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Russian student lurned by IS A woman has been charged with terrorism for alleged links to the Islamic State

Bolshoi superstitions Costoms and traditions around the theatre’s illustrious costumes

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Thursday, November 26, 2015

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November 28 - December 4, 2015

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Russia accepts the reality of climate change PARIS SUMMIT WILL BE PIVOTAL FOR MOSCOW’S DIRECTION ON CLIMATE

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RUSSIA BEYOND THE HEADLINES

News

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GLOBAL COOPERATION

Russian PM urges cooperation against terror

the multilateral trade system and they should not disrupt the already stable economic ties.”

Russian economy stable

DMITRY ASTAKHOV / TASS

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev presents the Phillipines with a bronze bear sculpture.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has called on APEC members to act to combat terrorism. “We must fight terrorism together,”Medvedev said, at the APEC 2015 summit in Manila this month.“And combating terrorism will require joint, coordinated and truly concerted action,” he said. “The terror act which brought down the plane [in Sinai] and the attack in

Paris have markedly sharpened the political agenda,” the Prime Minister continued. “War has been declared on the whole civilised world. The threat is global and, unfortunately, it’s real. In this context, the stance of some Western countries right now is difficult to understand.”

Supporting multilateral trade

The Russian prime minister indirectly hit out at the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP). “Trade rules should be universal,” he said, without naming the TPP. Medvedev spoke in favour of a multilateral trade system.“We believe that all preferential trade agreements within the framework of APEC… are very important but nevertheless they should not substitute

The Russian prime minister said the country’s economy and the financial sector are quite stable despite falling oil prices, a weaker ruble and western sanctions. “The weakening of the ruble allows foreign investors to buy Russian assets at lower prices, and many take advantage of this,” Medvedev said, according to RT.com Medvedev said the volume of direct investment into the Russian economy from the Asia-Pacific region was worth about $10 billion, according to the report. APEC countries are working to increase investment, actively establishing funds, he said, citing China and South Korea.

Bear diplomacy Medvedev presented a 530-kilogram bronze sculpture of a bear to the Philippines, TASS reported. The bear was placed in the park of sculptures in Manila, according to the report.

TECH

Russian startup recognised in EU

PRESS PHOTO

Astro Digital, a startup created by Yekaterina Kotenko-Lengold, won second place in the startup competition at Slush, which is a major event in northern Europe for innovators and developers interested in attracting international investors. “I’ve always been interested in the space industry and wanted to apply space technology to everyday life,”Katya told RBTH. Astro Digital is a platform for accessing satellite data that provides easy, quick search and integration of satellite photographs into web and mobile applications. Developers believe there can be a demand for such technology, especially from farmers and forest owners. Astro Digital is run by

Astro Digital founder Yekaterina Kotenko-Lengold.

an international team of experts from Russia and the US, and the startup’s head office is located at Nasa’s Ames Research Park in California. Traditionally, satellite im-

agery has been used by big corporations and governments. Only recently new solutions have become widely available. Astro Digital’s main competitive advantage is simplicity; infor-

mation is taken from numerous sources and then adapted to customer needs. “Our key clients are coming from agriculture and disaster management, but products can be used for many other purposes,’’ said Kotenko-Lengold.“For example, authorities could monitor waste on building roofs, which is a serious problem for many developing counties.” “Katya’s combines satellite photographs of the Earth with an IT component,” remarked Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology (Skoltech) director, Edward Crawley. “Skoltech’s space strategy is to use low Earth orbit possibilities to improve people’s lives and health, and the planet in general.”

MEPhI jumps IN BRIEF 60 places to New plan for reach top 40 trade zone for physics Moscow and Singapore MEPhI is ranked 36th for Physics in the Times Higher Education World Top 100 rankings. GLEB FEDOROV RBTH

The National Research Nuclear University (MEPhI) jumped almost 60 places to get the 36th rank in the Times Higher Education World Top 10 0 Rankings for Excellence in the Physical Sciences for 2015-16. The university was in 95th place in the 20142015 rankings. The Lomonosov Moscow State University (MSU) and the Novosibirsk State University (NSU) also made it to the top 100 rankings this year. MSU fell from 56th to 59th rank from last year, while NSU dropped one place to 86th. “Russia has maintained its strong performance for the physical sciences subjects,” Phil Baty, Times Higher Education World University Rankings Editor told RBTH. He described MEPhI’s progress as “a remarkable achievement and something to be celebrated”. Oxford and Cambridge universities were the only non-U.S. institutions ranked in the top 10. Earlier this year, the Russian Ministry of Education said that Russian universities would aim to rise in international subject-based rankings, rather than institutional ones. Russian Vice Premier Olga Golodets told reporters in October that this was due to “a different organisation structure” of Russian institutions. “You’ll hardly find universities in other countries that only teach medicine,” Golodets said. “In Russia, most medical institutes and universities are standalone institutions.” Being highly specialised, many Russian universities find it hard to rise in institutional rankings, since they are competing with Western universities, which tend to have many faculties.

are starting consultations to create a free trade zone between the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) and Singapore, First Deputy Prime Minister of Russia Igor Shuvalov told media after an intergovernmental commission meeting held in Moscow in mid November.

Indonesian ties growing Russia and Indonesia are aiming to double their bilateral trade to $10 billion by 2018, Sergei Rossomakhov, Russia’s Trade Representative in Indonesia told media. “We are aiming at high figures of the trade turnover,” Rossomakhov told. Indonesian food producers are keen to export to Russia, while Russian companies would like to supply Indonesia with machinery, technical products, and also set up manufacturing facilities.

SOCIETY

Putin’s image in Asia-Pacific The policies of Russian President Vladimir Putin have more support in Vietnam, China and India than elsewher, according to a recent survey, conducted by PEW in 40 nations this March.

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G20 summit What were the key conversations and announcements in Antalya involving Russia?

Russia’s main concerns at G20 RBTH summarises the key issues concerning Russia that were discussed at the 2015 G20 summit in Antalya, Turkey, this month.

in the fight against terrorism are very close, but differences remain on tactics.

ALEXEY TIMOFEYCHEV

Gazprom chief Alexei Miller said in Antalya that the Turkish Stream project, involving the delivery of Russian gas to Turkey via a pipeline beneath the Black Sea, could be implemented in a very short period once a corresponding intergovernmental agreement is signed. However, in July, Russian media reported that the project had been frozen by Gazprom due to disagreements with the Turkish side over the cost of Russian gas. Ankara insists on a 10-percent discount. The Russian authorities have denied reports the project has been scrapped. In Antalya, Miller attributed the possibility of the prompt implementation of Turkish Stream to the fact

1. Meeting between Putin and Obama Russian PresidentVladimir Putin and his US counterpart Barack Obama spoke about half an hour ahead of the G20 Leaders’ Sessions. According to Putin’s aide Yury Ushakov, they discussed the situation in Syria and Ukraine, with more attention being given to the situation in Syria. Responding to a question on whether the leaders of the Russian Federation and the United States had managed to make progress in reconciling their positions on Syria, the Russian official pointed out that Russia and the United States’ strategic objectives

REUTERS

RBTH

2. Turkish Stream gas project still alive

The presidents of Russia and the US at the G20 summit.

3. Ukraine-EU association agreement The issue of the entry into force of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement was discussed“quite extensively” during talks between the leaders of Russia and Germany on the sidelines of the G20 summit, said Russian presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov. “Unfortunately, our contacts with the Europeans and the Ukrainians are not bringing the desired results and the consequences of the entry into force of this agreement still remain negative. Attempts to discuss these issues have not been successful,” he said. Moscow has repeatedly stated that in its present form the association agreement harms Russian economic interests. On October 30, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said that in response to the agreement’s entry into force that the Russian Federation would increase“customs and tariff protection regarding Ukraine” from January 1, 2016.

that its route is 70 per cent identical to the route of the abandoned South Stream pipeline (intended to supply Russian gas to Central Europe via the Balkans – RBTH), where the necessary research had already been carried out. According to Energy

Minister Alexander Novak, the implementation of Turkish Stream was discussed on the sidelines of the summit by Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan. According to Novak, the work on an intergovernmental agreement will continue.

