Claiming the Arctic
Buried in the Kremlin
As the region opens up, competition increases for its resources
A number of foreign communists rest in peace with Soviet dignitaries
The New York Times Wednesday, November 11, 2015
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NEWS IN BRIEF
Tragedy Posts on social networks tell the stories of the passengers on board the Metrojet plane
Russian and U.S. Forces in Syria Hold Joint Practice
Last Words from Doomed Flight
The Russian and U.S. air forces have held joint drills for crews and ground services as part of an effort to avoid near-misses and collisions in Syria, according to Russian news agency Interfax. “Cooperation with U.S. colleagues is developing successfully as part of interaction with the international anti-terror coalition and the regional countries, aimed at preventing air incidents to ensure safety above Syria,” said Col. Gen. Andrei Kartapolov, the head of the Main Operative Directorate of the Russian Armed Forces General Staff. Kartapolov said that in the exercises, the troops practiced notification, organization and coordination; data-sharing between operative group staff members and the control and command posts of the Russian Air Force at the Hmeimim airbase and the strategic U.S. air operations center in Qatar; and alerting one another about dangerous military activities in the Syrian airspace.
2018 World Cup Director Denies Allegations
The last moments of some of those who died on the flight were captured on social networks, which doesn’t make it any easier for their families to say goodbye. YEKATERINA SINELSCHIKOVA RBTH
Metrojet flight 7K9286, an Airbus A321 traveling from Sharm el-Sheikh was supposed to land at Pulkovo Airport in St. Petersburg at 12:20 p.m. local time on Saturday, Oct. 31. It had 224 people onboard, including 25 children and seven crewmembers.The charter flight from the Egyptian resort was carrying tourists from 13 Russian regions, as well as citizens of Ukraine and Belarus. Their pages on social networks feature photos against the backdrop of the exotic eastern fauna and the sea with such cheerful comments as, “Hurrah! We are flying to warm up,”“Flight delayed, but thoughts are already there” and “I never thought that #egypt would cause so many positive emotions.” By 11 o’ clock on the morning of the crash, the area for greeters at Pulkovo Airport began to fill with the relatives and friends of passengers that were on the flight. Not everyone was immediately aware of what had happened. Those who had heard the news stood aside near the information stands and did not know where to go or what to do. Those that had arrived to greet their relatives and friends were crying and looking with hope at the arrivals board. It initially said that the plane was delayed. Half an hour before the expected landing, the information on the status of the flight disappeared. People kept trying to call their family members, believing to the last minute that the worst could not have happened.
“The chief passenger” Just before departing Egypt, the parents of nine-month-old Darina Gromova took a photo of her as she looked at the runway through the airport’s glass. Her mother Tatiana published the photo of little Darina with the caption“the chief passenger” on social media networks. Later, it became the symbol of the crashed flight with nearly a million people sharing it in memory
of the victims of the tragedy. “None of them knew that this posting would be the last one in their lives,” people have written as they shared the photo. In August 2014, Tatiana had married Darina’s father, Alexei. In their wedding video, they can be seen dancing the waltz, as Alexei’s mother wipes tears from her eyes. “Thanks to my husband for this year, for the daughter, for the care and love!”Tatiana wrote.
“We’re flying home” The large Shein family was also coming home on the flight from Sharm el-Sheikh. They took their last pictures minutes before their departure to St. Petersburg right in the cabin — wife Olga and husband Yury; Zhenya, 11; Valeria, 10; and three-year-old Nastya. “Hi Piter, goodbye Egypt. We’re flying home,”wrote Olga Sheina. The last two weeks of their lives were spent abroad on the family’s first trip out of the country. The couple had marked the anniversary of their marriage on Oct. 27. “27.10.2005. This was the day when we met and fell in love with each other. Then just a few years passed until 27.10.2011. And on this day we got married. Now we are happy together and celebrate our anniversaries,” Olga wrote.
A bad feeling Six months ago, Svetlana Krylova’s older sister, who was an en-
thusiast of palmistry, looked at her hand. She noticed that the life line was less than half of the palm. Svetlana just laughed, as she did not believe that her time would come soon. At the age of 30, she had a very active life and loved to travel. Before leaving for Egypt, she was already planning a trip to China. She was with her husband Mikhail and 10-year-old daughter Kristina on the Metrojet flight. For some unknown reason, 32-year-old Yekaterina Murashova posted a song on her social media account entitled “I Know I Will Not Return”just before getting on the plane. She was the reigning beauty queen of the northwest Russian town of Pskov. The families of the crew members were also mourning loved ones. They had not spent their final days relaxing by the Red Sea, but were simply doing their jobs. “He was looking for himself, trying to find a place for himself on earth, and said he could not live without aviation,”said Anna, the wife of flight attendant Stanislav Sviridov.“He loved the sky.” In addition to his wife, Sviridov is survived by a young daughter and a son. Anna’s voice trembled before the television cameras. During the last weeks before the crash, Stanislav was more timid, soft, as if he forebode his imminent death. “I told him, ‘Write when you get there.’ But he was joking all
the time, ‘You’re a flight attendant, too; why do you need this? If something happens, you’ll see it on the news.’ It seemed that he wanted to be ready not only for life, but for death, too, and constantly watched and studied crashes from all angles,”his wife recalled. But a bad feeling saved another flight attendant. Oleg Yermakov should have been on this flight on Oct. 31. It was his shift. Two weeks before the tragedy, his father had a dream that a crash would happen and his son would die. “Oleg, leave the job,” his father said. A few days before the flight, the flight attendant wrote his letter of resignation. There were several reasons, Yermakov said, but his father’s pressure was among them. He did not mention the dream to anybody else. It is still difficult to be in Pulkovo.The building is unusually quiet and the area in front is covered with flowers and candles. “The number of flowers at the airport and even the postings on Facebook — it really helps [to soothe the pain],” wrote the sister of Anna Tishinskaya, a passenger on the flight, on her Facebook account. But she continues to call her sister. “Every time I understand everything, but I hold my breath and wait for beeps. There are no beeps. The subscriber is not yet available. Like an idiot, I love to believe in the word ‘yet.’”
A flower near debris at the crash site of a Russian airliner in al-Hasanah area in El Arish city, north Egypt, November 1, 2015
Bomb Called Likely Cause of Disaster as Investigation Continues On Nov. 8, Reuters reported that information from the plane’s black boxes indicated to a level of “90 percent certainty” that the Metrojet flight was brought down by a bomb. Four days earlier, Egyptian newspaper Al-Masri al-Yaum, citing “sources in the commission of inquiry” had reported that the transcript from the black boxes showed evidence of an explosion in the engine. Although the flight recorders did not record any emergency calls from the crew to dispatchers, according to the Egyptians they indicate the “presence of a powerful explosion, simultaneous loss of all engine power, a fire in part of the fuselage and the destruction of part of the plane in the air.”
Earlier, officials from the U.S. and the UK indicated that it was likely the plane had been destroyed by a bomb. Last week, the government of the UK halted all flights to Sharm el-Sheik due to concerns that the plane was brought down by a terrorist act. “While the investigation is still ongoing, we cannot say categorically why the Russian jet crashed,” said a statement from British Prime Minister David Cameron’s office. “But as more information has come to light, we have become concerned that the plane may well have been brought down by an explosive device.” On Nov. 6, Russian authorities halted all flights to Egypt until the cause of the crash is determined. ISIS has claimed responsibility for the disas-
ter, but there is no evidence as of yet that the group had the capability to destroy an airliner. Experts from the F.B.I. have now joined the investigation at the request of Russian officials. To establish the exact cause of the disaster, experts will have not only to fully decode the data from the flight recorders, but also collect all the debris to reassemble it in a hangar for careful inspection. The debris from the flight is spread over a remote area of several square miles and the investigation has been hampered by bad weather. Meanwhile, in St. Petersburg, a memorial service for the victims was held Nov. 8 at St. Isaac’s Cathedral.
Alexei Sorokin, general director of Russia’s World Cup 2018 Organizational Committee, has denied statements by FIFA President Joseph“Sepp”Blatter suggesting that Russia had guaranteed itself the right to hold the 2018 soccer World Cup before the vote. “If there were people who made the decision before Dec. 2, fine. But we didn’t know about it. We weren’t aware of the executive committee’s decision,”World Football Insider cites Sorokin as saying. In an interview with Russian news agency Tass, Blatter said that there was “an inner conviction that one championship would be held in Russia. It was decided, although not in writing, I suppose, that the vote would give the championship to the two superpowers: Russia and the U.S.,”Blatter said in an interview with the Financial Times. Blatter also told Tass that he had spoken about holding the World Cup in Russia with President Vladimir Putin.
New Regulations Introduced for Russian Hotels
EVGENY VOLCHKOV / TASS
Under new hotel regulations that went into force Oct. 21, Russian hotels will have to tell clients which services they will have to pay for before their stay, and if a guest checks in at midnight and checks out by noon, they will be charged for only half a day. Youth hostels and children’s camps are exempt from the new rules. Prices for all services along with the hotel owner’s details must to be clearly posted at reception. Additionally, all guests, both Russian and foreign, will need to present their passports at check-in.
