My name is Jen McLaughlin. My husband and I have adopted three children that were born in Russia. While looking for articles about the orphanage abuse that occurred in late July, 2006 in Krasnoyarsk, I came across your story about the "Boys for Sale". It has had a profound affect on me. Thank you VERY MUCH for doing the research, then reporting your findings. I view the article differently than most of the folks who replied, I view it as a mom who realizes that the abused boys could have been my sons, and still could be.
In February, 2006, I contacted the Krasnoyarsk Ministry Of Education (MOE) regarding siblings of my sons' that may be in the Orphanage system. I found that my son, Patrick, has a brother who is living in a Krasnoyarsk orphanage. (That is why I was researching articles about the orphanage abuse.) Since the MOE has yet to disclose which orphanage he is in, one of the five abused could have easily been my son's brother. Since finding out about Igor, I have been desperately working on getting him home to live with his brother, my son. The immediate problem is that their birth mother has yet to terminate parental rights and the MOE cannot locate her. Due to my desire to share the rich Russian Culture and their heritage with my children, I hired a searcher who located my sons' birth families in September of 2004. He provided me with the birth mother's sisters' addresses and mother's address. So I believe she can be found.
Continue reading "Open Letter From American Mother of Russian Kids" »
Russian officer arrested by Georgian Secret Service
MOSCOW -- At this hour it appears that the Russian Foreign Ministry is ready to break off all diplomatic relations with Georgia. On Wednesday the Foreign Ministry recalled Ambassador Vyacheslav Kovalenko from Tbilisi. Today the Ministry of Emergency Situations was ordered to prepare transport flights to evacuate Russian citizens from Georgia.
This latest diplomatic crisis was sparked by Georgia's arrest of six Russian peacekeeping officers and five Georgian citizens. All are charged with espionage and sabotage against Georgia. Georgian officials claim that they have a rock solid case. The alleged covert operations were supposedly managed from Russian military bases located in neighboring Armenia. Some of the Russian officers have even been charged with organizing terrorist attacks on Georgia's territory. The Russian Federation embassy and a Russian military base in Tbilisi have been surrounded by Georgian police and special forces since early morning Wednesday.
Continue reading "Russia Recalls Ambassador, Closes Embassy in Georgia" »
Three of Russia's five IKEA stores are located in Moscow
This summer Russia surpassed Saudi Arabia as the world's largest oil producer, according to official production figures reported recently by the UK Financial Times, the New York Times, and several other Western media outlets. This surge in energy production has coincided with Russia's emergence as one of the world's leading emerging markets, attracting major investment funds such as Morgan Stanley Capital International and the Vanguard Group.
There is much more to the Russian economy, however, than just the oil and gas boom. While fossil fuels and raw metals will still account for majority of Russian IPO shares issued in 2006-2007, Russia's largest companies involved in auto and truck manufacturing, steelmaking, electric power grid, telecommunications, and retail are also opening up to foreign investors.
Click on the extended post to read the MosNews story about the next phase of foreign investment in Russia.
Continue reading "New Russian IPOs - More Than Just Oil and Gas" »
9 Rota cost $9 million to make and grossed $22 million in Russia
Yesterday RIA Novosti reported that 9 Rota (9th Company) has been selected by Russia's national film committee as their entry in the category of Best Foreign Film for the 2006 U.S. Academy Awards. For 9 Rota director Fyodor Bondarchuk, this adds national prestige and international critical acclaim to the film's impressive box office and DVD success.
Russia Blog first wrote about "The Ninth Company" shortly before its release in late 2005, and now Wikipedia has added an entry on the film with background on the true story of the 345th Guards Airborne Regiment's service in Afghanistan and the Battle for Hill 3234.
You can read Russia Blog's March 2006 film review here (WARNING: Plot Spoilers). You can order a non-regionally coded DVD with English subtitles that will supposedly work in any DVD player from Amazon, though the film is not yet available for rent from Netflix.
Click on the extended post to watch the trailer and see photos from the movie production, shot on location in the Crimea, and the movie premier.
Continue reading "9 Rota Russia's Nominee for Best Foreign Film" »
Private Alexandr Sivyakov in court
Moscow - today a court ruled in the mutilation case of Private Andrei Sychev, who was beaten and sexually abused by his comrades at the Chelyabinsk Tank Academy on December 31, 2005. As a result of his injuries, Andrei Syvhev had both his legs and genitals amputated earlier this year.
The prosecution of this case was very political and highly publicized. Russian army officials were caught trying to cover up for the guilty NCOs and division officers at the base where Pvt. Sychev was abused. Several officers misrepresented the entire story, claiming that the private was a poor soldier and that they were not aware of any abuse taking place. President Putin was personally outraged by the case and asked the court to find and prosecute the guilty parties. The case has created a major push in the Duma to speed up desperately needed reforms in the Russian army.
