A Safe Place in Outer Space Russia-U.S. relations still work above the earth
Kabul Asks for Moscow’s Help Afghan government hedging its bets
The New York Times Wednesday, November 25, 2015
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Terrorism Following the tragedies in Egypt, Lebanon and France, an alliance may finally be formed
NEWS IN BRIEF
ISIS Attacks Break Russia-West Stalemate
Moscow ready to support cutting emissions in Paris As a major climate change conference prepares to open in Paris on Nov. 30, Russia has come out in support of an initative to halve greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The country is ready to finance the transfer of technologies reducing greenhouse gas emissions to developing nations, according to Alexander Bedritsky, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s advisor on climate change. “Developed and developing countries may have different commitments and contributions, but all of them need to be included in a single international document, to be legally binding,” Bedritsky said recently. “We support as the goal of the agreement a temperature growth limited to two degrees and, if we manage to reach this agreement, the 50 percent reduction of global emissions by 2050.”
Russian-American startup shines at Helsinki tech fair Astro Digital, a startup created by Russian entreprenur Ekaterina Kotenko-Lengold, won second place in the startup competition at Slush, a major event in northern Europe for developers interested in attracting international investors. Astro Digital is run by an international team of experts from Russia and the U.S., and the startup’s head office is located at NASA’s Ames Research Park in California. The program is a platform for accessing satellite data that provides an easy, quick search and integration of satellite photographs into web and mobile applications. Developers believe there will be a demand for such technology, especially from farmers and forest services.
After two years of worsening relations, a series of terrorist attacks may finally bring Russian and American dlplomats to the negotiating table. SERGEI STROKAN AND VLADIMIR MIKHEEV SPECIAL TO RBTH
T he shock and outrage of the attacks in Paris that left at least 129 dead, coupled with suicide bombings in Beirut and the downing of a Russian passenger airliner in Egypt, have brought the need for international co-operation to combat terrorism into an urgent new focus. Relations between Russia and the West have been in a downward spiral since the spring of 2014, when civil war erupted in eastern Ukraine and Russia incorporated Crimea. The past 18 months have seen a raft of sanctions against Russian companies and individuals and a retaliatory ban on food imports from Western countries, in addition to heightened rhetoric and increased military activity along the border between NATO and Russia. Even as recently as last month, Russian and American politicians were trading barbs over the fight against ISIS in Syria, with Washington hawks accusing Russia’s bombing strikes in the country of making matters worse as Moscow argued that all rebel groups were terrorists. But the tone of the rhetoric began to change after a bomb brought down a Russian Metrojet flight traveling from the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheik to St. Petersburg on Oct. 31, killing all 224 aboard. U.S. President
Barack Obama expressed his sympathy to the Russian people, and Russian officials asked the F.B.I. to participate in the investigation into the crash. Then, following the attacks in Paris, American and Russian diplomats led the 17 nations meeting in Vienna on Nov. 14 to agree to a transition plan for Syria. In the clearest indication that things had changed, Obama sat down with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Antalya, Turkey, for more than 20 minutes and came away with an agreement “on the need for a Syrianled and Syrian-owned political transition,” according to a statement from the White House.
Change we can believe in? While previous attempts to forge a united international front to strike against the terrorist threat in the Middle East have failed, revulsion over the atrocities in Paris, Beirut and Egypt may yet achieve a common purpose, although a single coalition against ISIS has not yet emerged. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has repeatedly asserted that Russia is open to working with the West on fighting terrorism. Speaking to reporters last week, Lavrov said: “For the entire international community, the objective is to increase the efficiency of the war against terrorism and at the same time seek a political solution to the problems in Syria, Yemen and other countries in the region.” Finally, American officials may be responding.
Vladimir Sotnikov, head of the East-West Strategic Studies Center, a Moscow think tank, is hopeful about the possibility of finding common ground, in part because the recent spate of attacks affected such a broad crosssection of people.“Whenever there are breaches in providing security — and it looks like there were failures in ensuring the safety of foreign nationals on holiday in Egypt — the threat of terrorism will increase,”Sotnikov said, adding that the lack of security affected the interests of thousands of people, not only Russians, and “the actions taken by many foreign governments in the wake of the air crash prove that they understand this. And it has to be dealt with irrespective of any other thorny issues, for instance, the differences Russia has with the American administration and the British government over the crisis in Ukraine.” Jane Kinninmont, a senior research fellow at the British international affairs think tank Chatham House, agrees with Sotnikov’s assessment.“Cooperation is often spurred by the perception of having a common enemy — as was seen when the West allied with Islamists against Russia in Afghanistan in the 1980s, at a time when communism rather than Islamism was seen as the primary threat,”Kinninmont said.
No more agreeing to disagree But creating an alliance to take on ISIS may be easier said than done, in part because of the disagreements that still exist be-
tween Russia and the West over the future of Syria. Many in the international community view the departure of Syrian President Bashar al Assad as a precondition for moving forward. At theVienna meeting on Syria the day after the Paris attacks, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said that“the political process has to be accompanied by a ceasefire. That will help to end the bloodshed as quickly as possible.” Kerry added:“This war cannot end so long as Bashar al-Assad is there.” Russia, in contrast, sees Assad’s government as the only thing keeping Syria from becoming a failed state. In Russia’s view, “Assad’s regime is the true alternative to the Islamists,”said Alexei Malashenko, an analyst at the Moscow Carnegie Center.
Putin proposes restructuring of Ukraine’s debt
Shared grief: Russians lay flowers in front of the French embassy in Moscow
Russia has proposed that Ukraine pay off its debt in installments of $1 billion for the next three years, according to a statement Russian President Vladimir Putin made Nov. 17. “We haven’t just agreed to restructure the Ukrainian debt, we have offered better conditions than the International Monetary Fund was asking of us. We were asked to postpone the payment for the next year in the amount of $3 billion. I said that we were ready for a deeper restructuring.” Russia loaned Ukraine $3 billion in the fall of 2013 to prop up the government of former President Viktor Yanukovich.
Hope for the future Nevertheless, the attacks have provided an impetus to push diplomats past their talking points. Russia has agreed to ally with France on fighting against ISIS in Syria. The Russian military already operating in Syria will liaise with the French aircraft carrier Charles deGaulle. French President François Hollande will visit Moscow tomorrow. The Americans aren’t quite yet willing to commit, but they are getting closer. “The U.S. and Russia may expand their military cooperation if they overcome their diplomatic differences over Syria,” Obama said on the sidelines of the APEC summit in Manila, his most optimistic statement about the situation to date.
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Aviation Local airlines and businesspeople likely to suffer the most from the ban, which could last for several years
Russia-Ukraine Flight Ban: A Month In Air travel is the latest industry to fall victim to tensions between Moscow and Kiev as both governments prohibit flights between their countries. VLADIMIR KOZLOV SPECIAL TO RBTH
Some of the more than eight million Ukrainians of Russian descent will find it harder to visit family because of the ban.
not surprised.“This had to be expected,” she said. “The relations between the two countries are at such a low point, that it could have happened any minute.” Konstantin Liorek, the C.I.S. regional director for a European spare parts manufacturer who is based in Kiev but spends a lot of time in Russia, tried to find a bright side in the situation.“Okay, it’ll take me a half day or even an entire day [to travel between Russia and Ukraine] as opposed to an hour and a half,” he said. “But I’ll collect more miles on a frequent flyer program!” “I don’t see it as a tragedy,” he concluded.“Peace is more important.”