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Politics & Society
RUSSIA BEYOND THE HEADLINES
MOST READ Hopes for a New Home: Abandoned Dogs Search
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for New Owners
Pets Activists tackle ongoing problem of street animals
Forever Homes Hard to Find for Strays on Russia’s Streets mals is unexpected and unwanted puppies or kittens. According to Vita, its not uncommon for a stray animal to give birth twice a year. In many Russian cities, people have taken the problem of stray animals into their own hands, putting poisoned food in parks and other areas where street dogs, are known to gather, or, in more rural areas, simply shooting them. Irina Novozhilova, the head of theVita animal rights center, said in an interview with Moscow lifestyle website The Village that the poisionings are being scheduled using social media and that the authorities ignore such actions. “The poisoning of dogs takes place in Russian cities every day. Proving the poisoning and someone’s involvement in it is very difficult, even if the analysis confirmed that the animal had poison in its blood. We need witnesses,” Novozhilova told TheVillage.“Unfortunately, law enforcement authorities often ignore crimes related to animal cruelty. They say : ‘We’ve got the corpses of people and you want us to focus on a dog?’”
The numbers of abandoned cats and dogs in major Russian cities show no signs of decreasing despite sympathy towards the plight of such animals. MARIA KARNAUKHOVA SPECIAL TO RBTH
Although Olesya Moskovskaya loved Beton, the cat she adopted from a shelter, she only realized how much he meant to her when he intervened to save her from a potentially deadly fall. “I am a sleepwalker and when I am under stress, I tend to walk in my sleep a lot,” Moskovskaya explained. “It was summer and my balcony door – I live on the 14th floor – was open. I woke up standing on the edge and my cat was frantically biting and scratching my legs. Another minute and. …” Many Russians own cats and dogs, but the number of Russians like Moskovskaya who have adopted their pets from shelters is small. And the number of stray animals on the streets is not decreasing. According to activists from the Vita animal rights center, new animals are abandoned to fend for themselves all the time. Vita employees say that most Russians get a pet not for companionship, but because there is a certain prestige or cachet associated with owning a particular kind of dog or cat. When the realities of caring for an animal set in, the pet is often abandoned. Campaigns to spay or neuter pets have been mostly unsuccessful, so another source of stray ani-
A boy looks at a rescued dog in a shelter. Wild dogs are a problem in many Russian cities.
Nevertheless, Russians are becoming more sympathetic to the plight of stray animals. According to a poll conducted by the Public Opinion Foundation in January 2013, only 9 percent of Russians support the killing of street animals. Additionally, earlier this year, the regional government of the
Leningrad Region, which surrounds St. Petersburg, banned the hunting of stray dogs, saying such activities were not covered by the state law on hunting wild game. The St. Petersburg city government estimates that 700,000 stray dogs live in the city. Shelter volunteers have reported an uptick in people coming in to adopt pets. Natalya Chaplin, founder and head of a volunteer project in Moscow called Sign of Faith, said: “Five years ago, nobody spoke of the issue of stray dogs. When we began speaking about the problem of stray animals, started holding exhibitions, people were very much surprised. Now the situation has, of course, improved considerably.”
Whose problem? Activists would like the state to play more of a role in promoting animal welfare. Svetlana Ilyinskaya, the president of the Legal Animal Protection Center, says that the state should work with volunteers, possibly through an advertising campaign, to combat the popular belief that “putting an animal down is cruel, whereas leaving it in the street is humane because it is an animal’s natural environment.”According to Ilyinskaya, in fact the opposite is true: For pets, the street is an alien environment. Such animals do not know how to fend for themselves and do not live long. She would like to see a return to the practice of catching strays and keeping them in shelters. Irina Novozhilova, however, thinks more effort should be put into convincing pet owners to be responsible and spay or neuter their animals. One suggestion: fines or taxes could be levied on those who refuse to submit their pet to sterilization, with even higher rates for professional breeders. Such taxes or fines could be used to fund shelters or other programs to help strays.
Celebrities Russia’s rare animals, particularly the Amur tiger and Far Eastern leopard, have attracted attention from American entertainers
Big Names Give Big Money for Big Cats MARINA OBRAZKOVA RBTH
A number of international TV and film stars, from Pamela Anderson to Steven Seagal to Harrison Ford, have taken a special interest in the welfare of Russia’s endangered tigers and leopards “Baywatch”star Anderson’s red float recently went under the hammer for 3 million rubles ($44,000) at a charity auction in
the city of Vladivostok on Russia’s Pacific coast. The funds will be used largely for the protection of the region’s endangered leopards and tigers. Anderson, who is known for her support of animal rights, sent an open letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin in July, asking Russia to prevent a ship carrying 1.7 tons of fin whale meat from Iceland to Japan from using the Northern Sea Route. The Russian government rejected the request, however, noting that Moscow had no legal grounds for detaining the ship because the whaling had not been conducted
on Russian territory. Anderson did, however, get an invitation to the Far Eastern Forum in Vladivostok in September. Also at the auction, action hero Steven Seagal bought an axe knife made of Damascus steel inlaid with gold and silver for 229,900 rubles ($3,370) to support Far Eastern leopards. The actor said that he was compelled to help the animals after visiting an exhibition at the Land of the Leopard National Park in Russia’s Primorsky Territory, which monitors conservation and tries to increase the population of the endangered Amur leopard.
YURI SMITYUK / TASS
Stars from the silver screen and the stage have found common ground in preserving the habitat of the rare and beautiful animals of Russia’s Far East.
Anderson poses for a selfie.
“I want to use my face and my name to help leopards,” said Seagal. During his visit, environmentalists told the actor that they have been able to increase the population of these big cats from 20 to 70 individuals, but the actor said that this was not enough. He promised his personal assistance in preserving Russia’s rare predator.
From the Far East to L.A. The frontman of Russian pop rock group Mumiy Troll, Ilya Lagutenko, and Hollywood star Harrison Ford have been involved in an international campaign to save the Amur tiger since 2008. On the ini-
tiative of the World Bank, a tiger coalition was created for the protection of these animals, which included representatives of various organizations and celebrities; Russia is represented by Lagutenko and the United States by Ford. Leonardo DiCaprio is also interested in the fate of the tigers. He attended the International Tiger Forum in 2011 in St. Petersburg and pledged $1 million for tiger conservation. He also regularly donates money for tiger conservation through his foundation and the World Wildlife Fund’s Save Tigers Now campaign.
Technology Ad campaign hopes to raise awareness and shame those who cheat the system
Read, Watch and Listen to RBTH’s weekly analytical program, featuring three of the most recent high-profile developments in international affairs.
Holograms Help Fight Misuse of Disabled Parking Spaces in Moscow Nonprofit uses high-tech program to raise awareness about the challenges facing disabled drivers — and embarrass those who try to take their spaces. MARIA KARNAUKHOVA
SPECIAL TO RBTH
Russian drivers who try to park in spaces reserved for people with disabilities could be in for a shock if a new system installed at several Moscow shopping centers catches on. The system, launched in May by Dislife, a Russian nonprofit dedicated to improving life for people with disabilities, with assistance from the Y&R advertising agency, projects a hologram of a man in a wheelchair into disabled parking spaces if drivers without a special disabled parking sticker attempt to use the spaces. A special camera is installed above disabled parking spaces to check whether cars attempting
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A hologram of a man in a wheelchair is projected into parking spaces.
to park there have the special sticker. If a car without a badge tries to enter the space, a hologram of a man in a wheelchair appears in the air, crying: “What are you doing? I’m not just a sign on the ground. Don’t pretend that I don’t exist.”The hologram is projected through tiny drops of water
diffused in the air. In addition to shaming drivers who attempt to use the spaces illegaly, the initiave’s organizers hope to generally raise awareness about the misuse of disabled parking. “Parking signs mean nothing for many drivers in Russia,”Yury
Kovalev, the founder of Dislife, told website Digital Trends just after the project launched.“They prefer to forget about the people behind them. That is what we are fighting with in this project.” According to Dislife, more than 30 percent of drivers ignore disabled parking signs. Since its launch, a video about the campaign posted onYouTube has been viewed over 3 million times.The campaign has also been featured in such popular Western media as IFLScience. Life for people with disabilities has been improving in Russia, particularly since the 2014 Winter Paralympic Games, but much work remains to be done. According to official data, 16,000 Moscow residents depend on wheelchairs, but only half of the capital’s buses have wheelchair accessible, low-floor designs — making it easier for many to rely on their on transportation, as long as they can find a place to park.
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MOST READ Will the Russian Economy Be Hit by a New Drop
in Oil Prices?