Private Alexandr Sivyakov was convicted of torturing Private Sychev, and was sentenced to four years in prison. Both prosecutors and the defense argue that this sentence was too lenient for the crime of maiming a young man for life. The victim's family is demanding harsher punishment and calling for Pvt. Sychev's commanding officers to be brought to justice as well. The defense argues that Pvt. Sivyakov was the scapegoat for the negligence of the officers, and could not be held entirely responsible for the actions of his comrades who mutilated Pvt. Sychev.
Continue reading "First Verdict in the Case of Private Andrei Sychev" »
Moscow, Russia -- today the Federation Assembly of the Russian Federation approved the deployment of military reconstruction teams to Lebanon. The deployment will consist of 307 privates, 19 ensigns and 49 officers. The decision received the unanimous vote of the Russian Senate. The troops are from a construction division of the Russian Army and their task for the next two months will be to rebuild six bridges recently destroyed by Israeli jets. If the reconstruction is not finished in eight weeks, the deployment will be extended.
The troops will bring with them 71 pieces of military and construction equipment and five bridges. Security for the project will be provided by 53 soldiers from the same unit. The Duma made it clear that the Russian army will not join the UN peacekeeping operation and will limit its presence in the region to only reconstruction and humanitarian operations. The troops left their hometowns today for Novosibirsk, where they will start loading transport planes on September 29. On October 11, the troops will begin their construction work in the Middle East, and are scheduled to return to Russia on December 11. The total budgeted for the operation, according to Russian General Bulgakov, is $3,800,000.
Continue reading "Russian Reconstruction Troops Headed for Lebanon" »
The Real Russia Project's special report "10 Western Media Stereotypes About Russia - How Truthful Are They?" has created a big wave of news reports and talk radio discussion in Russia.
Below are links to numerous Russian news websites that cite or discuss the report. The author of the report, Yuri Mamchur, participated in a popular one hour talk show aired on Radio Svoboda (Radio Freedom) in Moscow, hosted by Elena Rykovtseva. Yuri was joined in the discussion by the opinion page editor of The Moscow Times, Thomas Rymer, and the director of the Human Rights organization "Agora", Pavel Chikov. The show was aired on September 26, 2006 at 11 a.m. Moscow time (midnight -- 1 a.m. PST). To listen to a podcast of this discussion or to read a Russian-language transcript, please follow this link.
To read the transcript of the news report by Echo Moscow Radio (Echo Moskvi one of the highest rated Russian FM newstalk stations) please follow this link.
The Real Russia Project's report was also a topic of discussion for Jon McComb of CKNW radio in Vancouver, Canada. The pre-recorded interview will air sometime between 3 pm until 7 pm PST today. Please read the extended post link to find more information on our report from Russian media sources. All articles are in Russian language; we recommend to use this free automatic translator.
Continue reading "Russian Media Coverage of Our Special Report" »
Download the PDF version of the report
Special Report by The Real Russia Project of Discovery Institute
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the U.S. media's overarching, if unspoken, perception of Russia and Eastern Europe is that this region doesn't matter much any more. Though some still see Russia as a dangerous enemy, most mainstream media appear to have lost interest in what happens there, except for occasional sensational events. As a result, there is inadequate awareness in America of the fascinating cultural, political and economic developments taking place in today's Russia.
Relying on old Cold War stereotypes ignores centuries of Russia's history and shows a lack of curiosity about its future. Such indifference is not in the interest of America or its citizens, and it threatens to shut down imagination about potential cooperative relations with Russia and her neighbors. The Real Russia Project aims to focus on the emerging new Russia with accurate and fair reporting and analysis--without fear or favor.
Ambassador Bruce Chapman
President of Discovery Institute
Click the extended post link to read the text version of the report
Continue reading "10 Western Media Stereotypes About Russia: How Truthful Are They?" »
400 Northeastern U.S. gas stations now have the LukOil brand
Today Reuters has a story on the rapid growth of Russian oil giant LukOil's North American retail business. Fifteen years after the end of the Cold War, Americans in New Jersey and Pennsylvania are filling up their tanks with gasoline refined from Russian crude, and Russia's largest private oil company is sponsoring the NFL's Philadelphia Eagles. That's definitely progress, but LukOil has even more ambitious plans.
At 216,000 barrels per day, Russia is currently right behind Ecuador as the 10th largest oil exporter to the U.S. However, once pipelines are completed from Siberian fields to the ice-free Arctic port of Murmansk and Russia's Far East coast, Russia's share of American oil imports will significantly increase. LukOil is already looking ahead to major deals with North American refiners to expand its revenues downstream. This is a win win for Russia and the U.S where Russians profit from a secure but still growing gasoline retail marketplace and Americans become slightly less dependent on Mideast oil.
