UAE Ambassador to Russia Omar Said Ghobash Turks in Russia ZIL Creative Centre and Creative Cluster Have a Nice Day Restaurant The Case For Culture Over Politics Life as an English Teacher in Moscow Repatriation Anatoly Zverev
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4-5. Moscow Dragons’ Ball. 6-9. Community News
10-11. Moscow Business Networking Club. 12. Social Movers. Maria Ushakova. Don Craig. Chris Helmbrecht’s 14-15. John Harrison. Chet Bowling Becomes Honorary Consul for Jamaica. 16-17. IWC. 28th Annual Charity Winter Bazaar 2016. 18-19. Martin Cooke. Expat Parts. 20-21. Luc Jones. The Case of The Missing Landlord. 22-23. IWC 2017 Embassy Ball. 24-25. Gavin Melluish. Moscow Dragons RFC: 20 Years in The Game. 26-28. Simon Green. Life as An English Teacher in Moscow 29. John Harrison. Luke Conner, newly appointed President of the British Business Club (BBC). 30-31. Peter Holland. The Dawn of Golf in The Russian Federation.
37. Neil Cross. March of ides
38-39. Interview with Melisa Murat. 40. Interview with Taner Kaplankiran. 41. Interview with Okan Yildiz. 42-43. Interview with Ibrahim Yildiz
44-45. Nigel Cox. Art Collector Igor Savitsky.
46-47. Paul Goncharoff. So, this is That Nasty Russia? (Part Two)
Education 48-49. Magistr
50. Luke Conner. English law – a Great British export, and well received by Moscow clientele.
52-53. Marie Giral. Artist Anatoly Zverev. 54-56. The Arts as a Revolutionary Force in Russia, 1880-1916. 58-60. Lyuba Zolotova. Zil Arts Centre 61-63. John Harrison. The Role of Culture in Politics.
32-33. John Harrison. UAE Ambassador to Russia -- Omar Saif Ghobash and his latest book: Letters to a Young Muslim. 34-36. Helen Borodina. The South African ‘Cultural Seasons’ in Russia: A Celebration at Dom Muzyki and the Unveiling of Monuments to Heroes in Novodevichy Cemetery
64-65. Father Christopher Hill. My Very Own ‘Kairos.’ 66-67. Charles Borden. There and Back Again. 68. Sherry Weinstein. The Peace Education Programme.
70-71. Jason White. The Potential Russian Business Markets a Developing BREXIT Free Britain Should Engage In.... 72-73. Chris Weafer. Change Is Coming.
74-75. Lucy Kenyon. Repatriation and Reverse Culture Shock. 76-78. Alexa Shearer. You Can Hardly Remember.
80-81. Vincent Weightman. The Trans-Siberian.
82-83. John Harrison. Interview with Head Chef Said Fadli. 84. Interview with David Oganesyan, Founder of Voskevaz Winery 86-87. MGFC. Have A Nice Day café, at Tsvetnoi Central Market.
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he long winter is coming to an end. Those of us who have seen crises out in the past are beginning to sense the end of this one, or at least we feel that things can’t get much worse. But this is all occurring against a background of massive polarisation of opinions and a certain amount of McCarthyite anti-Russia bashing. Russia must be a massively more important card than many of us who live here think, for she is able to play such a decisive role in world politics methinks! Helen Borodina covers an important cultural event organized by the South African embassy in Moscow, when, at the ‘Dom Muziki,’ the embassy celebrated South Africa’s own very powerful and specific culture. The next day, as Helen reports, two statues dedicated to national South African heroes were unveiled in a special ceremony. The Ambassador of UAE to Moscow, Ambassador Omar Said Ghobash touches on a vitally important theme in my interview in this issue, when he talks about the need to tell the world that Islam is not actually a radical religion despite the narrative that we are being fed with from the world’s media day and night. Maintaining our clarity of mind is certainly not easy. A way of finding peace for many expats and Russians, has been meditation. It still feels strange to write about this, however it now feels safe to ‘come out’ about such subjects. Long-time Moscow resident Charles Borden writes about his journey that began 47 years ago when he became acquainted with the meditation techniques imparted by the Maharishi Yogi in Maine, New England. Charles actually became a TM teacher in 1974. He brings his story to Russia, and describes the interesting development of that movement in Russia. Sherry Weinstein, writes about the ‘Peace Education Programme’ as offered by the Prem Rawat Foundation, a programme that has brought, according to graduates of the programme, a deep understanding and experience of peace to a huge number of people the world over. The programme is now available in Moscow. The Turks in Moscow are another aspect of our community who have been incredibly busy designing and building some of the landmark buildings that we consider to be archetypical Moscow. Riverside Towers at Paveletskaya, for example, was one of their first achievements. Political developments hit the Moscow Turkish community hard last year, but they now seem to be recovering. Thanks to Maria Ushakova, we were able to interview four Turks in this issue. Perhaps of interest to those who may be about to pack up and go, are two articles about what it is like to move both in the physical and spiritual sense. Can we ever, in fact, forget Russia? On the cultural front, Lubov Zolotova writes about the ZIL Cultural centre and Creative Cluster, and the indefatigable Ross Hunter (of ‘Silver’s’ fame) who may well be a ‘repat’ soon, tackles (well) an impossible subject: ‘The Arts as a Revolutionary Force in Russia, 1880-1916.’ Тhere is a lot in this issue, much more than I have mentioned here; not least the unforgettable Dragons’ Rugby Ball. I do hope you enjoy reading this magazine. firstname.lastname@example.org
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Contributors: Don Craig Marie Giral Nigel Cox Simon Green Luc Jones Paul Goncharoff Chris Weafer Luke Conner Maria Ushakova Martin Cooke Gavin Melluish Peter Holland Helen Borodina Dominica Harrison Ross Hunter Lyuba Zolotova Father Christopher Hill Charles Borden Sherry Weinstein Lucy Kenyon Alexa Shearer Vincent Weightman
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cow s o M e Th s’ Dragon ’s Day ine t n e l a V St. Ball y t i r a h C
Photos by John Harrison and Evgeniya Zhulanova
By John Harrison
have been to many events in Moscow over the years, however the Moscow Dragons’ 20th anniversary, celebrated in February in the Marriott Grand, will go down in my memory as one of the very best.
Moscow Dragons’ President Piotr Khoutiev made the first speech of the evening, and proclaimed the opening of the 20th anniversary celebrations of the club. He put the ball in its right perspective, that is an event held not only to celebrate the club’s
magnificent achievements, but to raise a substantial amount of money to support the amazing work of the Dobroserdie Charity which helps children suffering from cerebral palsy. As with all things that the Dragons sets out to do, this goal was achieved. Moscow Team captain Andrey Proshin
described the many achievements of the club over the past year. After Kick Off and a delicious three course dinner, Piotr Khoutiev warned us that the event might not be too formal, and the closer the evening got to midnight, that it is quite likely to become very
informal indeed. His words turned out to be the understatement of the year as two completely amazing sets by Tony Watkins & Smokebreakers led us closer and closer to Full Time. Beyond that, there was only the Sin Bin. Once a Dragon, Always A Dragon!
News IWC Interest Groups Sign Up In February, the fabulous hotel Metropole hosted the IWC’s monthly Meet&Greet. Members were given the opportunity to sign up for wide range of interest groups such as
Art & Craft, Mind & Soul, Cooking, Languages, and many others. The IWC would like to thank all partners for the gifts for the raffle. Over 70,000 roubles for charity projects was raised.
our burgeoning women’s section! And come training Tuesdays and Thursdays! Alternatively, you can become a social member -- a raft of regular events to enjoy, each one proving the universality of rugby culture. Join us on one of the legendary Dragons’
Tours! And come and watch us -- match details on www.facebook.com/ mdrfc/. Timur (details as per Ball flier) and Gavin (+7 925 7402471) look forward to hearing from you!
(Temple of Sound) Ambient music/digital art @ St Andrew’s Church, April 8th, 7pm. How does sound affect bodies and space? Live Sound makers create ambience using instruments, voice, hi-
technology. Workshop by Nikita Stalker from music portal - www.zwook.ru. Singing bowls, instruments. Pure.Useless. Beauty. Tickets: Mudramusic. org – Sergei: +7 965 444 6747
Shakespeare Company & London’s West End) as Long John Silver. A one hour romp with pirates, adventure and (of course) treasure!
A Moscow English Theatre/Flying Bananas co-production. Tickets http:// flyingbananas.ru/shows/ treasure-island.html
Moscow Dragons RFC’s 20TH ANNIVERSARY!
Help Moscow’s ‘expatriate’ rugby club (founded by expats; nowadays, a tantalising Russo-Cosmopolitan cocktail blended with a common religion: Rugby) to celebrate this milestone by signing up to play rugby! All shapes,
sizes, ages, sexes and hairstyles welcome – help the 1st team go one better than last season’s runner-up spot in the Moscow Championship! Bolster the 2nd XV in its inaugural league season! Swell the ranks of our heroic veterans! Or join
Temple of Sound
TREASURE ISLAND Treasure Island returns on Saturday 18 March at the Central House of Writers. A professional cast led by Jonathan Bex (Royal
Upcoming AEB events spring 2017 (details and registration: www.aebrus.ru/en/aeb-events) HR Conference ‘Effective HR: To A Brighter Future’ 14 March, 09:30-15:30, InterContinental Moscow Tverskaya This year, the conference will be focused on practices applied by leading companies in compensations & benefits, recruitment, assessment, training & development and labour law. The panel discussion by companies’ CEOs will be a special separate session.
XIII Annual Customs Conference ‘NEW IN CUSTOMS LEGISLATION: FOCUS ON INTEGRATION’ 16 March, 10:00-16:00, Marriott Grand Hotel, Moscow Agenda: current customs legislation and practice topics, new Customs Code of EAEU. High level representatives of the Federal Customs Service, Eurasian economic commission, Public Council of Federal Customs Service are invited as our distinguished guests.
6 April, 2017, Sokos Hotel Olympia Garden, St. Petersburg The Forum will gather more than 250 participants representing Russian and European ministries, agencies, regional authorities, the Northern Dimension area and foreign business circles and civil society. Among the keynote speakers: Tapio Kuula, Fortum Corporation, and Alexey Mordashov, Severstal, - Co-Chairmen of the Northern Dimension Business Council.
US Dental Clinic and Platelet Rich Plasma Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) therapy is a unique treatment that uses plasma that is highly concentrated with platelets. The plasma contains cytokines and growth factors that gives astonishing results in rejuvenation. This cell rejuvenation is natural and based on your own natural blood resources: it promotes collagen production, nourishes and hydrates skin and improves skin lifting. This method has been used in different areas of medicine including surgical dentistry (to increase recover), rehabilitation and many others. Stay naturally beautiful and young with PRP therapy at US Dental Care.
Interns available! Russian/English speaking candidates for MA in Global Public Policy and Global Finance seek job experience as interns in Moscow firms. Please contact Natalia Gracheva, RANEPA, for introduction to the students and our English-language Masters programs. firstname.lastname@example.org
British Embassy Open Day
“On 20 June 2017, the British Embassy Moscow will hold an Open Day event for British citizens in Russia who would like to learn more about the work of the Embassy and the services it provides for UK businesses and individuals. The Breakfast meeting will be hosted by the Deputy Head of Mission, Martin Harris, joined by colleagues from Consular Section, Press and Public Affairs Section, UK Visas and Immigration and the Department for International Trade. Timing: 08.30 – 09.30 Location: British Embassy Moscow, Smolenskaya Naberezhnaya 10 (entrance from Protochnyy Pereoluk) Registration is required; RSVP to ppas.moscow@ fco.gov.uk by 14 June, official photo ID or passport is required for entry.”
By John Harrison
The ‘UK-Russia Year of Science and Education The British Council held a press conference in January to announce its ongoing activities under the programme: 2017’ ‘UK-Russia Year of Science and Education 2017.’
he meeting was attended by about 50 Russians students, teachers and scientists, as well as high ranking Russian and British science and cultural functionaries. British-Council-initiated-activities held in the recent past, such as the highly successful exchange of Art between the Tretyakov Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery in London, and the ‘Shakespeare on the Russian Metro’ special train were illustrated using videos and described in guests’ speeches. Upcoming activities such as: the 2nd UK-Russia round table on Tackling Antimicrobial Resistance; a round table on Science Diplomacy which will bring together leading UK and Russian scientists at MGIMO, the ‘Making Science Live in Schools week in October and a host of other activities were showcased.
There were nuggets of fascinating information embedded within speakers’ speeches. For example, Mikhail Shvydkov, Special Representative of the President of the Russian Federation for International Cooperation said that co-operation between the UK and Russia in the cultural and scientific spheres is strong, but it could be stronger. Professor Grimes, Chief Scientific Adviser to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said: “We can only understand things like robotics together, because we look at things in a slightly different way. This is useful.” It was heart-warming to see that even in mid-winter, essential cooperation between the UK and Russia continues, and can probably expand very quickly if the climate changes. From talking to Russians and their British hosts at this meeting it was clearly evident that
there is a strong desire for positive change, but at the same time, tactic recognition that restraining factors are beyond the control of those who attended that meeting. Be this as it may, a host of opportunities exist for educationalists and science-based businesses in the UK, and for that matter for UK businesses, business people and educationalists in Russia to engage in mutually beneficial cooperation. It might be worthwhile checking out what the British Council is up to here; the breadth and scale of their activities (a small fraction of which have been mentioned here) even in these quiet times may surprise you. For further information, see the British Council’s website: www.britishcouncil.ru
The ‘ TIGRUS’ expedition tracks. Almost at dusk we reached the top of a nearby mountain and filmed the winter landscape of the river valley. Staff at the base said tiger trails had been spotted 10 kilometres from the village a couple of weeks previously.” “In the morning, we drove to check how forage was being distributed in the park and see if we could find any wild boars and tiger tracks. When we came back to base, we were told that that morning, an adult tiger had walked along that same path by the river. It reached the outskirts of the village, and then turned back into the forest. We went to measure and photograph the fresh tracks, and then thought: ‘was it luck that we didn’t meet with the tiger or not?’” There are less than 4,000 tigers in the world today, and in the Russian Far East less than 550 tigers.
Photo: Viktor Nikiforov / Tigrus
or many years now, to preserve the Amur tigers’ population in the Russian Far East, the Moscow restaurant holding ‘Tigrus’ has organised a special charity project ‘Tigrus,’ where visitors to the holding’s restaurants contribute money towards increase livestock, fighting against poaching and for environmental education of the local population. In the middle of the winter, President of the ‘Tigrus’ holding, Henrik Winter went on an expedition to the ‘Anyuiskiy’ National Park, which is located 230 kilometres north of the city of Khabarovsk on Anuy River (a tributary of the Amur River). It was almost evening when Henrik and Victor arrived. “We left our things at the base camp,” Henrik said, “and immediately went for a walk along a small path along the river, to see if we could spot any animal
The 5th Moscow Business Networking Club
eld in March, the fifth Moscow Business Networking Club might go down on record as being the turning point when everybody realised that things in Russia might actually start to get better. A cautious optimism was present, it was still cold outside, but the inexorable force of progression towards warmer weather was definitely felt. This contributed to an overall mood of celebration. Celebration for the fact that we have survived the worst of yet another crisis, and celebration because we were at NightFlight and enjoying good
wine, tasty food and great company! A certain sense of the Moscow Business Networking Club being unique because it crosses across barriers of nationality, age, politics, gender, was felt. This is unique nonaligned, apolitical format where people can talk about what they think is really important freely. The club continues to grow. The eveningâ€™s main sponsors â€“ Raiffeisen Premium Banking and Orange Business Services provided invaluable support for the evening, Thank You! Thank you also to Eurowine for being there and for providing three fantastic prizes.
Social Movers Don Craig
As the rest of world is still rambling on about the new US President, Moscow continues its drive to move forward. With so many businesses closing their doors in 2015 & 2016, the city seems to have taken a new lease on life and new cafés and restaurants are popping all over town. Arkady Novikov and his partner’s new project at Nikolskya 10, will add an additional 30 ‘Street Food Corner and sandwich shops’ to the area which will
I am still in Moscow, and am not going to Paris anymore. Here is my news. We are enjoying a new wave of events in Newly Opened H2-Hudson’s bar in Belorusskaya. This is an amazing place with a very friendly atmosphere created by the American twins Marc and Eric. There are live music concerts on Thursdays, and special events bring the best expat crowd together. I
bring life into a building that has seemed more like a museum over the past years rather than a retail outlet offering high end goods. In the same building you will also find Papa’s Bar & Grill, Tibet Himalaya Restaurant, and Beverly Hills which have all withstood the turmoil over the past couple of years with no end in sight. I recently had the pleasure of visiting the Restaurant ‘Selfie’ (Part of the White Rabbit Restaurant Family) which to my delight I found very comfortable. The Service and food beyond reproach, I
highly recommend it when considering a place for your next banquet, business meeting, or just as a place to take the family for a great meal. Address: Novinsky Boulevard 31. The next place I suggest you try out is the new ‘Vintage’ restaurant located at Bolshaya Nikitskaya 60/1. The first thing you need to know is that the interior will simply amaze you, it is so warm and welcoming and at the same time a work of art. The wine list is amazing, the food *5 star plus, and staff is well trained and willing to please. The DJs are some of the best
Moscow has to offer and the top floor houses one of the best Karaoke setups in the city. You will notice a lot of artefacts from the old ‘News Pub’ which was a famous expat hotspot back in those days. ‘Vintage’ belongs to the same owner Mikhail Khatsko who owned ‘News Pub’ and definitely knows how to have a good time. Follow me on Instagram at papa_don777, twitter DonCraig777, or Facebook via Moscow Interacts for news about upcoming events. Stay tuned for upcoming networking events from the ‘White Collar Society.’
was recently introduced to a brand new social club on Mayakovskaya Square, it’s called ‘Spymoscow.’ This is a very high end venue with a very expensive menu and a Canadian Brand Chef. A perfect place for MGFC. Culture: I am opening an art exhibition of my friend Rostislav Romanov in Omelchenko Gallery on The Arbat on the 6th of April. The exhibition is called: ‘Coming back home.’ The exhibition will run for one and a half months. We plan several charity-related events like children master classes and lectures in order to raise money for the Romanov Fund. Later on in the year, I am going to organise a charity ball in relation to the date of 100 years since the tragic loss of Romanov family.
An acting course in English starts on the 27th of March, run by my amazing Australian teacher, Robert at the House of Actors,Arbat, who will be also teaching us how to write scripts and tell stories. A new and such a fresh approach to acting and performing! I highly recommend this for everybody in creative industries! As spring is in the air, we continue with our architectural excursions around Moscow, road trips to Krasnodar on motorbikes, wine tastings and cheese tastings. There will be a huge Wine Festival (Russian wines) in Pestovo yacht club; an Australian barbeque competition in Ostankino park. Please get updates about all my
events, by emailing me for more information: email@example.com I almost forgot my political predictions, which are always so accurate :) So, Germany will leave NATO and a European Army will be created, most of the immigrants in Germany and other European countries who are now without a job and are physically fit will join the New European Army. Russia and Germany will reach an agreement on joint security, and other peaceful agreements in Europe may be successfully reached this spring! Maybe I should become a sci-fi writer:) in a constant search of profession and selfrealisation, Always yours MARIA USHAKOVA
Social Movers Chris Helmbrecht’s Amazing CLUB REVIEW!
Moscow is the largest city of Europe with millions of people and probably the most underestimated nightlife in the world. Even during a crisis, it is still thriving and now we are heading into the spring/ summer season. The skirts are getting as short as our nights, but Muscovites will still party until 6 am or later. So Krysha Mira is closed what is the alternative? Gazgolder is the present underground hotspot. Another is Mendeleev Bar on Saturday nights, and for parties until Monday morning. The rich and beautiful dance the night away at Kvartira. Mix Club covers the mainstream segment. But the good news is, Krysha Mira is said to re-open in May to cover the summer season. Krysha’s owner Viktor and his team are apparently working on a new bar project. The people who saw and heard about it are very excited. Speaking of new venues the new superclub which I previously wrote about is now opening. ‘Mir,’located on Tsvetnoy Boulevard already opened its banquet hall and is supposed to fully open this autumn. Before then, there will be various pre-parties and warm-ups to get the place started. Its owner ran Gypsy, Icon and Space. That last one
surprisingly, had a closing party a few weeks ago. But no worries, Space worldwide closed and took its name back. The venue itself is still running and will continue to bring you Tiesto and the other big EDM and Techno stars under a new name soon. Berlin Bar finally opened. After months of delays they got off to a good start. Boy what a place. Dark as the Disaster Areas stunt ship in Douglas Adams novel, the Restaurant at the End of the Universe. The bar, which was designed by the awarded Berlin based interior designer: Thilo Reich, features sidewalk elements from East & West Berlin on the wall, as well as recycled streetlights. The import of these was a problem, customs could not understand why anyone would import these to Russia and how to put a value on them. The bar offers excellent food, mainly eclectic, but also some Berlin specials as‘Currywurst’(Sausage with Curry Sauce),‘Bulette mit Kartoffelsalat’(sort of a Hamburger without bread but potato salad) and‘Molle’ which is a combination of dishes and a beer + schnapps, only offered to people, which will go home soon. The cocktails are contemporary, but they have also dug out some classic cocktails from 1920’s Berlin. The music is a Berlin based Techhouse. Expect a good mix of people. From black dressed underground guys to creatives and theatre people to the rich and beautiful. This bar certainly is a one of its kind in Moscow and worth a visit. Dissident is a new star in the underground scene. The venue features techno and tech-house music. Expect a younger crowd, slurping long drinks, water
or Softdrinks, rather than cocktails. Still, they have some of Moscow’s best DJs playing and frequently guest DJs from abroad, who bring their flavor of underground from cities as Barcelona, London or even Bukarest. Another up and coming underground venue is Rabica. The highlyimprovised club (if you want to call it a club) is very popular among the black dressed underground folks. It features Techno music and follows Berlins (slowly dying) attitude of ‘Who has the more fucked up style?’. Speaking of which, that brings us to Squat 3/4. The city’s new hotspot. Yes yes, you are probably tired of the underground reviews. So what does the city have to offer, if you prefer it more glam & posh? The headliner is still Duran Bar. Moscow’s rich and beautiful mix with Expat executives and lots of beautiful girls. The tables are filled with French Champagne and Premium Vodka bottles. While the club / bar, features 3 rooms and a terrace, most of the fun is out on the terrace, where everybody mingles with a cocktail in the hand. Artel Bessonnitsa will start in the summer season with its open air terrace and lots of famous DJ bookings. But, this may not be your cup of tea. They are bringing the techno stars from Ibiza and Berlin. Then there is SoHo Rooms, which is SoHo Rooms. And where to go, if you are neither a glam or underground guy? I can’t give you much advise in that segment, but a warning. Places like ‘Crazy Daisy’ (and the like) seem to be dangerous in parts. Watch out for your drinks and who stands near you. An English guy disappeared from there recently. Apparently, he was
drugged and drove off with some criminals who posed to be taxi drivers. A safe way to party wild is ‘Jagger Bar.’ I can also recommend ‘Chips.’They are not as cheap as the low-end bars and maybe the suburban girls are not so willing, but you’re probably safe and in good hands, even when you are drunk as hell. Here is my rundown for the week and as with the names above, just google or search on Facebook ‘barname + moscow’ and you’ll find all information about it. Monday: Dead. Have a cocktail at O2 Lounge or City Space Bar Tuesday: Propaganda Got Soul @ Propaganda from Midnight Wednesday: RnB Night @ Garage Club from 00:30, Simachevs Bar (from 23:00) Thursday: Obloko (glam & posh), Mendeleev Bar (live jazz & networking), Propaganda (‘democratic’, from midnight) Friday & Saturday: Warm-Up at Noor Bar, Berlin Bar or Suzuran Bar. Primetime (from 1:00): Duran Bar(glam), Artel Bessonnitsa (semi-glam), SoHo Rooms (glam), Mendeleev Bar (semi glam / underground), Suzuran Bar (semi underground), Rodnya (underground), Dissident (underground), Jagger (fun & young) Afterhour (from 3:00): Mix (commercial), Garage Club (House, commercial), Gazgolder (underground / techno), Kvartira (semi-glam) Sunday: Suzuran Bar (techno / underground) until 1:00, Techno Gypsy (once a month), RnB Night at Garage (from 00:30), Mendeleev Bar (check their schedule, not always) Have fun. Stay safe!
Chet Bowling Becomes Honorary Consul for Jamaica Interview by John Harrison
Congratulations with becoming Honorary Consul for Jamaica. What does an Honorary Consul do? The mandate that I have been given by the Jamaican government is first of all to do with taking care of Jamaican nationals living in Russia. That means helping them with their passports; with extensions, renewals, and when they lose their passports. It also means ensuring that they are taken care of, and are protected by the law if they get into any sort of trouble. The main driver behind that is that there are about 60 Jamaican students studying all over Russia, primarily in Moscow, but also in other cities. Since Jamaica does not have a diplomatic mission here, it has always been an issue as to who these people can turn to in case of trouble. They have lobbied heavily for an official representative to handle these issues. I was suggested and appointed. The second mandate is helping Jamaican businesses operate in, or enter the Russian market. The primary focus is the tourism industry. Up to two years ago, I think a total of 14,000 to 16,000 Russians went to Jamaica as tourists per year. That has fallen off significantly as there is no longer a direct flight, and it now costs more to fly there. However, Jamaica is sure that there is a market here, so my second job is to help develop that market, as well as other potential Jamaican interests. There are a lot of innovative products which Jamaica could offer Russia. Jamaicans, amongst all the English-speaking Caribbean peoples are perhaps the
most innovative. They are leaders in many areas such as banking, finance and small business. There is an opportunity for entrepreneurial Jamaicans to sell their goods here, so I am looking forward to that. Are there many instances when Jamaicans have problems with their visas? Yes there are. The Russians rules, as you may or may not know, are quite clear. You can be deported and banned forever or for 5 years from coming back to Russia if you overstay your visa or don’t extend your visa on time. We have had quite a few instances where people – especially students – have forgotten to apply for extensions for their visas. They have to go to court to defend their case, and in these situations, they need help. What about Jamaicans coming here, do they need visas? Currently they do need a visa for Russia. One of the requests from the Russian government that I am addressing is to negotiate a bilateral visa agreement with Jamaica. As it stands at the moment, Jamaica allows Russians to visit if their stay is for less than 30 days. The Jamaican economy is tourism driven, so it is in Jamaica’s interests to allow this, however the Russians want a bilateral agreement that would allow visa free travel between the two countries. .
Community Is that possible? I think so. There is such an agreement with Guyana, another Caribbean country, which is where I am originally from. There was some movement on this front, but things were held up because there was no precedent. Now that there is, it is my task to launch this bilateral agreement forward. This all sounds like a huge amount of work, how to you intend to manage everything bearing in mind that you are CEO of Alinga Consulting? I am glad that you mentioned this. This is an honorary position and is financed by me. I still have to run my company which has been in buisiness 15 years. We are working with foreign companies doing auditing, tax, accounting and legal work... However, I can find the time to work on my mandates; to work on Jamaican tourism and general business promotion. For example, I have already had one visit from the head of the European office of the Jamaican Tourist Board, he was in Russia and he is coming again soon. Whilst here, he was able to meet quite a few Russian tour operators who I was able to introduce him to, to try to establish tour operators and have more Russians going to Jamaica. Secondly, I am helping to facilitate negotiations with one of the subsidiaries of Aeroflot to reestablish direct flights from Russia to Kingston.
in Russia. I am hoping that this will allow me to widen my network, and figure out a lot of other things that I can and should be doing here. Will you be organising some Jamaica-focused networking events? I am still working on a plan for this, however there are some regular events which we could utilise; such as the Bob Marley Day, and Jamaica independence Day. Diplomatic missions generally organise receptions on their national days. We definitely have plans to organise some of these to organise Jamaica-themed events, to bring some of that Jamaican warmth to Moscow. May I take this opportunity from all of us at Moscow expat Life and everyone in the expatriate community to congratulate you on your appointment! Thank you. I would like to say that this is not only something I have achieved by myself, this has a lot to do with my family and friends, my staff and my clients who I have built up in Russia over the years. So the reception that we held in February is not just about me but about recognising and giving something back to all of them. Iâ€™d like to say a big thank you to all of these groups of people who have supported me over the years here in Russia.
