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The Gagarin Odyssey

50 years later, global cooperation is new mantra


A poet, writer and translator fosters cultural ties P.07



Sister-holidays, Maslenitsa and Holi Celebrating colours, gaiety of spring P.08

A Report from The Times of India. In association with Rossiyskaya Gazeta

Distributed with BANGALORE

A portrait of bridge-builder

Embassy of India in Moscow

ria novosti

Russia India

...Marching towards a common future


New Delhi

Wednesday, MARCH 30, 2011

Energy Putin assures Turkey nuclear plant still on; Russia signs $6 bn deal with Belarus, opens n-deal talks with Hungary

Unfazed, Russia high on nuclear power Japan's Fukushima reactors' blast, sparked by a powerful quake, has cast doubts about nuclear power. But Russia has defied sceptics by signing on new atomic deals. ben aris rir


A view of the Kalinin NPP and Pesvo Lake in Russia.

The unfolding catastrophe at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi power station has provoked a rethink in Europe over nuclear power. But this has not dampened the enthusiasm of Russia and most countries of emerging Europe, which have reasserted their commitment to using more atomic power. Russia's Prime MinisterVladimir Putin was quick to affirm that Moscow will continue to build new power stations. However, like Germany's chancellor Angela Merkel, he also ordered a comprehensive safety review of Russians' nuclear assets. Putin's comments were fol-

lowed by similar statements from the leaders of Belarus, Ukraine and Turkey, the countries which have recently bought Russian-made nuclear power stations. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev assured Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan when he visited Moscow in mid-March that Russia will ensure Turkey's nuclear power plant, to be built in the southern town of Akkuyu, will be able to withstand powerful earthquakes.“The plant that will be built will be an example for the rest of the world,”Erdogan said during a press conference following talks with Medvedev. Russia and Belarus signed off on a $6 billion pact to cooperate in building a nuclear power plant in Belarus on the same day. The construction is due to start in September. Continued on Page 3

Milestone Gorbachev stands tall at 80

Defence Some machines are simply ahead of their time

India divided over legacy: Glasnost, Gandhi, Grouchy Marx

Alligator, Night Hunter chase combat helicopter sweepstakes

shweta chand rir

Continued on page 4

Viktor Litovkin specially for rir

ria novosti

Reviled at home for liquidating that colossus called the Soviet Union and feted abroad, Mikhail Gorbachev, the last Soviet leader, evokes mixed feelings in India, the

first Asian country he visited after becoming the general secretary of the Communist party of the Soviet Union in March, 1985. Thousands of people lined the streets, flaunting banners and celebratory decades of the SovietIndian friendship when Gorbachev touched down in New Delhi in November, 1986.

They were inseparable: Raisa and Mikhail Gorbachev.

in The Economic Times


Three Russian helicopters are bidding for India’s tenders to supply assault combat helicopters: the firepower support machines Mi-28N (the Night Hunter) from Mil, Ka-52 (the Alligator) from Kamov and Ka-226T. The first two are vying to be included in New

ria novosti

The man who brought down the Soviet colossus continues to mean different things to different people in India.

Each of the Russian choppers bidding for Indian contract is unique. Will India pick up the best bet?

Mi-28N "the Night Hunter" (left) and Ka-50 "Black Shark".

Delhi’s shortlist for procuring 22 assault copters. The Ka226’s bid is a part of India’s defence ministry’s tender for 197

April 1 3

reconnaissance and observation helicopters. continued on page 2

Every second Wednesday



Russia india report


in association with rossiyskaya gazeta, russia THE times of india wednesday_MARCH 30_2011

Son of Black Shark is a deal-maker in mountains

what's new energy Arctic oil: Rosneft may engage Indian companies Rosneft might engage several more international companies to develop its offshore Arctic deposits. Potential partners include three large Chinese companies and a number of Indian firms, said Eduard Khudainatov, CEO of the Russian oil company. “We are considering partnering with Chinese and Indian firms. I’d like to say that the whole world is interested in the

Continued from page 1

Arctic,” Khudainatov said. Rosneft already has two American partners for its offshore projects. The state-owned company has contracted Chevron to develop the West Black Sea license area, including the Val Shatskogo deposit, and with ExxonMobil, the Tuapse Trough. In 2010, the government transferred to Rosneft the Yuzhno-Russky area off the Barents Sea shore. RIA Novosti

telecom A Step Ahead: MTS crosses 10 mn customer Milestone


Each of the Russian choppers bidding for the Indian contracts is unique. But they include a helicopter that is truly one-of-a-kind and ahead of its time. It is the Ka-52 Alligator, son of the Ka-50 Black Shark. The Black Shark’s history goes back to the 1970s. In December 1976, the USSR Council of Ministers instructed engineers to develop a brand new combat helicopter to replace the Mi-24. To minimise the risk of failure, the project was assigned to two design bureau, Mikhail Mil’s and Nikolai Kamov’s. By 1986, the first Mi-28 and Ka-50, designed by the late MarkVainberg and Sergei Mikheev, disciples of and successors to the two prominent engineers, had been developed. Many test flights and numerous commissioning boards later, the Ka-50 Black Shark was selected and commissioned by the Army in 1995. The Shark project cost the federal budget more than $1 billion.Yet the Ministry of Defence could not take delivery of these helicopters as the federal budget had next to nothing to pay for defence equipment in the 1990s. Besides, some Air Force representatives flatly rejected the very idea of the Ka-50, designed to be flown by a single person, combining the functions of pilot, navigator, and operator of all of its combat systems, including guided anti-tank missiles, non-guided missiles, and an automatic rapid-fire cannon. Soon, the Ka-50 became a prima donna of international air shows, where Kamov test pilots performed aerobatic wonders. In 1998, Kamov took part in an international tender to supply helicopters to Turkey’s Air Force, but its NATO allies, the Americans, pressured the Turks into choosing the Apache over the Black Shark. Fed up with the talk about a single pilot not being able to fly the combat chopper, the Kamov engineers started work on a two-seater version Kamov JSC . Find more information about kamov helicopters Mil Moscow helicopters plant

Ka-52 Alligator, multi-role combat helicopter, is occupying a leading position in its class.

