Russian army soldiers in winter gear
Courtesy of Thomas P.M. Barnett's weblog and Wired magazine, comes an interesting story about high level U.S. defense strategy. According to Gen. Michael Moseley, who was recently dismissed from his position as U.S. Secretary of the Air Force, "there is almost zero chance we will fight a nation state" in the 21st century. Wired implied that Moseley was referring to Russia and China in his remarks. Actually, Moseley didn't mention Russia or any other country by name in the interview with the Air Force Times that Wired cites. U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates fired Moseley after a series of embarrassing incidents for the service, including the shipment of advanced weapons parts to Taiwan and the inadvertent placement of a nuclear weapon on a B-52 bomber during a routine transcontinental training mission.
While senior American flag officers acknowledge the increasing unlikelihood of great power war in the 21st century, a handful of U.S. think tank pundits continue to argue seriously that Russia is rearming for a possible confrontation with the West. For example, bestselling author and Wall Street Journal contributor Mark Helprin recently wrote in the Claremont Review of Books:
...as Western Europe dismantles its militaries, Russia builds, encouraged as much by European pacifism as by the Russian view of America's struggle in Iraq as a parallel to the Soviets' fatal involvement in Afghanistan. Like Germany between the wars, Russia is now eager and determined to reconstitute its forces, and with its new-found oil wealth, it is doing so.
Continue reading "Ex-U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff:
"Zero Chance" of War Between U.S. and Russia" »
Russian fans watching the game in Seattle
The Spanish team showed admirable professionalism and fully deserved to go on to the final against Germany. Nearly twenty unscheduled flights with fans left Moscow for Vienna this morning. Russia lost, but there are no bad feelings towards the squad or its Dutch coach. A young Russian team looked tired and overmatched, but it achieved something that no one could have dreamed of just two weeks ago, and the country is proud of its players for reaching the semi-finals of the European championship. Tonight fireworks can be heard in major Russian cities, but there were no riots by upset fans. Many Russian families went to bed around 2 a.m. Moscow time with the full understanding that today their team faced highly experienced professionals - and it will compete at the highest levels again very soon.
Heavy rain and thunderstorms made the game hard on both teams, but it did not interrupt the satellite broadcast (as it happened yesterday during the game between Germany and Turkey).
Congratulations to Spain - we can't wait to see the final between German and Spanish teams this coming Sunday. The game, as usual, will be broadcast at 2:30 PM EST, 11:30 AM PST.
CNN: Spain beats Russia 3-0 to reach final vs. Germany
A Russian band and fans marching through the streets of Vienna before the game. Russian fans preferred taking photos with local statues dressed in Spanish jerseys, while Spanish fans enjoyed taking photos with Russian girls. The spirit was high and interactions were warm and friendly. More photos in extended post.
Continue reading "Next Time... Spain Defeats Russia 3:0" »
Russian Soccer team training in Vienna on Tuesday
We stongly recommend this video from CNN about Russia's victories this year.
Don't miss this historic game! This is the first time that a Russian (not Soviet) team has made it to the European quarter-finals and then semi-finals. Previously, no Russian team made it past the qualifying round of the Euro soccer tournament. Now, after conquering the previously undefeated Dutch team, the Russian squad, led by a Dutch coach, will play Spain in Vienna. The Russian parliament may advise Russian vendors to avoid sales of alcohol the day of the game. Even though such suggestion is not a law, many businesses will most likely listen to it, because the profits to be made from alcohol sales cannot compare with the losses suffered from damage caused by rowdy fans. Last Saturday to Sunday night (June 21-22, 2008), Moscow became the scene of the largest Russian public demonstration since victory day in World War II. The spontaneous celebrations in the city streets were peaceful and continued until 8 a.m.
We wish luck to the Russian team!
NYT: 4 Worthy Survivors in Euro 2008 Battle
The Russians are coming West with money. Should we be scared?
