Military plane shot down by Turkey
From regional rinks to NHL big leagues
How will the Su-24 incident change the on-going effort to establish Russian and Turkish relations?
Why were Soviet teams so much more successful than current organizations? How has hockey training changed?
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Wednesday, December 2, 2015 VALYA EGORSHIN / RIA NOVOSTI
COMBATING ISIS FROM WITHIN On the eve of the Paris attacks, ISIS extremists published a video in Russian: “Soon, very soon,” it said, “there will be a sea of blood.” Experts believe ISIS is indeed a real threat for Russia. On Oct. 31, a Russian plane exploded, killing all 224 passengers on a flight from Egypt to St. Petersburg. On Nov. 20, six Russian citizens were killed in Mali during a terrorist attack. And although ISIS has so far only hurt Russians abroad, Russia has a turbulent history with its own majority-Muslim regions in the south, and is itself not immune to large-scale terrorist attacks. “Penetration into our territory is very possible,” said Sergei Goncharov, president of the International Association of Veterans of the Alpha anti-terror subdivision. But even in light of recent events, the threat should not be blown out of proportion. “We have sufficient experience in reacting to such challenges and threats,” said Russian Minister of Interior Vladimir Kolokoltsev. Points of weakness Russia’s weakest security points are the Northern Caucasus and the southern borders of the former Soviet republics, where experts fear Muslims rebuffed from mainstream society will look to extremists for answers. Of the country’s 16.5 million Russian Muslims, ISIS may have up to half a million sympathizers, according to Alexey Malashenko, chair of the Carnegie Moscow Center’s Religion, Society, and Security Program, in an essay published on the center’s website. These Russian Muslims might be averse to terrorism, but they’re seeking a Muslim-centric form of government, Malashenko wrote.
The Pulkovo airport memorial devoted to the 224 passengers who died on the flight from Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt to St. Petersburg on Oct. 31.
Officials look for ways to stop the influence of Islamic State along Russia’s southern borders “It is an appealing idea, when contrasted with Russia’s economic crisis, corruption and growing inequality,” Malashenko wrote. As of Sept. 18, some 2,400 Russians are fighting for ISIS, and almost 3,000 citizens of Central Asian countries are also participating, First Deputy Director of the Federal Security Service (FSB) Sergei Smirnov told Interfax. Swearing allegiance to ISIS The Northern Caucasus has long been a region of unrest, with roots of insurgency reaching back to the 18th century. The most recent conflicts flared after Chechnya declared independence from Russia in 1991, instigating the first Chechen War (1994-96). A short cease-fire lasted until 1999, when the Second Chechen War began. By early 2000, Russia had almost completely destroyed the capital city of Grozny and regained direct control of the republic. In 2009, Russia officially ended its antiterrorist operation, although low-level insurgency has continued, most notably in Chechnya, Ingushetia and Dagestan. Terrorist attacks throughout Russia have been attributed to radical Islamists from the North Caucasus: the Russian apartment bombings in 1999; the Moscow theater hostage crisis in 2002; the Beslan school hostage crisis in 2004; the 2010 Moscow Metro bombings; and the Domodedovo International Airport bombing in 2011. The victim tally for these attacks alone reached 849.
Experts link these Northern Caucasus militants to ISIS. About a year ago, ISIS terrorists announced they intend to “liberate” Chechnya and the Caucasus, to create an Islamic Caliphate. Now, according to Goncharov, “even the leaders of small gangs in the Caucasus have sworn allegiance to ISIS.” Meanwhile, Russian security forces have created a system for countering terrorism in this region. In Dagestan, where not long ago there were monthly explosions and shootings, there have been no terrorist acts for practically the last two years, points out Ivan Konovalov, Director of the Moscow-based Center for Strategic Affairs. In late November, Russian law-enforcement agencies eliminated a local gang affiliated with the Islamic State in the North Caucasus. The special operation Nov. 22 in the Kabardino-Balkar Republic by FSB officers neutralized the largest number of militants in recent months: 11 individuals killed. The gang was allegedly assisting locals who wanted to fight alongside ISIS by helping them travel to Syria, as well as plotting terrorist attacks in the North Caucasus. The special services in the Caucasus and the governments in each republic have the main objective to prevent terrorist acts, according to Konovalov. “ISIS also understands that if they do something large-scale, the governments of the Northern Caucasus will immediately start crushing them from all sides,” Konovalov said.
The southern borders Security services and border control in countries such as Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan leave much to be desired, according to Goncharov. However, Russia does not share a border with these countries, and its longest border – with Kazakhstan – is guarded and closely watched. Also, before reaching the southern borders of Russia, the militants would have to cross parts of Turkey, Armenia and Georgia, according to Alexei Fenenko, collaborator at the Institute of International Security of the Russian Academy of Science. “This is not as easy as it seems,” Fenenko said. Shifting focus to recruitment At the National Anti-terrorist Committee (NAC) meeting in mid-October 2015, FSB Director Alexander Bortnikov said the special services have prevented 20 terrorist crimes in Russia this year. “One of the last example is the detainment of 12 Russian citizens in Moscow on Oct. 11 who are members and accomplices of the international terrorist organization (Islamic State) and were preparing a terrorist act on public transportation,” said Bortnikov, who is also head of the NAC. Representatives of the investigation report: “The terrorist act was to take place with the aim of destabilizing the country’s
authorities, as well as to stop the Russian operation against the ISIS army in Syria.” Observers believe that from now on, the special services’ efforts will be aimed at finding terrorist cells and recruitment centers, which are expanding outside of the predictable zones. Varvara Karaulova, a student at one of Moscow’s best universities who has been accused of trying to join ISIS, exemplifies the wide-ranging influence of extremists not only in the unstable Caucasus, but in welloff Moscow. However, Karaulova was linked to Islamic recruiting structures that the special services should have been aware of, according to Mikhail Alexandrov from the Center for Political-Military Analysis at Moscow State Institute of International Relations. Are the main threats outside Russia? It is no an accident that ISIS chose to strike at Russia not at home, but abroad, by downing a plane in Egypt. Within greater Russia itself, the Islamists cannot count on any serious support, but they can be sure of one thing: that Russia will mobilize all its forces to counter any domestic attacks. In the end, experts note, Russia is not a very convenient enemy for ISIS, and this threat – while real – should not be overestimated. Meanwhile, Alexei Fenenko thinks that ISIS’s main threats are tied to the possible destabilization of Turkey, which in turn would destabilize the entire Caucasus and strengthen ISIS in Afghanistan. ■ALEXEI TIMOFEICHEV RBTH
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Politics & Society P2 // rbth.com // December 2, 2015
Interrupted Flight: a month since the St. Petersburg plane tragedy
NEWS IN BRIEF The U.S. will not lift Russian sanctions in exchange for Syria cooperation The United States will not lift sanctions imposed on Russia in exchange for an expansion of its counterterrorism operation in Syria, said White House spokesman Josh Earnest in late November. “President Obama and our European partners from the beginning have said that we’re prepared to roll back sanctions against Russia once they pursue and implement the Minsk agreement,” said Earnest. Former Russian Finance Minister and Committee of Civil Initiatives Chairman Alexei Kudrin estimated earlier that Russia’s GDP would have been 1.5 percent higher if sanctions had not been imposed against Moscow.