The Black Shark can make a U-turn without slowing down and can fly sideways. of the Ka-50 – the Ka-52 (Alligator). Working from the Black Shark’s strengths, they created its“son”. Simultaneously, Mil design bureau engineers started refining their Mi28N by making it an all-weather and 24/7 machine, like the Ka-50 and the Ka-52. The Mi-28N became a competitor of the Black Shark and the Alligator. In December 2003, the then Commander of the Russian Air Force, General Vladimir Mikhailov, decided that “the Mi-28N would become the mainstay combat helicopter of the nation’s Air Force”. He explained that“whereas all helicopter units would receive the Mi-28N, the Kamov machines would be only sent to units that carry out special missions”. “Comparing the serial-production Ka-50 and Mi-28

doesn’t make any sense. They are designed for different combat missions.While the Ka-50 and Ka-52 are suited to all kinds of special operation and air mission control, the Mi-28 is second to none for general combat missions and fire support,”said Vainberg.“Over recent years, engineers have upgraded our new Mi-28N machine to world-class level. What’s more, the Mi-28N has no peers. This chopper can engage the enemy at an altitude of five metres or more, while remaining invulnerable (the hull can endure a direct hit from an American M61Vulcan 20 mm cannon and the windshield withstands 12.7 mm bullets). The helicopter is fitted with standardised Russian-made equipment and is relatively inexpensive to manufacture.The defence ministry plans to procure around a 100 of these machines for the Army in 2011. Yet the Ka-52 Alligators, which boast big advantages over other choppers, will also join the ranks. “This helicopter is ideal for working in mountainous and

urban areas and wherever there is little room for manoeuvre,” said 1st Class Test Pilot, Colonel Alexander Papai.“Unlike the Mi-24 or Mi-28, the Black Shark has no tail rotor, its main rotor is shorter, and it’s more manoeuverable and more powerful. It can make a U-turn without slowing down and can fly sideways. It’s equipped with automatic detectors of target radar emissions from the ground, eight-kilometre range supersonic missiles (three times the Mi-28 missile range), and very high-precision onboard cannons.And, of course, the Ka-52 is an all-weather machine, a deal-maker in the mountains.” At the May Victory Parade in Moscow, the Mi-28N Night Hunter and the Ka-52 Alligator, as well as the Ka-50 Black Shark, flew over central Moscow, over Red Square together, in a single combat formation. This suggests that the Russian Army’s front-line Air Force units will need all kinds of helicopter. And it is up to the Indian Army to decide what it needs.

Sistema Shyam TeleServices Limited (SSTL), which owns the MTS brand, has crossed the 10 million subscribers mark in India. To celebrate the achievement, it has come out with a new tagline, "A Step Ahead." "It is indeed a proud moment for me and the entire MTS team to have crossed the 10 million customers milestone," said SSTL

President and Chief Executive Officer Vsevolod Rozanov. MTS has also launched the MTS Pulse, the company's first Android-powered Smartphone, which is designed by Taiwanese manufacturer HTC, SSTL said. Customers can get the high-end smartphone worth Rs 18,000 for free. The customer does not need to make any upfront payment. RIA Novosti

defence India to get Nerpa nuke submarine before Oct


Russia will deliver a leased Nerpa nuclear submarine to India by October this year, said a senior representative of the Russian Navy’s General Staff. “The submarine is fully ready for delivery. An Indian crew assisted by Russian instructors is training aboard right now. This mission should be accomplished by October, and so far we’ve been falling behind schedule,” the source said. He add-

Medvedev's Police reform in Russia: Rebranding or real change?

ed that Indian submariners must complete a full training course. “We now need to have the Indian crew to take the full sailing course,” he said. After that, he added, the submarine will set sail to India’s shores on its own. The Indian Navy was supposed to take delivery of the leased Nerpa nuclear submarine back in 2009, but it caught fire during factory running tests in the Sea of Japan on November 8, 2008. RIR

bookmarks The State Atomic Energy Corporation ROSATOM An independent information source specializing in nuclear industry-related topics

Russia india report


in association with rossiyskaya gazeta, russia THE times of india wednesday_MArch 30_2011


Russian reactors youngest in the world Russia and Hungary also opened talks on the possible participation of Russian companies in a project to modernise Hungary's Paks nuclear power plant. And Russia signed a new deal to build a nuclear power plant in Bangladesh at the cost of $2 billion, ITAR-TASS reported on March 1, citing officials in the Bangladesh government. After the explosion of the Chernobyl reactor in 1986 that sent a highly toxic radioactive cloud over most of western Europe, public opinion is still wary of Russianmade nuclear power stations. Russia abandoned the Sovietera RMBK class of reactor following the Chernobyl disaster, although there are still 11 RMBK reactors operating in Russia today. But Moscow is resolved not to let the 1986 Chernobyl tragedy or 2011 Fukushima disaster to affect its global nuclear business plans. "We now have



A view of the Russian Novovoronezh NPP, in operation since 1964. A new Novovoronezh NPP-2 will be equipped with the same advanced VVER-1000 reactors units as in Kudankulam NPP

a whole arsenal of progressive technological means to ensure the stable and accident-free operation of nuclear power plants," Putin said, while asserting that Russia would

continue selling Russian nuclear technology to its allies. Russia has the youngest reactors in the world with an average life of 19 years against the 26 years in Western Europe

and US reactors are the oldest with an average life of 30 years. Fukushima is 38 and one of the oldest reactors in the world still in operation. It was originally scheduled for

decommissioning this year, but its licence was renewed for another ten years "Until now, countries in emerging markets were well out in front of the nuclear industry revival, accounting for a disproportionate share of the expected growth in nuclear energy use. Out of the 62 reactors currently under construction, 48% - or 77% of the total - are being built in China, Russia, India and South Korea," says Sergei Bubnov, who heads Renaissance Asset Managers' utilities fund. Russia is by far most reliant on nuclear power among the emerging markets, which makes up 16% of produced power, followed by Ukraine with 15%. And in the next 20 years, Russia is planning to double its nuclear capacity. "Inevitably, some of these plans might have to be reconsidered," says Bubnov. "Russia has a vocal environmental lobby, which might lead to the delay or even cancellation of

From Chernobyl to Fukushima, debate goes on The Fukushima disaster has revived concerns about the safety of nuclear plants. Experts review the safety of Russian reactors since the 1986 Chernobyl catastrophe. Nikolai Laverov

vice president of the Russian Academy of Sciences ecial to rn


he worst catastrophes in recent years have been triggered by the water element, so we should think ten times before deciding to situate new atomic power plants and large oil refineries in coastal zones. We have seen in Japan how a large oil-refining plant burns when affected by the elements. This will deliver a colossal blow to the ecology, to say nothing of the economic damage. Why should we make the same mistake? When we were deciding where to put sites connected with the development of the Sakhalin

shelf, we tried to tuck them away deep in the territory. It is best to move such sites back from the coastline and choose elevated places for construction. With deliveries of oil and gas to China and Korea, we need to look at the situating of such sites very carefully.