No excuse for any disunity between Russia and West after terrorist attacks

low level of trust between the sides. However, closer coordination between the sides concerning those who certainly should be bombed has already begun. The fact that immediately after Putin’s statement the Russian air force launched an attack on what is basically the Islamic State capital, Raqqa, is proof of this.

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IN BRIEF Victory Day motor rally visits Thailand On November 15-16, members of the We Remember and Take Pride international motor rally made a stop in Bangkok.The event is taking place within the annual Great Silk Road expedition project and is dedicated to the 70th Victory Day Anniversary in the Great Patriotic War. Before coming to Thailand the motor rally had visited Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Laos, Cambodia, having travelled 17,000 kilometres, the main part of the route. The way b a c k , w h i c h i s planned by New Year’s, will take them through Nepal, India and Iran.

China buys 24 Sukhoi-35 jets

EXPERT

GEORGY BOVT ANALYST

A

fter recognising that a terrorist act was responsible for bringing down the Russian passenger airliner in Egypt, Russian President Vladimir Putin affirmed that“What Russia is doing in Syria is right”. Revenge for the

deaths of the 224 passengers has now become a matter of national principle. It is unlikely that this will become a reason to immediately cut air communication with other countries (as was done with Egypt) that pose a significant terrorist threat. This extreme measure will be implemented only in the case of a more dangerous escalation

of terrorism. Concerning Syria, the expected and already announced increase in the number of strikes on terrorist targets will not lead to a Russian ground operation in the country. A single anti-terrorist front will also not be formed, for now. Yet coordination between Moscow and the West after the terrorist acts in Paris and the G20 summit

in Turkey, where the subject matter was discussed in a new context, will doubtlessly intensify. Moscow is, therefore, bound to increase the number of air strikes on the Islamic State (IS) positions but will refrain from striking forces belonging to the Free Syrian Army, which the West considers the “moderate opposition”. However, the West has still not given Moscow a list of sites controlled by the so-called “moderate” opposition so that Russia does not bomb them. This, unfortunately, demonstrates the extremely

What might the aims have been of the terrorists behind the Sinai air disaster

Russia’s national drink isn’t vodka — it’s tea.

Russia to launch trading of new oil class in rubles.

Economic crisis could send Russia’s labor migrants home

The Romanovs in the eyes of their closest attendants

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rbth.com/537869

The author is a political analyst and member of the Council on Foreign and Defence Policy, an independent Moscow-based think tank.

REUTERS

China has bought 24 Sukhoi-35 (Flanker-E+) fighter jets from Russia, Sergey Chemezov, the head of the Russian state-owned hightech company Rostec, told media. The deal is believed to be worth than $2 billion, with each jet being sold for $83 million. Several countries have shown interest in the advanced multipurpose aircraft, but China becomes the first foreign buyer of the fighter jets. The Russian Air Force has a fleet of 36 Flanker-E+ jets at the moment.

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Tourism Flight ban will bring losses

OPINION POLL

Flight ban to Egypt will deal a heavy blow to tour agencies

per cent of Russians think the crash will not have consequences, according to the Russian Public Opinion Study Centre.

47 41 

per cent expect the crash to have consequences, with 25 per cent thinking them to be serious.

15 AP

per cent mentioned stricter security checks and controls of aircraft as potential consequences.

Egypt was one of the most popular holiday destinations for Russian tourists.

ANNA KUCHMA RBTH

As Russian tourists are gradually transported home from Egypt following the deadly plane crash in the north of the Sinai Peninsula on October 31, fears are growing that the suspension on all flights from Russia to Egypt could have disastrous consequences for the Russian tourist industry.

Russia suspended all flights to Egypt on November 6 amid rising international concern that the Kogalymavia flight from the Red Sea resort of Sharm el Sheikh to St Petersburg, which crashed just 23 minutes into the flight with the loss of all 224 on board, was brought down by a bomb placed in the hold, that a terror act caused the crash was confirmed on November 17 by the Russian government. The Russians who are still in Egypt are being brought home separately from their luggage, which is being

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transported by Russian Emergencies Ministry aircraft. According to Rosturism (the Russian Federal Tourism Agency), Egypt is the most popular foreign destination for Russian tourists. In 2014, it accounted for some 30 per cent of all trips, or about 3 million people, said the vice-president of the Russian association of tour operators (ATOR), Dmitry Gorin.

Millions of losses Tour operators admit that they are already losing money on the flights that are now going to Egypt empty to bring Russian tourists back home. A c c o rd i n g t o A n n a Podgornaya from Pegas Turistik and Vladimir Vorobyev, president of Natali Tours, this means that they are losing half of the airfare on each empty seat. In other words, at an average price of a return ticket of $250, tour operators stand to lose a total of nearly $10 million. The situation is being further exacerbated by the losses generated by cancelled flights. According to ATOR calculations, some 70,000 holidays in Egypt have already been sold for the period before NewYear. At an average price of $800 per person, this will translate into losses of at least $56 million. Other potential losses include advance payments already made to Egyptian hotels. After last year’s wave of bankruptcies in the Russian tourist sector, advance payments were introduced by practically all hotels, said Podgornaya. Now tour operators will have to reach new deals with their local partners, promising the

same level of tourist traffic once flights are resumed.

Plane crash Terror attack in Sinai

Bankruptcy not for all The mass cancellation of trips to the most popular destination for Russian holidaymakers may mean bankruptcy for many tour operators, according to Irina Tyurina, press secretary of the Russian Tourist Industry Union. The only way out for them is to offer another destination to clients or persuade them to postpone their trips, she said. Alternative destinations could be Turkey, Cyprus and Asian resort destinations like Thailand. Some 20-30 per cent of clients have agree to a change of destination, Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich said on November 7. Alongside an alternative destination, travel agents are inviting their clients to keep the money they have already paid for their holiday as a deposit, as it were: to postpone their holiday and book another one in December or after the New Year break (if it turns out to be more expensive than Egypt, the client will have to pay the difference; if cheaper, the tour operator will return the difference). It is not yet clear for how long the suspension of flights to Egypt will last. On November 7, Dvorkovich said the ban will remain in place for at least several weeks, until an audit of security measures has been conducted and the necessary adjustments have been made. On November 8, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev instructed the government to develop a program aimed at supporting tour operators.

Experts suspect airport staff The head of Russia’s security service, the FSB, has announced that the cause of the plane crash in Egypt on October 31 was a terrorist attack. YEKATERINA SINELSCHIKOVA RBTH

Experts told RBTH, that there were several ways the explosive device could have been brought on board of the aircraft. Leonid Koshelyov, a board member of the Russian Association of Pilots and Aircraft Owners, does not rule out that the bomb could have been placed in the luggage. But if so, it is most likely that it got there after the luggage had been X-rayed at the airport, and it could have been planted by one of the staff, for instance, by a baggage handler, he said. After checking, the luggage from the belt reaches the baggage handlers, who put it on carts or in freight containers, deliver it to the airliner and unload it manually into the luggage compartment. After it is unloaded, no one re-examines it.“The plane has two luggage compartments – in front of the centre section and behind the centre section.The Airbus lost the tail, so it is most likely that the bomb was behind the centre section,” said Vadim Lukashevich, an independent expert of the Skolko-

REUTERS

Russia’s tourism industry may lose more than $50 million as a result of a flight ban imposed after the plane downing in Sinai.

Experts are not certain yet how the bomb was planted.

vo Foundation’s space cluster. It is also possible that a suicide bomber was responsible, though it is the least likely option in this case, according to Lukashevich. “A suicide bomber can get on board, carrying explosives on the body or in a variety of ingredients, which he mixes during the flight. But in this case, it is much more likely that the bomb was in luggage or in the luggage compartment, somewhere in the structure of the aircraft,” Lukashevich said in an interview with RBTH. However, if the terrorist had been a member of the airport personnel, they could have planted a bomb not only in the luggage compartment, but also in many other places on the airliner.


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Aviation Russia doesn’t want to be caught off guard by US sanctions

EXPERT

Mass production of long haul aircraft to be resumed

Prospects looking good for Thai-Russian commerce Sourat Rakhimbabaev

Russia has announced plans to restart production of its Il-96 airliner amid fears of possible US sanctions against the Russian air industry.

