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Russian actor in Indian movie AP/FOTOLINK

Skolkovo innovation hub

Dancing: Impossible to go wrong with Bipasha P.07

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

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SCO: 10 years of growing up

The India factor and the Afghan chessboard

Russia's Silicon Valley nets top global IT giants



Russia India

...Marching towards a common future




Politics Medvedev rejects state capitalism, advocates decentralisation, warns of harsher punishment for the corrupt

President’s choice: More power to investor and the presidential vote next March has become ever more vexing since Medvedev and his prime minister and predecessor, Vladimir Putin, have both said they might stand, while seemingly drifting further apart in their policies. Medvedev fuelled talk of a rift that has governed the country since 2008 when he lit a blaze of liberal policies in his keynote speech at the Forum. As a central theme, he touted an end to government intervention in the economy, which he described both as state capitalism and "manual control" — a definition closely associated with Putin's habit of personally intervening in industry decision making. The president's repudiation of what is seen as Putin's style was perhaps the most striking moment in his 35-minute address. "This is not my choice — my choice is something else," he said slowly, adding that pri-


A bullish Dmitry Medvedev left investors so enthusiastic at St. Petersburg economic forum earlier this month that even his biggest shortcoming could not spoil the mood: He refused to say whether he would address the forum as president again next year. Medvedev was forced to admit at the very end of the closing session that he could not promise to stand for re-election. "When I believe the moment is right to say directly whether I will or will not run, I will do so," he said. "But this forum is not the best venue for that." The question of who will run the country after the State Duma elections in December

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Unveiling his vision of liberalising state-controlled economy, Medvedev asks investors to take charge and pitches strongly for reforms.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has yet to declare whether he will stand for re-election. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, too, keeps people guessing whether he will take the plunge.

vate entrepreneurs and investors should play the dominant role, while the state should protect them. Medvedev also suggested harsher punishment for corrupt officials, saying they could be fired for "loss of confidence" when evidence of bribery does not allow pressing criminal charges. He had fired Moscow MayorYury Luzhkov after 18 years for "loss of confidence" last September and has never elaborated on the reason. The president told his audience, which included scores of governors, that his sacking of long-serving regional bosses often led to improved local business climate. Citing Moscow as an example, he said that under Mayor Sergei Sobyanin the number of documents necessary to start construction projects has decreased. CONTINUED ON PAGE 3

Defence Missile set for its first underwater launch in late 2011: BrahMos CEO


BrahMos maps new frontiers

Higher than hope

After a glorious decade, the BrahMos missile system continues to surprise with its capacity for innovation.

Slide Show at


Ten years ago, the multi-faceted Indian-Russian military cooperation notched its first milestone when the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile system’s maiden launch took place from Chandipur, Orissa on June 12, Russia’s National Day. The launch marked a renewal of bilateral defence cooperation in a framework of strategic partnership.



The name of the missile -BrahMos is an acronym of the names of two rivers – the Brahmaputra in India and the Moscow River in Russia -- underlines the signal importance of this project for both countries. The joint venture, BrahMos Aerospace, with Russia holding 49.5%, and India, or rather the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) under India’s Defence Ministry holding the remaining 50.5% is constantly evolving and innovating. In mid-June, the head of the JV, Sivathanu Pillai, confirmed that the BrahMos missile is slated for its first underwater launch in late 2011.

The Russian-Indian duo Elena Vesnina and Sania Mirza may have lost in French Open women doubles in Paris recently, but they are doubling up their efforts to win Grand Slam titles this year. SEE PAGE 8


14 Sep

in The Economic Times






Russia india report


in association with rossiyskaya gazeta, russia THE times of india wednesday_JUNE 29_2011

10 years on, BrahMos an anchor of defence ties Now, the two sides are trying to develop an airborne version of the BrahMos missile, to be launched from various types of aircraft, including Su30MKI fighters, which Russia produces especially for India. The first tests of the airborne version may be held as early as 2012. The joint-venture’s codirector Alexander Maxichev, according to news reports, recently said that BrahMos Aerospace is planning to start developing a new upgraded version of the Russian-Indian missile in 2011, with the key specifications for the hypersonic BrahMos-2 missile already worked out. The new missile is expected to travel at five times the speed of sound, making it virtually impossible to intercept. According to Alexander Baskakov, co-director, BrahMos is headquartered in Hyderabad, which boasts anti-ship missile production lines, and in Nagpur, where the missiles receive their warheads, and are stored in army arsenals. The missile’s 12-month warranty runs from delivery to the customer. The missile control system is deployed on Rajput 61E class destroyers, six of which are currently being revamped at Indian shipyards. Three Indian Project 11356 Talwar class frigates currently being built at theYantar Shipyard in Kaliningrad will also be fitted with eight BrahMos missile launchers each. Indian admirals are looking for an



"Speed, precision and devastating power in destroying the target makes the weapon unparalleled. Its competitor is yet to be born,” says Dr A.S.Pillai, BrahMos Aerospace CEO.

anti-ship system of their own and they have set their sights on BrahMos.The missile travels at three times the speed of sound and boasts high precision. Currently, a large Project 15A vessel to carry 16 launchers is being built at a shipyard near Mumbai. The idea is also on the table to deploy BrahMos anti-ship missiles behind the control room on the new generation Amur1650 diesel-powered submarine that Russia has offered

India. Russia has already tested underwater missile launches. At the last minute, Indian admirals, however, sprang a surprise by purchasing Scorpene class submarines from France, and the contract with Russia was postponed until a later date. Meanwhile, India wants the missile not only for its navy but also its army for hitting surface targets, and even for its air force -- to arm the aircraft on which it prides itself,

the multipurpose Su-30MKI fighter. India currently has an entire squadron of BrahMos mobile land-based systems based on the Czech Tatra truck. Most of the missile's components are manufactured in Russia, including its solid-fuel booster stage and liquid core stage, target-seeking device, payload, etc. India supplies only the missile-borne computer, inertial system and interface unit. The third purpose of the BrahMos missile – air launch – was equally well represented at the Aero India show. The Su30MKI fighter has a fleet of 48 planes and 40 more have been bought from Russia. Equipping them with anti-ship missiles is the dream of India’s top air force generals. As of today, no Asian state boasts such a powerful weapon. Meanwhile, the joint design efforts have been quite a success and everything now depends on production. India’s Air Force has already allocated two fighters for flight tests and the production of new planes is scheduled to start in 2012 at Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) enterprises. Presumably, Moscow and Delhi, says Baskakov, will try and tap new markets with their new product. "Indonesia, the United Arab Emirates, Brazil, Thailand, Chile and Malaysia have already submitted their orders for the anti-ship missile. This will become another highly promising area of Russian-Indian cooperation,” he said.