Nuclear plants in the seismic zones

Vladimir Gubarev

author of a play on the the Chernobyl disaster


ussian atomic scientists are perplexed: how is it possible that in Japan, where they have the highest level of technological and performance discipline, they lost control of six power-generating units at once? The cause is the confluence of two events: an earthquake and a tsunami. None of the project designs anticipated such a probability. That’s the first thing. The second thing is that at Chernobyl, government resources

Danger level low average

were immediately activated — they created a headquarters and brought in all the ministries and departments. In Japan there was none of that. Fukushima is owned by a private company. And it was incapable of dealing with everything that happened.

high max

Leonid Bolshov Nuclear Expert


s far as Russian power plants are concerned, safety standards are at a totally different level now. It’s a far cry from when the

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Fukushima was built 40 years ago. Today’s safety standards are much stricter, and modern Russian nuclear power plants meet those requirements. Obviously, we have much more water to maintain the integrity of the [reactor] zone. Our AES-2006 design with modern safety systems has two circuits. Its significant feature is that water flows through the reactor, through the steam generator, in a fairly contaminated state within the primary circuit and transfers heat to clean water in the secondary circuit, which in turn transmits heat to a turbine. We have everything tucked into a containment casing with two pipes leading out of it, but they contain clean water. Belarus, which signed an inter-governmental agreement with us several days ago, can have peace of mind in terms of their safety with this kind of design

some projects, in turn leading to higher prices." However, as the Russia economy regains vigour, the government has little choice but to build new nuclear facilities. The collapse in demand that followed the crisis had given the government some time, but as economic growth picks up again the window is closing fast. Russia's Energy Ministry says it needs 164 gigawatts (GW) worth of power capacity in Russia by 2030 at a cost of RUB1 trillion ($33bn), said Vasily Nikonov, a department director at the ministry, adding 18 nuclear power and hydropower plants with a combined installed capacity of 11.2 GW will be built. "It is impossible to speak about a global energy balance without the nuclear power industry," Putin said at a meeting of the Eurasian Economic Community's intergovernmental council. Read more at


No chill in nuclear plans The Japan Tragedy won't substantially change the attitude toward nuclear energy.


Proponents of this point of view were two-and-a-half times as many (41.9% versus 16.5%) as those who believe the Fukushima incident will chill the “nuclear renaissance” and long-term plans to build new atomic energy plants.

Website of the Embassy

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of the Russian Federation in India


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in association with rossiyskaya gazeta, russia THE times of india wednesday_MARCH 30_2011 The Foundation for Socio-Economic and Political Studies (The Gorbachev Foundation) Find more information on Russian history

The Gorbachev Legacy An Icon of Freedoms in the west and reviled back home, the demolisher of the Soviet empire defies labels. History shall judge...

secretary of the Communist Party of the USSR publicly It was“the kind of reception I subscribing to the Gandhian haven't had anywhere,”Gor- gospel of non-violence,” rebachev confessed when he met called K. Natwar Singh, a forthe youngest Indian Prime mer Indian diplomat who was Minister Rajiv Gandhi. Gan- then minister of state for exdhi welcomed the Soviet lead- ternal affairs. In a lecture, er as a “crusader for peace.” Ronen Sen, India’s ambassaThe two leaders bonded well dor to Russia in the tumultuand symbolized for the Indian ous Yeltsin years, described youth – those in senior school the Delhi Declaration as “a and college – idealism and a landmark global document.” touch of innocence in a world In a recent article that coinof realpolitik. Glasnost and cided with Gorbachev’s 80th perestroika were magic words for many, showing the possibilities of reinventing Com- Gorbachev, the man munism to absorb the longing behind glasnost, for reforms and freedoms.The remains a source of Soviet leader’s eponymous book Perestrokia was a much inspiration to many Indian idealists. sought-after book. The Delhi Declaration on the Principles of a Nuclear Weap- birthday, Natwar Singh deon Free and Non-Violent, scribed the fall of the Soviet signed by the two leaders on Union as“a demographic and 27 November, 1986 reinforced political earthquake” whose the fading belief that idealism consequences have yet to be was possible in international fully played out.“One major politics and discourse. Marx fall out was the disappearance gave way to Mahatma Gandhi of an alternative point of view as the Soviet leader joined his on global issues,” he said. Indian host in calling for the Like Soviet Communists back dismantling nuclear weapons. home, Indian communists “The most startling inclusion have clearly never been great was the reference to non-vio- admirers of Gorbachev. On the lence. Here was the general contrary, accused him of cod-

continued from page 1


Mikhail Gorbachev and his wife Raisa with Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and his wife Sonia during his visit to India.

dling theWest at the cost of the Soviet Union’s relations with developing countries when he came to India for his second visit in 1988. Nobel laureate Gorbachev, a recipient of the Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development, therefore, sparks conflicted assessments among the Indian elite. In a lecture entitled ‘Some Thoughts on the Soviet Collapse,’ he delivered at Pune in 1990, I.K. Gujral, who was India’s External Affairs Minister, said: “And then, suddenly, that mighty state lay prostrate. Its creed and doctrine, communism, was in disgrace. Not because it had been defeated in a traditional war by a mightier power, but because its leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, inspired by stirring visions of the future not only of his own homeland but also of the humankind, was determined to transform a seventy-year old rugged dictatorship into social democracy drawing its lifeblood from the free consent of its deeply diverse population,” Gujral, also a former India’s envoy to Russia, said. “This unique background to the collapse of the communist state in the USSR imparts to the tragedy a nobility that must not escape,”he said. This mixture of admiration and sober introspection bordering on anguish, fittingly encapsulate ambivalent feelings the Gorbachev legacy continue to arouse in India even as New Delhi continues to expand time-tested ties with Moscow under the Medevedev-Putin era. Gorbachev the man, as opposed to Gorbachev the corpse-bearer of Communism, however, remains a source of inspiration for many Indian idealists who see in the octogenarian statesman a beacon of idealism in a world of murky deal-making.