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Technology A massive investment in Russian e-sports by a well-known internet billionaire could be a game changer for the industry
Online Gaming Hits the Jackpot Russia’s largest eSports club has won a major investment it hopes will result in more recognition — and increased growth — for the industry. ANNA KUCHMA
Russian eSports could be on their way to global success with the announcement that Russian oligarch Alisher Usmanov, a coowner of Facebook and Alibaba whose fortune is estimated by Forbes at $14.4 billion, will invest $100 million in Russia’s main eSports club, Virtus.pro. The world of eSports, in which participants take part in organized multiplayer video game competitions, has become a fastgrowing industry over the last few years, with more and more official competitions springing up, allowing individual players and even full teams to turn professional. “The funds will be used primarily for projects with potentially high investment returns,”Virtus.pro’s marketing d i re c t o r, A l e x e i N a z a rov, said, explaining that Usmanov’s investments are planned for a period of one to two years.“It is the organization of new tournaments at the federal level, the development of media resources, the creation of a new information portal about eSports [and] the development of sports arenas.” Commenting on the deal ,Yaroslav Komkov, producer of the Cyber.sports.ru project, said: “With this investment,Virtus.pro becomes the world leader, as no other eSports organizations have such capital.” He noted that Virtus.pro is one of Russia’s strongest eSports clubs.
ESports are becoming a spectator sport, with international tournaments drawing participants from all over the world, and Russian players are consistently at the top of the rankings.
Not a virtual business ESports are a relatively new phenomenon. Although the first competition — a StarCraft strategy tournament — took place in the late 1990s, these tournaments have started to draw massive audiences only in recent years. Most frequently, they are organized by computer-game developers. “ESports, popular among young people, are increasingly becoming part of the show, so we see it as a source of content that can be sold,”saidVirtus.pro’s Nazarov.“The standard media monetization model works here – broadcasting, advertising, sponsors.” The sponsors of the tournaments are, as a rule, technology companies, electronics manufac-
BY THE NUMBERS
is how much billionaire Alisher Usmanov will invest in eSports tournament organizer Virtus, making it the world leader.
is how much Usmanov’s longtime business partner Yury Milner invested in Super Evil Megacorp earlier this year.
per year is how much the Russian eSports market is projected to grow in the long term, according to research by Virtus.
turers, and telecommunications companies. Sometimes, financial support is provided by conventional sports organizations. In Turkey, the Besiktas sports club bought a key Turkish eSports team, becoming its main sponsor. It is unknown how much is
made on eSports in Russia. No one has yet attempted to calculate the revenues of tour organizers or media companies involved in broadcasting eSports events, said Nazarov. But inYaroslav Komkov’s opinion, there is no doubt that the
eSports market is hugely undervalued. According to him, the future belongs to organizations that can provide players with a salary and promotion, including support in the media and social networks.“Usmanov is aiming for the future by buying an audience that is yet to be formed,” Komkov said. According to Nazarov, the eSports market in Russia will grow by 30–40 percent per year in the long term.
disciplines, and are generally considered to be very talented in the world,” he said. Nowhere else in the world except South Korea are eSports officially recognized as sports.
It is unknown how much is currently made on eSports in Russia. No one has attempted to calculate the revenues.
The Russian eSports market
In Russia, there was an attempt to legitimize the discipline in 2001. It received an official status, but was removed from the All-Russian Register of Sports in 2006 due to the inconsistency of
Komkov said that Russian eSports athletes have always been among the leaders: “They have won championships in [World of ]Warcraft, CS 1.6 and many other
its ranking and scoring criteria. As well as its lack of popularity outisde of major population centers in the country. According to Komkov, Moscow and Kiev are the main eSports centers in the C.I.S. This is where two biggest gaming clubs are based — Russia’s Virtus.pro and Ukraine’s NAVI. Meanwhile, another major Russian businessman — Usmanov’s longtime partner Yury Milner — is also interested in the eSports market. In August, he invested $26 million in Super Evil Megacorp, the company that developed the online strategy game Vainglory and created a venue of the same name for competitions of players from around the world.
Ratings New World Bank numbers indicate improvements
Fast Food Russian entreprenuers got idea from American meme
Russia Becoming a Better Place for Doing Business
Restaurant Inspired By “Walking Dead” Opens
Style or substance?
Areas for improvement
One factor contributing to Russia’s success in the ranking was a change in the methodology used by the World Bank. In 2015, new indicators were added to all the categories examined by the Bank, and Russia scored highly on four out of five of them. In one case, a new index based on the reliability of electricity supply and transparency of tariffs was introduced. “We measure the frequency of power outages, the duration of possible outages, and how the
The weakest spot of the Russian economy, according to the study’s authors, is international trade, including the clearance of goods for export; on this indicator, Russia fell from 155th to 170th place. “Trading across borders is one area where Russia should continue focusing its efforts,” Sylvie Bossoutrot, Program Leader, World Bank in Russia, wrote in her commentary on the rankings. “However, this will require joint efforts on the part of all stakeholders involved in the process.”
Russia has climbed to 51st place in the World Bank’s new Doing Business rankings through a combination of reforms and changes in methodology. ANNA KUCHMA
In spite of Western sanctions and a decline in G.D.P., Russia has climbed 11 positions, to 51st place in the World Bank’s latest Doing Business rankings, an annual study devoted to analyzing regulations and laws that directly affect businesses. Over the past year, Russia has implemented several economic reforms that have contributed to the significant advancement of the country’s ranking, the World Bank said in a supplement explaining the rankings. In particular, the organization highlighted the ease of registering property and enforcing contracts. The Doing Business global rankings have become a kind of K.P.I. (key performance indicator) for the Russian government with regard to their importance for attracting investment. “The rankings are a guide for foreign investors,” one of the study’s authors,Valentina Saltane, said in an interview with the Russian business daily Vedomosti. In May 2012, President Vladimir Putin set the goal of increasing the country’s place in the rankings to 50th in 2015 and 20th in 2018. Therefore, according to
The Moscow City financial district hopes to be a hub for business.
A Russian franchisee of American burger chain Carl’s Jr. has found a novel way to revive his business in the face of sanctions and the overall economic downturn. IGOR ROZIN RBTH
A new chain of burger restaurants that owes its name in part to a meme based on the character Carl from U.S. zombie series “The Walking Dead” has opened in Russia. The restaurants — called That’s A Burger, Carl — replaced outlets formerly operating under the American franchise Carl’s Jr. in Yekaterinburg, Perm and Tyumen. The name of the new burger restaurants is a nod both to the previous incarnation of the fast food outlets and to the “Walking Dead” meme. Rick Grimes, one of the postapocalyptic drama series’ main characters, has become widely mocked online for the frequency with which he calls the name of his son Carl, as well as the odd variation in his pronunciation of the name. Carl’s Junior is a fast-food chain from Southern California, established in the 1940s. It arrived in Russia in 2006, with the first restaurant opening in St. Petersburg. In early 2015 the company announced it was closing 30 restaurants for economic reasons. After two years of working with Carl’s Jr., Russian entrepreneur Sergei Bogodelov was forced to leave the partnership. “In January 2015, due to the
the latest ranking, the government almost met its target.
monitoring systems work,” said Saltane, commenting on the early changes to the calculation. According to these indicators, Russia received the maximum eight points for the category. By increasing the pace of work on simplifying the grid connection procedure, Russia made a record leap of 114 positions in that section alone. For similar reasons, Russia rose by 37 positions in the section based on the ease of obtaining building permits. The number of steps required to get a permit has not declined substantially, but this year, a section focused on the quality of building regulation and its implementation was introduced, on which Russia scored 14 out of 15 points. Changes in methodology occur each year so that the rankings can more fully reflect the processes taking place in the countries, a press officer for the World Bank’s Moscow office told RBTH. According to Andrei Nikitin, head of the Russian government’s Strategic Initiatives Agency, the improvement of Russia’s position in the rankings cannot be explained only by a change in methodology, however. “If rank depended only on the calculation methodology, the changes would be the same at all points,”he said.
Cups, to-go bags and burger boxes feature the restaurant’s name.
sanctions and the exchange rates, the prices of supplied semimanufactured goods increased more than twofold,”said Bogodelov.“As a result the cost of dishes grew by up to 60 percent, while
The name of the new restaurants is a nod both to the previous incarnation and to the “Walking Dead” meme. for an enterprise to function normally the indicator should be about 35 percent. On top of it all the franchise agreement prohibited looking for and changing suppliers independently.” In the end he found another supplier on his own.
Who invented this, Carl? Bogodelov’s four new restaurants opened at the end of October. “The Americans’ main request is that I don’t use their symbols and illustrations for advertisement and the menu,” Bogodelov said. The new name was suggested by Daniil Golovanov, director of the Redpepper ad agency. “Sure, we knew of the meme ‘Carl’ but it’s not true that it was only due to this that we decided to use the name of the character for the restaurant,” said Golovanov. “It was important to play with the word ‘burger’ and in the beginning the phrase ‘That is a burger, Carl”was created as a slogan for the future establishment. But then we understood that it would be successful for rebranding the name.”
