4.1 million Syrian refugees are scattered throughout the world. Europe received some 430,000 applications for asylum between 2011 and 2015. Of the 12,000 people who arrived in Russia from Syria since 2011, only 2,000 received temporary asylum in Russia, according to Russia’s Federal Migration Service. This number pales in comparison with the 100,000 refugees asking Germany for asylum, the 65,000 asking Sweden, the 6,700 seeking it in France, and the 7,000 looking at the U.K. “The Syria problem is not only a problem of Syrians, it is a problem of the whole world,” said Huseyin Oruc, vice president of the Turkey-based Human Development Foundation, an agency that has extensive and diverse experience in providing humanitarian relief to refugees.
“Russia is one of the important actors for a political solution,” Oruc continued. “If Russia works for peace in Syria, it is best for the refugee problem.” Robert Legvold, professor emeritus of Columbia University, said he doubts Russia will begin receiving migrants from Syria and North Africa, but that doesn’t mean Russia shouldn’t. “it is a matter of ethics and principles,” he told RBTH. “It would be very good if Russia was able to assist what is [called] an international migration crisis. It is not just a Western European crisis, it is a human crisis. Any country that is able to assist, should.” Syrian refugees can use Russian territory as a transit point, noted the Kremlin’s spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov. But the question about accepting refugees is irrelevant for Russia, Peskov said, because the burden of the current humanitarian crisis should be shouldered by those countries whose policy led to the civil war in Syria. Another argument against accepting the Syrian refugees, Peskov said: the risk that terrorists from ISIS might come to Russia under the guise of refugees. Further, media claims about Russia turning down Syrian refugees’ requests in large scale are misleading, said Deputy Head of Russia’s Federal Migration Service Nikolai Smorodin. “There hasn’t been any toughening of the Federal Migration Service’s position in providing asylum to Syrian citizens in Russia,” Smorodin told the Interfax news agency Taking into account the international situation, Smorodin said, Russia is ready to receive Syrians. ■ PAVEL KOSHKIN RBTH
Politics & Society P2 // rbth.com // October 7, 2015
Mentoring next generation of entrepreneurs is not without risk PRESS PHOTO
Will an American expert be allowed to continue guiding Russian inventions to success?
Kendrick White came to Russia in 1992 as an economic adviser.
Twice a year, companies from Nizhny Novogord (pictured) and Perm Polytechnic University visit the University of Maryland. When Kendrick White went on vacation in early June 2015, he wasn’t questioning the security of his job as vice rector for innovation at N. I. Lobachevsky State University of Nizhny Novgorod (UNN). White, 52, spent nearly a month with his family on a small island near Florida before checking his e-mail. That’s when he encountered an inbox stuffed with more than 1,000 unread messages. The Russian and world press assumed he had been pushed out of his position, which he had held since 2013, and perhaps out of Russia. But White had no idea what happened, he told RBTH in a September interview, and he still doesn’t know. “I was told that the rector would tell me what was going on,” White said. “He still has not. I have to explore other options.” The rector’s office at N. I. Lobachevsky State University did not answer a request for comment. A report by TV channel Russia-1 on new developments at the university, produced at the end of May and aired on June 28, focused mostly on the fact that an American held such a high position at the university, with little attention to his work. But those who have known and worked with White spoke in glowing terms of his work helping Russian students advance and market their inventions, including Todd J. Lefko, an American businessman with a long history in Russia. “He’s one of the few non-Russians who
believe that Russian scientists could build a future in Nizhny Novgorod, Moscow, Irkutsk, Tomsk or any of a hundred Russian cities,” Lefko said in a statement made available to RBTH. “Kendrick White understood the future.” White, who wrote an undergraduate thesis on Soviet economics before completing an MBA in 1990, came to Russia in 1992 as an economic adviser with the Peace Corps and founded Marchmont Capital Partners in 2005. White’s work has been rooted in the belief that although problems at the grassroots level have blocked technological in-
novations by Russian scientists from making it to the global market, the country has enormous scientific potential. In other words, Russian scientists “have the ideas, but they don’t always know what to do with them,” White told RBTH. “This is Russia’s main conundrum,” said White. “And it has been for a long, long time.” To help scientists get over various financial and commercial hurdles, White took a job at UNN and created a regional Proof of Concept Center (POCC). “Kendrick primarily has helped scientists evaluate the commercial potential of
Russian-Ukrainian trade is close to nonexistent Trade between Russia and Ukraine has dwindled nearly to zero, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said Sept. 29. “It should be frankly admitted that today our trade is in a very mediocre condition. It has shrunk several times. And if this continues in future, this trade has a sagging tendency,” Medvedev said. The Ukrainian and Russian economies have been strongly linked as of late, the prime minister added. “All statistical reports that we have indicate that the amount of goods which Ukraine delivers to the European market, did not increase, in some most competitive positions, such as grain and agrarian products,” Medvedev said. “Our neighbor’s supply is less than it was before the signing of the agreement on associate membership.” READ THE FULL STORY at rbth.com/49654
Last of the Romanovs to be reburied The House of Romanov will support reburying the remains of two children of Russian Tsar Nicholas II – Tsarevich Alexei and Duchess Maria – in St. Petersburg Oct. 18, provided that a new DNA examination proves comprehensive and the Russian Orthodox Church recognizes the remains, found in Yekaterinburg, as authen-
tic. In July 2015, a working group was established to address issues related to the examination and burial of the Romanov remains, which are stored at the State Archives. The new DNA examination began in Moscow Sept. 24, part of an inquiry into the execution of the Russian royal family by revolutionary Bolsheviks in 1918.
■JOE CRESCENTE RBTH
© RIA NOVOSTI
IN THEIR OWN WORDS Russia admits lack of tech for offshore oil
What are the trials and advantages of working in a Russian university?
RUSSIAN STATE UNIVERSITY FOR THE HUMANITIES
LABORATORY FOR STUDIES IN ECONOMIC SOCIOLOGY
RUSSIAN PRESIDENTIAL ACADEMY OF NATIONAL ECONOMY AND PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION
[In every field, all classes are required] so all the Ph.D. students in English had to take my class, The Harlem Renaissance: From New York to Tashkent. I thought it was a great way of exposing students to a subject they might not have elected to take otherwise.