How families and friends of those killed in the terrorist attack on MetroJet Airbus A321 are coping with their grief
READ THE FULL STORY at rbth.com/542921 Scientology ordered out of Russia A boy at a funeral service for a victim of the A321 crash, at a church in Veliky Novgorod. Some of the victims have yet to be identified and buried. AFP/EAST NEWS(2)
A month after a terrorist attack in the skies over Egypt’s Sinai peninsula killed 224 people, Anna Sviridova is still a flight attendant. “I’ll stay at my job, and I don’t need to be convinced otherwise,” wrote Sviridova, the widow of flight attendant Stanislav Sviridov, who was killed in the air crash, on the social network site VKontakte. All 224 people aboard the Russian Airbus A321 flying from Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt to St. Petersburg were killed when it crashed on Oct. 31. Of the victims, 130 were St. Petersburg residents; 25 were children. Victims are still being identified and laid to rest. Families are still reeling. But the city’s response shows how far it has come since 2006, when another plane traveling to St. Petersburg crashed, killing 170 people. Hundreds of people came to the city’s main square in the wake of the Oct. 31 tragedy to mourn the victims. Spontaneous memorials have bloomed in Pulkovo airport and on the Palace Square. Aid has poured out to the victims’ families, including not only money from the St. Petersburg city budget to sort out the financial affairs that loved ones left behind, but also funds and free psychological support from Interrupted Flight, founded by relatives of victims a few months after the 2006 crash. “This is a trial that I have to go through, and I know that I will cope and overcome,” Sviridova wrote on VKontakte. “I am not afraid to fly.” After the crash As of Nov. 17, when the Russian authorities officially confirmed the cause of the crash was a terrorist attack, some 58 people have been identified and 47 have been buried, according to official data. Irina Kuzina, who lost her aunt, Nadezhda Bashakova, 78, and cousin, Margarita Simanova, 53, told RBTH there has been no funeral. The family is still waiting for her cousin’s body, she said. Kuzina knew the disaster was a terrorist attack even before the official announcement, she said.
Hundreds of people came to the city’s main square to mourn the victims. Spontaneous memorials have popped up in Pulkovo airport and on the Palace Square. “I did not believe that it just broke up in the air,” Kuzina said. But she added: “You can’t bring people back, and to [establish] the cause is the last thing that really matters.” What does matter: So far, 29 families have received 33 million rubles ($500,000) from the St. Petersburg city according to Alexander Rzhanenkov, head of the city administration’s Committee for Social Policy. This committee also assists in dealing with property issues, mortgages and loans left behind by victims of the crash. “We hope that the payments will be completed by the end of the year,” Rzhanenkov told RBTH.
Psychological support Psychologists at the Russian Ministry of Emergencies were contacted more than 3,300 times in the five days after the disaster. By law, they work with family members until all victims are identified, then pass on the responsibility to St. Petersburg. Interrupted Flight’s St. Petersburg center has already received calls, according to volunteers Marina and Alexei Shteinvarg. The Shteinvargs are familiar with the grueling procedures of visual examination and DNA identification the relatives of the A321 crash victims are going through: On Aug. 22, 2006, their two daughers and Marina’s parents were among the 170 people killed when the Pulkovo airline’s Tu-154 from Anapa to St. Petersburg crashed in the Donetsk region in Ukraine during a thunderstorm. “Nine years ago, many people were afraid to even look at us; sometimes we felt like lepers,” Marina said. She added, “There was no special [governmental] services in our city to help people survive the acute phase of grief and loss.” It was that lack that spurred Interrupted Flight to open its St. Petersburg center for free psychological support for relatives of victims of disasters in 2010, according to the Shteinvargs. The center initially received a small subsidy from the Committee for Social Policy, but has not needed that funding for the past three years. The sense of solidarity in Russian society has grown considerably, said the Shteinvargs, who are now helping Interrupted Flight collect funds for victims’ families. “Some asked for clarification on payments,” they said, “but some just needed to be heard.” ■GALINA ARTEMENKO SPECIAL TO RBTH
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Russia suspended all flights to Egypt on Nov. 6, and the FSB confirmed intel about a bomb on Nov. 17.
AnotherAmerican organization has received orders to end its operations in Russia: the Church of Scientology. In continuation of a trend of sanctions and shuttering, at the end of November, the Ministry of Justice gave the church six months to close out its business in the country. Because the Church
of Scientology has registered its name as a U.S. trademark, Russia does not recognize the organization as religious. The church is fighting back against the ruling and has released a statement via the website for its Moscow branch saying, “This decision is a sign of disease in the justice system.”
Post editor to present book at Lit Week To conclude Russia’s Year of Literature, the Read Russia organization will host its annual Russian Literature Week in New York City from Dec. 7-11. Washington Post National Security Editor and author Peter Finn will present his book “The Zhivago Affair: The Kremlin, the CIA and the Battle Over a Forbidden Book” and is scheduled to host a discussion together with translator Marian Schwartz. Other authors including Eugene Vodolazkin, Vladimir Sharov and Lisa Hayden will also present throughout the week.
What will Russian and Turkish relations look like after the Su-24 incident? Read, Watch and Listen to RBTH’s Russian President Vladimir Putin has bitterly condemned the incident in which a Russian Su-24 bomber was shot down by the Turkish air force near the Syrian-Turkish border and warned that it will have serious consequences for Russian-Turkish relations. The Russian bomber was shot down in the morning of Nov. 24 by a Turkish fighter jet. Turkey argues that the Su-24 violated the country’s airspace, while Putin said that the plane was shot down over Syrian territory. The Russian president labeled Turkey’s actions “a stab in the back committed by accomplices of terrorists.” Turkey, which has criticized Russia’s military campaign in Syria and has made its opposition to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad clear, said that it merely acted to defend its own security. NATO, of which Turkey is a member, held an emergency meeting on Nov. 24 to address the issue. U.S. President Barack Obama responded to the news during a joint news conference with French President François Hollande. “Turkey, like every country, has the right to defend its territory and its airspace,” said Obama, and cautioned all sides to “take measures to discourage any escalation.” Turkish Stream and Turkish strategy Russian-Turkish relations have already been strained of late: Negotiations around the construction of a new gas pipeline called Turkish Stream, set to pass beneath the Black Sea, stalled after the parties disagreed about the price of gas. Now that project faces a larger problem,
says Vladimir Avatkov, a lecturer at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations specializing in the study of Turkey. According to him, the Russian aircraft was shot down shortly after Russia had begun to actively destroy the tankers and refineries controlled by Islamic State (ISIS) extremists. This, he claims, could have damaged the interests of some in
“The harshness of Moscow’s response will be determined... by how the Kremlin sees the future of relations between Russia and the West.” the Turkish establishment who allegedly received dividends from the oil trade with ISIS. Avatkov believes that the incident demonstrates the impossibility for the Russian Federation of building “normal cooperation with Turkey in the field of security and geopolitics” and anticipates a strong reaction from Moscow. Future of Russian-Turkish relations Following Putin’s recent visit to the G20 summit in Antalya and his meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, some believed Russia and Turkey might settle their differences. But after the Su-24 incident, Foreign Affairs Minister Sergei Lavrov canceled his Nov. 25 visit to Istanbul, and the Russian Foreign ministry stated on its website that it does not recommend Russian citizens travel to Turkey.