Are Russians interested in Jamaica and do they know much about it? Yes, there is a lot of interest, and Jamaica is a likeable place. Bob Marley, Hussain Bolt, reggae, Blue Mountain coffee, Jamaican Appelton Rum, these are all reasonable well recognised international products which have helped put Jamaica on the map. So I think that there is some awareness, but that can be improved as well. So you are really the Jamaican Ambassador here? Possibly, because there is nobody else here, but I am not involved in politics. I do have to present my credentials to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, I have a car on which I can fly the Jamaican flag, and I am entitled to use red number plates. If there are any delegations coming to Russia, my job would be to help and facilitate those visits as well. Although I am not involved with politics, I am involved with keeping Jamaica informed about what is happening in Russia on the economic side. You are a leading expatriate here and have been here for most of your working life. Do you see this as being the peak of your career here? It is quite an honour to be awarded this isnâ€™t it? Yes, it certainly is an honour. I donâ€™t see it as being the peak of my career. There is so much more to be done
International Womenâ€™s Club (IWC) Moscow 28th Annual Charity Winter Bazaar 2016
he 28th Winter Bazaar was held on Saturday, the 26th of November 2016, at the Radisson SAS Slavyanskaya, Moscow. Since its inception, the Winter Bazaar has become one of the most anticipated events in the Russian capital. Members of the International Womenâ€™s Club of Moscow, with the support of over 100 volunteers, organized the bazaar. This is the single biggest fund raising event of the club. This year, the Winter Bazaar was held under the patronage of the IWC president, Mrs Victoria Seligo,
wife of the Ambassador of Slovenia to Russia. Around 4,000 visitors enjoyed the bazaar. The visitors included the dignitaries from the government, diplomatic society, businessmen, artists, expats, and locals. The IWC is proud to announce that an amount of 6.3 million roubles was generated at the bazaar. Profits from the funds raised will be used to support the IWC charitable projects. The bazaar was able to raise money through sales of several items provided by 56 Embassies and businesses. These included national art, crafts, souvenirs, national dishes,
and other fascinating products. Embassies and businesses also donated many attractive raffle prizes, which formed the main attraction amongst our visitors. Attendees at the bazaar also had an opportunity to enjoy national dances, performances by various artists throughout the day. The International Womenâ€™s Club of Moscow expresses its deepest gratitude to all the volunteers and participants of the event and look forward to seeing you again in 2017! For more details on the club, the bazaar and charity projects, please visit www.iwcmoscow.ru
Bit Parts for Expats Martin Cooke
here are a surprising number of opportunities for expats on terrible Russian TV shows. The TV shows I refer to are not terrible because they are Russian, the same story applies in the Japanese, British, Ozzie, Mongolian etc., soaps, dramas and sit-coms industry. Television is the best of worlds and the worst of worlds, all over the world. The 1,000 yard stare I saw exhibited by some of the leading actors on the expat-glutted STS drama ‘Londongrad’ told me all I needed to know but was afraid to ask about the joys of being locked on a film set for 14 hours a day, every day of your life, for all eternity, or until the final wrap, whichever ends the horrible misery soonest. The woeful Londongrad series testifies to the fact that the quality of bona fide acting opportunities in
Russian soap operas are necessarily limited, but the quantity of opportunities to turn your way into people’s living rooms is undoubtedly favourable and the good news is that Russian casting directors are so desperate for foreigner faces, (as my esteemed colleague who shall remain nameless, Peter, an otherwise talented and epicurean man, who couldn’t out-act a coat hanger, can testify), that they will take literally anybody with a foreign passport. Well, almost. Peter is actually in high demand as the ‘mad foreign professor’ type but when the offers came flooding in after his premiere role as ‘highly eccentric foreigner’ he became star-struck and demanded diva-esque conditions be inserted into his contract negotiations. “Cups of hot cocoa on demand and a body double for speaking actual words”, that kind of thing. The
Community unreasonable wannabe actors who merely give you a hard time and expect you to iron and pack their underpants for them and give them a little peck on the cheek as you pack them off into the film company limo are positive charmers next to the sleazy buggers who outright rip you off and cheat you and your family by refusing to pay your commission once they get their tawdry paws on the bulging pay packet you negotiated for them. Grrrr, gnash. The main role you will be expected to play is: ‘foreigner.’ This role is not very exacting in that it usually requires you to exactly live up to a very mundane stereotype which you mustn’t deviate from. Acting talent per se, is a positive obstacle or impediment to success in Russian TV. Having a big nose is much more important. Fortunately, there are lots of big noses with no acting ability who are perfectly willing to take on one of these ‘drivelling foreign businessman’ type roles. Roles which I have been asked to play do indeed include, ‘foreign businessman’, ‘foreign rapist’, ‘foreign spy’, ‘criminal foreigner’, ‘general purpose foreign idiot’, ‘lying foreign journalist’, ‘foreigner with big nose’ (yes!) and the ubiquitous, ‘foreign lover whose girlfriend’s dad hates his guts.’ In fairness I would have to sympathize with the dad here. Even if the TV show is verging on the credible, your part in it will assuredly be inane. And you won’t get paid much either. “But we could get Sophia Loren for that kind of money in Tarkovski’s day!” They protest, genuinely alarmed about your scandalous demands for 200 euros a day. “And besides, Todorovski is directing this one!!” Ah, yes. The old; legendary master, the new Carl Theodore Dreyer, the one who did that epic movie about a train crash, you’ll be working with him and he wants you personally for this part, ploy. “Really? He wants to work with me does he?” Puffs chest out. “ He must have heard about my legendary bit part as “stupid foreigner with big nose” in Pavel Ruminov’s award winning docudrama, “Flurry of happenings” Ok, what’s the role?”
“That’s right! He wants you! The role is...” (Rustle of paper...) “Foreigner!” “Does the character have a name?” “Yes, ‘Foreigner’.” “Sounds great. What does he do?” “He orders a pizza whilst something important happens, then a policeman beats him up and saves the girl.” “Fantastic. Are there any lines?” “Let me see.” Rustle of paper again. “Two scenes, pizza scene, you can improvise the dialogue there, ‘margarita’ for example, and the beating scene, where you have to say ‘Ouch’ and ‘Grnf.’” “Awesome.” “You’ll do it?” “What’s the pay?” “Pay? You want pay?” She picks up the phone. “He wants pay!” “Yeah, ‘pay’, exchange of payment in return for services rendered.” “But it’s for Todorovski! He was the scriptwriter on Stalker!” And so it goes. Sir Ralph Richardson advised a young actor playing a part whose character is killed in the second act, not to get so drunk during the third act that he would fall into the orchestra pit during the bow. My advice would be this: if you have two or three scenes playing ‘idiot foreign business man who gets caught with his pants down in a compromising act with a lady of ill repute’ in a stinking wretched film, which had its 6 million dollar budget largely stolen by its producers; then please don’t accept an invitation to the premiere, lest you find yourself invited on stage at the Moscow film festival only to be roundly laughed at by 1,200 cheated film fans who will easily recognize your big nose thereafter and accidentally on purpose splash your shiny film premiere shoes, in revenge, when they recognize you in the toilet, ‘cos that’s what happened to me.’ I wouldn’t wish this humiliation on anyone, except that is for one or two unscrupulous expat bit partists I can think of.
The Case Of The Missing Landlord
ussians are still fascinated as to why westerners would want to live in Russia, as surely the grass is always greener and life is better where you come from. ‘Там хорошо, где нас нет’ is the Russian equivalent. The simple answer is that in western countries, everything works but nothing happens, whereas in Russia isn’t the other way around? A slight exaggeration perhaps, but you see where I’m coming from. Russia is a country of extremities, in more ways than simply its geography. Even mundane events like renting a place to live can throw up bizarre situations. Everyone who has been in Russia for any length of time has a landlord story. Everyone that is, who has had to deal with a landlord (or landlady – let’s not get sexist here; the business of letting out properties knows no genders but for simplicity’s sake in this article we will use the masculine). The exception is if you live in Rosinka. Most follow one of two scenarios, typically the landlord informing you mid-contract that he soon plans to sell the place and that as soon as he does, you will have to leave. Or perhaps he has sold it already while you were away on holiday and you have a week to vacate, or simply that his relatives are moving (back) to Moscow and need to live there. Contract? Sorry, what’s one of those? The other is that of the landlord turning up unannounced, or you arriving home and finding your landlord has ‘visited’ your apartment, gone through your things and left a note kindly thanking you for the bottle of whiskey on your shelf which obviously was for him. Or he’s still there, calmly having a cup of tea in your kitchen “I was in the area and just dropped in to check that the pipes are functioning; you don’t mind I had a cup of tea while I’m here, do you?”
Having spent around two decades living and working in Russia, I had witnessed all of the above, and more. Whilst renting a flat on the Novy Arbat I received regular calls on the landline (remember those) for Vladimir, although a quick explanation that I was his tenant and he could be reached on a different number sufficed in all cases but one. The same guy, who sounded drunk would call up every evening asking for Vladimir, and refused to believe that he would ever let out his flat. I then asked Vladimir to contact him to ask him to stop ringing, but was told “don’t worry, he’s just come out after a long spell in prison.” Numerous similar and even more bizarre incidents later and I opted to find somewhere else to live. The next twelve years and two landlords passed off reasonably uneventfully, at least by Russian standards. Then in the autumn of 2015 after a brief chat with a real estate agent, I realized that for the same money I could find a significantly better abode, given how the market was moving. It was also an excuse to clear out tons of junk which had accumulated over the years – funny that I arrived in Moscow in 1990s with just two suitcases. The landlord seemed like a nice enough chap, who would pop over once a month to collect the rent in cash, have a quick chat about the utilities and off he’d go. If I knew that I would be outside of Moscow on the particular day when payment was due, I would call in advance to let him know and typically arrange to meet up a few days’ later, or leave the money on the kitchen table if he needed it urgently – which only happened once. This arrangement went along smoothly for several months, until I rang him up in early August and the phone was switched off. I tried again several times over the next week but the phone seemed to be permanently off. OK, no major issue, I’m sure he’ll get in touch at some stage; my previous landlord
Community would spend the summer at his dacha in remote part of the country with no mobile coverage. A month went by and then a second; after messages to his facebook page went unanswered, we messaged his closest friends but receive replies that they hadn’t heard from him either. Then, whilst I was down in Kazakhstan on a business trip, a lady from ЖСК (local authority) knocked on the door and said that we had 3 days to cough up RUR38,000 for an unpaid water bill or else we could be cut off. My girlfriend Sonia explained the situation and whilst there was some sympathy, the bottom line was if you want the water to keep flowing, pay the bill! I had contacted the real estate agent who had found us the flat but she had no other contact that the landlord’s mobile number. Back home you would probably ring the Police and explain the situation but in Russia nobody voluntarily goes to the Police unless in an absolute emergency, which this clearly wasn’t. For starters I sincerely doubt that my landlord had been paying tax on the rent which I was paying him, and although that would be his problem rather than mine, I hardly wanted to drop him in it. More importantly I was slightly concerned that the Police might then take an interest in us, were we formally registered in the flat, etc., – easiest just to do nothing. Our friends were jealous; we were living rent-free! Eventually, after almost three months had passed I began to realize that it was increasing unlikely that my landlord was simply on an extended holiday, and that something must have happened to him. Sonia even googled ‘my landlord has disappeared’ and the only (serious) post was from a lady in Kaliningrad who commented that her landlord had been in hospital for six months, but got in touch once he’d recovered. With the winter approaching, and Sonia 8 months pregnant, the last thing we needed was a major incident as we were quite happy where we were and weren’t keen to move (again). Yes, we weren’t paying rent but as we planned to visit the UK for Christmas, we wanted to avoid a possible nightmare of returning to find ourselves locked out and our possessions removed. This needed sorting, so I contacted a Russian friend who used to work in the Militsiya (as it was then known) and arranged to meet up over the weekend to discuss the situation and hear his suggestions on how to proceed. Then, completely out of the blue we received a call from a lady claiming to be our landlord’s aunt, who explained that he had died, and could she come over to meet us and sort out the situation. She was genuine, and came prepared, complete with the original agreement which I had signed, as well as with our (now ex-) landlord’s death certificate. It transpired that he had invited a friend over for a vodka session
which had somehow turned violent, and he’d been whacked over the head with a bottle. He was only discovered several weeks later when an inquisitive neighbour wondered why the lights were on during the day in the summer and decided to inspect further. The aunt told us that Police didn’t even try to find the culprit, which surely wouldn’t have been difficult, as apparently they don’t bother to investigate what they deem ‘пьяные разборки’ (drunken incidents) unless a close relative kicks up a mad fuss. Nothing had been stolen, but our landlord was no more. In Russia, when somebody dies, there is a 6-month period before any inheritance claims can be settled. The landlord hadn’t written a will, had never been married and had no children. The flat would presumably be passed on to his next-of-kin, which was his brother. His aunt then threw a spanner into the works by informing us that he’s permanently drunk and doesn’t leave his apartment. Great! Fast-forward a month, Sonia gave birth to our little boy, Daniel, and the landlord’s brother sobered up enough to come over and meet us. His hands shook a little when signing the new contract but I’m pleased to say that all’s well that ends well – we’ve stayed put and all three of us hope to remain here for the foreseeable future!
IWC 21th Annual Embassies of the World Dinner & Ball 2017 This year, the International Women’s Club of Moscow brings the spirit of 20’s to the Russian capital – a truly glamorous and stunning gala in the one of Moscow’s princely hotels.
he International Women’s Club of Moscow proudly introduce to you the 21th annual IWC Embassies of the World Dinner and Ball 2017 ‘The Roaring 20’s” under the patronage of spouse of the Slovenian Ambassador Mrs. Victoria Seligo. Be prepared for a magnificent and marvelous evening at one of Moscow’s most remarkable hotels with fine dinner beforehand at one of Moscow’s embassies. If you choose the dinner option, your evening will begin with an elegant dinner hosted by an ambassador and his/her spouse, who will welcome you at their embassy or residence along with a select number of other guests. You will be served the most exquisite gourmet from the embassy’s local cuisine. Afterwards you will proceed to the ball. Hotel Metropol, the luxurious and historical five-star hotel opposite the famous Bolshoi Theatre, welcomes our guests to an evening of dance and music with delectable food and drinks, an entertaining program and, of course, dancing. In addition, you will be able to participate in a big raffle with exclusive prizes. And the best thing: all proceeds of the evening will go to a good cause, namely, supporting charities! So, do not miss this
wonderful opportunity and treat yourself and your partner to a unique evening with extraordinary surprisingly highlights presented to you by the International Women’s Club of Moscow! The 21th annual Embassies of the World Dinner “the Roaring 20’s” will take place at Hotel Metropol on Saturday, March 25th 2017. For even more information about the event, please visit our website www. iwcmoscow.ru or our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/IWCMoscow/. Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased at one of the IWC’s regular events (for specific dates and further details, please check our website or Facebook page) or by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org. Here you may also address any additional questions you might have. Ticket prices are 10,000 rubles for dinner and ball and 7,000 rubles for ball only. Join us on March 25th for an evening of dance and dinner at one of Moscow’s embassies, followed by an unforgettable evening at Hotel Metropol. We are very much looking forward to welcoming you to the ball!
MOSCOW DRAGONS RFC: 20 YEARS IN THE GAME
Gavin Melluish (Vice-President) 1997! Now that was a vintage year for rugby union. A thrilling Five Nations Championship saw France land their first Grand Slam in a decade, memorably overturning a 14 point deficit after an hour to win at Twickenham. The Lions beat South African 2-1 in a sometimes dour but always gripping Test series. Referees relished their first chance to banish offenders to the ‘sin bin’ – a just retribution for a ‘penalty+’ infringement, a fascinating tilter of the balance in a tight contest, or a haven of repose for a tiring front row forward, depending on your point of view. Yet all of those unforgettable rugby milestones pale into insignificance next to this one: the foundation in 1997 of Moscow Dragons RFC! An intrepid bunch of expat rugby enthusiasts met in a bar (where else?) and announced the creation of an amateur club to play against local teams and go touring in Russia and beyond. It was made clear by our founders that the Dragons were to be, first and
I strongly encourage anyone interested in playing for the Dragons, training with us, watching us or supporting us in any other way - or simply in finding out more about us - to visit www.facebook.com/mdrfc or www. mdrfc.com, or get in touch with me (vp@ moscowdragons.com +7 925 7402471) or our PR Manager, Timur Sokolov (email@example.com, +7 925 3515966)
foremost, a social rugby club. We should train hard, we must play even harder, but winning was not to be the sole objective. More important was for players and social members to enjoy themselves on and off the pitch, to respect the three F’s of rugby – Fun, Friendship, Fraternity, and – as explicitly prescribed in the club’s Constitution – to promote the development of the ‘sport they play in Heaven’ in Russia. Given this, our forerunners would have been amazed if they could have gazed into a crystal ball and seen how successful, in terms of results, this band of men for whom results aren’t everything were to become. In the early days there were few other amateur teams in Moscow for the Dragons to play against, but the zealous preaching of the rugby gospel in these parts soon led to the formation of a Moscow Championship, in which our club has competed since 2000 – in recent years, with increasing success. Third in 2013! Runnersup the year after! And finally, for the first time, Moscow Champions in 2015! To put the icing on our cake, Russo-Canadian centre and
skipper Andrei Proshin was named Player of the Year by the Moscow Federation (though that wasn’t enough for him to be Dragon of the Year; that honour went to Cornish fullback Pete Carr). Last year we narrowly failed to repeat the feat, going down 15-19 in the final to an excellent Zelenograd side – though it could have gone either way in a scoreless and, for those of us in the stands, nail-biting last quarter. But that defeat has made us more determined than ever to be the best amateur team in Moscow, as proved by record attendances at winter training this close season – even when that means CrossFit sessions at 9am on a Saturday. Close season? What am I talking about? There’s no close season for the Dragons. Apart from a rest period of maybe a month after the Championship ends in October we train and, weather permitting, play all year round. The Moscow Championship is played from May through to October, with a break in July and August. But there’s also the Moscow Cup, which is played on snow. At the time of writing the Dragons have played (and won) one
Cup game and are looking forward to the next fixture. And we eagerly seize opportunities to play outside the two main competitions, be they the weekend-long ‘Federal League’ (best placing so far: 3rd in 2014), invitation events (in which we’ve often shone – winning, for instance, the ‘Forum Cup’ in 2008 and the Tver tournament in 2014), friendlies or, needless to say, tours. Tours! Now thereby hangs a tale. Or should I say countless tales... All of which must remain untold here, for axiomatic reasons known to all rugby tourists. Let’s just say that those traditions of touring that have been cherished by generations of rugby men and women worldwide are faithfully kept alive by Moscow Dragons RFC. Certain cognoscenti have even been heard opining that rugby touring has reached its apotheosis at this club. The only way for the reader to form a judgment is to come touring with us! Who are our players? Well, rugby has often been described as a game for all shapes and sizes. I could not possibly pass comment on this with regard to our thriving ladies’ section (from whom we expect great achievements
this year following the influx of a keen and talented bunch of girls from the former Panthers club), but a quick glance around the men attending a typical Dragons training session would corroborate the theory. A striking range of ages and fitness levels is usually on display, too. As for nationalities, Russians are in the majority these days but the club’s expatriate origins are still reflected in the presence of players and social members from many other countries including not only those you would expect (the Six Nations, Georgia, South Africa, Japan, Canada, Argentina...) but also some that might surprise you more (Spain, Singapore, Kenya, Sri Lanka, Brazil...). Our Club is a great forum in which not only to meet other expatriates, but also to get to know more Russians, and more about Russian culture (especially the stuff you won’t learn from any textbook), than your average expat manages in his time here. Our Committee? It’s multinational, just like the club. I don’t have space enough to mention every member, as I’d like, but let’s just say that the club simply could not survive without the tireless work of stalwarts like President Piotr Khutiev, Treasurer Mitsuo Maeda,
Coach Denis Zhlutkov, Merchandise Manager Denis Moskalenko, Fixtures Secretary Kostya Nikiforov and Social Secretary Simon Cottrell. The older players I’ve alluded to get our chance to shine at various veterans’ competitions (such as the wonderful Dubai 10’s that we returned to in December) - and this year, for the first time, we’ll be fielding a Second XV in the third division of the Championship. At all levels of amateur rugby in Russia, rolling substitutions are allowed. So there’s an opportunity for everyone to get some game time! Whilst every match day is party time for the Dragons, there are two annual social events that have become synonymous with the club: the St. Valentine’s Day Charity Ball and the Reds v Blues fixture in late August. I’m not going to write about the 2017 Ball as John Harrison has penned a separate report on it for this edition; but I urge readers to attend the Reds-Blues (Captain’s XV v President’s XV) match, whether as players, officials, thirsty supporters or, better still, sponsors! Looking forward to hearing from you!
Life As An English Teacher In Moscow Simon Green
ittle did I realise when I came to Moscow on a six month ‘suck it and see’ sortie, that I would still be here 15 years later — this syndrome is not uncommon among fellow long term expatriates here. The latter half of this period has been spent teaching English, and previously I was engaged by a slightly dodgy Russian office equipment company which announced my arrival to this great country. A spell in the Real Estate market was followed by time with an International Relocations company where I was Country Manager in Ukraine and Sales Director in Russia. All was going swimmingly until the crash of 2008/2009 left all of us reeling, a mass exodus by many, and some serious soul searching by those who remained as to what to do next. By then it was 2010, and a friend of mine had been doing English teaching and seemingly unaffected by the downturn, so he coerced me into the business and I had an interview with a school called Soho Bridge, and a few days later found myself standing in front of a group of expectant students, wondering what to say — being lost for words is anathema to me, so I took a deep breath and the rest, as they say, is history. There are three types of teacher here: firstly those who are recruited by established secondary schools like The British International School; then you have language schools
like English First who recruit from abroad and bring teachers to Moscow; and finally you have freelancers like myself, who are diehard Moscow expats, who start with a school, then gradually branch out into private clients via referrals and networking. There is in fact a fourth type of teacher: namely those who are drifting through on the Lonely Planet dream, looking for some extra bunce to line their pockets. Any established school should avoid these people like the plague as they have no experience, no knowledge of the country, and are merely looking to finance the next stage of their journey which is more than likely a marijuana filled trip to Bali or equivalent. It’s no secret that most freelancers will attach themselves to two or three schools as it’s extremely unlikely that one school can give you enough clients to survive financially. The one major advantage of teaching via a school is that in the event of a late cancellation (an all too frequent occurrence), you’ll still get paid. Teachers at schools like the aforementioned British International School are professionally qualified teachers, often with a degree, and are brought in from the UK, USA, Australia and South Africa etc., on salaries of around 3500-4000 Euros per month plus attractive benefits such as return flights once a year and full medical coverage with visas. Schools like English First (EF)
expect their teachers to hold a TEFL certificate and have a year’s teaching experience, but herein lies the conundrum. EF’s core business is via students who have to sign up for a minimum one year contract costing around 120,000 roubles, and those who can’t afford the course (a sizeable proportion) are directed to a bank that’s in cahoots with EF, to obtain a loan, so the debt is now not with the school, but with the bank so reneging isn’t an option! The course itself is predominantly online and it’s up to the student to work his or her way through the myriad of topics on offer, and only every 10 days do students get the chance to meet a native speaker for just 45 minutes, and in groups of 10-20 people. In my opinion, this is a totally unsatisfactory way to learn English, and 45 minutes three times a month in a large group means little personal attention is received, and does not a good English speaker make. Meanwhile, at the other end of the spectrum, the teachers who are recruited on the pretext that EF will deal with the ‘complicated visa procedure’ and assist you with accommodation via a salary advance, are already suffering with the comparatively low salary offered which is 70,000 roubles a month plus compensation for exchange rate swings — little wonder after two or three months of living on a shoestring, they give up the ghost and go back home. In fairness to
Thank you to Millward Brown for permission to photograph an English lesson on their premises
EF and other similar companies like Wall Street English and Language Link, this is a system that works well in theory but not in practice, though it’s easy to see why EF are still around as their marketing is without equal, and they’ve been trailblazing for others to follow in their wake. That leaves the final batch of teachers which is the category that I find myself in. We combine private tuition and corporate groups which some schools provide. We have one major advantage compared to novices recruited from abroad, who are a bit wet between the ears and have no experience of dealing with Russian people and the values they hold dear, nor do they have any grasp of many underlying cultural differences that a seasoned expat does, especially if he’s been lucky enough to enjoy a relationship with a Russian lady. There’s a bit of a paradox here in that the majority of native teachers are male, but the preponderance of Russian English teachers are female. I can’t teach beginners or elementary people as my Russian isn’t good enough, and besides, a Russian teacher can explain the intricacies of grammar so much better than us natives as they’ve been through a more structured learning process. I myself am attached to two or three of the 15-20 major private schools in Moscow, and they operate in two fundamentally different ways for both client and teacher. The ‘Native Speakers’ Club’ has given me many clients, from whom they take their commission in advance, then the client pays the teacher each lesson at the agreed rate (3000-3500 is par for the course
for 90 minutes). They major at individual clients, not the corporate market, and have been successful at this for many years. They have a dedicated team of ladies handling enquiries, setting up trial lessons and the client can choose a teacher whose profile is online. The fact that we get paid on a lesson by lesson basis is an attractive feature, and they also have their own cafe (Native Speakers’ Cafe) near Kievskaya metro where we can meet clients for lessons in a pleasant atmosphere.
It’s a well documented fact that cancellations are the bane of every teacher’s life, and you can expect a 15-20% loss each week on average. The other school I’ve been attached to for seven years is Soho Bridge, who have also been kind enough to give me a work visa for the last couple of years thus negating the need for me to return to London every 90 days to renew my visa. Soho Bridge go down the corporate route which has a major advantage if it’s a group scenario: if one person from the group can’t make the lesson, others present will mean you still have a lesson. It’s a well documented fact that cancellations are the bane of every teacher’s life, and you can expect a 15-20% loss each week on average. All schools in Moscow offer general and business English, but Soho offer specific courses for respective corporate needs, such as international finance or legal courses
for those firms that require it. I myself was sent away for the weekend to Kolomna to assist employees of Pharma firm Gideon Richter in passing a specific formal English exam. So, why do many people have English lessons? Well, for a start English is the business language of the world, and among my many clients I have a very senior board member of Rosbank who speaks super English and has to fly all over Europe as Societe Generale is their parent company. He attends meetings which are always conducted in English, so if someone uses idiomatic or slang English which he hasn’t heard before, he spends the next few sentences trying to fathom out what was meant, by which time he’s missed something crucial! He also has lessons with a native speaker simply to keep his hand in like many of my clients. Another client is head of department for KPMG and has to fly to London regularly for court cases where he’s exposed to the vituperative invective our rather overbearing barristers; so he’s using me to increase his fluency. Another of my clients, the well known international marketing firm, Millward Brown, use me for the same reason and I’m privileged to have a quite delightful group for general chit-chat and newspaper articles to discuss and read to assist with our sometimes illogical pronunciation. To that end I have to read the papers first thing in the morning to ensure I’m abreast with any breaking news around the world which could make for an interesting discussion.