My biggest challenge was remaining connected to scholarly communities outside Russia. I benefited greatly from new perspectives and debate with Russian colleagues, but access to specialist journals within my field was patchy and books were very difficult to find.
As American centers close, Russian libraries try to fill the gap When the day came in February 2014 for U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul to give a farewell speech to Russian journalists and scholars, his choice of venue was obvious: the cozy American Center located in the famous Rudomino All-Russia State Library of Foreign Literature in Moscow. But as it turns out, the American Center wasn’t destined to last much longer in Russia, either. The center has terminated its relationship of 20-plus years with the U.S. Embassy, it announced Sept. 16, citing an existing law prohibiting foreign financial support of the center. The U.S. Embassy received the news with regret. The library had not planned to close the American cultural center and is interested in continuing its work, said library director Vadim Duda. “But we must transfer our engagement in accordance with the requirements of the law of the Russian Federation,” Duda said. With U.S.-Russian relations at their weakest, some experts say politics are driving the situation, including Nikolay Zlobin, head of the Washington-based Center for Global Interests told RBTH.
their technology, helping to assess the market … and package it for investors and attract investments,” said Arseniy Dabbakh, a managing partner at RMG Partners who has known White since the mid2000s. For many Russian scientists and entrepreneurs, White “has acted as a mentor,” Dabbakh said. These include UNN spinoff company WirelessInMotion, a startup developing next-generation wireless video monitoring and alert and diagnostics systems, including remote monitoring of motor vehicles. The company was among the first to travel to the U.S. in 2013 under White’s guidance, through the U.S.-Russia Innovation Corridor (USRIC) program. The trip led to the creation of U.S.-registered subsidiary WirelessInMotion LLC and an outline to start North American sales within the next year. “We are trying to build something similar to an innovation ecosystem like in Silicon Valley or the Despande Center at MIT,” White said. “We wanted to be a model for other cities and regions.” White has seen huge progress since he arrived in Russia, he said, but in the past two years, much of it has been undone. He is not naïve, he said: Some people feel threatened by his projects and their grassroots development. And there’s another factor. “I am not happy about what has gone on,” White said. “I love Russia. I love America. I don’t like this attitude of you’re ‘with us or against us.’ Russia is trying to make people choose.” Still, White sounded hopeful the situation at the university would be resolved. Regardless of the outcome, he will continue to work with Russian entrepreneurs, he said. “They are the future,” White said. “Entrepreneurs will run this country some day. Russia will get rich from their brains and not just from whatever they can find in the ground.”
NEWS IN BRIEF
50 thousand visitors went to the American Center in Moscow annually. It was established in 1993.
“I believe there is a task to do... to weaken any kind of American influence on the Russian civil society,” Zlobin told RBTH. But even if this state of affairs can explain why the library’s partnership with the U.S. Embassy ended, similar examples speckle the recent past. Thirty American Centers closed in 20132014, U.S. Embassy spokesman Will Stevens told Novaya Gazeta. In summer 2013, prosecutors tried to close
Being in a Russian university helped me connect with world-class Russian scholars. [However] the worsening geopolitical climate did create some tensions. I nearly got in trouble for allowing a presentation on the Pussy Riot trial in my Religion and Society class.
the entire Primorsky State Public Library in Vladivostok, which had hosted an American Center since 2003. The official reason: the lack of a proper work visa for the one of the center’s American employees, Angela Michelle Stoda. Even by the conservative-leaning Komsomolskaya Pravda tabloid mocked the idea of closing the whole library on this pretext. “Angela go home!” said the paper. “But we do send our deepest respects to the Chinese-run markets there that the mighty group of illegal workers operate in broad daylight.” The library is still operating, but the center is no longer part of the organization. The lost centers are missed. Tatyana Kurochkina, who volunteered at the now-defunct American Center in her hometown of Vologda (300 miles from Moscow), said it was her favorite place to visit. “It was the only place where you could study English with native speakers, free of charge,” Vologda said. “It helped me to overcome my language barriers.” Russian PR strategist Dmitry Klementov, who works in New York and Moscow, said American Centers are victims of a large-scale “soft power war between U.S. and Russia.” “The battle is so highly emotional, that even organizations which are useful for both countries might become the victims,” said Klementov.
Moscow has not moved quickly enough finding alternative supplies of equipment for offshore oil production and needs to cooperate with countries experienced in this area, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Khloponin recently admitted, according to a Sept. 22 Interfax news agency report . However, sanctions imposed on Moscow as punishment for its role in the Ukrainian conflict prohibit Russia’s traditional partners – the U.S. and European companies – from providing exploration and production services on the Russian shelf at a depth of over 500 feet.
Read, Watch and Listen to RBTH’s weekly analytical program, featuring three of the most high-profile recent developments in international affairs. ENGAGING THE WEST
■ALEXANDER BRATERSKY SPECIAL TO RBTH
READ THE FULL STORY at rbth.com/49709
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Economy rbth.com // October 7, 2015 // P3
Revitalizing the ‘Made in Russia’ brand It started with some tinkering in the kitchen with a saw and bits of wood. Konstantin Lagutin and Anna Sazhinova, two young architects, had just completed their studies in 2008 and were making a modest living doing interior design in Moscow, but quickly they realized no one could build them what they wanted. They approached furniture manufacturers with ideas but kept running into the same objections: that these were too complicated, or the orders were too small or too few. So instead, they rolled up their sleeves and sawed, drilled and hammered their own innovations into reality. “Russia is a country full of imperfections,” Lagutin says. “If you want to do something decent then you have to do it yourself.” The next realization: One-off contracts weren’t going to get them far. They needed mass production. So they expanded.
