STYLISH TRAVEL TIPS FOR VISITORS TO ST. PETERSBURG
A local businessman suggests some of the best places to stay, wine and dine in Russia’s cultural capital. PAGE II
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The spire-shaped Lakhta Center, which will house Gazprom’s new headquarters, is being built in the northern part of St. Petersburg.
Businessmen in St. Petersburg who are building Russia’s largest companies are not relying on the government, which some see as a recipe for success
Visitors to St. Petersburg will not be able to see the iconic Aurora Cruiser, which is currently undergoing repairs. Here we present a picture of the museum ship.
Roof climbers in St. Petersburg try to get an angel’s-eye view of the historic city center. This growing climbing community has more than 10,000 members. PAGE IV
usician Anton Belyankin, the leader of the band Dva Samolyota (meaning two planes in Russian), opened two bars in St. Petersburg with his friends in late 2014, in the midst of the financial crisis. Now, he has six bars in the city center. Belyankin was the first to bring Western-style bar culture to St. Petersburg and Russia. He opened his first bar, Dacha, in 2004 and it is still in business. When it opened, Dacha was the only enterprise in the city that followed the traditional bar concept, a small room that only served alcohol and snacks. Consequently, it was a must-see destination for visiting foreigners. While restaurants and cafes close almost daily in Moscow, in St. Petersburg, they continue to thrive. “Bars are opened by enthusiasts,” says Belyankin. “That’s why most of them don’t close.” It is not just enthusiasm that keeps the bars open. In St. Petersburg, it is easier to find space for a bar, and the rent is lower than in Moscow. St. Petersburg is celebrated as the birthplace of Vladimir Putin. Perhaps that is why many companies are moving their offices to the city. St. Petersburg has an automobile cluster, which includes, among other companies, GM and Ford. For Western companies, the northern capital is a draw as it is
located a few hours’ drive from the European Union, from where it is easy to export goods and receive components for their enterprises. The hospitality and food and beverage industries, for example, are doing well in St. Petersburg. Scandinavian businesspeople traditionally like to invest in the Russian border areas. Denmark’s Carlsberg brewery group owns the Baltika brewery, Europe’s largest, in St. Petersburg, Alexei Miller, the head of Gazprom, the city’s main taxpayer, is also from St. Petersburg. While Gazprom has a branched structure, most of its companies have already moved to the city. Gazprom Group companies that have not yet moved to the northern capital will likely do so in the near future. Gazprom is a sponsor of Russia’s football champion, Zenit, and the country’s best hockey club, SKA, is the team Ilya Kovalchuk currently plays for. The gas giant, however, is not popular in the city. When it wanted to build a skyscraper, which would have ruined the historical skyline (St. Petersburg still has no skyscrapers), citizens reacted with large-scale protests. As a result, Gazprom had to abandon the project and is now trying unsuccessfully to sell the land on which it planned to build the skyscraper. Gazprom does not define the city’s business face. St. Petersburg has a class of businesspeople who
St. Petersburg, Russia’s secondlargest city, is referred to as the northern capital or the second capital.
eventually become market leaders in their sectors without the help of any influential people in the Kremlin. They also managed to succeed without Western investment. Businessmen Andrei Rogachyov and Alexander Girda became the first Russian billionaires to make their fortunes in an industry other than oil or banking.They built the Pyatyorochka discount-store chain. Rogachyov now says he’s “retired.” In a conversation with RBTH, he called his success in developing the chain “accidental.” At the same time, he is believed to be developing a new chain of stores, though he does not officially admit it. This can be called the St. Petersburg way of doing business. Rogachyov avoids being photographed and does not have a spokesman. In general, he has a reputation of being Russia’s most private billionaire. He described the style of St. Petersburg businesspeople as “decent and responsible,” and named Oleg Tinkov as the city’s most talented businessman. The complete opposite of Rogachyov, Tinkov has an interesting profile that compares with that of Richard Branson. Tinkov got into business in the 1990s by selling home electronics and appliances. He then set up a plant to make dumplings that was later sold to one of Roman Abramovich’s companies.