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MOST READ Arctic a Chance to Form Pan-European Unity rbth.com/531811
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THE ARCTIC: A NEW GEOPOLITICAL FRONTIER ALAMY/LEGION MEDIA
HOT TIMES FOR COLD WATERS AS CLIMATE CHANGE MAKES THE ARCTIC MORE ACCESSIBLE, COUNTRIES THAT BORDER THE REGION ARE STAKING CLAIMS TO ITS RESOURCES
Russia is renewing an effort to claim a vast territory on the outer margin of the Arctic’s continental shelf, but it isn’t the only country interested in the region’s newly accessible wealth. ALEXEI LOSSAN RBTH
As the Arctic ice cap continues to melt, Russia is taking more active steps to clearly define its presence and role in the north. After 14 years, the country is renewing an effort to claim a vast territory on the outer margin of the Arctic continental shelf abutting the Russian land mass. In early August, Russia submitted to the U.N. a revised application to claim a 1.2-million-squarekilometer (463,000-square-mile) underwater territory extending more than 350 nautical miles from the coast, according to an announcement posted on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “For justifying its claim to this territory, Russia used a large collection of scientific data, accumulated over the course of many years of Arctic research,” the announcement read. The potential economic benefits to Russia of claiming this underwater region are practically
incalculable. “The Laptev Sea, as has already been proven, has a diamond canal on the surface of its shelf, which will allow Russia to become even more competitive with other countries in the production of diamonds,” said Vera Smorchkova, professor of labor and social policy at the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA). The profitable shipping lanes of the Northern Sea Route run through the area, and geological
extension of the continent and belonged to Russia, Smorchkova said. The 1982 U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea allows countries to expand their economic zones outward from the visible coastline, provided that the seabed beyond their bounds is a natural extension of the continental margin. In its application, Russia lays claims to the Lomonosov Ridge, Alpha Ridge and Chukchi Cap, and to the Podvodnik and Chukchi Ocean Basins separating them.
The potential economic benefits to Russia of claiming this underwater region are practically incalculable.
“Millions of people are calling to create an international reserve territory around the North Pole.”
assessments showing that the seabed contains almost 30 percent of the world’s unexplored natural gas reserves and 15 percent of its unexplored oil reserves. This is not the first time Russia has made such a claim. The country applied to gain possession of a smaller part of territory on the Lomonosov Ridge in 2001, but did not have required proof that the territory was an
New Atomic Icebreaker in Development Russian designers are working on a new type of atomic icebreaker that will make it possible to work in the Arctic year-round. According to information from the St. Petersburg– based Krylov State Research Center, which is designing the ship, the basic model has already been completed, and the engineering plans are currently being developed. The new icebreaker will be able to break ice more than 12 feet thick. In 2015, Russia launched its flagship diesel-electric icebreaker, Ilya Muromets, the first in a series of four. These ships are also planned for use
in the Arctic as auxiliary vessels. Russia currently has the biggest icebreaker fleet in the world, with 40 ice-class vessels. The size and sophistication of the Russian fleet was critical in Russia’s inclusion in a new Arctic Coast Guard, announced Oct. 30. The new organization will be made up of ship from eight Arctic countries. In announcing the organization, U.S. Coast Guard Admiral Paul Zukunft said: “Russia has the preponderance of the resources when it comes to the Arctic domain,” he said. “So it’s critical to have them at the table.”
“The decision to expand the shelf margins is not only of a geographical and economic nature, but it also risks becoming a political issue,” noted chief analyst at UFS Investment Company Alexei Kozlov. Canada, Norway, Denmark and the United States can also potentially claim Arctic territory. Ed Royce (R-Calif.), chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs, said the U.S. should be prepared to stand up to Russia in this matter. “Russia has been aggressively pushing its claims to the Arctic, especially the resource-rich continental shelf. It now has an Arctic Command to strengthen its military presence in the region,” said Royce during hearings on the matter in August. “The U.S. and others bordering the Arctic must maintain a united front against Moscow’s aggressive ambitions toward this vital region,” he said.
Protecting all resources Ecologists believe the political ambitions of all the countries vying for influence in the region
threaten its unique habitat, and that the region should become a specially protected international zone instead. The region is home to unique species, in particular walruses and polar bears. “The melting of Arctic ice opens the broad expanses of the northern seas, making them vulnerable,” said Vladimir Chuprov, director of the Greenpeace Russia energy program.“Millions of people are calling on governments to create an international reserve territory around the North Pole, in order that this water area remains untouched by industry and the nature remains wild. “Moreover, there is no economic sense in extracting oil from the Arctic shelf, since there are no technologies for drilling for oil in icy conditions at great depths. Economists and geologists are speaking about this more and more, including those from Russia.” In a comment to RBTH, the press office of the Russian Embassy in Washington, D.C., said it sees the Arctic as a territory of dialogue and cooperation. “We recognize that all our actions in the region should be regulated within the framework of international law,” the statement said.“Russia consistently opposes the politicization of international cooperation in the Arctic. Success can be achieved only when the Arctic states are united and act collectively. The future of the region, the implementation of environmental protection measures and the improvement of conditions for residents of the Far North shouldn’t depend on extra-regional events.”
Next steps Russia’s application for its claim to the Arctic territory will not be reviewed in the near future for procedural reasons, but will be included in the provisional agenda of the 40th session of the Commission in February/March 2016, according to United Nations deputy spokesman Farhan Haq.
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The Reasons Behind Russia’s Military Buildup in the Arctic Viktor Litovkin ANALIST
t a recent meeting of the Russian Geographical Society, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu noted that 700 million rubles ($12 million) has already been spent on a long-term plan to clean Soviet-era scrap metal from the Arctic, and that as part of the work, society members had reclaimed 5,000 rusty barrels from region’s islands. While this work is indeed noteworthy, it isn’t just altruistic. The clean-up is part of the Defense Ministry’s plan to establish a network of military bases on Arctic islands. There is already a base on Kotelny Island, part of the New Siberian Islands archipelago, and similar bases are planned for Wrangel Island, Mys Shmidta, Chukotka and the Kuril Islands in the Far East. It was reported earlier that Russian military bases would be established on the Franz Josef Land and Novaya Zemlya. According to Shoigu, all the bases will be operational by 2018, and a new airfield in Tiksi, one of Russia’s northernmost port cities, is scheduled to open a year later. This airfield, which is located in the permafrost zone, will be designed to handle frontline aircraft, primarily fighter interceptors, as well as to create conditions for temporary basing of strategic bombers. Similar airfields are being established on the Kotelny Island, on the Novaya Zemlya archipelago and on Alexandra Land, which is part of Franz Josef Land. By the time the project is completed, Russia should have a total of nine updated and reconstructed airfields in the Arctic, most operational by 2017. So why, after years of neglicting the Arctic, is Russia reestablishing its military presence there? First of all, the Arctic Ocean is a treasure trove of natural resources. Second, the Northern Sea Route, which thanks to climate change is now passable practically year-round, is the shortest and most economically sound route for delivering
goods from Asia to Europe. A container ship traveling from Shanghai to Rotterdam via the Arctic takes three weeks, whereas the same trip via the Pacific, Indian and Atlantic Oceans requires more than five. To protect commercial shipping vessels using this route, Russia must increase its number of ships, planes and personnel in the region. But of course, it is also extremely important for Russia to ensure the safety of its own territory. Not only commercial vessels will use this corridor. American nuclear submarines with strategic and cruise missiles on board can — and do — move under the ice of the North Pole. Additionally, the path across the Arctic is the only one that will allow Tomahawk missiles to hit Russian missile silos in Siberia. The need to protect the Russian mainland and its military infrastructure is, of course, where all these Arctic countermeasures stem from — the missile defense and air defense systems, fighter interceptors on the Arctic islands and the constant patrolling of ocean waters by Russian submarines. And, for the Russian strategic nuclear deterrence systems, just as for their U.S. counterparts, the path over the North Pole is the shortest, most reliable and efficient. Does this military buildup mean that the Arctic become the latest standoff between Russia and NATO? Not necessarily. Both sides are quite well aware of the power of the other, and the need to play it safe. For the moment, there will be no heavy artillery and armored combat vehicles at the Arctic garrisons, and the number of Russian troops posted there will be very small — only up to 150 people per garrison, depending on the location and size. However, until agreements are reached about control of Arctic resources, both on the continental shelves and under the ice, the possibility of a confrontation will remain, and Russia must be prepared to protect itself. Viktor Litovkin is a military analyst for Russian news agency TASS and a retired colonel.
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Low Prices Strike a Blow to Offshore Energy Exploration TATYANA RUSAKOVA SPECIAL TO RBTH
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Khloponin has admitted that Moscow has been too slow to find alternative supplies of equipment for offshore oil production and needs to cooperate with other countries that have experience in this area to fully develop its energy resources, Interfax news agency reported. Due to sanctions imposed on
Russian Investors Claim North Sea Fields Russia’s L1 Energy has bought oil and gas fields in the North Sea from Germany’s E.On for $1.6 billion, business daily RBK reported. The deal makes Russian investors the owners of the largest oil and gas fields in the North Sea, with 43 mining licenses. “This is the largest transaction conducted by a business under the control of Russian businessmen in recent years,” said Ivan Kapitonov, associate professor at the Institute of Civil Service and Management at the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public
Administration. L1 is controlled by billonaire Mikhail Fridman, the owner of financial corporation Alfa Group. As a privately held company, it has managed to avoid the sanctions imposed by the U.S. and E.U. against Russian stateowned banks and energy firms. Nikita Kulikov, C.E.O. of consulting company Heads, noted that the transaction is a kind of compensation for L1, which was earlier forced to sell its North Sea gas fields to the Swiss chemical company Ineos under pressure from the U.K.’s Department of Energy.
turlin, managing director of trust management company Hedge.pro. “With the current state of the energy market, expensive development in the Arctic is simply unprofitable.”