Targets $20 bn trade by 2015, to study CECA India and Russia eye a trade target of $20 billion by 2015 and set up six working groups to give ballast to their economic ties. Sergei petrov rir

India and Russia plan to boost trade to $20 billion per year by 2015, Indian Commerce and

Industry Minister Anand Sharma said during a round table at the economic forum in St. Petersburg. The Russian and Indian economies are worth $1 trillion combined, he said, adding that the two sides have formed six working groups to map out further areas of cooperation. The two sides agreed to set up

a joint study group to draft a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement, to hold the next annual Forum on Trade and Investment in Moscow in November and to set up within the forum three round tables in the public-private partnership format focussing on innovation and commercialisation of scientific re-

search, infrastructure and pharmaceuticals. Machinery and equipment accounts for more than half of Russian exports to India, and oil and gas just 5%, Deputy PM Sergei Ivanov said. He urged India to take a closer look at Russian modern medium-range jetliners, such as the Sukhoi SuperJet 100 and Antonov An-148.

Subscribe to our free monthly e-paper BrahMos Aerospace JV JSC Rosoboronexport website Oil and gas industry news

in brief energy Joint venture for making nuclear power equipment A Russian-Indian joint venture for the production of equipment for nuclear power plants will be set up in India before the end of the year, Vladimir Kashchenko, Director General of the AtomEnergoMash Company, said on the sidelines of the International Atomexpo-2011 Forum in Moscow. The JV will be set by an Indian enterprise, which is ready to pro-

duce NPP equipment under Russia’s technologies. “India has got several enterprises of rather high technological market, which may become participants in the Russian-Indian JV,” Kashchenko said. He is confident that the joint venture of the kind is the prototype for the setting up of a regional structure for the production of atomic technological equipment. ITAR TASS

defence Gorshkov issues resolved, no more questions India and Russia have resolved all questions regarding the upgrading of the aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov, Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev said after talks with India's National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon on June 6. “During the talks, we discussed military-technical cooperation in detail and went

over the [upgrading of] the Admiral Gorshkov and the schedule [of works]. We have no questions, and nor does the Indian side,” Patrushev said. He noted that “no unsolvable questions arose” during the discussion of militarytechnical cooperation. “There are questions that need to be discussed and that need support,” he added. ITAR TASS

trade Petronet, Gazprom seal pact for LNG supply


Petronet LNG Ltd. (PLNG), India’s biggest importer of liquefied natural gas, and Gazprom Global LNG, through its Singapore affiliate, Gazprom Marketing and Trading Singapore, a 100% subsidiary of Gazprom Marketing & Trading, have concluded a memorandum of understanding for the long term supply of LNG. Under the terms of the agreement, Petronet will pur-

chase fuel from Russia’s OAO Gazprom and boost long-term contract volumes by 28%. Petronet plans to buy as much as 2.5 million metric tons of LNG annually for 25 years, the company said in an e-mailed statement. “This MOU is a key step in diversifying LNG supply and this relation will go a long way towards developing mutually beneficial relations," said A. K. Balyan, MD and CEO, Petronet. PRIME TASS

Website of the Embassy

of the Russian Federation in India

bookmarks St.Petersburg International economic forum website The official website of the Skolkovo foundation

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Innovation Over 60 companies sign as residents in Russia's Silicon Valley; IT, biomedical research, energy key sectors

MNCs, IT giants troop to Skolkovo With over 60 companies on board and a host of MNCs and research institutions coming in, Skolkovo is set to be Russia's innovation city. Olga Razumovskaya

Skolkovo, a Silicon Valleytype hub near Moscow, is what Russian President Dmitry Medvedev hopes will be the Noah's Ark for Russian's oilsurfeited economy: Put the best scientists and engineers, several promising startups and major international corporations in a to-be-constructed town, add global and local technology leaders and Nobel Prize winners to oversee the process, and you have a recipe for a successful new economy. A year and a half after the president finalised the location of the country's new innovation site, companies that joined the project have continued to remain optimistic, while others have preferred to observe from afar, content with their Russian business and contribution to the economy. Currently, there are several ways for companies of all shapes and sizes to participate. Participants should be from one of the five areas of innovation outlined by Medvedev in June 2009: nuclear and information technologies,

Alexandr miridonov_kommersant

the moscow times

At St. Petersburg economic forum, Viktor Vekselberg, president of Skolkovo Innovation Center, signed a number of agreements with leading hi-tech firms and institutions such as Nokia Corporation, Simens AG, IBM, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

space, biomedical research and energy efficiency. The primary way for the companies to participate is through "residency" — a commitment to be physically present in the Skolkovo compound once the construction of the innovative city is completed in 2015. There are now 60 signed residents on the Skolkovo roster split between three

sectors: IT, biomedical research and energy efficiency. Among the first residents to be chosen to participate in the project was Innograd Pushchino, whose project envisages using biotechnologies to discover and neutralise highly dangerous infections. Residents also include IT companies such as Parallels Research, which will be set-

'Modernisation to continue even if I am not in power' Darrell Stanaford, managing director of real estate agency Medvedev’s pro-reform re- CB Richard Ellis in Russia. marks were seen by many par- Stanaford said both foreign ticipants as bordering on a and Russian business agree campaign speech. “A pretty that the government should presidential speech,”said An- not dictate from above but drew Somers, president of the rather provide conditions for American Chamber of Com- them to thrive. "This is the format which is necessary," he merce in Russia. Medvedev was trying to win said. the support of“his colleagues Others noted Medvedev's frein power and the Russian elite” quent use of the word "choice," ahead of the election, said which in Russian is the same