TRCC

I

ALEXANDER KOROLKOV RBTH

MARINA LYSTSEVA / TASS

Russia plans to resume mass production of the four-engine Ilyushin Il-96 aircraft, the Ilyushin Aviation Complex’s chief designer Nikolai Talikov told reporters in the central Russian city of Ulyanovsk on November 6. A year ago, the resumption of mass production of Russian long haul aircraft was out of the question; on the contrary, Aeroflot was removing the Il-96 from its fleet. In all, the airline had six Il-96-300s, which had been used since 1995. The air carrier attributed the decision to the ageing planes and their low economic efficiency. The aircraft were to be replaced by the American Boeing 747 – the very plane that the Il-96-300 was originally created to compete with in the post-Soviet era. However, in light of the political tensions between Russia and the US and the ongoing economic sanctions against Moscow over its role in the Ukraine conflict, the current dependence of the Russian air industry on Boeing and Airbus is seen as a potential weakness. The Il-96 was Russia’s first long-range wide-body passenger aircraft. The test flight from Moscow to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky and back without landing

05

The Il-96 can carry 300 passengers, using only seven tonnes of fuel for four engines.

in Petropavlovsk (a total of 9,200 miles) took 18 hours 9 minutes. Much attention was paid to the safety of flight-control systems. Its fly-by-wire control system is duplicated by the mechanical system, where all the efforts of the wheel and the pedals are transferred to the handlebars through cable runs, so that the pilot should be able to land the plane manually in case of failure of electronics. Pilots who flew these aircraft note their reliability and simplicity.“I landed the Il-96 six times with a simulated failure of all engines. It was the task of the chief designer. I can tell you that nothing like this was done on any foreign aircraft of this type,” the Il-96’s test pilot Anatoly Knyshov told RBTH.

His son, Sergei Knyshov, the Il-96’s youngest commander and a former Aeroflot pilot, agrees that the Il-96 is among the safest aircraft: “During all the years of its operation [since 1993], the Il-96 has never seen a plane crash,”he said. Yet despite its advantages, the plane became seen as inferior to its rivals from Boeing and Airbus and production was suspended in 2009. The move was largely seen in Russia as a result of efforts by the Western aircraft manufacturers’ lobbyists, and according to Anatoly Knyshov, made little economic sense: The Il-96’s per hour flight costs were $1,000 less than the Boeing 767-300ER’s. Over the years, interest in purchasing Russian-made long-haul aircraft was shown by Venezuela, Peru,

China and several countries in the Middle East. Some countries even signed the relevant agreements, but the Il-96 took off only in the Caribbean, including one Russian aircraft which was delivered to Cuba as a presidential plane. Now the airline Cubana de Aviación operates five of these planes, and its passengers highly appreciate flying on the planes of this type. “I had the opportunity to fly on one of these giants,” said Venezuelan Elio Pena Ramirez. “It is a safe and comfortable plane, I did not even feel it landing.” The Il-96 can carry 300 passengers, consuming only seven tonnes of fuel for four engines, while the Boeing carries 200 passengers and uses six tonnes for two engines.

n the middle of November, the Russian-Thai Business Council (RTBC) headed by chairman Ivan Polyakov carried out its first mission after its reorganisation. It presented 11 leading Russian companies interested in increasing bilateral contacts to Thai business circles. One of the most important events in the business mission was the consultation meeting at the Thai-Russian Chamber of Commerce (TRCC). TRCC members noted the big potential in the development of trade-economic relations between the two countries and determined the most promising areas in which the chamber of commerce plans to develop its activity: the supplies of fruit and vegetables, pork, poultry, seafood and rubber. The increase in Thai investment in Russian agriculture brings hope that if not in 2016 then in 2017 turnover between the two countries will double. In 2015 alone the CP Group has brought $680 million to the turnover between the countries by buying two leading poultry farms in Russia’s Northwestern Federal Area, Severnaya andVoyskovitsy. Moreover, CP Group’s Russian branches, which already own eight pig farms in six regions, are building another two large farms. The Sutech Engineer-

ing Company, another active member of the TRCC, is about to build a sugar factory in the Khabarovsk Territory that will process raw cane supplied from Thailand. This project will bring another $300 million to Thailand’s overall investments in Russia. In the course of the business meeting participants reviewed issues concerning trade and economy, investment, science, logistics and tourism. Polyakov said that the council is actively dealing with the question of wheat exports from Russia, the reduction of cooperation barriers in the banking sector, and the creation of joint enterprises in the energy and railway sectors, in which Russian companies have accumulated significant experience and are ready to participate in all tenders, whether state or private. The council also gives priority to the tourism industry. Thailand has long been one of the main holiday destinations for Russian tourists. Unfortunately, due to the fall of the ruble at the end of 2014, the number of Russians who have visited Thailand this year has drastically declined. In real terms, the number of Russian tourists fell from 1.7 million last year to almost half of that in 2015. However, the situation is gradually improving and there is hope that by the end of this year the number of Russian tourists will reach 1 million.

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Terrorism Russian woman stayed in touch with IS after a failed attempt to reach Syria

How model student was seduced by IS Varvara Karaulova, who was caught at the border between Turkey and Syria this spring, has been charged with terrorism. YEKATERINA SINELSCHIKOVA RBTH

TASS

The story of Moscow State University student Varvara Karaulova, who left home in an attempt to join the Islamic State (IS) radical militant group this summer and was caught at the Turkish border, has returned to the Russian headlines following her arrest and the start of court proceedings against for terrorism charges. A criminal case over the preparation for taking part in a terrorist organisation (punishable by up to 15 years in prison) was opened against the 19-year-old woman following her arrest in late October, and on November 10 she was charged with terrorism for attempt-

ing to join IS. According to media reports, the reason was the discovery of Karaulova’s correspondence with an IS militant, with whom she had allegedly fallen in love, and the suspicion that she might be a recruiter. Back in July 2015, after Karaulova had already returned to Russia, investigators said they had no case against her, questioned her as a witness, but did not detain her, arresting instead two Russians who had accompanied her on her attempt to join IS. Following the scandal, the student took a sabbatical and started a rehabilitation program. The incident caused widespread disbelief among the Russian public at the time, who struggled to understand how a straight-A student from a well-to-do family and an intellectual fluent in five languages become the vic-

Varvara Karaulova attends a court hearing in Moscow on October 28.

Karaulova a gifted student Varvara Karaulova has an impressive academic record. She has won national competitions and graduated from high school with honours before going on study at the Faculty of Philosophy’s Department of Cultural Studies at the prestigious MSU. Boys, fashionable clothing, cosmetics – none of this was for her.

tim of IS recruiters? Nonetheless, it appeared that the story had died down – until Karaulova’s arrest on October 28. Karaulova was returned to Russia almost immediately: Her father Pavel Karaulov had good connections in the FSB and the Russian Foreign Ministry. “She has a very broad vision, and the ability to learn languages has enabled her to explore primary sources, including in Arabic,” said Karaulov in an interview with RBTH.

That is why the appearance of the Koran in the house and her interest in Islam was not immediately noticed. In addition, alongside Islam she studied other religions. When Karaulova disappeared,“connections” helped – the trace led to Turkey. “When I was travelling there, one of the versions I had was that she was going on holiday to Turkey, in order to plunge into the range of interests of the Islamic world,” said her father. After Karaulova was detained by the Migration

Service alongside other Russians, it became clear that the trip had nothing to do with a holiday, though her father insists that her sole motive was“strong affection.” “This was the only boy, she has never had any other. And only virtual communication. It is almost obvious for us now that this person is a synthetic image, and its creation involved several people.” However, RBTH managed to learn from her classmates that, in reality, Karaulova did have a boyfriend; they attended a special course in Arabic together “until she dumped him”. After her failed escape, according to her father, Karaulova said, “Please, just take away everything from me. If necessary, I will ask.” No one in the family knew that Karaulova was continuing to correspond with her IS lover, her parents say. Her father sees the arrest as a “tragic mistake”. Based on his experience, the student’s former lawyer, Alexander Karabanov, admits that the young woman was probably the best candidate for the dissemination of IS ideas among similarly well-educated young people.