Recently, dozens of small businesses are turning homegrown designs into a profit Today, Lagutin and Sazhinova work with a team of 30 in Archpole, their own furniture workshop. Located in a former lamp factory in the capital, it produces chairs (about $80 each) and tables and couches (the most expensive going for $1,300) and targets a middle-class clientele that values the aesthetics and quality of its environs – an increasing segment of the Russian population today, Lagutin notes. Demand grew even more when people saw the company’s products and prices were more than competitive when compared to European designer furniture. The two designers don’t see themselves as lone crusaders, but rather as part of a new wave gaining speed in Russia across a range of areas and products. Others back them up, including Ksenia Nunis, co-founder of Depstore, a designer goods outlet in Moscow’s fashionable Tsvetnoy
Central Market department store. “When I started in 2011, there were perhaps a dozen names that people knew,” Nunis says. “Today there is a far greater selection, and big chains have also shown interest as they seek to reduce logistical costs.” “This is a healthy trend because only those who can handle the pressure of retailers and manage their own production needs will last on the market. Now is the ideal time to start your own brand,”Ksenia adds. Nunis started her business as an online shop with the goals to raise Russian designers’ profile and erase the barrier between Western and Russian products. “It was clear that people had reservations about ‘Made in Russia’ products, mainly because of concern about low quality,” Nunis says. However, although domestic goods make up about 80 percent of her in-
ventory, Nunis also makes a point of stocking well-known foreign brands. The reason: Although retailers recognize the quality of small suppliers’ products, they continue to complain that they are unprofessional in their marketing and often don’t even know what wholesale prices are. Stocking foreign brands is the only way Russian producers will seriously consider how to offer good quality at reasonable prices, Nunis says. If the shoe fits – make it While some of the new wave of small manufacturers have entrepreneurial experience under their belts, more of them started from scratch with only the most basic of business plans, and in some cases not even that. Since 2009, Vladimir Grigoriev has run a footwear company called Afour in St. Petersburg. Today it makes 20 pairs of designer shoes and boots a day out of three rooms Grigoriev rents
in a abandoned Soviet shoe factory on the edge of the city center. His business grew from a few original models he made for himself. “A friend’s mother worked as a shoe designer and helped me get going,” said Grigoriev, whose job as a graphic designer inspired him to offer original, customizable styles and colors. Grigoriev hired a shoemaker to come to his workshop once a week and assemble his designs for his friends, and later their friends. Next came social networks and promotion, and then an online store where customers can create their own designs, from burgundy brogues to yellow-black winter boots. “Some of our clients still think we import our shoes from England,” laughs Andrei, who manages Afour’s orders. To clear up any confusion, some styles now bear a tiny Russian flag. “We’re proud that we produce lo-
cally, but we don’t use this as an additional selling point,” he says. Growth is good, with output doubling each year since the first, but almost everything is surplus bought from European manufacturers. The biggest leap to being a truly Russian firm is yet to come. “At some point we will buy all our raw materials in Russia,” predicts Andrei. The same 100-percent-Russian vision spurs on the founders of Archpole in Moscow, now looking to expand. The financial year went so well that the two architects bought an old farm in the countryside: Relocating production there from the city will free up room for exponential growth as they launch new furniture ranges. “If we really want to make an impact, then we need large-scale production with thousands of employees instead of a few dozen,” says Lagutin, who has no intention of letting go of his long-term goal: that the trucks that bring all manner of other goods to Russia from abroad can one day be fully loaded with furniture on the drive back. ■MIKHAIL BOLOTIN SPECIAL TO RBTH
READ THE FULL STORY at rbth.com/49617
Located in a former lamp factory in Moscow, Archpole produces chairs, tables and dressers to reach a middle-class clientele. ILIA NODIYA
The high cost of working legally is bearing down on migrants Desperate to make money, most migrants in Russia find a way to outstay their visas and work illegally Rashid came to Moscow from Tajikistan last year. He is 20, has no qualifications and speaks broken Russian. He is staying in a rented tworoom apartment in the city’s northern suburbs with his older brother’s family and several more people. A few months ago, police stopped Rashid and fined him for overstaying the 90 days that a foreign visitor can legally live in Russia without permission. Now blacklisted, he cannot apply for any legal status. Rashid works odd jobs, mostly as a loader in an open-air market, making 20,000 rubles ($300) per month and sometimes less, he said. This is almost three times less than the average Moscow salary, but it’s better than nothing, Rashid said. “I have family here, so they won’t let me down,” he insisted. A painful issue Most migrants arriving in Russia come from the former Soviet republics, lured by job opportunities and higher wages than they could
10 million migrants live in Russia, according to Amin Madzhumder, president of the Federation of Migrants of Russia.
80 percent of migrants in Russia are from the Commonwealth of Independent States, which includes 11 former Soviet republics.
expect at home. They normally find lowskilled jobs in construction, maintenance and retail. Some 80 percent of all migrants in Russia are citizens of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), which includes 11 countries of the former Soviet Union, excluding the Baltics and Georgia, according to Nikolay Kurdyumov, head of the NGO International Alliance “Labour Migration.” CIS citizens don’t need visas to enter Russia and can legally stay for up to 90 days. But many choose to stay longer, working in the economy’s gray sector. “The fact that the vast majority of migrants have no legal status in Russia is the most painful issue,” Muhammad Amin Madzhumder, president of the Federation of Migrants of Russia, told RBTH. Of the 10 million migrants in Russia, only 1.5 million are there legally, he added. A key challenge to achieving legal status is that the slightest administrative offense – overstaying the 90 day limit, for example –
Most migrants continue to stay in Russia, working illegally after their visas expire. blacklists a migrant, preventing him or her from applying for work permits in the future. Recent reports have shown migrants leaving Russia in large numbers, coinciding with Russia’s slide into recession starting in late 2014, the collapse of the ruble compared to major foreign currencies. However, experts say it is too early to talk about a mass exodus of migrants, including Vasily Kravtsov, head of charity Migration XXI Century. “Most have stayed,” Kraytsov told RBTH. “There is one telling indicator: the amount of money they send to their families back home. In rubles, this figure hasn’t declined; it has even gone up.”