There are some books that surprise you with their depth or give you a new insight on past, present or future world events. The new book by The Economist's Eastern Europe reporter Edward Lucas, The New Cold War: How the Kremlin Menaces Both Russia and the West does not fall this category. Rather, the book is largely a rehash of an argument anyone who has been paying attention to the Western media coverage of Russia over the past eight years will find familiar: after a brief flirtation with democracy under Yeltsin, the Russian people, led by their new Czar Vladimir Putin, are turning their backs on freedom in return for virulent nationalism and oil-fueled economic growth.
Continue reading "Dealing with a Resurgent Russia
A Review of Edward Lucas' The New Cold War" »
Dutchman Guus Hiddink, Russia's coach, celebrates victory over the Dutch team
This past Saturday, another example of Russia's global resurgence was exhibited on the soccer pitch in Basel, Switzerland, in a thrilling quarter-final match between Russia and a highly thought of Dutch squad, at the European 2008 men's soccer tournament ("Euro '08").
Open container? Yes. To the Russian soccer team!
Playing inspired soccer from the start, Russia had several scoring opportunities. After a scoreless first half, Roman Pavlyuchenko connected for Russia's first goal (so far, Pavlyuchernko is Russia's leading scorer in the tournament). Later on in the second half, the Dutch answered with a well executed header from Ruud Van Nistelrooy. After a 1-1 tie in regulation time, the two sides played to a scoreless first half of extra time. In the second half of extra time, Dmitri Torbinsky and Andrei Arshavin scored to ice the game for Russia.
Fans in Red Square, Moscow, celebrate Russia's victory
Continue reading "Russia Advances for Showdown with Spain " »
On June 22, 1941 Nazi Germany launched the largest invasion in history
Today is the 67th anniversary of the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union. While Russians this year celebrated Victory Day and unprecedented peace and prosperity in Russia, the country remains deeply scarred by World War II. Some Western demographers believe that Russia's difficulty in maintaining its population is partially the result of the loss of nearly 20 million people in the Great Patriotic War. And a few older Russian military analysts fret that Russia may not have the manpower to maintain its borders in the 21st century.
The proposed installation of U.S. missile defense systems in Poland and Lithuania, combined with the possibility of NATO membership for Georgia, is rubbing salt in old Russian wounds. These "expand NATO eastward on autopilot" policies stand in stark contrast to the deliberate peacemaking President Reagan accomplished in the late 1980s, when he acknowledged the tremendous insecurities the Soviets felt as a result of their trauma from World War II. By offering to share missile defense technology, Reagan helped to convince Gorbachev and other Soviet leaders that the USSR could feel safe enough to end the Cold War. By promising no NATO military installations east of the Oder (a promise his successors did not keep), the George H.W. Bush Administration gave Boris Yeltsin even more confidence to break up the Soviet Empire. Interestingly enough, Russian President Dimitri Medvedev in his recent public speeches has revived the use of Gorbachev's phrase "from Vancouver to Vladivostok" to describe East-West relations after the Cold War.
Today the main threats to Russia come from within, rather than from without. Instead of Stalin's purges leaving the Red Army leaderless, the main problem today is cynical officers and NCOs all-too-often turning a blind eye to abuse and exploitation of the hapless conscripts under their command. Russia can and must do better. Russia should create an all-volunteer corps backed by reservists that can secure its borders against the main threats of the 21st century - terrorism, trafficking in people, narcotics and weapons, and natural disasters.
Click on the extended post to watch the PBS miniseries "Battlefield: The Battle for Russia" and for links to other Russia Blog posts about Russia's role in World War II.
Continue reading "Barbarossa: 67 Years Later" »
Dutchman Guus Hiddink is the head coach of Russian men's national soccer team (photos by ESPN)
Throughout history, Russia has shown a willingness to utilize non-Russian know-how for greater advancement. As a case in point, Peter the Great studied shipbuilding in Holland and England, to enhance Russia's maritime status. In 2006, Dutchman Guus Hiddink was hired to coach the Russian men's national soccer team.