Extremism Lack of meaning in their lives may explain why youth join the IS

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

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GOING EASTWARD

Like many European states, Russia is encountering a new threat: Its citizens are travelling to the Middle East to join radical Islamic causes like Islamic State. OLEG YEGOROV RBTH

Varvara Karaulova’s story is not an isolated case. According to the FSB (Russia’s security service), in the course of the last year recruiters from religious extremist groups have been able to attract more than 1 700 Russian citizens into their ranks. Some experts say the number is much higher. The majority of Russian citizens that join the ranks of the extremists are people from the country’s Muslim republics but sometimes they are ethnic Russians. This is not a new phenom-

enon: There have been cases in which Russians fought on the side of Wahhabists even before the appearance of IS. For example, Said Buryatsky, one of the ideological leaders of the Caucasian terrorist underground at the end of the 2000s, was a Russian whose real name was Alexander Tikhomirov. Buryatsky was eliminated in 2010. And even as far back as the Soviet campaign in Afghanistan during the early 1980s there were documented cases of ethnic Russians converting to Islam and going over to the side of the Mujahideen to fight against their former comrades-inarms. As Georgy Mirsky, an expert on the Arab world and Doctor of Historical Sciences, pointed out to RBTH,

Russia is far from the only country whose young citizens are travelling to Syria and Iraq to join IS. “In the last month 1 733 people alone left France to join IS, and statistically, one-fifth of them did not

Russia is not the only country whose young citizens are travelling to Syria and Iraq to join IS come from Muslim families but were recruited,” said Mirsky, who pointed out that 30 per cent of the women joining IS were“still not Muslim until recently.” What is prompting young people, who grew up in secular western families, to change their outlooks so radically and join terrorist

groups like IS? Russian psychologist Pavel Ponomaryov is convinced that the problem lies in an existential crisis that many young people are experiencing. “If we speak about Karaulova, we will see that she tried to commit social suicide, that is, she attempted to completely delete herself from the society in which she lived and find a new identity in a different world,” said Ponomaryov. “Students and other young people are going through a crisis: Society is not giving them a chance to express themselves, [and is] imposing harsh restrictions. The intention to free oneself from this society and obtain everything and immediately in a different system is so great that people are ready to give their lives for it.”


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Education Thammasat opens The Russian and CIS Studies Centre

07

Social media Terrorism in Paris

Many Russians enraged by FB’s tricolour filter Some internet users have criticised those who have activated the tricolour filter on their avatars after the terrorist attacks in Paris of hypocrisy. IGOR ROZIN RBTH

The Thammasat University has opened The Russian and CIS Studies Centre to unite the university’s resources allocated for the study of Russia. IRINA VINOKUROVA RBTH

The Russian and CIS [Commonwealth of Independent States] Studies Centre, which opened in November, will unite the Russian studies programs that have been offered at Thammasat University for a long time, according to Assistant Professor Dr Supreedee Rittironk. The Thammasat University has had a Russian Studies and Russian Language program for 40 years. After her visit to the USSR in 1975 Her Royal Highness GalyaniVadhana, elder sister of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand, was left with a big impression of her jour-

ney and Russian culture in general and therefore decided that Thai students should have the opportunity to study the Russian language at home. Today, the Thammasat University is Thailand’s principal university in terms of the number of Bachelor students studying Russia and the Russian language. The university has optional Russian language courses for students as well as anyone who wishes to learn the language. More than 50 per cent of the students who intend to continue their studies in Russia through a Russian Federation grant are graduates of the Thammasat University. Since 2003, the Centre for Russian Studies in the university has been offering a Russian language program on a mother-tongue level, as well as courses in Rus-

sian literature, history and culture. Recently the Russian Department opened the Centre for Testing the Russian Language as a Foreign Language, the first in Thailand. All these resources will be united by The Russian and CIS Studies Centre, which, according to Rittironk, has also become the uniting “physical place” that will make it “easier to work closer” for Thai students of Russian subjects. On behalf of the university’s administration, Professor Somkit Lertpaithoon, Rector of Thammasat University, and Associate Professor Dumrong Adunyarittigun, Dean of the Faculty of Liberal Arts, participated in the centre’s opening ceremony. In their welcoming remarks, they noted the importance that the centre will have, not only for the university itself but also for

FROM PERSONAL ARCHIVES

A new dimension to Russian studies

relations between Russia and Thailand. Adunyarittigun even expressed his conviction that the centre will become one of the university’s “excellence centres”, which will conduct research and offer knowledge on Russia in various fields, including history, politics, economy, social studies, language and culture. Russian Ambassador to Thailand Kirill Barsky said that what is important is that the centre will concentrate not only on Russia but also on the CIS countries, which are closely tied to modern Russia in terms of history, culture and economy. In Barsky’s words, this will give future Thammasat graduates broader knowledge and broader opportunities in their careers. “The opening of The Russian and CIS Studies Centre strengthens the Thammasat University’s status as Thailand’s principal university in the preparation of experts on Russia and the Russian language,” noted the Ambassador.

Russian Internet users became engaged in a heated debate about the tricolour filter for profile pictures set up by Facebook to show solidarity with France after the deadly terrorist attacks that rocked Paris late on Friday, November 13. Some users have accused Facebook of double standards: No similar filters were set up either after the crash of the Russian A321 passenger airliner over Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, almost certainly the work of terrorists affiliated with Islamic State or after the terrorist attack in Beirut that took place the d ay b e fo re t h e Pa r i s attacks. The air disaster in Egypt claimed 224 lives, while 44 were killed in the bombing in Beirut. “I am looking at my Facebook feed and cannot understand why most of my friends are adding the French tricolour to their profile pictures… They did not do the same with the flag colours of Romania, Russia, Syria, Ukraine…,” wrote user Andrei Grigor. More cynical users saw the tricolour filter on profile pictures as more of a self-aggrandising act than a true gesture of support. “To make a show of mourning for the killed

French nationals is just as disgusting and unnatural as to grieve at the funeral of someone else’s grandfather, presenting oneself as the person most distressed by his death and being met with bewilderment from the deceased’s friends and disgust from his relatives. To mourn intensely and openly is only appropriate at the funeral of one’s nearest and dearest,”wrote user Vladimir Kozlovsky. Some users have even added a Russian tricolour filter to their profile pictures in protest “against Facebook’s double standards”. Meanwhile, others have replaced their profile pictures with the photo of“the most important passenger” (a picture of the youngest child killed in the Sinai crash that has gone viral in Russia). Users in the other camp insist that each person can decide for themselves how they want to show their support and grief and upgrading one’s profile picture is just one of the ways of doing so, and is no better or worse than many others. “There are surprisingly many of those who want to contrast the sympathy for the victims of yesterday’s terror attacks and solidarity with France on the one hand, with the grief for the A321 victims on the other. Tell me, is it not possible to combine both? Where is any contradiction here? Is it like two warring sides in a conflict?” wrote film producer Sam Klebanov.


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RUSSIA BEYOND THE HEADLINES

Special

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CLIMATE CHANGE COP21 SUMMIT THE 2015 PARIS CLIMATE CONFERENCE IS LIKELY TO BE PIVOTAL IN SHAPING MOSCOW’S RESPONSE TO THE CLIMATE CRISIS

HEAT IS ON TO MEET CLIMATE CHALLENGE GLEB FEDOROV RBTH

The largest flood in the history of Russia’s Black Sea coast killed 171 people in 2012. In just two days five months’ worth of rainfall hit the mountainous regions of the Krasnodarsky Territory, where rivers overflowed and mixed with mud flows to seriously damage settlements. In Krymsk, the most affected city, the water levels reached seven metres above normal. The flooding started in the early morning and took everyone by surprise. After the floods, the authorities were criticised because the city’s alarm system had failed in the disaster and the local storm sewer system and Adagum

riverbed were not prepared for such volumes. Three years later Russian and German researchers proved that there was another culprit: Climate change. In an article published in the July 2015 issue of Nature Geoscience, scientists linked the flood in Krymsk to the two-degree Celsius

St Petersburg is the only city to date to have a plan for adapting to climate change increase in temperatures of the Black Sea since 1984. This is an example of the scientific data showing the need for cities to prepare for the impact of climate change. But most Russian cities are not prepared. St Petersburg is the only city to date to have a plan for adapting to climate change.

