First of all Putin paid an official visit to Iran. The trip seemed to be more beneficial for the West than for President Ahmadinejad.
Second, a maniac in Moscow, charged with 41 murders, not only confessed to all of them, but also informed the court and the jury about 11 other killings which had previously not been linked to him. The trial left the families of the victims and the jury speechless, as each morning the murderer took his seat, opened a new can of Coke, and then delivered detailed presentations of each murder with seemingly pure enjoyment.
Third, while the trial in Moscow was taking place two innocent army privates were shot dead by their supervisors in Yekaterinburg and Sverdlovsk. The seniors were either drunk, or playing with pistols. In another tragedy, a drunken 25-year old police officer literally beheaded an old lady, driving into her at 150-miles per hour in a local judge's Audi A8.
Visit Russia Blog in the next few days to learn more details about each story, and to find out who might be the new Russian president after the elections in March 2008!
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Kazan, Russia -- For decades, many social scientists had pretty much two things to say about Eastern Orthodox Christianity:
1) that like all religions, it was disappearing with the advance of modern civilization;
2) that it derived most of its support from the reactionary tides of authoritarianism and nationalism.
Those pronouncements are being proved wrong. Today, as in the parable of the prodigal son, throughout Eastern Europe people are returning to the Orthodox Church in droves, and the effect in the public sphere, contrary to most expectations, is quite benign.
Though historically viewed with suspicion by Catholic and Protestant Europe, Orthodox Christianity can actually help bridge the Russia-West gap.
Which is worse: Media suppressed or Media gone wild? As loyal Russia Blog readers know, we are continually amazed by the lack of objective reporting about life in modern day Russia. Every month, Russia Blog pours over hundreds of mainstream media articles in an effort to identify the most biased, stereotypical piece we can find about the country. Recently, one publication's coverage of Russia easily thrust itself into first place to win the coveted Shoe Award. After only limited deliberation, our distinguished panel of judges happily provides the latest award to (drumroll please).... The Economist.
The Chinese Wall between business reporters on the one hand and the soft news writers and other chattering heads on the other is a disturbing trend. While plenty is written about the lack of press freedoms in many parts of the world, we are especially saddened when venerable journals in free countries do such a poor job of covering issues in Russia -- here, however, The Economist has excelled beyond all others.
RIP - Dainton Connell Manager of Pet Shop Boys Dies in a Car Crash in Moscow
MOSCOW - Friday, October 5, 2007, early morning -- Dainton Connell, manager of the famous British band the Pet Shop Boys, died in a car crash on the Moscow River Embankment (Embankment of Taras Shevchenko). Mr. Connell was in a car with Anton Antonov, owner of a famous elite "invitation-only" Moscow club "Roof of the World". Thursday night, Chris Lowe, member of the famous duo, was celebrating his birthday at the Sky Lounge Restaurant. Mr. Antonov and Mr. Lowe met several years ago in St. Petersburg and became very good friends.
After the birthday party, Mr. Antonov wanted to show his night club to Dainton Connell. Mr. Antonov's BMW 525 was going 100 miles an hour when he lost control of the car on a wet road, and the vehicle crashed into a tree. The impact was of such force that after the car took out the tree, the vehicle demolished a cast-iron railing and plunged into the river. Moscow Transportation officials were working near the site of the accident, and together with police, ambulance crew and a team of divers, they retrieved the car from the river relatively fast. However, it was too late -- the driver and the passenger were dead. The police records mention two victims: "a 20 y.o. Russian citizen from St. Petersburg and an Afro-American, approximately 40 y.o." update: According to the medical records, the deaths were instant and were caused by the first impact of the vehicle with the tree.
The Pet Shop Boys have sold more than 50 million records worldwide and are best known for their remake of the Soviet anthem "Go West" and other hits such as "West End Girls", "Always on My Mind", "It's a Sin", etc.
Russia Blog expresses deepest sympathy to the band's relatives, friends and fans.
"Thank you to everybody who has posted comment about my dad. It is with great regret and sadness that I Tiffany Connell the Bear's first born, thats what he called me. My family and I are devastated by the loss of such a terrific man. Daddy, I miss you so much, we all do love you see you in heaven." Tiffany.
Please, visit the extended post to watch band's music videos and read the band's reaction to the tragedy.
Does Putin Seek to Retain Power or Preserve His Legacy?
Vladimir Putin at the United Russia Congress - Photo by AP
Russian President Vladimir Putin likes to keep people guessing, especially when it comes to his future in Russian politics and business. His surprise this week (as reported in the American press)--suggesting that he may consider becoming Prime Minister following his tenure as President--was undoubtedly his biggest yet.
Previously, there were two schools of thought about Putin's future. The first--and one favored by many Putin-haters in the West--suggested that he would seek a change in the Constitution, allowing him to remain for the third term. The second--offered by private investors and many business publications--suggested that Putin would leave Presidency in order to head one of the Russia's state corporations, such as Gazprom. Like many Western politicians, they thought it likely that he might "capitalize on his connections."
Recent revelations by President Putin do not support either of these theories. In order to understand what the future holds for Putin, it is important to read exactly what he said in his recent address at the United Russia party convention:
Russia Blog congratulates all those who are fond of space exploration and science fiction by marking the 50th Anniversary of Sputnik (translates into English as "Satellite") being launched into orbit. Sputnik was the first man-made object in outer space.
"I am convinced that the Sputnik accomplishment by the Russian people was responsible for the creation of the American space program that I head today," NASA administrator Michael Griffin told space veterans at Russia's Academy of Science in Moscow. "Without Sputnik there would have been no Apollo," said Griffin, referring to the Apollo project, which put a man on the moon in 1969.
Even Hillary Clinton managed to tie Sputnik in to her election campaign by contrasting her position on stem cell research with her Republican opponents. "What America achieved after Sputnik is a symbol of what America can do now as we confront a new global economy, new environmental challenges, and the promise of new discoveries in medicine," Mrs. Clinton said. However, Hillary's reference to Sputnik isn't nearly as entertaining as her recent proposal to imitate President Putin's pro-natalist policies on American soil: "I like the idea of giving every baby born in America $5,000."
Several weeks ago I discovered a fast casual chain restaurant in Krasnodar called Lyubo Dorogo Cafe. We ate lunch there on a Saturday afternoon. The menu is kind of a cross between Friendly's and Au Bon Pain. We had some Lime Rickey's, espresso, an omlette, mushrooms in a sour cream sauce, an ice cream sunday, and a crepe filled with honey-soaked poppy seeds covered with chocolate sauce.
The chain currently has seven cafes and is continuing to grow. Based on our experience there, the formula between value and style is perfect. We give it high marks.
Click on the extended post to see photos from Krasnodar Krai, the region that will host the Winter Olympics at Sochi in 2014.