getty images/fotobank

How Rajiv and Gorbachev bonded well Gorbachev pictured in front of the Hofdi House in Reykjavik, Iceland, in 2006. 20 years earlier, in 1986, the leaders of the USSR and USA met here at the height of the Cold War to resolve the nuclear arms race. Gorbachev talks to Moscovites, 1985 (upper photo); Gorbachev, President Reagan, and President-elect Bush standing together. 1988. (middle); Gorbachev wipes his tears during a ceremony of paying last respects to late Raisa Gorbacheva. 1999.


Nikolai Petrov

Boris Kagarlitsky

Alexander Tkachev

Carnegie Moscow Centre

Political analyst

Governor of the Krasnodar Region


Gorbachev’s main achievements are making politics public and introducing competition. It's not fair to blame him for the breakup of the Soviet Union or for the failure of market reforms, just as it is not fair to credit him with everything good that came out of his time.


The ability to use democratic institutions to develop political, economic and social life peaked during Gorbachev’s rule. The only truly democratic elections that Russia has ever seen were those conducted by Gorbachev. The rest were far less democratic.


He is the man associated with the greatest geopolitical drama in Russia’s contemporary history. He became the best friend of the West, but for most of our great Motherland’s people, his name is associated mainly with countless problems and irrevocable losses.

A daugther remembers

'He loves people, their oddities.... I admire his absolute love for mankind' “My parents were always very reserved in front of me; there were no outward displays of affection. But there was mutual understanding... ...My father’s resignation was a very difficult time, especially in the early ‘90s. All those trials, all the persecution, the eviction of the Foundation. Mama was sick. After Foros, she had certain problems - not only did she lose the use of one hand, but also went blind. There

were lots of problems, including financial ones. The degree of freedom that I felt after Papa’s resignation was incomparable! … Mama’s death was a black depression. In 1999, Mama was in Münster, in a clinic. Right up until the end, we were hoping that she would recover. ... For the first two years, after Mama’s death, Papa and I were always together. Always.

We worked together, went on business trips together, were at home together. Papa’s work day varies. Some days are fairly calm. Some days are: lectures in American universities and in the space of twelve days, we would have ten flights to different cities around the country. He has to give lectures because that is our main source of income. continued on page 5

bookmarks See more on 20 years without the Soviet Union Strategic culture foundation on-line magazine

Russia india report


in association with rossiyskaya gazeta, russia THE times of india wednesday_MARCH 30_2011


Gorbachev: The perestroika icon weapons that could have triggered a nuclear war. This decision was followed by Specially for rir negotiations on strategic ofor taking tough decisions fensive arms reductions, cuts and staying the course in conventional weapons and even when it was unpop- a ban on chemical and bacteular, Mikhail Gorbachev has riological weapons. Gorearned his place in history. bachev’s dialogue with Ronald There are leaders who have Reagan on security matters presided over the renewal of was not merely an admission their countries: Adolfo Suárez, that the Soviet Union was no Margaret Thatcher, Helmut longer able to compete with Kohl, Ronald Reagan and Vá- the United States in the nucleclav Havel. Then there are ar arms race; a different Sovileaders who changed the et leader could have continued world. The first among them playing dangerous games with wasVladimir Lenin, who cre- the Americans for much lonated the Communist system ger. Gorbachev decided volunthat stood up to the West. The tarily to renounce the maintesecond was Mikhail Gor- nance of the nuclear threat as bachev, who brought that a way of propping up the Somonolithic system down. viet system. Between 1985 and 1990, Gor- Gorbachev’s second great debachev showed that he was a parture from his predecessors different kind of leader. First, was his conviction that every he recognised that the US-So- nation was entitled to choose viet arms race was futile. In its government, a belief that 1986, Gorbachev put forward was crucial in his decision to the idea of a nuclear-free release Eastern Europe from world, which resulted in the the Soviet grip. When revoluSoviet-American dialogue on tions swept across East Gernuclear disarmament and the many, Czechoslovakia and Posigning of a treaty on the liqui- land, their leaders made dation of medium and shorter frantic calls to the Kremlin range missiles. The two sides pleading for help, but Gordecided to destroy a class of bachev responded with a firm Lilia Shevtsova

itar-tass ank getty images/fotob


Ruslan Grinberg economist


The Soviet Union was in the throes of a profound crisis. And had been for years. But until Gorbachev, it had never occurred to any of the general secretaries of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union to begin such radical democratic transformations.


Continued from page 4

The audiences range from 500 people to 12,000. ... We were abroad once and I can’t remember which country; we were being driven somewhere, he was looking out of the window at the people walking along the street, peo-

And no one had ever dreamt that a general secretary could initiate such a process. If they had initiated anything, it would probably have ended with empty slogans. But Gorbachev came to power and a miracle occurred. He proposed combining socialism with freedom. Freedom of speech existed only in the kitchen. And suddenly, the general secretary himself was saying that democratic changes had to be made in politics and economics.

ple with narrow eyes, all sorts, and he said: ‘Daughter, just look how much God has created; that means it’s all needed. And one should love everyone… He knows people. He knows their weaknesses, shortcomings. And even so he loves them! ... I admire that about my father more than anything else: his absolute, unparalleled decency and absolute love for mankind.”

IrinaVirganskaya-Gorbacheva, daughter of Mikhail Gorbachev, spoke on the eve of his 80th birthday.