Winners and losers Russian and Ukrainian airlines will also face considerable losses. In the first eight months of 2015, about 800,000 people flew between Russia and Ukraine, according to Russian aviation authorities, according to inform agency Regions.ru. Aviation expert Pantaleyev estimated that Russian airlines carried half of them. Russian airlines used to make about 450 flights a month to Ukraine, and the number of Ukrainian airlines’ flights to Russia was about half of that. There are also some winners in this situation, however. “Airlines from Belarus, Mol-
On Oct. 25, direct flights between Russia and Ukraine ceased in the world’s largest closure of civilian airspace since the eruption of an Icelandic volcano wreaked havoc across Europe in 2010. Following Russia’s absorption of Crimea in March 2014, Ukrainian aviation authorities banned Russian airlines from landing at the peninsula’s largest airport, in the city of Simferopol. Russian airlines promptly ignored this ban, which led Ukraine to impose fines on the Russian airlines. These penalties were similarly disregarded. Eventually the dispute moved from Ukraine’s aviation authorities to the country’s political leadership, and, on Sept. 25, Ukraine unveiled a list of 20 Russian airlines that would not be permitted to operate in any Ukrainian airports as of Oct. 25. Russia reciprocated by barring all of Ukraine’s airlines, and, in response, Ukraine barred the few remaining Russian airlines, thus sealing a complete closure of the airspace. According to independent aviation expert Oleg Panteleyev, ordinary passengers will be the biggest losers in this geopolitical tit for tat. About two million Russian citizens are of Ukrainian descent, and over eight million Ukrainian citizens are ethnic Russians, according to census data. Many Russians have family in Ukraine, and the reverse is true for Ukrainians. “I’m more than upset about this situation; I’m furious,” said Ivan, a Moscow-based advertising executive who is originally from Ukraine and whose parents still live there. “Why should ordinary people pay for politicians’ decisions?” Tatiana, a manager from Kiev who frequently travels to Russia on business, was disappointed but
dova and a few other countries are set to benefit,” said Andrei Kramarenko, an industry expert at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow. Added Panteleyev, “Belarus airline Belavia has already added direct flights between Minsk and [Ukrainian Black Sea resort] Odessa.” Those traveling between Russia and Ukraine will now have to choose between stopovers in Minsk, Moldova’s capital, Kishinev, Istanbul or a train. However, none of these solutions would be comparable to a direct flight. Currently, the shortest flight between Moscow and Kiev with connections is offered by Belavia, and takes 3 hours and 10 minutes with a connection in Minsk. Other options could be as long as seven or eight hours. The price starts at about 12,000 rubles for a round trip, compared with about 8,000 for a direct fight before the ban. A train ride would be cheaper, with prices starting at 2,800 rubles one way for second class, but it takes 13 hours. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of demand for this option. A quick check of the website of Russian passenger train monopoly Russian Railways showed plenty of tickets on the six trains leaving Moscow for Kiev the following day.
Alternative routes from Moscow to Kiev Transfer options Minsk, Belarus
Destinations Kiev, Odessa
Riga, Latvia Kishinev, Moldova
Kiev, Odessa, Lviv
Lot Polish Arlines
Estonian Air SOURCE: BNE
This isn’t the first time air travel has been affected by political disputes between Russia and one of its neighbors. The country closed its airspace with Georgia in 2006 following allegations of spying. For 18 months, passengers traveling between the two countries had to decide to make a stopover in Azerbaijan, Armenia or Ukraine. Direct flights were resumed in early 2008 but interrupted again in August of that year, as a result of the Five-Day War. The two countries eventually reopened their airspaces to direct flights between them in 2010.
Sports Russia reacts to decision to suspend participation in international track-and-field events due to doping
IAAF Move Could Put Some Olympic Dreams on Hold Track-and-field officials consider the best response to a decision to bar all Russian athletes from competing in international competitions. ANDY POTTS SPECIAL TO RBTH
Mixed messages Russia’s response to the WADA
© GRIGRY SYSOEV / RIA NOVOSTI
Late on the night of Nov. 13, Russia’s track-and-field athletes heard the news they had been dreading: the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) accepted the recommendations of the World AntiDoping Agency (WADA) and temporarily banned the country from competing in international athletics competitions. The decision may mean that no Russian athletes will compete in the trackand-field events at next year’s Summer Olympics in Rio. In addition to the ban on its athletes, Russia also lost the rights to stage the World Junior Championship in Kazan and the World Race-Walking Championship in Cheboksary next year. The ban was based on a 325page report compiled by a commission headed by former WADA president Dick Pound that alleged a program of doping and concealment at the highest levels of Russian sport. The decision was a bitter blow for Russia, which had argued a blanket ban would equally penalize clean competitors and suspected cheats.
report was a mixture of belligerence and damage control. On Nov. 11, after the report was released but before the IAAF meeting, PresidentVladimir Putin held a meeting with the leaders of Russia’s sports federations and instructed Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko to conduct a complete internal investigation that would cooperate fully with WADA and other international doping bodies. Mutko later suggested that foreign doping control experts could be invited to work with the Moscow testing lab. Grigory Rodchenkov, the head of the Moscow drug-testing lab at the heart of the scandal, produced a detailed defense of his conduct.“Dick Pound alleged that I ordered the destruction of 1,417 bio-samples,” Rodchenkov told Ves Sport. “But we stored every sample that WADA asked us to preserve during the course of the investigation. Many of the facts in this report present a peculiar interpretation of reality.” However, shortly after loudly protesting his innocence, Rodchenkov resigned. Mutko for his part almost personified Russia’s mixed message strategy. At times, he struck a conciliatory stance, for example telling a group of international journalists hours before the IAAF meeting that Russia would “do everything necessary” to comply with doping requirements. But he also took a consistently combative view of the allegations, hinting that calls to ban Russia from
Russian athletes could miss out on next summer’s Olympics in Rio.
international competition were not motivated solely by concern for the integrity of the sport. “Of course it’s possible that Russian athletes might be unable to compete in the Olympics,” the minister told R-Sport.“For some, it’s a good way of getting rid of a rival competitor; for others it’s
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a way to damage Russia’s international image.”
Know the audience The varied comments coming out of Russia could reflect a need to balance domestic and international audiences. There has been a growing trend in recent months
for Russian officials to blame foreign influences for the country’s problems, regardless of whether the issue is related to politics, economics or sport. The Russian team’s decision to leave the ice before the Canadian anthem played at the World Ice Hockey Championship final was attributed to outside troublemakers. But officials also seem to understand that the country’s international sporting image depends on its commitment to antidoping policies. The day after the report was released, Vadim Zelichenok, acting head of the Russian Athletics Federation, told journalists that Russia had submitted an official reply to the IAAF. “In our reply to the IAAF, we accepted several of the allegations. However, we explained that all these violations occurred under the auspices of the previous regime within the Russian Athletics Federation and happened some time ago.” The move to draw a clear distinction between past problems and the current antidoping regime is an attempt to acknowledge problems while salvaging the reputations of athletes competing today. At the World Aquatic Championships in Kazan this summer, Mutko reiterated Russia’s commitment to drug-free sport, outlining newly introduced measures that include criminal liability for involvement in doping, the creation of the independent RUSADA antidoping agency and a program of 15,000 drug tests every year. After the release of the WADA report, Mutko took a similar stance, telling journalists, “We have clear instructions from the president to find common ground with the international organizations and I will do that; I will cooperate with them.”
Read, Watch and Listen to RBTH’s weekly analytical program, featuring three of the most recent high-profile developments in international affairs.
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Pharmaceuticals A plan to increase local production of drugs has international giants looking for domestic partners
Selling drugs in Russia
Foreign Pharma Faces Tough Choices
Russia’s pharmaceutical market is divided into two segments: the private sector (commercial companies and individuals) — worth $11.2 billion — and the public sector (state hospitals, clinics) — worth $4.9 billion, according to calculations by DSM Group. The state budget is used to purchase drugs for state-owned clinics and pharmacies where low-income citizens with chronic diseases receive medicines for free or at discounted prices. Drugs for these clinics must be purchased from the state-approved List of Vital and Essential Medicines.
Foreign pharmaceutical firms are looking for the bright side in Russia’s import substitution plan for the drug manufacturing sector. KIRA EGOROVA RBTH
When in May Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev tasked the government with creating a program of import substitution in the field of pharmaceutical production, foreign companies were worried. Although Russia’s pharmaceutical market — currently worth $19 billion a year — is a fraction of that of the U.S., which is currently valued at $377 billion according to Pharmaceutical Commerce, its loss would have been a blow to Western drug companies at a
time of global economic crisis. However, the policy may not have such serious implications as as first appeared, at least in the short term. For one thing, the import substitution policies will only affect sales to public health organizations, primarily state-run hospitals and pharmacies. Private health clinics and pharmacies are still able to import foreign drugs without restrictions Nevertheless, there is still cause for concern here. Today, 60 percent of the drugs on the List of Vital and Essential Medicines approved by Russian government bodies for use in public institutions are produced domestically. Under the new policy, this share should increase to 90 percent by 2018.