He later founded a chain of beer parlors and even built a brewery near St. Petersburg, which he sold to Sun Inbew (ED: Inbrew or InBev?) (now part of Anheuser-Busch InBev). Now Tinkov is developing the Tinkoff Bank, which is seen as a successful venture. People who know Tinkov say that he gets bored with his ventures then sells them. Although Tinkov has long worked around the country, he considers himself a St. Petersburg businessman. “The biggest competition in Russia is in St. Petersburg, because the market is already large, but not yet as large as in Moscow,” Tinkov told RBTH. “As a result, the product must be polished to perfection, and you pay dearly for mistakes there, since competition is several times higher than in Moscow and the regions, where the members of the business elite are basically tied to the administrative machinery.” According to Tinkov, the special style of St. Petersburg businesspeople can be defined as “honesty toward the consumer, being less money-oriented and having rational relationships with partners.”He adds that “kindness” is also a major aspect of this style. ■ROMAN OVCHINNIKOV JOURNALIST
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Some of the best places to eat, relax and indulge in pleasurable pursuits in Russia’s northern capital
An insider suggests where to stay, wine and dine in St. Petersburg SERGEI BATULIN SPECIAL TO RBTH
Hotel and restaurant recommendations for foreign visitors to St. Petersburg, from local businessman Sergei Batulin
Hotels Kempinski Hotel Moika 22 Off the noisy Nevsky Prospekt is a quiet historical district with numerous aristocratic mansions, one of which houses the Kempinski Hotel. It is a five-minute walk from Nevsky Prospekt and just across from the city’s central Palace Square and the famed Hermitage museum.
Having the time of your life in St. Petersburg
See the city from up high To really see a sweeping perspective of a city, view it from high in the air. This is especially true in St. Petersburg, where strict architectural regulations limit the construction of tall buildings in the city center. From this aerial perspective, the tops of buildings such as the Church of the Savior of Spilled Blood, the Hermitage and Peter and Paul Fortress, show how geography determined the city’s layout. While several companies offer tours, St. Petersburg Essential Guide’s trips (ED: flightseeing or helicopter?) are intimate and varied with five different routes, including a special night ride. (ED: Web site?)
St. Petersburg, the Venice of the North, knows how to party and be glamorous. Visitors can Indulge in life’s finer things here and take advantage of the ruble conversion.
Night at the museum St. Petersburg is decidedly more relaxed than its bustling rival, Moscow, and many people prefer it that way. While the atmosphere may be more tranquil, the Venice of the North also knows how to party, be glamorous and indulge in life’s finer things. With the ruble conversion rate as good as it is, this could be a great time to head to St. Petersburg and splurge. Here are some ideas.
Brunch at Belmond Grand Hotel Europe Sunday brunch in L’Europe restaurant is an institution. Perhaps Russia’s first brunch, it attracts many of the city’s most successful expatriates and Russian business figures, who make this a frequent stop on their weekend itinerary. It is no wonder, as the buffet tables are bountiful with fresh cuts of meat and house specialties such as foie gras, Peking duck and Russian pancakes with caviar. Unlimited drinks and live jazz complete the ambience. However, if your schedule doesn’t allow for brunch, a great alternative is a meal at the hotel’s Caviar Bar & Restaurant. With its own vodka sommelier, the Caviar Bar can suggest a fine, yet stiff, pour to pair with one of the finest caviar selections available anywhere in the world. The caviar here comes in a radiant rainbow (try the golden variety) allowing patrons to step outside the usual offerings of reds and blacks. › belmond.com
Best-kept culinary secret Besides posh stalwarts such as Palkin, one option for a more laid-back experience without sacrificing taste or service is Gosti (Guests). Delicacies include black ravioli with salmon mousse and spinach sauce, and orange risotto with squid and Far East scallop. Other tasty options are the duck dishes, grilled veal medallions or pork neck. Known for its friendly and relaxed service, homey atmosphere and diverse wine selections, Gosti is a good place to go with friends, to linger and feel at home.
Visitors whose schedule prevents them from visiting the famed Hermitage, one of the world’s great museums, could spend the night next door. The Official State Hermitage Hotel, winner of multiple awards at the recent World Luxury Hotel Awards, has worked in tandem with its famous neighbor to create a one-ofa-kind overnight experience. With halls filled with artworks and Italian marble, this hotel, which opened in 2013, promises its guests the closest thing to imperial luxury that money can buy.
Watch a match in style
Cruise the Baltic Sea
Those who wish to take in a football match can turn a game into an unforgettable day featuring an unhindered view from a heated box and catered food. St. Petersburg’s home football team, Zenit, offers special VIP boxes and access to its business club for matches featuring the 2008 UEFA Super Cup champions. An elegant space that caters to business meetings and private events, the club features a buffet menu, drinks and other benefits. Those who prefer to watch St. Petersburg’s basketball team — also called Zenit — can rent a box at Sibur Arena during one of their games.