Click on the extended post to read the full Reuters article.
Continue reading "Filling Up With LukOil in New Jersey" »
Moscow -- On the night of September 13, Andrei Kozlov, the first Vice President of the Central Bank of the Russia Federation and his driver were shot dead. The equivalent crime in America would be killing the Vice Chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank in Washington, D.C. This is the first murder of a high-ranking government official since Putin became President in 2000. High profile business murders were common in the Yeltsin era of the 1990s, but Putin's core group of government officials fighting corruption were thought untouchable until Wednesday night. President Putin, government officials and all ranks of society are genuinely shocked by this tragedy.
Andrei Kozlov was responsible for supervising credit organizations and banks for the entire country; Kozlov was the key official who had the power to revoke a license from any bank involved in fraud, money laundering or other illegal business activities. And so he did -- over 900 unlawful banking operations were closed down on his watch. Professional colleagues and personal friends all remember Mr. Kozlov as a very honest man, who took pride in his work. Kozlov epitomized the model new government official in Putin's Russia, who works openly according to the laws, fights corruption and refuses to take bribes. Now the whole country knows that Kozlov's integrity cost him his life.
Continue reading "Vice President of Zentrobank Killed" »
A young ultranationalist lights up a rally
Kondopoga, Karelia Region -- this small industrial town not far from Finland has been the center of attention for two weeks straight in Russia. Northern Russians living in the area are known for their calm character; it is usually difficult to provoke them into a fight. But on the night of September 1, 2006, angry Kondopoga rioted and set fire to a school attended by Muslim children, as well as a public market, several grocery stores, and a restaurant, all properties owned by local Chechen migrants; they also fought with police SWAT teams that tried to disperse the riot. The next morning, September 2, thousands of people gathered without a demonstration permit. Most of the crowd demanded that city officials deport "every settler from Caucuses in the next 24 hours."
Russia Blog will try to explain why this usually peaceful town of 40,000 has been guarded around the clock for two weeks by SWAT teams and army units, and why dozens of Russian members of Parliament, human rights activists and anti-immigration groups have entered the fray. The incident might look like a brief spasm of xenophobia, but the roots of the conflict run deep.
Continue reading "In the Absence of Rule of Law --
Xenophobia and Vigilantism" »
Against the odds, Madonna rocks Moscow
By Nick Allen
Moscow -- She was to be kidnapped or crushed with her fans by a stadium roof, eternally damned by the church or forced to cancel by petty incompetence and greedy intrigue. But against all the odds, Madonna performed in Moscow Tuesday night to a roar of acclaim. Whether fired up by irritation at the problems, or coolly tapping a quarter of a century of performing excellence, the 48-year-old pop diva delivered a blistering show for some 50,000 people in the Russian capital's Luzhniki stadium. With the song I Feel Love she embarked on the set of her controversial Confessions tour.
In the preceeding weeks, the biggest music event of Moscow's year began to resemble a grotesque soap opera with an ever changing cast, as a succession of figures proclaimed that they were the real organizers.
Continue reading "Madonna in Moscow" »
Putin: "Iran should abandon its plans for nuclear enrichment on its soil"
Several Russian technicians work at Iran's Busehr nuclear reactor
MOSCOW -- Last weekend President Putin sat down to a dinner with dozens of Western journalists at his dacha outside Moscow and made his case for the Kremlin's energy policies and diplomacy. Both policies are widely unpopular in Western capitals, with Washington concerned about Russian technical assistance to Iran's nuclear program and the European Union fearful of being too dependent on Russia for gas.
Putin sought to reassure the reporters and think tank scholars on hand for the dinner party that Russia does not want a nuclear-armed Iran, and will be a reliable supplier of energy for the world economy.
Continue reading "Kremlin Extends Olive Branch to Washington on Iran" »
Former Iranian President Mohammed Khatami - "reformist" or figurehead?
Many gifted writers and people who were close enough to smell the ashes have written retrospectives this weekend about today's anniversary. Many commentators have asked what our country has learned, if anything, from the last five years of war with Islamic fascists.
In terms of the West's will to win the struggle and the question of whether we actually believe in our stated values, I could only think of the stark contrast between Alexaksandr Solzhenytsin's commencement address in 1978 and this week's speech by former Iranian President Mohammed Khatami at Harvard. The contrast between the two messages is that between wounds from a friend and kisses from an enemy.
