Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev on the placement of a US Missile Defense system in Eastern Europe: "This is a system that is being created against Russia"
The Bush Administration has been pushing for the installation of a missile defense system close to Russia's borders with radars in the Czech Republic and ten ground based interceptor missiles in Poland. President Putin has offered President Bush the use of bases in Azerbaijan and southern Russia that could host a joint missile defense system to counter the threat of Iranian missiles targeted at Europe. Yet the Bush Administration continues to insist on placing ground based interceptors 2,000 miles away from Iran. The system is said to target the potential threat from the Islamic Republic regime in Iran, however, the actions of the White House don't seem to match these words. Mikhail Gorbachev, 76, who is admired in the West for hastening the end Communism in the Soviet Union and its satellites said: "Milos Zeman, the former Czech prime minister, said, 'What kind of Iran threat do you see? This is a system that is being created against Russia,' I don't think Zeman is alone in seeing this. We see this as well as he sees it."
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov recently said that Washington continues to insist that its missile shield plans in Europe were linked to the potential missile threat from Iran. "They still say that," he said according to Russia's RIA Novosti news agency. "But there must be some lack of coordination here because the Czech premier has repeatedly said that they need components of the U.S. missile defense on their territory to protect themselves from Russia." Lavrov added that Polish leaders had previously made identical statements. He said that the written U.S. proposal on missile defense constituted a material rollback from verbal agreements that had been reached in Moscow in October. "We have top class experts, military planners, who can see how it will affect our security and who will have to take retaliatory measures," the Russian Foreign Minister declared upon his return from a U.S.-hosted Middle East peace conference in Annapolis, Maryland.
Continue reading "Russians Are Saddened, Not Angered
by U.S. Missile Defense System" »
And it is doubtful that Mother Russia will ever see the art again, says VIV GROSKOP.
Special Report by the online daily magazine The First Post
Russian expats wanting to decorate their sumptuous homes and build new art collections gathered in London yesterday for what is expected to be a record-breaking week of Russian art auctions.
Sotheby's kicked off last night with a sale of treasures from private collections across the world, rarely seen in public. The highlight was Natalia Goncharova's Bluebells (see next page), circa 1909, which went for Â£3m. The total take was Â£25.7m making it an historic night, according to Sotheby's head of Russian art, Jo Vickery. "It shows the Russian art market has come of age."
All London's major auction houses have sales this week: on Wednesday, Christie's is due to sell a newly discovered Faberge egg which could fetch as much as Â£9m.
Continue reading "Wealthy Russian Collectors Storm London" »
By Guy Sorman
Two Lamborghinis meet on the streets of Moscow
Photo by: English Russia
Petrodollars are fueling an unprecedented--but precarious--prosperity in Russia's capital.
A look at the New Russia by Manhattan Institute.
Those who knew the Soviet Union before 1991 agree that Moscow is a happier place today. In the old days, the city wore a dark, brooding look. People were poor and afraid; the ruble was worthless, though there was nothing to buy anyway. Imperial Moscow boasted two, perhaps three, restaurants, offering meager fare. The only ones to ply a trade were watchmakers, who made their living repairing old watches--a telling sign of the low level of consumption and innovation. Soviet Russia manufactured weapons, and little else.
In just 15 years, Moscow has transformed completely. Restaurants, bars, and hotels overflow with people, day and night. Gilded youth and nouveaux riches flaunt their wealth and expensive cars. French and Italian luxury goods adorn the shops on Pushkin Square and Tverskaya Street. The roads, once empty save the occasional official limousine, surge with traffic.
Click on the extended post to read more.
Continue reading "Moscow: Oil Town" »
Can we learn to deal with Russia as it is...not as it was, and not what we wish it were?
Trying to understand Russia through the prism of the British and American news media these days can be a real headache. On one hand, if you've read the business pages of The Wall Street Journal or The New York Times lately, you would learn that Russia is now one of the world's leading emerging markets, and the Russian economy has grown at an average annual rate of 7% since 2000. On the other hand, if you turn to the headlines or the editorial pages, you will read that Russian President Vladimir Putin has been busy crushing democracy and reviving the Soviet Union.
While Americans are constantly having their eyes opened to the possibilities for growth and economic freedom in the People's Republic of China, a far more free and open society in Russia is judged more harshly in the Western news media. Why is this? Is it because the shelves at Wal-Marts across America are not stocked with goods from Russia? Or is I simply because, as some cynical Russians imply, there is one American and European expectation for people who "look like us", and another for others (Asians, Africans, and Arabs) who don't? Or could it be that American perceptions of Russia are still formed by a combination of stereotypes left over from the Cold War and more recent images of Russia in the Nineties as the Wild East -- an exotic backwater whose main exports were supposedly mail order brides and ruthless mafias?
Continue reading "One Cold War Was Enough:
Russia Needs Our Help, Not Our Condemnation" »
Late afternoon in Novgorod Oblast, October 18, 2007
On October 18, 2007 Charles Ganske travelled from St. Petersburg back to Moscow. Here are a few photos - and thoughts - from that trip.
Continue reading "Travel Russia:
Train from St. Petersburg to Moscow" »
Russian children at Tsarskoye Selo, October 15, 2007
On October 15 Charles Ganske visited Tsarskoye Selo (Czar's Village) and the town of Pushkin in the suburbs of St. Petersburg.