I prefer not to do lessons at home, choosing instead to pursue an active lifestyle running all around Moscow to meet clients at their offices, occasionally their homes, and often in cafes near to their offices — I think I know the metro better than any local by now! Teaching has well defined high spots and dry spots: busy months are October, November and December, then February, March, April May and June. Actually I had an exceptional January this year, but that’s the exception not the rule, and was doing 20-23 lessons per week. July and August offer enough to pay your bills but not much more and you would think September would be good but it never has been: many take vacations as they become cheaper, and others are too busy with the shock of being back at work with a mountain of catchup to achieve, so English lessons are well down the pecking order. So what are ‘the good, the bad and the ugly,’ as Clint Eastwood once witnessed in his iconic spaghetti westerns? I was asked what is a typical day? The answer in my case is there isn’t one — no two weeks are the same. Early mornings and evening feature heavily in most teachers’ diaries, but the trick is to fill in the dead periods, typically between 11:00-15:00 which I’ve enjoyed considerable success at. Clients suddenly become available again after an inexplicable absence, or suddenly disappear, in one case literally whereby a client left for a skiing holiday in that doyen of resorts for the rich and famous, Courchevel, never to be seen or
heard of again either by me or the school. You have to be a master practitioner at juggling your schedule, often at the eleventh hour when a client has an urgent meeting to attend or has to travel abroad suddenly. This means your client relation skills are put to the test because now you have to persuade them to change their times in order not to lose lessons. This I actually thrive on as it fires the adrenaline and is a good litmus test as to how much clients like you, if they can be appeased by a whimsical change!
I was asked what is a typical day? The answer in my case is there isn’t one – no two weeks are the same. My often tight schedule means knowing to the minute what my arrival time will be and if you have several lessons on the bounce, there’s really little or no time to eat so you have to do this ‘on the hoof’— many’s the time I’ve had breakfast mid-afternoon or even at supper time which can’t be good for one’s metabolism. So in synopsis, the biggest problems on an ongoing basis are cancellations, sudden changes of schedule and your own skill as a time manager. If you learn to expect the unexpected, you won’t go too far wrong, and after a couple of years on the teaching circuit, the job does become easier, but I do try and stay off politics and religion which my late parents wisely taught me to avoid
in life. Another point is that 80% of my clients are ladies and inevitably you can be the unwitting recipient of flirtatious behaviour. Most of it is just playful banter, but one would be private client insisted on lessons at my apartment, and I suspected there was more to her agenda, so I politely declined and never heard from her again! My area of expertise lies in engaging people in conversation, hence I get to teach mostly Upper Intermediate and Advanced speakers wherever possible. The lessons pretty much run themselves so long as you have some material to fall back on just in case. I’m fortunate enough to receive many referrals from ex-clients or friends who know me as ‘the English teacher.’ Facebook gives me some clients as I’m quite active on there and enjoy expressing myself in my own inimitable style, and of course there are events such as the Business Networking Events where you can sometimes score a client as it’s a good place for propagating one’s own business in a convivial atmosphere. Despite the vicissitudinal life of the Moscow English teacher throughout the four seasons, I wouldn’t swop it for the world as I truly love what I’m doing. Even better, I learn just as much from my various clients as they do from me so that’s great reciprocity. However, the earning potential is effectively capped, but is still perfectly good enough for me to be able to eke out a very comfortable and epicurean lifestyle here. As Alexander the Great said about his teacher, who was the legendary philosopher Aristotle: “I am indebted to my father for living, but to my teacher for living well” — and so say all of us!
Luke Conner, newly appointed President of the British Business Club (BBC) Luke, firstly, congratulations! Thank you! Why did you accept the offer to become President of the BBC? I accepted the offer because I think it is important that the British Business Club continues as an organisation. It did some great work in the past. I think everybody acknowledges that the Club had problems – it fell on hard times financially and the absence of certain key committee members was felt – but there is a gap in the community which needs to be filled. I almost felt it was my duty to get involved and help, to do what I can for the local British community. Don Scott did an excellent job for many years, and I would like to build on this! What changes do you want to bring about in the way that the BBC operates? Well firstly, and excuse me for the Americanism, I’d like to ‘reach out’ to the members a bit more. I’d like to see what they want, and I’ve been trying to do that on an informal basis. After all, it’s a club not an oligarchy, and it should be representative of its members. Nobody I have talked to supports the former subscription
system. They all think that it would be better to pay on an event-by-event basis. The membership was large but there are a lot of people on the database who do not now have a connection with Russia, so that needs to be updated. There are also a lot of great potential candidates, who aren’t members, because during the period when we were very quiet, people obviously felt there was less of a reason to register. So we need to get these people involved and make the membership more dynamic. People can sign up for free at: www. britishclub.ru/signup. From a personal perspective, I would like to make the events, if people are happy with this, slightly ‘higher end.’ This would make the meetings more conducive to real business networking. When people go to a BBC event, they want to meet people with whom they can do business. Sometimes, in the old days, it became too much of a social club. We need to mix both the social and business elements. We have already been busy, planning for sports events – starting with a golf tournament in Moscow this summer at Agalarov Estate and to be followed up with a return leg in Dubai, in March 2018. Finally, I think we would also serve our members well, by trying to add cultural events, and I have been speaking with musicians and people
in the theatre world to see what we can come up with. What about content? Many people said that they didn’t just want to drink beer but they wanted to learn something new. What about lectures and seminars? I agree entirely. I have already mentioned the sports, cultural and business aspects, but we should also focus our content on the key technical business issues of the day as they apply to Russia. We should be holding regular seminars; we should be holding events in the mornings. We can also link in with people like CERBA, the RBCC, and maybe even the AEB and Amcham. The first event we will hold will probably be a cocktail event in a hotel, so as to get people back together again; to show people that we can organise events properly. This would also allow me to speak to the members briefly. Our comeback event will hopefully be in April, and then following that we will try to build out a fuller programme. We would also very much like to reinvigorate the traditional Trafalgar Ball either this year, or next year, subject to funding. Please write to luke.conner@ britishclub.ru in connection with cooperation and event sponsorship.
The dawn of golf in the Russian
n the 15th September 1987, it is recorded that the first foundation stone for the first golf course in Moscow was laid by Sven Tumba, one of the most prominent Swedish ice hockey players of the 1950s and 1960s, an accomplished golfer, a course designer as well as an ambassador to the game. For many it was he who officially introduced the game of golf to the former Soviet Union through his ‘Golf Club Tumba Moscow.’ This historic moment was attended by various celebrities
including the great Brazilian football Pelé, the actor Sean Connery of ‘James Bond’ fame who represented Scotland, the acknowledged home of golf, and Alexander Ragulin, a famous Soviet hockey player. They graced the ceremony with practice swings to celebrate the occasion. The first driving range was opened in 1988 and the first nine holes at ‘The Moscow City Club’ were subsequently opened in 1990. In 1992, ‘The Russian Golf Association’ was created and two years later the first 18 hole course was formed at ‘The Moscow
Women’s Golf Day – Tuesday 6th June Peter Anthony Holland PGA Golf Director Agalarov Golf & Country Club firstname.lastname@example.org www.agalarovestate.com / www.troongolf.com
Country Club’ in Nakhabino; the home of many Russian golf champions. In mid-2000, ‘Golf Club Tumba Moscow’ was renamed ‘Moscow City Club.’ The development of golf in The Russian Federation has continued apace. The future for Russian golfers is exciting, with increasing numbers taking up the game with the help of more accessible clubs such as the creative indoor ten simulator facility ‘City Golf’ located on the Balchug Island. This is a perfect venue for the winter months to sharpen up your golfing skills in preparation for the summer season. Russian golf professionals are completing education courses and in doing so enhancing their knowledge to groom the army of new golfers – local and expat – living around Moscow. Golf fitness nowadays is also proving popular, and will contribute to longer drives and extending golfers careers. One notable Russian golf performance was delivered by Maria Verchenova during the final round of the 2016 Olympics golf event in the final round of competition. Verchenova shot 62. Yes 62! This also included an incredible hole in one on the Rio Olympic Courses fourth hole.
The severe extremes in the Russian climate are no longer a deterrent to the development of the sport. Clubs enterprisingly expand the activities available to their members in the white winter months. Thus, in addition to excellent indoor practice quarters, ice rinks, ski-lifts in some areas enable you to glide effortlessly down snow drift golf fairways in winter which you may have struggled with in the summertime using a golf club (Klyushka) and a ball (Myach)! Times have moved on since the early records of golf and for those historically minded it is worth noting that in 1457 an act of Parliament was passed by the Scottish King, forbidding young men to pursue the sports of golf and football, as such activities would distract them from their prime military duty, namely to practise their archery skills in defence of the homeland! With no such restriction over half a millennium later, the development and continuity of the game which we strive so intensively to master, continues. Up and coming 2017 events at Agalarov Golf & Country Club to pencil into your diaries:
Women’s Golf Day is a global event where women and girls can experience golf for the first time and where current players can play and engage with women interested in golf. It is being hosted at golf clubs around the world on the same day; Tuesday June 6th, 2017.
Royal Launer Invitational – Saturday 8th July The 3rd Royal Launer Invitational event is being held on the 8th July. This is where the glitterati socialise surrounded by impressive displays of companies and their luxury products. As part of the event, golfers can compete for grand prizes presented at the impressive gala dinner.
British Business Club – Friday 15th & Saturday 16th September After a recent meeting with creative minds Don Scott OBE, Luke Conner and Pete Dick, we are honoured to announce a couple of yearly events under the leadership of the British Business Club and its new president. One event in Russia in summer and one in Dubai in winter will be a sure test of courage – 19th hole stamina – and most of all a good old bit of fun. Everyone is welcome to take part. Details will be released soon but the dates for the summer event in Russia are confirmed, so please pencil in the 15th of September for practice day and 16th September for the 2017 official event day. My next article will focus on where to take up or play golf during the summer season May to November along with a swing tip or two!
Interview By John Harrison Photographer: Sigrid Estrada
UAE Ambassador to Russia – Omar Saif Ghobash and his latest book: Letters to a Young Muslim Omar Saif Ghobash is the UAE Ambassador to the Russian Federation. Ambassador Ghobash is also on the advisory body of the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence at King’s College London. He recently published a book called: ‘Letters to A Young Muslim.’ In this interview, John Harrison asks him what the motivation is behind his work, and the wider problems of the misrepresentation of Islam.
Ambassador, please tell me what your motivation was behind your book? The motivation goes back to my young sons beginning to pick up things from school about various religions that I found to be very worrying. I heard, through them, some hate-filled ideas which were anti-sematic, Anti-Shia, anti-foreign, and antiwestern. When I heard them,
I felt that there are all sorts of unresolved issues which go back to my own childhood that I needed to tackle. I also felt that there is no one text that more moderate, flexible and open minded people could point to and say: ‘here are the principles that I can hold on to.’ So what I have tried to do is to provide in a simple manner a structure that younger people can hold on to whilst they figure out their own beliefs.
Islam appears to be being presented to non-Islamic populations as an extreme religion. There seems to be a kind of binary understanding. I’d like to ask you – is Islam really that black and white? There are some interpretations that are black and white, and they are supposed to be. I tie that to the particular interests of a particular era, and a governmental
Diplomatic clerical class that wants to be able to determine everything. These people want to say that there are black and white answers to every single question that a person can have. So that does exist. Is that the entirety of Islam?, not at all. There are many many different branches of Islam, some of them are incredibly spiritual, and disconnected from the practical world. Others are much more focussed on engaging with life. And then we have this radical, aggressive reductive Islam which is actually a small proportion of the entire global population of Muslims. They are very aggressive in getting their message out, and claiming that only they represent the truth, and the other thing is that they, for one reason or another, have greater funding than any of the other groups. So I think they have purpose and they have ammunition. Which is why it seems as though they are important. What proportion of Muslims are we talking about? It is a tiny percentage. There are 1.7 billion Muslims in the world, so we are talking about under one percent; tens of thousands, no more. The problem here is not that they are radicalised, the problem is how extensive is the lack of clarity on certain moral issues amongst Muslims in general. That’s where I, personally, find a big problem. A lot of Muslims don’t know why they are not radicalised. So they can’t stand up to the arguments of the radicals. That’s where the key problem is. The stereotype of Muslims that I am exposed to is that they are unable to live in a multicultural world. Is this just rubbish? I think it is rubbish. I come from the Emirates where 90% of the population is foreign, where we have representatives of all the major religions. True, we don’t have a synagogue yet but Judaism, Islam and Christianity are protected by law. So that’s an example of
a country right at the centre of the Islamic world that is multicultural. The reason why I would say that some of us are stuck in a homogenous world is that going back to the 7th century that is pretty much how we lived. We were in charge and we were the majority. We didn’t need to think in terms of living with others. As we move into a globalised world it is impossible for us to conceive of not living with others. Otherwise we are going to live in tiny villages with no water. So I think that we need to think in terms of our ancient theology, and that theology needs to take into account fundamental changes in the way that people live. So we have countries that try to be absolutely Islamic but yet at the same time technologically and intellectually they rely on other countries. They rely on the West for technology, for economic reform and advise in all sorts of spheres. It is impossible to now say that we can now live separately from other cultures. We are now so deeply intertwined that it is a nonsense to say that we can live separately. What is so amazing is that elites still seem to be able to create a narrative that all Muslims are dangerous, despite what you are saying. Is this because of political reasons; the need for the West to have an ‘other.’ Perhaps the time for ‘othering’ Russia is coming to an end, and we need a replacement? I’ve heard that argument as well, and my response is that for as a Muslim it is too easy to say well, the West is targeting me. That the West is targeting my community. I would say, why would anybody have an excuse in the first place to look at us in that way? Why does anybody want to portray us in the movies, on television as terrorists or sexual predators, or whatever it is? There are reasons. It has something to do with the way that many Muslims behave in public in the West. I think that
we need to take away that excuse by looking at our own behaviour, by asking whether these foreign claims are actually unjustified? If you look at the so called proposed Muslim Ban in the U.S., there are a list of seven countries, and many of those countries are under similar bans in their own region. Because neighbouring governments are very worried. So the ban shouldn’t come as a surprise to anybody in the Arab world at least, because we already monitor each other’s behaviour all the time. So the way forward is for Muslims to sort out their own problems? But in today’s world these issues have become truly international and have become part of the global society agenda. Is what you are saying enough to solve the problem? We as Muslims need to be clear about two things. Firstly, Islamophobia should not be an excuse not to look at our own problems. But we should really look at what elements within our faith are causing problems in the West. There are some open philosophical questions, very difficult ones, which we need to actually address. We are not doing it at the moment, I hope through my book and in conjunction with other people we will begin to do that. I think that the globalised community, particularly the West, because of its interest, needs to understand that what happens in the Arab world will not stay in the Arab world. Whether it transmits itself through the global network of radicalism, because of the centrality of the Arabic language to Islam, or whether it simply transmits itself through acts of terrorism and acts of hate and frustration, it will be transferred to other countries. The Arab world needs the rest of the world to consider this and say how can we help? Because we are in this awful cycle of incredible violence. This has been going on in one way or another since the 1970s at least.
Diplomatic The South African Helen Borodina ‘Cultural Seasons’ in Russia: A Celebration at Dom Muzyki and the Unveiling of Monuments to Heroes in Novodevichy Cemetery
Photography of the unveiling ceremony, by courtesy of the Embassy of South Africa in Moscow, photography of concert by Helen Borodina.
n November 29th 2016, the South African Embassy in Russia in partnership with the Department of Arts and Culture of the Republic of South Africa hosted a concert to launch the South African ‘Cultural Seasons’ at Dom Muzyki (House of Music) in Moscow, officiated by the Honourable Minister of Arts and Culture of the Republic of South Africa, Mr Nathi Mthethwa. During the concert, the performances of South African artists Given Nkosi, ‘Mzansi Youth Choir’, Dizu Plaatjies, Sisonke Xonti, Magda de Vries, ‘Moving into Dance’, Bokani Dyer Trio and others, accompanied by a Russian Orchestra, had the audience stunned for three hours. The next day saw an event of great historical significance: the unveiling of monuments dedicated to Messrs Moses Kotane and John Beaver Marks. These
two stalwarts of the South African Communist Party and the African National Congress have passed on – Mr Marks, in August 1972, and Mr Kotane, in May 1978 – whilst in exile in the USSR. By agreement with the Russian Government, their remains were exhumed and repatriated to South Africa in February 2015.
The Unveiling The day was very cold, but also sunny, and the site of the Novodevichy cemetery and monastery looked solemn but bright. The ceremony began with Pastor Vyacheslav Starikov’s opening words, followed by speeches by Russian Minister of Culture Vladimir Medinsky and Minister Mthethwa. Mr Wakeel Marks and Mr Daniel Noel Louw, J.B. Marks’s family members, and Ambassador Sam Kotane, Son of Moses Kotane, who unveiled the memorials, read the
inscriptions and made speeches in their honour. Then the two Ministers laid the wreaths, and the Pastor said a prayer. The South African Ambassador to Russia, Her Excel-lency Ms. N. M. Sibanda-Thusi closed the ceremony with a word of thanks.
Ties of Many Years The unveiling was followed by a cocktail reception at the Marriott Aurora hotel, with an exhibition about Moses Kotane and J.B. Marks prepared by the National Library of South Africa. Mr Mthethwa made the opening address, and for the rest of the evening the guests enjoying their wine and snacks, viewed the exhibition which represented an account of South Africa’s relationship with Russia and stories about Kotane and Marks. The next day, Minister Mthethwa travelled to St. Petersburg to
participate in the St. Petersburg International Cultural Forum. Despite Minister Mthethwa’s busy schedule, he kindly agreed to an interview at the South African Embassy. On my way to the embassy I read an article in a ‘Rovesnik’ (a popular Soviet youth magazine) from 1986 I had brought along, in which there was a compilation of a collection of Nelson Mandela’s letters to his wife during his imprisonment, and citations from his speeches and writings. I was visitor number 24 at the embassy that day, and felt as if I was taking a trip to South Africa without having to travel as I spoke to the Minister about the relationship between the two countries in the past and today, the ‘Cultural Seasons,’ and, of course, BRICS. Minister Mthethwa, how did South Africans achieve so much, how did they manage to get beyond apartheid?
The answer is the revolution in South Africa. In our struggle for freedom, we used culture, our heritage, to unite countries. Nations like Russia – the Soviet Union then, connected with us through art, music, and dance. We had cultural exchanges in the past, and we’re getting to that point again. I feel that we’ve made a good start, and it’s only going to get better. Please share your impressions of speaking before the MGIMO students in Moscow during your visit in 2015. They were fascinated to learn about Moses Kotane and J.B. Marks – how they came here, their life stories, what they did in this country, how they stood up for workers and became part and parcel of this family, this country. Of course, they had heard about Mandela. These two giants were Mandela’s mentors; people who
guided him when his politics were still very weak and nascent. What is the significance of today’s events? It further strengthens ties between South Africa and Russia. It’s time for us to express our gratitude to the loving people of Russia, particularly for their role in keeping the memory of our heroes alive. The Russian government has allowed us to put cenotaphs where these peo-ple had been buried, letting it remain the place where we will continue to respect them. It’s something we will never forget. What does it mean for South Africa to be part of BRICS? BRICS is a great thing. Developing nations are coming together for important exchanges, independently. Today we see the
lives of the people of the BRICS member countries changing for the better. We don’t need to beg. We can create our own BRICS bank, our own rating agencies. BRICS is an alternative system that covers all social and economic spheres and it’s going to work to benefit the rest of the world. Social progress is only possible when there’s cooperation amongst nations – as opposed to a world war! Our readers are an international audience living in Russia, with their own understandings of Russia and Russians. What’s your take on this? It’s a big mistake to harbour prejudiced perceptions. Some misconceptions, I believe, may be caused by the language barrier, or perhaps, by the impression that Russians are too ‘into themselves.’ When you get to know them, you realize that they are the most
pleasant people in the world. Obviously, sometimes, we must rely on perceptions, or even assumptions about others, but it’s only when you start getting to know people in their home environment do you begin to see them for who they really are. It’s important to remember that Russians are people the West doesn’t want the rest of the world to interact with, and the western media works hard to alienate Russia and her people from other continents – Africa, for one. However, when the countries of Africa were brought into a struggle for freedom, they got to know the rich, kind and beautiful Russian soul. I believe we must do more together. Culture is a very powerful tool that helps us understand each other. Cultural collaborations help more people get closer to each other. What is the role of the Russian ‘Cultural Seasons’ in South Africa, and of the South Afri-can ‘Cultural Seasons’ in Russia? South Africans still need to learn more about Russia, to understand
that Russia isn’t only Moscow, that it’s a huge country, rich in culture and art. The Russian ‘Cultural Seasons’ will allow South Africans to get a glimpse of that, bringing real Russian people, in Russian clothes, playing national Russian Instruments, to South Africa. And when we bring our mu-sicians, dancers and singers to Russia, we help Russians to get to know us in the same way. I thanked the Minister, stopped the recording, and later I reflected on what I had seen and heard over those two cold November days. I realised that the world we live in will always be full of new things worth knowing, no matter where we’ve already been and what we already know. That honouring heroes and celebrating life and peace with song and dance is the right thing to do.
March of ides Neil Cross
nly the empty bunker heard his indignant snarl. “So English, think you can move your armour in under the white flag?” As the convoy moved along the cutting, he focused on the lead C8. Even at this distance, he fancied he could see the men laughing and smoking through the dirty windows. They’d be in artillery range soon enough. Then he’d get on the Lorenz, breaking radio silence, ceasefire or no ceasefire. He sighed, speaking sorrowfully to himself without any hint of accent. “It will end as it always does and there’s nothing you can do about it. ” Really, he shouldn’t even think like that. At this rate, he’d end up sounding like a fake M. “You should just grin and bear it.” She’d said maternally. Saying things like that, since borrowing The Book of English Idiom, from the library. He should tell her that you don’t sound more English, just because you say…These things have a habit of working themselves out, a lot. And anyway, from where he was standing, the opposite was true, and The Game, the best example of it. He adjusted his gait. Placing his feet so they were near as damn-it
parallel. He might be in plain clothes, M would say civil, but he’d had military training, and as someone had written. You can take a man out of the army but not the army out of a man. Refocusing the heavy binoculars, for what seemed the twentieth time, he remembered he was supposed to have a glass eye. He’d told fake Franz or was it fake Hans? Some cock and bull about shrapnel. Unfortunately, somewhere in the spiel, he’d forgotten which eye was supposed to be the good one. It didn’t matter. Eyes, glass or otherwise, were things that only had relevance when you were face to face. If anyone got that close, he’d be for it anyway. Was that a movement in the trees? The others watched him, as he pretended to watch them. Let’s face it, they’d probably forgotten they were supposed to be playing. One thing, for certain, they weren’t worrying about his ocular inconsistencies, or his funny accent. Not that these were his biggest worry. Why, for the love, had he said he was from Bern? He felt, such a swizz. It was a lie, which could be so easily exposed. He hardly knew which country it was in, let alone where the telegraph office
is in relation to the town hall. What would he do if his contact was a, dyed in the wool, Bernavarian, wanting to relive old times? Asking him: of the three flower shops in the square, which was that of his pretty cousin? He was doomed. Control had said as much. He in turn, insisting, this time it would be different. Confident as always, with his mastery of the mother tongue, he could fool anyone. As the Morris entered the cul-de-sac, he dropped the glasses, folding down his collar, reached into the canvas satchel. The Luger, flimsy and insubstantial in his hot palm. Purposefully, he moved to the point opposite where Charlie, was most likely to appear. The driver of the khaki vehicle, just visible behind its bulbous nose, waved and smiled. He crossed, for a moment just concentrating on the steps needed to get him to the other side, as per the code. Unfortunately not spotting Tommy, machine gun at the ready, squatting behind the untidy hedge.
To his back, Tommy mocked. ‘I spy a fake Englishman.’ Followed by the shrill stuttering bark of the Bren Gun. He in turn pivoted on one leg, groaning enthusiastically. Before collapsing at the knees, to fall in slow motion, until he was lying face up, on Mr Chatting’s lawn. Yep; just as I thought. Dead again, same as always. Never mind that the machine gun’s magazine is fashioned from a cornflakes packet, or that the solid looking weapon, was fashioned by Tommy’s big brother. A burner from a gas cooker and the handle of a drill, substituting the Bren’s air-cooled barrel and short ergonomic stock. As he lay, guts mingling with the grass cuttings, he wondered, not for the first time, why he had mentioned, Mum had been a spy, in the war. It was because of that momentary lapse into boastfulness, that he’d never been picked for Tommy’s side and meant, therefore, he would never get to be, on the side of the action men.
Turkish Section Melisa Murat
How did you come to be living in Russia? I was born in 1992 in Istanbul, and lived there until I was 6 years old, when my father moved to Kirgizstan in 1998, to start business there. I was put into a private Russian school, because I did not like the Turkish one. We lived there until 2002, I was pretty good at school, and after we left, my parents had to face the big question of which school to put me in in Istanbul, because it was impossible for me to study in an ordinary Turkish school for linguistic reasons. My parents found out that there was a Russian school at the Russian General Consulate, but foreigners were not allowed to study there, as it was only for the children of members of the Russian diplomatic corpus. But somehow, thanks to father’s connections and business history, and my knowledge of Russian, it came to be that I studied at that school. I graduated from there in 2009, and went to Russia to take the Russian State exams. I was 17 then, and my family didn’t want to leave me alone. So they switched my tickets and brought me back to Turkey. We had a big family fight, I refused to go to university in Turkey, so I waited for a year until I was 18, and worked at the Russian consulate in Istanbul, where I was the only person who spoke Russian and Turkish at the same level. I had made some contacts, and my dream was to study at the Moscow State Institute for International Relations (MGIMO). I was told that it was impossible for me to apply to study there especially for free because MGIMO has no scholarships for Turkish citizens. I was however given an interview with the head of the department for foreign students. I told him my story, and I gave him a letter of recommendation from the Russian consulate, and from my uncle, Mr. Ercan Murat, who was a diplomat for over 50 years. They said they would consider my application and let me know. Two days later I got a call, I went back to see them again and they told me that everything was good, I only needed to obtain a letter from the Russian embassy in Turkey that I needed a scholarship. I obtained that, and MGIMO agreed to give me a scholarship. This was a one in a million chance to end up studying where I really wanted to — and I made it! I studied international law, and graduated in 2014. I went straight on to a Masters course in the same subject and
graduated from that last year. I decided to study further, so now I am a Ph.D. student also at MGIMO, but this time I am studying political science. How do you relate to Turkish culture now, having lived in Russia for so long? Do you see any Turkish culture in Russians? I was raised in both cultures simultaneously. My mother is descended from a Circassian, and I see a lot of Turkish culture in Russians. I am aware of the thing called the Russian soul; this is an understanding that comes from my early childhood, from a variety of things I did, such as dancing, drawing, from just living here. What are the main difficulties you have living here in Russia? I am sometimes struck by the anger of people. I have found a way to handle this, I just smile at Russians, it surprises them, and they think: why is she smiling? Turkish people are very different in this respect. Maybe they are too relaxed! My understanding of Russia and Russians made me come to the decision of becoming a member of the Russian Orthodox Church. How do you relate to Islam in Turkey? I was very lucky in that I was raised in a family that really believed in a modern, secular Turkey. It is an important family that was one of those that helped the country become a Republic. I understood what an effort they put in to making Turkey a modern stable country. Every single year I fly to Istanbul and I see the changes are massive. I was born into a country where everyone could live together. If somebody’s face wasn’t covered — nobody would say anything. Now they are rewriting all the rules, and I am not sure where I can go. Stereotypes aside, people now are angry with each other. Do you think that one side will eventually win? No, I don’t think anybody will win. Turkey is a multicultural country, it’s geographically positioned in a way that makes it the gateway between the East and the West. It was always a home for every religion and
Turkish Section every nation. You cannot change Turkey’s history, that’s what makes my heart ache. Russia is a multinational country and somehow they manage to keep it together. Of course there are problems, like the Chechnya region, but somehow it works.