AMERICA’S MOON LANDING Enthusiasts want to prove the veracity of America’s Moon landing rbth.com/50007

St Petersburg’s strategy, adopted this year, took four years to develop and was based on plans from Finland, Denmark, the UK and India. The strategy includes measures for mitigating risks and adapting to serious threats, especially floods. By 2100, sea levels in the Gulf of Finland may have risen by a metre and the city’s flood-protection systems may not work. Moscow, which suffered severe heat waves in 2010; the Far East, which in 2013 was struck by the heaviest flood in centuries; and the Arctic, which scientists say is losing territory at an alarming rate due to global warming and erosion, are all without plans for adapting to climate change. According to Greenpeace Russia’s energy expert Vladimir Chuprov, the federal plan for adapting to climate change which was adopted in 2011 exists only on paper. Its implementation was handed to the Ministry of Regional Development, which was later disbanded. Now the plan’s implementation is de facto in the hands of the regions themselves. The main difference between the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement, which will most likely be signed at the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference which starts on November 30 in Paris, is that the emphasis at the conference will not be on limiting emissions but on ways of adapting to the changing climate. The conference will be particularly relevant for Russia because its adaptation plans are only in the early stages. Alexei Kokorin, head of WWF Russia’s energy programme, thinks the conference’s focus will be on how

IN NUMBERS

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Seven out of the 10 warmest years in Russia since 1936 occurred in the 21st century. The warmest year was in 2007, when the temperature was 2.07 degrees Celsius higher than the average. From 1985 to 2014 the average temperature in Russia increased by 0.66C every 10 years.

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According to the Russian Federal Service for Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring, the average number of dangerous meteorological phenomena in the Russian Federation over the past 15 years has increased by about two to three times: from 150 in 1997 to 369 to 2012. This is thought to be a direct result of the increase in ocean temperatures.

POLLS

Climate change? What’s that? Awareness and understanding of the impending problem of climate change is lower than you might expect in Russia. According to the results of a public survey carried out in 2013, at the initiative of a working group in the presidential administration, just 54 per cent of the Russian population are aware of climate change. Of those, only a third believe it is being caused by the activities of humankind.

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Moscow recognises the enormous problem that climate change poses to humanity, but it is not yet prepared for the serious threats it is bringing.

the world’s leading economies will give more vulnerable countries resources for adapting to climate change, and the time frame for that to happen. Experts believe that the sum of the resources required will be about $100 billion by 2020. In other words, Kokorin thinks that Paris “is a 10 to 15-year pause in the real reduction of emissions, compensated by massive aid to weak countries”. Developed countries will try to lay the burden for adaptation on its private corporations, while the countries that are the most vulnerable to climate change will be given more resources. Since Russia is part of an intermediate group of countries (that is, developing countries that do not need financial aid but are not strong enough to be major donors themselves), the conference’s agenda will bypass Russia. Meanwhile, Russia will try to figure out how it can become part of the low-carbon global trend without damaging its economy, which is very dependent on traditional energy sources. The obligations that Moscow is ready to assume seem impressive: Russia is promising to cut emissions by 25-30 per cent by 2030 from levels in 1990. But Russia’s

emissions are already less than in 1990, so this commitment sounds more significant than it actually is. Russia may cut its emissions more substantially, but at this stage, it is not making dramatic commitments. Ecologists predict that Russia is likely to return to business as usual, although it may work harder at adaptation strategies and developing green-energy industries, which right now only produce one per cent of Russia’s power. Still, it is important to note that the Russian government has begun recognising the reality of climate change. During a recent speech at the UN General Assembly, President Vladimir Putin said that climate change is one of the most important problems facing humanity. According to the director of the ecology department at the Ministry of Economic Development, Vladimir Maximov, after Putin signed the decree On The Reduction Of Greenhouses Gases Russia began to address its climate issues. The results of the Paris Convention and the signing (or not) of the Paris Agreement will determine how far Russia will go in developing its adaptation plans.


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09

WAYS TO AVOID A BEAR

1

Do not feed the bear, or at least don’t disperse garbage with food remnants. In 2014, one Russian mining company moved a well-fed female bear 40 kilometres away from its premises but the bear returned.

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Behind the tough appearance of the polar bear hides a gentle and timid heart. Do not frighten it with your shouts and inappropriate behavior – this will only provoke its appetite.

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LORI/LEGION MEDIA

Be calm if you see a polar bear. Do not threaten it with any gestures. Noise, flashes, the rumbling of firearms do not work in the conditions of the North.

4

The rubber bullet is the best solution if the polar bear attacks you. The painful shock will scare it away. Try not to kill it. Don’t forget, the polar bear is a protected, endangered species.

Wildlife Because of climate change, bears approaching people

Polar bears rule the Far North

ARAM TER-GHAZARYAN SPECIAL RBTH

Five polar bears are laying siege to a Russian weather station on Vaygach Island in the Arctic Sea. The animals set camp just several metres from the building, and two female meteorologists and a male technician working at the station have no weapons of protection from the polar predator. In the beginning of September, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, Sergei Donskoy, became involved in the matter and called on his ministry to save both the humans and the endangered polar bears. Meanwhile, the governor of the Nenets Autonomous Okrug, Igor Koshkin, promised to distribute rubber bullets to the inhabitants in all coastal settlements. This is not the first conflict between humans and

these animals. In the last 10 years, the mass migration south of polar bears from the ice floes to the coasts has turned the Russian Far North into their kingdom. Local inhabitants and visitors will have to get accustomed to this and learn to live with the animals, experts say. The first cases of polar bears approaching human settlements were recorded about 10 years ago on Chukotka, then on the coasts ofYakutia, and finally close to the Yamal peninsula. In 2012, at one weather station, a bear waylaid a scientist outside his home and attacked him. The unexpected visits began with climate warming. Scientists say that the polar bears’ mass migration is due to their lack of desire to adapt to the new conditions, something the seals and other Arctic animals did. The director of the World Wildlife Fund’s Climate Program, Alexei Kokorin, was also once a potential victim of a polar bear attack on Spitsbergen Island.“The

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5

If the bear does not leave you alone, then before shooting to kill, try to negotiate and talk calmly with him. Sounds coming from a strange twolegged animal can confuse the polar bear.

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For several weeks Russian researchers on Vaygach Island have been under siege, blocked in their homes. Polar bears won’t let them leave.

To read an Arctic explorer’s diary, scan the code

A weather station on Vaygach Island in the Arctic Sea.

bears are not trying to adapt because they have found an easier way to obtain food — from people,” said Kokorin. “The polar bear species, however, is not in danger.We shouldn’t dramatise the situation.” Scientists are convinced that it’s not necessary to kill or wound bears to avoid attacks.“Nothing exceptionally frightening is happening at the weather station,” said Nikita Ovsyannikov, deputy director of the Wrangel Island Reserve.“It’s just that the people who are there don’t know how to behave. They are afraid of

being attacked. But no one attacks them! The bears have come to study the new and unfamiliar object.” According to Ovsyannikov, the polar bear is an animal with a highly developed psyche and cognitive abilities. Living in severe conditions, it makes great effort to find food. It approaches scientific stations looking for food. As soon as the bear feels the impact of rubber bullets, he will back off a few kilometres from the station and forget about the meteorologists, Ovsyannikov explained.

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RUSSIA BEYOND THE HEADLINES

Opinion

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KONSTANTIN MALER

FRANCE: LESSONS NOT LEARNED GEORGY BOVT ANALYST

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riday, November 13, 2015 will be considered France’s 9/11. This is exactly what ISIS terrorists have already declared. International terrorists have demonstrated their ability to carry out a whole series of simultaneous terrorist attacks in several public places in a large city. Some people recently pointed fingers at the Egyptian security services for failing to stop a bomb from being planted aboard a Russian passenger aircraft in Sharm el-Sheikh. Today they have to admit that a country with well-trained security services may turn out to be helpless when faced with such a largescale attack. In order to pre-

vent this from happening again, society itself needs to be changed, along with the political system. Martial law should become a way of life. Although even this is unlikely to totally guarantee security.