Not a total loss Import substitution could actually be beneficial for foreign firms that already have a manufacturing presence in Russia and are working with Russian partners. “For localized foreigners, this
Several international pharmaceutical giants, including AngloSwedish firm AstraZeneca, France’s Sanofi, Swiss Novartis and Danish Novo Nordisk already have production facilities in Russia. Last year, U.S. company Ab-
Last year, U.S. firm Abbott acquired Russia’s second-largest drug manufacturer. Veropharm.
Sanofi Pasteur plans to start localization of its vaccine production next year with the transfer of know-how.
is an opportunity to quickly recover the investments that they have made here,”said Victor Dmitriyev, C.E.O. of the Association of Russian Pharmaceutical Manufacturers (ARPM).
bott made one of the largest transa c t i o n s i n t h e h i s t o ry o f Russia’s pharmaceutical business by acquiring the country’s second-largest drug manufacturer, Veropharm, for 16.7 billion ru-
bles ($495 million, at 2014 exchange rates). Abbott is still optimistic about its prospects in Russia. “We see our investment in Veropharm as an opportunity to participate in the development of the Russian pharmaceutical industry,” said Irina Gushchina, Abbott’s head of P.R. in Russia. According to Gushchina, the company plans to expand its research capabilities and further develop Veropharm’s production base in gynecology, neurology, gastroenterology and oncology, where the demand for innovative products is particularly high.
Local partners Some international firms that own production facilities in
Russia are wary of the government’s plans because they may require partially transferring production to a Russian partners’ facilities. But others seem ok with this prospect. Thibault Crosnier-Leconte, C.E.O. of Sanofi’s vaccine division, Sanofi Pasteur, said that the French manufacturer has plans to start production of a popular children’s vaccine at Russian company Nanolek’s factory in St. Petersburg. The plant will produce up to 10 million doses annually, fully satisfying the demand for this vaccine in Russia. “In the strategy of import substitution, we see additional opportunities for business expansion,” Crosnier-Leconte said. Sanofi Pasteur plans to start the localization process of its vaccine production next year with the transfer of know-how for production technology and quality control systems. The whole process should be complete by 2019. Germany’s Bayer is also moving forward working with local partners. “Bayer is pursuing its localization strategy through selective partnerships with Russian producers focused on full-cycle production,”said Niels Hessmann, Bayer’s C.E.O. in Russia. In 2012, Bayer entered into a partnership with Russian manufacturer Medsintez. In 2015, the first commercial batch of the antibiotic Avelox was produced at Medsintez laboratories.
Finance Emerging markets lose appeal
Retail Low rents drive expansion plans for inexpensive foreign clothes and fast food brands
© VLADIMIR FEDORENKO / RIA NOVOSTI
Burger King continues to expand across Russia in response to strong demand for American fast food.
Despite rising inflation and a downturn in retail spending, American fashion retailers and eateries continue to open outlets in Russia. PAVEL CHERNYSHOV GAZETA.RU
American brands accounted for 64 percent of new stores opened in Russia between the second half of 2014 and the first half of 2015, according to a study carried out by research firm Magazin Magazinov. Although more stores operated by foreign brands closed in the first half of 2015 than opened — 1,024 compared to 991 — this trend did not seem to apply to U.S. chains. While American firms closed 165 outlets during the period measured, they opened 364. And while Carl’s Jr., American Eagle Outfitters, Diane von Furstenberg and Wendy’s left Russia, they were replaced by new companies, including Dockers, Forever 21, Charley’s Philly Steaks, Great American Cookies, Magnolia Bakery, Pretzelmaker, Schlotsky’s, Twin Peaks and Crate & Barrel. Olga Yasko, director of the research department at real estate
consultancy Knight Frank’s Russia and C.I.S. office, said that a total of 14 new American brands entered the Russian market between mid-2014 and mid-2015. The most active sector is fast food, which according to experts is not surprising, considering that people turn to fast food as a way to save money while still treating themselves during times of economic crisis. Real incomes of Russians have declined 3 percent in the past year. “Relatively high activity was seen in the American fast-food players — Dippin’ Dots, Krispy Kreme, Nathan’s Famous,” said Valentin Gavrilov, director of market research at CBRE. The top five foreign brands that have shown the most activity in Russia are American fast-food chains, according to Gavrilov. KFC, Burger King, McDonald’s, Starbucks and Baskin Robbins were responsible for most of the new outlets. Burger King and KFC also continued to expand in Russia, moving into seven and five new Russian cities, respectively. On the other end of the spectrum, luxury brands also proved
3% is how much the real income of Russians declined last year, adversely affecting sales. Retail turnover has decreased by 7.9 percent in recent months.
364 outlets of American food and retail brands opened in Russia between mid-2014 and mid-2015, a bright spot in a market that saw 1,024 foreign-branded stores close.
300 million square feet of new retail rental space has opened in Moscow this year, and retail rental prices are down 20–40 percent.
willing to take a chance on Russia. Jeweler Tiffany and Co. opened its first standalone store in the country last year. It is the middle segment of the market that is feeling the crisis most acutely. According to the Magazin Magazinov study, 90 percent of closures were in middlemarket segment retailers. According to Gavrilov, while the crisis has reduced the purchasing power of Russian consumers — retail turnover was down 7.9 percent during the period measured by the study — it has also reduced the price of entry for foreign firms. “New players will continue to come and test the Russian market for interest in their products,” Gavrilov said.“Entrance into the market is quite cheap now, as commercial conditions for tenants have improved significantly compared to the pre-crisis situation.” Retail rental prices dropped from between 20–40 percent, according to research from Knight Frank. Additionally, there is a lot of high-quality rental space available. According to newspaper RBC, vacancy rates in some Moscow shopping centers could exceed 10 percent this year. In addition to space left open by stores that have closed, more than 300 million square feet of new rental space has opened up this year.
Not playing politics Yulia Sitnikova, senior research consultant at Magazin Magazinov, said that economics are likely to trump politics for U.S. retailers. “It is unlikely that American brands will leave the market completely. The Russian market is a big sales market, pretty well developed, for instance, by restaurant chains,”Sitnikova said.“Perhaps sanctions and complications in the international situation may affect the mood of retailers and somehow restrain their expansion. But they will not by any means exit from the market.” Given current trends, street food and cheap clothes will retain the best positions.
ALEXEY DRUZHININ / TASS
American Still Sells in Russia
Leaders of the BRICS nations at their 2015 summit in Ufa, Russia.
BRIC Fund Ends Its Run The investment vehicle that produced a political alliance has run its course as low prices for raw materials fail to attract interest. ALEXEI LOSSAN RBTH
Last month, Goldman Sachs quietly closed its BRIC fund, which had been investing in Brazil, Russia, India and China since 2001. The assets from this fund will be transferred to one that invests in a wide range of emerging markets. According to Russian news site RBC Daily, in September, the BRIC Fund’s assets fell to $98 million, down from a high of $842 million in 2010. The acronym BRIC, which was coined by then-Goldman Sachs chief economist Jim O’Neill, grew from simply an investment fund into a political alliance, which today is active in a number of political and economic spheres. But the economic potential of the countries did not keep pace with their geopolitical ambitions. In 2006, the four countries formed a political alliance, that also includes South Africa. According to Pyotr Dashkevich, analyst at investment company UFS, in recent years interest in developing countries has
started to decline, due in part to the slowdown of the Chinese economy, the sanctions imposed against Russia and falling commodity prices.“The very concept of the fund over the past several years has lost relevance in the eyes of investors,” Dashkevich said. Since the beginning of the year, the emerging markets stock index has decreased by 12 percent, while the S&P 500 rose by 1 percent and the European index EUROSTOXX 600 gained about 10 percent, according to Dmitry Bedenkov, head of the analytical department at investment firm Russ-Invest. Georgy Vashchenko, head of operations on the Russian stock market for investment firm Freedom Finance, said that the drop in resource prices has reduced the economic potential and investment attractiveness of emerging markets. The BRICS countries may yet find ways to invest more in each other. Although trade between Russia and other members of the organization remains low, it is higher than it was. The volume of trade between Russia and BRICS countries is now $105 billion — 50 percent more than in 2008.