Analysts do not believe, however, that the incident will lead to a complete break in Russian-Turkish relations. Boris Kagarlitsky, director of the Institute of Globalization and Social Movements, told RBTH that Moscow itself was not interested in an unnecessarily harsh reaction. “The harshness of Moscow’s response will be determined not even by relations between Russia and Turkey, but by how the Kremlin sees the future of relations between Russia and the West,” Kagarlitsky said. In light of this, he believes that the “Russian authorities will choose the least harsh of all the options [for response].” Yet Professor Behlul Ozkan, an expert on international relations at Istanbul’s Marmara University, believes it may not be so easy for Turkey to win the support of the West in the current situation. “Turkey has put itself into a difficult situation in the diplomatic field,” he told RBTH, pointing out that Ankara had shot down a plane that was bombing jihadist groups just when the West was intensifying its attitude to radical groups following the attacks in Paris. “[Now] a question emerges about the links of these groups with Turkey,” said Ozkan.
weekly analytical program, featuring three of the most high-profile recent developments in international affairs.
ENGAGING THE WEST
■ALEXEI TIMOFEICHEV YEKATERINA CHULKOVSKAYA RBTH
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Economy rbth.com // December 2, 2015 // P3
Debt repayment falters as ruble stays unsteady Amid continuously falling incomes, debt help groups thrive as Russians turn to different solutions to repay loans
WHY THE TPP IS NOT A THREAT TO RUSSIA VLADIMIR SALAMATOV RUSSIA DIRECT
In 2015 the average amount of debt on all segments of crediting increased, including a growth of 85 percent for credit cards, 39 percent in POS credits (Point of Sale), 31.5 percent in cash credits, 19.5 percent on auto-credits and 8.5 percent in mortgage credits. In the past year, arrears on loans have reached record levels. Borrowers are finding it more difficult to repay their loans due to the steep devaluation of the ruble and corresponding drop in real income at their disposal. Experts also believe banks are giving people less credit due to these circumstances. While some Russians have adopted a more responsible attitude toward their expenses and started saving money, the most desperate credit addicts are turning to “debtor anonymous” groups. In 2015, the share of arrears on consumer loans reached a record high of 11 percent, according to the Gaidar Institute, one of the country’s leading economic scientific research institutes. Previously, the highest indicator was 9.1 percent. Moreover, delayed payments have increased from 10 to 20 percent, said Mikhail Khromov, director of the laboratory of financial studies at the Gaidar Institute. According to the National Bureau of Credit Histories (NBCH), the largest database of credit histories in the country, Russians currently owe more than 10 trillion rubles ($154 billion) in retail debt, while arrears on loans stand at 1 trillion rubles ($15 billion). Why are Russians not paying? The main reason driving the accumulation of debt is the sudden drop in the population’s income, experts say. “This leads to poor servicing of the borrowers’ credit obligations,” says Alexei Volkov from NBCH. Data from the Sekvoya Credit Consolidation collecting agency confirms the problem (see infographic). In a survey in the second quarter of 2015, the company asked 3,000 debtors why they missed their loan payments. Forty-three percent of respondents attributed the problem to their worsening financial position. “As a result of the deteriorating macroeconomic situation, the population’s real disposable income decreased by 1 percent in 2014 and in 2015 it is expected to decrease by 8 per-
cent. Consequently, more resources are used paying for primary goods and less are left to pay back the loans,” says Sekvoya Credit Consolidation president Elena Dokucheva. As a result, banks have been giving out less credit. The volume of consumer credit in the January-October 2015 period declined by 35 percent to $51.8 billion in comparison with the same period last year. In Alexei Volkov’s opinion, a subjective factor plays a major role: debtors’ inaccurate assessment of their prospects. “In order for this not to happen, it is necessary to check your credit history, assess your potential and ask for credit only when it is really unavoidable,” Volkov says. Overspending as a compulsion Another group particularly vulnerable to the debt crisis are those lacking knowledge about loan repayment or suffering from impulse control. Uncontrollable spending is comparable to an alcoholic’s addiction, says the director of the Psychoanalysis and Business Consulting Department at the Higher School of Economics, professor Andrei Rossokhin.
U.S. Comparison In comparison to other countries, Russia is not in relatively heavy debt. Its population owes an overall credit volume of five times less than the U.S. population. However, it is easier for American debtors to pay back their loans because U.S credit periods are longer and interest is lower. According to the Russian Statistics Agency, the Russian Central Bank and the American Federal Reserve, the debt burden on income at Russians’ disposal is 11.1 percent, while for Americans it is 9.9 percent.
“These people have the inner ‘I’ of a child who cannot wait and doesn’t understand that taking out a loan entails responsibility,” Rossokhin says. Some have found solace in the Society of Anonymous Debtors, founded in 2011 and modeled on American Debtors Anonymous, which was established in the 1970s. “We’ve discovered that loans are a sickness that with time doesn’t disappear but on the contrary, progresses,” reads the society’s website. “It is impossible to cure the disease but it can be stopped.” This was true for Victoria from Moscow, who several years ago invested in the FOREX MMCIS Group investment company by taking out a bank loan and borrowing from her friends for a total of about 3.7 million rubles ($57,000). In 2014, Victoria received a letter from MMCIS saying that the company was initiating bankruptcy procedures. As a result, together with interest, Victoria still owed five million rubles ($77,000). Victoria credits the Society of Anonymous Debtors with her recent increase in income and the fact that every month she can make bank payments and return her friends’ money. “I have already stopped considering myself a victim, and my life has become less impulsive than before,” Victoria told the RBC Daily newspaper. Another participant of the society, Maria, calls herself a spendthrift. “Earlier, I would always borrow money and almost 70-80 percent of my income went towards paying off my debt. The remaining 20-30 percent was not enough to live on and therefore I had to keep borrowing,” Maria says. Attending the society helped Maria pay off her debt and even save up for a vacation, she says. “However, after my vacation I again started borrowing,” she says. “And I had to return to the group.” ■ANNA KUCHMA RBTH
Why is Russia’s Central Bank planning to print 1 trillion rubles?
“To print more money and put it into circulation, while not increasing the money supply, is possible only if part of the notes are then withdrawn, such as the old ones. But the Central Bank’s report does not talk about this,” said Grigoryan.
Russia’s Central Bank will inject 1 trillion rubles ($15 billion) in banknotes into circulation in December to cover a seasonal demand for cash, according Elvira Nabiullina, head of the Bank of Russia. The Central Bank reported that the amount of cash in circulation in Russia exceeded 7.7 trillion rubles ($115.7 billion) as of Oct. 1.
people withdraw money more actively in anticipation of the holidays. “The further reduction of the ruble mass can be explained by capital outflows, the transfer of rubles to the currency and the transfer to accounts,” explained Sergei Grigoryan, head of the analytical department of the Association of Russian Banks (ARB).
Why the shortage of cash? The volume of cash in open circulation grows annually in December and then falls again at the beginning of the new year, according to Central Bank statistics. “Usually in December, the budget spends up to 40 percent,” said Vladimir Tikhomirov, an economist with the BKS Financial Group, who attributes the increase in cash to a growth of budgetary spending. Also,
What will the issuance influence? The issuance will not lead “to any other effects” associated with monetary figures, as the regulator plans to take into account the parameters of the demand for cash, according to Nabiullina. Earlier, the press service of the Central Bank said that the regulator was “not talking about an increase in the money supply.” However, experts interviewed by RBTH believe this is impossible.