Going it alone When sanctions were first imposed in 2014, Russian oil major Rosneft in partnership with American firm ExxonMobil had just discovered the Pobeda oil field in the Kara Sea and drilled a well. After the introduction of sanctions, however, ExxonMobil had to suspend its participation in the project, which caused major difficulties for the Russian firm. “Offshore drilling equipment has never been produced or even designed in Russia,” said Georgy Vashchenko, head of operations at Freedom Finance Investment Company.“For its production and use to be economically viable compared to imports, it must be produced in large quantities, including for deliveries abroad.” However, according to Pyotr Dashkevich, an analyst with investment company UFS, the actual impact of sanctions on the development of offshore fields is not as significant as the effect of the fall in oil prices. “Many of the projects announced were attractive due to high energy prices,”he said. Now that the price of oil has fallen, the situation has changed,”Dash-
Siberian Lakes Hint at Major Climate Problems
MAXIM VORKUNKOV / TASS
Russia for its role in the conflict in eastern Ukraine, the American and European companies that have traditionally served as partners for Russian energy firms in the Arctic are prohibited from providing such services. As a result, Russia must develop such technologies on its own, or look for new partners from Asian countries unaffected by sanctions. At the moment, however, the price of oil has made exploration in the Russian Arctic less attractive for any potential partners. “The development of offshore fields has been stalled not only by sanctions, but also by a sharp drop in oil prices,” said Ilya Bu-
Russia is looking for new sources of technology for offshore oil production to fill the gap left by sanctioned firms from the United States and the European Union.
Russian firms are unable to attract partners for exploring energy resources in the Arctic at current prices.
kevich said, noting that many contracts with Western partners had been signed before sanctions were imposed and, accordingly, do not fall under the restrictions, but almost all of these projects have been delayed or abandoned, because they are no longer profitable.
A search for new partners At the beginning of 2015, Russia’s Ministry of Industry drafted a plan for import substitution in the oil and gas industry, but according even to this document, the share of imported equipment for offshore projects can be reduced to 60–70 percent only by 2020, so Russia is unable to really consider going it alone to develop these Arctic resources. “Before the introduction of sanctions, Russian companies had
What Global Warming Looks Like in the Extreme North Sergei Chicherin SCIENTIST
or modern scientists, global warming is not a hypothesis, but a commonly acknowledged fact. The most important evidence of this warming in the Arctic region is a reduction in the area of sea ice. For example, if you compare the sea ice area in September of this year with the indicators from a de-
Bigger worries offshore An even more serious problem than the thermokarst lakes is the processes that occur within the Arctic continental shelf. Scientists at another university in Tomsk, the Tomsk Polytechnic University, have been studying these changes, and note that carbon emissions in the form of methane and carbon dioxide are already having a significant impact on Earth’s climate. “Five years ago we discovered
21.5 billion tons of oil are estimated to lie in blocks of Arctic territory in the Kara and Pechora Seas controlled by Russian oil major Rosneft.
$7 bn is how much Royal Dutch Shell has invested in developing an exploratory well in the Chukchi Sea. The project has been plagued by protests and bad weather.
cade ago, it becomes clear that the ice area has decreased substantially. On the one hand, it stimulates commercial interest in the Arctic, since it is cheaper to transport goods on the ice-free water. On the other hand, this water causes land loss, eroding the shoreline. This warming also causes permafrost to retreat. This is a real threat that we cannot help taking into account when we are talking about the construction of
new infrastructure in the Arctic. We have already been approached by investors who want to construct a railway in the subarctic regions of Yakutia. These projects have been designed for decades, but what will conditions for work be like here in 50 years? We are trying to answer these questions, but we cannot have a clear understanding of the climate of the future. We can only talk about possible scenarios of climate change — and try to prepare, to adjust ourselves to these changes. Mankind is yet not able to regulate the natural processes at this scale. Sergei Chicherin is a deputy director of the Voyeikov Main Geophysical Observatory.
SHUTTERSTOCK/LEGION-MEDIA TATIANA POSPELOVA
For decades, researchers at Tomsk State University in Siberia have been studying the subsoils of the West Siberian subarctic.The focus of their work has been thermokarst lakes – bodies of water formed by permafrost thawing. These lakes are sources of carbon dioxide, and recently they’ve begun to grow rapidly in size. Some are difficult to recognize on satellite imagery when compared to images from only a few years ago, and in certain areas the lakes’ coastlines have shifted by 210 feet in just two or three years. “The soil organic carbon, also known as peat, transforms into carbon dioxide the fastest while in water,” said Sergei Kirpotin, head of Tomsk State University’s BioKlimLand research center. “Over 80 percent of subarctic Siberia is covered by thermokarst lakes, but the scale of the carbon dioxide flow still has not been evaluated by anyone, and neither has the chemical composition of the water.” While studying the lakes, the scientists discovered that smaller lakes — those with a surface area of less than 1,000 square feet, which are virtually undetectable by satellites and do not show up on any maps — emit several times more greenhouse gases than bigger lakes. There are millions of these tiny lakes in the Siberian tundra, and due to their negligible size, they were not taken into account within existing carbon exchange models until recently. Because of the increasing thawing of permafrost in West Siberia, scientists fear that the bigger thermokarst lakes could soon break up into numerous smaller ones. “This could lead to a tenfold increase of greenhouse gases and dissolved organic carbon emissions into rivers and the Arctic,” said Kirpotin.
SPECIAL TO RBTH
Bodies of water discovered under the permafrost and in the outer Arctic shelf are releasing an increasing amount of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. YANA PCHELINTSEVA
cooperated with the American, Norwegian and Italian suppliers, but now China and South Korea are also being named among potential partners,” said Buturlin. According to him, companies such as General Electric are now ready for the localization of individual equipment for Russian offshore drilling vessels, but there is no demand as long as the price for Russia’s benchmark Urals crude remains low. Dashkevich said that companies from Europe and the U.S. remain the most interesting for Russian firms as partners because they have the experience of working in the Arctic. Although Asian companies may “be interested in supplying equipment and providing subsequent maintenance,” they are likely to have had only “local experience,” he said.
Subsurface lakes in Siberia are releasing carbon dioxide and methane.
Scientists discovered that carbon emissions in the Arctic shelf zone are much more intense than expected. that the massive methane emissions that occur in the seas of the western Arctic are about two times larger than emissions in all the world’s oceans,” said Igor Semiletov, a geochemist at the Pacific Oceanological Institute and Tomsk Polytechnic University. In 2014, an international research team led by Semiletov set sail to the Arctic Ocean on the Oden icebreaker science vessel. The researchers were the first to closely examine the waters of the
outer West Arctic continental shelf at depths below 150 feet. The scientists discovered that carbon emissions in the shelf zone are much more intense than expected. Up to several hundred ounces of methane per square yard are emitted daily, which demonstrates that the underwater Arctic permafrost has been severely degraded. About 700 such“methane holes,”each up to half a mile in diameter, have been found in the shelf. “We are finding more and more evidence confirming our hypothesis about the leading role of the Siberian continental shelf in changing Earth’s methane balance at the present time and for at least the past 400 years,” said Semiletov.
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THE U.S. ELECTORAL MATCH-UP THE KREMLIN ELITE WOULD LIKE TO SEE from (a) NATO presence in Ukraine.” Most analysts agree that should full NATO membership for Ukraine be proposed, Moscow’s reaction would be less than pleasant. NATO expansion may be the one topic of agreement between Rubio and his former mentor Jeb Bush, who may yet make an impact in the race. Bush views Putin as a “bully” and has called for larger troop deployments to the NATO-member Baltic states.
Trumping them all?
Bryan MacDonald SPECIAL TO RBTH
f the Kremlin elite could cast a ballot in a U.S. presidential election, it would probably relish the chance to vote for Donald Trump. In the real world, howe ve r, t h i n g s a re f a r m o re complicated. What does the current election season mean for future relations between Washington and Moscow? Casual observers could be forgiven for imagining that the United States has a semipermanent election cycle.With still more than 13 months to go before Barack Obama relinquishes the White House, it already feels like the campaign has dragged on for an eternity. Russians can only marvel at the showbiz-style U.S. election process.