Few cities have an identity connected with water more than St. Petersburg. The Princess Maria offers a night cruise into the Baltic Sea, enabling passengers to watch the lights of the city slowly give way to the open sea from the comfort of a warm cabin. Its various cruises feature casino nights in international waters, festive holiday events and dance parties, and many options around the New Year’s holiday. It is also a good option for holiday parties, wedding receptions and business meetings. › stpeterline.com
› tickets.fc-zenit.ru › vip.fc-zenit.ru/
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Have an elegant steam Bliss Spa, widely considered St. Petersburg’s best day spa, confidently advertises itself as such on its Web site. Located inside the W Hotel near St. Isaac’s Square, the spa attracts the beautiful people from throughout the city for massages, cosmetic procedures and weight-loss programs. Rare for a spa, it offers an entire program dedicated to men’s beauty and care needs. Customers have shown their approval. It is rated #1 on TripAdvisor’s list of the city’s best spas. Those looking to get away—but not that far — may wish to head just outside the city to Club Voda. Voda offers spacious pools, luxurious changing rooms, Jacuzzis, saunas and Termalia Hall, a separate complex for massages and other health treatments. While on weekends ClubVoda is known for its decadent poolside parties, it is also a good choice for a midweek romantic getaway. There is also a bar, hotel and restaurant on the premises.
The brunch at Belmond’s L’Europe has lots of delicious food. The Bar must be one of the best restaurants in Petersburg. The waiters are impeccable, make you feel at ease and make excellent recommendations. An ideal place if new to Russia and just want to taste caviar and vodka."
Club Voda is really nice inside; the dressing rooms are brand new and give the impression of luxury. The pool is big, the water is warm and there are a couple of Jacuzzis with hot water and hydro-massage. It’s the perfect place to relax."
The atmosphere (in Gosti) was homely and the proportions were generous. The decor was something akin to country-style, like going to a French dacha [cottage] or a British country house. A nice place to meet friends for dinner."
NUFFIC NESO RUSSIA
LANGUAGE TEACHER AND TRANSLATOR
FABIO DE LEONARDIS
I went on a helicopter tour of the city once. It was pretty cool seeing the layout of St. Petersburg from above, and you got the idea of the planned city a lot better than either a map conveys or by seeing it from the ground."
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Corinthia St. Petersburg This five-star hotel — located in the city’s best-known street, Nevsky Prospekt — is within easy walking distance of any destination in central St. Petersburg. Works of art fill its Art Deco interiors. Belmond Grand Hotel Europe The city’s oldest hotel — located on the corner of Nevsky Prospekt and Mikhaylovskaya Street in the heart of St. Petersburg — is just a short walk to the main attractions: the Hermitage, the Russian Museum and the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood. Among the famous people who have stayed at this grande dame are George Bernard Shaw, Anna Pavlova, Pyotr Tchaikovsky and Ivan Turgenev.
Hotel Astoria One of the city’s best-known and most luxurious hotels, the Astoria features stunning views of St. Isaac’s Cathedral and the Mariinsky Palace. The following are hotel options for those who need to spend most of their visit on Vasilievsky Island:
Sokos Hotel Palace Bridge The building which now houses this hotel was once a wine warehouse for the famous Yeliseyev merchant family in the 19th century. It is walking distance from the Palace Square, the Admiralty and St. Isaac’s Cathedral. Courtyard St. Petersburg Vasilievsky The windows of this four-star hotel look out to the Neva, and guests can visit the Hermitage without waiting in a queue.