Click on the extended post to view more photos from this beautiful place (please be patient, as photos may take some time to upload).
Continue reading "Tsarskoye Selo and Pushkin" »
Lights along Nevsky Prospekt, October 16, 2007.
To view photos of Nevsky Prospekt from January 2007, click here
Click on the extended post to view more photos of Russia's 2nd city by Charles Ganske.
Continue reading "St. Petersburg in October" »
The Peterhof palace in St. Petersburg, October 14, 2007. Russia Blog readers can view photos from Charles Ganske's last trip to St. Petersburg here.
Charles Ganske travelled from Moscow to St. Petersburg on October 13, 2007. The next day he visited the famous Peterhof palace complex.
Click on the extended post to enjoy the photos!
Continue reading "The Peterhof" »
Fall colors in Russia, October 2007
The rail line between the capital and the old imperial capital is the oldest and probably the busiest in the Russian Federation. Every day dozens of trains depart just a few minutes apart from the 19th century Leningradsky Station. The historic rail terminal is located just down the street from the old Leningradskaya Hotel, one of Stalin's "7 Sisters". This "socialist realist" building is now being remodeled and will open as the newest Leningradskaya Hilton Hotel in March 2008.
Even when Moscow's notorious traffic snarls trams and streets, Leningradsky Station is accessible via the Komsomolskaya Metro stop. Komsomolskaya is situated on Moscow's original subway line, the Sokolnicheskaya or Red Line. If you are a foreign tourist trying to make a train during rush hour, allow plenty of time to lug your bags from the jammed subway car up the well-worn steps to the surface, past the images of heroic Young Communists and the Soviet icons of Marx and Lenin.
What happens when your train slips past the Sheremetyevo region, and passes the new MEGA and IKEA stores, and the apartment blocs of the Moscow suburbs near? The real Russia, or at least the real European Russia, starts emerging outside your window, in the small towns and villages past Tver.
Click on the extended post to see some photos taken from the train.
Continue reading "Train from Moscow to St. Petersburg" »
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
in Tehran on October 30, 2007
Despite the emotional build up in the Western press before President Putin's recent trip to Iran, not much has resulted from it. Right after the trip, the UK Daily Telegraph wrote that Putin's pragmatism should not be confused with friendship, and that despite the polite handshakes, Putin and Ahmadinejad simply don't trust each other.
The Wall Street Journal rushed to report that Putin is the first Russian leader to visit Iran since 1943, when Joseph Stalin paid a visit to the country. However, according to New York Post contributor Amir Taheri, this may not quite be true (the Soviet leaders Krushchev and Brezhnev reportedly visited Iran during the 60s and 70s) and the comparison was more sensational than anything else. Not one of the Islamic Republic's hopes in regards to more favorable policies from Russia came true.
The theocratic regime's main goal at the summit was to get a commitment from Russia to resume work on the nuclear reactor complex at Bushehr. While the Iranian President boasted that he would increase bilateral trade between Russia and Iran to $100 billion a year in the next decade, he failed to receive any assurance that the delayed Bushehr nuclear project would actually go forward.
Continue reading "Why the West Should Embrace
Russia's Relationship with Iran" »
The Federation Tower on Friday, October 12, 2007
Moscow's futuristic Federation Tower and the Moscow City complex become popular symbols of the New Russia. In both Moscow and St. Petersburg, the Federation Tower is featured on billboards for the Russian Ministry of Defense's Zvezda (Star) TV channel. The Moscow City complex was also featured in the Russian dark comedy film 20 Cigarettes.
Mirax Group, the company developing the $12 billion dollar project, was kind enough to grant Russia Blog a tour of the Federation Tower last month. Due to ongoing construction, the tour stopped at the 35th floor. However, even from this vantage point, the largest construction project in Europe is an impressive site.
Click on the extended post to view more photos.
Continue reading "Moscow City:
The Federation Tower Under Construction" »
A Russian Orthodox Church on the palace grounds
On Wednesday, October 10, 2007 Charles Ganske visited the Tsaritsino estate in the southeast part of Moscow. Since the Russian Revolution of 1917, the formerly Tsarist palace grounds have served as a park. Until recently, the palace itself stood in ruins. However, in the last few years Moscow's Mayor Yuri Luzhkov and several major Russian businessmen have worked together to have the historic palace restored. Today the Tsaritsino is a museum and a popular venue for live music concerts during the summertime.
Click on the extended post to enjoy the photos!
Continue reading "Tsaritsino Palace" »
The obelisk of Moscow's World War II memorial at Poklonnaya Hill
On Tuesday, October 9, 2007, Charles Ganske visited Poklonnaya Hill memorial park and museum located near Kutuzovsky Prospket in Moscow. During Soviet times, Leonid Brezhnev and other Communist Party bosses lived in apartment buildings on Kutuzovsky Prospekt.
Poklonnaya Hill has a special significance - it was the place where Napoleon Bonaparte stood and watched Moscow burn in 1812, shocked by the stubborn refusal of Russian people to concede defeat. As such, it was the natural spot for Moscow's memorial to the Second World War.
Click on the extended post to view more photos, which may take a minute to upload.
Continue reading "Poklonnaya Hill and Victory Park" »