An American iron lady? Bill Clinton remains popular in Russia. Rightly or wrongly, he’s
perceived as having been less hostile to the country than his two successors, George W. Bush and Obama. Although his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton, is now the bookmaker’s odds-on favorite to take the Democratic nomination, Hillary is not Bill and times have changed. It’s impossible to imagine the former Secretary of State laughing and joking with Vladimir Putin as her husband used to do with Boris Yeltsin. In fact, Mrs. Clinton is regarded as a hardliner on Russia. Indeed, she’s criticized Barack Obama’s handling of the Ukraine crisis and proposed far stronger measures to support Kiev. Of course, Clinton’s position might well be pre-election bluster, designed to cast her as a strong figure. Hoping to become the first female president, Clinton probably feels that she has to appear even tougher than her male opponents at times. In that regard, she’s borrowing from the playbook of Angela Merkel and
Margaret Thatcher, two phenomenally successful female leaders. The Kremlin naturally fears that a new Clinton presidency would be far more hawkish than the previous Clinton administration.
If Russia’s leaders could vote, they’d probably back Trump for the Republicans and anybody but Clinton on the Democratic ticket.
The elephants in the room Currently, Marco Rubio is the long-term favorite in the race for the Republican nomination. The 44-year-old Florida senator is potentially even tougher on Russia than John McCain, a notorious tormentor of Putin’s government. In fact, Rubio, who has strong links to the Tea Party movement, has even won support from former McCain donors such as George Seay and Jim Rubright, according to Fox News. In May, Rubio penned a Politico op-ed in which he called for further NATO expansion, including the accession of Ukraine. The Kremlin would welcome that like it would greet snow in July. Responding to the idea that NATO might send miltary advisors to
Trump believes “Putin has eaten Obama’s lunch” on Ukraine. “Putin has no respect for our president whatsoever,” he told Fox News. Ukraine, Alexander Grushko, Russia’s envoy to the Atlantic Alliance, told news agency Tass that “Moscow will take all measures, including military-technical, to neutralize (the) possible threat
RUSSIA’S EFFORTS IN SYRIA NO WORSE THAN OTHERS’ Dmitry Babich SPECIAL TO RBTH
ormer U.S. President Jimmy Carter got it exactly right in his recently published plan for the future of Syria when he called those involved in the peace process “proud nations that claim to want peace but refuse to cooperate with one another.” Carter’s statement didn’t single out just one of the players. He was referring to all the negotiatiors in the Syrian tragedy, including the United States, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Turkey. Indeed, the conflict in Syria, despite being a civil war, is one of the most“internationalized,”and all its foreign participants claim to be acting in the interests of peace and Syria’s prosperity. Almost none of these claims are sincere. Carter’s proposal suggests coordinating the actions of the“big five”outsiders in such a way that Russia and Iran would pressure President Bashar Assad, while the U.S., Turkey and Saudi Arabia would rein in the armed opposition, nudging both sides towards peace. In its main points, Carter’s plan coincides with the proposals of Russian PresidentVladimir Putin. One of the most disputed un-
knowns in the Syrian equation, however, is the “moderate opposition,” made up of groups involved neither in the barbarities of ISIS nor in the Syrian government’s heavy-handed military response to the insurgents. The United States and the E.U. seem to have put all their eggs into this particular basket, claiming at different times that its various factions — first the Syrian National Council, later the Syrian National Coalition and the Free Syrian Army — are “the only legitimate representatives of the Syrian people.” Russia’s position has its inconsistencies, too. “We are ready to support the patriotic Syrian opposition, in-
cluding the Free Syrian Army; we are ready to provide them with support from our air force,”Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said recently.“But we are denied the information of American experts on where the terrorists are and where we can find the patriotic opposition members.” Meanwhile, a lot of Russian military specialists and Duma deputies claim that the moderate Syrian opposition is a myth, arguing that this opposition has shown itself incapable of stemming the expansion of ISIS and is believed to survive only thanks to the support from the U.S. and the E.U. “I still don’t understand whom these émigré opposition guys rep-
resent,”said Semyon Bagdasarov, director of the Moscow-based Center for Middle East Studies and a former Duma deputy, noting that some of the opposition groups have their offices abroad. “If they don’t represent a real force in Syria, let them drink coffee in Ankara or Doha,” Bagdasarov said. However, the Russian Foreign Ministry’s actions seem to somewhat contradict this pessimistic view. Over the last three years, Sergei Lavrov has hosted several rounds of talks in Moscow between members of President Assad’s government and representatives of the secular opposition. The leaders of both the Syrian National Council and the Syrian National Coalition were invited to and visited Moscow, even though while in the Russian capital they showed their disagreement with Russia’s arms supplies to the Syrian government and with subsequent Russian strikes against what Moscow calls “terrorist-operated targets” in Syria. Assad, who visited President Putin in his Kremlin office in October, appeared to be much more in his element in Moscow than the Syrian opposition members. After Assad’s visit, commenting about the seeming contradictions in hosting meetings with
Then there’s Trump himself. Although the billionaire’s candidacy was orignally viewed as a joke, nobody’s laughing now. While odd-makers continue to mark him an outsider, the majority of Republican voters currently consider him the best candidate for the November 2016 election. Trump believes “Putin has eaten Obama’s lunch”on Ukraine. “Putin has no respect for our president whatsoever,”Trump told Fox News. “He’s got a tremendous popularity in Russia, they love what he’s doing, they love what he represents.” Earlier, at a press conference in Scotland, Trump said: “I’d get along very well with Vladimir Putin”. Of course, some U.S. allies in Europe might be alarmed at a putative President Trump’s warm feelings towards Russia. This doesn’t seem to bother the candidate, who doesn’t have much sympathy for the Europeans. European leaders, Trump said, are “dealing with Russia, they’re taking in the gas, they’re taking in the oil. And you know, we’re making a big deal out of it.” Trump also believes that Crimea is Europe’s problem and that the U.S. has no role to play. in the territorial dispute. In aggregate polling, only Ben Carson presently threatens Trump. Hailing from economically moribund Detroit, the gifted neurosurgeon is no foreign policy expert. In March, he told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt that“we need to convince
such diverse figures, Lavrov said: “Russia never refuses to talk and never declares negotiations impossible.” The foreign minister added that Moscow would be happy to see new parliamentary and presidential elections in Syria and said that any peace settlement should be founded on the basis of the Geneva Communiqué of 2012. When it was signed, that now half-forgotten document was praised by the U.N.’s peace negotiator for Syria, Lahdar Brahimi. In Brahimi’s words, it represented a shared view of Russian and American officials on the Syrian problem and presupposed a regulated political transition in Syria — basically what President Carter is suggesting now. By meeting both Assad and the opposition members, as well as hitting the terrorist targets in Syria in a much more effective (or at least more spectacular) way than the U.S.-led coalition, Russia has put itself right in the middle of the Syrian intrigue. Many view it not as a problem, but as a solution. And this is not just a Russian opinion. For example, Iraqi parliamentary deputies this week began to collect signatures on a petition to ask Russia to strike at ISIS positions on Iraqi territory. Certainly every outside player in the Syrian tragedy has its share of problems and its share of skeletons in the closet. But Russia’s share in this case is certainly no bigger than the shares of any of the others, and what Moscow has to offer should at least be given serious consideration. Dmitry Babich is a political analyst at Sputnik radio.
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(the Baltics) to get involved in NATO,” seemingly unaware that Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania were already members. Obviously, the Kremlin would prefer that Carson were right.
On the other hand While the Republican field is incredibly competitive, Clinton’s only realistic rival for the Democratic nomination appears to be Bernie Sanders, the 74-year-old senator from Vermont. A selfstyled “democratic socialist,” he has been a consistent critic of U.S. foreign policy, and has described the N.S.A. as being “out of control.”While that might suggest he is more amenable to Russian interests than Clinton, he has strongly supported Obama’s policy of sanctions against Russia. Of course, current positions are based only on opinion polls. The real voting doesn’t start until February, when both Democrats and Republicans will begin their primary season.This time eight years ago, Hillary Clinton was almost 30 percentage points ahead of Barack Obama, according to Gallup, but we all know that Obama later took the Democratic nomination and eventually the presidency. At the same time, former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani enjoyed an average 12-point lead at the top of Republican polls over actor Fred Thompson. Ultimately, John McCain was selected. If Russia’s leaders could vote, they’d probably back Trump for the Republicans and anybody but Clinton on the Democrat ticket. The Kremlin’s worst nightmare would be a Clinton-Rubio battle. In such a contest, Russia would make a convenient whipping boy for their foreign policy tussles. Worryingly for Moscow, ClintonRubio remains far more likely than Trump or any Democrat alternative to Clinton. Russia could easily find itself used as the electoral bogeyman du jour. It could be a long year. Bryan MacDonald is a Moscowbased Irish journalist who focuses on Russia’s role in international geopolitics.
CONVERTING M O N O LO G U E S I N TO D I A LO G U E
RUSSIA DIRECT IS A FORUM FOR EXPERTS AND SENIOR RUSSIAN AND INTERNATIONAL DECISIONMAKERS TO DISCUSS, DEBATE AND UNDERSTAND ISSUES IN GEOPOLITICAL RELATIONS AT A SOPHISTICATED LEVEL.
RUSSIA’S NEW STRATEGY IN THE MIDDLE EAST Russia’s military intervention in Syria has the potential to shift the long-term geostrategic outlook for the Middle East. With that in mind, this new RD report takes a closer look at why Russia got involved in Syria, elaborates on the characteristics of a more proactive Russian foreign policy in the Middle East, and weighs the potential risks and rewards of Russian involvement in the conflict.