Curbing the problem Russian authorities are taking steps to remedy the situation. One major change, effective in 2015, allows CIS migrants to buy ‘patents’ – a kind of green card – instead of applying for work permits. Unlike work permits, patents are simpler to get, and allow the holder to switch from one employer to another. But the new system also has disadvantages. In Moscow, a migrant is expected to pay 60,000-70,000 rubles ($900-1,050) a year, which is beyond most migrants’ ability. This invites forgery and corruption. “It’s no secret that many medical insurances and language proficiency certificates, needed to get the patents, are just bought from dubious companies eager to cash in on the situation,” said Kravtsov. “And many migrants continue to work illegally.” Still, other experts are cautiously optimistic about the patent system. “If at least some migrants will move out of the gray economy thanks to the new system, that will be good,” said Kurdyumov. Patent sale income since the beginning of the year is more than quadruple the income from the same period last year, Moscow mayor Sergei Sobyanin said in a speech last April analyzing the first results of the new migration policy. But he did not mention what effect this might have on in tackling other issues associated with illegal immigration, such as the legal twilight zone that has become the reality of the blacklisted. ■VLADIMIR KOZLOV SPECIAL TO RBTH
Opinion P4 // rbth.com // October 7, 2015
MUTUAL FINGERPOINTING WORSENS IDEOLOGICAL CLASH
PUTIN’S UN SPEECH ON GLOBAL ORDER ANDREI KOROBKOV SPECIAL TO RUSSIA DIRECT
he speech of Russian President Vladimir Putin to the U.N. General Assembly on Sept. 28, with its mention of a broad-based coalition to take on the Islamic State of Iraq and the Greater Syria (ISIS), attracted a lot of media attention for the impact that it might have on global security. However, Putin did not express any new ideas, but rather voiced his consistent and even more decisive position on international affairs. Once again, he laid out Russia’s concerns over NATO expansion, the increasing influence of radical Islamist organizations, and the crisis of the international system founded after the Second World War. Putin also warned against what he describes as the hegemonic influence of certain powers (implying the U.S.) and reiterated the reasons for Russia’s policy in Ukraine, such as the power vacuum that emerged after the collapse of the U.S.S.R. and NATO’s expansion eastward. Some see Putin’s speech at the U.N. and his meeting with President Barack Obama in New York as a political victory, marking his triumphant “return” to the world’s political arena after a period of 10 years in which he did not address the U.N. General Assembly. However, let’s be clear. This is not about Putin’s triumphant return, for the simple reason that he never went away. The fact is that both Russia and the West view the world as a vast Eurocentric playground. This system, which dominated the world
in the postwar era, is now unraveling before our very eyes. Therefore, just because the West “excluded” Putin for a while does not mean that he “left” world politics – on the contrary, in Russia his prestige and influence in the last two years have grown significantly, especially in the so-called Global South. The opening shots in the new dialogue come as no surprise, since the West has cornered itself on the Middle East. The result is European panic over the influx of refugees, which, incidentally, is not the largest the continent has ever seen. Meanwhile, the U.S. is beginning to understand that 45 years of supporting groups hostile to the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad has not only failed, but facilitated the rise of movements far more aggressively minded toward the West. In recent days the situation has been exacerbated by information leaked to the press about the colossal sums of money spent on training fighters from Syria’s “democratic opposition” – first the news that most of the trained group immediately switched allegiance to ISIS, and then that around $500 million had gone on training another such unit consisting of five (!) soldiers. So it is not just a matter of total disarray and the lack of any clear concept in Syria, but of manifest large-scale corruption. Therefore, no matter how unpleasant, we must recognize the fact that the Assad regime is a far lesser evil than either ISIS or the total collapse of the Syrian state.
It is a bitter pill for the West to swallow, since it vindicates the Russian president and underscores the importance of Russia in settling the Middle East crisis. Incidentally, the process of rethinking U.S. policy in the Middle East began much earlier, in the first years of Obama’s presidency, the culmination of which was the signing of an agreement on Iran and the de facto recognition of the failure of the previous tactic and the need for coordinated action against the common enemy in the form of Sunni fundamentalism. Will this lead to compromise in other areas, including Ukraine? Yes and no. A Middle East agreement per se will not cause such a shift. But the overall dynamics of the conflict are certainly pushing the West in that direction. There are at least three factors nudging the West toward a possible compromise. First, European leaders are horrified at the migration flows from the Middle East and do not want to encounter an even larger exodus out of Ukraine. Second, the ineffectiveness of the Ukrainian army is by now well understood. Third, there is growing irritation in the West over the lack of real reform and the growing corruption in Ukraine. These factors could indeed help bring about some progress. However, the unfolding 2016 U.S. presidential campaign makes any concessions to Moscow very risky for Obama, who is already portrayed as having ceded the strategic upper hand to Putin in the Middle East. This year’s meeting of the U.N., already important because of the 70th anniversary milestone, has taken on even greater meaning now that we have seen Putin and Obama outline their views of the future in such stark contrast. Andrei Korobkov is a professor of political science at Middle Tennessee State University
he unusual excitement preceding Vladimir Putin’s trip to New York seemed understandable. This was the first time in 10 years that the Russian leader had come to speak at the General Assembly, and his first full-fledged meeting with Barack Obama since the beginning of the Ukrainian crisis. Hopes were high for overcoming the deadlock over Syria and working toward forming effective international mechanisms to confront Islamic State terrorists. And yet, especially now that all the scheduled meetings and performances have already taken place, it is hard to escape a certain feeling from many people – seemingly quite reasonable ones – in Russia and abroad. They are unwilling to believe that a pair of beautiful speeches and an hour and a half conversation behind closed doors can alter the course of history. This indicates just how desperate the situation really is, as well as the absence of any kind of real prospects for the normalization of international relations. In reality, we see that the U.S. and Russia are using the constantly growing pile of problems to support their own sense of righteousness, and building a new ideological dualism to replace the confrontation between communism and capitalism that perestroika swept away.