Continue reading "Two Harvard Speakers - Solzhenitsyn vs. Khatami" »
The Houston Chronicle has two stories this week about oil and gas development on Sakhalin Island in Russia's Far East. Control of Sakhalin Island historically has been disputed between Russia and Japan, with the first Russian explorers and traders arriving in the 17th century. Japan occupied southern Sakhalin Island after the 1905 Russo-Japanese War, but Russia took the island back in 1945. Japan and Russia still have not reached an agreement to officially end World War II; hostilities today are limited to patrol boats occasionally firing on Japanese fishermen intruding into Russian waters.
Japan is currently the third biggest economy and oil consumer (5.5 million barrels a day) in the world, and the second largest petroleum importer behind the U.S. The Japanese home islands have no oil, therefore Japan imports almost 100% of its fuel, most of which comes from the Middle East. Tankers from the Middle East bound for East Asia have to pass through two bottlenecks: the Straits of Hormuz facing Iran, and the Malacca Straits between Singapore and Indonesia. For this reason, the Koizumi government has sought to diversify Japan's sources of oil by investing in energy from Russia and forrmer Soviet Central Asia.
Japan's diversification strategy suffered a setback earlier this year, when President Putin opted not to extend a major pipeline from Manchuria to the port of Nahodka. This week the Japanese received some good news when Exxon Mobil, the world's largest private energy company, announced that it was ready to start exporting oil and gas from the Sakhalin 1 project.
Continue reading "Sakhalin 1 Ready, Sakhalin 2 Under Pressure?" »
Aleksandr Petrov with his wife Alena and their kids, Nikita and Artem
On August 7, 2006, prominent Russian journalist Aleksandr Petrov (age 31) took his family camping on the banks of Tuekta River in Altay. Aleksandr was an idealistic young professional, who loved his job and his country. He had many opportunities to work for major publishing houses in Moscow, but rejected these job offers to stay in his hometown of Omsk. Even though he could have gone abroad for his August holiday like so many Russian families do, he wanted to share the countryside with his wife Alena and his two sons Nikita (age 7) and Artem (age 3).
Tragically, Mr. Petrov's decision to go camping proved fatal for his family. Altay is well-known for its natural beauty and wild life. Even though possessing firearms without a costly permit is illegal in Russia, many locals have a hand made gun or an illegal weapon, starting at the age of 11 or 12. A 16 year old teenager named Ruslan took a short cut through the woods coming back from his summer job site. Ruslan noticed a nice Mitsubishi car parked by a tent, with no potential witnesses around. Driving a foreign-made vehicle was his childhood dream. So he went to the tent and shot Aleksandr Petrov in the face and his wife in the back. Alena Petrov survived the gunshot wound; so Ruslan used a camping axe to finish her off, then butchered her 7 year old son with the same axe and killed the 3 year old with a rock. He dumped the bodies in the nearby river, took the Petrov's video camera, cell phone and vehicle for a 90 mile joyride...
Continue reading "Russian Camping: Altay Teenager Murders an Entire Family" »
After a short hiatus, Russia Blog's staff is back at work. We apologize for a few days without new posts. Please read today and tomorrow's posts for more interesting information about Russia.
Also, next week Russia Blog will mail out our document "Ten Western Media Stereotypes about Russia - How Truthful Are They?" Please let us know if you are interested or you know anyone who would be interested in receiving a copy. Please e-mail your name and address to email@example.com
Thank you for reading the Russia Blog!
Have a great weekend!
A man rushing a child away from gunfire
Today is the second anniversary of the bloody end to the siege of school number one in the North Ossetian town of Beslan. The website PravdaBeslana ("Beslan Truth") has posted in its entireity C.J. Chivers' article "The School" from the June 1, 2006 issue of Esquire magazine. I hope Esquire's editors will understand that this is a public service and will allow the whole text to remain freely available on the web.
For anyone still wondering how the terrorists carried out this atrocity or why the response from Russian security forces was agonizingly slow for the hostages held captive for over 48 hours, it is useful reading. I got the same sickening feeling in my stomach when I started to read this piece as I did watching United 93's depiction of the beautiful, uneventful dawn of September 11, 2001.
Continue reading "Beslan: Two Years Later" »
President Putin speaking with the Metropol of Moscow behind him
MOSCOW -- Saturday marked the celebration of the 859th anniversary of the City of Moscow. More than two million people are expected to come into downtown for events including a laser light show, the unveiling of a statue honoring Moscow's best janitor, and the christening of a new fountain.
While the cooler weather this week will probably attract more people, Mayor Yuri Luzhkov is not leaving sunshine to chance - several aircraft have sprayed aerosols to insure clear skies over the city today. Given that this event also happens to come on the 2nd anniversary of the Beslan massacre, security will be very tight.
Moscow may be the most expensive city in the world, but today ordinary Muscovites get to see lots of beautiful young faces and new architecture representing the positive side of their city. Click on the extended post to read The Moscow Times story and see photographs from the city day parade.
Continue reading "Happy 859th Birthday Moscow!" »