Easing the strain on Russia’s banks? The reason for the issuance is not a lack of cash, but a liquidity strain for banks, according to Alexander Abramov of the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration. Abramov cites Central Bank statistics: At the beginning of the year, the monetary base (bank liabilities) was 11.3 trillion rubles ($169.9 billion), but by Nov. 1, it had been reduced to 9.7 trillion rubles ($145.8 billion). “To provide banks with enough working capital for deposits and lending, the Central Bank has decided to provide funds essentially for free,” said Abramov.
$132 billion (8.8 trillion rubles) was in circulation in December 2014, but by the end of January 2015 it had dropped to $115.7 billion.
$481 billion is Russia’s (cash and non-cash) money supply, equaling almost half of the GDP – $1.1 trillion (70.9 trillion rubles).
READ THE FULL STORY at rbth.com/541771
■ANNA KUCHMA RBTH
n the near future, 12 Pacific Rim countries will ratify an agreement on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). This partnership will be one of the world’s largest economic integration projects, comprising 25 percent of the world’s exports, 30 percent of the world’s GDP and more than 800 million consumers. We must ask: How will the creation of the TPP affect Russia’s trade with the partnership countries? And won’t Russian competitors “push aside” Russian exports after they receive preferential treatment?
How the TPP differs from other free trade agreements The Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement involves a deep mutual integration, both in terms of coverage and in the depth of mutual preferences. In fact, the TPP will be a replica of the WTO, but on a different level – this partnership even provides for its own agency to resolve disputes and for special protective measures within the group of countries. This is not contrary to the rules of the WTO, but significantly
While some Russian products face risks because of the creation of the TPP, many exports are safe. changes the conditions of trade with all countries that remain outside the TPP. The collection of additional preferences creates a so-called “barrier of preferences” for all other participants in international trade, including Russia. How Russian exports could fare under the TPP Russia has extensive trade ties with many TPP countries. However, these countries face preferential treatment for trade within the partnership. And for Russian exporters, preferences in the form of reduced or zero import duties play an important role. In analyzing the “barrier of preferences,” we primarily selected, for each member country of the TPP, from five to six largest – by volume (where imports from Russia occupy more than 5 percent of the total imports of that product into the country) and by share of these markets – positions of Russian exports (oil and petroleum products were excluded from this analysis), and revealed Russia’s key competitors. For example, Russia has been exporting frozen crabs to the U.S., accounting for 12 percent of all imports. A serious competitor here is Canada, which accounts for a 55 percent share of these imports. At first glance, the trade preferences within the TPP seem to threaten many important goods that Russia exports. However, an analysis of tariff protection in member countries and/or import duties showed that for most of the products that we supply to TPP countries, the customs import fees are low or have been reduced to zero. So, in terms of price competition, there exists no direct threat from the TPP. At the same time, for some important products that Russia exports, it is possible to identify risks after the creation of the TPP. In the U.S. market, out of five of Russia’s major products, im-
port duties are only imposed on frozen crab (3.8 percent). Canada is Russia’s main competitor in this market and this country already pays no import duties, as the U.S. and Canada are part of the NAFTA free trade zone. Japan, New Zealand, Malaysia and Vietnam also supply frozen crabs to the U.S., but their share in this market is less than 1 percent. And for now it is difficult to say whether upon the reduction of import duties they would be able to substantially increase their supplies, which could then damage Russian exports. At the same time, as was shown by the analysis, only 10 products out of the several dozen Russian products that we selected for our study fall into the “risky” category. And among these 10, there are those that TPP countries do not produce or supply to the market. For example, in Chile, not one of the TPP countries supplies the particular types of rubber this country needs. No TPP countries deliver platinum and palladium to Canada. In almost every country, our exports find themselves in similar positions, and thus they are safe from the influence of preferences within the TPP. Of course, Russia has competitors. However, in relation to TPP countries, they are on equal footing. Additionally, in the TPP countries, several dozen bilateral free trade agreements are operating already, under whose conditions we are selling to them. Moreover, under the terms of the agreement, import duties for member countries of the TPP will not immediately drop to zero. This will happen gradually. For some products, this transition period will exceed 10 years. How Russia should respond to the TPP Russia must continue to work on analyzing new opportunities and working on the conclusion of new preferential trade agreements. This will neutralize some of the existing and to-be-established barriers of preferences. The 25-year anniversary of the free trade zone within Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries falls in 2016. In 2010, the Customs Union was formed, which evolved into the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), which brings together more than 170 million people. This immediately yielded results. For example, Belarus increased its exports to Russia more than twofold – from $6 billion to $15 billion. There is also a need to strengthen trade relations with China. On the agenda is a project to couple the EEU with China’s Silk Road Economic Belt. This is more than a project to create a transport corridor from China to Europe. This means new opportunities for economic development in many regions, both in Russia and in the EEU countries, as well as in countries such as Pakistan and India. All this creates good prospects for Russian exports. Moreover, the decrease in nontariff barriers to trade is becoming a determining factor in the success of any integration project, and in the success of any free trade zone agreement. Vladimir Salamatov, Ph.D. in economics, is the director general of the World Trade Center Moscow. Read the full story at www.russia-direct.org
FOLLOW A Russian-American startup shines at Helsinki’s tech fair. Astro Digital is run by an international team of experts; their central office is located at NASA’s Ames Research Park in California. rbth.com/541499
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Opinion P4 // rbth.com // December 2, 2015
Second, to organize a ground operation against ISIS, a common language somehow has to be found with the current Syrian government, led by President Bashar al-Assad. NATO’s European partners, especially without the direct involvement of the U.S., will never be able to agree on a military operation that would effectively re-colonize the Middle East and establish a NATO protectorate over Syria or northern Iraq. Third, Russia’s military presence in Syria hinders rather than helps any potential antiISIS consolidation, muddying the waters and making the situation almost unsolvable. Moscow’s underlying idea – to return everything to the way it was before the U.S. intervention and the “color revolutions,” to restore the Assad regime’s control over Syria and to support the government of Iraq so that it can fight the cancer of ISIS by itself – is like trying to put toothpaste back in the tube. New solutions are needed, for which something extraordinary needs to happen. The great powers should forget about their old assets in the Middle East and start the game from scratch, believing ISIS, and more broadly Islamic terrorism, to be the common and only real threat.
OBSTACLES FOR AN ANTI-ISIS COALITION AFTER PARIS ATTACKS IVAN TSVETKOV RUSSIA DIRECT
n the wake of the terror attacks in Paris, it is becoming a widely recognized moral imperative that the civilized world must unite in the fight against radical Islam. However, in the cold light of day, this understandable emotional outburst runs into formidable obstacles when it comes to Russia’s complex relationship with the West.