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as the word for election. By reiterating "my choice," Medvedev has indicated that he personally backs his promises, said Klaus Kleinfeld, CEO of U.S. aluminum giant Alcoa. "It is the same language that a U.S. president would use," Kleinfeld, who chairs the U.S.-Russia Business Council, said in an interview. Arkady Dvorkovich, Medvedev's top economic policy aide, told reporters that the president had

ting up a cloud-computing center in Skolkovo, and Almaz Capital, which pledged 900 million rubles ($30 million) to create a business incubator. Multinationals, research institutions and universities with big names are participating by performing an oversight role as a part of the Skolkovo Foundation, the project's advisory council, the

undoubtedly given "a political speech." But he was careful to stress that it was wrong to call it a campaign speech. "The election campaign hasn't started yet," he said. But in another twist, Medvedev made it clear that his modernisation policy would be followed even if he weren't in the Kremlin. "The project will go ahead no matter who holds office in this country over the coming years. I guarantee this personally as the president of this country," he declared. Medvedev sought to push the envelope further saying plans for a privatization drive that he initiated were "too modest" and the government must ad-

board of trustees, the town planning board or by signing memorandums of understanding concerning future cooperation. Among such companies are global IT giant Cisco Systems, which promised to invest $1 billion in Skolkovo during Medvedev's visit to California last summer. Now the company is one of Skolkovo's most faithful promoters, promising to increase its support of local IT education by ramping up the number of its training centers in Russia from 125 to 650 by 2015. "We also see ourselves as residents in 2011 if everything goes as planned," Andrei Zyuzin, who is driving cooperation with Skolkovo on behalf of Cisco, said. "This project is purely commercial for us. The reason we are here is to create an ecosystem for innovation in Russia," he said. Zyuzin is optimistic and answers sceptics that initial results of the project will be visible in four to five years, and that in seven to 10 years, it will be possible to judge whether the company has taken the right course with the project. Google chairman and chief executive Eric Schmidt decided to get involved by joining the Skolkovo Foundation council. The company's par-

ticipation might not be limited to Schmidt's chairmanship. "We support this project and hope to be useful in it," said Alla Zabrovskaya, Google Russia's spokeswoman. Companies likeYandex, which triumphantly listed on NASDAQ and is now a poster child for successful innovation ventures, are more cautious when talking about Skolkovo. "The Skolkovo project is designed for startups, new companies for which special conditions and benefits are needed.Yandex, after all, is a fully formed company with its own unit called Yandex," the company's press office said. Hewlett-Packard, which boasts a large presence in Russia, has so far been reluctant to participate in Skolkovo in any way, saying that Skolkovo has yet to prove that it can compete globally with other innovation hubs. The Association of Computer and Information Technologies companies, or APKIT, an IT lobbying association, is sceptical. "Not to be a nihilist — it is good that the government is trying to support a non-natural resources economy," but if it really wants to support the IT industry, it should lower taxes and create conditions for preparing the workforce, said APKIT head Nikolai Komlev.

just them by Aug. 1. Dvorkovich later explained that privatisation revenues from 2012 to 2014 should amount to at least 450 billion rubles ($16

billion rubles from privatisations this year alone. Participants were also buoyant about the prospect of the country's accession to the World Trade Organisation by the end of the year. Medvedev provided one of his strongest arguments for accession so far by saying the economy could not function without free trade. "Markets are like parachutes — they work only when open. Without an open economy, we will fall very badly," said Medvedev, while asserting that Russia’s admission to theWTO was realistic by year-end and would be done only under acceptable terms.

"Markets are like parachutes — they work only when open," says Medvedev. billion) per annum instead of the previous target of 300 billion rubles ($10 billion). Deputy Economic Development Minister Alexandra Levitskaya added that the government planned to rake in 500

The smart power of the SCO Nursultan Nazarbayev

n Indrus.i

Arrested development Eugene Ivanov



Russia india report


in association with rossiyskaya gazeta, russia THE times of india wednesday_JUNE 29_2011 SCO official website Russia’s Foreign Ministry Russia in global affairs magazine website

Region: central asia With Afghan endgame nearing, the six-nation SCO is set to play a more vital role - an anchor of regional stability

India keen on SCO for energy, trade, security Nivedita Das Kundu


specially for RIr

he tenth summit of the Shanghai Cooperatipreon Organisation (SCO) concluded successfully in Kazakh capital Astana on June 15, 2011. The SCO, which is focused on fighting the trinitarian evils of extremism, terrorism and separatism on the one hand and on creating a web of regional prosperity on the other, is on the verge of transformation and expansion. Mongolia, Iran, Pakistan (all observer states) have expressed their strong desire to become full members of the organisation. Of late, India has

For India, SCO will provide an important platform for sharing security concerns of region also shown its keenness for getting full membership. New Delhi thinks that joining the SCO will provide it an important platform for sharing security concerns of the region and to work closely on issues relating to the stability of Afghanistan. Though SCO is not interested in sending troops to Afghanistan as they had bitter experience on this front during the Soviet times, which they would not like to repeat, but as most of the SCO member/observer states share the common border with Afghanistan, it becomes essential for the SCO to maintain peace and stability in this country. Afghanistan has already submitted its application for getting membership in

the SCO and this was discussed during the Astana summit. By joining the forum, Afghanistan can play a more active role in the organisation. India is now taking a closer look at the SCO, but one could see some hesitation during the recent summit. While the 10th SCO summit was attended by heads of states, India was represented by its foreign minister only. In the past too, India preferred not to be represented by the head of state in the summits to maintain some distance. Hence,in most of the SCO summits, India was represented by Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas. However, in theYekaterinburg summit in June 2009, India signaled a major shift in its attitude when Prime Minister Manmohan Sigh attended the summit himself.This clearly indicated India’s seriousness about the organisation. In the summit last year inTashkent, the SCO decided to bring in some more countries as full members as well as observers.It is hoped that India will soon become a full member of SCO. In fact, India and Pakistan are considered as the favorites for joining the six-nation regional grouping. India’s full membership in the SCO would help to strengthen the fight against terrorism and drug trafficking. It will also provide India a closer platform for integration with the Eurasian States (including Central Asia and Russia) and can address geopolitical as well as security concerns of the region. India, along with other SCO states, can contribute in increasing regional stability. The growing importance of the SCO makes it essential for India to increase dialogue and en-