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Does Western democracy in Turkey really work? If it hasn’t, is there a bond there between Russians and Turks? I think the two countries are quite similar. We have two leaders who have been there for quite some time, and who lead using the same methods. At the same time, the two countries are very different. I really do believe that many problems are caused not by the leaders themselves but by the people who surround them. I see that in both countries there is nobody who could replace these two people. If a leader goes, a whole system collapses. Right now in Turkey we are about to have a referendum, where the country will vote for or against Presidential rule. The country is splitting into two camps, and many people are leaving. Quite the opposite is happening in Russia; people are uniting here. When the sanctions came, people started uniting. Are there many Turks in Russia? Yes, there are a lot of people who moved here 15 to 20 years ago and started families here. There are more Russian women, however, who married Turkish men and who moved to Turkey. There is a massive diaspora there, one of the biggest. It’s amazing how quickly Russian women adapt to Turkish culture, which is very different from their own. Turkish men are raised in a completely different way. I went the other way. This is quite hard, because as you know, there are more Russian women than there are men here. So there is always a big fight for the man. People are always very surprised when they hear that a Turkish girl moved to Russia.
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How is it for you living with a Russian man? I think my Russian background helps. Although I am very loud and active – If you step on my toes I will bite – but still I try to be more understanding than Russian women. I feel that men and women are equal but I prefer for him to be the leader.
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Do you want to stay here? I never regret making the choice to come to Russia when I was 18, although it was very hard at the time. Now my family says that it is better for me to stay in Russia. Maybe this year I will open a company with a Russian friend – a consultancy and legal advisory – helping both Russians and Turks. But we shall see how everything goes. The situation is not stable.
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Turkish Section Taner Kaplankiran
How did you end up here? I first came here in 2003, it was a quick escape. I liked it, and I decided to come again, and again and again, until I decided to move here. It is now my home base. Do you go back to Turkey at all? I still don’t know how to answer when somebody asks: where are you from Taner? My family moved to the UK in the 1980s, when I was roughly 7, and Britain basically became my home country. I moved to Russia in 2005 from the UK. Do you feel more British than Turkish? The strange thing is, I do not have a strong feeling of belonging to any one country. It’s like Bruce Lee once said. When you put water into a cup you become the cup, when you put water into a teapot, you become the teapot. We are a bit like that. Wherever I go, that’s home for me, I can adjust quickly, but sometimes this causes problems, because I cannot strongly associate with my roots. I’ve made Dutch, English and French friends. After a while they forget where they came from. They think without borders. So I don’t actually associate myself with Turkey or England at all. I try not to judge and that is important in my life journey.
You say you are on a life journey, and you work in finance. How do you relate to money? Because of this international mixture, doing finance in Russia is a great experience. Money is only a subject, but it enables me to understand how people think. Up until about 2010, we were only working with expats. They, especially Europeans, like to make long-term plans. Retirement, savings and children’s education plans are all long term. But as we move towards the east that time span shrinks, and people think on a short-term basis. Most of my Russian clients have pots of money, but they don’t know what to do with it. They have property and own assets, but basically they are interested in making money with short term investments. Do you see that people’s attitudes towards money is reflected in the way that people live here? Absolutely. We westerners are more individualistic, we like to buy good things, and show other people that we own them. We like to calculate what we are going to get from our investments. We are more selfcentred. But in the East, in Russia, that approach doesn’t exist. Russians like to share more than westerners and there doesn’t need to be a logical outcome. Maybe they don’t know what is going to happen tomorrow, so they feel that they should use it today.
Is your job to be a kind of gateway between cultures? In the UK, finance is more monotone, it’s more about numbers. With westerners, my job is all about reminding them the reason that they are working, the reason to save – it’s for a better future. But with Russians, I have to go deeper and explain what can happen when things go wrong, how prepared are they, what they have to do. I have to continually remind people of painful times in order to steer their passions and emotions, and then ask questions about the future. So here the future doesn’t really exist whereas in our countries, the present doesn’t really exist? Absolutely. Do you find yourself being drawn in to Russian culture? As I said, to me, life is a journey, and this is my philosophy. The beautiful things, you have to put them in your pocket and carry them with you. They will make you a better person. And learn from the bad things as well. I love Russian culture, I love the people. When I first came here, it was the fun part that I found attractive. As I matured, it was the financial rewards, and as I matured further, it is the people, the culture, the environment that I like, that keeps me here. I feel that I am at home here.
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Turkish Section Okan Yildiz
How old are you? How long have you been in Russia?
How do you meet people, in clubs?
Do you feel that culture is important?
I am 31 now. I have been here for just over a month now. In 2015 I worked at Coral Travel (Aviation) in Moscow and before 2015 I worked for three years in a sister company of Gazprom in Turkey as finance expert. I had the chance to understand and experience Russian culture in a Russian company, but of course this is not the same as actually living in Russia. Eventually, I decided to come here. This is a very exciting time for me. I always believed that Russian and Turkish cultures are close to each other, you can see that in the fact that so many Russians like to go to Turkey for holidays. When we get together, we can get on very easily. This of course completely goes against all the stereotypes that I had about Russians before I came here. Most people said that Russians are cold, they won’t help you of you fall. So far, I have found this to be completely wrong.
I haven’t spent a lot of time in clubs over the past month but I have attended meetings of various international organisations where I meet people. This is important for me because I’d like to live here for a long time. It’s a very serious decision to make, but I’d like to have a family here. I have many plans, and I want to manifest all of them in Moscow. That’s why I left my family home in Turkey to come here.
Yes, that is why I am studying Russian 4 days a week at the Higher School of Economics while preparing for a master’s programme, and it is also why I have started a project to teach Turkish culture and language to Russians. I don’t want to simply live here, go nowhere and do nothing. I want to learn more about Russian culture and language, and to get to know more Russians, because every Russian has a different perspective. I am working on two major projects in my spare time. The first is a website designed to help Turks learn Russian (www. ruscaogren.com). We have already prepared a site with content that will enable them to learn Russian in a way that they can relate to. There will be some sections on the site which will help Turks find out more about Russian culture, as well as Russian politics and economics. The other website will be the same concept in reverse; helping Russians to learn Turkish and explaining Turkish customs, culture, politics and economics. I feel good about helping people and have been overwhelmed by the positive reactions I have received when talking to people about these projects.
There must be some aspects of Russian culture that you don’t like? I can’t say that there are any, but I do notice that when you get to know Russians, there is a certain line that they won’t cross at first. It takes a little time. In corporate life, friendships are formed and they continue outside of the workplace. I find it amazing how seriously Russians take their hobbies. Here, they try to do their hobbies professionally, this is something that I like.
You left your family to come here? Yes, I left my mother and my brother. But what about the whole Russia-Turkey political situation, it’s rather difficult to predict what will happen isn’t it? Just this last week there have been many signs that the relationship between Russia and Turkey will improve soon. Because as far as we know, there are still pressures on Turkish companies and expats, and some of them still have difficulties in finding work because companies have quotas on how many Turks they can employ. But there are some political relationships now between Russia and Turkey, and I think we need each other culturally, and economically. That’s why I am sure that soon it will be a lot better. Our political leaders are holding meetings, and I think there is a will for things to improve on both sides.
Do you think that culture is as important as politics? Yes, if people understand each other culturally, then they will understand each other politically.
Turks in Moscow Ibrahim Yildiz Board member, Esta Construction
How long have you been here in Russia? For just over 10 years. I arrived in 2007, our first work was to work on three shops in Saratov, then we had a succession of contracts all over Russia. Eventually we ended up here in Moscow where I have been living for 4 years. Have you have always been working in construction and development in retail? Yes, mostly construction. We are General Contractors. I remember that Turkey has a very long tradition of construction in Russia. With Enka and the big developments in the 1980s and 1990s such as Riverside Towers. Yes, as far as I know it all started off on a large scale at the end of the 1980s, and Enka is the most famous Turkish developer. What does your company do? We are General Contractors and work mostly in Russia, although we do some work in Kazakhstan. Currently, most of our work is in Moscow, however we are also doing a large project in Krasnodar. We concentrate mostly on shopping malls and hotels. What is this great love affair that Turks have with real estate in Russia, why are there so many Turks living here, or used to be? There are historical reasons. We learnt many of our methods from the Germans. After Russia opened
up, it was clear that they [the Russians] didn’t know how to do construction professionally. Turkish people also love to travel; we don’t just do construction in Russia but all over world. Russia happens to be next door, and we get on well with Russians. At the time, Turkey needed the business, and Russia needed the expertise. I can talk to Russian people easily, they understand me, and not just when I am talking about construction.
are not everything. Krasnodar is amazing. I lived there for a year and a half, Saratov is also very nice.
So Turks were prepared to take risks at a much earlier stage than Americans, Brits and Germans?
Did many of your Turkish friends had to leave?
Whether this was a good thing or not, I don’t know (laughs) but yes, you are right. As soon as there was a little crack in the door, you were in here, right? Yes. You said you can get on with Russians. How do you get on with them? You might have lived here for a long time, but you are not Russian. There are still things that I can’t handle. Yes, yes, I know what you mean. Some things are very hard to embrace, especially at first. But, it’s OK. Last month I counted how many cities I have lived in for over a month or two. It came to 30! Moscow is very hard to live in, of course you can find everything you need here – work, money, everything is here, but those things
Did the recent forced exodus of Turks last year affect you? Of course. Last year was very hard. It would be a mistake to think that everybody was happy about what happened. I personally wasn’t affected, but now the situation is more or less OK.
Yes, many many people had to go because of visa issues. Some of them came back and some of them didn’t. As far as I know more than 20,000 people, both engineers and workers had to leave. But that is out of a total population of about 100,000 Turks in Russia. Do you think there is a danger that Russian and Turkey could move apart again, or do you think things are going to settle down? I think we are settling down, and I think that we are now going to move very close to each other. In the past, you didn’t need a visa to come to Russia from Turkey, but now you do. But I understand Russia’s position, because Turkey is right next to Syria, and Russia has a security problem with Syria. But now, hopefully, we will be on the same side. I think that the two countries will get very close, at least in comparison to where they were before.
Turks in Moscow Time goes by very quickly here doesn’t it? Yes. I have been here a long time. I love Russian and the Russian people, I have a daughter, and I intend to get a Russian passport, and I am going to start this process in March or April. Does that mean you will have to give up your Turkish citizenship? Actually, Turkey allows one to hold two passports, but Russian does not. Do you feel yourself to be a part of the western expatriate community here? Not really. It is even quite strange for me to do an interview in English. Before I came to live in Russia I worked for two years in Kazakhstan and I worked with Italians and English. In Turkey, I
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also worked on the Incirlik NATO air base. In all these jobs, I used English. But in Russia, even large western companies like Auchan are starting to use Russian when negotiating contracts and working with engineers. To be honest, this is the first time for 5 or 6 years that I have even spoken English. I speak Russian with everybody here, which shows just how far things have changed. These changes are going to continue and I do believe that Russia’s economy and the country is going to get much stronger. Why do you think that? Because Russia is investing in education; it is getting better and better. Originally, I wanted to send my daughter to be educated in Turkey, but now I have changed my mind, it is better that she stays here. It is certainly very different than in the 1980s and 1990s,
when everybody wanted to leave. It’s fascinating. Are you a Muslim, do you feel any prejudice against you? Yes, I am a Muslim. No, no prejudice at all. Nothing. They opened a large Mosque here in Moscow last year. I respect that of course. I was recently in an Orthodox Church here in Moscow, actually, I respect Russian Orthodoxy very much. So somehow Russia has created a kind of model where Islam and Christianity can live together? Yes, Turkey is also like that. We have a long history of Christianity and Islam coexisting together. Now because of terrorism, they have a clamp down, but really many of these problems are just certain people creating problems to further their own careers. The problems don’t really exist at all.
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arakalpakstan is an autonomous region in the magically historical country of Uzbekistan. A country famous for its ancient cities such as Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva, with their beautiful architecture and magnificent mosques. However, very few people are aware that this region’s capital, Nukus, is home to one of the World’s great art galleries, displaying Central Asian Folk and 20th Century Russian Avant-Garde art. The story of how this stunningly beautiful museum came to be situated here is almost as fascinating as the museum itself. A story that unfolded both in Russia and in “the tender and beautiful sands” as Igor Savitsky lovingly described the deserts of his second homeland. The story begins when the young Ukranian-born Igor, archeologist, painter and collector, travelled from Moscow to Samarkand with the Surikov Art Institute, during the Second World War. His job was to work on, and paint local archeological sites. He painted local artifacts and landscapes. The catalyst for his dramatic change of direction from enthusiastic and talented creator to avid collector of art, came when one of his pictures was criticized by a prominent Soviet artist, after which he gave up painting and concentrated on collecting and restoring other
people’s works of art. However, in later life, he did start to paint and sculpt again. He soon realized that throughout the Soviet Union, but especially in Moscow, there was a huge cache of fantastic, yet hidden art, created by artists in a style frowned upon by the Soviet Authorities, who usually only allowed Soviet Realism style works to be put on public display. From then on, he avidly and tenaciously went about obtaining such works and trucked them back to the desert land of Karakalpakstan’s capital, Nukus, eventually building a museum and displaying them there. He realized in doing so, he risked being denounced as ‘an enemy of the state’ and could be sent to a gulag labour camp or even executed. Nevertheless, he doggedly sought out the works of Soviet Avant-garde artists, living or dead, then journeyed back to Nukus with trucks full of stunningly, beautiful, modern creations. For him, these were the artists who, by their work, opened a new vision of the World. They searched for something unknown to conventional artists. It became Savitsky’s life purpose to save it and display it. In Moscow, he said he found most of the old paintings rolled up under the beds of old widows: buried and forgotten in the family trash. He further stated that these were done
by artists who had stayed true to their artistic vision, very often, at a terrible cost. He would approach living artists, telling them he was the curator of an art museum and would put their works on display for them. After giving them scraps of paper as IOU’s, he would leave with their masterpieces. The artists were seldom paid but their work has survived and is now openly viewed by thousands of people. Despite the pictures’ high values today, they probably thought it was worth it. Impressed by the marvellous collection that Savitsky had created, the head of Soviet Karakalpakstan, committed to subsidize him if he opened a museum. This was set up in 7 rooms in a library in 1967. The current, large, modern building, which is called the ‘Igor Savitsky Museum of Art,’ was built in 2003. Igor Savitsky died, just short of his 70th birthday in 1989. His death was due to the constant inhalation of fumes from the cleaning agents which he used to restore bronze objects. Sadly, it was passion for Art that indirectly killed him. His epitaph reads: ‘To the Genius Saviour of Beauty from Grateful Descendants.’ Today there are more than 40,000 works on display in the museum, almost all collected by Savitsky. It is chock full of previously banned masterpieces which, if not for him and his passion, would never have been able to enchant art lovers with their incredible beauty. The museum represents the spirit and power of art and creativity, to express itself and flow forth even against oppressive tyranny. Anyone who loves Art should try and visit the land of tender and beautiful deserts and seek out this outstanding museum.
So, this is That Nasty Russia? Paul Goncharoff
ith Boris Yeltsin’s New Year’s surprise in naming Vladimir Putin as acting president on January 1, 2000 a distinctly different management style steadily gained traction. Corruption, which always existed in one form or another, was for almost a decade one of the few smoothly working tools enabling many decisions, both necessary and unnecessary. The common element was that all business decisions according the laws had to go through a governmental approval/disapproval process, federal, regional or local. Decisions and permissions required by private business were an entirely new concept. They needed immediate resolution while at the same time the rules were either still unwritten or if written, not fully understood. Yet decisions had to be made, risking the lives and careers of those held accountable whilst the rulebook of responsible accountability was still being dreamed up. The country was yearning for stability, predictability, and an understanding of what the lay of the political land would allow. There was tremendous wealth in the hands of those who were able to position themselves in the oil and gas sectors, the holdings while dated were largely functional. The same held true for mining and forestry. These were real assets, and the world’s bankers were more than eager to lend into them. So it went; improve what you can, manage what is possible, and in many ways trust and hope that sanity and innate conservatism in Russia will keep the ship afloat. The privatization and voucher schemes, while roundly criticized, did serve to get 15,000 state firms off the governments back, for better or worse. The downside was the strengthening of what came to be known as the ‘oligarchs,’ or closed circles of power and influence backed by funds. These were essentially extra-political action committees or lobbies without the legal guise of respectability. These were powerhouses similar to America’s Super PACS and largely above the law. Taxing the citizenry was a further issue, the rates initially brought to bear were patterned on the US and Europe, they were too complex, too high, and few were willing to pay into what was essentially a path to assured bankruptcy. The wealth of the country was offshore, largely off-the-books and cash was king. The time for a ‘great national housecleaning’ was at hand, with all the additional anxieties that such sweeping change entails. The priorities both then and today are straightforward, but to achieve them has been an immensely difficult, time
consuming and complex task. The advantages Putin and Russia had from the outset was the absence of some airy institutionalized ideology like the Soviet communist party making change not just a practical challenge but adding the baggage of ‘political correctness’ to the problem. Many believe Russia is by its DNA an autocratic slam-dunk. To this day, I am surprised at the lack of understanding of how Russia is in fact governed. A unique form of consensus does play a key role. Misinterpretation may be because it is not like the American brand of democratic process, or the UK’s, nor is there an over-riding desire to wholly emulate either. Nonetheless, from every town in every region there is a trickle up and trickle down flow of social, economic, and opinion information-sharing directed to the regional offices of the governors. This is also duplicated to the federal ministries concerned at the regional level (checks & balances), municipal and local. Feedback flows are collected and reviewed at the federal level in Moscow. The president does not make policy decisions unilaterally; practically speaking he cannot, not without key consensus, and in coordination with several political/economic power blocks. Admittedly, this is a byzantine and to outsiders an insufficiently transparent process wherein not every political view is warmly embraced or accepted. Nevertheless, the process works in this place and time, and has resulted in significant improvements and stabilization of Russian society and economy. The steady evolution of the legal code, the evolution of an equitable judiciary, upgrading the military, social welfare, have all been steadily building up from the foundation of Russia’s new society. When Putin came to be President, Russia was essentially bankrupt. It owed more money to the IMF than it had in foreign currency reserves. Funds were being siphoned offshore; oligarchic groups were ‘Teflon’ and pleased as punch. Over the ensuing years, a virtual ‘good housekeeping’ revolution took place. Starting in 2003 serious even draconian steps were taken to try to break the influence that non-government interests (Oligarchs) held in various areas of the body politic. Imagine the challenge if the task was in the USA, and the goal was limiting influence exerted by the interests of beltway political action committees (PAC’s) or other myriad Lobbies. Not so easy, perhaps even unimaginable. The necessary steps
Opinion were roundly criticized by the global media, yet they clearly had to be taken if Russia was to have an independently determined future. The speed and trajectory of Russia’s continued recovery was dependent on the willingness of policymakers to diversify revenue streams and maintain ongoing internal economic and monetary reforms. As it happens, the sanctions imposed on Russia, and the responding quid pro quo sanctions achieved what political and management structures of Russia were still only considering phasing in due to risks of potential social unrest. This was enhancing diversification from oil, gas and other natural resources to the many other insufficiently prioritized directions such as agriculture, commercialized high technologies, machine building, and consumer goods. Phasing in diversification was kick started by the sanctions imposed in 2014 forcing the issue of import replacement and substitution. The sanctions will eventually pass, and the oil price will find equilibrium, meanwhile the process of putting the Russian house into diversified order continues. Today the GDP value of Russia represents 2.14 percent of the world economy. GDP in Russia averaged $876.86 billion from 1989 until 2015, reaching an all-time high of $2230.63 billion in 2013 and then the combined influence of the drop in oil prices combined with imposed sanctions had its effect on growth during 2014, 2015 and to a lesser degree in 2016. It is worth recalling that the total GDP in 1999 was US$ 195.91 billion. This sort of improvement roughly equals a greater than tenfold increase in as many years. To try to sum it all up and include every dissonance, caricature and myth would take a hefty tome. Much of today’s unproductive accusatory game playing and demonizing might have been avoided if Russia’s 2008 proposal for western security was not dismissed out of hand. The red lines were stated clearly to the United States and the world by Russia as far back as 2006. Among them was the unacceptability and danger posed by potential inclusion of Ukraine and Georgia into NATO. The danger to Russia’s national security would only increase by having a potentially hostile military alliance on its Western borders. The media in the EU and the US seem to be fixated on continuing to portray Putin as some odious goblin wallowing in the juices of some corrupted cornucopia. Such a characterization and lampooning diverts us, it insults the truth, therefore ourselves. Russia may well be an authoritarian leaning democracy; it may not be in keeping with populist views, yet despite all that it works for Russia. It is also worth appreciating that Russia is not pushing views, values or otherwise ‘evangelizing’ to anyone. Perhaps we should be more outraged in this new millennium that our values of responsible, educated, objective, journalism should be thriving but are not. Seems the finest ideals of a free press and international justice have indeed died in a world recently turned dangerously upside down. Where nations are accused, vilified, prejudged and sanctioned without evidence and which would be thrown out of the lowliest municipal courts, yet here we are. Let us hope that objective assessments plus rational reasoning will guide us in 2017 and beyond, for all our sakes.
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Professional exhibitions in Russia since 2003
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English law – a Great British export, and well received by Moscow clientele
s an English qualified lawyer operating in the Moscow market, one of the first things I am asked, whether within a professional or social context, is how it is possible to be an English qualified solicitor in Moscow? The answer is actually very simple: the primacy of the laws of England and Wales makes them one of the United Kingdom’s best exports. This, in turn, makes an English legal background nearly as highly sought-after in Moscow, as it is in London. Allow me to explain. 25% of the world’s 320 or so legal jurisdictions have English law as their basis. This includes not only much of the U.K. and the United States*, but India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Singapore and Hong Kong, to name just a few, as well as many of the major offshore financial centres, such as Cyprus, the Channel Islands, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Bermuda etc. To be sure, this is a direct relic of the British Empire, but one which is notable for the way in which it has long been embraced and developed by long since independent states. Based upon such a critical mass of worldwide influence, in more recent times, and in particular
following Margaret Thatcher’s socalled ‘Big Bang’ of the 1980s, when the City of London was deregulated and began to extend its influence enormously, the use of English law has taken on an unparalleled significance. For example, according to research carried out by the Queen Mary University in London, which was recently cited in a paper issued by ‘TheCityUK’ in connection with Brexit, 40% of governing law clauses in global corporate arbitrations use English law. Furthermore, London is largely regarded as the leading international centre for dispute resolution and the statistics for the UK’s legal services market demonstrate that it utterly dominates its EU competitors: the UK legal market is nearly triple that of Germany’s and a multiple of more than 5 times the size of the French market, its two nearest competitors. In reality, the dominance of England and Wales as the premier international legal jurisdiction, can be put down to much more than just history, the City of London or even the regularly cited benefits of a centrally located time zone and the prevalence of the English language. International contractual parties particularly value the use of English law for a whole host of reasons. Most importantly, English law allows the courts and arbitral
tribunals to enforce contracts to reflect the intentions of the parties and the commercial bargain which they intended to make when signing the contract. Secondly, English law recognises both the use of trusts and oral contracts, and provides clients with access to equitable remedies (in essence remedies based on principles of fairness rather than mere formality. Finally, businessmen the world over using English law governed contracts, gain much comfort in the knowledge that the legal system has developed by way of centuries of case law, which is constantly being developed through further judgments heard by an independent and highly experienced judiciary within a wellmanaged court system. In short, given the quality of the English legal system itself, the certainty with which it is applied and the efficient resolution of complicated disputes, it is no surprise that our Russian friends, like so many of their international counterparts, value the English legal system and the highly trained advisors, which are a necessary aspect of it. *Scotland, in the U.K., and the State of Louisiana, in the U.S., actually have civil law legal systems for historical reasons.
By Marie Giral
Anatoly Zverev from A to Z “You constitute your own happiness; all the rest are incidents that you may like or not like. Amen.” Anatoly Zverev.
he ‘AZ Museum,’ is the name of the museum dedicated to the Soviet artist Anatoly Zverev who was born, lived and died in Moscow (1931-1986). The address is 20/22, second Yamskaya Tverskaya Ulitsa. If you go there from Mayakovskaya Metro station, you will find, at number 20/22, a note on the door that says (in Russian): ‘Sorry, we moved to Ulitsa Arbat a few months ago.’ How long this note has been here for?, better not ask! You are about to turn away, thinking that you got a wrong address, but a second thought tells you to persevere. Remember, all these street numbers, probably dating back to those of long-gone properties, churches, mansions with gardens. Walk two doors further up the street and there
is another entrance to the museum that is open. The AZ (for Anatoly Zverev) museum, is set in a 3-floor modest ‘ocobniak,’ (mansion). During the warm season, the last floor transforms into a roof-top café. This is a private museum that came about thanks to the passion and personal collection of Natalya Opaleva, one of its two founders (the other founder is art curator Polina Lobachevskaya). In 2013, Aliki Costakis, daughter of the famous collector George Costakis, donated over 600 works by Zverev to the museum, along with archival materials from her father’s collection. Today, the museum owns over 1,500 works by Anatoly Zverev and over 500 works by nonconformist artists of his circles.
Indeed, Zverev, the grandson of an icon painter, never belonged to any one single trend or group, and remains difficult to classify in any painterly movement familiar to us. Nevertheless, George Costakis considered Zverev to be the first Russian Expressionist. Picasso himself said that Zverev was the “genius painter of the 20th century,” no less. Another Soviet artist of the first avant-garde, Robert Falk, said that: “Each stroke of his brush was a treasure. Artists of his stature come by just once a century.” However, Anatoly Zverev spent his life living a hand-to-mouth existence, never knowing where he would spend the next night and hiding from the authorities who could not stand his anarchic way of life and mind-set.
Culture Not only did his ‘friend’ artists – Plavinsky, Nemukhin, Rabin, Krasnopevtsev and many others – not to mention, again, collector George Costakis protect him. They also organized in his lifetime exhibitions of his works in underground galleries, away from Soviet officials. Before the opening of the museum in May 2015, the two founders organized two exhibits in the new Manezh, so as to remind Muscovites of this forgotten artist. Since its opening, the AZ Museum has been offering exhibitions devoted to one theme of Zverev’s œuvre. Each time, the whole building transforms into a space arranged accordingly, with taste, talent and knowledge of modern museum scenography. The theme of the present exhibition is about how Anatoly Zverev illustrated four of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales: ‘The Nightingale’, ‘The Wild Swans’, ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’ and ‘The Little Mermaid.’ Zverev created this series of illustrations in 1961, at the request of one of his protectors, the choreographer and ballet-master Alexander Rumnev. For many years, these drawings have been kept in the Russian State Archive of Literature and Art. In 2012, the drawings were first presented and became an invaluable discovery for
both specialists and the public. In 2013 AZ Museum published a book: ‘Zverev draws Andersen’s fairy tales.’ Andersen and Zverev have more in common than one might think. Both endured extreme poverty in their childhood. Andersen, like Zverev, had to support himself and he too started his vocation very early. Both were also very prolific. As famous as Andersen may be for his fairy tales (more than 200!), he also wrote a number of plays, travelogues, novels and poems. Zverev’s legacy includes more than 30,000 works, most of them stored in museums in Moscow and St. Petersburg, with some of his works exhibited in the Museum of modern art in New York. As with previous exhibitions, the ‘Andersen’s Fairy Tales’ exhibition occupies three floors of the Museum. When you enter the museum, after leaving your coat at the garderobe, you immediately find yourself in the underwater world of the little Mermaid. The floor, chairs and walls are transparent, aquatic, fluttering in blue and white. Words of the fairy tales appear in portholes along with the artist’s drawings: a single stroke, characteristic of his intention to render direct sensations by working at great speed. You walk up (or take the very adequately transparent lift) to the third floor and after experiencing the submarine world on the first floor, in case you had forgotten you were in Moscow, you now find yourself in an endless enfilade of red spaces reflected ad infinitum on the mirrors covering the walls. This is the Palace of the Chinese Emperor who loved listening to the nightingale’s chirping. You can see the cage of the mechanical one and hear the singing of the Nightingale. On one sidewall a short video clip presents a forest with the full Moon rising and fading. Walking down to the second floor, you are with the Emperor’s New Clothes tale on one side, and
the story of the Wild Swans on the other. Here also, short video clips and objects accompany the themes: spools of threads surround the shape of a naked shape while a mechanical mobile moves slowly, symbolizing the swans of the tale. Finally, you will dive again to the first floor in the little mermaid’s water world and sit for a quiet moment watching the short movie (in Russian) about the similarities in the life, and work too, of the two artists. The four scenography artists deserve a special mention in this exhibition. Do not leave the museum without having a look at the tiny bookshop. The ‘AZ Museum’ publishes its own fine books, all about Zverev or the exhibitions. Some of them are in English, well worth having a look and buying. ‘A Hundred portraits of women’ is particularly beautiful. Presenting portraits along with pictures of the models, it shows how Zverev was able to capture the spirit of a person. In ‘Round & About,’ Zverev friends call to mind their memories and anecdotes about him. On the right page, they are also portrayed, with the same exceptional talent for projecting in a few strokes the essence of people. For those with kids who learn Russian, special programmes are proposed for children with an enchanting guided tour and a small master class. The project also offers a cycle of lectures by leading experts on the works of Andersen and the history of book illustration. Visiting the Andersen exhibition at the ‘AZ Museum,’ the Ambassador of Denmark in Russia found the drawings and installation ‘unique.’ After the show closes in Moscow at the end of April, it will travel to Denmark, where Andersen’s modern compatriots will see his tales anew.