Obstacle #1: Ukraine, Crimea and sanctions What is hindering the formation of a new “anti-ISIS” coalition? Lots of things, unfortunately. From the Russian perspective, the most obvious is Western sanctions over Ukraine. However, many people in Russia think that there has never been a more opportune moment to overturn them. The “reason will prevail” sentiment is gathering momentum across the spectrum of Russian ideologies. If the Kremlin feels that Europe is indeed close to decisive action, it is possible that Moscow will try to nudge its partners in the right direction by abolishing Russian counter-sanctions, for instance, or demonstrating solidarity in some other way. However, if fear of the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) and desire for revenge are to overpower the European political elite’s sense of self-worth, something drastic needs to happen. It appears that the EU’s principled stand and condemnation of Russia’s actions in Ukraine will not become a bargaining chip in the fight against ISIS. In any event, politicians who are constrained by past rhetoric and unable to change tack without severe reputational damage cannot use this strategy. This means that only Russian President Vladimir Putin can initiate a drastic reversal in Russia-EU relations. Putin’s key advantage is that he is far less tightly bound by postulated principles and moral sermonizing than the Europeans. During his tenure, the Russian president has constructed a political reality, where he himself defines what is moral and what is amoral, where the line between good and evil lies, and what Russia’s national interests are. Therefore, only Putin has the capacity to
change the modus operandi of Russia-Europe relations by sacrificing some asset — like a chess grandmaster who sacrifices a piece before unleashing a devastating combination (indeed, Putin has a reputation for unexpected “gambits”). However, there are limits here, too. Moscow will not return Crimea to Ukraine for the sake of anti-ISIS unity, even if terror attacks rage across Russia from Kaliningrad to Vladivostok. Obstacle #2: NATO’s reluctance to wage war against ISIS Another aspect to the problem of creating an anti-ISIS alliance is the situation inside NATO. A large question mark hangs over U.S. leadership and willingness to lead its allies in a ground operation against ISIS. A major new military campaign in the Middle East is certainly not how U.S. President Barack Obama would like to see out his presidency.
trade centers in 2001, the country is not at the epicenter of events.
The small step needed to unify Russia and the West in the fight against ISIS might prove to be too much of a giant leap. If one recalls the wait-and-see attitude that Obama has adopted in all previous international crises, it is difficult to suppose that this time he will behave any differently. All that can be expected from the present U.S. administration is a strengthening of security measures, new supplies of arms to the anti-Assad opposition in Syria, and words of encouragement for Europe in its fight against ISIS. That, incidentally, could correspond to the objective interests of the U.S., as in contrast to the Sept. 11 attacks on New York’s world
Obstacle #3: DIffering opinions on who should control Syria Are Europe’s NATO allies capable of organizing an anti-ISIS operation without the direct involvement of the U.S., similar to the Libyan campaign of 2011? Russians are inclined to think that the Europeans not only can, but must – and in cooperation with Russia at that. However, on closer examination, such a scenario looks fanciful, to say the least. First, the operation in Libya was not of an anti-terrorist nature. To eliminate ISIS (if indeed that is possible through military intervention) will require very different resources, including boots on the ground. Despite the shock of the Paris attacks, not even France is wholly ready to start an all-out war, not to mention those European NATO members that have not yet suffered a direct attack.
Taking the first step towards reconciliation The ISIS terror attacks are a clarion call for leaders of the civilized world to come to their senses and unite. The explosions and shootings are not so much attacks by a foreign enemy as symptoms of the internal disease that plagues the West. Russia, having evolved throughout its history as the eastern edge of this huge civilized space, finds itself in the strange and awkward position of being at once the opponent of Western civilization (trying to split U.S.-European unity, rejoicing at the political failure of Western leaders, attacking the West’s “low values”) and its last hope and savior in the face of the threat of radical Islamism. Russia is wholly unsuited to both roles, and neither offers the country hope or promise. Regrettably, there is nothing else available at present in the international picture. The unanswered question here is whether the leaders of Russia, the U.S. and Europe have the wisdom to recognize that it is not the particular interests of individual countries, peoples and political elites at stake, but the interests of Western civilization, to which they all still belong. Someone has to take the first step forward, but it remains to be seen which side will take that crucial first step. Ivan Tsvetkov is an expert in the field of historical science and an associate professor of American Studies in the International Relations Department at the St. Petersburg State University. Read the full version at russia-direct.org
RUSSIAN JET SHOT DOWN BY TURKEY: WHAT LIES BEHIND THIS ACTION? ARTEM KUREEV RUSSIA DIRECT
he Turkish F-16 pilot who shot down a Russian Su-24, with one shot, wiped out Russian-Turkish relations, which in spite of the different points of view on the situation in Syria, were developing quite positively. Historically, there have been many cases in peacetime when one country shoots down the aircraft of another country over neutral waters or over its own territory – and each time this has been done for an important reason. Such actions of pilots are not possible without the approval of senior leadership of the country, as one shot can turn peace into war. Moscow and Ankara have different points of view on the situation. According to the Kremlin, the Russian bomber was shot down over Syria, one kilometer from the Turkish border, making this an undeserved act of aggression. Turkish authorities are saying the opposite. According to them, the Russian pilots had violated Turkish airspace and, after numerous warnings, the Turks opened fire. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan claimed that a pair of Su-24s had been flying over Turkish territory for about 5 minutes, but in a letter that Ankara sent to the UN Security Council, a different time was indicated – only about 17 seconds. This time is not sufficient to
be able to issue 10 warnings, radio their home base for permission and receive approval from the commander to open fire. Does that mean that the Turkish pilots were already flying on a mission, with orders to open fire on any Russian planes approaching their borders? Undeclared war in the sky through the lens of history Undeclared war in the air at one time was one of the components of the Cold War. Aerial incidents between Russia and Western countries resumed in the mid-2000s. The Baltic States and Scandinavian countries have repeatedly made statements about frequent violations of their airspaces, and NATO fighter jets scrambled to intercept and accompany Russian aircraft patrolling their borders. However, there was never any question of opening fire. Moreover, the “victims” themselves admitted that any boundary violations were very minor in nature. What does the downing of this Russian jet by Turkey mean? Against this background, the launching of an air-to-air missile against a Russian bomber appears to be a blatantly aggressive gesture. We should not forget that on Oct. 17, it was reported that Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu vowed to
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shoot down any Russian planes invading his country’s airspace. At the same time, it appears to be obvious that Russian aerospace forces (ASF) operating in Syria had no intentions of carrying out any hostile actions against Turkey. Moreover, Russian military commanders themselves had previously stated that Turkish airspace might be violated in case of certain adverse weather conditions during the landing of aircraft involved in operations in Syria. Moscow has always acknowledged any violations and apologized for them. The most important thing to note, is that this Russian military operation would be of great benefit to Turkey. To bring back under control of the Syrian President Bashar Assad the territories currently occupied by radical Islamists, and the partial stabilization of the situation in the country, would allow tens of thousands of Syrian refugees, now living in camps in Turkey, to return back home. The defeat of the Islamic State (ISIS) would remove the threat coming from the south-eastern borders of Turkey. Despite all this, the Turkish Air Force had actually issued a direct order to look for any opportunity to shoot down a Russian airplane. After that, the situation grows rather stranger. One rather unusual version put forward by experts immediately after the Russian Su-24 was downed – was the desire of Ankara to “punish” Russia for its massive air strikes on oil refineries and columns of ISIS fuel tankers transporting oil products into Turkey. How will the Kremlin respond? Regardless of the reasons behind An-
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kara’s decision to shoot down the Russian plane, it is clear that Moscow will have no choice but to take retaliatory actions. Some of their options include supplying anti-aircraft missile defense systems to the Kurds, who are fighting against ISIS and occasionally suffering from attacks by Turkish aircraft. This would greatly reduce the possibility of Ankara putting pressure on its separatists for many years to come. Then there is the refusal to cooperate with Turkey in the field of tourism, as happened recently with Egypt. This would strike a significant blow to the Turkish state budget. Of course, this step would hurt many Russian travel agencies, already on the brink of collapse following the measures taken after the Russian airliner was blown up over the Sinai Peninsula. In addition, no one could prevent the Syrian military from shooting down another Turkish aircraft near the border areas (such precedent was set two years ago) as a “symmetrical response.” Incidentally, the Russian General Staff has announced that “all targets, representing a potential threat” to aircraft of the Russian Aerospace Forces will be destroyed. It is certain that by shooting down a Russian plane, Ankara has done itself a great disservice and destroyed the shaky agreement on military operations against the Islamic State, recently put into place between Russia and NATO. Artem Kureev is an expert from the Moscow-based think tank “Helsinki+” that deals with protecting interests of Russians living in the Baltic countries.