Russia and the West need to put all other disagreements aside Terrorist attacks are not just the price that humanity pays for people being different. They are also the price we pay for the fact that the current international system of economic and political relations is sadly not conducive to rooting out terrorism either in individual countries – most

often those that have fallen victim to“import of democracy” - or globally. Now when the whole world is feeling sympathy and solidarity with the French, we are yet again repeating the appeals to unite in the fight against the global threat of terrorism. How many times have these appeals been heard since September 11, 2001?Yet, where are the results? Al-Qaeda appeared to have been beaten when its leader was killed. However, the fact is that the group has grown newer and even more fanatical and barbaric cells. Stability in the Middle East has been undermined. We already see a whole terrorist quasi-state on the territory where, according to starry-eyed plans, the tyranny of dictators like Saddam Hussain and Bashar al-Assad should

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have been replaced by electoral democracy. Except that“the electorate”in these countries is increasingly voting more in favour of terror against Western civilisation, while at the same time, thousands of volunteers leave Western countries to fight for ISIS. They fight for a new world order, as designed by barbarians and murderers. It is their idea of“justice”against the backdrop of their rejection of the injustice of modern capitalism and the true“liberty, equality and fraternity” that have never taken hold. President Putin, in his address to the UN General Assembly, referring to the instability in the Middle East resulting in hundreds of thousands of refugees, asked Western leaders:“Do you realise what you have done?” 9/11 has happened again. All those who consider themselves to be a part of the civilised world should not only understand where we have gone wrong over the past 15 years in the fight against terror, but also create new forms of joint and coordinated action. Russia and the West need to put all other disagreements aside. This includes Syria and even, however unacceptable some may think it, Ukraine, since it was largely the latter that has recently provoked the very same policy of double standards that has prompted many to forget that we all belong to a single civilisation. The author is a political scientist and a member of the Council for Foreign and Defence Policy, a Moscowbased independent think tank. Read the full version rbth.com/540503

SYRIAN SOLUTION DEMANDS TRULY INCLUSIVE COMPROMISE ALEXANDER YAKOVENKO DIPLOMAT

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pon Russia’s insistence, a truly inclusive multilateral process was launched in Vienna on October 30 to help find a compromise solution to the Syrian crisis. Iran, a major player, took part for the first time, as well as China. All agreed to the US, Russia and the UN co-chairing the meeting.

Upon Russia’s insistence, a truly inclusive multilateral process was launched in Vienna Heated exchanges took place on the issue of President Bashar al-Assad’s future. As was the case three years ago, this could derail the entire process. But ultimately it was agreed to disagree on that issue. Lack of agreement on this subject resulted in three more years of bloody impasse.We should know better than that this time. All the more so that those are the differences between the outside players. Why not leave it to the Syrians to decide? A joint statement was adopted by consensus. The middle ground agreed included such major principles of the outside world’s approach to the Syrian settlement as independence,

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territorial integrity and secular nature of the Syrian state; the preservation of state institutions, protection of the rights of all the Syrians irrespective of ethnicity and religion; humanitarian access and intensification of diplomatic efforts to put an end to the armed conflict. The extremist approaches failed to win the support of the majority of the participants. The Geneva Communiqué of June 30 2012, backed by the UN Security Council, will serve as a basis for political process. It means the opposition and the government will have to agree on Syria’s future. Mutual agreement is key to any political settlement as opposed to a military solution and a solution that’s imposed from outside. As the examples of post-war Germany and Japan show, imposed solutions mean a military defeat, a long foreign occupation and a total commitment by major outside powers, including the provision of long-term economic and financial assistance. Short of that, a compromise looks the only viable option. Alexander Yakovenko is Russia’s ambassador to the United Kingdom. He was previously Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs. Read the full version rbth.com/541501

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RUSSIA BEYOND THE HEADLINES

Defence

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Armaments Scientific and technological developments have been utilised to create new arms

Looming threat of new weapons The Ministry of Emergency Situations predicts the appearance of new kinds of weapons. RBTH tries to get a handle on which weapons. VADIM MATVEYEV SPECIAL TO RBTH

Laser technology These weapons are based on the use of energy from electromagnetic radiation along the optical spectrum. Despite the fact that lasers have already been used for a long time in everyday life including in the military environment, only recently have researchers started to work on creating effective combat systems based on this type of weapon. The first examples of laser weapons, which appeared in the 1960s, could not hit two targets within a short time interval due to their high consumption of energy. In 2015, American researchers tested a laser cannon stationed on an offshore platform for the first time. Russia is also working on the development of laser weapons and according to the military it is not far behind the US in this area. From publicly available sources it has become known that the military has restarted testing the A-60 aviation complex using a new laser gun capable of destroying aircraft, as well as targets located in outer space.

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Microwave weapons The main damage that this type of weapon causes comes from super-powerful microwave radiation in the frequency range from 3 to 30 GHz. These types of weapons are most effective against enemy’s electronics, abundantly used today in state and military command and control devices, as well in the latest weapons systems of various types. In the summer of 2015 it became known that Russia had developed a new weapon capable of disabling enemy planes, drones and precision-guided weapons, such as cruise missiles. The new development was given the tentative name of “microwave gun”, since it works based on the microwave radiation principle.

The device has an operational range of over 10 kilometres.

Genetic arms These types of weapons, which are the direct heirs of biological weapons, are based on technologies within the sphere of heredity processes management and the variations found in living organisms. Genetic engineering makes it possible to deliberately create a combination of genes unknown in nature that could have a positive impact on living organisms, but also could destroy them. The main danger is posed by attempts to create “smart weapons” that selectively affect and destroy organisms that contain a specific genetic code.

According to Russian scientists a significant number of aggressor genes have already been created, which can inherently be turned into deadly weapons. For example, the genes BAX and BCL-2 are capable of inducing apoptosis – the process of programmed cell death. Given the fact that the development of biological weapons is banned by international conventions, Russia is not working on genetic weapons development.

Particle beam devices Using a concentrated stream of charged or neutral particles containing high energy (electrons, protons, or neutral hydrogen atoms), particle beam weapons can direct strong

thermal radiation, shock loads or X-rays against an object, which can result in death and destruction. The main advantages of these types of weapons include their stealth and the immediate effect they have on their target. The main problem in using this weapon is the loss of energy over long distances, caused by the interaction of particles with atmospheric gases. Several scientific institutions actively worked on the development of beam weapons in the Soviet Union, but these never developed into any real combat models.

Geophysical threats These types of weapons involve an attack using natural processes, brought to

life by artificial means such as lightning, an earthquake a tsunami and so on. While it is known that a variety of experiments and tests were conducted by the US in such places as Vietnam, most experts doubt that it would be possible to cause an earthquake or a tsunami in a specific region of the Earth. In 1993 Oleg Kalugin, a former major-general in the KGB who later emigrated to the United States, said that the Soviet Union was actively working on the development of geophysical weapons. He was referring to the Sura Complex (located about 170 kilometres from Nizhny Novgorod), which is said to have been established to study the processes in the Earth’s atmosphere.

M A K E I T PA R T O F Y O U R S T R AT E G Y in the Armed by Russia Special Section rbth.com/armed_by_russia

Sino-Russian helicopter’s engine to be made in Russia rbth.com/538859

Who buys Russian weapons? rbth.com/537441

China buys 24 Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets - report rbth.com/542131


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RUSSIA BEYOND THE HEADLINES

Science

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Animals Scientists plan to restore Przewalski horses in the wild, and say their help can restore the steppe ecosystem

Wild horse returns to Russia There are only about 2000 Przewalski horses left in the world, but in October six endangered members of this species arrived in Russia. SVETLANA ARKHANGELSKAYA SPECIAL TO RBTH

Zoologists say very few wild horses remain on earth, with the Przewalski horse counting among them. Of the less than 2000 Przewalski horses left, 300 live in the wild and about 1500 are in captive breeding programs and zoos. Le Villaret in France is one of the largest natural reserves for these horses. Recently, six Przewalski horses were brought by plane from France to the Russian city of Orenburg as part of a new program to return them to their original habitat.

China and Mongolia launched their own reintroduction programmes in the early 1990s. Also, a few horses were released, as an experiment, into the exclusion zone near the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine. There, they began to actively proliferate despite the radiation. Now, according to scientists, the Przewalski horse population in the Chernobyl zone amounts to about 100.