The two opponents accused each other of the same sins, and neither showed the slightest desire to repent for having committed them. Obama vs Putin In his speech, Obama laid out the traditional American ideological postulates and applied these to current political situations. According to the U.S. president, the root of evil is in the absence of freedom and democracy, and strong leaders seizing and holding of power as they seek not only to suppress opposition within their own countries, but also to use the old proven ways of applying coercive pressure on their neighbors. Among other things, Obama accused these “strong leaders” of undermining the ideals of the United Nations. When one of the most famous of these “strong leaders” – Putin – came to the podium, without naming names, he also immediately voiced the well-known thesis of “dominance by a single power and its disregard of U.N. institutions.” This section of the speeches made by the Russian and American presidents left everyone with an especially strong feeling of hopelessness: The two
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
SARAH SWEEDLER SPECIAL TO RBTH
sians are Coming” actually came to pass. But for Russian Americans, especially diaspora Russians who fled Russia between the 1917 Revolution and the end of the Cold War, Fort Ross was as close to Mother Russia as these immigrants could experience. Fort Ross was, for many, a surrogate homeland. This year, amid heightened tension and what many perceive as a new Cold War, I was relieved to witness that Fort Ross remains neutral territory, the Switzerland of the United States. Californians still volunteer at the park with enthusiasm, and Russian individuals and corporations still support and promote it from afar. For the Russians, perhaps, support is motivated by their desire to show respect for their forebears, these early 19th-century explorers, buried at Fort Ross. And Russians clearly take pride that during their tenure in California, Imperial Russia’s best scientists created the earliest maps, catalogued the native flora and fauna, sketched with artistry the people and places, named our state flower the California poppy, and planted the first grapes in Sonoma County, today the center of California’s rich viticulture industry. Whatever the motivation, I can report that Russian enthusiasm to work with us on this common project is undiminished by current politics. Let us hope that a Cold War is impossible in the digital age, when communication crosses political boundaries and people learn about anything, including history, through modern technology. My sense is that Russians want to work with Americans on common projects that reflect our shared history and our shared humanity, and no amount of media coverage can mask this desire. Sarah Sweedler is the President and CEO of Fort Ross Conservancy in California.
SPECIAL TO RUSSIA DIRECT
opponents accused each other of the same sins, and neither showed the slightest desire to repent them. However, later on, Putin offered his own explanations for the Middle East and the Ukrainian crises, which had all the characteristics of a coherent ideological concept. According to Putin, the issue here is not lack of democracy, but contempt of national sovereignty and legitimate authority. If not for outside interference, the legitimate governments (whether democratic or authoritarian) would have been able to carry out the necessary reforms; revolutions would not have occurred; and terrorists would not have filled the political vacuum. Putin agreed freedom is necessary to achieve development, but in his opinion, this freedom stems not from the rights of the individual, but from state sovereignty. The Russian president has once again shown that he does not believe in the “universal values of democracy,” which Obama called “self-evident.” “We are all different,” said Putin, directly contradicting Obama, who said that “the people of our United Nations are not as different as they are told.” Implications of mutual finger pointing The trouble is that such barbed speeches by leaders of the U.S. and Russia are not bringing us any closer to the normalization of Russian-American relations, or to resolving acute international crises. Although Putin and Obama avoided making personal attacks, grounds for compromise did not arise, and the gap between them only deepened, expanding the current political conflict by clearly articulating their opposing ideological positions. In this situation, much appears suspect. Calls to create a new anti-terrorist coalition, calls for a diplomatic solution, and assurances made by the parties as to the usefulness of negotiations, all seem nothiing more than common “smokescreens” created for public opinion, under whose cover Washington and the Kremlin will continue to implement their former political strategies. Ivan Tsvetkov is Associate Professor of American Studies, International Relations Department, St. Petersburg State University.
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New Report DECODING SOCIAL TRANSFORMATIONS IN RUSSIA
PROTECTING OUR SHARED HISTORY AT FORT ROSS, CALIF y colleague and I have just returned from several weeks in Russia, where we traveled to rural Pskov and Izborsk on the Estonian border, historic St. Petersburg, and bustling Moscow. Whether walking the cobblestone streets along a 16th-century fortress or attending a meeting in one of Moscow’s modern glass and steel business centers, we marveled at the depth of historic experience these lands have witnessed and the ways in which Russians maintain respect for their past. Over the past decade, I’ve made trips to Russia to collaborate on a historic project important to both countries: Fort Ross State Historic Park. I run a small nonprofit that supports Fort Ross, the 19th-century Russian settlement in Northern California just 80 miles north of San Francisco, where from 1812-1842 Russians tried their hand at farming, ranching and marine mammal hunting along the hospitable Alta California coast. By 19th-century standards, Fort Ross was a relatively peaceful multicultural settlement. Russians ran the colony for slightly more than three decades and left a strong legacy, as manifested by the historic buildings and cemetery, and the various Sonoma county place names such as “Russian Gulch” and “Russian River.” During our recent travels, we talked to Russians who had never visited America but were familiar with the Fort Ross story through the Internet and popular movie depictions. Russians universally expressed their gratitude that despite the last century of rocky U.S.-Russian relations, Americans willingly invested time and money to preserve and reconstruct the Russian-era buildings at Fort Ross. California State Parks do an excellent job and the park, situated on the pristine Northern California coastline with jawdropping views of the Pacific Ocean, is visually stunning. It is quiet and peaceful, with just enough infrastructure to suggest its rich past, but not so much development that it obscures reflection. The land itself truly draws people in. Then, as now, Fort Ross continues to build bridges in important ways. For the Kashia Pomo, the First People who gave permission to the Russians to build the settlement, it is still home. Alaska Natives too find it an important gathering place. Americans are curious and fascinated to learn that Russians colonized Northern California – and that at Fort Ross, the slogan “The Rus-
Despite the steepest drop in incomes since 1998, Russians remain highly optimistic, and President Vladimir Putin’s approval ratings have skyrocketed. As the “fat 2000s” have given way to the current economic downturn, Russian society has somehow swung from protest to civic apathy. Can this all be explained by domestic propaganda and the authorities’ grip on public debate? If not, then what?
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Culture rbth.com // October 7, 2015 // P5
Preserving the legacy of the Russian north in photographs Historian uses architecture as a starting point for research and scholarship
A circular tale of a timeless saint
PHOEBE TAPLIN SPECIAL TO RBTH
A native of Charlotte, N.C., William Brumfield took his first photographs of Russian architecture during a visit to the Soviet Union in 1970. Since that first trip, Brumfield has taken hundreds of thousands of pictures of Russia, documenting many structures throughout the Russian north that have since fallen into disrepair or been destroyed. He was named a Guggenheim Fellow in the Humanities in 2000 and last year was awarded the Dmitry Likhachev Foundation award. He has taught at Tulane University since 1980.