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MOST READ Russian Technology Helps NASA in Search
Section sponsored by Rossiyskaya Gazeta, Russia
for Life on Mars
SPACE NASA AND ROSCOSMOS ALTHOUGH BILATERAL TIES BETWEEN RUSSIA AND THE U.S. ARE PRACTICALLY SEVERED ON ALL OTHER FRONTS, AWAY FROM EARTH, COOPERATION CONTINUES
MATTHEW BODNER SPECIAL TO RBTH
When NASA Administrator Charles Bolden took the podium at a space science and policy conference in Washington on April 3 of last year, the future of U.S.Russian space cooperation didn’t look very bright. One day earlier, an email leaked from the U.S. space agency’s headquarters ordered a suspension of contact with the Russian space agency. As part of the U.S. government’s response to Russia’s incorporation of Crimea, all federal agencies were ordered to halt bilateral work with Moscow. There were, however, a few important exceptions: cooperation would continue in nuclear security and counter-terrorism efforts. NASA, too, received an explicit exception from the order for all work pertaining to the operation of the International Space Station (I.S.S.). I.S.S. is the cornerstone of U.S.-Russia space cooperation. A $150 billion outpost in orbit involving a total of 16 nations, the station is the largest international joint project ever undertaken during peacetime. When Bolden spoke, he struck a note of defiance in the face of an increasingly volatile political situation, criticizing what he saw as an effort by political leaders on both sides to draw science into their terrestrial spat. “[T]he limitations on what our relationship is with Russia are at the government level, and we need to remember that. And so my instruction to my team is that unless I tell you otherwise, don’t stop doing anything that you’re doing,” Bolden said.
No borders As relations between Russia and the West hit lows unseen since the Cold War, NASA, Roscosmos and its 14 partner nations were considering the future of the I.S.S. program, which under the original multilateral agreement establishing the program was set to wrap up in 2020. NASA had already received permission from the White House to extend the lifetime of the program until at least 2024, and was waiting on Roscosmos to receive a similar go-ahead from the Russian government. Although officials such as Dep-
uty Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin spent much of 2014 saying Russia would split from I.S.S. in 2020 and pursue the construction of a new Russian national space station — a sort of spiritual successor to the Soviet Mir space station — the rhetoric faded. In July, Roscosmos chief Igor Komarov told reporters gathered at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan:“I’ve informed our colleagues that the Russian government has approved the operation of I.S.S. until 2024.” Asked how NASA and Roscosmos were able to shield their work from the deep politicization of the Ukraine crisis, NASA’s chief official in Russia Sean Fuller told RBTH simply:“We like to say that in space you can’t see borders and we operate that way on the I.S.S..” Fuller contests that cooperation never truly suffered over the past two years, despite the supercharged political atmosphere sur-
The mechanisms of the I.S.S. program partnership are modeled off lessons learned during the Cold War. Over time, the two agencies developed strong ties through recurring and meaningful joint work. rounding the project at the government level. “Over the past year and a half, the level of cooperation on I.S.S. has increased even further, resulting in unprecedented joint scientific research,”Fuller said, pointing to an ambitious medical science program launched earlier this year. The experiment involved sending U.S. astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko to live aboard I.S.S. for a full year, giving scientists on both sides an opportunity to study the effects of long-term spaceflight — such as would be seen on an eventual flight to Mars.
Technical difficulties Political concerns have not been the only obstacle to achieving this heightened level of cooperation, however. Over the past year, three different resupply missions launched aboard unmanned Russian and American rockets have failed to reach orbit, stretching resources dangerously thin.
“But, in spite of those setbacks and through the strengths of the partnership, we have been able to overcome those failures while maintaining the full six-crew presence on I.S.S. and continuing the research,” Fuller said. Pushing through the hardship, Roscosmos and NASA were able to pass an important milestone this month: 15 uninterrupted years of work aboard the space station. This is mainly due to the institutional nature of U.S.-Russia manned space cooperation, which has been built up gradually and periodically since the first joint space mission, the 1975 ApolloSoyuz test project.The framework for the I.S.S. program was first pioneered during Apollo-Soyuz, and the mechanisms of the partnership are modeled off lessons learned during the Cold War. It is not by chance that NASA officials in Moscow work in the same offices at Roscosmos headquarters and at mission control and that their predecessors did for Apollo-Soyuz. Over time, the two agencies have developed strong ties through recurring and meaningful joint work, rather than the on-again-and-off-again style of bilateral efforts that characterized much of the U.S.-Russia bilateral field two years ago. “I have many colleagues and friends in the Russian space industry, and the different approaches to the same or similar challenges is enlightening and one of the greatest strengths of the I.S.S. partnership,” Fuller said.
Limited partnership For the moment, though, the partnership is essentially limited to I.S.S. Though other projects are being discussed, everything happens under the umbrella of this bilateral program, which was created through rigorous negotiations during the administrations of Boris Yeltsin and Bill Clinton. Another part of the problem limiting further cooperation between the two sides lies in capabilities. While NASA has a rigorous space science and unmanned space exploration program, Roscosmos does not. Science funding in Russia’s space program all but dried up in the 1990s and has not yet been adequately restored. However, there is a deep shared interest between the U.S. and Russia in the field of human spaceflight, which may tip cooperation toward manned spaceflight projects.
A Russian cosmonaut floats free from politics outside the International Space Station.
Ties between the Russian and American space agencies, developed over years of joint projects, remain strong — even if some projects are limited by political posturing.
GOING BEYOND GEOPOLITICS ON THE FINAL FRONTIER
One of the 12 lunar modules built for Project Apollo. These crafts were meant to be used in low Earth orbit to test the techniques of separation, rendezvous and docking with the command and service module.
For now, Russia is responsible for delivering heavy cargo to the I.S.S. via its carrier rockets Proton and Soyuz. U.S. private space companies like SpaceX are working to create substitutes, including as the Falcon 9. However, the most recent launch of the rocket, on Jun. 28, wasn’t successful.
From 2004 to 2014, Russia increased its expenditures on developing the space industry tenfold, to $10 billion, according to business newspaper RBK. That’s 14 percent of total global expenditures on spacerelated technology development.
American space officials working in Russia still use the same offices at Roscosmos headquarters and at mission control that their predecessors did during the Apollo-Soyuz program in the 1970s.
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Proving the Moon Landing, One Ruble at a Time A crowdfunded Moon mission organized by Russian engineers to put the Moon mission hoax theory to rest has raised over $27,000. SVETLANA ARKHANGELSKAYA SPECIAL TO RBTH
Russian space enthusiasts and engineers have raised $27,564 for a new mission to the Moon. They plan to launch a satellite that will photograph Apollo spacecraft landing sites. Many Russians still believe the American manned Moon landings were faked, but the organizers of this project hope to finally dispel all doubts. The project was launched online on Oct. 1, and the fundraising campaign ended on Nov. 5. Organizers raised twice as much as originally intended. Over a 1,000 people pledged, with one person giving about $8,000. The project’s idea is what caught the public’s imagination. Organizers plan to take images of the American landing sites with a ground resolution of 10 cm per pixel, which is three times the quality of NASA’s pictures. “There is this endless controversy about whether the Americans ever reached the Moon with the Apollo spacecraft,” blogger Vitaly Egorov, one of the project’s founders, told RBTH. “The only way to resolve it once and for all is to actually go to the Moon and check. So far only the Americans have done it; they made photographs of the landing sites and the Soviet moon rovers, and made those available to the public. The problem is that some people don’t
believe those photographs are authentic.” Egorov’s project has loftier goals, as well. “I want to show that a group of ordinary people can carry out a space project,”he explained.“Young Russian engineers now working for the country’s space industry are not happy with the fact that Roscosmos (Russia’s Space Agency) only has the goal to orbit Earth.” More than 20 young Russian specialists are involved in the project, and supporters include the Russia Academy of Science’s Commission to Combat Pseudoscience as well as the Museum of Cosmonautics, which provided a site for engineers to discuss their ideas. NASA astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria has also spoke about the Russian project on Twitter. Although the project seems to have captured the attention of the Russian Internet, several serious problems remain. For one thing, the project doesn’t even have a fixed budget. Organizers say it will be worked out during the first stage of satellite development. There will be five stages in total: development and trajectory calculation; finalizing the initial outline; production; launch; and the flight itself. So far, organizers are planning to spend most of the money to finance the first stage. Since the fundraising goal has been exceeded, the team will be able to begin developing the first designs for the future satellite’s devices, including the crucial onboard computer.