gagement with this body and strengthen its position within the forum. A strong India-SCO relationship would bring major trade and investment opportunities for India. The SCO is gradually realising its ambitious economic integration agenda, including the formation of a free-trade zone and setting-up rules for the free movement of goods, services and technologies within SCO member states.With its rapidly growing economy, India’s energy demands are set to grow manifold, and in this context, the energy-rich SCO states could be of strategic importance. India has played an important role in strengthening the SCO since it joined it as an

observer at the fifth summit held in July 2005 in Astana. India shares with the SCO common positions on many politico-security issues and concerns of the region. India has good relations with all SCO members; hence, prospects for future cooperation are very bright. During China’s SCO presidentship in 2012, India-Pakistan and India-China relationship are likley to improve as leaders of the SCO member states announced 2011-2012 as the SCO's year of good-neighborliness and friendship. Dr.Nivedita Das Kundu is a Foreign Policy Analyst with the Indian Council for Social Science Research, New Delhi.

Get India, Pakistan in SCO for Afghan solution Fyodor Lukyanov


ria novosti

reated for the purely practical purpose of settling border disputes between China and the former Soviet republics in Central Asia, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation has evolved into a major regional and global political player since its founding 10 years ago. Comprising Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, the SCO is one of the few international organisations to have grown stronger in the past decade and there are three reasons for this. First, the importance of regional organisations has been growing around the world, and the area of Eurasia where the SCO operates has become a focus of international attention. Second, SCO member countries

are aware of the need to coordinate on their many overlapping interests in the region. And lastly, the SCO is finely balanced by two great regional powers, China and Russia, which prevents any one member from dominating. Kazakhstan, a confident and rapidly developing country, is yet another pillar reinforcing the organisation’s balance. Initially, the West saw the SCO as another Russian attempt to establish an anti-U.S. bloc. However, the SCO’s only antiU.S. move to date was a 2005 statement calling for a timetable on the removal of U.S. military bases from Central Asia. The issue has not been raised again since. The SCO’s refusal to admit Iran, which has filed for membership twice, can be explained by its unwillingness to be seen as an anti-Western organisation. The SCO has the chance to be-

ria novosti

10 years of SCO : a regional force and global Player The leaders of the SCO member states Uzbekistan, China, Kazakhstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan at the Astana summit.

come the main stabilising force in Central and South Asia, which is why its leaders are considering lifting the tacit moratorium on expansion. During Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari’s visit to Moscow in May, President Dmitry Medvedev publicly spoke in favour of admitting Pakistan to the SCO. Russia would also like to see India as a full member, but China is not enthusiastic about the prospect. A compromise may be to admit both India and Pakistan.The biggest regional problem is the future of Afghanistan after the withdrawal of the U.S. and NATO troops or a change in how they are deployed in the country.Afghanistan is a question mark because the U.S. strategy regarding the country is unclear.It fact,Washington may have no Afghan strategy, judging by varying opinions on U.S.interests in Afghanistan and how to best defend them. In other words, the SCO member countries should prepare for any scenario. If they grant membership to India and Pakistan, the organisation will comprise nearly all the countries that can influence developments in Afghanistan, excluding the US and Iran. This may not ensure a viable solution to the Afghan problem, but it will put the SCO in the best position to facilitate one. However, there are complicating factors in SCO relations, first among them being Moscow and Beijing’s differing views of the SCO’s mission. Russia believes that it should become a strategic political player focused on regional and

global security. As is often the case,China has avoided discussions of this issue, opting to focus on trade and economic cooperation instead. In other words, Russia would like to use the SCO to strengthen its strategic presence in Central Asia, while China sees it as an instrument of economic expansion. For now, there is balance between the two largest members. China is stronger economically, while Russia has greater political resources, including the Central Asian countries’ wariness of China’s economic might. This mutual deterrence holds

The SCO is finely balanced by two great regional powers, China and Russia. the SCO back while at the same time providing stability.There is still a risk of one of them dominating,as the growing imbalance between Russia and China may deprive Moscow of its political advantage.But Beijing tries to avoid demonstrating its advantages. Moreover, it wants the SCO to grow stronger as a regional organisation, as China will always be the first among equals in the region. Global instability will most likely continue to grow, which means that the SCO’s second decade will be packed full of even more interesting events. Fyodor Lukyanov is the Editor-in-Chief of the journal Russia in Global Affairs.

All articles appearing on pages 4 and 5 do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of the editors of Rossiyskaya Gazeta and Russia India Report.

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Afghan villagers watch as NATO soldiers patrol a small town in the Arghandab district.

Strategy The West will never win in Afghanistan by purely military means; building infrastructure holds the key

Stalling Taliban: The Soviet experience

As the world marks the 10th anniversary of 9/11 this autumn, the US should avoid mistakes made by the Soviet Union to stall a Taliban takeover of Afghanistan. Vladimir Snegirev Specially for RIR