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Are Russians worried about ISIS attacks at home and abroad? The Levada Center asked 1,600 people from 46 regions between Nov. 13-16 if they expect terrorist attacks to occur within the next year.
Asked if within the next 10 years there will be a conflict between Russian armed forces and the Islamic State, 59 percent of respondents think that conflicts are possible abroad, while 33 percent don’t exclude the possibility of fighting in Russia.
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Culture rbth.com // December 2, 2015 // P5
War and Peace: The ageless epic on screen and online The world celebrates Tolstoy’s magnum opus with a reading marathon serving as a prologue for the new TV series Audrey Hepbu rn as Natasha American/Ita Rostova in an lia King Vidor in n production, directed by 1956.
Lyudmila Save lyeva as Natas film adaptati ha in a Soviet on by Sergei Bondarchuk (1966-1967).
More than 1,300 Russian-speaking participants will read a chapter from Leo Tolstoy’s classic “War and Peace” online as part of the upcoming event “War and Peace: Let’s Read the Novel.” Set to begin at 10 a.m. Moscow time (2 a.m. EST), the project will run Dec. 8-11 as part of the Year of Literature in Russia. The event serves as a sequel to the online reading of another Tolstoy novel, “Anna Karenina,” which took place in October 2014 on the initiative of Google and the Yasnaya Polyana Lev Tolstoy House-Museum. Viewers from more than 106 countries watched the event, which was entered in the Guinness Book of World Records in the “Largest audience for an online reading marathon” category. “The readings will take place in various parts of Russia and abroad: from a nuclear icebreaker, from Lake Baikal, from an orbital space station,” said Fekla Tolstaya, one of the project’s organizers and the great-granddaughter of the Russian author. In the U.S., American citizens who are Tolstoy’s descendants will also take part. RBTH presents 5 little known facts about the novel.
Three generations: the women of Russia
Prepared by Oleg Krasnov
Lily James as N Peace” TV se atasha in BBC1’s “War an d ries, which w ill air in the U in 2016. .S.
SPECIAL TO RBTH
TITLE: “THE WOMEN OF LAZARUS” AUTHOR: MARUNA STEPNOVA PUBLISHER: WORLD EDITIONS
New series adaptation
The BBC will release a new sixepisode series based on Tolstoy’s epic novel “War and Peace” in the U.K. this December. Starring Paul Dano as Pierre Bezukhov and Lily James as Natasha Rostova, with a script by classic novel adaptation veteran Andrew Davies, the series will air in 2016 in the U.S. and will be simulcast across three networks: A&E, Lifetime and the History Channel. “War and Peace” follows the interlocking stories of four aristocratic families in the periods before, during and after Napoleon’s invasion of Russia. Davies will have to cut much of the novel and will likely abbreviate its long philosophical sections and battle scenes.
Davies’ is the latest of several attempts to dramatize the Russian epic. Long before Sergei Bondarchuk’s version produced by Mosfilm Studios in the 1960s, ballerina Vera Karalli starred as Rostova in a 1915 Russian film. Hollywood paired Audrey Hepburn and Henry Fonda in the 1950s, and the BBC last adapted “War and Peace” in 1972, with Anthony Hopkins as Pierre. Natasha Rostova is “the most lovable heroine in literature,” Davies said, putting her ahead of Jane Austen’s Lizzy Bennet. One of Davies’ most popular adaptations was a 1990s version of “Pride and Prejudice,” the series in which many women first noticed actor Colin Firth (playing Mr. Darcy).
church censors. However, another controversial plot twist concerning Hélène Bezukhova, who Tolstoy apparently wanted to symbolize the dark and sexual aspects of human nature, did make it into the novel. Hélène, a young woman in her prime, dies unexpectedly in 1812, leaving Pierre free to marry Natasha Rostova. Russian high schoolers, who study the novel at the age of 15, usually see this death as a conventional trope needed to move the plot forward. A more ma-
ture reading, though, reveals that Tolstoy leaves subtle hints here and there that suggest Hélène dies as the result of a failed abortion.
At around 1,300 pages, “War and Peace” is not the longest novel ever written – that distinction goes to the little known Artamène ou le Grand Cyrus, which comes in at over 13,000 pages – but it is certainly one of the longest 19thcentury European epics. The first two editions of the novel were divided into six books, rather than the now standard four. Tolstoy himself made this new division for the third edition of the work in 1873. Tolstoy did not originally envision a novel about the Napoleonic wars; instead he was planning to tell the story of an old Decembrist – one of the Russian officers who led a failed attempt to overthrow Tsar Nicholas I on Dec. 14, 1825 – who was allowed to return home from his Siberian exile 30 years after the revolt. However, Tolstoy soon realized he would not be able to explore what made this character take part in the uprising without describing his time in the Napoleonic wars. There was also the consideration that the censors would not look too favorably on a book about the revolt, and so the “story of a Decembrist” turned into an epic novel.
At his wife’s insistence, Tolstoy removed the fairly explicit description of the main character Pierre Bezukhov and his first spouse Hélène’s wedding night. Sophia convinced her husband that the scene would never pass the
The Rostovs and Bolkonskys are thinly-disguised versions of Tolstoy’s own family members, who came from an ancient Russian noble line. For example, the character of Nikolay Rostov borrows a lot from Tolstoy’s father, Nikolay, who was also a hero
arina Stepnova’s extraordinary 2011 novel “The Women of Lazarus” traces a series of related family stories, spanning a century of Soviet and post-Soviet joys and tragedies. It was shortlisted for numerous awards and is now available in English. Stepnova studied literature in Moscow and later edited the men’s magazine XXL. Her first novel, “Surgeon” (2005), unexpectedly wove together contemporary plastic surgery with 11thcentury Persian assassins. Her writing is richly synesthetic, drawing readers into a web of interconnected lives. “The Women of Lazarus” opens with a happy young girl at the beach, where her mother is about to drown. “Lazarus” is her grandfather, a talented physicist named Lazar Lindt, who appeared at Moscow University, dirty and lice-ridden, seven decades earlier. Lazar’s “women” are of three generations: Marusya (Mama Masha), wife of the professor who adopts him; Galina, Lazar’s own wife; and Lidochka, his granddaughter. Temporal shifts and name changes, reflecting complex relations between characters, make the novel tricky to read. Recognizing this, Lisa Hayden, whose brilliant translation does justice to Stepnova’s writing, provides a list of names at the end. What
of the Patriotic War of 1812 and a lieutenant colonel in the Pavlograd regiment, which is mentioned in the novel by name. Marya Bolkonskaya bears a great resemblance to Tolstoy’s mother, Marya Tolstaya, née Volkonskaya. The description of their wedding ceremony is similar to that of Tolstoy’s parents, and the same is true of the characters’ estate, Lysye Gory, which resembles Tolstoy’s own home, Yasnaya Polyana. Nevertheless, when the novel was published, only people who actually knew the Tolstoys could notice the similarities – after all, there was no Wikipedia at the time. Tolstoy himself insisted that the main characters’ names only sound like real Russian noble names because this made it easier for him to insert them into the historical context and allow them to communicate with the work’s numerous actual historical figures – from Moscow’s governor Fyodor Rastopchin to Napoleon and Alexander I.