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A launch pad at the Vostochny spaceport still under construction in October. The first rockets are scheduled to take off from the site in April.
New Spaceport Suffering from Failure to Launch Russia’s ambitious project to revive its space might — the construction of the Vostochny spaceport in the Far East — has been plagued by scandals.
Cosmodromes in the former Soviet space
The major construction atVostochny, which involves building 10 pads for both manned and unmanned launches, has also been riven by corruption scandals. Twenty criminal cases have been opened into thefts related to the construction ,and more than 220 officials are implicated.Yury Hrizman, the former head of state construction agency Dalspetstroy, is now facing criminal charges for corruption and embezzlement of funds. The cost of the spaceport has ballooned to $5.8 billion. Workers have also complained that they have not been paid back wages for up to four months of work. More than 100 workers went on strike to protest. Last summer, thousands of university students were brought to the site to spend their vacations helping with the
aikonur was the first cosmodrome in the world and to this day it remains the largest. It was from here that the first rocket, with the dogs Belka and Strelka aboard, was launched. Yury Gagarin became the first human to journey into space after launching into the cosmos from here. Embarking on my own trip to Baikonur, I had to write so many letters and send so many requests to so many different government offices to get permission that all the joy of the trip nearly evaporated; every step was coordinated. Approval had to be obtained for each little detail, and my mobile phone never stopped ringing. On the way to Baikonur, we flew for just over three hours. The view did not change for the final hour of the flight. When we landed on the steppe, an employee from the security service of the cosmodrome was there to greet us. We went through many security checkpoints. Finally, we reached the entrance to the city. A wistful camel stood at the gate. As soon as we got through the security checkpoint, to the left and to the right, green trees began to flash in view, as if we had entered a new climate zone. The city has one foot in the Soviet Union. It is seen in everything — the central market, the signs, the lack of 24-hour cafes. Half the city is dressed in the same uniform. They all work at the cosmodrome. In Baikonur, everyone tells stories about the first Russian rockets, the cosmonauts. Here at Baikonur there are those who worked alongside the in-
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Plagued by scandal
The Space City With One Foot in the Soviet Union Alina Poroshina
Every space launch organized by Russian space agency Roscosmos — from communications satellites to supply ships to the International Space Station — doesn’t leave the earth’s atmosphere from within Russia’s borders. Instead, these objects take off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, deep in the steppes of Kazakhstan. Russia pays Kazakhstan $115 million per year for the use of the former home of the Soviet space program. In 2004 the presidents of the two countries signed an agreement extending the contract through 2050. TheVostochny Spaceport, under construction in the Amur Region of Russia’s Far East, was supposed to solve this problem. Construction began with great fanfare in 2011 under President Dmitry Medvedev, who named space one of the top five priorities in his national modernization program. Today, however, construction is far behind schedule and President Vladimir Putin has made it clear that the situation is unacceptable. During a visit to the site with a group of senior space officials in October, Putin ordered launches to begin by Cosmonauts Day next April. “The atmosphere was like they all were visibly shaken since they were not prepared to make the first launch in December as planned,” said one junior member of the delegation, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the media. “Even the interior of the building where a meeting with the president took place was not finished; there were a lot of things here and there.”
sometime in the spring,”Putin said.
The Beneﬁts of the Wild East The selection of the site for the Vostochny Spaceport was no accident. ”The Far East is still a wild place as far as infrastructure and population so we need it to have an outpost in the Far East,” said Yury Salnikov, a prominent space historian and documentary filmmaker. Officials hope that the spaceport might prove an attractive place to work for young scientists and engineers who could bring new life to the region. A simple online search for “Vostochny” shows “job vacancies” among the first results. According to Yury Vlasov, acting head of the United Space and Rocket Corporation, the Russian space industry will need more than 110.000 engineering graduates over the next 10 years, primarily for positions at Vostochny. Salnikov has also noted Vostochny’s proximity to China as one of its main seling points. While China has its own space ambitions, there is plenty of room for cooperation with Russia. The countries have already discussed plans for a moon station to be organized from Vostochny.
construction. On his recent visit to the site, Putin urged construction workers to stay on, saying that he has noticed the“amount of work already being done.” “Let’s agree on this: you complete work on the water supply, electricity and sewage … and get ready for a first launch in 2016,
Angara versus Proton But space industry officials still have high hopes for Vostochny — both for its potential to bring back some of the glamour and glory associated with the Soviet launches from Baikonur, and to be a reliable source of income for modern commercial launches. Vostochny will become the main launching pad for Russia’s new Angara heavy booster rocket, the replacement for the aging Proton cargo ship. Once a world leader in boosting commercial payloads into space, the Proton has suffered a number of serious accidents including one explosion broacast live on national TV during a muchhyped launch. Before the problems with Proton, Russia was one of the leading players in commercial launches, earning almost $759 million in 2013 from those launches, according to a report by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration report released in 2014. The figure was only $218 million in 2014 due to the problems with Proton. With the modern Angara, Russia wants to boost its commercial activity, and the demand is there. Private companies and foreign governments alike are interested in a reliable partner to send satellites into space. But even at full capacity, Vostochny will only have two launch pads for Angara rockets, and likely demand will mean that Russia still needs access to Baikonur. Charles P.Vick, senior space policy and technology analyst at Glo-
balsecurity.org in Washington, said that Vostochny’s potential is still unknown. “Russia will continue to need both space ports for future requirements for crewed space missions, or they will be limited operating out ofVostochny in spite of what is suggested”, Vick said. Although the first launches will likely take place as ordered in the spring,Vick said that it would take years to finish the development of the launch pad construction:“The pay off is in the future, not yesterday. That construction will be a shot in the arm for the modernization of the space industry, but what is also needed is the overall modernization of industry infrastructure and quality control and processes.”
genious Soviet designer Sergei Korolev. These are the people that made Russia’s first space launches happen. So many of the world’s most important space launches were made at Baikonur. It was from here that Earth’s first man-made satellite was launched. Among the many aircraft sent from here were the manned spacecraft series Vostok,Voskhod and Soyuz; the Salyut space stations; Mir; the reusable Energia–Buran system; interplanetary spacecrafts; and scientific and military satellites. To this day, Baikonur is among the world leaders for launches per year. My guide, Tatiana, worries about the future. “You know, I am 43,” she said. “And I don’t
We went through many checkpoints. Finally, we reached the entrance to the city. A wistful camel stood at the gate. As soon as we got through the security checkpoint, green trees began to flash into view. know what’s ahead. Everything is here. My whole life is here. I understand that no one will take us there — to Vostochny. I don’t know what will happen to us. Although they have said that they won’t give up on Baikonur until 2050 …” She thinks of relocating to the distant Amur Region and starting all over at another place in the middle of nowhere. There is an extraordinary pitch-black sky over Baikonur. And there are extraordinary people working there, people who lit up and still light up the stars of Russia’s space history.
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KABUL SEES MOSCOW AS A TRUMP CARD IN FIGHT AGAINST TALIBAN Playing politics
Nikita Mendkovich SPECIAL TO RBTH
abul’s request to Moscow for support in its fight against Taliban insurgents raises the intriguing prospect that the balance of power in the region may be changing. For the past 15 years, the country has been considered part of the American and NATO sphere of influence since Kabul is completely dependent on its Western allies’ military and financial assistance. It would be difficult to imagine how the Afghan government could continue the fight against the Taliban and other terrorist groups in the region without this aid. However, recent events have shown that the Afghan army and NATO’s resources are insufficient to maintain the complex balance of power in northern Afghanistan. In the spring of 2015, the Taliban dramatically strengthened its positions in the provinces of Badakhshan and Kunduz, along the border with Tajikistan, and this fall, the fighters conducted a demonstrative military operation that led to the occupation of Kunduz for several days. In the end, government and American forces were able to drive the militants out of the town with the help of sophisticated aviation, but this temporary success for the Taliban showed that despite the millions of dollars spent and thousands of lives lost, the U.S. and its allies have been unable to completely eradicate the group or solidify the central government’s hold on the country.