‘The Arts as a Revolutionary Force in Russia, 1880-1916’ Ross Hunter
major exhibition of Russian revolutionary art is being held by The Royal Academy in London, from the 11th of February to the 17th of April. All lovers of Russian art, and anyone fascinated by that most incredible period in Russia’s history will want to see it: www.royalacademy.org.uk The exhibition covers the amazing chaotic, creative, catalytic
by Ross Hunter & Pu Wei-hsuan, Shirley, Graduate of the Bolshoi Ballet Academy and Art Historian. period between revolutionary 1917 and the Stalinist crackdown of the early 1930s. Many of the works on show will be familiar to habitués of the glorious Tretyakov galleries in Moscow, but their presentation and organisation follow a theme which is more novel. In summary, the RA are seeking to show the links between the political and cultural upheavals in society and the explosion in artistic creativity, across all the
arts; from the abdication of the Romanovs until Stalin’s repression in the early 1930s. A full account of it will be in coming editions of Moscow expat Life. The 1917 revolutions did not merely open up artistic freedom: the arts had played a major role in making them possible, a unique historical achievement. Without the sequence of art first questioning imperial destiny, then
Art openly defying the state, there could not have been such a groundswell of support for the several disparate revolutionary parties. A synopsis of this idea is in MeL, Winter 2015, ‘The Russian Avant-Garde in Monaco.’ Philologically: Russian additions to world language from this time include ‘Avant Garde’ - experimental, innovative, radical and having a futuristic vision; ‘iconoclasm’ – knocking established symbols off their revered pedestals, and so showing the masses a glimpse of a very different future; ‘propaganda’ and ‘agit-prop’ – posters, art, stories created not for any intrinsic artistic value, but which focuses on their socialist ideological value and ‘educational’ potential. From about 1880, in just a couple of decades Russia leapt from being a follower of European artistic fashions to being a leader. This flowering of artistic creativity and innovation was matched by equally wrenching changes in society, agriculture and industry. This leads to the oftasked but wholly unanswerable question of whether Russia without the revolutions would have grown faster than with them. If the February 1917 ‘liberal’ revolution had succeeded, an open and semi-democratic Russian republic might have been chasing Western Europe’s modernisation path. For another day. For now, consider: ‘Art made the revolution possible’. It might appear an improbable claim. Bear with me. The 19th century had been good for Russia. Defeating Napoleon (1812), territorial expansion, a growing and prosperous upper-middle class, the arrival of the railway (1837), and a ‘Golden Age’ in literature
and the arts all augured well. As late as 1913, the Romanov Tsars were confidently celebrating four centuries of rule, and looking forward to 400 more of glory, not the four of disaster that befell them. Church, state and Tsar were a trinity of absolute power, supported by the Okrana secret police and a harsh-sentencing judicial system. Many potential reformers were radicalised by time in Siberian exile. All this disguised the fundamental weaknesses of both Tsar and his un-modernised society. In 1880, all seemed well. Russia was mostly looking westward, and importing cultural and industrial novelties from Europe. The Russian novel, poem, symphony and ballet were acclaimed. But this hubristic confidence hid the seeds of its own downfall: economic progress was not matched by political reform. Ilya Repin, Russia’s most revered painter, is not thought of as a disruptive influence. Most of his paintings add to Russia’s glory. Protest had to be subtle, and concealed. Repin managed it, in beautiful paintings. Consider just two. In 1881, he painted the justly revered composer Mussorgsky. Days before his death, 28 March, we see not the staged, hagiographic, sanitised regal portrait one would expect, but a stark picture of a sick alcoholic, in terminal decline. There is reverence and respect there, but no hiding of the terrible truth. All Mussorgsky’s genius does not save him from a painful end. If a national idol is mortal, how eternal might be the rulers? Two years later, Repin’s brush gave birth to an even more troubling work: ‘Religious Procession in the Kursk Province’ (1883). The painting was instantly highly controversial. Some, including Tolstoy, no less, see in it all Russia’s classes walking in unity, and
celebrating provincial life. But most see a darker, sacrilegious scene. Priests and golden riches are aloof from the populace; one of the juggernaut bearers is drunk; the landscape is anything but the promised land, and more. Most tellingly, there is an air of dazed purposelessness with no sense of direction or goal. Beggars and lame children are where Jesus would have focused his attention, but here they are being pushed back, beaten if needs be. Repin has sown the seeds of doubt in the beneficence and immutability of the established order. All this in the established artistic canons and styles of the age. Closet subversion: achieved without exile or the gulag fate suffered by other reformers, from the Decembrists to Lenin via Kropotkin and many more. As the century wore on, more radical challenges to the status quo arrived from Europe and found fertile soil in Russia. For example, ballet was an elite entertainment associated with the imperial court imported from Paris, and theatres often invited French dancers and ballet masters. One of them, Marius Petipa, had staged all the best known ballet classics, like The Sleeping Beauty, The Nutcracker and Swan Lake in the 1890s. It was the peak for Russian ballet, and in the early 20th century, Sergei Diaghilev’s ‘Ballets Russes’ returned the favour in western Europe. He worked with leading Russian composers and artists, such as Sergei Prokofiev, Igor Stravinsky and Vasily Kandinsky to produce music, ballet and sets inspired by Russian folklore. Ballet and orchestral composition evolved in tandem. Composers created radical and controversial new musical forms, intensifying the sense of change. Among many, if Pyotr Tchaikovsky was the most famous, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, who wrote Scheherazade and
Art The Flight of the Bumblebee, was one of the most original. By 1898 even, Tolstoy himself, in ‘What is Art’ was advocating democratisation, and allowing everyone to participate in art, not just the elites. The implication of this, ‘power to the people’ is inimical to a rigid and unbending State. The turn of the century was a bubbling, fermenting period in all the arts. The explosion came in 1910. An almost chance meeting of European and Russian artists produced a stellar if short lived revolutionary group, called ‘The Jack Of Diamonds’. An instant flowering of creative genius encompassed dozens of artists, notably Mikhail Larionov and Natalia Goncharova with Kazimir Malevich, Aristarkh Lentulov, Alexander Kuprin, Ilya Mashkov and Pyotr Konchalovsky. No space here to show the dozens of deserving works – see them in the New Tretyakov. Three works by Goncharova give a flavour: ‘Women with Rakes’ (1907), ‘The Peacock’ (1911) and ‘Cyclist’ (1913). To modern eyes, these are agreeable, if unremarkable. But we have seen a century of modern art. Then, it was truly fresh, or shocking, according to one’s viewpoint. The first is primitivist, deliberately naïf and with a poster-like simplicity in both shape and colour. Also celebrating peasants, not nobility, a decade before the revolution that would claim this as its own. A focus on ordinary people, the masses in their daily struggles and joys, is what unifies the group and period. Drunken sailors, stooping peasants, jaded concierges: not a mounted prince in sight. The peacock is a riot of colour and energy, with no care for background, perspective or balance – we are seeing life in motion. And the cyclist is both a one frame film, with a
humorous empathy for bones and teeth juddering across the cobbles. Not revolutionary in a political sense, but startlingly fresh to the eye. By contrast, Aristarkh Lentulov’s many works are evidently iconoclastic. My favourite – on my living room wall, a perfect copy, bought for kopeks on the Arbat – is ‘St Basil’s’ (1913). Bouncy, colourful, prismatic, cubist, kaleidoscopic even… it is an entertaining model that one may link to the Picasso style. Again, to modern eyes, this is all normal. But in the very year of the Romanov’s celebration of their immortality as God-Kings, Moscow’s iconic cathedral is broken into coloured shards – not a trace of religiosity or reverence. The lack of fear of God or His divine mercy would be felt by Russian troops brutally in the coming catastrophic war. The gradual replacement of picturesque but static reality by ever more abstract and confusing visual shocks would reach its apogee in the works of Wassily Kandinsky and Kazimir Malevich. Both started with stylised, simplified representations of normal subjects, and both gradually replaced subject matter with ever more abstract colour concoctions. Malevich got as far as the complete negation of art with ‘Black Supremacist Square’ (no need to copy it, you know what it looks like), although in later years he returned to a semi representational style. ‘Is this art?’, I hear you cry, and with reason – reason being the wrong tool! – or, ‘What’s the point?’ The nihilism is the point. By destroying logic, reason, and our command of reality, it becomes easier, necessary even, to smash the status quo and build something different from the wreckage. The art becomes the catalyst of the social change. This made 1917
possible. Writing in early 2017, and watching news/alternative news/fake news unfold, the parallels are uncomfortable, to say the least. Russian art and artistic history, poetry, the novel, ballet and music, are gloriously rich and complex subjects. It is impossible to squeeze such variety into a single explanatory frame. Many beautiful creations do not fit any one line of thinking, being created for many reasons, with different goals. Only a minority were deliberately or subconsciously directed towards a social target. Enjoy the works of Levitan, Golovin, Serebriakova, Chagall and many more for themselves, as they are not central to this story. By 1916, the subtleties were no longer needed. Overtly revolutionary work was possible. Russia almost invented the revolutionary poster, the propaganda cartoon and slogan and the ‘agit-prop’ call to action. Mayakovski’s poetry and cartoons brought the complexities of intellectual Marxism-Leninism to street level. The power of the commercial advertising slogan and logo were harnessed for the revolution. By the end of 1916, nothing was certain, except that the imperial government was incapable of continuing. The arts are by no means the sole cause of this – a disastrous military campaign, the havoc wrought by Rasputin, the red cells disrupting industry, increasing dissatisfaction to the autocratic rule of the court, and a viciously cold winter were the ultimate causes of the February revolt. But the arts were both catalyst and beneficiary of the mounting chaos, and played an ever increasing role from 1917 onwards, as will be shown at the RA and in the next article. It gets even more exciting from 1917.
The Untapped Resource for the Moscow Expats: ZIL Cultural Centre and Creative Cluster
By Lyubov Zolotova
o you wish to explore a new, cutting-edge arts space in Moscow? Head to Metro Avtozavodskaya and walk for about 10 minutes to the ZIL Culture Centre. The Centre stands out from the rest of the Moscow creative clusters. Having emerged back in the early soviet times as a ‘Palace of Culture,’ today it presents a fascinating combination of old and new, public and private. It is a modern space of an impressive scale which today collaborates with an impressive number of local and international partners, offers residence to creative industries and pursues commercial arts projects, as well as provides public services.
The founding: history and soviet heritage The space has a long history, its founding dating back to 1930s when it was set up as a ‘Palace of Culture’ of the ZIL automobile society (Завод имени А.И. Лихачова) on the grounds of the partly demolished Simonov Monastery. This was the time when networks of the so-called houses and palaces of culture were beginning to spread across the country, helping 1
to shape the new ideals of wellrounded and culturally educated Soviet citizens, but also acting as an important propaganda tool. Some of the largest of these public arts and education facilities were set up as a part of the community infrastructure of large industrial centres and factories. ZIL is a perfect case in point. The venue itself is a major landmark, a fine example of ‘Soviet constructivism’ designed by the Vesniny brothers, and is a heritage site. The project, completed in 1937, was of ambitious scale: spreading across a territory of 23,000 square meters, it housed several theatre halls, a lecture hall, a movie theatre, two libraries, a spacious pillar hall, numerous studio rooms, a winter garden and even a small observatory set up in a roof dome. For many decades, it served as a community arts and entertainment centre for generations of employees of the ZIL automobile factory and their families, as well as local residents of Avtosavodskaya district. However, it was not really present on the Moscow arts map and remained a fairly closed and low-impact establishment until fairly recently.
2012: redefining identity Things really began to change when, in consistency with the Moscow Government’s new cultural policy, ZIL Cultural Centre became the city’s flagship project to modernize the off-market ‘houses of culture.’The Centre changed ownership, now being under the economic jurisdiction of the Moscow City, received a lavish government grant for redevelopment purposes (around 170 million roubles, or $5 million) and a new forwardthinking management took over. The key rebranding goals included turning the space into an up-to-date urban arts centre, attracting a wider audience, and boosting public awareness1. Some of the key target audience now included the new ‘culture vultures,’ Moscow’s solvent middle-class with sufficient cultural capital to enjoy.
The modern day: fusing the old and the new ZIL Cultural Centre today presents a truly unique blend of different things. Whilst remaining a part of
V.Antonova, J.Kirsanova: Cultural Institutions’ Rebranding Strategies: Social Factors and Creative Trends. People’s Friendship University of Russia Bulletin, issue #4, 2014
Feature the large network of Moscow community arts centres cofunded by the government, it has been reinvented as a modern-day creative space, thus combining traditional -- and still very popular -- activities of the ‘houses of culture’ (such as children’s arts studios, young engineers and science clubs, and summer city camps) with new formats. It has also opened doors to creative industries, offering them residence and PR support and thus turned into one more creative cluster of Moscow. Present-day identity and activities. Largely because of its direct association with the major automobile producer and its unique architectural heritage of Soviet constructivism, ZIL Cultural Centre positions itself primarily as a centre of modern urban and industrial culture. Its key activities are thus consistent
with these priorities, and much emphasis is placed on promoting urban and industrial culture. Over the past few years, the Centre has virtually exploded with creative initiatives. By turning its face to the outside world it has managed to set up numerous partnerships, both local and international, and launch hundreds of new exciting projects. Some of the highlights include innovative art and design studios, a robotics technology lab, an automobile design studio, contemporary dance and music studio, art house cinema projects, lectures and workshops by leading field professionals, and visual art projects (including installations). Of particular interest is the annual arts contest, whereby the prize winners (typically, young promising visual and
performing artists) receive a grant for executing their ideas and then exhibiting their work at ZIL for 4 months, as well as benefit from significant PR support offered by the Centre. Another fascinating initiative is the Fashion Factory ZIL; Moscow’s first fashion designers’ incubator and a communication platform for fashion-bloggers and designers. Overall, the Centre carries out over 2,000 projects annually. The Centre has much benefited from offering permanent residence to creative industries and independent non-profit organisations. Some of these include: • Ballet Moscow (Балет Москва), a well-established contemporary dance and ballet company featuring Russian and international choreograhers www.baletmoskva.ru/en • Polytech
The English School of Science and IT (ESS)
Uhtomskaja, 12, Moscow 111020 www.english-school.org.uk +7-963-976-2228
Open Day – Sat. 18th March 2017 12.00-15.00 School open every day for private visits.
ESS is an international school for expat and local families, following the English national curriculum and with a fresh approach to the syllabus. We have a keen focus on maths, science and IT, as well as developing first class English literacy. The school enjoys a spacious and newly up-graded campus in Lefortovo, on a green site with a well-equipped play area and all-weather sports area. The first pioneers are on site already, and by late summer, we will have classes for everyone from Nursery & Reception (ages 3+ and 4+) right up to the start of IGCSE in Year 10 (age 14+). Classes are small, and taught by UK- and USqualified teachers, all students are fluent in English. ESS: Learning by Doing, Together. Academic excellence is matched by a holistic curriculum which includes good manners, a widening cultural awareness and social responsibility. Small class sizes ensure individual attention; and a ‘House’ system makes for team spirit and care across ages. All this at a price which is at least 25% better value than other international schools in Moscow.
Feature (Политехнический Музей), a leading science and technology museum in Russia www. polymus.ru/eng • Smart Moscow (Умная Москва), a company which offers interactive science programs and workshop for children and adults www. smartmsk.com • Selivanov art and design studios (Мастерские художественного проектирования Селивановых) www.art-edustudio.com According to Ksenia Filimonova, Deputy Director of ZIL Cultural Centre, collaboration with such groups has had a powerful synergy effect on reaching a wider audience and enhancing the Centre’s image. The residents benefit from PR, administrative and infrastructure support as well as reasonable rent costs. The Centre’s international partnerships are also impressive. It holds international film, art and theatre festivals, and the so-called ‘Culture Days’ of different countries and liaises with international partners as well as embassies and cultural centres in Moscow. ‘Culture Days’ generated particularly strong interest with Moscow audiences.
Economics Roughly 60% of the Centre’s annual budget is government subsidy which covers all of the Centre’s free-of-charge activities, full time staff salaries and maintenance costs. The remaining 40% is generated through commercial activities. These include ticket sales, charged services, winter and summer children camps, film festival revenues etc. The Centre is very popular with film companies thanks to its atmospheric interiors (like Brezhnev-style offices), so that accounts for a good part of ZIL’s
revenues. The Centre also has several sponsorship contracts. All in all, the Centre generates around 80 million roubles (around $1,300,000) of its own income.
Changing local landscape and community Since its rebranding in 2008-2012, ZIL Cultural Centre has had a noticeable effect on the local district and its overall image in Moscow, says Ksenia Filimonova. The Avtosavodskaya district used to have a somewhat dubious image as a dodgy and marginalized industrial area of the city. Since ZIL arts space became much more visible on the Moscow arts map, generating up-to-date arts content, public attitude towards the area began to change as well. It now attracts visitors from around the city. It has become particularly popular with arts management students who come here to do various placements and internships and enjoy the free Wi-Fi area and a reasonably priced café. The Centre has also been approached by local businesses, and several interesting partnerships have already taken place. Of particular interest was the PURE ART image project carried out in partnership with a local shopping mall. This was an environmental exhibition featuring professional art installations made from trash. The installations were exhibited at the Orange shopping mall and it received a fairly good media coverage.
What’s there for Moscow expats? ZIL Cultural Centre remains an under-explored space by us,
and yet can offer a plethora of entertainment, educational and collaboration opportunities to the city’s expat community. Top-quality contemporary dance performances (staged by leading Russian and foreign choreographers), an international film festival and art exhibitions, to name but a few activities, are held there regularly. Though English language activities are limited, the centre holds regular talks and lecture series conducted by English speakers (e.g., Art Talks for Teens by a Latvian Ph.D.). The Centre has recently launched an English language audio guide that takes you around the ZIL venues, available through izi.travel (www.izi. travel/en/app). There are tons of activities for children, and if you don’t know how to keep your kids busy during the long summer months, consider the ZIL summer art camp where children can engage in theatre, film, media and animation workshops, not to mention receive 3 hefty meals a day! The Centre has still a long way to go to reach out to the expat community in Moscow, starting with its website which for now is only available in Russian. Yet, this is a fascinating place to explore, with plenty of resources and opportunities to tap on. To learn about the ZIL Arts Centre activities, check out its official website www.zilcc.ru or follow on FB www.facebook. com/zilcczil To discuss possible collaboration ideas, contact Ksenia Filimonova firstname.lastname@example.org The author kindly thanks Elena Melville, Director of ZIL Cultural Centre, and Ksenia Filimonova, Deputy Director of ZIL Cultural Centre for sharing valuable insights on various aspects of ZIL Cultural Centre life and activities.
The Role of Culture in Politics
ecognition of the role of culture in political thinking is nothing new. Thucydides in the 5th century, for example, discussed the effect of culture as ‘modes of life’ on the political thinking of leaders in the ancient states of Greece1. Rushing forward to the 20th century, Mamdani linked the end of the Cold War and 9/11 to the rise of ‘Culture Talk,’ which ‘assumes that every culture has a tangible essence that defines it, and explains politics as a consequence of that essence2. ’ Independent researchers have looked at the connection between individualism and democratisation, and suggested that countries where collectivism is more prevalent historically and culturally are less likely to adopt a western-style democratic system than those countries whose culture is more amenable to that. Hofsted suggests a correlation between individualism and the average polity index (a way of measuring a country’s position on a chart between ‘full democracy’ and an autocracy)3. Such discussions have not entered western mainstream political debates, and it is normal to judge other people, countries and cultures based on our own norms. For westerners who work abroad, for example in a country like Russia; what Thucydides, Mamdani and Hofsted wrote, becomes blindingly obvious. The same can be said about Russians living and working in
the West, although their lives and experiences remain relatively undocumented. In Russia, derogatory terms such as ‘going native’ are used to describe people who have got to know Russian culture ‘too’ well. In any official role, understanding Russian culture on a deep level is not always encouraged, as it can lead to questioning of western cultural norms. Perhaps for this reason, diplomats are rotated regularly (everywhere, not just in Russia). Top level western journalists and academics are not permanently based here; their articles and reports would be difficult to relate to if they were not firmly anchored in western cultural and political roots. Maintaining the cohesiveness of our cultural identities is, arguably, one of the many functions of the nation state. Nations; sovereign states have not been around for ever. With the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, the idea of the sovereign state was consolidated, and the need arose to justify the existence of state power. Quite often the state used ideology to unite people together around a national idea, which may or may not have been representative of the whole nation (very few nation states were in fact formed based on one nation one state). An example would be the formation of the République Française (First Republic), and the consequential use of revolutionary causes to unite a
Thucydides, Thucydides, and Bc, 1999: 2 Mamdani, M. (2005b) Good Muslim, bad Muslim: America, the cold war, and the roots of terror. New York: Three Leaves Press; Doubleday. 3 Hofsted quoted in Brewer and Venaik, 2011 4 https://sputniknews.com/radio_brave_new_world/201612021048105668-nation-states-countries/ 1 2
country which was made up of groups of people, not all of which even spoke French at the time4. Some countries have been more successful in uniting around a single, strong mono-cultural base than others. America, which is a multicultural country seems to have united around its own cultural invention: the idea of being an American, which appears to be, or at least appeared to be until quite recently, more important than race. Trump’s difficulties in implementing an ‘Immigrant Ban’ can be explained by a dichotomy between these different priorities, and this is all perhaps indicitive of a kind of present day U.S. national identity crisis. Russia is also a multicultural society, only 41% of Russians are Orthodox Christians. At the present time, ethinic and religious conflicts are not visible. Some say that this is because ethnicity was fairly brutally iterated and neutralised over a long period of time during the Soviet Union. Others say, that this may be true, but perhaps it is also true that Russian present-day ethnicity policies are adequate. Whatever the reason is, the ‘Russian Idea’ is stronger than inherent ethnic and religious differences. When commenting on the present situation, the researcher cannot help noticing some similarities between countries that officially criticise each other. Not only do America and Russia share many cultural common denominators but, as some culturologists have noticed, both countries’ peoples share fundamental personality traits: such ‘big country’ boldness, pride of their own countries, and arguably, conservatism. Be this as it may, ‘othering’ of Russia seems to have begun well before the Soviet era. In 2000, writer and
journalist Anatol Lievan proposed that ‘Russophobia,’ for example, grew out of British attitudes towards the expanding Russian empire in the 19th century5. In 2010, James Brown from the University of Aberdeen claims that stereotypical views of Russia derive from Cold War period ‘Russian Studies’ which were ‘orientalist’ by nature6. In 1918, Oswald Spengler suggested that the Soviet Union was a continuation of Tsarist imperialism7. Godard and Gibbons explained the popularity of communism in Russia being due to ‘the primitive and non-European qualities of that country.’ Such arguments are still lingua franca in some of our best universities of the world, and are a comfortable basis for constructing Russia-bashing arguments. After the Second World War, many western countries within the group of nations and alliances commonly known as ‘The West’ saw the limitations of ‘nation states’ and united together in causes that spread across borders and boundaries. The main tenants of ‘Human Security’ (not just state security) were incorporated into U.N. charters. ‘Freedom from Want’ and ‘Freedom from Fear’ were only two of the new principles on the new nonstate-centric bandwagon. This was all good news for liberals like me, who saw the world at last coming right. By incorporating human rights into international politics, however, we created political space for the adoption of resolutions such as the ‘Right to Intervene’ when one country assumes the right to invade another, if that country was seen to be unable to provide the security of its own citizens. Our ‘othering’ now included the right to deny sovereignty, although that is not the way we see it.
Lieven, A. (2000) ‘Against Russophobia’, World Policy Journal, 17(4), pp. 25–32. Brown, J.D.J. (2010) ‘A stereotype, wrapped in a Cliché, inside a caricature: Russian foreign policy and Orientalism’, Politics, 30(3), pp. 149–159. 7 Spengler’s Der Untergang des Abendlandes (1918, 1922), translated as ‘The decline Of The West; Stritzel, H. (2007) ‘Towards a theory of securitization: Copenhagen and beyond’, European Journal of International Relations, 13(3), pp. 357–383 8 Buzan, B., Waever, O., de Wilde, J. and Woever, O. (1997) Security: A new framework for analysis. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers. 9 Huntington, S.P. (1997) The clash of civilizations: And the Remaking of world order. New York: Simon & Schuster. 5 6
Culture We discovered that security threats are ‘speech acts,’ as was so clearly established by the late 20th century ‘securitisation theory.’ 8 Issues can be made into a threat, ‘securitised’ by a ‘securitising agent.’ Jargon aside, this means that politicians can convince populations that one issue or the other is a threat through rhetoric (yes, you have heard this before; remember Aristotle). As theories go, this is a very good one, as it shows the power of politics and ideology. A very gifted orator could convince us that Shakespeare’s works are not that good after all, and that red is blue, but probably not for very long. The theory still needs to be updated because it does not take into account certain ‘felicity’ factors, such as culture, history and geography which we separate as separate academic disciplines. Underlying culture is important, however it is all too easy to take the argument to the opposite extreme. We do not have to look very hard to find politicians, writers and academics who view foreign cultures as enemies. Samuel Huntingdon (1997) writes about future wars being fought between civilisations,9 and many of us will go along with that. But we also tend to ignore the fact that in many countries, Muslims and Christians, for example, have lived peacefully together for hundreds of years. The necessity of clashes is debatable and may not be fundamentally necessary despite our efforts to convince ourselves that the opposite is true. Perhaps the most important question is: Does politics inform culture or does culture inform politics? This is a different question to answer, as it depends on the culture, and the politics. In Russia’s case, her culture has two ways of looking at the world by default. One of them, looking towards Russian and Slavic cultural norms, the attitude of the ‘slavophiles’ and the other outward looking – the ‘westernisers.’ Anybody who lived through the 1990s in Russia, when ‘westernisers’ were in power, and our western democratic and commercial norms were adopted lock stock and barrel, does not need to be told that even the Russian ‘westernisers’ were a very long way culturally (and this was reflected in business practices) from ‘western’ westerners. Russian business practices are still a long way from what we consider normal; as a suicidal English man informed me in Chicago Prime late one Saturday night, as he depicted his problems in sacking Russians. Be that as it may, the differences between ‘our’ way of doing things and the ‘Russian’ way of doing things is not, arguably, as great as between ‘our’ ways and Chinese or Arabic ways of doing things. The problem is our binary thinking. For us, if the ‘other’ doesn’t do things exactly as we do, it is totally wrong. Confusing strength with intolerance, we have forgotten about flexibility, understanding and cooperation, not that these qualities ever predominated in foreign policies directed at countries outside of our own blocks of countries. We have to dominate, or nothing. Clearly, the same problems exist when analysing similar situations from the other side,
however it is a matter of capability and degree. More research needs to be done. Perhaps the beauty of today’s situation is that it may mean a re-examination of foreign policy. It is becoming harder to justify ourselves by criticising others, simply because it is difficult to cover up our own faults to the degree that we were able to earlier. If all else fails (and one could say that we are in such a position now; we are, and have been for some time on the bring of a new major international war), a start to rekindle common understanding between our countries can be made by encouraging more communication between cultural and scientific groups. We can see organisations like the British Council and ELE (www.elemoscow.net) in Russia doing this, however there is a feeling of too little and too late. In Russia, acceptance of the perspectives of long term expats in all the relevant institutions could also be useful. They directly challenge the need for ‘othering,’ and in general point out that civilisations do not need to clash. More about them will be mentioned in my next article. We westerners must learn to take off the stereotyped, tunnel-vision-glasses, and this is difficult, and at times confronting. As we all hurtle full throttle backwards to realist international politics, which Russia never left, understanding ourselves more fully and thus understanding everybody else may be of great help.