Tolstoy’s wife, Sophia, copied the novel as he wrote it, producing at least eight complete manuscripts by hand, with some episodes rewritten up to 26 times. It took Tolstoy five years (1863-1869) to finish his epic, during which time Sophia gave birth to four of their 13 children. The pair had married a year before he began work on “War and Peace,” when he was 34, and she was 18.
keeps the stories interesting through to the tear-jerking final, is Stepnova’s ability to inhabit each character, capturing the viewpoints of child or grandmother without overt sentimentality. Sensory details inform Stepnova’s descriptions. Thoughts are itchy or sticky as cobwebs. Galina’s perfume smells of “…honey, raspberry, ambergris, … coriander.” A voice in the hospital speaking Hebrew seems to “carry ancient kingdoms and scorching sand.” Objects are often animated; the death of a girl’s innocence is seen through the eyes of a teddy bear. Stepnova’s playful, brutal imagery, continually reframing the reader’s perspective, builds a sense of how human beings can adapt “even to concentration camps… to daily torture… to old age.” From the bomb-making scientist in a secret city called Ensk to starving, smoking teenage dancers, filling each other’s pointe shoes with ground glass, “The Women of Lazarus” flirts with Russia’s enduring clichés even as it constructs a profound and powerful tale about human interaction. Stepnova has described her book as: “a novel about love. About all that love does to people. And all that people do for love.”
READ THE FULL TEXT at rbth.com/541985
LITERATURE Read our updated literature section!
Prepared by Mikhail Viesel
This announcement was produced by the Department for Multicultural Policy, Interregional Cooperation and Tourism of Moscow
Moscow events calendar 2016 DEC. 12, 2015 JAN. 11, 2016 “THE JOURNEY TO CHRISTMAS” FESTIVAL
MAY “LONG NIGHT OF MUSEUMS” FESTIVAL
36 festival spots will pop up in Moscow. Each market will have rows of stands, open stages and street theaters. The Russian Santa Claus, Ded Moroz, will entertain guests with songs and dances.
More than 250 cultural institutions will remain open late into the night: museums, galleries and art corners.
M AY JA N U A R Y 9 MAY VICTORY DAY On this day Russia marks the end of the Great Patriotic War. The main events are a military parade in Red Square and celebrations on Poklonnaya Hill, where the WWII museum is located.
AUGUST “SUMMER JAM FESTIVAL”
SEPTEMBEROCTOBER “CIRCLE OF LIGHT” FESTIVAL
The city will be decorated with art installations, and festival-goers will have their choice of jams and fruity sweets to purchase in many tents.
Light designers and 2-D and 3-D graphics professionals will use the city’s architecture as a screen to project their multimedia and light installations.
MAY “MOSCOW SPRING” FESTIVAL
MAY 622 THE WORLD ICE HOCKEY CHAMPIONSHIP
SEPTEMBER 34 MOSCOW CITY DAY
This retro-style festival will replicate the Soviet era. Sixteen fairs will sell the best products from all the Russian regions and the former Soviet Republics.
The 80th anniversary championship will be held in Moscow and St. Petersburg. Sixteen national teams will take part. The ﬁnal will be held in the Russian capital.
The city will turn 869 years old. Concerts, shows and theatrical performances will be staged in the city’s central squares, streets, boulevards, embankments and parks.
AUG. 27 SEP. 4 THE SPASSKAYA TOWER INTERNATIONAL MILITARY MUSIC FESTIVAL Russian and foreign military bands, folklore groups and honor guard units will exhibit their art in Red Square.
Feature P6 // rbth.com // December 2, 2015
The country lacks coaches capable of preparing the new Ovechkins and Malkins
In Soviet times, ice hockey was incredibly popular. From their first gold medal in the 1954 World Championships to the beginning of the 1990s, the U.S.S.R. national team never seemed to step down from the podium. Moreover, the hockey rink was a place of confrontation between two worlds: the Soviet versus the West. During the decisive matches of world competitions, the entire country stood still in front of the television. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the ice hockey cult also crumbled. From 1993 to 2008, the Russians could not win a single world tournament. Due to difficult financial situations, the country’s hockey schools eked out a miserable existence or closed down. The losing slump ended in 2008. The national team won the World Championships and the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) was established with a quality marketing resource in the form of powerful TV advertising. As a result, interest in the sport was reborn and the number of parents who wished to have their children follow the footsteps of Malkin, Ovechkin, Datsyuk or Bobrovsky grew. In Moscow alone, the 30 or so hockey leagues are not enough to satisfy all the interested children. The same situation exists in Nizhny Novgorod, St. Petersburg and a series of other large Russian cities. The conditions in these schools are obviously different from the 1990s, when today’s NHL stars were taking their first steps.
when he had a fever he would want to go to the hockey club, a real devotee. His mother would call me and ask me to talk him out of it. Only when I called he would calm down.” Valiullin remembers Malkin’s zeal for the game on one day in particular. “Once, in a friendly match, Alexander shot the puck so hard, that when it hit the crossbar it broke in half. I still have those two halves,” Valiullin says. “The school had very little money back then. The parents paid for the equipment and the travels.” In 1999, Ovechkin was invited to train at the school of his favorite club – Moscow Dynamo, which had been one of the best Soviet teams. At the age of 12, Ovechkin beat Pavel Bure’s record, scoring 59 goals in the Moscow Championships. Three years later, he was playing professional hockey in Russia, and in 2004 he was the first overall selection in the NHL Entry Draft.
IN HIS OWN WORDS
Timofey Cheban, 17 AFTER 10 YEARS OF HOCKEY IN MOSCOW, THIS HIGH SCHOOL SENIOR IS PLAYING HIS THIRD YEAR IN D.C.
The first team I played with was North Star in Moscow. I had a 10-year run with them. After my family moved to the U.S., I started playing with Team Maryland hockey club, and now I play center for the Montgomery Blue Devils. So overall it is my third season in the U.S. One of the biggest differences between Russian and American rinks is the actual size of the rink. Russian rinks are much bigger than American ones, so one has more opportunities to play combination hockey, but I prefer American rinks where individual play is important. In Russia, our team had lines that never change, but in America a constantly changing lineup and playing with new partners is common. In Russia, my coach was very strict and the whole team respected him big time, but honestly, was a little bit afraid of him. In the U.S. our coach is more like a friend, we can play some jokes with him and talk about our lives.