Restaurants Although nearly every St. Petersburg resident knows Rubinstein Street for its restaurants and pubs, for foreign tourists it still remains one of the city’s best-kept secrets. To get there, turn off Nevsky Prospekt not far from where it crosses the Fontanka River. Here are a variety of excellent restaurants to choose from. Tse Fung A Chinese restaurant with a Swiss twist, Tse Fung is like its Swiss prototype, Le Tsé Fung Genève. The menu features traditional Chinese specialties, from Peking duck to Chilean sea bass with spring onions and ginger. The restaurant emphasizes the “pure taste” of the ingredients, which is achieved through the skill of its chefs and the use of modern technologies, rather than through artificial coloring and preserving agents. 48 Chairs Those looking for sustenance not just for their bodies but for their souls can sate their appetites at the jazz restaurant 48 Chairs. This traditional restaurant features a welcoming music room, soft lighting emanating from cozy lampshades, black-and-white photos in gold frames hanging on the walls, and dark-wood furniture. Every evening, the restaurant’s rooms are filled with the unforgettable sound of jazz classics. One must-have is the splendid rib-eye steak with fried onion and red wine sauce. Girlianda Steak Shop & Show The Girlianda Steak Shop & Show caters to lovers of organic yet tasty food. Meat producers from the nearby Leningrad Region are exclusive suppliers of Girlianda, whose format is more like that of a food showroom than a restaurant. Visitors choose the meat they to be cooked for them and the chef then prepares it in a Josper oven (combination of grill and oven) in an open kitchen. This is also a great place for breakfast, with the morning menu featuring nutritious and delicious porridge, syrniki (cheese pancakes) and a variety of pastries. My Je Na Ty This is one of St. Petersburg’s most popular eateries, thanks to its in-
credibly tasty smoked pork ribs, which are available in unlimited amounts for a set price. The other entries all have unusual names, representing the chef’s particular interpretation of traditional dishes.
Meat Head Its menu is packed with a variety of meats from all over the world cooked in numerous ways. The restaurant also boasts an extensive wine list selected by an experienced sommelier. Between courses, diners can enjoy the views of the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood from the restaurant windows. The Literary Café restaurant The restaurant — situated in a historical 19th-century building on the corner of Nevsky Prospekt and Moika Embankment — embodies the inimitable atmosphere of romantic St. Petersburg. The classical interior is lavish with stucco and gold plating, while its walls feature portraits of great Russian authors. The restaurant specializes in Russian cuisine.
Diners can admire the beauty of St. Petersburg even during meals. as many restaurants offer panoramic views of this ancient imperial capital: Terrassa restaurant Situated on the roof of one of the tallest buildings in central St. Petersburg, the Terrassa offers spectacular views of Nevsky Prospekt and Kazan Cathedral. Exquisite dishes from various cuisines include a grilled beef medallion with marsala sauce and baked potatoes; baked Kamchatka crab claws with Mediterranean sauce; and Russian vareniki, or pierogis, with cherry (ED: CHERRIES OR SHERRY?) for dessert. The Mansarda restaurant One of the city’s best-known restaurants, the Mansarda offers breathtaking views of the colonnade of St. Isaac’s Cathedral and the historical center. The menu presents a world tour of Italian, Japanese, Indian, Chinese, Mediterranean and Russian cuisines.
RUSSIA BEYOND THE HEADLINES A global media project sponsored by Rossiyskaya Gazeta www.rbth.com
Why the World Bank Ranking is so Important
Three Urban Legends about Russian Businesspeople MOTY CRISTAL PROFESSOR
The Russian government considers the Doing Business ranking to be a key indicator for reforming the country’s business environment
All Russians are KGB agents This is like saying every American who understands a little bit about foreign policy works for the Central Intelligence Agency or that every Israeli is a Mossad agent. Not all Russians are KGB agents, and the intelligence agencies actually avoid the business sector. One could be suspicious if a businessperson doesn’t have solid business experience or doesn’t understand business opportunities. Some people benefit from creating an impression that they have links to intelligence agencies, as this may give them an aura of power while negotiating.