Prior to Hiddink's hiring, Russia's soccer program was in disarray. The quality level of a soccer coach has been known to greatly influence the level of a given program. Money was shelled out to Hiddink with that in mind. Hiddink has a good track record for improving the stature of the national soccer teams he has coached.
After a sluggish start in their first game of the men's European 2008 soccer tournament (a 4-1 loss to Spain), the Russian team won its games against Greece and Sweden. Russia now faces the daunting task of playing the highly regarded Dutch team in a quarter-final match.
Continue reading "Holland-Russia Soccer Game to be Nationally Televised in the U.S." »
First time in 20 years Russia got into the quarter-finals of Euro soccer championship. Russian team crushed Sweden with 2:0 score. (Photo by Reuters).
A Note on Filling the Page. Today is the 490th Thursday that I have done a Sitrep. I have always been able to fill a page, some days more easily than others. This is the hardest I've worked to do so. For some years, we have been living with the "Russian Question". One day, it, like the "Eastern Question" or the "German Question", will pass and there won't be enough happening to warrant weekly Sitreps. While that day is not here, we are, perhaps, closer to the desired end when Russia ceases to be a "Question" (with, FAR less bloodshed than the other two were settled, by the way, and far less than predicted by anyone). A "normal" Russia: one with which other countries may have trade disputes or strategic disagreements but will be confident that they can be settled "inside the box". It's a mixture of perception and reality: the latter changing much faster than the former.
Russian Tourism. A result of the growing prosperity of the Putin years has been a steady increase in tourism by Russians. 15 years ago the fear was millions of refugees; ten years ago thousands of criminals; the reality has become ordinary Russians on holiday. I have noticed this for some time but last year in the Mediterranean it was interesting to see that there are now enough of them to justify guidebooks in Russian everywhere and we often had a Russian couple beside us in a cafe. This Russia Blog post discusses the phenomenon. To my mind, the relative absence of such pieces in the mainstream media (although see JRL/2008/116/2) is a product of the meme that Russia is locked down by Putin and his Chekist minions. But, as Stalin understood, to really lock a country down, you can't let people out and you can't let people in. Perception and reality again.
Continue reading "Russian Federation Situation Report
June 19, 2008 " »
In the wake of his interesting announcement at the 2008 St. Petersburg Economic Forum that Gazprom is seeking a stake in a proposed Alaska/Canadian natural gas pipeline to the lower 48 U.S. states, CEO Alexei Miller made headlines again this week in France. In a briefing to European energy executives in the French coastal city of Deauville, Mr. Miller predicted that world oil prices could reach $250 per barrel by 2010.
While many energy analysts were quick to dismiss these comments from a CEO representing an energy company with larger oil reserves than many OPEC countries, Mr. Miller's statement, combined with a comment from the Vice President of OAO Lukoil in April 2008 that Russian oil production might have peaked last year, could send world energy prices higher in the coming months. In the first quarter of 2008, Russia surpassed Saudi Arabia as the world's largest oil producer.
Click on the extended post to read excerpts from the articles by Bloomberg and Reuters.
Continue reading "Gazprom Chairman Predicts $250 Oil
Russia Creates Sovereign Wealth Investment Manager" »
Artist's rendition of the $5 billion Crystal Island mega-development in Moscow
Once completed, it will be the largest building in the world
Last year I had the opportunity to attend Renaissance Capital's 11th Annual Investors Conference. Even though I will not be attending this year's event, I decided to post RenCap CEO Stephen Jennings' excellent article published on Monday in The Moscow Times, outlining some major themes of the conference:
We live in an age of accelerating economic convergence. The world's new economies --with Russia among the leaders -- will drive global growth and value creation in the early decades of this new century.
This tectonic shift is now firmly under way, but few have taken on board the far-reaching implications. For example, the world's largest businesses will be from new world economies and the world's most influential businesspeople will be Russian, Chinese, Indian and African. New world investment funds will dwarf their Western counterparts. The dollar will become only one of many reserve currencies. Moscow, Singapore, Shanghai and Dubai, will, alongside London, be where the majority of wealth is managed and traded.