The US-led coalition's war against the Taliban and the Soviet military presence in Afghanistan, although separated in time and space, have much in common. There are, however, also differences, the chief one being that Moscow in 1979 sent its divisions to protect a friendly regime from hostile forces and to prevent Afghanistan from dropping out of its sphere of influence. The West committed its troops to destroy terrorist bases. In the former case, it was an episode in the global confrontation between the “socialist camp”and virtually the rest of the world. In the latter case, it was the White House’s response to 9/11. Thirty-two years ago, when the Soviet Union’s generals found themselves in Afghanistan, they did not even bother to provide basic accommodation for their units as they assumed that they would quickly defeat Islamic guerillas armed with outdated weapons and return home. However, the bearded mujahideen were supported by the colos-

sal resources of the US, Saudi Arabia, China, Pakistan, Egypt, Israel and many others who declared the Soviet Union an“evil empire” and dragged it into a prolonged war of attrition with the aim of winning the Cold War. The coalition fighting the Taliban-al-Qaeda combine, on the contrary, has the support of practically the whole world, including Russia. But despite these seminal differences, there are certain similarities.Thirty-two years ago, as soon as they entered Kabul, Soviet Special Forces began by liquidating Hafizulla Amin, the Afghan leader who was suspected of collaborating with the CIA. Babrak Karmal was brought in to replace Amin and was thoroughly briefed by the Kremlin on how to run the country “correctly”. The US-NATO invasion was also preceded by the high-profile political assassination of Ahmad Shah Massoud, the only Afghan at the time who had a chance to become a genuine national leader. The official story is that forces close to the Taliban masterminded the murder, but not many give credence to this. The truth is that at the time Massoud did not suit anyone, whether it be the Americans, the “black mullahs” or members of his circle who wanted nothing but to enjoy the spoils of the jihad

victory.The way the assassination was organised and the tracks covered up shows that serious professionals were at work. The Taliban? This does not look like their work. Subsequently, the White House installed Hamid Karzai at the Ark Palace and then did everything to legitimise him in the eyes of his own citizens. The Soviets were zealously imposing on Afghanistan their own ideas of state structure and public life.The Americans are committing the same mistakes, vainly trying to graft their “democratic values” on the Afghan tribes. The appearance of NATO and

ISAF units in Afghanistan, like the invasion by the“limited Soviet contingent”, has given a powerful impetus for a guerilla war. The Russians failed to achieve victory, but arguably managed to do what the West has yet to achieve: to create a viable government, to form, arm and train the army and police and ensure control of most of the country’s territory. My foreign colleagues sometimes ask me why many Afghans, even former mujahideen, have fond memories of the Russians while showing no warm feelings for those who today risk their lives to defend them against the Tali-

ban and Al-Qaeda. I think the answer is obvious.The trick is that we did not only fight the fundamentalists, but also invested billions of dollars in various construction projects. Almost everything Afghanistan has today – roads, bridges, tunnels, farms, schools, grain elevators, residential neighborhoods – were built by or with the assistance of the Soviets.Tens of thousands of Afghans were educated in Russia and other Soviet republics. Such things are not easily forgotten. Surgical military operations must be, therefore, accompanied by important infrastructure

projects that change the face of the country and the mentality of its people. In the early 1990s, one could often hear people in Russia saying that“sending troops to Afghanistan was a tragic mistake, but pulling them out was an unpardonable crime”.Winning the jihad turned out to be a Pyrrhic victory: chaos, civil war, still greater casualties culminating in the seizure of power by the Taliban, and Afghanistan becoming the centre of international terrorism. Today, the world is different. But the danger of such a catastrophe repeating itself has not subsided.

book review

Revisiting 1979: A gory tale of revolution, coups, murders

TITLE: Virus A Authors: Vladimir Snegirev, Valery Samunin

As the Afghan endgame begins with the phased withdrawal of Western forces in July, a new book revisits the Soviet misadventure in Afghanistan, which may have lessons for the future of the country as well. Virus A, authored by Vladimir Snegirev and Valery Samunin (published by Rossiyskaya Gazeta) traces back the chain of tragic and bloody events that led to the decision to send Soviet troops into Afghanistan in 1979. In the book subtitled “How we be-

came consumed with invading Afghanistan,” the authors take April 27, 1978 as the starting point of their research when the Saur (April) Revolution roared through Kabul. On this fateful day, Afghan President Muhammad Daoud Khan, his family and supporters were brutally murdered, and the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan took power. On December 27 1979, Soviet Special Forces arrived in Afghanistan, their official mission be-

ing to provide protection for Afghan President Hafizullah Amin. The authors believe that this 20-month period from April 27, 1978 to December 27, 1979 played a defining role not just in Afghanistan’s modern history, but also impinged on how global politics would play out in the future. The book reads like a thriller and bristles with torrid sub-plots involving a variegated cast of personalities ranging from politburo members to lowranking Afghan revolutionaries.


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in association with rossiyskaya gazeta, russia THE times of india wednesday_JUNE 29_2011 Rabindranath Tagore’s poems in English Russian Centre of Science and Culture in New Delhi

Memoirs 'I am leaving for America. But the memory of Russia continues to dominate my being', wrote Tagore in 1930

Tagore loved Russia till his dying day As the world celebrates the 150th birth anniversary of Nobel-winning Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore, Mastura Kalandarova recalls his tryst with Soviet Russia. Mastura Kalandarova

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“On August 7, 1941, in Calcutta, a man died. His mortal remains perished,but he left behind him a heritage, which no fire could consume. It was a heritage of words and music and poetry, of ideas and of ideals and it has the power to move us today and in the days to come. We, who owe him so much, salute his memory… ”This is how the famous film director Satyajit Ray described the great humanist, poet, writer and Noble laureate Rabindranath Tagore, who is being celebrated by the global community this year to mark the 150th anniversary of his birth. The name of the great poet was known and loved even in prerevolutionary Russia. In 1917, several translations of his celebrated collection of poems Gitanjali were simultaneously published, including those edited by future Noble Prize recipient and writer Ivan Bunin. The memoirs of Nicholas Roerich attest toTagore’s popularity in Russia:“Gitanjali came like a revelation. The poems were read at gatherings and at private‘at homes’. Only true talent could create such a precious mutual understanding. Now everyone at once became imbued with love for Tagore." The tradition of poetic transla-

Rabindranath Tagore meets a group of schoolchildren. Moscow. 1930.