My Journey Father Christopher Hill to Russsian Orthodoxy
“We knew not whether we were in heaven or on earth, for surely there is no such splendour or beauty anywhere upon earth. We cannot describe it to you: only this we know, that God dwells there among men, and that their service surpasses the worship of all other places. For we cannot forget that beauty” (quoted in The Orthodox Church by Timothy Ware, 1983 edition, p.269). These words, spoken by envoys describing their experience of Orthodox worship in Christendom’s greatest church of the Hagia Sophia, or Holy Wisdom, in Constantinople, were reported back to the ruler of the vast East European realm of Kievan Rus, Grand Prince Vladimir. Vladimir, subsequently proclaimed a saint by the Russian Orthodox Church and now visually familiar to Muscovites and visitors to Russia’s capital by way of the monumental statue recently erected to him near the Kremlin, is credited with introducing Christianity to his people in the tenth century. Vladimir’s grandmother Princess Olga had also received Christian baptism, but this was something more of a private initiative than state policy. His pagan background notwithstanding (prior to becoming a Christian Vladimir enjoyed war and feasting, as well as numerous wives and concubines) and despite the political context of his conversion (adopting the religion of his wife-to-be, the Byzantine princess Anna, most certainly bolstered his image in the eyes of her brother and potential ally emperor Basil II), this experience of being drawn precisely to the beauty of Orthodox worship holds true for countless people who have made the conscious decision to join the Eastern Orthodox Church. It is certainly true in my case. The first time I entered a Russian Orthodox church was in September of 1984 when I had arrived in the provincial city of Voronezh with about twenty other British students to immerse ourselves for ten months in the Russian language as part of our degree course. One of my two favourite Russian writers is Fyodor Dostoevsky (the other being Nikolai Gogol), and out of curiosity I decided to visit a Church which initially seemed
so exotic and radically different from both the Catholic Church and the various Protestant denominations, and which so informed Dostoevsky’s work theologically and philosophically. Whilst perhaps not as dramatic as the Russian envoys a thousand years ago in Constantinople, my impression of Orthodox worship nonetheless was a powerful and everlasting one. It was what in Greek is called a kairos, that moment in time when there suddenly comes a penetrating insight, an instinctual realization of belonging. Admittedly, I understood little of the symbolism of the liturgical actions of the heavily-robed bearded priests, nor the words of the unaccompanied choir. Certainly, the majestic chanting, the aroma of incense and the radiant colours of the icons and vestments made for a stark contrast with the grey, drab reality of the Soviet-era urban architecture outside. But what I was even more struck by was a sense of a community at worship. Above, extending to the heavens was the iconostasis with its images not only of Christ and the Virgin Mary but also of the numerous saints who share in an eternal celestial glory with them. Below was the thronged mass of mainly elderly women, but also some young men, repeatedly crossing themselves, all facing towards the sanctuary and iconostasis. Yet the two elements – the saints depicted in the icon screen and the faithful below – appeared to comprise an integral whole, the Church triumphant and the Church militant, a ‘heaven on earth.’ To this day I can give no better advice to people interested in Orthodoxy than simply to be present at worship in the Orthodox Church in order to get a sense of that oneness of believers united in the Body of Christ. As I stood in that crowded church, people behind me repeatedly tapped me on the shoulder, asking me to pass on their candle to Christ, the Mother of God, St. Nicholas, St. Mitrophanes (the local city saint) and other saints. It took me a little time to realize that I was meant to pass the candle to the candle-stand in front of the icon of the saint. For Russian Orthodox Christians the saints
Other are not remote figures, but living intimate friends whose intercession we ask for before God. As I left Church that day, I wanted to find out more, but this was 1984, a time in the Soviet Union when the Russian Church lived in a social ghetto, either ignored by the state authorities or portrayed by antireligious propaganda as a bastion of superstition and obscurantism. At Easter, the main city church would be surrounded by Komsomol activists to discourage people from entering. There were no church book shops or church libraries. The Church could not openly engage in charitable works or education – all this would come much later. I had to content myself with surreptitious conversations with other believers to find out what the Church meant to them. For the rest of my ten-month stay in Voronezh I attended that same church, at one point copying into a note-book the words of the Creed and the Lord’s Prayer set in relief on the outer church walls in the beautiful letters of the archaic Church Slavonic language in order to orientate myself better in the services. It was only shortly before I left Voronezh that I eventually got to talk to a real Russian Orthodox priest called Father Daniel, who advised me to get in touch with the head of the Russian Orthodox diocese in Great Britain Metropolitan Anthony Bloom if I was serious about wanting to join the Orthodox Church. Intriguingly, I was invited to a further conversation with Father Daniel, but when I turned up I was told by church servitors that under no circumstances could he ever see me again. Someone in the ‘organs’ had obviously had a word with him about engaging with foreigners. So it was back in England that I devoured as many books as I could on the teaching of the Orthodox Church, most importantly Bishop Kallistos Ware’s classic 1963 book The Orthodox Church, (my dog-eared old copy of which I am referring to as I write this article!) and, by now sufficiently proficient in the Russian language, I could read theological books in Russian unfortunately not then readily accessible to ordinary Russians. Eventually I joined the Russian Orthodox Church, in Oxford when I was a postgraduate student. I would not describe myself as a ‘convert’ to Orthodoxy (or, as Englishspeaking Russians jokingly refer to them, an ‘envelope’, the Russian word for the latter being konvert) as the Orthodox Church, and specifically the Russian Orthodox Church, has been and remains my only spiritual home. Like most people of my generation, I was christened in the Church of England, but it was a church I only ever attended for weddings and funerals. Brought up in Manchester, I cannot consciously recall a time when I was not a believer, but it was in the Orthodox Church in Russia that this belief found articulate expression. Indeed, I would say that being a member of the Russian Orthodox Church has enabled me to view my own English Christian heritage in a deeper and more appreciative way. In the summer of 2015 I visited the shrines of two of the great Anglo-Saxon saints, Cuthbert and the Venerable Bede, at Durham Cathedral. The feelings I experienced there were
no different from those from numerous visits to the shrine of St. Sergius of Radonezh at the monastery dedicated to him located some forty miles north-east of Moscow. In both places I felt equally awed and at home in the company of those who had laboured for Christ and his Church. My first encounter with Russian Orthodoxy was over thirty years ago and it led me on a trajectory towards becoming an Orthodox priest in Russia after the collapse of communism in the early nineties. Along the way, I have had more than one kairos, more than one defining moment in my faith journey, in encounters with people and events. To many it may seem an idiosyncratic choice, especially to those who know about the Russian Orthodox Church only through the prism of the political culture in which she now lives and operates. But I prefer to liken the life of the Russian Church to that of the ocean: on the surface it may appear at times calm, at times stormy making the journey turbulent, but in its depths there is a spiritual harmony and beauty that cannot be easily observed externally. The Russian Church has its imperfections, certainly, as do all organizations on a purely human level, but it is a home and a family, my home and my family, and not to be forsaken. To those who want to know the life of the Russian Church on a deeper level, it is enough to follow the simple words of the Gospel which led me to where I am today: “Come and see” (John 1:39).
There and Back Again “If you don’t already meditate, take my advice: Start. It will be the best decision you ever make.” - Filmmaker David Lynch Charles Borden
his is a story, a personal journey, and a bit of history that ties together three themes that have dominated this writer’s life: Russia, my personal and business focus for the past 25 years; Iowa, where I earned my first degree and have called home since 1974; and Transcendental Meditation, which I have practiced twice daily for 47 years and taught for 45 years.
Most would be surprised to hear that Iowa was one of the best-
known and traveled of the United States by citizens of the Soviet Union, principally due to the efforts of Iowa farmer Roswell Garst from the early ‘50s. Roswell believed that elimination of hunger was the best hope for world peace, and that Iowa was in a unique position to help achieve that goal. He became active with exchanges, travel and meeting with leaders in the USSR and Eastern European to share agricultural knowledge and farm technology. In September 1959, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, his wife, and the Soviet delegation visited the Garst farm. The Life magazine cover photo of Roswell with the Premier holding a big ear of corn became a national sensation. This cover graces the wall of one of Moscow’s first Starlite Diners. In the ensuing years, Roswell’s nephew, banker John Chrystal continued his mission. John visited the USSR often, and arranged exchanges of teachers, farmers, lawyers, businesspersons, scientists and others. Because of the common agricultural interests, Chrystal mainly traveled to southern Russia, particularly Stavropol region. Iowa and Stavropol formed the two rival nations’ first Sister State relationship, and Des Moines and Stavropol city became the first Sister Cities. Chrystal naturally befriended Stavropol’s Minister of Agriculture, and the friendship continued when that young ag minister moved to Moscow as Soviet Minister of Agriculture and Politburo member. The Minister’s next promotion was to head of state: President Mikhail Gorbachev.
I learned Transcendental Meditation (TM) during a “gap year” after my junior year of study in Civil Engineering at Iowa State University. The results were immediate and profound, and I decided to become a teacher of the technique. Within weeks I headed off to a one-month course conducted by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in Poland Springs, Maine. Maharishi informed us
wannabe teachers that a college degree was a prerequisite, so I headed back to ISU. I rushed to finish my degree. At the time an average college student took 15-16 credit hours of classes; I averaged about 23 of engineering courses for the next four terms, and as many as 28. I had about a GPA of about 3.5 for that period, far better than my pre “gap year” days. I found that my 20 minutes twice-a-day meditation gave me an edge, a clear mind. I could sit through a lecture and absorb every word, without what I call “mental white noise”, the distracting meandering thoughts that impede listening, and thus learning. I was focused and better at organizing my time, so the twice a day TM practice was (and still is) an investment. By 1974, I was an engineer and a TM teacher, and I worked with Maharishi on meditation academy projects in Europe and the United States. Maharishi founded his Maharishi University of Management in Santa Barbara, and it occupied a leased dormitory. When the trustees found a bankrupt college in Fairfield, Iowa to purchase, I was sent to manage the preparation of the campus for its new residents. Since then, despite travels and residences elsewhere, I still call Fairfield my “hometown”. By the late 1980s, Fairfield acquired a unique reputation for its abundance of startup businesses, many of them tech, started by its meditators. Its economic successes amid its dominant agriculture surroundings later resulted in the town being dubbed “Silicorn Valley” by the New York Times. I had a venture capital business in Fairfield and served on two Iowa committees dedicated to development of the state’s entrepreneurial economy. Fairfield was also the focus of Maharishi’s “Creating Coherence” programs. These special courses were based upon the numerous published research studies that showed the influence that a small percent of individuals practicing TM could have on a larger population – to create World Peace. This
Thank you to the Ohio History Connection along with the Joe Munroe Collection for permission to use this image, showing Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev and the Soviet delegation visiting the Garst farm in 1959
“Maharishi Effect” describes the potential for a “phase transition” to a more harmonious state of life for society characterized by decreased crime, violence, accidents and illnesses, as well as improvement of other social and economic indicators.
In the late 1980s, changes were in the air for the world, and walls were falling. On December 6, 1988, USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev’s arrived in New York to meet President Ronald Reagan and newly elected President George H.W. Bush. That night in the very early morning hours, a 6.8 magnitude earthquake rocked northern Armenia, just south of the Caucasus mountains. The quake was the worst catastrophe for the USSR since the Chernobyl nuclear event. The Soviet Leader formally asked the United States for humanitarian aid, the first USSR aid request to America since the Second World War. Remarkably, President Gorbachev’s humanitarian request reached Fairfield, Iowa. Along with doctors and medical supplies, and rescue teams and volunteers from many nations, the aid invitation also went to teachers of Transcendental Meditation. The first TM teachers arrived in the USSR from Europe, Asia, and America, with dozens of them from Fairfield.
The ostensible reason for the meditation teachers was the great deal of research that had been done on the calming effect of Transcendental Meditation for individuals. However, scientists in the Soviet Union had long been interested in the potential of human consciousness, so perhaps the leaders were willing to give the “Maharishi Effect” a try. TM teacher friends and colleagues visited other cities throughout the USSR, where they taught tens of thousands of Soviet citizens the simple, natural TM technique. I was a bit jealous, but business and personal ties kept me in Iowa at that time. Then in 1991, the director of a Moscow region agriculture institute, after learning TM, visited Fairfield. He was curious to find out more about Maharishi’s university and Fairfield’s entrepreneurial successes. The university president’s office asked me to show its honored visitor around Iowa. We spent several days together visiting Iowa State University and the state capital. I gave him a modem for his computer when he departed so we could exchange emails. In August, just after the Gorbachev coup attempt, he invited me to the USSR. I arrived in the new Russian Federation a few months later in February, and began my work on agricultural projects in southern Russia. Maharishi advocated training
of local teachers of Transcendental Meditation in each country, so now there are TM teachers in many Russian cities, with the National Center located in Moscow. Dr. Maxim Shatokhin, a medical doctor by training, is the National Director for Russia. I have been fortunate to assist Dr. Shatokhin and teach TM in the English-speaking expat community. In 2009, filmmaker David Lynch visited Moscow for two exhibitions of his work but also a number of TM events including the release of his book Catching the Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness, and Creativity. His David Lynch Foundation for ConsciousnessBased Education and World Peace (DLF) has been instrumental in a resurgence of interest in TM. DLF has sponsored programs for TM for tens of thousands of poor kids in South America, within the military to fight PTSD, in homeless shelters, prisons and schools. Mr. Lynch has organized fund raising events for these projects with meditating celebrities such as Paul McCartney, Hugh Jackman, Russell Brand, Clint Eastwood, Oprah Winfrey, and Martin Scorcese to name just a very few. Transcendental Meditation is learn-it-and-then-you-have-it; it’s not a club or a social organization with weekly meetings. It requires no faith nor change of lifestyle, and its practitioners come from all religions, political and social backgrounds. The TM technique is learned in four oneand-a-half hour sessions over four days, and then it’s “TM in the AM and PM”, 20 minutes twice a day. As for me, The Next Big Thing is to develop a consciousness-based community near the Black Sea in southern Russia near the Black Sea modeled on the experience of my hometown, a new Silicorn valley for Russia. Transcendental Meditation for Russia (Russian language) http://www.maharishi-tm.ru Meditation Moscow (English language) https://meditationmoscow.com David Lynch Foundation https://www.davidlynchfoundation.org
The Peace Education Programme Sherry Weinstein PEP Programme Manager
hat does a teenage girl in Soweto, South Africa, have in common with an inmate in a Los Angeles prison, a Commander of the Naval Police in Veracruz, Mexico, and a university professor in Spain? These are just a few of the people worldwide who facilitate the Peace Education Programme, known as PEP. The program consists of 10 DVDs, themed interactive workshops about innate resources that everyone has; such as hope, choice, and personal peace, designed to promote selfdiscovery. The facilitators present each theme for the day, play the video, and during the workshop ask participants to reflect and express; if they would like to, what they experienced. The course has been very successful since its launch in 2012. PEP has been presented in 73 countries, in 27 languages. Braille versions have been prepared and used, as well as versions featuring subtitles for the hearing impaired. The programme is offered worldwide freely to groups
like Adult Learning, Civic Centres, Community Centres, Corporations, Education, Government, Health & Wellness, Police & Law Enforcement, Senior Centres, Special Groups such as refugees and women’s groups, and Veterans. A statistical research study conducted in 2014 by an independent global research firm concluded there was ‘a tremendous improvement with regard to believing that feeling peace is a possibility. Before the program less than 42% believed that feeling peace was possible. After the program, almost 100% believed that it was.’ Many expressed had they known about these inner resources earlier in life they would have made much better choices. The workshops topics are: Peace, Appreciation, Inner Strength, Self-Awareness, Clarity, Understanding, Dignity, Choice, Hope, and Contentment. The material is taken from excerpts of Mr Prem Rawat’s international addresses. Prem Rawat has been traveling internationally for over 50 years with the message that personal peace is an inner resource; everybody’s innate right.
PEP courses are available in Russia. Please write to email@example.com
D Jason White
The Potential Russian Business Markets Britain Should Engage In....
espite ongoing sanctions towards Russia and a highly complex business environment and culture, Russia still retains massive potential for companies seeking to gain a foothold and therefore traction inside the country. However, it is also important to note that it is not just the potential of Russia that is of interest, but the emergence after initiation in 2013 of the Euro Asia Economic market place, an economic business community with a total size of 188 million people. Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan are members of this vast market place.
Certain sectors appear to hold particularly high potential for British companies. Hi-tech British-manufactured products for use in the Russian natural resources sector – measuring equipment or pipeline technology, for example, are strongly in demand. It is also relevant to make note that up until quite recently, Russia was the UK’s fastest growing export market. However due to the recession and the global sanctions imposed on Russia, this momentum stuttered. Be this as it may, whilst the West and Europe looked to
evaluate the damage to Russia’s economy, the country quietly got on with realigning its economy and in putting in place a strategic ten-year plan that would dilute the damage that the devaluation of the rouble, falling oil prices, and the effect of sanctions would have on the economy. There is no doubt that the Russian economy has encountered difficult and challenging times both politically and economically since mid 2014. However, the country has quietly gone about its business in reinventing itself. This has been done by a new focus on four key sectors of the economy, namely Agriculture, Agrofisheries, and the Automative and Pharmaceutical industries. These are key areas where there are still opportunities for investment. Failure to not only understand the opportunities, but to grasp them will leave European countries and the West left behind in Russia’s resurgence.
The Effect Of Sanctions In general terms, the impact on trade due to sanctions within Russia has been limited. This is because they only apply to a small number of goods, services and individuals. Most companies are free to conduct business and have been doing so. It is only Russian businesses which are owned by specific individuals on
Business the â€˜sanctions list,â€™ and western firms selling military, technology, offshore oil consultancy services or specific food products that are affected. For the most part, companies are free to continue to conduct business. Therefore, the case for doing business with Russia should not be as difficult as it is often imagined to be. Political preoccupations, however, have participated in clouding business decision making in recent years. There is still a strong demand for UK produced goods (and other European branded and blue chip goods) and services to Russia where profits can be significant due to the size of the market place here.
There is a new focus on on four key sectors of the economy, namely Agriculture, Agrofisheries, and the Automative and Pharmaceutical industries.
Products and Services Certain sectors appear to hold particularly high potential for British companies. Hi-tech Britishmanufactured products for use in the Russian natural resources sector â€“ measuring equipment or pipeline technology, for example, are strongly in demand. There is a substantial amount of onshore exploration and extraction taking place in Russia, which can compensate for potential losses that may be experienced by British exporters in sanctioned offshore oil production. Anything to do with Russian railways also provides opportunities for British exporters. Several huge modernization projects are currently under way. 2017 alone will see the renovation of 3,700 miles of track involving all types of repair, according to the official network website. The 2018 World Cup in Russia also offers potentially rich pickings. Three of the European regional sponsorship slots are still up for grabs, and the event requires massive hotel and transport infrastructure redevelopment in the 12 host cities. Ticketing systems and crowd control models are also areas where British expertise would be welcomed. Britain has a fantastic reputation for organizing large-scale events, as the London Olympics showed. Russians in particular think that the British are great at this. Now is the time to push for British businesses to get involved. The British luxury goods market remains strong. Brands such as Range Rover and Bentley have a real cachet in Russia, as do the names of British boarding schools and universities. Accepting sanctions as a minimal constraint, and embracing Brexit as an opportunity for expanded horizons, it is time for British companies to look beyond stereotypes about Russia to the wealth of opportunities that lies beyond.
Change Is Coming Chris Weafer
y any measure the past three years have been very difficult for Russia, the people of Russia and, on a relative basis, for the expatriates working in the country. The economy came close to collapse, reporting a recession in each of the last eighth quarters. Geopolitics and international headlines about Russia could hardly have been worse and, over the past twelve months in particular, Moscow and President Putin have been accused of a multitude of sins; everything from manipulating the US elections, to exacerbating the Mid-East refugee crisis to preparing for war with NATO. So, as winter 2016 winter gives way to the spring 2017, is there a realistic basis to hope that the change in climatic conditions will be replicated in the economy and geopolitics? Might it be the case that expats travelling home for the May holidays will have to less often explain why they live is such a crazy country and, perhaps, may some of their friends, forced out because of the recession, soon be making plans to return? For once, the signs are hopeful. Having hit a bottom with a headline recession of almost 4.0 percent in 2015 the economy spent 2016 drifting better. The preliminary estimate for 2016 shows a decline of only 0.2 percent, albeit that is after some base adjustments. Without those adjustments the contraction was still modest at approximately 0.6 percent. The estimate for January is that the economy actually grew by 0.3 percent, year on year, which confirms that the expected drift out of recession and back to growth is continuing. This year our team in Macro-Advisory expects growth to recovery to a relatively healthy 1.5 percent. I use the conditionality of relative because while 1.5 percent is the best growth number Russia has reported since 2012 it is still a long way short of being described as robust. Part of the reason for that slow recovery is because we now actually have two distinct economies in Russia, each with separate growth characteristics. Companies in the consumer, construction and service sectors, i.e., those sectors which delivered the boom years of 20022008, are still in recession and are recovering at a slow
and fragile pace. Retail sales dropped 5.9 percent in 2016 and the indicators are that the January decline was just under 2.5 percent. That is considerably better than the 10 percent drop in 2015 but it is still a recession. Output from the construction sector is estimated to have fallen by almost 5 percent in January, a roughly similar decline to that for 12 months of 2016. Still struggling is a good description for both sectors. Balanced against these declines is the robust growth in sectors which are benefitting from the weak rouble, the Russian counter-sanctions and the general trend towards import-substitution. Agriculture sector output grew by almost 5 percent last year while many manufacturing sectors are also showing year on year growth. On the geopolitical front the newsflow has also been a little calmer since the inauguration of President Trump and the whirlwind of news and accusations which almost spun into a destructive tornado in early February. Since then there has been a concerted effort, it appears by both sides, to try and calm the situation. In the Middle East the ending of the attack in Aleppo has come has a thankful relief, principally for the people on the ground, but also for foreign investors in Russia. In Eastern Ukraine the escalation of fighting, which almost always happens when there is speculation about sanctions relief for Russia, has eased now that the prospect of any sanctions adjustment has been kicked to touch. There is of course always a fear that â€˜somethingâ€™ is about to start or re-start, whether in terms of political interference allegations or in the Middle East or Eastern Ukraine. But, at least as spring takes hold (or this article goes to press) it is a case of hope rising with every passing calm day. As stated, the country is in a relatively better position today than has been the case for most of the past three years. But for an economy such as Russia, calm or modest growth is not enough. Staying in this situation for long enough will start to feel like stagnation. It is sometimes forgotten that Russia, as a modern economy, is only 16 years old â€“ a stroppy and surly teenager. The rapid injection of almost $3.5 trillion of hydrocarbon
Business earnings certainly fast-tracked some areas of development but by no means all. Some things, such as institutions and attitudes, need time rather than money to change. The oil driver, as it was in the noughties, is now over. Oil revenues are certainly an important source of money for the federal budget but are no longer capable of driving higher growth. The government also does not want to even risk a return to that situation and is now pursuing a policy of trying to get the budget to balance at an average oil price of $40 per barrel. The so-called Fiscal Rule means that any tax revenue earned from the higher oil price, as is the case today, will go to reducing the deficit and, later, to rebuilding financial reserves. It will not be spent. At least that’s the plan. In general, the message from the government and from the administration in the Kremlin is that fiscal policy will remain very conservative in the years ahead. It means that despite the fact that the Russian state has an almost negligible external debt load, there is no intention to rebuild debt and expand budget spending. This has been a frequent response from many governments in emerging markets over the years, i.e., borrow to spend your way to recovery, but it will not be Putin’s way. You don’t borrow money from strangers is one of his convictions, a conviction which saved Russia from a deeper crisis in 2014-15. Another legacy from the crisis is the localization strategy. In essence this is the programme to reduce the country’s reliance on imports and to diversify exports by persuading investors to manufacture in Russia. But for that to happen the economy must remain competitive and that means the rouble must stay very close to 60 against the US dollar, or worse, and the taxation mix will shift from the corporate sector to a rising burden for individuals and households. The days of a 13 percent flat tax on all earnings are almost over. Reform is such a discredited and almost meaningless word. Instead we should focus on the practical and pragmatic changes which are necessary to shift the economy from the stagnation it is now drifting into, and to push it onto the next phase of growth. The evidence emerging is that the government is finally serious about these changes, not least because the consequence of stagnation may, over time, be a disruption in the social-political stability the country has enjoyed since 2000. By definition, emerging economies are fast changing. Russia is amongst the fastest to change because of oil and politics. Of course, this can be for the better or worse as we have seen since the early 1990s. But for now, as we look forward to brighter, longer and warmer days, there are more reasons to be hopeful than fearful. The caveat, which must be clearly stated, is that there cannot be a return to the old boom days. They are gone for good. The future is a long and slow slog upwards, at best. But at least that is better than the horizon of this time last year…
To Be a Resilient and Happy Repat… What, When, and How To Cope Having previously written about the importance of resilience for the successful expat, in this article, Lucy Kenyon SCPHN, M.Med.Sci., RGN explores the planning, challenges and pitfalls of moving home.
epatriation is the process of returning a person – voluntarily – to his or her place of origin or citizenship. For the linguaphiles among us, repatriation stems from the late Latin repatriat- returned to one’s country, from the verb repatriare, from re- back + Latin patria native land. In my first articles in Moscow expat Life I discussed the key health issues for expats. In the top 4 was Stress - Stress of global assignments. But nothing and nobody can prepare you for the challenge of moving home. My first experience of repatriation was as a 13 year old coping with a return to what felt like a completely alien country, speaking a language that I had only used with my grandparents and cousins. I also watched my mother struggle even to re-establish herself in the town where she had grown up. Most of those who had remained behind had not visited us in Belgium and had no familiar reference points on which to reconnect. In a strange way this helped to manage my expectations on our return from Moscow in 2014. I decided to wait and see who wanted to connect back with us. We sent the girls to school out of town in case teenage friendship groups were turbulent – at least they could concentrate on GCSEs and see the friends they had kept in touch with when not at school. Expat life is a competitive environment within a highly driven
and high achieving community. But this community is also very supportive and that network means it can be OK for things to go wrong! Successful expatriates become different people acquiring new skills whilst on assignment. They often start to behave and think like the locals, to greater or lesser degrees, while on international assignment. On return, some of their habits and behaviours may be unfamiliar or even uncomfortable to people back home. Those who have settled well in their new country don’t necessarily want to return home. It’s really easy to mention things that they believe their adoptive country did better. ‘Reverse culture shock’ can happen when returning to a place that looks like home but has not been for several years or even decades. Because it looks like home, it can be more difficult to manage than outbound shock because it is unexpected and unanticipated. So when repatriating, it’s important to take the same approach as you would to the next assignment. Since repatriating, I have been a member of a group on Facebook run by Naomi Hattaway Founder of the ‘I Am a Triangle’ global movement. There are regular posts from people repatriating either in anticipation or when they are back home and struggling.