Ovechkin: training with a fever In the beginning of the 1990s, future Washington Capitals captain Alexander Ovechkin started playing hockey in southeast Moscow. “He was very diligent as a child,” says Ovechkin’s first coach, Ramil Valiullin, who worked with him between 1994 and 1998. “Even
Slava Fetisov, who played the sport from 1976–98 for the U.S.S.R, America and then Russia, trains young hockey players in Russia.
FROM PERSONAL ARCHIVES
Malkin: At work in the rink instead of the factory Vladimir Malkin, father of 29-year-old Pittsburgh Penguins Penguins forward Evgeni Malkin, remembers mending his son’s uniform over and over again. “Now kids are equipped with everything, while back then we had to mend the uniform 10 times,” Evgeni says. “That’s how many times my wife had to do it! ...And then it would rip again. The socks, the gloves also – his hands were cut up. Nothing has remained from all that equipment. No one knew that he’d play so well.” Malkin was born in the southern Ural metallurgic town of Magnitogorsk, where ice hockey was the only way to use on’es strength, besides in the factory. The future NHL star was already skating at the age of 3 (in 1989). At age 6, Malkin made it to a group league, the youngest player by one or two years. When he was 13, Malkin began receiving a stipend from the Metallurg Youth Ice Hockey School. This money greatly helped the family, says his father.
© VITALY ANKOV / RIA NOVOSTI
To train up a Russian hockey star
In 2004 Alexander Ovechkin was the first overall selection in the NHL Entry Draft.
A training manual for future hockey champions Today’s ice hockey schools accept children from the age of 4 or 5. First and foremost, the objective is to teach them how to skate. These young children participate in 45-minute group training sessions two or three times a week. In Russia, a team of 22 young players rarely has more than
one coach, meaning that in 90 minutes on the ice, the coach has trouble finding even five minutes for ant one player. So in addition to one or two group sessions per week, students also attend individual lessons during which they practice specific skills, including skating techniques and handling
Early development and improvisation What is special about Russian hockey schools? Experts name two things: skating and improvisation. “We put kids on skates at a very young age. Much earlier than in the U.S. and Canada,” says U.S.S.R. hockey champion Sergei Gimaev. “There are advantages and disadvantages to this. On one hand early development may influence game thinking, on the other skating may become a burden and be detrimental for the health.” Dmitri Efimov, director of the Russian Ice Hockey Youth League, describes Russian schools as creative.“Young kids were always allowed to improvise on the ice,” Efimov says. “In the 1972 and 1974 U.S.S.R.-Canada Super Series, we surprised our opponents with the fact that we were difficult to ‘read,’ our actions couldn’t be anticipated. After this series the North Americans began using our techniques.” Working for an idea In the 1990s, despite the financial crisis and the loss of financing for sports schools, Russia continued developing hockey talent. Sergei Gimaev believes the system survived thanks to the old-time coaches and the popularity of the sport.
the stick. At the age of 10, players start training daily; when they are 12, twice a day. Players graduate from the schools at the age of 16 and afterward sign a contract with a professional team. Particularly gifted players can sign contracts earlier, at 13 or 14.
“I was a director of a hockey school in the ‘90s and know that even when a coach didn’t receive a salary or received it with great delay, they still did not abandon the profession,” Gimaev says. Today young coaches are rare due to the low salaries offered at the schools. “Currently, there are many kids who want to play hockey. This is great but at the same time it’s a problem,” says Efimov. “During the Soviet days there was a strong foundation of coaches, which supported everything. But that generation of coaches is gone and the generation of their students is also gradually disappearing. We don’t know what’s going to happen in the future.” Russia’s hockey tradition may vanish without support from the government, says Efimov. “In Russia there is a painfully small number of youth teams (for players ages 17 to 21 – RBTH). Out of the 85 regions they exist only in 35,” Efimov says. “In the U.S. there are 614 youth teams, in Canada – 552. Without a federal hockey development program our victories may come to an end.” ■TIMUR GANEEV SPECIAL TO RBTH
THE SOVIET COOKBOOK
“Why do you need to have so many weird teas? Isn’t black enough?” asked my Australian friend, trying to figure out Russia’s obsession with tea. We love our tea in Russia, and have for a long time. It started with sbiten’ – a hot herbs and honey drink – and then slowly moved to actual tea, with the famous samovar used to facilitate the drinking and incidentally to create a wonderful backdrop for paintings. Today a huge variety of tea is indeedavailable in restaurants, cafes and homes in Russia, with mixes as sophisticated as a cocktail in a swanky bar. When I was a kid, tea options were much more limited. It was all black, although herbs and berries would still be added when available. Black tea is drunk with lemon and sugar – either dissolved in the cup or “vprikusku” – biting on sugar while drinking tea. A
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Russia’s national drink isn’t vodka – it’s tea
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variety of jams would also be served. My brother was particularly fond of sweet tea, and as a kid said that “Grandpa’s tea is the best!” A short investigation into “Grandpa’s tea” showed the secret to making the best tea was three large spoons of sugar in each cup. The recipe for making tea in the Book naturally involves black tea. It explains that tea comes from Georgia, Azerbaijan and Krasnodar, and that Soviet tea is “always quite natural.” “During the war we would use dried carrots and berry leaves to make ‘tea,’” Granny says. “After the war, we drank a lot of tea – a cup of tea and a salami sandwich was a meal in itself. The most sought-after tea was Indian, but it wasn’t easy to come by. Tea was always in the provision packages given out at work at special occasions. In the villages, they would drink tea from a samovar. It took hours, they’d drink 10 liters between one family, using cups and saucers, pouring tea into saucers and drinking straight from there.” When I was growing up, we did have another type of drink that we called “tea mushroom,” which is a combination of yeast and bacteria mixed with sweet tea. The “mushroom” looked like a flat jellyfish floating in a big jar of tea. The water would turn yellow and get slightly fizzy and would taste a little sour. On top of the jar there was gauze fixed with an elastic band to filter the “tea” out. It was believed to be very healthy,
ANNA KHARZEEVA SPECIAL TO RBTH
and many of my childhood days started with a glass of the “mushroom” making my sore throat tingle. “Every family I know had a tea mushroom. We believed it could cure all possible diseases. But then one day it just disappeared – I don’t remember when and don’t know why!” laments Granny. We Russians may not drink mushroom tea or use samovars anymore, but one thing is here to stay – the love of tea. I drank five cups while writing this – it kept me warm, and I took an extra two hours to finish! Tea should be stored in a dry place in a tightly closed container, away from anything that has a strong smell. Before brewing the tea, it is necessary to rinse the tea leaves with boiling water so that it is warm. Then, over the tea leaves, pour fresh cooled boiled water. After brewing, cover the kettle with a cloth or towel for about five minutes. Then pour the steeped mixture into glasses and add boiling water.
The Solovetsky Islands: Russian history in all its manifestation
What lies buried in Solovki’s memory? Watch RBTH special web documentary rbth.com/536773
Published on Dec 2, 2015
Published on Dec 2, 2015
In this issue: Combating ISIS from within; What will Russia-Turkey relations look like after the Su-24 incident?; Debt repayment falters as...