IN HER OWN WORDS
Andrea Gibbs CURATOR OF ARCHITECTURE AT THE IMAGES COLLECTIONS OF THE NATIONAL GALLERY OF ART LIBRARY
The culture of the Russian north is extremely compelling for Brumfield. He visited Solovetsky-Transfiguration Monastery twice in the late ’90s. ated open-air museums of architecture, relocating buildings to one place to make them more accessible to tourists. Although Brumfield did not photograph these staged architectural sites, he isn’t opposed to the idea. “The architecture parks were a noble way of preserving what could be preserved from a culture that economically and demographically was diminishing. It allows people to be exposed to their cultural past,” Brumfield said. For 30 years, Brumfield’s work has enjoyed the support of two important Washington institutions: the National Gallery of Art and the Library of Congress. “[Brumfield] leaves a lasting legacy at the Library of Congress, and has helped the Library and our patrons to better understand Russia and Russian culture,” said John Van Oudenaren, director of Scholarly and Educational Programs at the Library of Congress. According to Van Oudenaren, Brumfield has lent invaluable assistance to the Library of Congress by taking of thousands of photographs of Siberia and northern Russia for an online project called the Meeting of Frontiers, which makes connections between the American westward expansion and the Russian empire’s expansion to the east. Additionally, he has researched and written descriptions of many Russian photographs on the World Digital Library. “All in all, it’s been a very substantial contribution,” said Van Oudenaren. Today, the Library of Congress maintains a physical archive of more than 1,100 of Brumfield’s color slides of the Russian north and Siberia, preserving these images for future researchers who may continue his legacy of discovering distinct value in other cultures.
Early Russia in color, see it in D.C. William Brumfield wrote the introduction to the Library of Congress’s collection of photographs by early 20th-century Russian photographer Sergei Prokudin-Gorsky, who documented the Russian empire in color from 1909-1915. Tsar Nicholas II enjoyed the color photos, and with his blessing, Prokudin-Gorsky received permission and funding to further document Russia in color. After the October Revolution, Prokudin-Gorsky was appointed to a new profession under the new regime, but he left Soviet Russia in August 1918. He died in Paris in 1944 at the age of 81. Most of his photographs now reside in the U.S. Library of Congress.
The Department of Image Collections of the National Gallery of Art Library is one of the largest image research libraries with almost 15 million images. William Brumfield’s ongoing donation of over 67,500 photographs and digital images of Russian architecture is the largest gift from a private individual to this collection.”
Architectural historian William Brumfield has written a love letter to the Russian north. Released in June after years of research and photography, Brumfield’s new book “Architecture at the End of the Earth“ presents the quickly fading architecture of this remote part of the world on its own terms. “In some ways this is a continuation of a book I did 20 years ago, ‘Lost Russia,’” Brumfield told RBTH recently. “But that book was more of an elegiac essay in black and white about the sort of aura of ruin, which is a very well-established tradition in Western art history. That’s what ‘Lost Russia’ really was – a meditation on the beauty of these abandoned structures.” When “Lost Russia” was first published in 1995, Brumfield was still trying to fit Russia into the boxes that Western scholars called architecture and art history. “It’s well known that Western art historians aren’t interested in Russian architecture with the exception of constructivism,” said Brumfield. “It doesn’t fall into any of the guidelines they’ve established for the progression of architecture.” Brumfield sees the need to carve a place for Russia in the architectural canon. For him, the distinctive character of Russian architecture is a starting point for historical research and scholarship. “There are questions that need to be addressed here,” he said, indicating the photographs of wooden churches in the book. “Questions that break stereotypes, that make cultures more interesting and richer than we assume.” Since his first trip to the Soviet Union in 1970, Brumfield has taken thousands of photographs of buildings and monuments across Russia, many of which – particularly in the north – now exist only in images. “The traditional culture of the north is extremely compelling, but very, very tenuous,” Brumfield said. “In a sense, you go to the north to get there and see what you can and record it, because the truth is that most of it is not going to be there.” “Architecture at the End of the Earth” tells the story of this culture clinging to its heritage while searching for a way forward. In photographs spanning nearly 30 years, Brumfield shows the changes the north has undergone since the fall of the Soviet Union. While depopulation has left some buildings in disrepair and ruin, the Russian Orthodox Church has reclaimed and restored others. With the support of the state, architectural preservationists have also cre-
Spinning yarn. In the village of Izvedovo, near Suzdal, 1910.
TITLE: “LAURUS” AUTHOR: EUGENE VODOLAZKIN PUBLISHER: ONEWORLD PUBLICATIONS
novel about the life of a 15th-century Russian monk might sound like an unlikely bestseller. But Eugene Vodolazkin’s extraordinary tale “Laurus” became a literary sensation, won Russia’s Big Book award in 2013, and was shortlisted for numerous other prizes. This fall it will be published in English. So what is the appeal? Vodolazkin’s spiritual odyssey transcends history, fusing archaism and slang to convey the idea that “time is a sort of misunderstanding.” Toward the end, the eponymous hero “Laurus,” a medieval doctor, holy fool, pilgrim and finally - hermit, is leaning on an old pine tree, covered in ants. The image embodies the idea that he has almost become part of the forest, typical of Vodolazkin’s poetic vision. The forest is full of “creatures for whom home is a leaf and life is a day.” The nature of time and the power of language are two of Vodolazkin’s crucial themes. Ambrogio, an Italian visionary with whom Laurus travels to Jerusalem, tells Laurus that to God “a thousand yeares… are but as yesterday that is past.” The mixture of ye olde spellyng with contemporary idioms (“jeez,” “lowlife,” “son of a b---”) is the most noticeable aspect of Vodolazkin’s innovative style. The translator, Lisa Hayden, has valiantly replicated these and other challenging features (such as bureaucratic, ecclesiastical and
literary references) and in her excellent introduction compares Vodolazkin’s layers of language to the “cultural strata … found during an archaeological dig.” Deliberate anachronisms reinforce the novel’s exploration of time, in which history is circular rather than linear. In the beginning Laurus is known as Arseny, born in 1441 near the Kirillo-Belozersky monastery, Vologda region (370 miles from Moscow). Orphaned, he learns herbal lore from his grandfather. Vodolazkin’s day job as a medieval historian means he is well placed to add plenty of authentic, plague-ridden details. Young Arseny’s medical skills could not save the woman he loved, and her death is the catalyst for everything that follows. In a recent interview, Vodolazkin compares this part of the plot with Dostoevsky’s “Crime and Punishment.” The spiritual and psychological elements of Dostoevsky’s work have clearly been influential. At times Vodolazkin’s variation on the Medieval “lives of the saints” can seem rambling and episodic, but it is always rich in ideas. Vodolazkin explores multifaceted questions of “Russianness” and concludes, like the 19th-century poet Fyodor Tyutchev, that Russia cannot be rationally understood. This is what leads him, with a gradual but unstoppable momentum, to place faith and the transcendent human spirit at the center of his powerful worldview.