In November 2015, the World Bank released its annual Doing Business ranking, in which Russia managed to rise to 51st place. For the Russian economy, this ranking is particularly important because the government has selected it as a universal indicator for reforming the business environment. When the Russian authorities set a goal to increase foreign investment into the country, they realized that it was important to show investors that there was a significant change in the business environment. The Doing Business ranking was selected as a benchmark. In 2011, Russia was 120th on the list. Unlike other similar rankings, the World Bank rating is far removed from politics. It analyzes specific indicators, such as how many days it takes to obtain a construction permit or how many papers need to be submitted to connect a new shop to the power grid. The methodology used to calculate points is extremely transparent and makes it possible to assess the amount of red tape existing in the business environment of a particular country on the strength of specific examples. Therefore, in May 2012, President Putin signed a decree aiming to improve Russia’s ranking by 100 points, the so-called“100 steps.” Under that decree, Russia should rise from the 120th position in 2011 to 20th place in 2018, with the interim target being 50 in 2015. The interim target the president set has been practically achieved. To improve its standing in the Doing Business ranking, Russia undertook a broad range of activities. A new development institution, the Agency of Strategic Initiatives (whose head was selected in an open competitive process from more than 1,000 candidates), has become fully operational. The agency has begun so-called spot checks. Representatives of foreign investors visit different regions to assess how convenient it is to work with the local authorities there. Another key new development has been the National Entrepreneurial Initiative, a program for developing roadmaps for reforming specific sectors. As a part of this initiative, business representatives themselves identified areas that needed to be reformed. Later, these representatives assessed how effective the reforms were and evaluated the work of state institutions. In line with proposals from entrepreneurs, laws and regulations in Russia were adjusted, and government resolutions and presidential decrees issued. Thanks in part to this initiative, it has become possible to simplify the procedure of getting connected to a power grid and to reduce the associated costs to less than a quarter of what they used to be, from 9,500 rubles ($147) to 2,100 rubles per 1 kilowatt. As a result, in the Getting Electricity indicator, Russia rose from 143rd position to 29th
ost of the executive positions in the private sector, and many of the top posts in the government and government-owned companies, are held by young Russians between the ages of 25 and 45. This is a generation that grew up with economic prosperity, in a market that offers many opportunities. I find the new generation of young Russian entrepreneurs extremely curious and open. They are, to some extent, nationalistic and proud to be part of the motherland. They want to do business in Russia or develop the Russian private sector. At the same time, they have a cultural awareness for the need to compete in the global marketplace. While there are several wrong perceptions about Russian businesspeople, they can be broadly classified into three urban legends.
The reveals the weakest areas in the Russian business environment: construction and exportimport operations
Russians are tough
place, a record in the history of the World Bank ranking. Skeptics point out that Russia has managed to improve its Doing Business ranking mainly because of methodological changes. In 2014, the World Bank introduced several changes to how it calculated the ranking. First, for 11 countries with more than 100 million people, data began to include figures for the countries’ second-largest city as well. So in addition to Moscow, World Bank analysts began to use data for St. Petersburg, where the quality of the business environment has been traditionally higher than in the capital. Second, three indicators expanded their scope: Resolving Insolvency, Protecting Minority Investors and Getting Credit. As a result of these and other changes, Russia rose from the 92nd to 64th place in one go, and through improvements in some indicators managed to secure the 62nd rank a year ago. Despite a certain amount of skepticism, Russia’s improved ranking cannot be attributed to a change in methodology alone. In the Enforcing Contracts ranking, Russia is in 5th place and ranks 8th for Registering Property. In fact, it is just one position away from the interim target set in President Putin’s decree. The Economic Development Ministry describes Russia’s improved ranking as a rare example of applying a project-management approach to addressing a task. Furthermore, no one could suspect the ranking compilers of any bias. The Doing Business ranking also reveals the weakest areas in the Russian business environment: mainly, construction and export-import operations. In the Dealing with Construction Permits category, Russia is in 119th position (compared with
156th a year ago).Whereas in the Trading Across Borders section, in 2015 it even slipped from 155th position to 170th place, the worst result to date. Experts attribute this poor ranking to the need for a far-reaching and comprehensive reform of the country’s customs authority. Russia’s positions also suffered because the scope of this indicator has been expanded to include transportation of goods not only by sea, but also by air and rail. This means that Russia has problems in processing goods passing through all types of checkpoints. For instance, the Doing Business ranking takes into account how electronic systems are used, how long a cargo is kept at the border and how much the paperwork costs. In all these parameters, so far Russia has no progress to report. By way of comparison, in Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development countries, documentary compliance takes a maximum five hours and costs $36, whereas in Russia the figures are 43 hours and $500. According to World Bank calculations, border compliance costs Russian exporters $1,125, while in Kazakhstan, a fellow member of the Customs Union, the figure is $574. To become one of the top-20 countries with the best conditions for business by 2018, the Russian government still has much to do. However, a solid foundation for large-scale reforms has already been laid. In 2015, Russia became one of the world’s top-five countries in terms of the number of reforms. They were conducted in five out of the 10 areas being assessed by the World Bank.
Skeptics note that Russia has managed to improve its Doing Business ranking mainly thanks to methodological changes.