tions of Tagore into Russian continued later as well, with Boris Pasternak translating his works in the 1950-1960s and Anna Akhmatova doing the same in the 1960s. In 1926, the Soviet government published his collected works. Tagore tried on several occasions to visit Soviet Russia, but it proved to be a difficult venture to pull off. By late 1917, all ties between Russia and British India had been cut off. Only in 1926, while travelling in Europe, the poet met USSR Ambassador Alexander Arosyev in Stockholm and expressed his profound desire to visit the So-

viet he Union. Soon after, he received an official invitation. Tagore arrived in the Soviet Union on September 11, 1930. “The sole purpose of my trip to Russia was to learn about the methods for spreading education and its results. I had very little time,”Tagore wrote.“I am not a politician. My sole purpose in life is enlightenment”. In Soviet Russia the poet met hundreds of people from writers, musicians and scientists to common workers. He visited schools and orphanages.Tagore was struck by the scope of the cultural construction underway in the Soviet Union.Tagore

has written that he was amazed at how a people who had carried out a revolution, endured dreadful famine and a bloody civil war could be were fond of visiting art museums and theatres. The overcrowded theatres also left an indelible impression on Tagore, who made art as foundation of his educational system in Shantiniketan. In September 1930, an exhibit of Tagore’s work opened at the State Museum of NewWestern Art featuring more than 200 watercolours.“Needless to say, the paintings are unusual… yet the people came in endless

crowds. Five thousand people visited the exhibit in just a few days,”he wrote. Tagore’s trip ended on September 24, 1930 with a festive concert at the Pillar Hall of the House of Unions. The author’s poems were read from the stage in Bengali. Tagore shared his impressions of his trip to the Soviet Union in articles that comprise the collection Letters from Russia. These letters were published in Bengali in the Probasi magazine. The English translation only saw the light of day after India was granted independence.Letters from Russia were only translated into Russian for the first time in 1956.The publication excluded two of the fifteen letters, in which Tagore made negative comments about USSR. Way back in the 1930s, Tagore foretold the political processes that would take place in the country at the end of the twentieth century. Speaking about the imminent collapse of Bolshevism,Tagore wrote,“It is possible that in this age Bolshevism is the cure, but medical treatment cannot be permanent; the day when the regime prescribed by the doctor is lifted will be a celebratory one for the patient”. He also prophesised the fate of socialism in the USSR: “… they cannot rely upon what they ultimately built in a short time with the use of cruelty since this construction is not capable of bearing the burden of eternity,”he wrote. In his letters and interviews, Tagore tried to speak objective-

ly about the economic and cultural achievements of the Soviet Union, while not overlooking its shortcomings. “After my trip to Russia, today I am leaving for America,”he wrote at the end of one of his letters.“But the memory of Russia continues to dominate all my being.The thing is the other countries I have visited did not stir up my imagination in the same way. Their business-like energy is scattered around various types of activities,be it politics, hospitals, schools or museums. And here… everyone is united by common aspirations. Such a profound unity of souls is impossible in countries where property and energy are separated into personal interests”. Tagore remained interested in the Soviet Union until the end of his life. He followed all the news coming out of the Soviet Union from the very start of the World War II. Half an hour before going into surgery,Tagore asked his friend,“Tell me, what have you heard about Russia?” When his friend replied that things on the front were improving, his face lit up and he exclaimed,“Oh, how could it be otherwise?That is how it should be. Things had to get better. They can do it.Only they can do it!”Tagore believed that the Soviet Union was the only real force capable of destroying fascism. On May 7, 1941, Rabindranath Tagore turned 80.Three months later, on August 7, the poet passed away, leaving a monumental legacy the world is celebrating now.

50 years of space travel Indo-Russian venture Chandrayan-2 is progressing well, says Russian cosmonaut

Pitching for greater space cooperation with India, cosmonaut Viktor Savinykh calls for creating a monument for Yuri Gagarin, the first man to go into space, in Mumbai. Vasily Gorshkov rir

Russian cosmonaut Viktor Savinykh’s recent trip to Mumbai early June evoked much interest among space enthusiasts. Delivering a special lecture at the Nehru Cen-

tre on the 50th anniversary of the first human space flight, the 71-year-old cosmonaut said he would like to see a monument forYuri Gagarin in Mumbai.“Yuri Gagarin was a great man. Moreover, he also visited Mumbai. If that (monument) happens, I would come for its inauguration and I will help in every possible way,” said Savinykh. "It is important to have a monument in the name of Gagarin in India, in order to further

boost the Indo-Soviet relationship," said Savinykh, the flight commander of the Soyuz T-13, the first human spaceflight mission to make a successful landing on an inert space station (Salyut 7). Last month, the Russian consulate had written to the state government requesting that the new Lalbaug flyover in Mumbai is named after Gagarin.“If not a monument, at least name the flyover after him. In Russia, there are so

many roads and places named in honour of great Indian figures,”said Savinykh. The veteran cosmonaut also spoke movingly about the first man in space –Yuri Gagarin. Striking an upbeat note about the prospects of Chandrayaan-2, a joint lunar exploration undertaken by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) and the Russian Federal Space Agency (RKA), he said it was progressing as planned.


Needed: A monument in the name of Yuri Gagarin in India

Viktor Savinykh was a flight commander of three successful space missions; spent 252 days in space; has been honoured twice as the Hero of the Soviet Union.

bookmarks Popular Soviet and Russian films with English subtitles for free viewing Archive of over 8000 Russian films to stream for free

Russia india report


in association with rossiyskaya gazeta, russia THE times of india wednesday_JUNE 29_2011

Vyacheslav Razbegaev and Alena Babenko in a movie titled 'Zhest'.


Recalling Bollywood moments in Russia Aanchal Anand



Interview slava Razbegaev

'I will love to work with Big B' no film industry like Bollywood, says Razbegaev who acts in an Indo-Russian movie Once a shy boy, Vyacheslav Razbegaev is now one of Russia's highest-paid actors. Popularly known as Slava, he is upbeat about Players, an Indo-Russian film venture. Arshie Chevalwala rir

How are you finding India? Will you visit again? It has been great. I’m glad I came at this time of the year; monsoon is my favourite season. It’s really beautiful and the weather is lovely. I find the food a bit too spicy for my taste, but I want to come back anyway. I’d love to come and visit again and enjoy the culture, which we hear so much about back home. What was it like to shoot for a Bollywood movie as opposed to doing movies for the Russian industry? It hasn’t been very different. If anything, it’s actually easier. With the way everything is so perfectly planned and organised here, the entire process is less complicated than usual. Of course, there is no denying the language barrier, but everyone around is so co-operative and hospitable, that everything just becomes easier and comfortable.