RUSSIA BEYOND THE HEADLINES
MOST READ The American Pop Culture Trends Russians Love rbth.com/535713
Section sponsored by Rossiyskaya Gazeta, Russia www.rbth.com
Theater Playwright draws on Russian’s work
INTERVIEW OLGA PERETYATKO
Echoes of Chekhov in Sam Shepard
CATCH THE PERIPATETIC RUSSIAN SOPRANO OLGA PERETYATKO IN THE ROLE OF GILDA IN “RIGOLETTO” AT THE METROPOLITAN OPERA
The work of the avant-garde American has much in common with that of the iconic Russian, despite the distinct differences in time and place.
THROUGH NOV. 19.
OLIVER BENNET SPECIAL TO RBTH
There are many similarities in the work of Russian writer Anton Chekov and American playwright Sam Shepard, whose play “Fool for Love” opened this fall on Broadway for the first time, although Shepard may not care to admit it. Shepard recently said about Chekhov that he was “not crazy about him as a playwright,” but the two share a desire to explore the themes of property, family and the past.
The Free Bird of the Opera Stage
Why did you decide to train as a conductor? I entered the conservatory when I was 15, which was a bit early for vocal training. But already then I knew that my life would be connected to music. The fundamental training I received in choral conducting, the basic music training, helps me a lot in my work, as do my piano skills, and the knowledge of the laws of harmony and a solid footing in solfeggio. At the age of 21, you moved to Berlin. Did you find living abroad difficult? The key thing is to become part of the European way of life. At first, it was very hard. I had arrived with practically no knowledge of [German] whatsoever. I entered the conservatory and enrolled in German classes. It was only after the first eight months
When did you have your first serious performances? When I was studying in Berlin. My first serious director, my first serious project — a youth one, of course — came in 2004, with Harry Kupfer. We performed Handel in German, only young singers. For two months, we had rehearsals in a castle not far from Berlin, and gave performances. I recently came across a DVD with a recording from that time and thought:“Dear God, I hope no one else will see this!”From the vocal point of view, it was just baby talk. After three years at the conservatory, I decided that it was time to search for further programs. I realized that there was no point in sitting there for six years and I took part in a lot of auditions for opera studios, for different internship programs. Every theater has one, especially now, during a crisis: young singers, often very good, who cost very little. Theaters get good voices practically for free. Whereas we already had
T R AV E L 2 M O S C O W. C O M
Accomm historic odation in the capital center of the R h u conside as dropped in ssian price rably ov year. N er the p o of the r w, a room with ast u towers by stars of the a view or over River em the Mos Kremlin cow b a nkme reasona ble than nt is more in years it’s bee . n
some money and stage experience. I had a serious job at the Hamburg State Opera, where I sang for two years. In the summer of 2006, I attended Accademia Rossiniana in Pesaro, and in 2007, I performed Desdemona with Juan Diego Florez. Also in 2007, I sang the part of a flower maiden in Daniel Barenboim’s production of “Parsifal.” Between those two performances, I took the night train to Paris to take part in Operalia and straight afterwards, literally on the next day, went to Pesaro. I was completely exhausted by then because a human body cannot operate under so much pressure for long. My body told me: enough. I think that I made my breakthrough at Pesaro. Since then I have been freelancing, so I am a free agent. Would you like to be associated with one theater company? No. If life gives you an opportunity to be a free bird, you should use it. When you sing in one theater company, you have to sing all the parts that you are given. Usually, singers go for this option at the end of their careers, when they are tired of traveling all over the world all the time. Or once they start a family and realize that it is no longer possible to move from one country to another every three days. Are audiences in different countries in any way different? Not particularly. In America, they like everything and are not very demanding. They are also very responsive, they laugh out loud, like
Shepard’s play“The Curse of the Starving Class”was described by one critic upon its 1978 premiere as“‘The Cherry Orchard’ returning as farce.”Shepard sets his play in an American country house with an avocado orchard that is being bought up by dubious property developers and lawyers to be turned into low-rent housing. The constant references to the orchard suggest that Shepard is quite deliberately calling Chekhov’s play to the audience’s mind. In both plays, as the critic Stephen Bottoms said, “the family home is invaded.” In Shepard’s play, the house is literally disintegrating; the father has drunkenly smashed the front door down, which allows the property lawyer and creditors to come in easily. A diseased lamb even starts to live in the sitting room, and at the end of the play, instead of the sound of the tree struck by the axe, as in the Cherry Orchard, we hear a car exploding outside. Chekhov has his sympathetic usurper, Lopakhin, inside the house from the beginning. He is the first person the audience sees. The owners return, only to be
WHERE TO SEE HER THROUGH NOV. 19 GILDA IN “RIGOLETTO,” Metropolitan Opera, New York NOV. 30 – DEC. 26 GILDA IN “RIGOLETTO,” Teatro Real, Madrid DEC. 31 OPERA GALA, New Year’s Eve Concert, Shanghai
in a cinema, theater or at a Broadway musical; you almost get the feeling they may have brought their popcorn with them. In Germany, the audiences are the most savvy of all: There are 80 theaters there, they have heard and seen everything, so it is hard to surprise them. In Austria, people are just very fond of music. In France, they have sophisticated tastes, they want to hear less known or rarely performed pieces … The French are very sophisticated listeners, true aesthetes. You have already performed on the world’s main opera stages. Do you have any dreams left? The main thing is to have good health. All the rest will come. As for dreams … I don’t have dreams, I have plans. My schedule is full ’til 2020. Although I do probably have one dream: I would like to do a joint project with an electronic band, like Air. I don’t yet know what we could do together, but I would like it very much. Prepared by Oleg Krasnov
The Russian ruble has lost around 40 percent of its value against the U.S. dollar over the course of the last 12 months. The decrease has made many products and services cheaper p for foreign g visitors to Russia.
slowly sidelined. This external march of progress is set against a kind of stasis in the lives of the families. Chekhov shows the old Russian aristocracy, especially in the figure of Lyubov Andreyevna, struggling to adapt to being pushed out of their home by the nouveau riche. “The Curse of the Starving Class” is, according to Shepard scholar James A. Crank, “a reimagining of ‘The Cherry Orchard,’” but in the context of the United States in the 1970s, and perhaps more cruel and savage
The constant references to the orchard suggest that Shepard is quite deliberately recalling Chekhov. as a result; we are watching poor people and even animals fighting over space.
Ghosts among us For both playwrights, the home is a battleground, with the attacks coming not just from outsiders but also from within the family itself. This family civil war is waged over the past, which is represented by problematic father figures for both authors. In“Fool for Love,” the father is a ghost wandering around the stage, haunting the present. The ghost of the father says “You can’t betray me! You gotta represent me! You’re my son!” Fathers are also notably absent in Chekhov, and often the family is sent into turmoil by the removal of this traditional authority figure. The death of the father in “The Cherry Orchard” seems to have precipitated the family’s decline; he is a symbol of a past that cannot be recaptured. Shepard’s fathers may not be remembered with such fondness, but their influence is significant.
Did you dream of becoming a singer since you were a small child? No! I dreamed of becoming a ballerina. We lived in St. Petersburg, not far from the famous Vaganova ballet school. My father sang in the choir of the Mariinsky Theater, and they all knew each other, visited each other at home. I began to sing at the age of four, at family gatherings, standing on a chair. I always enjoyed performing for an audience. I still do.
that I began to feel more or less human again. Then, you develop a certain enthusiasm. We invented various odd jobs for ourselves: We set up a quartet and gave little concerts in hospitals and hospices. We performed mainly Bach, Mozart, Handel — that which is easy to play. I will never forget: I had 10 euros a week to spend on food. I didn’t have a spare 30 cents to buy a coffee from a machine. Experience like this teaches you a lot.
A more savage orchard?
On a recent visit to Russia, soprano Olga Peretyatko spoke with RBTH about her life abroad, audiences in different parts of the world and making it as a free agent in the world of opera.
“Fool for Love” runs through Dec. 13 at Manhattan Theatre Club.
Restaurants Average cost per person of a meal in a nice restaurant.
Taxis Average cost of getting to or from the airport
Rent a car Average price per kilometer for using Moscow’s car-sharing system, which began operating in September.
City tours Average price of group tour showing the major sites of the city center.
The Bolshoi Theater Tickets to see the world-famous Bolshoi Ballet will set you back less than a visit to Times Square.