Why they left the steppe About 100 years ago this wild horse was still found in the Eurasian steppes in the expanses of Russia, China, Mongolia, and Kazakhstan. But the horse was driven from its original habitat by man’s develop-

About the Przewalski horse The horse was first identified in 1879 by Russian explorer and naturalist, Nikolai Przhevalsky (spelled in Polish as Przewalski), during his second expedition to Central Asia. Przewalski horses live in family groups, whose leader is a strong stallion with absolute power. He decides which direction the group takes, and which watering places they visit. During cold winters, these horses warm themselves by stand-

ing in a circle; they drive foals and sick horses in the middle and warm them with their breath. They have short, but strong and durable legs, and a strip of black hair runs along their back. The horse is listed in the Red Book of the Russian Federation, the Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, and in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

ment of cattle-breeding. When the horse could no longer roam freely over the expanse of the steppe, the animal perished. Today, this steppe beauty can be seen only in zoos. Captivity, however, affects these horses adversely because in the wild they were in constant motion, covering many kilometres each day. As in the case of European bison, when the number of horses in captivity reached a critical mass the question arose of returning the species to the wild. The horses were presented to Orenburg by the French Association for the Przewalski Horse (Association pour le cheval de Przewalski, or TAKH). At the Tour duValat Biological Station, several

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RUSSIAN SCIENTISTS SUCCESSFULLY IMPLANT THE FIRST 3D-PRINTED THYROID GLAND

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generations of horses are kept in a fenced-off area, similar to their natural environment.

The steppe needs the horse The reintroduction program was the brainchild of the Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution at the Russian Academy of Sciences, and the Orenburg Reserve. Its steppe territory is the historic home of the Przewalski horse, and the steppe needs this horse to survive, literally. “In steppe ecosystems, these animals contribute to their recovery,” said Olga Pereladova, the head of the World Wildlife Fund’s Central Asian programme. “If horses are not grazing in the steppe it deteriorates because vegetation is not trampled; overabundance of grass can cause fires.” According to scientists, it is important not only that the horses adapted to the new conditions of the Ural steppes, but also that they did not mix with farmraised horses when stallions expelled competitors from the group. In this case, the unique gene pool would be lost. That is why the animals were initially placed in the fenced-off reserve, allowing for enough time until a stable population capable of existing under natural selection could be formed. For this, it is necessary to have 1,000 horses, with half being of reproductive age.

Ch CHEMISTRY

SPACE

A SIBERIAN SOLAR LAR INSTITUTE HOPES ES TO UNLOCK THE SUN’S UN’S MYSTERIES 07 rbth.com/ 535207

Ec ECOLOGY

As ASTROPHYSICS

Pa PALEONTOLOGY

Ar ARCHAEOLOGY

RUSSIA’S URALS REGION MIGHT HOLD THE KEY TO EUROPE’S ANCIENT ORIGINS

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RUSSIA BEYOND THE HEADLINES

Science

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13

Seismology Grim predictions

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

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

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

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

LORI/LEGION MEDIA

Major quakes may hit the Far East, say researchers

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

seismic activity leading up to the quake. All the methods used to date confirm the grim forecasts, although the seismologists admit that there is always the possibility of error. “Earthquakes originate from deep beneath the Earth’s crust, and scientists only have surface observations to work with,’’ said Mikhail Rodkin of Russia’s Institute of Earthquake Prediction Theory and Mathematical Geophysics. “It’s a little bit as though meteorologists only had data collected from wormholes.” Over the past 20 years, a research group led by Tikhonov has been working on a fundamentally new method of short-term earthquake prediction, and their studies have yielded some interesting results. “Our method allows for the detection of imminent earthquakes – ones that will

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

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

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

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

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

RUSSIA IS NOT JUST A EUROPEAN COUNTRY See Russia’s relations with Asian nations through the eyes of our bloggers Lo o k i n g E a st rbth.com/looking_east

Russians in Asia-Pacific r b t h .co m /r u s s i a n s _ i n _ t h e _ a s i a - p a c i f i c

Continental drift r b t h . c o m /c o n t i n e n t a l _ d r i f t


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RUSSIA BEYOND THE HEADLINES

Culture

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Theatre Visiting the Bolshoi’s prop workshops unlocks some of the mysteries and supersititions

How to ‘juice up’ a tutu Costumes at the Bolshoi Theatre are not only works of art, but they are surrounded by mysterious theatrical traditions and superstitions. SVETLANA SAMODELOVA © VLADIMIR VYATKIN / RIA NOVOSTI

MOSKOVSKY KOMSOMOLETS

How to ‘juice up’ a costume and why there is a ‘no pictures’ rule

Bolshoi Theatre’s art and manufacturing workshop.

© ALEXANDR MAKAROV / RIA NOVOSTI

“Sometimes, a costume’s parts do not reflect light in the right way and are thus barely visible to those sitting in the last few rows of the pit. So we have to ‘juice it up’ – that is, revise the initial, minimal details of the costume and add folds and shadows using special paint. This is a part of our operating procedure, so to speak,” says Natalya Aldoshina, head of the women’s clothes department at the Bolshoi. Each member of the theatre staff knows taking pictures of costumes before the opening night is a no-no, since they are protected by copyright. Furthermore, costume designers believe it to be bad luck to send the excess fabric left after the costumes are finished to the warehouse before the opening night. And another superstition: When delivering the finished costumes, tailors always throw away all the pins that hold the clothes together – it is believed that this way they will not be sent back.

The tutu: An architectural wonder in its own right Tutus – the multi-layered short rigid skirts integral for a ballet performer’s cos-

tume – are another story. Tutus were originally made of muslin and tarlatan, and they had to be starched prior to a performance. The late Maya Pli-

Maya Plisetskaya before a performance, 1965.

setskaya, one of Russia’s greatest ballerinas, once said her first tutu weighed several kilograms, and was “rough, extrusive, and smelling like kerosene.”Fur-

Splurging on clothes The opera Boris Godunov is arguably the Bolshoi’s most “populous” performance in terms of clothes: A total of 900 costumes worth about $1.1 million were created for it. One of them is a sleeveless fur coat fit for a tsar. There is a label attached, saying “Boris Godunov. Choir performer Dmitry Nekrasov.” The thing feels like it weighs about eight kilograms. This is particularly important considering most costumes for the latest staging are supposed to be adorned with numerous jewels. Read the full version rbth.com/538067

thermore, the hooks of the bodice were heavy and resembled fishing sinkers. Later, designers began using nylon for tutus, adding a thin steel wire rim to

ReadRussia

make a firm hoop that supported the layers and held them together. The first tutu of this type was brought to Russia from the UK in 1957 by none other than Maya Plisetskaya. The design became standard in Russia for years to come. This changed in 2007, the year tutu makers refer to as a“revolution.”A Bolshoi designer working on a revival of Le Corsaire by Marius Petipa decided to use costume sketches from the late 19th century, and tutus were made longer and more “bell-shaped”. And for a later staging of George Balanchine’s Jewels, designers actually invented an entirely new technology to support tutus. In this way, tutu-making became a separate branch of design, not unlike architecture. New performances meant new costumes, and each dress cutter and tailor at the Bolshoi’s workshops mastered the fine art of tutu-making. Nowadays, the creation of a single multilayered tutu takes about a day. Each tutu is a unique item made specifically for one ballerina. “I create the layers, making a fold on each of them, and then I assemble them together around the basis – that is, the panties,” says Tatyana Romanenko, a Bolshoi tailor. “It takes 15 to 28 metres of fabric to make one tutu, even more if we’re talking about longer designs, like in Le Corsaire.” Tailors say creating a ballet costume is hard work, as it has to fit perfectly lest it influence the dancer’s performance.

Treasures of Russian classic literature and its contemporary stars in articles and multimedia features rbth.com/literature

Metaphysical author Yuri Mamleev dies aged 83

Ludmila Ulitskaya’s new novel explores human frailty with compassion

Magical flowers and space adventures: Bedtime stories the Soviet way

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RUSSIA BEYOND THE HEADLINES

Travel

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15

Sochi How to make the most of your skiing vacation at the place once enjoyed only by fortunate Russians

RBTH presents a brief guide to what to eat, see and do this winter to get the most out of your ski vacation in Sochi — the Winter Olympic 2014 capital. LEONID MATVEYEV SPECIAL TO RBTH

“If I had a fortune, I would live in Sochi.”This famous Russian saying is no longer up to date as Sochi has become a rather affordable resort with hotels built for the 2014 Winter Olympics fighting for clients and offering rooms for any budget. The devaluation of Russia’s currency has only added to Sochi’s attractiveness among foreigners.