Did you have much difficulty with dancing? I like to believe dancing is difficult and yes, I did find it a little tiresome. But I found a beautiful partner in Bipasha (Basu). It is almost impossible to go wrong with her. I wasn’t technically perfect but emotionally, she inspired me. How is Bollywood perceived in Russia and by the Russian film fraternity? We have great respect for the Hindi film industry. A huge number of movies are made every year and so many of them are simply great. Not to forget there are so many aspects to Bollywood movies – the music, atmosphere and actors. I personally find Bollywood extremely charming. There is no other film industry, which incorporates so much music and dancing in their films, and is still so vibrant. Do you intend to act in more Bollywood films? If an opportunity comes by, I won’t let it pass. I would love to work with Amitabh Bachchan. I have watched most of his movies and I admire his artistry. I believe it would be a great experience and it is definitely one I hope to have in the future.


Raj Kapoor has a great fan following in Russia. Did you watch his movies while growing up? I watched almost all his films growing up. He is brilliant, and I’m a big fan of his work. Which Hindi movie is your favourite? My favourite Hindi movie is Sholay and incidentally, I had the chance to work with the children of two of the stars from the movie (Abhishek Bachchan and Bobby Deol).


A gifted actor Born on October, 14, 1965 in Moscow, Vyacheslav Razbegaev studied in a boarding school, where he learned Urdu. He served in the Russian Army in the Far East region of Russia. His parents wanted him to be an engineer, but his heart was in acting. After returning from the Army, he started to work at the art department in Mosfilm studio. He trained at the famous Moscow Actors’ School MHAT and after graduating in 1992 worked in Red Army Theatre, Moscow, for 14 years. One of the actors

Do you believe that working in this movie is your way of building stronger ties between the two countries? I would like to believe that it is. Last year, when the Russian president visited India, he also visited a Bollywood studio and invited them to shoot in Russia. My participation in this movie is a direct result of his visit. I am very glad that it happened and at some small level, I believe this is an Indo-Russian film. This is a small step towards building a cultural bond between the two countries. I look forward to visiting one day a Russian cultural centre in Mumbai, where the citizens can learn the language and more about the culture to be better connected with Russia. As an actor, what is your dream project? My dream project would be to act in a children’s movie. If I do get the chance to be a part of such a movie, I would seize it. My dream is to entertain children; and I intend to fulfill this dream by starring in a fairytale someday.

who participated in ‘Oresteia’ by Peter Stein, he has been working at Independent Theatrical Project since 2006. A gifted actor, he has won millions of hearts playing different roles in more than 50 movies from 1991-2011. One of Russia’s highest paid actors, he plays the role of an Army General in'Players,' an IndoRussian film directed by Abbas and Mustan Burmawalla which is releasing later this year. The film, shot in Murmansk and St Petersburg, boasts an impressive Indian starcast that includes Abhishek Bachchan, Bipasha Basu and Bobby Deol. Razbegeav is looking forward to his debut in Bollywood and is keen to learn Hindi.

specially for rir

magine this: you walk into the lobby of one of Russia’s best hotels and go to the reception with a request. But before you finish your sentence, the grey-haired doorman comes up to you and asks excitedly:“Are you from India?” You say "Yes", wondering what was so important that he left the door to grab your attention. He hears your answer, smiles and takes two steps back. “Do you know this?”Without warning, he breaks into perfectly paced pelvic thrusts and starts singing,“Jimmy, Jimmy, Jimmy…aaja, aaja, aaja…” As an Indian in Russia, you’re never too far from people’s Bollywood stories. The second they sniff you’re from India, they’ll tell you how much they love Mithun Chakraborty, hum their favourite tunes, and even count how many times they’ve watched movies of the“Indian Charlie Chaplin” – the name that stuck with Raj Kapoor after Mera Naam Joker. Iconic romantic actor Raj Kapoor’s masterpiece 'Shree 420' and 'Awara' were huge hits in Russia in the 1960s. And the famous song 'Mera Joota Hai Japani... Lal Topi Russi' is still sung in restaurants across Moscow and performed at receptions and events that bring Indians and Russians together. India RV, a Russian cable television channel focused on India, shows Bollywood movies that are very popular with the older generation, which still revels in nostalgia about Bollywood films in the Soviet era. Over time, I got used to this enthusiasm and even anticipated it. But my first months in Russia were full of surprises, much like the doorman’s dance. My very first encounter was on a train. Back then, my Russian wasn’t good and my weak vocabulary forced me into being quieter than I am usually. In fact, it was only at dinner time that some semblance of a conversation began from my end. “Where are you from?”asked the lady in her mid-40s. “From India.” “From India?!”the old couple to my right said in unison.

All three of them immediately broke into excited recollections of their beloved Bolly wo o d m o m e n t s . Wi t h dramatic gestures, their faces went from happy to sad to happy again, recounting what I believe were dialogues and scenes from movies. But sadly, it was all lost on me. Even when they asked me if I had seen a certain movie, I couldn’t decode the Russian version of the name. All I could grasp were the accented names of Amitabh Bachchan, Dharmendra and Raj Kapoor. Sensing my frustration at not being able to understand, they switched to a language that did not need to be translated. “Ichak dana…beechak dana… dane upar dana…ichak dana…”My jaw dropped.“You know this song?” They answered my question with another jaw-dropper. “Mud mud ke na dekh…mud mud ke…” It was a moment of revelation. Even in Hindi, they knew more lyrics than I did!

As an Indian in Russia, you are never too far from people’s Bollywood stories. And then one day, I was sitting with Vladimir and Galina, who were smitten with Bollywood.“Have you watched Zita i Gita? It is our all-time favourite.”“Zita i Gita?”What could that be? Gita was definitely Indian but Zita, if anything, sounded Greek. “It used to come on TV all the time...with the two girls...who looked like each other...and there was a fat lady,"Vladmir explained. After countless failed attempts on all previous occasions, I had finally cracked this one. “Seeta aur Geeta!”And how funny to discuss with 30-yearold Russians a movie that most 30-year-old Indians haven’t seen! (In case you’re as tempted as I was to check out Seeta aur Geeta dubbed in Russian, then here is a link: Such stories float around everywhere in Russia, and even bring perks. I was often offered discounts at local stores, and a Kyrgyz restaurant-owner at Lake Baikal did not let me pay for coffee just because I came from the country of Bollywood, and Seeta and Geeta!