The appearance of large terrorist forces composed of at least several thousand men close to a former Soviet border could not help but alarm Moscow and its neighbors in the Commonwealth of Independent States (C.I.S.). Many of these countries also belong to the Collective Security Treaty Organization (C.S.T.O.), and currently these two organizations are creating a collective
Cause for concern in Russia
security force to counter militants in the event they cross the border into Central Asia. With its recent actions in Syria, Moscow has shown that it is ready to support the fight against terrorism far from its borders at the request of a local government, and now Kabul has turned to Moscow for support. Obviously, this does not mean that Russia will send in ground forces. At the moment, the Afghan army is just asking for helicopters and firearms. At the beginning of October, Russian representatives spoke about providing the Afghan government with large supplies of firearms, as well as the possibility of opening negotiations on the supply of MI-35 attack helicopters.
What is Kabul’s agenda? There are several reasons why Kabul would want to strengthen relations with Moscow. To some extent, the request has to do with the objective demand for Russian arms that is currently growing throughout the world. The AK-47 machine gun is one of the world’s most popular weapons for regular armies and opposition and guerilla movements alike because they do not require the thorough maintenance that their American equivalents do. In terms of air power, the Russian MI-line helicopters are often better suited for combat in mountainous regions than the helicopters that NATO has at its disposal. In fact, this is what led the U.S. to buy Russian arms for
There are real differences between how the U.S. and Afghan governments want to deal with the Taliban.
Former president Hamid Karzai tried to improve relations with Moscow in the last year of his tenure, in part by approving Russia’s absorption of Crimea.
DOES RUSSIA WANT TO BE THE WORLD’S POLICEMAN? Fyodor Lukyanov GAZETA.RU
he Russian campaign in Syria has become another milestone in the constantly changing realm of geopolitics, and its significance reflects not only on Moscow, Damascus and the Middle East, but also on the entire system of international relations. For the last 25 years, more or less since Operation Desert Storm, Moscow has been inching toward claiming a right that had been monopolized by the U.S.: the right to use force to create international order. In other words, the function of being “the world’s policeman.” The unipolar world that existed after the fall of the Soviet Union meant that wars “for the sake of peace,”that is to say, those that are not related to the achievement of a country’s own concrete and clear aims, are waged only by the U.S. and its allies. By starting its military operation in Syria, Moscow changed the balance of power and the prospects for solving what is the most crucial conflict in the world today. Another important consideration is that the conflict in Syria is likely to mark the end of the era of the “humanitarian-ideological” approach to regulating
local crises. Until recently, the most significant element of discussions concerning civil wars were accusations of war crimes, violent suppressions of protests and so on. A leader tainted by such behavior was placed into the category of those who have lost their legitimacy and for other world leaders, holding dialogue with such a person became unnecessary and even inadmissible. This shaming approach reflected the general changes in the interpretation of principles of international conduct that arose after the Cold War and led to the
expansion of the duties of the “world’s policeman.”Besides punishing the aggressor (as happened in Iraq in 1991), the job also required taking revenge on regimes (even changing them if necessary) that violated human rights. This is the approach that the U.S and its allies have taken toward Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Two years ago, the Arab League and a series of European governments recognized the Syrian opposition as the legitimate representative of the people, thus removing that status from the official government.
Now, however, everything has changed. Humanitarian concerns are taking a back seat to the realities of the situation. Trying to put pressure on a “criminal government” has become costly — maybe even impossible. The representatives of many of the world’s leading nations who met to discuss the situation in Syria inVienna on Oct. 30 went in without knowing what the outcome of their talks would be, and they left still not knowing what kind of political arrangement there will be in Syria after the war. Certainly this situation was not only the result of Russia’s increased involvement in the region. Mainly it happened because all the approaches already tried had reached a dead end. So, what to do with these new conditions in the world? The most rational reply would be to increase Russia’s weight in the upcoming discussions on Syria’s future. But this means that Moscow must at some point distance itself from supporting Assad only and occupy the niche of an influential but impartial arbiter. Such a scenario would obviously not meet with Assad or Iran’s approval. While for Assad the issue is one of personal survival, for Tehran it is also vitally important to preserve the current regime. Any change would be fatal to Iranian domination in
the Afghan army just a few years ago. However, the latest statements, with an open request for help made during Afghan Vice President Abdul Rashid Dostum’s unofficial visit to Russia, clearly go beyond objective military or commercial ties. Afghanistan’s elite has been objectively manifesting pro-Russian sentiments. Vice President Dostum has already asked Russia through the press for help in fighting the Taliban in the country’s north and former President Hamid Karzai tried to improve relations with Moscow in the last year of his tenure, in part by approving Russia’s absorption of Crimea, despite strenuous criticism from his Western partners.
Syria. Iran cannot give away this country because of its standoff with Saudi Arabia, which in turn will do anything to prevent Syria from being Iran’s outpost in the Arab world. Russia must walk a fine line in order to solve this threefold problem. It has to: — guarantee its own geopolitical presence in Syria (in simpler terms, its Mediterranean port at Tarsus) in the future, regardless of who is ruling in Damascus; — not undermine its evolving relationship with Iran, which has the potential to be an important regional partner in the future; — not morph into a great power that serves Iran’s regional interests at the same level that the U.S., for example, has served Saudi Arabia’s interests for quite a while. Be that as it may, it seems that Russia’s military operation has already produced benefits. Now it either needs an impressive military victory, which currently does not appear likely due to the weakness of the ground troops, or a subtle political process and a complicated deal on Syria. If we look at the situation again from the international perspective, it is difficult to think that the Russian government intends to replace the U.S. and assume the full role and mission of the world’s policeman. But if such an idea does arise, it would be wise to consider the U.S.’s inevitable reply, which it is clearly still too early to dismiss. Fyodor Lukyanov is chairman of the Presidium of Russia’s Council on Foreign and Defense Policy. This opinion first appeared in Russian at Gazeta.ru.
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Most likely, the Afghan government is simply playing diplomatic games. Washington is weary of bailing out Kabul, but Afghanistan’s federal budget commitments cannot be fulfilled without foreign grants and credit. Without these foreign funds, Afghanistan would be unable to finance its many infrastructure projects and support the size of its army and police. By turning to Russia, Afghanistn may only be provoking Washington with the hope that the U.S. will increase its financial support. However, there are real differences between how the U.S. and Afghan governments want to deal with the Taliban. Kabul may see Moscow as a partner more likely to share its views. Unlike the U.S., which had counted on destroying opposition forces and negotiating with separate militant leaders, Russia and China advocate weakening the extremists by breaking down their alliance with Pakistani intelligence. Pakistan uses the Taliban in its fight with India over influence in Afghanistan. After India and Pakistan were admitted into the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a group to which Russia also belongs, talks were held between Afghan and Pakistani officials. Meanwhile, there is information coming from Pakistan’s northern regions that the government has finally started driving the terrorist groups back into Afghanistan, depriving them of a base. At the moment, it is impossible to tell how serious and longterm an anti-terrorism alliance between Kabul and Moscow could be. But the attempts to create the alliance themselves show Russia’s increasing significance in the Middle East and the growth of its direct and indirect influence on the countries in the greater region. Nikita Mendkovich is a political analyst and expert from the Russian Council on International Affairs and a specialist on Afghanistan and Central Asia.