Continue reading "Russia Has Emerged At Last" »
A younger Stephen Jennings (Photo by: Bloomberg)
Renaissance Capital, the leading investment bank in Russia and sub-Saharan Africa, kicked off its 12th Annual Investors Conference in Moscow this past Monday. The theme of this year's conference is "Russia: Power in Renewal". Renaissance Capital CEO Stephen Jennings published an article on the themes of the conference in the Monday edition of The Moscow Times, contending that emerging markets will soon invest more in eachother than in developed markets and that Moscow will join Shanghai, Singapore, Dubai, and London among the top seven global financial centers in the next few years.
In light of RenCap's growing influence role in Russia and many other emerging markets, Russia Blog decided to publish two background articles about its co-founders, Stephen Jennings and Alexei "Boris" Jordan. For its part, the The New Zealand Listener magazine (see extended post for text) reported in August 2007 that Mr. Jennings, a native Kiwi, is now a billionaire. If this claim is true, it would make him the richest Westerner and one of the wealthiest foreigners residing in the Russian Federation.
Click on the extended post to read the full NZ Listener article
Continue reading "The Founders of Renaissance Capital and the
Privatization of Russia, Part 1" »
Boris Jordan is a Russian-American investment banker and philanthropist
Alexei Borisovich Jordan is an American citizen, born in 1967 to a family of Russian emigres. As an a 26 year-old, Jordan came to Moscow in 1992 to work for the investment bank Credit Suisse First Boston. Jordan's main partner at Credit Suisse Moscow was a 32 year-old New Zealander named Stephen Jennings, who would later join him in founding Renaissance Capital in 1995. The two Westerners worked with the Russian reformers Yegor Gaidar and Anatoly Chubais, and Viktor Chernomyrdin in the early Nineties to privatize state assets and convert the shattered Soviet system into a market economy.
Due to their involvement in the privatization vouchers and notorious "loans for shares" programs, Jordan, Gaidar, and Chubais all remain controversial figures in Russia. However, in a candid interview for the PBS series "The Commanding Heights" conducted in 2000 (see extended post), Jordan contended that Russian reformers had no choice but to rush to stay one step ahead of their entrenched opponents, the powerful Soviet industry bosses and their Communist allies in parliament. "The Commanding Heights" builds on this idea by presenting as history the notion that Yeltsin cut a Faustian bargain with Russia's budding oligarchs to win the decisive 1996 election. In return for oligarch money and media support against the opposition Communists, Yeltsin allegedly agreed to allow these businessmen to acquire control over vast complexes of natural resources (like Norilsk Nickel and Yukos) for pennies on the dollar of their fair market value.
Even with the painful but ultimately successful transition to a market economy, Jordan speaks with passion about the toxic legacy the Soviet system left behind on the health and morality of the Russian people. In "The Commanding Heights" interview, Jordan described how he arrived in Moscow with an almost missionary zeal to revive the Great Russia his parents had raised him to remember. Jordan's moral views continue to be expressed in his continued philanthropic support for the Cadet Corps, a Moscow-based charity for boys that promotes the "rebirth of spiritual, moral, cultural and military-patriotic Russian traditions in the system of education, instruction and formation of the new generation." At the close of his "Commanding Heights" interview, Jordan also expressed his support for President Putin's efforts to reign in the power of the oligarchs, comparing it to U.S. President Teddy Roosevelt's trustbusting in early 20th century America.
Click on the extended post to read Jordan's interview interview in the year 2000 for the PBS series "The Commanding Heights, based on the book of the same title by Daniel Yergin and Joseph Stanislaw.