* Source: Federal State Statistics Service of Russia, Jones Lang LaSalle Incorporated, 2GIS. Prices are calculated at the exchange rate on Oct. 7,.2015
RUSSIA BEYOND THE HEADLINES Section sponsored by Rossiyskaya Gazeta, Russia
MOST READ Laika: The Space Dog Who Inspired the World rbth.com/536425
History The necropolis on Red Square features a number of well-known foreign communists, although their tombs are often overlooked
These Americans are More Than Another Brick in the Kremlin Wall Few people know that a several American labor leaders have their final resting place in Moscow, just behind the iconic tomb of Vladimir Lenin. ALEXANDER BRATERSKY
© GALINA KMIT / RIA NOVOSTI
© VASLERY MELNIKOV / RIA NOVOSTI
© ANATOLY GRANIN / RIA NOVOSTI
To get to Lenin’s Tomb, still one of Moscow’s biggest tourists draws, visitors must wind their way past the graves of numerous figures from Soviet history. They include such political heavyweights as Josef Stalin, Leonid Brezhnev and Yury Andropov. Marshal Georgy Zhukov, who lead the Soviet Union to victory in World War II, and cosmonauts Yury Gagarin and Vladimir Komarov are also buried there. In addition to these luminaries from Russia’s Communist past, there are more than a dozen European and American communist figures buried in the Kremlin Wall. Unlike their illustrious neighbors, they are a motley crew of intellectuals, revolutionaries and at least one fugitive from justice. The most famous of them is John Reed, author of “Ten Days that Shook the World,” the bestknown account of the Bolshevik revolution. A journalist who fled to Russia in 1917, Reed died of typhus in Moscow in 1920. The story of Reed, a stylish but controversial icon, and his wife Luisa Bryant was the subject of the 1981 Warren Beatty film “Reds.” Not far from Reed are the ashes of his political rival, Charles Emil Ruthenberg. A native of Ohio, Ruthenberg was a popular leader of the left wing of the American Socialist party and the American labor movement who took part in radical protests against the government and spent numerous stints in jail for inciting riots. He died in 1927 in Chicago, but his remains were brought to Moscow and buried in the Kremlin wall by his comrades. While Reed and Ruthenberg are respected figures by many Americans on the radical left, another who shares their burial place might not be so welcomed, even posthumously. He is William Dudley Haywood. A giant man known as Big Bill, Haywood was once a leader of Industrial Workers of the World and took part in several violent conflicts with federal authorities. In 1918, he was accused of spying against the United States and was put on trial. While on bail, he escaped to Soviet Russia and became an advisor to the Bolshevik government. But Big Bill did not find a place in his beloved Soviet Union. Missing his native country, he began to drink heavily and died in 1928. According to his wishes, following his death, Haywood’s ashes were divided. Half were buried in the Kremlin wall and half at the site of the Haymarket Martyr’s Monument in Chicago. The site commemorates a bombing that took place
© M. FILIMONOV / RIA NOVOSTI
SPECIAL TO RBTH
1. The works of journalist John Reed in English and Russian; 2. Italian actor Franco Nero plays John Reed in the film “Red Bells”; 3. The film “Ten Days That Struck the World” showing at the Theater on Taganka in Moscow, 1965; 4. A Soviet flag waves near the entrance to Red Square, where tourists line up to visit the Kremlin necropolis.
during a labor movement demonstration in 1886. The incident is considering the origin of May Day and one of the most significant events in the American labor movement.
Charles Ruthenberg died in 1927 in Chicago, but his remains were brought to Moscow and buried in the wall. Rest in peace? In 1994, Reed’s nephew, John Reed II, asked President Boris Yeltsin to help move the remains of his uncle to his hometown of Portland, Ore. but got no response. American Sovietologist Theodore Karasik, who is also a na-
tive of Portland, said that it’s unclear what Reed would have wanted. “As usual, there are always two or more sides to a story,”Karasik told RBTH.“John Reed, although an Oregonian by birth, belongs in the Kremlin necropolis. His biography, especially from a historical point of view, rests in Russia.”But he noted that Oregon has a history of accepting Russian emigres.“From Old Believers to Soviet exiles to current Russian transplants, Oregon is a duplicate of various layers of Russian society. So perhaps Reed’s remains belong in the Beaver State.” For the moment, there is no movement to remove anyone from the Kremlin, not even Lenin himself. Although President Boris Yeltsin suggested burying the Bol-
shevik leader in the 1990s, President Vladimir Putin has made it clear that he is not interested in doing so, despite calls from some government officials. A former senior member of the
It’s still possible to pay a visit to these revolutionaries and lay flowers at their graves, though few do so. now-defunct Canadian Communist party, who did not want to give his name because of his current position, said:“Nobody seems interested in changing the Kremlin landscape right now. They are part of the Kremlin, its history, its mystique. Why move them?”
It’s still possible to pay a visit to these revolutionaries and lay flowers at their graves, although few do so. Historian Stanislav Kuvaldin said that the main problem is that despite its location, the Kremlin necropolis is not actually very well known.“It exists outside the Moscow city culture map,”he said.“There are no books about this cemetery and there is a lack of language to tell about the cemetery where the likes of John Reed,Yury Gagarin, Leonid Brezhnev and Maxim Gorky are buried,” said Kuvaldin. Kuvaldin said that the cemetery would become less controversial if it were part of the city’s “cultural code” and a tourist attraction.“With that, maybe those rumors about its liquidation will stop,” he said.
Workers of the World Unite! Americans are not the only revolutionary expats inside the Kremlin wall. Britons, Hungarians, Germans and Australians are also interred there. One of the most famous among them is German Communist party ideologist Clara Zetkin, best known for her role in creating March 8, International Women’s Day. Another is Sen Katayama, one of the founding members of the Japanese Communist Party. Katayama’s writings are still popular in Japan, but a Moscow-based diplomat said he had never heard of any attempts to repatriate Katayama’s remains.
PRESS FROM THE PAST
Cheap Entertainment and Import Substitution WAR TAX ON THEATER TICKETS URALSKY LISTOK, OCT. 24, 1915
The Ministry of Finance has submitted for consideration by the Council of Ministers a plan to establish a special war tax on tickets for entrance to public spectacles and amusements. The tax will be levied by the Office of Empress Maria in its interest. AT THE POST OFFICE CHERNOZYOM, OCT. 25, 1915
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 worried about the effects of popular entertainment on children and debated the future of Russian technology. Prepared by Tatiana Shilovskaya
and blessed is he who has no need to go there.
The new building for the Central Post Office in Penza has been the talk of the town for the past 10 years, but the common man’s dream has never been fulfilled. To visit the post office means to sustain an attack. When you need to come to some window in the office, you are clenched from all sides. And, drowning in your own sweat and that of others, you can breathe a sigh of relief only in the street. Since the beginning of the war, when the number of post office visitors has increased, to conduct postal business is a real ordeal
CRAFTSMEN AND TELEPHONES MOSKOVSKY LISTOK, OCT. 26, 1915
The telephones for the needs of the post office and telegraph offices have mainly been acquired abroad. The question has now arisen about the possibility of producing telephones using local craftsmen. As an experiment, orders for telephones have been placed to the craftsmen of Sergiyev Posad. If these are successfully carried out, tests will be undertaken to produce equipment for the telegraph.
lin dramas, though there is an occasional marvelous film, such as the most recent picture based on Turgenev —“The Song of Triumphant Love.”
In case of an increase, 2,000 rubles for every extra 50 people, additionally. The concession term is 10 years.
AVIATION COURSE OPENS
IN THE SOCIETY OF PETERSBURG WOMEN LAWYERS
RUSSKIYE VEDOMOSTI, OCT. 30, 1915
BIRZHEVYE VEDOMOSTI, NOV. 2, 1915
The Imperial Aviation Technical School has opened a theoretical course. An opening lecture was presented by one of the professors, who told the audience about the history of the teaching of aviation, described the work of pilots and noted the benevolent attitude of Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich to aviation.
Recently there has been noted an increased demand for women lawyers. As a result of this, the society of St. Petersburg women lawyers is planning to open a labor office to open communications between women lawyers and people seeking to hire such people. Currently in St. Petersburg, there are over 200 women who have graduated from law faculties.
FILMS AND CHILDREN CHERNOZYOM, OCT. 25, 1915
NEWSPAPERS ON THE TRAM
A very sad phenomenon can be observed at film theaters on holidays. Children, from two-yearolds to those of student age, sit around every family head and his wife and watch harrowing dramas. What will the modern film repertoire give them? Due to the lack of scientific films, movie theaters fill their repertoires with maud-
GORODSKOI VESTNIK, NOV. 1, 1915
FREE DISTRIBUTION OF WINE
The Petrograd Trade Department has suddenly received a new source of income. A civil engineer offered the city to give him the exclusive right to sell newspapers in the cars of the city’s railways. For receiving the concession, the entrepreneur is obliged to pay the city 20,000 rubles a year for a staff of 2,000.
MOSCOVSKY LISTOK. NOV. 8, 1915
Many owners of vodka distilleries and wine warehouses distribute free wine and vodka products to their employees, which then re-sell these to other people. A question was raised about passing a law banning the free distribution of alcoholic beverages.
FROM PERSONAL ARCHIVES
WHAT THE RUSSIAN PAPERS WROTE ABOUT IN THE LAST DAYS OF THE EMPIRE
Published on Nov 11, 2015
Published on Nov 11, 2015
In this issue: : Last words from doomed flight; Russian and U.S. forces in Syria hold joint practice; Siberian lakes hint at major climate p...