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Seeking a larger share of global composites market ment adopted a roadmap for developing the sector. The plan calls for Russia to produce composite materials worth $1.9 billion by 2020, with 10 percent of the materials being exported.
Nuclear sector Historically, the production of composite materials in Russia has been closely linked to the nuclear sector. The homegrown technology for producing carbon fibers was developed in the 1980s at nuclear-sector enterprises. The state nuclear corporation Rosatom, which is involved in developing a fully fledged carbon-fiber market in Russia, is establishing exports to other countries. “Rosatom, along with the Kompozit holding company, intends to produce cheap but topquality polyacrylonitrile [PAN] fiber,”says Alexander Uvarov, head of the specialist publication Atominfo.“It requires a very expensive infrastructure.” In the spring of 2015, Russia launched the Alabuga-Volokno fiber plant, which the Kompozit holding company built for Rosatom. The first stage of the plant cost 3.3 billion rubles ($53.2 million). “The new plant will enable the quadrupling of the production of composite materials,”says Alexander Lokshin, first deputy head of Ro-
EGOR ALEEV / TASS
In the 20th century, Russia was a world leader in the development and use of carbon-fiber technologies, which are the foundation of composite materials. Materials based on carbon fibers possess unique properties. They are 10 times as strong and four times as light as metal. This has lead to a burgeoning demand for composites in the automotive, shipbuilding and aircraft-manufacturing sectors, with the global market growing up to 15 percent annually. Overall, the global composites market amounts to 12 million tons a year and is estimated to be worth some $483.5 billion, however Russia produces just tens of thousands of tons a year and accounts for just 0.3-0.5 percent of the world market. Sergei Vetokhin, executive director of the Union of Composites Manufacturers, says Russia has some unique products in this field, such as mobile pavements that make it possible to transport heavy machinery to remote and hardto-reach terrain, including swamps. These pavements are mainly used in the oil sector. “There are excellent solutions for nuclear power plants too,” says Vetokhin, “with construction technologies that have no equivalents elsewhere in the world.” To regain a large share of the global composites market, in 2013 the Russian govern-
Russia has created a roadmap for developing the composite materials sector.
satom. This will result in lower material costs and wider applications, he says. “That is why we believe that Agabuga-Volokno will be instrumental in reducing Russia’s dependence on imports,” adds Lokshin.
For the time being, the plan is to produce two types of carbon fiber: Umatex UMT42– 12К — which is used in manufacturing cars, ships and aircraft as well as in the wind-power industry — and Umatex UMT42–24К, which
Russians are not tough if you know how to deal with them. The facade of toughness is usually a communication method, which has proven to be very successful when Russians deal with each other. But when Russians deal with non-Russians, they know that their“vlast,” or“sila,”which mean authority and force, may work against them and not be beneficial. The very famous Russian word“net,”’ which means no, has slowly developed into“well, basically no, but let’s see what we can do about it.”I think this is a significant improvement in the way Russians negotiate.Young Russian executives are much more open to not saying no right at the beginning, and they try to understand in a Harvard manner, and try to seek common ground. Working globally, I would argue that the Chinese are much tougher than the Russians.
Russians don’t have emotions Once, I stood next to the vice-president of a big industrial company, and asked him,“Dmitry, are you finally happy?”He smiled and said, “Moty, I’m Russian. I cannot be happy. I’m satisfied.”When I tell this anecdote, all my Russian audiences and students laugh, because it really reflects this Russian habit of hide their emotions behind a poker face or behind a cold expression. Russians have feelings like any other businesspeople. They hate, they love, they’re enthusiastic, they’re anxious. The important thing is to attach to or get connected to the individual and to the emotion. How to do it? You do it through informal meetings, informal gatherings and through relationship building. Moty Cristal is Professor of Professional Practice in Negotiation Dynamics at the Skolkovo Moscow School of Management
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is used for other industrial needs. A feasibility study that Rosatom commissioned for using composite materials at nuclear power plants has already been prepared. The study looks at using composite fittings in the production and assembly of concrete constructions and using composite pipes in cooling towers. Experts believe that the use of composite materials will make it possible to improve the quality of nuclear power plants being built. Composite materials are superior to metal since they are not subjected to corrosion, whereas metal pipes in cooling towers rust and require constant maintenance. By contrast, composite fittings are immune to corrosion and are superior to metal fittings in several other key aspects. In the near future, nuclear power plants will be built at least partially out of composite materials. In the meantime, the plant in Alabuga is operating in a test mode. It manufactures pilot batches of products and distributes them among potential customers. Dozens of contracts with buyers in many countries are expected to be signed by the end of 2015. Rosatom is also planning to build the second stage of the plant with four production lines. The company hopes that by 2020 it will be able to increase annual production to 10,000 tons and account for 7 percent of the global carbon fibers market. ■ANDREI RETINGER RBTH
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by Akhmed Zakayev being held in Denmark. The Danish photographer was suspected of espionage and his Russian friends of assisting him. However, a Federal Security Service officer arrived soon, took a close look at the three people’s faces, and let them off with a warning, without even checking the pictures they had taken.