Continue reading "The Founders of Renaissance Capital and the
Privatization of Russia, Part 2" »
The New York Times reports about a water aerobics class at a hotel in Antalya, Turkey, built for Russian tourists to resemble the Kremlin and St. Basil's Cathedral
This week, two articles once again bring Western readers' attention to the growing wealth of many Russians. While Sean Guillory of Sean's Russia Blog writes about the bottom 15.3% of the Russian population that survives on less than $95 a month, The New York Times delivers some amusing reporting on the growing flocks of Russian tourists abroad. Salon.com has photos of a $25,000 set of vodka bottles and descriptions of other extravagant luxury items that many of the 200,000 wealthy Russians residing in London like to buy.
Please, visit the extended post for links to and the texts of these articles, and make sure to read Sean's report, in which a journalist tries to survive in Moscow, "the most expensive city in the world", on $95 a month.
Continue reading "Rich Russians, Poor Russians" »
Terrorists set houses on fire, and killed and kidnapped civilians in the small Chechen town of Benoy-Vedeno. The attack may have been coordinated with other terrorist acts in the Caucuses.
June 12 was Russia's Independence Day. Generally, Russians do not quite understand why this holiday celebrates "independence," and who exactly the Russians gained their independence from in June 1990. However, this year the evening of and the morning after the holiday were marked by explosions, shootings, killings, house burnings, and kidnappings that occurred in Chechnya, Dagestan, and Ingushetia, all during the same 12 hours.
First, the Russian Republic of Dagestan saw a powerful explosion at 5:40 am. The bomb was detonated in downtown Makhachkala, just 150 meters (450 feet) from the city administration building. One 48-year-old jogger was severely injured in the blast, and died on the way to the hospital.
A few hours later, a grocery store in Nazran (Ingushetia) suffered a powerful explosion that killed four people, including a 14-year-old girl. Local authorities said that the explosion was caused by household gas. Whether this is true or not, the cruel murders, kidnappings and house-burnings that took place in Chechen town of Benoy-Vedeno were clearly caused by Islamic terrorists.
Continue reading "Terrorists Attack Southern Russia
On Russian Independence Day" »
Moscow's "fire starter" has claimed 35 cars, and nearly $300,000 worth of damage. Moscow police promised a $5,000 award for the information that would lead to capturing the maniac. Moscow citizens started patrolling their neighborhoods during night hours (more photos at the end of this post).
Medvedev's St Petersburg speech. In his speech opening the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum Medvedev said he wants to turn Moscow into a "powerful global financial center"; well, to do so would require a substantial reduction of corruption, criminality and opacity. He spoke of liberalizing the natural gas market and reducing taxes on the oil sector. He also spoke of helping to overcome the global food crisis (but how? more Russian wheat?). He took some shots at the USA's financial policies and mused about how the UN or some other global entity could do a better job. For the rest of the speech he tried to present a picture of Russia as a prosperous (1st Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov the following day said Russia would become the 6th largest economy by the end of the year), important and responsible participant in the world economy.
Continue reading "Russian Federation Situation Report
June 12, 2008" »
Joseph Serio's recently released book "Investigating the Russian Mafia" (Carolina Academic Press, Durham, North Carolina, 2008) is a detailed accounting of his study and personal experience on "Russian Mafia" related issues. He notes that the term "Russian Mafia" comprises elements of several ethnic groups in Russia and the rest of the former Soviet Union.
Serio's work in Russia includes a research position in the then Organized Crime Control Department of the Soviet Ministry of Internal Affairs. Afterwards, he worked for the international security consulting firm Kroll Associates, as director of its Moscow office, overseeing investigations across the former Soviet Union. Serio also served as an adviser to The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, BBC, Chicago Tribune and a few other news organizations. That work included television documentaries dealing with organized crime in Imperial Russia, the Soviet Union and former Soviet Union. Serio is currently a criminal justice doctoral student at Sam Houston State University's College of Criminal Justice.