1 Solis Sochi Hotel & Suites Remember Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel? Take a look at the Solis building hidden in forested mountains up in the Krasnaya Polyana resort and you’ll notice many similarities with the surreal Budapest Hotel. Located at an

elevation of 960 metres above sea level, Solis features over 100 rooms with breathtaking views overlooking the Caucasus mountains. The hotel also offers cave, helicopter and backcountry tours with experienced guides to satiate thrill-seekers.

2. Grand Hotel Polyana The hotel complex is divided into two big parts: the main building with 413 rooms and a group of 16 separate wooden villas designed as traditional Alpine chalets. An open heated swimming pool makes Grand Hotel Polyana an ideal place for families with children. It’s conveniently located near the cableway and the recently opened Galaxy entertainment centre.

3. Tulip Inn Rosa Khutor An ideal combination of price and value, Tulip Inn is located only a few minutes’ walk from the main ski lifts and shopping gal-

Getting there SHUTTERSTOCK/LEGION-MEDIA

From Bangkok to Sochi, most direct flights are through Aeroflot and Thai Airways International via Moscow or Istanbul.

Extreme Skypark in Sochi Read the full version travel.rbth.com/1973 © MIKHAIL MOKRUSHIN / RIA NOVOSTI

Top six places to experience mountainous Sochi

4. Amshensky Dvor restaurant

6. Skypark AJ Hackett Sochi

It’s the only restaurant in Sochi boasting an ethnography museum. The museum half features over 1500 household items made of wood, clay, iron, bronze and other materials. The restaurant serves Caucasian cuisine with a wide selection of meat, wild fowl and vegetables.

When it comes to daredevils, Sochi can satisfy any thirst for adventure, whether it’s skiing a steep slope or bungee jumping. The latter is growing more popular after a Russian-New Zealand partnership opened the all-season Skypark high in the mountains surrounding Sochi. Located in the Sochi National Park above Ahshtyrskaya Gorge, Skypark is surrounded by a forest filled with Colchis boxwood, jasmine, rhododendron and other rare plants. Here you can try one of the highest bungees in the world at 207 metres, or if that’s too high, there’s another at 69 metres. The Sochi Swing, supposedly the world’s highest, can be found here at 170 metres high. Finish up your day with MegaTroll, a trolley travelling 700 metres above the canyon at speeds up to 150 km/h.

5. Achishkho restaurant The central place in the park is occupied by a 439-metre long Skybridge – the longest suspension walking bridge in the world. Apart from thrilling gigantic attractions, there are many other pleasant

places in Skypark, such as the Mowgli adventure park, an interactive museum of international bungee jumping, an 18-metre high rock-climbing wall that is 1200 square metres in area.

Hotels built for the Winter Olympics are fighting for clients and offering rooms for any budget

leries, restaurants and nightlife of Rosa Khutor resort. A good budget option, the hotel’s restaurant is popular or its European cuisine - the carrot cake is highly recommended.

This traditional restaurant featuring food from nearby Abkhazia received its unpronounceable name after an eponymous mountain in Krasnaya Polyana. If you want to experience the atmosphere of a traditional guest house and take in genuine Caucasian hospitality, this is the place to be. The food is well regarded on all major travel review sites. Try the grilled fish, lavash (Caucasian pita b re a d ) a n d k h i n k a l i (dumplings filled with meat and herbs).

TRAVEL BEYOND YOUR IMAGINATION Destina tions: • Five u nbe watch th atable location s to • Siberi e sunset on La a’s n ke B sands, ta orthern desert aikal : hot • Russia iga and mosq uitoes ’s most spectac resorts ular ski

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from a Capitals: e the city by tram: se • Moscow int of view e most different po . Petersburg: get th tal in St l capi • A holiday r in Russia’s cultura te cow’s out of win Metro, Mos m see in the ible museu ed cr • What to in t and mos cheapest

Tours: • Five u n Moscow usual tours can’t m you iss • Best w inter tours to package Russia

Gems: • Kostroma: the home of Russia’s Snegurochka, the snow maiden • Yakutia’s frozen heart: mammoths, chilled vodka and the lord of cold: • Paris, Berlin, Leipzig and other Russian villages


RUSSIA BEYOND THE HEADLINES

Cuisine

A global media project, sponsored by Rossiyskaya Gazeta (Russia) asia.rbth.com

Dessert A special treat for Soviet kids

Soviet-era citrus treats still sweet today

ANNA KHARZEEVA SPECIAL TO RBTH

The sweet-and-sour combination is very popular in Russian cooking

RECIPE

Oranges or lemons in sugar Ingredients: 1 kg fruit, 1.5 kg sugar. Wash oranges or lemons, then cut into thin slices. Remove the seeds, lay in rows in a glass. Sprinkle each row

with sugar. Leave in a warm room for three days to let the sugar dissolve and form a syrup. After this, keep your oranges or lemons in a cold place.

Lemons were available in summer from the southern republics. Shops would also sell lemons and oranges with the parts of them that had gone bad cut off – they were 2/3 or half of the fruit, but that part was still good. These were very cheap and there was always a line to get some. I would always join the line, as I would make lemon and orange jam for the winter.” So desired were these “obrezki” (scraps), that Granny’s friend was always

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Apart from medicinal sweet lemon, there were always sugared “lemon slices” available. Granny recently shattered one of my childhood illusions by telling me they were actually lemon -flavored gummy candies in the shape of lemons. I always thought they were actual lemons. Their shape played in our favour, as we were allowed to have a fair bit, as though

they were actually medicinal. The Soviet Diet Cookbook has a recipe for “lemon and orange slices with sugar”, which caught Granny by surprise.“They have it? Ha! Interesting....!” she said, but it brought back nice memories for me. As for oranges, while I don’t remember eating a lot of those, for as long as I can remember, Granny’s kitchen always had long“snakes” of orange peel hanging down from cords spread across the kitchen ceiling. The cords hanging above the stove would also be used to hang and dry clothes over the heat of whatever it was we were having for lunch. “We all used orange

ANNA KHARZEEVA

Whenever my brother or I were unwell as kids, Granny would always appear with an arsenal of homemade remedies — cut up slices of lemon with honey.

certain she wouldn’t get any due to her “bad luck” – but was always proven wrong much to Granny’s delight, and was able to get enough for kompot or jam. The sweet-and-sour combination is very popular in Russian cooking. Another favourite dessert is cranberries coated in sugar. It tastes very sweet at first, and then you get a blast of sour cranberry. Granny used to tell me that I needed sugar so that my brain would work well (so many jokes spring to mind, but I’ll resist them). Now, she says, the approach to sugar has changed in the minds of doctors – from “brain food”to“white poison.” That hasn’t changed its presence on the table and in the lemon jar, though. As we got older, Granny started coming over with oranges sprinkled with sugar and a bit of Vermouth. She says it’s a good idea to add some wine into the sugared or honeyed lemons, too. I think I need some for my throat, brain or anything else that could go wrong – right about now!

peel,” Granny recalled. “It gives a nice aroma and repels moths. We would put it in our wardrobes and shoes, as well as hang it up in the flat.” She had very specific Soviet-era memories of citrus fruits.“There were imported red oranges in shops – beautiful and each packed in its own piece of paper.

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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 take place in 36 sites throughout the capital. Guests will be treated to theatrical performances, gifts fairs and unforgettable gastronomic delights.

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Ploshchad Revolyutsii

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The main events will unfold on the edge of Red Square, near the Manezh and Revolution Square.

Come inside the country’s main Christmas ornament and experience a multimedia show within the walls of the 56-foot-wide decoration.

The rink is surrounded by a restaurant area — with delicious treats for every taste. 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

This fair celebrates Russia’s regions and offers holiday gis, candy and souvenirs from across the country.

A merrygo-round.

Take a ride down Russia’s biggest ice mountain — 21 feet high, 300 feet long

Central children’s restaurant.

At this free open-air skating rink, Swan Lake is performed on ice every evening.

The country’s main Christmas store.

Russia accepts the reality of climate change  

This issue was distributed with the Nation newspaper in Thailand on November 26, 2015

Russia accepts the reality of climate change  

This issue was distributed with the Nation newspaper in Thailand on November 26, 2015

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