Like Paris or Venice Every proper roof climber in St. Petersburg must have acquaintances, whose help could come in handy. Dubrovsky has many, which has enabled him to get access to roofs that have not been visited by many of his peers. He managed to climb the roof of the Astoria Hotel, since his girlfriend’s father works there as a security guard. I am offered the privilege to climb to one such premium roof. It is above the studio of Viktor Tikhomirov, a prominent artist and friend of Dubrovsky’s. The studio must have been an attic in the past. There is a hatch leading from the room straight to the roof. You open the window and you are there. The famous Church of the Savior on Blood is so close that you can’t see all of it through the window. I put my leg through the window. It feels as if I could step on the church in a minute. Over there, the view is like that of the 16th arrondissement of Paris, and looking the other way, the view is like Venice in the spring. Unlike Moscow, where the authorities have occasionally clamped down on the activity, St. Petersburg is ideal for roof climbing. It is greatly helped by the fact that the city’s historical center is so compact. In most other cities, climbing from one roof to another would be more of a challenge. On top of this, most roofs in St. Petersburg are flat, making them much easier to climb.
Seeing one rooftop at a time Roof climbing is a pastime that has many followers in Russia’s northern capital. It is practiced in other cities as well, but only in St. Petersburg can one freely navigate the space between the ground and the sky. This is why there are already some 10,000 roof climbers in the city. For these agile climbers, it is no longer a hobby but a way of life, a symbol of freedom and a good way of overcoming stress.There is no need to go to Goa to get a break from the corporate world. All it takes is a bit of skill, nimbleness and courage, and you can become an elf, if only for five minutes.
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Forgiving roofs There is a stereotype that a roof climber cannot exist without a camera. There is some truth in it. Many climb the roofs in order to take pictures of St. Petersburg. Some have made it a part of their lives. They take pictures of the city from the same spot in different seasons, at different times of day or night, in different weather. Some even say, “I won’t be climbing today, I’ve left my camera behind.” Those for whom roof climbing is a creed despise this point of view. These devotees maintain that a good roof will always forgive you if you don’t take a picture of it. Seeing roofs as animate objects is yet another trait typical of roof climbers. “A roof treats you the way you treat it,” says Nikonov. “If you do nasty things there, it can throw you down. If you don’t, it can reveal some of its secrets to you.” Nikonov has never been thrown down by a roof. Dubrovsky’s experience is different. Once he tried to climb to a roof on a wet day, slipped, and began sliding down. Trying to hold on to something, he hurt his hands. Luckily, the roof was being repaired at the time and one of the workers saw him and managed to catch him. It was a migrant worker from Tajikistan. After that incident, Dubrovsky has become a champion of ethnic tolerance. Roof climbers seldom have problems with the police. There was only one incident that our group of participants could recall. Two Russian climbers and a Danish friend of theirs, a photographer, were out on the roofs. One of the residents of the building saw them and called the police, who arrived soon. As fate would have it, at the time there were news reports about a congress of exiled Chechens led
In most other cities, climbing from one roof to another would be much more of a challenge.
Higher than angels Dubrovsky dreams of climbing higher than angels. “Can you see the angels on St. Isaac’s Cathedral, above the colonnade?”he asks.“Then the dome. Then the viewing point. This is the highest you can get. Further above is the cross and the sky. That is where I want to get.” Nikonov does not have a dream. He is quite content with the roofs that are already open to him. He does not reveal, however, the exact addresses of his favorite ones. Roof climbing is a spontaneous movement, with no organization behind it. Enthusiasts communicate mainly through the Internet, forming small, autonomous groups. Often, they only know each other online, although sometimes they meet at the At the Stone Bridge cafe. Yet, it would be wrong to describe this as their meeting point. Everything is spontaneous and nothing resembles a sect here. There are no offices, like those that hitchhikers have, and no membership cards.