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Q&A ANDREI DELLOS
Setting the Standards of Good Taste THE RUSSIAN RESTAURANTEUR HAS BROUGHT HIS PARTICULAR STYLE TO CAFES AROUND THE WORLD
How did you come up with the name Cafe Pushkin? It existed in my head for 30 years. Because there is a song by Gilbert Becaud,“Nathalie,”in which he brings a Russian guide, the girl with whom he falls in love in Moscow, to drink chocolate at Cafe Pushkin. He wrote it about 60 years ago. But there was no such cafe; it was just a poetic fantasy. All the French who came to Moscow went to look for this cafe from the song. And I realized that this must be corrected. Becaud himself came to the opening. His first words were:“I was sure I would not live long enough to see this moment!” And the brand has begun to live its own life. Did Yury Luzhkov, then the mayor of Moscow, help you to find an appropriate location? Yes, he liked my restaurants. Once he asked me about my plans. I told him about Pushkin, about the song by Becaud. He said,“So let’s do it, we have the 200th anniversary of the poet’s birth just around the corner.” I said that it should be opened only near Pushkin Square, but there is no free square centimeter there. The next day he called me at 7 a.m., and said that he found the
Did you come up with the interiors of the restaurant yourself? Everything was done according to my sketches. The interiors were recreated by modern masters, but inhabited by a huge number of authentic things from the 19th century. I hear you collect art yourself. I am a strange collector — I collect parts. That is, pieces of furniture and decoration from the past centuries. Sometimes I amuse myself with using them to make something completely new. These can be things from the School of Fontainebleau, the Italian Renaissance, Mannerism. Many elements have been used to create Turandot. Turandot shocks many with its luxurious interiors. People are not used to eating in a museum. It was interesting for me to explain to Muscovites and to the rest of the world what chinoiserie is, which is present in St. Petersburg but not in Moscow. A small school of arts is constantly working here; the staff was prepared so as to be able to tell visitors all about the interior, if they have questions. This is one of the exams to be passed by everyone who works here. Why did Cafe Pushkin in New York close? There were a number of unforeseen challenges, including the fact that the restaurant attracted far more nostalgic Russian diners than we anticipated, which affected the way New Yorkers viewed it. The timing was also bad in that Hurricane Sandy struck and there was an economic downturn. So you decided to open Betony in its place.
Yes, I met two absolutely brilliant rising stars, Chef Bryce Shuman and General Manager Eamon Rockey, who is also one of the country’s leading cocktail experts. Both worked at New York City’s revered Eleven Madison Park as well as other top restaurants. I saw the opportunity to give these ambitious young men a lot of autonomy to create a contemporary American destination restaurant and my trust has been rewarded. The restaurant has garnered a lot of acclaim — Chef Shuman even won a Food & Wine magazine “Best New Chef”award this year — but are determined to keep pushing and make it one of the world’s best restaurants. But before that, you brought Pushkin to Paris. In France, it was a completely different game. To open a confectionery in France — it was an exotic form of suicide. France is a confectionery country. And we went for a serious provocation. But we have been there already for four years and [Russian honey cake] medovik is a hit with the French themselves. There are plans to open cafes under this brand in major cities in the Middle East. And now we will make a second opening in New York.
place — but provided that the cafe should be opened by the anniversary. As a result, we built what is usually built in three years in just five-and-a-half months. And it was built in such a way that it is the only restaurant in which the interior has not changed since the opening.
thinking through the menu.
A restaurant ﬁt for a poet In only 15 years, restaurant Cafe Pushkin has managed to become one of Moscow’s most talked-about restaurants, frequented by international celebrities, wealthy businessmen and tourists alike. Dellos attributes the cafe’s popularity to
Will restaurants abroad have some Russian-style items? It will necessarily be there. There will be always Pozharsky cutlets. Of course, pelmeni (Russian dumplings), which enjoy great success in France.
the harmony between concept and design. Housed in a reconstructed mansion with a menu in pre-revolutionary Russian served by waiters dressed in 19th century style, the atmosphere of the place harkens back to a more sumptious time.
What would you include in an imaginary noble dinner at Cafe Pushkin? First, of course, you should try borsch! The main dish is, of course, Pozharsky cutlets. And as a hot appetizer – pelmeni.This is a must; this is what they have in Paris; you just can’t avoid it. For the dessert, there is medovik.
What is the project there? A restaurant in the same direction as Betony, but we will do it in a more simplified form. Do you think there is not enough Russian cuisine in New York ? It’s a difficult question to answer. NewYorkers are some of the most curious, open-minded diners in the world. (If they weren’t, they wouldn’t be living there.) That said, the market is quite fickle. I think if the food is contemporary Russian-influenced, and the décor wholly contemporary, there is a possibility of it being embraced. You opened the restaurant Cafe Pushkin in Moscow in six months. The opening in London was announced almost two years ago, but it has not yet happened. Crisis?
Restaurateur Andrei Dellos tried on a variety of careers before finding the one that made his name. Born in Moscow to a French father and Russian mother, he studied art and engineering, completed U.N. interpreters’ school and tried to make it as an artist in Paris. When a Russian company acquired several of his paintings in 1991, he volunteered to deliver them to Russia, and never left. Today, he puts the skills he honed as an artist and interpreter to use at his legendary eateries, including Moscow’s Cafe Pushkin, named on behalf of Russia’s greatest poet Alexander Pushkin, the Turandot restaurant, also in Russia’s capital, and his NewYork restaurant Betony, which has a Michelin star. Dellos spoke to RBTH about food, art and Russian cuisine for different cultures.
We have barely managed to start the construction. This is due to the British system of development control, which takes loads of time. It cannot be called crisis. This is Berkeley Street, the heart of London. A lot of permits are needed. We are planning to open
next year, I think most likely in the autumn. But you have to understand, I do not want to make a copy of the Moscow restaurant, especially in the field of gastronomy. We are actively cooperating with a number of brilliant chefs — French, American, British —
What audience is the most enthusiastic about the subtleties of your Russian cuisine? If you take Europe, the French and Germans like it most of all. It’s amazing with what delight the Japanese react; they are in love with Russian pirozhki. There is something that corresponds to them. Even at Printemps in Paris, a Japanese girl comes by, tries pirozhki and gapes. She immediately calls her friends, and they buy pirozhki just by the dozens. Prepared by Oleg Krasnov
Inside the center of a fair shaped like a map of Russia is a 51-foot-high Christmas tree, all aglow with lights.
T R AV E L 2 M O S C O W. C O M
lu Re 3
The main events will unfold on the edge of Red Square, near the Manezh and Revolution Square.
Come inside this giant Christmas ornament and experience a multimedia show within the walls of the 56-foot-wide decoration.
Okhotny Ryad 1 M an
During the Christmas and New Year holidays, the center of the Russian capital turns into a huge magical kingdom. From Dec. 18 to Jan. 10, the fun never stops. This winter, visitors to Moscow can take part in the Journey to Christmas festival, which will be held in 36 sites scattered around the capital. Guests will be treated to theatrical performances, gift fairs and unforgettable gastronomic delights.
The rink is surrounded by a restaurant area — with delicious treats for every taste.
This fair celebrates Russia’s regions and oﬀers holiday gis, candy and souvenirs from across the country.
Take a ride down Russia’s biggest ice mountain — 21 feet high, 300 feet long.
A special restaurant for kids
At this free openair skating rink, the story of Swan Lake is performed on ice every evening.
Stop in this shop for great holiday gis.
RUSSIA BEYOND THE HEADLINES
MOST READ New Secrets of Malevich’s Black Square Revealed rbth.com/539999
Section sponsored by Rossiyskaya Gazeta, Russia www.rbth.com
Inventions An early Soviet creation that may be the world’s only noncontact musical instrument is enjoying a renaissance in the 21st century
Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page rocks out on the theremin.
Masami Takeuchi’s theremin ensemble.
Rob Schwimmer, the best-known modern American theremist.
The Instrument That Links Nesting Dolls to Led Zeppelin Created by an early Soviet inventor and spy, the theremin makes music by connecting the electric pulses of the human body to a pair of metal antenna. Today it is enjoying a revival. THOMAS BALL, DARIA STRELAVINA SPECIAL TO RBTH
A sound like nothing else The sound of the theremin is incomparable to anything else organically produced by an instru-
PRESS PHOTO (4)
There are few things in this world that provide one degree of separation between Vladimir Lenin, Led Zeppelin and Gil Kenan’s 2006 animated children’s film “Monster House.”In fact, the theremin may be the only one. The theremin is the world’s only noncontact musical instrument. It was created by Soviet physicist Leon Theremin in the years immediately following the Russian Revolution. A theremin player manipulates the instrument by moving his or her hands around the instrument’s two metal antennae. The right antenna is responsible for pitch, the left for volume. Where traditional instruments produce sound through the plucking and stroking of strings, or the blowing and compression of air, the theremin operates purely on the principle that the human body conducts electricity. As one journalist wrote following Theremin’s demonstration of his invention in London in December 1927, the performance was like “a man testing the heat of a boiler with his naked hand.”