IN ASSOCIATION WITH ROSSIYSKAYA GAZETA, RUSSIA THE TIMES OF INDIA WEDNESDAY_JUNE 29_2011 Elena Vesnina's official website Sania Mirza's official website

Tennis When I had a wrist inujury, Sania helped me regain my confidence: Elena

Lena and Sania: Fired by the Grand Slam dream ALEXANDER ERASTOV RIR

The Russian-Indian pair lost in Paris, but all is not over yet. This year, they have at least two more chances to win a Grand Slam doubles tournament — at Wimbledon which kicks off on July 20, and at the U.S. Open, which starts on August 29.


Sania Mirza is 25. Lives in Hyderabad. Career earnings: $2.1 million. Married to Shoaib Malik, a former captain of Pakistani cricket team.

They say that tennis is a continuation of life. But only on court. That is, those qualities which a player possesses in life manifest themselves on the tennis court.That ElenaVesnina is a true professional and master of technique and tactics is beyond doubt. But Lena, as she is popularly known, is also an extraordinarily outgoing person, cheerful and kind. These qualities make her a redoubtable doubles player. As for her purely “tennis” abilities, she has quick reactions and a marvelous sense of the ball — the most indispensable qualities in a doubles partner. Interestingly, Lena has alre a dy b e e n i n

three Grand Slam finals, the most important and prestigious competitions in tennis: the French Open in 2009 withVictoria (Vika) Azarenko; Wimbledon in 2010 withVera Zvonareva; and the French Open in 2011 with Sania

Mirza. You would think that on her third t r y, Lena would have won a Grand S l a m title, but alas, the Czech duo of Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka was stronger. Vesnina has yet to win any singles tournaments, only doubles. In doubles, she is a five-time champion. She

won Indian Wells in Charleston in 2011 with Sania and in 2008, with Dinara Safina; Hobart in 2007 with Elena Likhovtseva; and Quebec in 2005 with Anastasia Rodionova. Playing singles, Vesnina has reached the finals five times: in Istanbul and in Tashkent (2010); in Oakland and in New Haven (2009); and in Charleston (2011). Vesnina recently spoke to RIR about this year’s French Open with Sania Mirza and her future plans.

Lena, it’s too bad you didn’t make it… Well, that happens. I can’t say that we played very badly or that our opponents played incredibly well. The Czechs waved their rackets around, and they managed everything. For us, it was a little difficult because we knew we had a chance of winning. You’ve made it to Grand Slam finals every year, but with different partners. Roland Garros is my favorite tournament. I’m thrilled that Sania and I made it to the final in Paris. How would you describe Sania’s game? Sania often saved me. Our situation is like this: if one of us tires and starts to make mistakes, the other one supports and shows her what to do.You can’t give your opponents easy balls, especially on return of serve. If you can’t manage that, then you need to let your partner try. I noticed you apologised to each other when you made mistakes.


Sania Mirza


In the final in Paris, we did not play our best tennis. Maybe because our opponents didn’t feel the pressure; they weren’t the favourites, after all. Also, a lot depends not only on the level of the players, but also other small things like sleep, rest and one's physical condition. One way or another, Lena and I will prove ourselves and win the most prestigious tournament — Wimbledon or the U.S. Open.

Samuel Sumyk


I’ve known Vesnina for a long time, but we worked together only briefly, during the Federation Cup match in Madrid. Like many Russian girls, she is strong-willed. Maybe the world has the wrong idea about the Russians. You have this quality of wanting to do things well.

Of course, we did! When one of us makes a mistake, we always apologise: “Oh, I’m so sorry, that was a bad shot, but I ran up in time.” However, we don’t pressurise each other.

You were formerly coached by Frenchman Samuel Sumyk, who is now training Vika Azarenko. Then you worked with Andrei Chesnokov, a famous Russian tennis player. Now you’re working with your father, Sergei. What do you do to prepare for a doubles match?

My father, Sania’s father and her trainer all discuss strategies. Everyone contributes, and then during the actual match, we choose ourselves which advice is the most effective.

Do you get any tips from your trainers during the match? You know that’s against the rules. But we have, why hide it? We even received a warning in Paris for that. The judge in the high chair noticed that Sania’s trainer was saying something. Sania had to pay a fine. So everything is very serious, especially at Grand Slam tournaments. How and when did you decide to team up with Sania? Before a series of American tournaments this year, we agreed to play together. I had a wrist injury.When my wrist started to bother me less, I went back to playing tournaments, but only doubles. And with Sania. We won Indian Wells. After that, I told myself that I should just enjoy my game and that I could win. When you have an injury, it’s as though your whole life is on hold. Sania really helped me to regain my confidence and renewed my interest in the game. You always say that the French Open is your favourite tournament. Why? It was my first Grand Slam tournament. I played it as a

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A native of Sochi, Russian tennis star Elena Vesnina is upbeat about the prospects of winning a Grand Slam tournament with her Indian doubles partner, Sania Mirza.

Elena Vesnina is 25. Lives in Sochi, Russia. She has won five WTA women’s doubles tournaments. Career earnings: $2.6 million. She is single.

junior. I like clay. In Sochi, you can train eight months out of the year on that surface. My results are not the very best, but I like to play here. Roland Garros is not as good as other tournaments: it’s crowded, and there are lines for everything, including cars back to your hotel.

After Roland Garros, you returned to Moscow for a few days before leaving for England. It seems you did not have the time to go home to Sochi…. No, I only had a couple of days in Moscow — with Sania, actually. We trained a little. I had to come back to Moscow to get my British visa. Now I’ll have to pay a return visit to Sania in India.

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June 2011, Russia & India Report  
June 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...