“Nyet.”Soviet troops were still stationed in these Eastern bloc countries, but Gorbachev did not want a repeat of the Prague Spring. His actions were crucial in reunifying the German people and returning the former Soviet satellites into the European fold. Gorbachev buried the world Communist system, marking the end of the Cold War and confrontation between two systems. Having renounced the Communist Party’s monopoly and opened the floodgates for the freedom of expression, Gorbachev accelerated the disintegration of the Soviet Union. True, he had hoped to preserve the country as a community of allied states, but national republics were distancing themselves from Moscow much too quickly and strongly for disintegration to be averted. Gorbachev let the Soviet Union evaporate and, probably without intending to, turned out to be a great reformer. The former Soviet president comes across as a dramatic personality, first and foremost, because after starting the country’s great transformation, he did not carry it

through all the way to the end. He was the first man in Russian history to have left the Kremlin without clinging to power. But this is not unusual. History does not know of any reformer who managed to destroy an established system and build a new one in its place. Reformers sacrifice their popularity when they start to dismantle the old way of life, and this is true for Gorbachev. Even today, his name evokes mixed feelings in Russia. No society has ever perceived reformers as heroes during their lifetime. Great politicians are recognised for their achievements only when they pass into eternity. Mikhail Gorbachev, however, has become a monument in his lifetime. Gorbachev is history. As Thomas Carlyle said:“The history of the world is but a biography of great men.” Having assured himself a place in eternity too, he remains a remarkable man of a calibre and personality that are indeed larger than life. Lilia Shevtsova is a senior associate at the Carnegie Moscow Center.

Vilified at home, lionised abroad M.K.Bhadrakumar Specially for RIR


ikhail Gorbachev’s historical legacy is hard to sum up. He means different things to different people. Maybe it is also a hallmark of greatness. Within Russia, what stood out was Gorbachev’s seminal contribution to laying the foundations of a civil society.Temperamentally and politically, he was averse to coercive methods of governance.Thereby he created a new political atmosphere in Russia. Russian people never before knew a ruler communicating directly with them. In the process, he narrowed the great divide between the ruler and the subject in Russia and encouraged the subject to behave as a citizen. Gorbachev encouraged the people to talk loudly, to be argumentative and to learn to live with a sense of freedom. Presumably, he hoped the society would break stereotyped habits of looking up to the leader to provide all solutions. However, what intrigued me incessantly as a foreigner living in Moscow in those exhilarating times was about his ul-

timate objective. As a first rate intellectual and gifted political thinker, what was his vision? If it was to reform the communist party and enhance its legitimacy, the obvious pre-requisite was to improve the living conditions of people and make them“stakeholders”in his reform programme. Which was how reform was handled in China. The Chinese political system delivered in the economic sphere and the communist party today draws legitimacy from it. But Gorbachev appears to me as a dramatic personality who revealed in his “new thinking”and notwithstanding the policy of “acceleration” he promised in 1995, he let economic reform run its course through traditional Soviet methods – discipline, order, management techniques – whereas he needed to go far deeper. If Gorbachev’s objective was to take the country to political pluralism, he could have called a general election and secured a mandate to turn the country into a functioning democracy. But Gorbachev was indecisive. He would neither use state power to preserve the Soviet system nor decisively initiate institutional pluralism.

I don’t think Gorbachev can be given the latitude that he stalled because he feared for the disintegration of the Soviet Union. I see the dismantling of the Soviet Union as a willful act by BorisYeltsin rather than as the natural outcome of Gorbachev’s perestroika. Indeed, there was always the danger of implosion inherent to any transition where the old began to die and the new was struggling to be born but when I left Moscow as late as the end of 1989 I didn’t get the sense of criticality although Gorbachev was losing the initiative. Gorbachev finally got swept away by the very forces he unleashed.And despite his greatness, the final outcome is that his people see him as a destroyer and his legacy got mixed up – unfairly, though – with the immense suffering and humiliation the Russian people went through in later years. In the international sphere, it is easy to exaggerate Gorbachev’s legacy. His contribution to eliminating the arms race was substantial. But the US' dogged search for “nuclear superiority”continues, its nuclear doctrines haven’t changed and it is developing newer weapon systems, including in

space, and Russia is compelled to respond. Gorbachev let the Eastern European allies evolve their identity and we may say it signified the end of the ColdWar. But the US’ triumphalism that followed the Soviet Union’s disintegration, its containment strategy and, of course, the relentless expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation testified that Gorbachev’s aspiration to situate Russia within a common European home was misplaced. I wouldn’t say Gorbachev erred but the West never really reciprocated his passion for“new thinking”and probably lionised him with great deliberateness. The biggest rebuff to Gorbachev’s historic legacy was in the US’ refusal to embrace post-Soviet Russia as an equal partner in ending the ColdWar and arms race and its attempts to extract unilateral concessions. Hardly 20 years into the post-Gorbachev era, it has become necessary to reinvent or “reset”the historic opportunities he opened up for Russia and the world. M.K.Bhadrakumar is a former diplomat who served in Moscow in the Gorbachev era


Russia india report



in association with rossiyskaya gazeta, russia THE times of india wednesday_MARCH 30_2011 Russian Federal Space Agency Gagarin Research&Training Cente 50th Anniversary of Yuri Gagarin's flight into space

Space Race Fifty years after Yuri Gagarin's maiden space voyage, Cold War rivalry has given way to ISS co-operation

Flying into history in 108 minutes The Yura moment

ria novosti

Yuri Gagarin, his wife Valentina and Jawaharlal Nehru during Gagarin's India visit in 1961.