READ THE FULL TEXT at rbth.com/49517
LITERATURE Read our updated literature section!
VIEW MORE IMAGES at rbth.com/multimedia
THE TSUM AND THE BOLSHOI THEATER The famous Soviet TsUM department store is now one of Russia’s main luxury stores. Behind it is the renowned Bolshoi Theater.
THE INTERSECTION OF ROZHDESTVENKA AND KUZNETSKY BRIDGE STREET If you go from Detsky Mir toward the Kuznetsky Bridge metro stop, you will see the pedestrian Rozhdestvenka street. It intersects the pedestrian Kuznetsky Bridge street, which will lead you to the TsUM mall.
DETSKY MIR SHOP (THE CHILDREN’S WORLD) The Detsky Mir shop, built in Stalin’s time, became a socialist version of Disneyworld. The observation deck on the roof oﬀers a wonderful view.
FINISH along pedestrian streets from the Okhotny Ryad metro to the Teatralnaya metro
OKHOTNY RYAD AND THE MANEZH SQUARE The itinerary begins at the Okhotny Ryad metro. Look for the “Manezh Square” signs.
RED SQUARE AND ST. BASIL’S CATHEDRAL To get from Manezh Square to Red Square, go through the Resurrection Gate (16th century). On the other side of Red Square stands Russia’s most photographed landmark, St. Basil’s Cathedral.
TRETYAKOV DRIVE (PROEZD) You will recognize it immediately by the high-rise arc and the three-story building. This is the only street in Moscow that was constructed without state money, by the Tretyakov brothers in the 1870s.
PASSAGE THROUGH GUM GUM (the State Department Store) was the only store in the U.S.S.R. where it was possible to ﬁnd everything, from ﬁrst-rate deer salami to the most reﬁned ladies’ stockings.
NIKOLSKAYA STREET The street became a pedestrian thoroughfare in 2013. It contains a cozy European-style promenade with streetlamps, benches, ﬂowerbeds and 17thto19th-century buildings with restored facades.
This announcement was produced by the Department for multicultural Policy, Interregional cooperation and Tourism of Moscow
T R AV E L 2 M O S C O W. C O M
Feature P6 // rbth.com // October 7, 2015
Balanchine’s ballet advice: ‘Just do the moves’ RUSSIAN EVENTS Balanchine ballets in D.C. and New York city The Kennedy Center The Suzanne Farrell Ballet: Balanchine, Béjart and the Bard Oct. 30 - Nov. 1, 2015 Watch the company perform Balanchine’s “Walpurgisnacht Ballet” and “Emeralds,” while marking the 400th anniversary season of Shakespeare’s death. › www.kennedy-center.org
Born in St. Petersburg, the 20th century choreographer thrived abroad
New York City Ballet Nov. 28, 2015 - Jan. 3, 2016. Make the trip to see the classic rendition of the NYC Ballet’s annual holiday run of George Balanchine’s “The Nutcracker.” › www.nycballet.com
One of the things that George Balanchine liked least was to explain what his ballets meant. When pressed by ballerinas to explain what a particular gesture meant, he’d reply: “Don’t think why you are doing it. Just do the moves.” He described himself and his fellow choreographers as “a silent minority” that could dance. After he moved to America, Balanchine tailored his ballets toward viewers who had never seen a ballet but were eager to fall in love with the art form. Balanchine was born in St. Petersburg in 1904 and like the rest of his generation was confronted by the turmoil of the early 20th century. But while many of his contemporaries became figures of genius in the West, Balanchine’s aim in life was to derive enjoyment from it, as if suffering did not touch him at all. And in doing so, he turned his life into the equivalent of art. Today, the journey of “Mr. B,” as he is respectfully and admiringly known in America, seems a smooth and direct ascent. But in reality, Balanchine’s rise to fame could be described as a succession of accidents. It was only by chance that Balanchine enrolled at the Mariinsky Theater ballet school. His parents dreamed of a navy career for their son, but missed the deadline to submit an application to a maritime college. Balanchine quickly rose through the ranks and graduated from ballet school at the top of his class. Unfortunately, his short height meant that lead romantic parts in classical ballets were outside his reach. But critics wrote glowing reviews of his appearances even in the smallest parts, while fellow dancers recognized him as the leader of the Young Ballet group, for which he created his first productions in the early 1920s. During a 1924 tour of Germany, Balanchine and several other Soviet dancers decided to remain in Europe. Balanchine soon found himself in Paris, where theater producer Sergei Diaghilev invited him to join the Ballets Russes as a choreographer. It was Diaghilev who turned Giorgi Balanchivadze into George Balanchine, although dropping the hard-to-pronounce Georgian surname turned out to be the easiest part of the transformation. Recognizing a choreographer’s talent in the young dancer, Diaghi-
lev set about educating the young man’s taste. His efforts paid off with Balanchine’s ballets “Apollon Musagète” (1928) and “Prodigal Son” (1929). But these triumphs proved to be the last hurrahs of the Ballets Russes. In 1929, Diaghilev’s sudden death cut short Balanchine’s meteoric rise. After working with outstanding composers – Stravinsky, Prokofiev – the choreographer found he now had to agree to any work available. It was then that he met young arts patron Lincoln Kirstein. “I am ready to stake my life on his talent… He can create a miracle and it will happen in front of our very eyes,” wrote Kirstein, who would become Balanchine’s American patron. In October 1933, not knowing a word of English, Balanchine moved to the U.S. His American career did not immediately take off. In January 1934, before starting work on productions of his own, Balanchine set up the School of American Ballet. A year later, he created “Serenade,” set to Tchaikovsky’s “Serenade for Strings.” Balanchine wrote the ballet for the first public performance of his pupils, who had just learned the ABCs of ballet. Professionals are still at a loss to explain how he ended up crafting a masterpiece. During his first 10 years in the U.S. Balanchine worked in Hollywood, on Broadway and with the Metropolitan Opera. Out of financial necessity, working at fantastic speeds with liberal self-citing, he created a total of 425 opuses, which contrary to his own forecasts are still performed by all the major ballet companies, all over the world. Ballanchine created ballets right up until his death in April 1983, but never returned to Russia, where his ballets were banned. Now, nearly 50 years after his death, Russian theater companies compete to have the most Ballanchine ballets in their repertoire, and Ballanchine’s dream has come true: Audiences are now able to experience the refined beauty of his ballets – without interpretation. ■ANNA GALAYDA SPECIAL TO RBTH