Leon Theremin and one of the earliest theremins, 1919
ment, oscillating somewhere between the high-pitched fragility of a soprano and the rich texture of a cello’s A-string. Early on in the theremin’s development, some proponents believed that the theremin could eventually replace entire orchestras. Although this ambition was never quite realized, listening to the instrument’s multiplicity of sounds, it’s easy to imagine how such an idea came to be. As one early reviewer enthusiastically proclaimed,“the human voice, the violin, viola, cello, bass and double-bass, the cornet, horn, trombone, saxophone, organ, and almost every instrument you can think of, are all beaten at their own game by this one simple little apparatus.” Despite Theremin’s predictions of worldwide ubiquity for his twopronged musical marvel, the in-
strument proved to be difficult to master for most laymen and soon fell into obscurity. Its enduring appeal was subsequently relegated to the realms of the horror movie industry, owing to the particularly eerie effect that sustained notes can produce. Composer Miklós Rózsa pioneered the use of the theremin in several Hollywood scores of the 1950s. The maelstrom of sonic innovation that was the 1970s witnessed a brief resurgence in the popularity of the theremin, with an unexpected cameo appearing in Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love,”with the instrument’s notes soaring piercingly above the heavy distortion of the main riff.
Who is Mr. Theremin? Leon Theremin lived through three revolutions, was married
Theremin remained in the United States for 11 years, juggling his time between high-level industrial espionage and further developing and refining his invention at a laboratory near his home in New York. three times and, since his death at the age of 97, has been the subject of three biographies. He invented the instrument that formed the major part of his legacy when he was only 24. Theremin spent most of the 1920s in the fledgling socialist state before moving to the United States at the request of the Soviet govern-
ment. Nominally, the trip was a propaganda mission to showcase the Soviet Union’s scientific ascendency over the West. But according to Albert Glinsky, one of Theremin’s trio of biographers, the true purpose of the visit was far more underhanded. As Glinsky writes, the young scientistcum-provocateur was“on assignment [the whole] time,” tasked with gathering and relaying industrial secrets. The fruits of capitalist commerce gained from Theremin’s contract with the electronics giant RCA were passed back to Moscow. Theremin remained in the United States for 11 years, juggling his time between high-level industrial espionage and further developing and refining his invention at a laboratory near his home in New York. While living in the U.S., Theremin met and married his second wife, Lavinia Williams, a member of the American Negro Ballet. One September night in 1938, several Russians arrived at Theremin’s New York residence. To Williams’s shock, her husband picked up his packed suitcases and left calmly with the visitors. She never saw him again. Rumors circulated that the scientist was kidnapped in a plot organized by the NKVD, the feared secret police. It was only revealed later that Theremin returned to the Soviet Union on his own accord to escape his mounting financial difficulties. His timing, however, could not have been worse. Theremin re-
turned to Moscow during Stalin’s Great Purge and, tainted by his time in the West, was packed off to the penal colony of Kolyma. Rehabilitation came only after his services were once again required in the field of espionage. A listening device developed by Theremin and dubbed “The Thing,” hung in the office of the U.S. Ambassador to Moscow for seven years, concealed inside a wooden seal that had been presented to him as a gesture of goodwill by Soviet schoolchildren.
A 21st century renaissance Despite the wealth of useful creations that the Soviet inventor went on make — including the burglar alarm — Theremin remains most closely associated in the history of scientific discovery with the musical instrument that bears his name. Today there are four official Theremin schools in the world: in Moscow, St. Petersburg, New York and Tokyo. But a renaissance may be on its way. In 2012, Masami Takeuchi, founder of the Japanese Theremin School, led an orchestra of 272 thereminists into the Guinness Book of World Records for “the largest theremin ensemble,” each using Takeuchi’s own brand of theremin, which is, somewhat gawkily, just the original instrument inside a Russian doll. It may not be the symphony orchestra that Theremin had originally envisioned — but given that the instrument was once a stand-in for a flying saucer, it’s certainly a step in the right direction.
PRESS FROM THE PAST
Cars that Run on Alcohol and Women Architects WHAT THE RUSSIAN PAPERS WROTE ABOUT IN THE LAST DAYS OF THE EMPIRE
Newspapers in the early part of the 20th century played as important a role in informing and entertaining the population of the Russian empire as they did in the United States. In the fall of 1915, the local press discussed the difficulties in finding a good dentist, the rudeness of telephone operatorss and an unusual kind of fuel. Prepared by Tatiana Shilovskaya
STUDENT SEAMSTRESSES VECHERNEYE VREMYA, NOV. 9, 1915
Two small rooms in an old wooden house. Four sewing machines. An ironing device, a small castiron stove for an iron. This is the furnishing of a special workshop opened by students yesterday for sewing warm underwear for soldiers on the front lines. Last year, the students sewed fashionable dresses for ladies. Now they have chosen to earn less and switch to the manufacture of underwear for the troops. They study in turns; three sew and two go to lectures on one day — on the next day, vice versa. They live on their combined income. ALCOHOLIC FUEL FOR CARS VECHERNEYE VREMYA, NOV. 10, 1915
Following the cessation of the sale of alcoholic beverages and alcohol distilling, an enormous amount remains unused; there is a complete stagnation in this trade. Having paid attention to these stocks of alcohol, the Ministry of Finance has found it desir-
able to use alcohol for technical needs. The Ministry will use treasury funds to organize the manufacturing and sale of a special alcohol mixture for use as fuel in car engines. Alcohol motor fuel will consist of 90 parts alcohol, denatured in the usual way, and 10 parts gasoline. This new type of fuel will find wide application because of its relative cheapness compared to pure gasoline. DAY AFTER DAY. DENTISTS CHERNOZYOM, NOV. 14, 1915
If every dentist practicing in our city pulled out at least one tooth a day, we would still be toothless. There are streets where dentists need to be counted in the dozens, and there are houses where several of them live at once. In addition to treatment and extraction of teeth, these doctors are also involved in filling them. Sometimes, having drilled a tooth, the dentist refuses to complete the job — “Your tooth is not worth bothering. The filling will fall out soon anyway!” As a
result, the distressed patient is left with a whistling tooth. OUR TELEPHONE OPERATORS CHERNOZYOM, NOV. 15, 1915
Telephone operators behave unworthily. To call a number, you have to dial the central switchboard for at least five minutes. At last, you are connected, but ... not with the right party.You hang up. But you have to wait until you are disconnected for another five minutes. Thus, to reach the desired number, you need to spend about 10 minutes — and when you reproach the telephone operator for this abnormal phenomenon, you will hear nothing but rudeness in response. WOMEN ARCHITECTS RECH, NOV. 17, 1915
Recently, an exhibition of graduation projects and other school works has been set up in the building for “female courses of higher architectural knowledge” to be reviewed by a society of architects and artists. This is the first graduation in the school with its new teachers and direc-
tors. There are nine female graduates and the work of one graduate has been awarded a trip abroad. It is strange but until now women’s efforts and talents have not been applied in the field of architecture and we must therefore wish success to the director’s wonderful initiative. First and foremost it is necessary that the students’ work is not academic. RUSSIA’S ECONOMIC RENAISSANCE MOSKOVSKY LISTOK, NOV. 20, 1915
On Nov. 19, an emergency meeting of the members of the society Economic Renaissance of Russia took place. The issue of establishing a private factory to produce munitions was discussed. It was unanimously decided to follow through with equipping the factory. A signed statement of shareholders was created. The total value of the shares was determined at 25 rubles. A preliminary collection of funds raised a substantial amount.
Published on Nov 25, 2015
Published on Nov 25, 2015
In this issue: ISIS attacks break Russia-West stalemate; Foreign pharma faces tough choices; New spaceport suffering from failure to launch