Nikolai Alenov rir

Fifty years ago on April 12, with a stirring cry of “Let’s Go!” (Poekhali), cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin raced on a Soviet rocket to become the first human to go into outer space. Launching in the Vostok spacecraft from Kazakhstan at 9.06 a.m. that radiant sunny day in 1961, the 27-year-old son of a carpenter circled the Earth once on a 108-minute space flight before parachuting safely to the ground in the Saratovregion of the U.S.S.R. "The Motherland hears, the Motherland knows where her son flies in the sky,” he whistled a popular Soviet patriotic song over the radio while orbiting the planet at 17,000 miles an hour. Within a few hours, word of his feat had spread across the globe and a new era had begun. Driven by the Soviet Union’s quest to assert technical superiority over the US, Gagarin’s flight became one of the 20th century’s milestone achievements. This short but epic foray into outer space inspired millions of people around the globe, and ignited a Cold War race between the superpowers for technological superiority. “Not one psychologist, not one politician could predict the effect Gagarin’s flight would have on the world,”Alexei Leonov, another member of the original 20-man squad of Soviet cosmonauts, told Russia Now.“This was the finest competition the human race ever staged; who could build the best spacecraft, the best piloted rocket…" For more than two decades,

the two rival powers pitched their finest engineering minds against each other.The American Moon landing in July 1969 eclipsed everything else, but it was the Soviet Union that mostly led the space race in the preceding years and often afterwards. Space exploration has, however, become increasingly cooperative since the end of the Cold War, especially with the ongoing assembly of the 18-country International Space Station (ISS). Amid the unfolding competition, one thing has not changed: on April 12, Russians everywhere honour the space odyssey legacy embodied by Gagarin. The young pilot tragically died in an aircraft crash in 1968 while in

'The future lies in cooperation,' says Perminov, head of Russian space agency Roskosmos. training for a second space mission, and his remains are interred near Lenin’s tomb on the Red Square. But even in the celebrity-studded age, he remains an icon. In a recent survey, 35% of Russians named Gagarin as their prime role model -“not only an ordinary person of this world but also the finest of our nation, our first envoy into space, a star of a man,”as Leonov described him.“Space will always remain a priority of ours. This is not just somebody’s interpretation; it’s our official state position,”Russian President Dmitry Medvedev told the ISS crew on Cosmonautics Day on April 12 last year. True, Russia’s $3 billion annual space budget cannot compete with NASA’s almost $19 billion, but more funding has been allocated to space in re-

preparing for this flight. He could be trusted. I happened to be near Red Square on the day of the official Kremlin reception for the first man in space, and I saw something I couldn’t understand: happy people were strolling smiling, with flowers and balloons. “What happened,” I asked. They said: “And where have you been? Gagarin! Gagarin went up in space.”

cent years as oil and gas revenues surged. Russia is a world leader in the commercial satellite launch market, which helps to propel its space industry. And while the U.S. agency had its manned Moon and Mars mission, Russia keeps those long-term plans on the drawing board, hoping to establish a Moon base by 2030 and stage a Mars mission shortly afterwards, according to Roskosmos space agency chief Anatoly Perminov. “And then the life’s dream of Sergei Korolyov will be fulfilled,” Perminov said in a recent interview, referring to the former inmate of Stalin’s labour camps who became the Soviet space programme’s chief designer and driving force until his death in 1966. Meanwhile, both countries are keeping an eye on China and India, as they pursue their own space ambitions.The Chinese made a third launch of their ShenzhouVII spacecraft Odyssey 2011: a crew trains on a submerged model of the ISS in the giant pool at Star City. and also their first spacewalk in 2008, while India is planning a manned flight by 2014. The Soviet-era space training Mayor Nikolai Rybkin says 5 During a recent tour, visitors billion roubles ($155 mn) are were shown a hangar containMore than 50 0 men and centre at Star City braces for needed for renovation. A for- ing replicas of the sevenwomen from 38 countries have a futuristic makeover as the mer KGB colonel who was tonne, three-seater Soyuz flown into space, but with the mayor hopes to turn it into a elected mayor by a popular spacecraft, which with the reISS alone expected to cost star tourist attraction. vote in 2009, Rybkin has am- tirement this year of the US more than $100 billion over 15 bitious plans to refurbish this shuttles, will be the only means years, space exploration re- vladimir ruvinsky unique enclave of world his- of ferrying crews to the Intermains a hugely expensive and RIR dangerous activity, with the In a population of 6,700, it will tory, increasing accessibility national Space Station. loss of life estimated at 300 to be hard to find anywhere 40 while maintaining security. Then there is the centrifuge, cosmonauts, winners of He- He aims to turn Zvezdny into the only facility in the world 400 people over 50 years. “The future lies in coopera- roes of the Soviet Union, the a tourist attraction linked to that simulates not only Gtion,” Roskosmos head Permi- top Soviet medal. But the Star the capital by a special train, force and acceleration but also nov told Radio Golos.“Space City, once designated as with futuristic hotels, busi- weightlessness. Powered by an exploration of the future ‘Closed military townlet No.1’ ness centres and entertain- underground plant, the 305tonne device with its 18-metre means electric power stations and a highly guarded military ment venues. that feed the space industry as installation, in Zvezdny Goro- However, for all the changes long arm packs the punch of over time, Star City has stayed five railroad locomotives. well as the Earth." Gagarin dok is no ordinary place. would surely have applauded Home toYuri Gagarin Cosmo- true to its vocation.The esprit Elsewhere, teams train on a such a lofty goal. “Orbiting naut Training Centre, it boasts of the space community is tan- mock-up of the ISS that is Earth in the spaceship, I saw a futuristic array of space gible everywhere. Hallways submerged in a giant pool to how beautiful our planet is,” training equipment. But en- bear photos of cosmonauts simulate weightlessness. he said after touching down in tering the complex is like trav- and astronauts, who under- Wearing 145-kg diving suits 1961.“People, let us preserve elling back in time where util- went training here, including loaded with weights, they can and increase this beauty, not ities, roads and buildings are Russians, Germans,Vietnam- shed four kg of weight during ese, Americans and Chinese. badly in need of repair. a four-hour session. destroy it.”

Star City set for re-launch


Yuri Gagarin's first space flight on April 12, 1961 is now the stuff of legends. But as the world remembers 'First Cosmonaut', Russia sets new frontiers for the future.

Aleksei Leonov, a close friend of Yuri Gagarin, was a member of the first team of cosmonauts and the first person to perform a spacewalk aboard the spacecraft Voskhod-2 on March 18-19, 1965. Recalls Leonov: "When we, members of the first team of cosmonauts, were asked who we thought was worthy of the first space flight, the majority said: Yura. He had spent his whole life

bookmarks Encyclopedia of Soviet Writers Contemporary Poetry Russian Centre of Science and Culture in New Delhi

Russia india report

Portrait Poet, writer and translator, Madan Lal Madhu helps foster cultural ties

Life in letters: Linking Gorky and Premchand Madhu's tryst with Russia began in 1957 when he was sent there as a translator. The octogenarian writer is now a sturdy cultural bridge between India and Russia.