Vision for a future St. Petersburg ballet museum This past September saw the unveiling of a monument to choreographer George Balanchine at the Boris Eifman Dance Academy in St. Petersburg. The Sept. 17 ceremony marked the kickoff of fundraising for a future ballet museum, according to Boris Eifman, who spoke about his plans for the museum, the state of world ballet today, and his hometown’s contribution to the art form. What is your vision for a museum of ballet history? I would like to build a collection that will tell the history of the three centuries of St. Petersburg ballet. It is not about charting the whole history of dance in Russia. Our focus will be on how this
city has turned into one of the world’s ballet capitals. Ballet emerged and developed here, mainly thanks to European (primarily French) figures. It would be pointless to try and ignore the influence that European culture has had on Russian ballet. At the same time, some of the best-known classical productions that make up the treasure trove of world ballet, such as “The Sleeping Beauty,” “The Nutcracker,” “La Bayadere” and many others, were created in St. Petersburg. Which archives, collections and exhibits are you planning to use? We shall cooperate with museums in Russia and abroad and carry out serious research in archives. In addition, we are planning to get in touch with the descendants of famous dancers and choreographers. We hope that many of them will respond to our appeal to donate objects that once belonged to their outstanding ancestors. READ THE FULL INTERVIEW at rbth.com/49489
My colleagues and I will have to get immersed in a new area for us, running a museum. But I have never been afraid of trying new things. To what extent has Russian ballet been integrated into a global context? To what extent has it retained its unique character? Now is a turning point in the history of not only Russian but world ballet in general. It is at a crossroads. On the one hand, choreographers and dancers have realized that endless infatuation with abstract ballet is a dead end. On the other hand, their attempts to overcome stagnation and once again start staging large-scale productions returning to the fundamental laws of ballet theater more often than not end in failure. Regarding the uniqueness of Russian ballet, it is seriously undermined by the desire to copy Western choreography. Clearly, a result of a certain isolation complex developed back in Soviet times. It is time to realize: The crisis that exists in ballet today is of a global nature. It is largely driven by the shortage of creative leaders and new ideas.
Q&A BORIS EIFMAN
Dance students and Boris Eifman with Balanchine’s likeness.
THE SOVIET COOKBOOK
WATCH “MY LIFE IN RUSSIA” ABOUT FOREIGNERS LIVING ABROAD! DESPERATE FOR BORSCH? LEARN TO COOK WITH OUR
Making a sanctionsfriendly, cheese-less Soviet “pizza”
ANNA KHARZEEVA SPECIAL TO RBTH
“DELICIOUS TV” SERIES!
R B T H . C O M / M U LT I M E D I A
“I found a good recipe for you. It’s the prototype of pizza – a Soviet one! You could make it for breakfast,” Granny said. I couldn’t resist the urge to try it. The “pizza” was listed in the healthy recipes section of the book, recommended for people suffering from liver problems. Red lights started flashing in my mind right away – the healthy recipes in the book are particularly weird – but I had to satisfy my curiosity. Plus, my liver could probably use some loving care. The base of the pizza is whole-grain bread soaked in milk and eggs – I can live with that – but with sugar! The topping is stewed cabbage, carrots and zucchini – again, fine – but mixed with fresh apples and lettuce. I generally have no issues with fresh lettuce, but the instructions to bake it threw me off a little. The result was better than expected. My husband and I were hungry enough, so we ate it all and found it to be odd but healthy and edible. I doubt we’ll be looking for Soviet pizza to replace our next Domino’s order, though. I quizzed my grandmother about her thoughts on non-Soviet pizza. She claims to have tried it and found it “not great” – but I’m having a hard time trying to picture her with a piece of pizza in her hands. In the Soviet days, she says: “We weren’t that interested in foreign cuisines. We had enough of our own: Russian, Georgian, Jewish, Siberian. And for pizza – we didn’t even really have cheese to make it with. “We heard that in France they had many types of cheese, and the first people to travel abroad were stunned by the choices. We had
three types of cheese plus a melted variety. The only nice type of cheese was called Swiss. It was very nice and very expensive – whether that was a name or it actually came from Switzerland, I don’t know. “There was a small dairy factory in Old Russia where they made a very popular melted cheese. Once I came in and saw they had Roquefort or Camembert – I don’t recall exactly – in small round boxes. It was the first time I’d seen cheese like that. “The lady at the shop told us the factory made French-style cheese for export, but if a batch had defects in it, it would be sold to the locals. You know that many factories in the U.S.S.R. used to make very high-quality products for export, the sort of products we never saw in shops, unless they were special closed ones. The few tourists that traveled to the West would buy Soviet-made products there, because the quality was much higher compared to what was produced for the local market.” But even with Granny’s weakness for French cheese (which has only grown stronger since Russia banned the import of foreign foods a year ago), Australian vegemite, macadamia nuts and Italian chocolate, she will take apple oladyi over pizza any day – I’m with her on that one, especially if the pizza is a Soviet one!
READ MORE RECIPES at rbth.com/russian_kitchen
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Ingredients: 60 grams bread; 75g milk; ¼ egg; 5g sugar; 15 grams butter; 30 grams sour cream; 75 grams chopped cabbage; 50 grams carrots; 50 grams zucchini; 50 grams apple; 5 grams lettuce; 5 grams dill
ton Post the Washing ANNA KHARZEEVA
on Nov. 4!
Instructions: 1. Cut bread into two pieces. Soak in 50 grams of milk mixed with egg and sugar. 2. Bake slightly. Simmer cabbage, sliced zucchini and carrots in 25 grams of milk and 10 grams of butter. 3. When cooked, lay cabbage, zucchini and carrot slices on top of the bread. 4. Lay apple slices, lettuce and dill on that. Drizzle with butter and bake. Serve with sour cream.
Published on Oct 7, 2015
Published on Oct 7, 2015
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