Each selfrespecting roof climber in St. Petersburg has roofs of his or her own, which offer stunning views.
■IGOR NAYDENOV RUSSKY REPORTER
“Concentrate, watch your feet. Use your entire foot, to increase traction,” roof climber Andrey Dubrovsky instructs me softly. It is easy for him to say since he has been on this roof countless times. How does Dubrovsky expect me to watch my feet when right above us, looming right above our heads, is St. Isaac’s Cathedral with all its architectural and historical might? Generally speaking, I am not a fan of St. Petersburg. It is just a museum built on a swamp. But this time something stirs in– side me. It seems you can touch St. Isaac’s Cathedral with your hand. It is just an optical illusion. But what an extraordinary illusion! The whole of St. Petersburg seems to be in
the palm of your hand. It is a completely different city. Its angularity is gone. Its geometry is softened. It’s like a smart jacket turned inside out. Then suddenly you find that it can be comfortably worn that way, too. The Hermitage is no longer oppressive with its excessive monumentality. From the height of a seven-story building, the Admiralty needle is not quite as arrogantly sharp either. Far away, you can hear seagull shrieks and the chants of Zenit football fans. Zenit scores a goal against Bayern Munich.Yet, Dubrovsky does not even turn his head toward the Petrovsky stadium. Here, on a St. Petersburg roof, discussing a mundane topic like football would be considered bad manners. Roof climbing is a lofty pursuit, in every sense of the word. There are five of us here: Andrey Dubrovsky, Bulat, Maxim Nikonov, photographer Alexei and myself. Five is a bit too many. Roof climbing is not a group activity, and is better suited for loners. “Why do you climb roofs,” I ask Nikonov, who teaches at a university and does parttime logistics work in a small company. “To sit there and think,” he replies. “It is a great place to think,” Bulat, a software engineer, agrees. “If you need to make a decision and don’t know what to do, there is no better place. From up here, everybody looks so small, so insignificant in their daily worries.”
According to some estimates, there are about 10,000 roof climbers in St. Petersburg. Those who are not involved in this lofty pursuit have no idea that there is a whole life up on the roofs. In addition to photography, roofs are ideally suited for dating; there is no better place to win a girl’s heart than up here. To climb a standard St. Petersburg roof in the center of the city takes a certain amount of training. Staircases in St. Petersburg are a test for any cardiovascular system. Those who have climbed them will know what I mean. Elevators are virtually nonexistent. Each self-respecting roof climber in St. Petersburg has roofs of his or her own, which offer stunning views. They share these roofs with their family and friends. They share keys and code combinations. They don’t take people they don’t know or trust up there. Some, in a fit of selfish possessiveness, even put their own locks on the doors leading to their favorite roofs. This is frowned upon in the roofclimbing community.
Russia’s northern capital is ideal for roof climbing. The compactness of St. Petersburg’s historical center helps this fleet-footed pursuit.
A roof of one’s own
1 an e Pl os zhn 2 a hc ha ya d
Okhotny Ryad M
During the Christmas and New Year holidays, the center of the Russian capital turns into one huge magical realm. From December 18 to January 10, the fun does not stop. This winter, Moscow will welcome the «Journey to Christmas» festival. 36 holiday sites will appear on the city map. visitors will be treated to theatrical performances, fun fairs and unforgettable gastronomic delights.
The main events will unfold in the golden triangle: Manezhnaya Ploshchad – Okhotny Ryad – Ploshchad Revolyutsii.
The country’s main Christmas ball. Inside this giant Christmas decoration measuring 17 meters wide (56 feet), visitors will experience A fair for Russia’s a multimedia regions: Features show. New Year’s gis, souvenirs, sweets — all the colors of Christmas from around the country. T R AV E L 2 M O S C O W. C O M
An exhibition and a fair shaped like a map of Russia. In the center is a 17-meter-high Christmas tree all aglow with lights.
Open-air skating rink with free entry. Every evening, guests will see the ballet «Swan Lake» performed on ice. Russia’s biggest ice mountain: 7 meters high, 100 meters long. Ride with the wind!
Central children’s restaurant.
The rink is surrounded by a restaurant area — with delicious treats for every taste. The country’s main Christmas store.
Published on Nov 20, 2015