A translator across cultures

elena Krovvidi

Embassy of India in Moscow


Those were heady days of cultural bonhomie. Back in the 1950s when the legendary actor Raj Kapoor enjoyed wild adulation with his film “Awaara” to the 1970s when the then Soviet president Leonid Brezhnev met Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, Madan Lal Madhu, a journalist, writer and translator, acted as a bridge-builder in fostering closer cultural ties between the two friendly countries. A well-known poet and playwright, a founder of the Indian community association, Shamat, in Moscow and an eminent journalist who wrote analytical articles on the life in the USSR for Indian dailies, the English-language Tribune and the Hindi edition of the Times of India – Madhu is a man of many talents. After India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s historic trip to the Soviet Union in 1955, then president Nikita Khrushchev visited India two years later. Cultural cooperation was high on the agenda. Translators and editors were much in demand for working in Moscow. Madhu was among those invited by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs for working in Moscow. By that time, Madhu had published two volumes of poems, plays and literary articles. One of his less-commented tasks was translating Communist literature of the time. Madhu, who didn’t speak a word of Russian, had to work with the existing English versions of Russian works, translating them from English into Hindi. As he says, they had a controlling editor, a Russian native-speaker who was fluent in Hindi. Being a literary man, he soon started to learn Russian on his own. It’s hard to name all the literary works he translated into Hindi, but the ones that immediately spring to mind are ‘Medny Vsadnik’, Little tragedies, Fairy Tales, Belkin’s stories, ‘Kapitanskaya dochka’, ‘Pikovaya Dama’ by Pushkin,

Down the decades, Madhu has brought India and Russia closer with his translations of Russian masterpieces into Hindi.

Both Gorky and Premchand were concerned with issues like poverty and social injustice. ‘Voyna I Mir,’‘Anna Karenina’ by Tolstoy and ‘Bednye lyudi’ by Dostoyevski. The biggest challenge, Madhu admits, was translating‘Voyna I Mir’(‘War and Peace’) by Leo Tolstoy. “There was so much going on in the plot and every character was a unique personality." Madhu says that finer sensitivity to the trials and tribulations of the ordinary man is a common theme that cuts across Russian and Indian literature. He recalls his PhD dissertation and a book called ‘Gorki aur Premchand: Do Amar Pratibhayen’, comparing the two famous writers, Maxim Gorki and Munshi Premchand. Both of them were concerned with social issues such as poverty and injustice and illuminated the lives of ordinary people. According to Madhu, Leo Tolstoy has had profound influence on the Indian people and writers.“His ideas were and still remain very popular in India,” says he.“Leo Tolstoy


in association with rossiyskaya gazeta, russia THE times of india wednesday_MARCH 30_2011

and Mahatma Gandhi were in correspondence, and Tolstoy had a great influence on the Indian independence movement. Also, Gorky’s ‘Mat’ (‘Mother’) is among the favourites in India, because of its sensitive depiction of the struggles of a poor person. Indian literature also influenced Russian readers profoundly. Rabindranath Tagore was “a separate story” for people in the Soviet Union, his poems were read avidly and his name was familiar to every schoolboy or girl," he says. Madhu also authored two books of memoirs.“I remember Indira Gandhi arranging a reception at the best restaurant,” Madhu recalls.“I was invited too. I was standing near Indira Gandhi, Brezhnev, Kosygin, Gromyko and others. Brezhnev drank some orange juice and said, addressing Kosygin: ‘Alexei, I’m already drunk.’It was a joke but Indira Gandhi at first didn’t understand it because at Indian events, alcohol is not served. But we explained it to her.” Madhu’s multi-faceted work came in for high recognition when the Indian government bestowed on him Padma Shri, one of the highest Indian civilian honours, in 1991. In Russia,

1925: Dr. Madhu was born in Lahore (now in Pakistan). 1947: Graduated from the Punjabi University, with MA in politics and economy. 1947-1955: Taught politics and economy at SD College in Shimla city and Gandhi Memorial College in Ambala. 1955-1957: Worked for All India Radio as an advisor on programmes in Hindi language. In 1957, he was chosen by India’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs as one of the translators to work in the Soviet Union. 1953: The first volume of poems ‘Unmad’ was published. 2011: The first book of memoirs about his life in India before going to the Soviet Union ‘Thundle Ujle Tihre’ was published.

then PresidentVladimir Putin honoured him with the Friendship Order in 2001. And then were a string of special events organised to celebrate his 85th birth anniversary. When asked if he had ever considered coming back home to India, Madhu’s voice brims with emotion. "I love my profession – literature.And an opportunity to work in literature, to translate Russian literary works means a lot to me. And I had this opportunity in the Soviet Union.” There were many reasons for his decision to stay on. But probably the most important one was Tatyana – his Russian wife. He met Tatyana after three or four years of working at the publishing house in Moscow where she was the controlling editor. "A person is rooted in the country; this relationship attached me to the life in Moscow even more," says Madhu. Madhu and Tatyana, married for over 40 years, stay mostly in Russia, but he spends one or two months in India. Tatyana speaks perfect Hindi and feels at home in India. “There have been many colours and shades of my life in Russia and together they create a separate picture,” Madhu says.


Books Top 5 that created waves

From spy tales to fables, a new wave of Russian authors The Russian literature, known for its depth and memorable characters, is making its presence felt in the 21st century. RIR presents 5 widely-acclaimed authors and their books, which are now available in the English translation. The books represent genres that have evolved over the past decade.

1. He-Lover of death

Boris Akunin (W&N) Akunin is the pen name of the philologist and translator Grigory Chkhartishvili, whose postmodernist detective novels have become bestsellers. Akunin's hero, Erast Fandorin, a detective, is Russia’s answer to Sherlock Holmes.

Pelevin, with literary circles agreeing that he is one of the most important contemporary Russian authors. In the story, eight people meet on a certain website in a certain chat room. They begin communicating and through a series of innuendos and tiny details they, as well as the reader,quickly gather that they are locked in a virtual labyrinth – the very same labyrinth as featured in the Theseus and Minotaur myth.