When you are finding life difficult, it is important to have a toolbox of strategies to have available. As I discussed in an earlier
article on expat resilience, it is also essential for both the returning parents, children and adolescents to have appropriate ‘social scaffolding.’ The return home can be stressful because of low interest.
Facts and figures:
According to a 2014 BBC report: ‘16% of employees bolted within the first two years after a global assignment ended, up from 11% in 2012. What’s more, 41% of expatriates returned to the same position they had before they went abroad’ despite working within a global context and dealing with global issues. “The repatriation process clearly remains the Achilles’ heel of many global mobility programmes. While employers focus on finding the best candidate for the international transfer on the front end, they often fail to help expats make a successful transition to a rewarding new position that capitalises on their global experience. ‘In addition to disappointment with the new assignment, returning expats may also be frustrated by colleagues’ lack of appreciation and interest in their adventure abroad; often coming back from being very big fish in a little pond. ’ When planning your return, think carefully about the following aspects: DREAMS – how will you achieve them? FEARS – how will you prevent them from materialising and overcome them when they do?
Repatriation GOALS – set short term and achievable aims to help you on your journey to your dream based around your Interests. CHALLENGES – be realistic about your expectations. You can even set yourself challenges as mini achievements towards your goals. INTERESTS – look for social and group activities around your interests, as it’s easier to strike up a conversation about a shared topic or interest than immediately find common ground with a stranger. Try to find activities and groups where expats may be found, I found our local Toastmasters was predominantly a group of expats in the UK and had a sudden regular weekly fun activity and curry nights out. Treat repatriation in the same way you your next expat move. Find other expats ‘Triangles’ in your home region, who are looking to expand their friend networks. It’s always nice to meet up with people who have also lived crazy expat lives and ‘get it.’
Steps companies can take to ease the repatriation process
Shell and Adidas are currently leading the way with repatriation practices. ‘The expat has a standard development plan reviewed each year by global skill pool managers, including what the next job might be, according to the BBC report.’ Such a plan might include the following points: • Acknowledge the value of the returning employee both from a cost perspective as well as gained insight and experience while abroad that is harder to measure quantitatively • Recognise that the employee and their family may need assistance in readjusting to their home culture. • Provide repatriation cultural training to raise awareness and provide tools for the adaptation process. • Provide assistance for not only the returning employee but also to
any partners and children so their re-entry process is smoother. • Ensure that the employee feels they can continue to make a valuable contribution to the organisation. Avoid a situation where the employee feels undervalued or marginalised as an outsider. • Provide coaching or other professional services so the employee can better integrate into their ‘new-old’ environment. • Listen. Do not underestimate the frustration caused when few people show interest in the repatriated employee’s experiences, knowledge and expertise gained abroad. It may be hard to quantify the value of sharing new experiences and new ways of looking at things, but the benefits gained by the organisation should not be lost. After all, this is part of the reason why the employee was on an expatriate assignment in the first place! • Re-orientation (the reverse of cultural awareness training) to get up to date with company, social, political and technology developments back home e.g. out of hours expectations, etc. • Consider home job mentor. • Bridge the gap with intranet, internal social networks and technologies.
Be open to meeting new people rather than expecting to fit back in with friends who have not moved from the area. Announce your return on Facebook – this led to an invite to a cocktail night from a previous acquaintance on my first night back! She was very interested in hearing all about Moscow, unlike many people who were not necessarily able to imagine or visualise my experience and didn’t want to spend the evening poring over photos that meant nothing to them! We ended up laughing hysterically over all my run-ins with the authorities! For those of you who remember me ‘я из понедельника.’
Start with a realistic goal: doing one new thing or something on your to-do list every week. Biography Lucy Kenyon SCPHN, M.Med.Sci., RGN is a Specialist Community Public Health Nurse, with a background in occupational and environmental health. She has a keen interest and expertise in the relationship between people and their environment. Prior to moving to Moscow in 2009 she was involved in pandemic planning for Tier 2 emergency services in the UK. She has written specialist articles on health matters for Croner Special Reports since 1997. She is also an expat spouse, who repatriated in 2014 and understands the challenges of day to day issues when living abroad. Bibliography Pavone Chris, ‘The Expats’ Hilton Patricia, ‘Mother Without a Mask’ Russell Helen, ‘The Year of Living Danishly’ Bard Elizabeth, ‘Lunch in Paris’ Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie ‘Americanah’ – a personal favourite Declan Mulkeen; ‘2Steps companies can take to ease the repatriation process;’ Training Journal; 8 October 2013 https:// www.trainingjournal.com/articles/ feature/steps-companies-can-takeease-repatriation-process Khalaf, H. (2016). ‘Funny how you miss expat life: a comical look at adapting to home after the UAE.’ The National. Thenational.ae. Retrieved 23 January 2017, from http://www.thenational.ae/arts-life/ film/funny-how-you-miss-expatlife-a-comical-look-at-adapting-tohome-after-the-uae Maura McElhone; ‘Back in Ireland, I feel a sense of belonging I missed in the US.’ Coming back has given one returned emigrant a new understanding of what ‘home’ means; http://www.irishtimes. com/life-and-style/generationemigration/back-in-ireland-i-feel-asense-of-belonging-i-missed-in-theus-1.2845735 References
‘I felt a wish never to leave...a wish that dawn might never come, that my present frame of mind might never change.’ Leo Tolstoy
You Can Hardly Remember Alexa Shearer https://www.facebook.com/FindingherSerenity
oscow has always held for me the closest connotation to the word ‘home.’
And I write this almost in a regretful manner ...the way one would write a letter to an old lover or deceased relative; someone with whom you have copious amounts of baggage, and unsaid words you’d wished you’d vocalized, and ones you wish you could take back. It really is like mourning the loss of a loved one, and being forced to write out embarrassingly emotional few words to say at their wake or funeral, knowing your eyes will fill with tears in front of strangers to get each sentence out. I know at times people myself included - have a hard time understanding it. ‘But you’re American, so what’s the problem? or ‘Yeah but where were you born? come as oversimplified questions when my face gets flushed and my mind blank after being asked where I’m from or where home is. Often I’m sure it comes across as a dramatized tragedy or a ploy to make myself seem more aloof and interesting. But, in actuality, the only truth I can capture from the eccentricity of it all is that maybe it is simple, and always has been. I have very American blood and a navy-blue passport, but Moscow will always be my home.
Entering some place as a child and leaving an adult It’s all as simple as a fragment made up of ten words and no hyperbole. I’m not sure if this constitutes as ‘growing up’ someplace but it feels pretty damn close. Moving away and starting each day in this new and foreign world feels like the fog of a cold-medicine buzz. Your eyes are red and puffy; your nose stuffed and you can barely breathe, and yet the cold medicine doesn’t take these symptoms away, it simply numbs you into a state of incoherent drowsiness just so you can possibly get away with sleeping through the night. Here I am: no cold, my sinuses are clear and my vision fresh as a daisy, and yet this cloudy haze dictates my temporarily idle existence... Jetlag may also have something to do with it.
Arrival I don’t remember anything about my first impressions of Russia-even when I try to think back to my 11-year-old self, by getting into the mind-set of a confused quasiCalifornian who, when told would be moving, could only fathom a snowy cold world that in her imagination might resemble Georgia. I can’t remember what I thought the day I landed. All I can see are my
dirt-stained white shoes dragging across each individual ridge on a rusty metal drain. I liked the echoey pitch my heels would make as they rubbed along each grate. I didn’t take my eyes off the cracks in the concrete. We were being given a tour of the embassy grounds and I was wearing a purple shirt with little gems on the collar and a faded denim skirt that kept riding up during the endless plane ride. I don’t remember my first Metro ride or first awe-gaze at St. Basil’s Cathedral, besides some brief musings of how it reminded me of a smaller version of a Disneyland Castle – less impressive to an 11year old. What I can recollect is that we were walking around trying to find a purpose for ourselves... I suppose how we often did/do when we are still strangers to a new place, unattached to the concept of ‘back home,’ and yet not fully into step with a ritual or routine. We had found a small corner shop or marketplace... to be honest I don’t even remember how, when, where, or why, but my sister was carrying a flimsy black plastic bag full of tomatoes. As we strolled, our feet reaching the black cobble stone (that I always assumed would be red... on Red Square), one cunning tomato slipped out of the bag and dropped to the ground, yet remained perfectly intact, without
Repatriation even making that ‘squash’ sound. Without hesitation, my sister kicked it out of her way and kept walking, shortly before receiving that look from my dad... the ‘are you kidding me? Did you seriously just kick a tomato onto Red Square and walk away?’ look. I lack exceptional, inspiring first sentiments, but rather possess simple memories...you know the ones... revolving around kid stuff; of moments you didn’t realize were important. I guess some nobody from Idaho doesn’t remember what he thought of Idaho when he was in fifth grade. He just lived his life. I don’t remember the first time I saw perfectly stitched crystal snowflakes – the kind you’ve only experienced as ones hanging from your classroom ceiling that you cut out with dull scissors – or learning how to carefully wrap my head, neck and mouth with a платок, (headscarf ) – to keep the heat trapped to my face in below-zero conditions – I just sort of always knew how. I don’t know why I associate the bright fragrance of a freshly peeled mandarin with Christmastime, I just always think of crystal glasses full of cheap champagne and blinking lights on a tree when I catch the smell of my hands after I eat one. I don’t remember the day I learned to read the Cyrillic alphabet, it just feels like it’s something I could always do. I don’t remember ever being interested in Russian history, it’s just always sort of been something I knew about. I can’t tell you the first ballet I saw, or the first time I got dressed up to watch a live orchestra perform, or the first time I noticed the crowds clapping in unison in a packed hall after a jaw-dropping performance, faint interjectory ‘bravos’ being called out in the distance. I don’t remember the first time I learned about the rituals of чай or the дача, or who Снегурочка is. I don’t even remember noticing just how colossal the buildings on Тверская are, or the first time I tasted the bright purple deliciousness that is Борщ. I don’t remember growing an infatuation with the sound of a single violin or the day I began to really understand how to read music, or
the first time I got those pesky little calluses on my left pointer finger. I can’t recall the first time I handed someone flowers in an odd-numbered bundle – because heaven forbid you buy an even number. I also can’t recall being taught not to seat someone under an air vent; with their back to an open window; in between two doors. I just always understood that a draft can and will kill you... and I often casually brushed off comments such as “I was in the hospital because cold air blew on my neck and/or back.” I guess that’s the benefit of being a foreigner’s child in a place like Russia. You just sort of soak up every minuscule cultural nuance they themselves slowly and tediously must learn, and write down to prevent any slip-ups or faux pas. I suppose I was taught to live as an extremely absorbent sponge, absentmindedly taking in every piece of my surroundings and somehow just understanding and knowing things without explanation. For my dad it was a great career move. It was a passionate obsession, a cultural phantom caught and conquered after years of hard work, studying, memorizing, understanding, searching; it was an amazing accomplishment, the fulfillment of so many goals and a calmingly, otherworldly overture compiled of snow-walks, tiny coffee shops, hearty black bread, and after-work pensive thoughts under the shadow of Lenin. For my mother it was an intricate form of immersion, intense analysis and whole-hearted dedication, compassion, and the preface for so much joy, frustration, discovery, irritation, and lifelong friendships. But for myself and my sister It wasn’t some time-lined project, we didn’t have goals to fulfill; it wasn’t a scheduled ‘tour’ or duty, it was just... life...and sometimes, believe it or not... it was mundane. Moscow, instead, transformed from being an adolescent normality to an adult imperfect haven. It becomes a place you’re dying to get out of on your worst days, with the sheep-
Repatriation like mentality and impossible conversations that simply annoy you beyond belief. But, it’s a place that, when you leave it, you can’t bring yourself to go back for a while, because you need time to heal the loss of leaving in the first place. Russia is a place that stays with you, unfortunately so, for it is this very nation that will be the cause of your soul’s yearning – тоска. Moscow is not in any shape geared towards the future, but rather usually stops in its tracks looking right back over its shoulder into the cycle of the past. Every essence of each holiday, celebration, and average work day amidst fellow commuters is encompassed by collective nostalgia. Undoubtedly, Moscow forgot to teach you to live in the moment. So here you find yourself putting the tea kettle away for a little while because you can’t bear the thought of a steaming cup, far too hot – burning a small dot on the tip of your tongue; leaving a constant reminder of a lovely time spent for the next 24 hours – accompanied by crunchy
wafer chocolates leaving a pleasantly subtle taste of dirt on your lips. Spoonfuls of варенья, and dry сушки – that leave a pile of crumbs after every bite escort wildly entertaining conversations, not casual in the slightest, but rather bare your whole soul even if you didn’t feel like chatting in the first place. You put off cleaning out your wallet and instead just throw a few dollar bills into your purse; your ID and plastic cards float around the bottom in a sea of gum wrappers and hair-ties. The inconvenience is better than dealing with reality: disposing of old receipts – the final remaining possessions on your person of a world soon to be long-gone. You fold up each colorful bill and replace them with simple, uniform green ones. You rummage through each ancient crumpled paper like an old and bitter grandma with a harsh exterior but wells up when going through her old letters or albums; uttering an obnoxious ‘back in my dayyyy.’ Dry-cleaning stubs, a clockout receipt from your last bartending shift; useless coins and emergency phone numbers now unreachable;
three Metro cards – who knows how many rides are left on them: rides to work every day, to museums, and cozy restaurants, or simply a means of quiet; yes... loud, noisy, bustling, fast-paced quiet – an escape from the world above if only for a few minutes. So here you sit... late at night, listening to Tchaikovsky alone in your room, slowly forgetting complex conjugations and grammatical cases – concepts that tortured your mind every second of every day. You try... but truly don’t remember when you knew you loved that place, or the moment you realized a blanket of peace would always be wrapped around your shoulders in the most hostile of times, or why you’d wished you could freeze time and stay there for as long as you’d pleased. When all your strength is exhausted into pulling the strings of an old compartment open, the forgotten moments come pouring out; shattering to the floor like pieces of broken china plates, and so it seems... with all of this not remembering... it turns out you can hardly remember life before Russia at all.
‘Revolution – Russian Art 1917-32’, Exhibition at the Royal Academy, London by Ross Hunter
s previewed in MeL, the greatest Russian revolutionary art is at The Royal Academy until 17 April, collected mostly from the Tretyakov, but with pieces from many other collections. www. royalacademy.org.uk Despite distinctly capitalist prices, the exhibition is hugely popular. Most visitors are armed with the audio guide headphones, and take time absorbing every item. Oligarchs and anyone
wealthier can invest in the mammoth guidebook. The exhibition is arranged in 12 chronological thematic rooms. Starting in 1917, it is arbitrarily truncated, missing the importance of the arts in fomenting the revolutions. Once in, the visitor is given a brisk tour of the tumultuous decade and a half, from chaotic hope leading to energetic innovation, and a degree of maturity. There is a pleasing mix of art, photography, posters, ceramics, artefacts and film clips throughout.
Stalin’s crackdown in the early 1930s is observed with appropriate balance, both the limitation of artistic variation to serve The State, and the horrors of the 1930s purges. Three exhibits especially catch the eye. Kazimir Malevich’s art as it evolved with the times, from representational figures, to geometric abstractions, to the infamous ‘Supremacist’ nihilism, and in his later years back to more conventional art and architecture. Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin epitomised
dedication to soviet art gets generous space here. Please see it. Vladimir Tatlin is famous for his (never built) ‘Tower’, but he also dabbled in optimistic plans for new Soviet control over nature. Ross Hunter is Development Director, The English School of Science, Lefortovo, Moscow
The TransSiberian Vincent Weightman
ast year the iconic TransSiberian Railway celebrated its 100th birthday. To mark this occasion, my girlfriend and I agreed we should ‘have a quiet summer’ and ‘just’ travel the breadth of the largest country in the world by its most famous mode of transport. Somehow within weeks our mums and dads were accompanying us and so without hesitation, I got to work organising the trip of a lifetime for the six of us. While the trip from Moscow to Vladivostok can take 6 ½ days (if you hide on the train the whole way), we decided to give ourselves 20 days and hoped to indulge in as much of Russia as we could. By the time we had created our own itinerary, booked our train tickets and 9 hour flight back to Moscow, we had spent less than £500 per person. Below are some tips on how to organise your own Trans-Siberian experience with our suggested highlights along the way! 1. Use this website for information and booking tickets: pass.rzd.ru – remember all train times are in Moscow time 2. Book trains as they become available – you can book trains 60 days before they leave the station (almost to the minute) so be organised and ready 3. Once on the train, chat with your Provodnitsa (carriage conductor) regardless of your Russian – these people can make life on board much easier 4. Meet locals in the food cart and enjoy the chicken schnitzel with fried potato that will almost certainly be on the menu 5. Pack some treats, a good book and your phone charger as long spells staring at the taiga can become challenging
Here are some of the stops we made along the way.
Vladimir and Suzdal
I’ve written before about the various reasons everyone should love Vladimir and Suzdal but in the summer there really is nowhere like it. It’s only about 180km from Moscow but get off here, enjoy the relaxing pace of rural Russia in the sunshine and ease your way into this adventure.
400km from Moscow and a mere 6 hour train trip, there is every reason to find yourself in Nizhny. The 5th largest city in Russia was the exiled home of Maxim Gorky (one of Russia’s most famous writers) and Andrei Sakharov (father of the hydrogen bomb as well as Nobel peace prize winner). It is packed with museums, art galleries, an impressive Kremlin and a cable car spanning the breadth of the Volga offering panoramic photo opportunities throughout the relaxing 30 minute return trip. After a busy day cramming in the sights, Bolshaya Pokrovskaya is full of cool bars and fashionable eateries, making it the perfect place to recover and watch the world go by. As the sun sets, aim to be near the Chkalov monument (a tribute to Valery Chkalov who flew 63 hours in 1937 from Moscow to Vancouver via the North Pole) and enjoy the spectacular views of volcanic orange and red skies burning deep into the Volga before disappearing for the evening.
With the most common route via Perm, we took a slightly southern detour to visit Kazan and I’m delighted
we did. Kazan is around 800km from Moscow and takes its name from an old Tatar word meaning ‘cooking pot’ as a variety of cultures and religions blend to create this incredibly picturesque city. The undoubted highlight of this stop is the fairy-tale Qolşärif Mosque inside the Kazan Kremlin. Qolşärif was an Imam killed defending Tatar Kazan from a rampaging Ivan the Terrible in 1552 and the magnificent mosque in his name is one of the most visited in the world. Road signs are written in Tatar, Russian and English and while it has long been considered the Istanbul of Russia, walking Bauman Street in the sunshine you could be anywhere. Stretching further than the eye can see from the base of the Kremlin, this main street has been stylishly pedestrianised and is lined with a great variety of bars, restaurants, churches, mosques, people and fashionable designer shops. This was my highlight of the trip and a place I hope to visit again.
Church upon the Blood (xрам на крови) is 1,778km from Moscow and was completed in 2003 to commemorate the site where Tsar Nicholas II, his family and loyal staff were executed by Bolshevik forces led by Yakov Yurovsky in 1918. As well as being the death spot of Imperial Russia, Ekaterinburg was home to Russia’s first president Boris Yeltsin and has various European and Asian border monuments to straddle for photographs. 40km from Ekaterinburg on the way to Pervouralsk stands an impressive obelisk at the original marker which was erected after Tsar Alexander II famously stopped for a glass of wine on his way to Siberia in 1837. Tradition now suggests you
have a glass in Europe before enjoying another in Asia – I suggest going here after lunch.
22 hours from Ekaterinburg and 3,303km from Moscow is Novosibirsk. A fairly unremarkable city, this was a comfort stop featuring showers, hotel beds and as many good meals as we could get in 24 hours. If you do stop here, try to see a performance at the impressive Opera and Ballet Theatre (also known as the Siberian Colosseum) which is the largest and most technically advanced theatre in Russia. Depending on arrival time, the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is a nice way to spend an hour of an afternoon - it was the first stone built building in Novosibirsk which was dedicated to the memory of Tsar Alexander III and is romantically atmospheric and colourful inside.
Irkutsk was originally a gold and fur trading post but is now famous for its wooden architecture and as the stepping stone to Lake Baikal, the oldest (25 million years) and deepest (nearly 2 km) stretches of unfrozen fresh water in the world. All five of North America’s great lakes could be combined and you would still not be close to the vast volume of Baikal. Within the depths of the world’s fifth ocean lies a very special fish. Omul is only found in Baikal and whether you eat it smoked, salted or dried, it’s hard to avoid eating it when visiting the area. Roadside smokers, barbecues and restaurants make this an impressively fresh and incredibly tasty meal or snack. Having visited Baikal in the bone chilling winter of -27c and slid around
the ice in old buses on the clear, thick ice that turned this lake into a highway, it was a real treat to walk Siberia’s Riviera in my shorts, sweating in the hot sun. Diving from a small wooden pier into the refreshing, mind clearing water was a welcome escape from the +25c temperatures of the stony beach.
Ulan-Ude is one of the most endearing cities I’ve visited in Russia. The capital of Buryatia is exotic and friendly, comfortable and interesting. Heavily influenced by Mongol Buddhist culture, welcoming Asian faces along with a landscape and climate that feels similar to Vietnam or Thailand makes this a real hidden gem for a holiday within a holiday for anyone on the Trans-Siberian. The world’s largest Lenin head was unveiled here in 1970 to remind locals who was in charge and since then, even the birds have appreciated his importance and ensured the 42 ton face remains clean. Towering high above the city, a mere 30 rouble marshrutka from Lenin’s head is the Rinpoche Bagsha Datsan. This oasis of tranquillity and calm is a beautiful way to escape the rigours of trains, cities and the general hustle involved in travel. Here the quiet, sprawling gardens are brought to life by colourful butterflies, singing insects, birds, flowers and squirrels. Statues depicting the 12 Animals of the Chinese Zodiac periodically split up a wonderful panoramic walk around the mountain top with outstanding views in every direction for miles.
With a 60 hour trip from UlanUde (enforced by visas and train timetables) we treated ourselves to 1st class for the first time and rolled into Vladivostok in style. Choosing to propose to my girlfriend at the ‘9,288km from Moscow’ monument in the centre of the platform, in front of both our sets of parents ensured my excitement at successfully completing the trip was tinged with some nerves and anticipation. Fortunately she said yes and we were all able to enjoy the last few days of our trip together in this special Russian city that is closer to Pyongyang and Beijing than Moscow. We took a taxi across Russky Bridge (the longest cable stayed bridge in the world) which connects Russky Island to the Russian mainland of Vladivostok. After a swim in the Sea of Japan’s relatively warm and perfectly clear water, we ate seafood plov and enjoyed a beer in a beach hut as we observed the tropical landscape of thick bushy trees covering mountains from tip to water’s edge with a slither of white sand separating the green and blue. Having spent so much time organising and then living this trip, it was surreal to be finishing it. With various reasons to celebrate, we had an incredible meal at Zuma featuring King Crab and oysters before one last sleep and a quick 9 hour flight back to Moscow. For more information about the Trans-Siberian, travelling in Russia or my photographs: feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow up via Instagram by following travellingteacher.me
Brand Chef Said Fadli
Which country are you from?
We met Brand Chef Said Fadli at the February 2016 MGFC at ‘Have a Nice Day’ restaurant in the Tsvetnoi Central Market complex. We were so impressed by his food and the concept he is trying to introduce we decided to interview him (editor).
I was born in Morocco, but I have lived most of my life in the States, so I am Moroccan/American. I have had quite a life, I grew up in France, then went to live and work in America. Now I am living in Moscow! You are truly an international person! Yes, I am multicultural. How did you learn to cook? It’s a long story. Like I said, I was born in Morocco. I started to cook for myself and for my family at a really young age, and I realised that I was happy when I was cooking. Cooking came naturally and I have always done this. Even when I was studying law in university I carried on cooking and realised that this was the main thing I was interested in. Later on, I realised that you can
make good money from being a chef, and so that is what I do! As you spent your childhood in France, you do French cooking as well? Yes, exactly. Later when I went to the States I learnt a lot more, and expanded my skills. Then I started to develop my own style, but at the same time I kept my original way of cooking, and developed on that. I now feel that I have a sort of fusion style. How did you come to be working here in Moscow? I was working in a large restaurant called Rasputin in the USA. It was a cabaret restaurant, and a lot of famous businessmen and sportsmen used to go there. Some of the clients were Russians, and I got to know them. A couple of them invited me to come to Russia. That was in 2004.
I came here for four days and I found out that Russia is like anywhere else in the world and has all sorts of different kinds of restaurants. I was quite surprised because I had thought that Russians are all poor, and the restaurant business is badly developed. But when I came I saw foie gras, truffles, and the most expensive dishes on sale, I realised that the reality is very different from what we are told about Russia. They invited me and some friends to come here and we opened a couple of restaurants. It was difficult to get the food products in at the time, because you had to import everything from outside, but after a while companies opened here which brought food in for you from Europe, from Israel, from Morocco, from everywhere!
on the idea that a lot of people like healthy food, but there is nowhere for them to eat such food here. We were thinking in the beginning of opening a vegan restaurant, but we changed our minds. Vegans may come here, but they might bring their friends who are not even vegetarian, so we have to be able to serve something that everybody will like. Thatâ€™s why we have a fish section; so that we can make everybody happy.
How did you come round to the healthy food concept?
A lot of people nowadays, especially young people, travel a lot. They see what is going on outside of their own countries. There are a lot of people now in Russia who like
Having tried a lot of different styles of cooking here in Moscow, we settled
What do you do here? I am the brand chef for all of the eateries here at the foodmarket. We have three other restaurants here. How do Muscovites take to vegetarian food?
alternative lifestyles. They practice yoga, they do meditation, they like sport. We have free yoga lessons here in some of the restaurants in the mornings, and lots of people come. So are your clients are youngish, like under 30? Many of them are young, but by no means all. You mean, when you get older you just give up? More young people than old people are interested in keeping control of their health, thatâ€™s true. But older people do as well; those over 50, they donâ€™t want to get to flabby. Some people have trouble with high cholesterols, so they do watch their food. People want to try more natural food, so we stay away from canned and packaged food, and food that has been cooked and preserved using chemicals.
Oganesyan Founder of Voskevaz Winery
fter an introduction by Maria Ushakova, David Oganesyan, the founder of the present day Voskevaz Winery’ very kindly contributed some wonderful, rich bottles of his Armenian wine to the ‘Moscow expat Life’ 5th Anniversary Party, and to the ELE end of year party. MeL caught up with David to find out some more about Voskevaz wine. David explained that his winery in Armenia has existed since 1932, and Voskevaz was already a firmly established brand before he took it over in 1997. The main problem he has faced was how to overcome the Soviet stereotype that Armenia can only produce cognac. Wine was from Georgia and cognac from Armenia. “Since 1999 we have been working with a Russian distributer to and try to convince Russians that Armenian wine not only exists, but is actually pretty good. With their help, we are now able to distribute our wines at most large Russian retail chains.” Voskevaz is not the only Armenian wine on
sale in Russia, however it is one of the most well-known. Voskevaz’s new red dry wine ‘Areni Noir’ was awarded a gold medal at ‘Mundus Vini 18th Grand International Wine Award’ in 2016. This is the first time in Armenian winemaking history, when a wine, made from an Armenian grape variety, has won this prestigious award. Voskevaz’s wine, David said, is “one hundred created from local Armenian grapevines. We only use local oak for the fermentation barrels, and we use traditional Armenian karases (Armenian clay jars) for aging. We know what we are doing; we have been making wine in Armenia for thousands of years; about 6,000. Armenia is very suited geographically and climatically for wine production. The water is just right and so are the amount of sunshine hours. The vines that grow at a relatively high altitude produce a slightly different effect. We are not trying to produce a huge amount of wine, rather we want to produce wine of excellent quality.”
Earlier, semi-sweet wines ‘Portvein’ were popular, because Armenia’s market was Russia. David explained: “Now the wine drinking culture in Russia is beginning to change, and people are beginning to understand that good wine actually is dry. Now, we sell about the same amount of dry and sweet wine, and we know that in the future, we will be selling more dry than even semidry wine. We are in the front line of telling the world that Armenian wines exist, we are engaged in marketing quite intensively or rather our distributors are, and all of this is a good thing because we really do have something that is worth trying. I think it is going to take about 5 years to achieve world-wide popularity.” In fact, Armenians are quietly, humbly doing great business. They seem to prefer to be slightly off-radar. In passing, David mentioned that his wines are already being exported to Russia, Belgium, Holland, Italy, China, America, and The Baltic Republics.
Have A Nice Day healthy food café The ratings from our MGFC members were:
Food Suitability: Quality/Suitability of the drinks: The service standards: The general rating of the meal:
oscow has never been exactly well known for its health food restaurants. For many foreigners, this is a bit of a let-down as healthy eating has long been part of our culinary landscapes in our home countries. Enter the ‘Have A Nice Day’ healthy food café inside the Tsvetnoi Market, to where members of the Moscow Good Food Club were treated to an extraordinary non-meat meal. Not knowing what to expect, we were happy to be addressed by Brand Chef Said Fadli who explained something of the concept of the ‘café’ as a whole.
8 9 7 8.5
The tone of the evening was set by the ‘welcome dish’– the ‘Bruschettas Trio’ of carrot dough with a guacamole sauce, tomatoes, fig, maple syrup, broccoli and asparagus spread onto crackers. In general, comments were positive about this unusual opener, however there were one or two comments about a slightly overbearing presence of figs and parsley for this time of year. Nobody had anything but positive assessments of the first wine served: a ‘Black Label’ Sauvignon Blanc ‘Babich’ 2015 from New Zealand. Like all of the wines and most of the food served, this was produced organically.
The second course, a salmon, mango and avocado burger was appreciated by all as being a highly original and creative combination. Above all, it was very tasty, and by this time, most (but not all) members had forgotten that we were eating a non-meat meal! There was a range of opinions about the 2015 Chablis Viellis Vignes ‘Saint Claire’ wine. Some said it was a little acidic, young and served cold, however others thought it was well balanced, and adequately set off the sweetness of the avocado and mango tartar. A Falafels Trio of sweet potato, beetroot and spinach caused
intense discussion amongst members. Interestingly, our Austrian contingent had markedly different feelings about this dish. Some said that the spinach was too dry, and that the potatoes were too spicy, however all said that the sauces were excellent, in fact a universal desire was – more sauces please! One table exclaimed that the Gavi served with this dish – ‘Ottosoldi 2015, Piemonte, Italy’, was the best wine served so far. The fourth dish, which could have been the main course as it featured a halibut filet with pelati, curry, saffron, curcuma sauce served with
quinoa, dried fruits and nuts once again created a varied feedback. Members who were perhaps more familiar with non-meat cuisine found the delicacies available in these dishes exciting, whilst hard and fast carnivores were perhaps a little bored with all the subtle harmonies of tastes available. We were in fact, journeying into another world, and it was difficult to immediately discard all ones’ baggage in a situation of non-meat weightlessness. The only discernible criticism of the Reisling Curvée served with this dish was that it was a little too cold. The meal was finished off with chocolate banana cake which was
served with the best intentions but some members felt was a little too heavy after such a subtle dance of tastes. This was a pity because the chocolate is made specially in the restaurant, using and maple syrup as a substitute for sugar. This meeting of the Moscow Good Food Club was noticeable for the seriousness and intensity at which members discussed the food and wines that they were so professionally presented with. In general, the impression created by the food, wines and service was most favourable. We wish the ‘Have A Nice Day’ restaurant well!
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John Harrison Tel: +7 916 521 3110 email@example.com
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Please contact David Morley Tel: +7 925 367 9241
Moscow Good Food Club recommended restaurants SCANDINAVIA 7 Maliy Palanshevskiy Per. M. Pushkinskaya Cuisine: European, Skandinavian, $$
OSTERIA DELLA PIAZZA BIANCA Moscow Good Food
“Comfortable, calm restaurant with high quality cuisine offering many Scandinavian specialities”
REAL FOOD RESTAURANT Crowne Plaza Hotel/WTC Krasnopresenskaya Nab 12.
Moscow Good Food
Full a la Carte menu incorporating healthy dishes made from organic ingredients. Open kitchen and excellent food & wine
Moscow Good Food
Typical Italian traditions for food and hospitality. Food care is the most important aspect, with freshness and simplicity as the main characteristics. Feel and breath Italian culture and true Italian cuisine.
Moscow Good Food
17 Tverskaya St M. Pushkinskaya Cuisine: Scandinavian, Moscow Good Food European, $$$ Club +7 495 629 4165 www.nightflight.ru
“Superb food at sensible prices prepared by excellent chefs with friendly, efficient service”
True Italian cuisine from Executive Chef Giuseppe Todisco
Moscow Good Food
Moscow Good Food
Moscow’s most popular steakhouse & bar. Top steaks, efficient service and large wine list
KATIE O SHEA’S STEAKHOUSE & BAR Groholsky Per 25, Bldg 5 M. Prospekt Mira Cuisine: Irish, $$ Genuine Irish pub with great beer, food and atmosphere
Kuznetsky Most 21/5. M.Kuznetsky Most Cuisine: Russian traditional $$$
Moscow Good Food
Authentic, traditional Russian cuisine excellently prepared and complimented with extensive Russian wines
BAR BQ CAFE, TRUBNAYA Trubnaya Pl 2. M.Trubnaya Cuisine: Steaks, Ribs & more $$
Modern restaurant with lovely views over Strastnoy Blvd. Creative International Cuisine from Chef Angel Pascual
Krasnaya Presnaya 13, M.Krasnopresenskaya Cuisine: French, International $$$
Moscow Good Food
Charming family owned, French themed restaurant offering a variety of excellent cuisine
Michurinsky Pr.16 M. Universitet Cuisine: European Bistro $$$
Moscow Good Food
New style of European bistro with creative food and a large wine selection.
BUROV & SOVA RUSSIAN BISTRO
STEAKHOUSE & BAR
“Casual but elegant restaurant offering an entertaining gastronomic experience”
CHICAGO PRIME: Strastnoy Blvd. 8a M. Tverskaya Cuisine: American, $$
22, Tverskaya M. Tverskaya Cuisine: European, Russian, $$$$
Hotel Standart, Strastnoy Blvd M. Chekhovskaya Cuisine: International $$$$
ITALIANETS 13, Samotechnaya Ul, m. Trubnaya, Cuisine Italian, English menu price $$$
Lesnaya street 5a M. Belarusskaya Cuisine: Italian $$$$
RESTAURANT SEVER YUG
Moscow Good Food
Bright, modern restaurant with excellent service. Creative cocktails list, fun & excellent value for money
CAFE RUSSE Ritz Carlton, Tverskaya St 3, M. Okhotny Ryad, Cuisine: Euopean $$$
Moscow Good Food
Casual dining in an elegant atmosphere, top chefs and extensive wine list
STARLITE DINER 8a, Strasnow Bulevard M. Pushkinskaya Cuisine: American, $$ Moscow’s original diners still serving our favourite food
Community Services Business Clubs/Organisations
Polish Business Club President: Alexander Janeczek CCIR (Camera di Commercio Italo-Russa) Director: Marisa Florio Web site: www.ccir.it/ccir/
The Polish Business Club was created 15 years ago to develop contacts between Polish and Russian companies, and to provide business support; such as help in renting an apartment, how to get medical help and advice on where to go in your free time. The Club’s main mission is business development in Russia.
British Business Club President: Luke Conner Web site: www.britishclub.ru
Russia continues to offer massive opportunities to British businesses, but it takes stamina to see them through. The BBC offers a small sanctuary of Britain to help in these times. email@example.com
We organise and attend a lot of trade exhibitions each year and help all of our members establish themselves in Russia.
Canadian Eurasia Russia Business Association (CERBA) President: Lou Naumovski, National Chairman, Canada Eurasia Russia Business Association, Vice President and General Director Moscow Office, Kinross Gold Corporation Co-President: Nathan A. Hunt, Founder, Chairman, CERBA Moscow, Canada Eurasia Russia Business Association Web site: www.cerbanet.org Moscow Chapter Contacts: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com Phone: 7 (495) 7621240 Italian Business Club (ITAM) President: Giovanni Stornante
The Irish Business Club Chairperson: Avril Conway Web site: www.moscowirishclub.ru
The members of the Irish Business Club are a mix of both Russian and Irish professional people and private individuals. It takes some time to understand the Russian culture and to make friends. We try and help in these respects as much as we can.
We organise social and professional events for the Italian community. We bring Italians together, help their integration when they move to the big city, facilitate the exchange of ideas, experience and opportunities between the Italian and other business communities.
The Canada Eurasia Russia Business Association has a network of seven chapters located in Moscow, Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, Calgary Vancouver and Almaty, and a membership base of over 200 corporations and individuals in a wide range of sectors. As an association, CERBA provides an extensive network of contacts with frequent networking events, informative seminars on pertinent topics in the Eurasian market for Canadian companies, an annual National Conference, a quarterly printed Newsletter, committees of the Canada-Russia Business Council (CRBC), access to annual trade missions, as well as market intelligence, advocacy on government policy, and active, Canada-focused sector committees.
Wirtschaftsclubrussland e.V: We are a business club for bilateral and multilateral business connections between the EU and Russia and Central Eastern Europe. Being part of the social entrepreneurship “Closing the distance” our network reaches from Europe to China. Our Mission: We connect people and cultures – building bridges
Wirtschaftsclub Russland CEO: Dr Karin von Bismark Web site: www.wirtschaftsclubrussland.org
Dialog opens Markets Our Values: Respect Responsibility Trust Open with us new chances and markets around 70 theme events every year. Meet us and become a member www.wirtschaftsclubrussland.org.
Community Services Business Clubs/ Organisations
The Association of European Business (AEB) CEO: Dr. Frank Schauff Web site: www.aebrus.ru
AEB is an active community of about 630 members, providing a network for sharing opinion and experience. The AEB is an advocate of its members’ opinions, generated in 40 industrial and crosssectorial committees, sub- committees and working groups.
The Danish Business Club has both corporate and private members, almost all of whom are based in or doing business in Moscow. About 80% of our subscribing members are Danish.
EXHIBITIONS IN MOSCOW
13c-t1ob4er 2017 O
ITA Italian Trade Agency Director: Mr Celeste Web site: www.italtrade.com/rossija
ITA-Italian Trade Agency is the Italian government agency that supports the globalization of Italian companies. ITA has 65 offices all over the world. ITA has been operating in the Russian Federation since 1966, with a network of offices in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg and Novosibirsk.
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French-Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCIFR) General Director: Pavel Chinsky Web site: http://www.ccifr.ru The Danish Business Club in Moscow Chairman: Kasper Ditlevsen Daytime job: Commercial Director – Uhrenholt Russia & CIS Web site:www.dbcmoscow.camp9.org
The French-Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry is aimed at developing economic cooperation between Russia and France. We organise a large variety of different events for our members to meet each other, such as sector committees, business presentations, B2B meetings, cultural events.
Moscow’s top exhibitions for International Property with developers and agents attending from all major destinations for property abroad.
Professional exhibitions in Russia since 2003
Community Services Women’s Clubs/Associations The Swedish Women’s Educational Association (SWEA)
International Women’s Club of Moscow (IWC)
SWEA is an international organisation, with 7,500 members in 34 countries all over the world. The fact that the 90-member strong Moscow chapter fits into a large international organisation, has many advantages. The main purpose of the SWEA in Moscow is to act as a network for members, to support Swedish culture and Swedish languages. The majority of SWEA’s 90 members in Russia are accompanying spouses, even though the trend is that more and more women come here by themselves for career reasons working for Swedish companies.
The American Women’s Organisation
The International Women’s Club of Moscow is a not-for-profit organisation which exists to promote friendship and cooperation between women and men of all nationalities. Explore our website to find out more about our events, how to join, and the charities we support.
Since 1993 the American Women’s Organization of Moscow, has provided support to expatriate women, and/or spouses, of all North American countries including the United States, Canada and Mexico. The aim of the organization is to provide social and cultural opportunities during your tenure here in Moscow. The members are very friendly, open and always willing to share their experiences. General meetings are held on the first and third Wednesday of each month and commence at 11:00 a.m. Newcomers are always welcomed and encouraged to attend any of our meetings. If you would like additional information on the American Women’s Organization of Moscow, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
President: Victoria Šeligo, the wife of The Ambassador of Slovenia. Web Site: www.iwcmoscow.ru
The German’s Women’s Group This is a new German-speaking group which organises meetings for German and Austrian women. Meetings are held every second Wednesday. The group supports newcomers and those who have been here longer.
Founder: Monika Michaely Email: info@ deutschegruppemoskau.com
The American Women’s Organisation
Deutsche Gruppe Moskau
Since 1993 the American Women’s Organization of Moscow, has provided support to expatriate women, and/ or spouses, of all North American countries including the United States, Canada and Mexico. The aim of the organization is to provide social and cultural opportunities during their stay here in Moscow. The members are very friendly, open and always willing to share their experiences. General meetings are usually held on the first and third Wednesday of each month at 11:00 a.m. Newcomers are always welcomed and encouraged to attend any of our meetings. If you would like additional information on the American Women’s Organization of Moscow, please contact us at email@example.com
We are a German speaking group of women and men who offer support to newcomers and for those who have been here for a while the chance to meet a network of interesting people. Newcomers can join us at our monthly meetings and, once a member, participate in our various events in and around Moscow. Please contact our organisational team, we’d love to meet you at one of our next events!
President: Judy Peacock
Presidents: Olya Kalmykova and Desiree Dekker Web Site: www.nlclubmoskou.nl
President: Cecilia Oskarsson Web Site: www.moskva.swea.org
The Main goal of the Tulips is to provide a social platform for the Dutch speaking ladies in Moscow, do things of interest together and have fun! When you are abroad, one’s own culture becomes so much more important. If anybody wants to connect with us, please find us on the Dutch Cub web site. If people want to go and visit museums, they can do that one their own. But if they want to speak their mother tongue with other people here in Moscow, then here we are.
Contact: allgemeines@ deutschegruppemoskau.de Website: www.deutschegruppemoskau.de
The British Women’s Club (BWC)
Chairwoman: Nova Dudley-Gough Website: www.bwcmoscow.com
BWC began in 2000 as a support group for women arriving in Moscow. Since then we’ve grown and regularly organise activities and social events for long term residents and new arrivals. We meet weekly for coffee and are always able to offer advice and support for British affiliated people arriving in this exciting and exhilarating city.
Charity List of Charities Below is an incomplete list of Charities operating in Moscow which foreigners are known to be involved with. If you wish to list a charity in future issues, please write to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Kidsave Contact: Alexander Mzhelsky, +7 985 970 9019, email@example.com Kidsave® is a non-profit organization working in Russia since 1999. Our programs create strong and lasting connections between children and adults, with the goal of giving orphans and young people graduating from institutions opportunities to develop the skills necessary for a successful future. ________________________
Downside Up Contact: Elena Lubovina, Tel. +7 499 367 1000, +7 499 165 5536, firstname.lastname@example.org About 2,500 children with Down syndrome are born in Russia annually. In 85% of such births, parents give their children up to maternity homes, often following doctors’ advice. The abandoned children are sent to state institutions with no chance of ever leaving them. But there is an alternative! The children can live in their families and join early
intervention and education programmes. Children with Down syndrome, no matter how different, have a vast learning potential. Downside Up invites you to help make life better for people with Down syndrome ________________________
Kitezh Contact: Katya Gurkina, +7 916 975 1603, kitezhcentre@ yandex.ru, www.kitezh.org/ en/index.php Kitezh is a network of therapeutic communities that give children from orphanages loving foster families. The aim is to create a developing environment for the education and care of orphans and children in crisis. The first Kitezh village is in Kaluga Region, 300 km south west of Moscow, and the second village, Kitezh-Orion, is located 60 km in the same direction. ________________________
Musical Experimental Theatre ‘Open Art’ Contact: info@metopenart. com, www.metopenart.com
Open Art was created in September 2001 for people with learning disabilities. Open Art is based on a unique combination of different art forms and directions: • Music • Dramatic art • Choreography • Art Design • Poetry • Dramatic improvisation • Ethnic art The Musical Experimental Theatre Open Art is open for participants from Moscow and Moscow region. Open Art has developed methods which are being used in rehabilitation centres and institutions for people with learning disabilities. Open Art also organizes courses and seminars for specialists in Moscow. ________________________
and educational support for both physically and mentally disabled children in Russia. The larger goal is to support changes in society and legislation in order to create social and medical support programs, which would allow parents to raise their children at home rather than living in institutions. ________________________
Vera Hospice Charity Fund
Contact: +7 495 942 4003, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org Diema’s Dream was established in 1998 to provide financial, medical,
Contact: Maria Bakhtina bakhtina@hospicefund. ru, Ilya Kaukin kaukin@ hospicefund.ru Tel +7-965-372-57-72 website: www.hospicefund.ru
Moscow Animals Contact: info@ moscowanimals.org, www.moscowanimals.org Moscow Animals – devoted to the welfare of homeless animals. To adopt a dog or cat or if you would like to help local animal shelters by making a donation or volunteering your time, please visit the Moscow Animal Website or email. ________________________
Charity List of Charities
Since 2006, Vera Hospice Charity Fund is the only non-profit organization in Russia supporting palliative and hospice care for children, adults and elderly. ‘Vera’ fundraises to assist hospices in Moscow and other regions of the country. By 2015 the total number of hospices under the care of ‘Vera’ has reached 40. The foundation also provides direct aid to over 300 terminally ill children and their families and finances the work of in-home care units for them. Other programs include social and educational support programs for hospice employees, hospice care awareness, and volunteer fostering activities. ________________________
United Way Contact: + 7 (495) 780 9718, email@example.com The Fund supports charities offering programs aimed to meet the social needs of the following sections of society: • children at risk • disabled (children and adults) • refugees and homeless • elderly people Our mission is to foster
responsible philanthropy in Russia by supporting local charity programs aimed at solving the most critical problems. The Fund is a permanent source of financing for efficient charitable organizations. Charities receiving funding have to demonstrate financial transparency to the highest possible degree. In turn, we guarantee to the donors full adherence by the foundation to Russian legislature and provide full financial and activity reports. ______________________
MPC Social Services Web Site: www.mpcss.org MPC Social Services is one of the longest serving charitable organizations in Moscow. It is a registered Russian charitable organization and an established 501(c)3 nonprofit in the United States that addresses poverty and hunger, and provides medical care and education for Moscow’s poor, including women, children, families, pensioners, economic migrants, and refugees. ________________________
Big Brothers Big Sisters Contact: +7 (495) 500 40 42, www.nastavniki.org/ru Big Brothers Big Sisters of Russia is a part of Big Brothers Big Sisters International, one of the most efficient mentoring programs for children. In Moscow BBBS helps children living in institutional care (orphanages) and disadvantaged children. A volunteer becomes a Big Brother or a Big Sister to a child, visits him or her once a week for at least one year. Studies show that children who have a mentor have higher self-esteem, are more stable emotionally, have better motivation to study and show more initiative. Currently there are 162 matches in Moscow. Please keep in mind that you need a good knowledge of Russian to become a Big Brother or Big Sister because the children don’t speak English very well. ________________________
Nastenka Contact: +7 (495) 980-5377, +7 (495) 585-41-01, www.nastenka.ru
The charitable foundation helping children with cancer ‘Nastenka’ was founded in 2002. The main objective of the foundation isto increase the quality of diagnostics and treatment of children with oncological diseases, as well as to revive the tradition of charity in Russia. For 11 years, the foundation has helped thousands of sick children and purchased large number of expensive modern medical equipment for a hospital: two ventilators, an x-ray machine, a dialysis machine, blood separator and much more. ________________________
To Russia With Love Contact: www. torussiawithlove.ie The very best of institutions, orphanages, large childrens homes, are likely to harm children and leave them ill prepared for life in the outside world. Ideally, all of these institutions should be phased out as soon as possible by means of extended family support, fostering, the provision of small family units, and lastly, adoption. However
Charity List of Charities due to the number of children in State care in Russia, our immediate goal is to secure for each child, a long term stable solution whilst working side by side with the local administration. To Russia With Love is privileged to be allowed act as a guardian to many children without parents, who live in these very institutions. We work to build children’s self confidence, assist them to reach their full potential to become strong adults, successful parents, thus breaking the cycle of abandonment and in turn go forward as role models in society. ________________________
To Children With Love www.tochildrenwithlove.ru/en To Children with Love’ or ‘Детям с Любовью’ was founded in 2009 to focus on fundraising in Russia, in the belief that the best and the most sustainable initiatives should and can emerge locally. With a board composed of Moscow-based trustees, a celebrity patron and a growing base of corporate sponsors, the charity has, since 2009, worked hard to establish itself as a unique entity in the world of Russian children’s charities. ________________________
BIG Change Charity Contact: http://bigchange.ru/ en/about/. Or call Big Change at +7 - (499) 317-44-44 BIG Change Charity is a Moscow charity that
provides individualized education and training in life skills to teens and young adults who have lived for years in orphanages. Big Change helps their students: - prepare for vocational school or university - choose a vocation and find a job - broaden horizons, interests, relationships - become productive members of society - live full and independent lives. ________________________
Children’s Hospital Fund at Speransky Pediatric Hospital № 9. Contact: +7 499 256 64 44 (office); +7 916 117 3215 (mobile). www.childhospital.ru The Children’s Hospital Fund was founded in 2001 to support Russia’s Biggest Pediatric Burns Center at Speransky Hospital, Moscow. The fund provides medical equipment and materials for skin grafting and prevention of burn scarring. This NGO is running a pioneering psycho-social program, vital in cases of changed appearance or bereavement. The fund is supported by well-known businesses, banks and charitable organizations, including Moscow expat women’s organizations. The European Burns Association recognizes the achievements of the fund. The fund needs sponsors’ help to continue its charitable programs!
Essential Information What do the numbers on the red number plates mean? They are Russian Diplomatic codes signifying countries. All vehicles registered with foreign embassies have to use them. 001 - Great Britain 002 - Germany 003 - Canada 004 - USA 005 - Japan 006 - Spain 007 - France 008 - Belgium 009 - Greece 010 - Denmark 011 - Italy 012 - Luxembourg 013 - Netherlands 014 - Norway 015 - Turkey 016 - Australia 017 - Austria 018 - Algeria 019 - Egypt 020 - Rwanda* 021 - Argentina 022 - Afghanistan 023 - Myanmar (the former Burma) 024 - Bolivia 025 - Brazil 026 - Burundi 027 - Ghana 028 - Bangladesh 029 - Guinea 030 - Zambia 031 - Peru 032 - India 033 - Indonesia 034 - Jordan 035 - Iraq 036 - Iran 037 - Ireland 038 - Iceland 039 - Cambodia (the former Kampuchea) 040 - Kenya 041 - Cyprus 042 - Congo 043 - Costa Rica 044 - Kuwait 045 - Laos 047 - Lebanon
048 - Libya 049 - Mali 050 - Morocco 051 - Mexico 052 - Nepal 053 - Nigeria 054 - Venezuela 055 - New Zealand 056 - Pakistan 057 - Burkina Faso* 058 - Senegal* 059 - formerly Syria. Now code 133 is used. 060 - Somalia 061 - Sudan 062 - Sierra Leone 063 - Thailand 064 - Tanzania 065 - Tunisia 066 - Uganda 067 - Uruguay 068 - Philippines 069 - Finland 070 - Sri Lanka 071 - Chad 072 - Switzerland 073 - Sweden 074 - Ecuador 075 - Ethiopia 076 - Angola 077 - Democratic Republic of Congo (the former Republic Zaire) 078 - Colombia 079 - Cameroon 080 - Guinea-Bissau 081 - Portugal 082 - Bulgaria 083 - Hungary 084 - Vietnam 086 - Poland 087 - Korean People’s Democratic Republic (North Korea) 088 - Cuba 089 - Mongolia 090 - China 091 - Romania
092 - formerly Czechoslovakia (nowadays Czech Republic (148) and Slovakia (149)) 093 - Serbia 094 - Benin 095 - Gabon 096 - Guyana* 097 - Mauritania 098 - Madagascar* 099 - Malaysia 100 - Niger* 101 - Singapore 102 - Togo* 103 - Central African Republic (code 106 used earlier) 104 - Jamaica* 105 - Yemen 106 - formerly Central African Republic. Now code 103 is used. 107 - Palestine 108 - Nicaragua 109 - Mozambique 110 - Equatorial Guinea 111 - Sovereign Military Order of Malta (earlier code 111 belonged to Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (Comecon)) 112 - Malta 113 - Cape Verde 115 - Zimbabwe 116 - United Arab Emirates 117 - Côte d’Ivoire* 118 - Namibia 119 - formerly Republic of South Africa. Now code 137 is used. 120 - Oman 121 - Qatar 122 - formerly Arab League. Now code 503 is used 123 - formerly Liechtenstein 124 - South Korea 125 - Chile 126 - Panama (earlier code 126 belonged to UNESCO; see code 512)
127 - Israel 128 - FYR Macedonia (earlier code 128 belonged to EU) 129 - Albania 130 - formerly international organizations 131 - Holy See (Vatican) 132 - Lithuania 133 - Syria (code 059 used earlier) 134 - Estonia 135 - Latvia 136 - Bahrain 137 - Republic of South Africa (code 119 used earlier) 138 - Armenia 139 - formerly Georgia. Now code 158 is used. 140 - Saudi Arabia 141 - Slovenia 142 - Uzbekistan 143 - Kyrgyzstan 144 - Croatia 145 - Azerbaijan 146 - Ukraine 147 - Moldova 148 - Czech Republic 149 - Slovakia 150 - Belarus 151 - Tajikistan 152 - Turkmenistan 153 - Kazakhstan 154 - Guatemala 155 - Bosnia and Herzegovina 156 - Eritrea 157 - Paraguay* 158 - Georgia (code 139 used earlier) 159 - Brunei-Darussalam 160 - Gambia 161 - Vietnam 162 - Mauritius 163 - Dominican Republic 164 - Montenegro 165 - South Ossetia 166 - Abkhazia 167 - Djibouti
“An extraordinary event for extraordinary people”
MOSCOW BUSINESS NETWORKING CLUB Networking – ‘to socialise for professional or personal gain’
“Now limited to the rst 100 to register!” The MOSCOW BUSINESS NETWORKING CLUB is Moscow’s premier business networking opportunity for business socialising in Moscow. Created by a professional networker for professional networkers this evening provides a superb platform for peer-to-peer networking in a productive environment including all the pre-requisites for effective contact, acquisition, communication and referrals. • Selective multi-national audience (Russian & expat) • High quality visitors due to price policy • Professional name badges for easy recognition • No speeches or presentations • High quality Catering • Quality free-flow drinks • Full photographic report in Moscow expat Life • No membership fees For professional visitors these evenings provide the opportunity to meet new potential clients/partners and maintain current relationships whilst enjoying a professional atmosphere with excellent catering. The Moscow Business Networking Club provides sponsors with a superb opportunity to present their products/services directly to this specific audience. Ask for our Sponsorship packages. For more details on sponsoring or participating please contact Kim Waddoup on firstname.lastname@example.org +7 495 777 2577 or http://moscowexpatlife.ru/networking/