4. Metro 2033

2. Daniel Stein, interpreter

Ludmila Ulitskaya (W&N) Ulitskaya works in an area that could be defined as intellectual female prose.The story follows the escapades of a Polish Jew, who managed to not only survive the Second World War, but also save hundreds of people from Nazi concentration camps.

3.The Helmet of Horror

Viktor Pelevin (Canongate Books) A near consensus has been reached in Russia regarding

Dmitry Glukhovsky (Gollancz) Muscovite Dmitry Glukhovsky has lived in Israel, Germany and France. It took him eight years to write Metro 2033, which may partly explain his book’s popularity: it is not merely post-apocalyptic science fiction, but a true coming-of-age novel.

5. Living Souls Dmitry Bykov (Alma Books) Dmitry Bykov is not only a novelist, but also a poet, television and radio host, columnist and critic. His highly ironic story is a description of civil war in Russia in the 21st century, where theVarangians are pitched against the Khazars. The characters clearly evoke biting literary caricatures of contemporary Russian publicists and political analysts.





IN ASSOCIATION WITH ROSSIYSKAYA GAZETA, RUSSIA THE TIMES OF INDIA WEDNESDAY_MARCH 30_2011 Russiapedia (get to know Russia better) Find more about Russian festivals/ Occasions

Festive Spirit Maslenitsa, like Holi, means revelries, song, dance and effigy-burning. It ends with Forgiveness Sunday.

Celebrating colours, gaiety of spring REUTERS/VOSTOCK-PHOTO KOMMERSANT

Spring is in the air. Every year, in March, Russians celebrate Maslenitsa — festival of the Sun and farewell to winter that mirrors India’s Holi revelries. ANISIA BOROZNOVA RIR

A joyous profusion of colours, a carnival-like spirit of celebration, the spirit of wild abandon and the smell of spring and summer in the air after a long winter! This festival of gaiety is called by various names in different cultures: it’s Maslenitsa in Russia and in India it’s called Holi. Maslenitsa, like Holi, is deeply rooted in the ancient past. Maslenitsa is an ancient pagan Slavic festival that has survived through more than a thousand years of Christianity. Originally, it was connected with the spring solstice, but when Russia adopted Christianity, it became the moveable feast that precedes Lent. In many countries, the approach of spring, the awakening of nature and hopes for a new good harvest, symbolised

the dawn of the New Year that called for cheer and celebration. It would be difficult to find two more different festivals in their outward trappings, but at the same time kindred in spirit.The key word for these festivals of spring is “merriment”. The Russian Maslenitsa lasts an entire week, but the most important celebration and the final seeing-off of winter always take place on Sunday. After that, spring is officially here; it makes no difference that outside, the temperatures are still below freezing and that the snow may not be entirely gone until May. The Russians recognise spring in subtler signs in the smell of the wind, the shape of the icicles and the return of birds from warmer climes. People have always thought that the best way to say goodbye to the old is to consign it to the flames or to the waves. Maslenitsa includes the burning of an effigy. This effigy, from which Maslenitsa derives its name, has the pleasing appearance of a young girl with pink

cheeks, a long braid and a pretty dress under which is hidden straw. In Russian villages, this straw girl traditionally stood on the highest ground throughout the week of Maslenitsa, observing the villagers’boisterous merry-making with a smile. And then on Sunday, having all said their goodbyes to the winter, the villagers burned the effigy while singing and dancing. The carnival-like spirit of letting oneself go cuts across both Maslenitsa and Holi. By changing one’s appearance, according to folk belief, one also changes one’s essence, and this allows one to give oneself over entirely to this festival. If in India people sprinkle each other with coloured powders and painted water, then in Russia and many other countries, the distinguishing feature of this festival is

Around the same time, Indians celebrate Holi, by sprinkling water and colour powder on each other. Joyous singing and dancing mark the festival.

people in masks dressed up as gypsies, bears and various evil spirits. In the mythicreligious sense, Holi in India symbolises the triumph of the good over the evil. During Maslenitsa, a feigned war is waged. For example, a battle for a snow fortress is organised. Everyone helps build the fortress, then they split into two teams: the invaders and the defenders, who allow themselves to be defeated. The main weapons, besides their own hands, are snowballs. In olden times, the construction of the fortress was taken more seriously, the building often began at the beginning of the winter with the first snowfall. And only men were allowed to storm the fortress, because in this battle-for-fun, one could wind

up with serious injuries. Another traditional and purely masculine entertainment was the “wall-to-wall” fist fights. Two teams strip to the waist, and, at the signal (a loud hollering from the crowd of onlookers), go running straight for each other and pummel their opponents till they gave in. Foreigners are usually shocked, but Russians like this sort of thing. But not all activities involve a dose of well-meaning aggression - sledding down icy mountains, rides in sleighs and on carousels, tugs-of-war, balancing on ice-covered logs. In the villages, they build bonfires and throw old clothes and kitchen utensils into the flames.They erected a tall post with a wheel at the top to symbolise the blazing sun. Presents and prizes were hung from the wheel and the young people amused themselves by trying to shimmy up the icy pole and get them. Maslenitsa, like any Russian celebration, cannot do without drinks. But vodka is not quite the vintage drink for

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Russian revellers gather to watch the burning of the straw effigy of a pretty girl that marks Maslenitsa, the spring festival that sees signing and dancing, and feasting on pancakes.

Russian blini - yellow and round plate-sized pancakes.

these revelries. Maslenitsa is far more ancient and the traditional drink at this time is mead, an alcoholic drink made with honey, sometimes with the juices of berries thrown in. The main fare at Maslenitsa is blini (plate-sized pancakes) — yellow and round, like the sun. The last day of Maslenitsa is Shrove Sunday (Forgiveness Sunday) when one traditionally asks one’s friends and family for forgiveness for any offenses, and they usually say in reply: “God will forgive you!”

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Mar 2011, Russia & India Report  

RIR is a unique publication that highlights the vibrant multi-faceted partnership between India and Russia that spans their growing collabor...

Mar 2011, Russia & India Report  

RIR is a unique publication that highlights the vibrant multi-faceted partnership between India and Russia that spans their growing collabor...