Continue reading "Organized Crime in Imperial Russia, the Soviet Union and Former Soviet Union" »
Russian travel made easy. Sheremetyevo express train will travel at 75-100 miles an hour, will take 25-35 minutes, and will cost only $10. The service begins... tomorrow! (Photo by Itar-Tass)
Sheremetyevo (Terminals 1, 2 and C) is Moscow's major international airport. The one to five hour drive that could be never predicted or estimated by Moscow drivers is finally unnecessary, once and for all. The airport welcomed the first high-speed express-train that departed from Savyolovskaya subway station and train station today (June 10, 2008). The opening ceremonial trip was just a trial and took longer than promised on the way from the airport for multiple safety checks. The railroad opens tomorrow (June 11, 2008) for regular operation. Dear foreigners and Moscow visitors, please, do not be fooled anymore by taxi drivers offering 100-200 euro cab rides to downtown, and read on.
The trains travel at 75 miles-an-hour with the capacity to go much faster. The Russian Railroads promises the 100 miles-an-hour travel to begin soon. Now it takes only 35 minutes and 250 rubles ($10) to get to the Sheremetyevo airport; 300 rubles ($12) for a business class car. While Sheremetyevo's Terminal 2 is connected to train station by a walkway, the shuttle-buses for Terminals 1 and C are available for 40 rubles ($1.60).
Sheremetyevo was the last airport, after Domodedovo and Vnukovo, to receive its own railroad. It costs $6 to get to downtown Moscow from Domodedovo airport (train stops at Paveletskaya subway station and train station), and $4 to get to Moscow from Vnukovo airport (train stops at Kievskaya subway station and train station). Furthermore, you can register for your flight and check in your luggage at the train station just an hour and a half prior to your flight departure, take the thirty-minute train ride, and step on a plane. Enjoy the express-trains and welcome to Moscow!
View large map of Moscow Subway Map (2007 version) in English
By Amie Ferris-Rotman and Thomas Peter
A gang of black-clad horsemen gallop past a line of gallows, splattering tufts of snow against frozen corpses. They are the 'oprichniki', loyal henchmen of Russia's sixteenth century tsar, Ivan the Terrible. Severed dogs' heads dangle from their saddles, a warning to the motherland's internal enemies. The set belongs to a new film, "Ivan the Terrible and Metropolitan Philip," due out next year, which explores the relationship between the tyrant Ivan and his friend and fiercest critic, Philip. Standing near a white-walled monastery in Suzdal, a town 200 kilometers (120 miles) northeast of Moscow whose buildings resemble the capital in medieval times, director Pavel Lungin said he had a working budget of $17 million for "Ivan," high by Russian standards.
The large budget and professional crew, including a U.S. cameraman who works with director Clint Eastwood, are a sign of a revival in Russia's film industry, which is attracting large sums from the government and private investors. The government expects its production companies to make $900 million in profits in 2011, almost double last year's earnings. Their films are shown on the new screens popping up across the country, mostly to young audiences with more money to burn than their parents before them.
Continue reading "Patriotism Leads Comeback of Russian Filmmaking" »
Gazprom CEO Alexei Borisovich Miller (right) standing next to Mayor Valentina Matviyenko at the 2008 St. Petersburg Economic Forum
UPDATE: This post has been republished over at the World Politics Review Blog.
Russia may become a player in North American energy markets sooner than anyone expected. According to the June 7, 2008 edition of the International Herald Tribune:
Gazprom has made a proposal to BP PLC and ConocoPhillips, which in April submitted a bid to build a multibillion-dollar pipeline that would carry natural gas from Alaska's North Slope to the lower 48 U.S. states, Gazprom director Alexei Miller said.
"Gazprom has unique experience, knowledge and modern technology and is the most advanced company in the world in the realm of gas transport in trunk pipelines," Miller told an international business forum in St. Petersburg, Russia. "So participation in such a large-scale project as the construction of a pipeline from Alaska is interesting for us."
Click here to read the rest of the article at the IHT. Click on the extended post to read Russia Blog's analysis.
Continue reading "Gazprom Bidding on Alaska Pipeline" »
Dmitry Medvedev speaking at the St Petersburg International Economic Forum on June 7, 2008 (Photo by Reuters)
ST PETERSBURG, Russia -- Russian President Dmitry Medvedev blamed "aggressive" United States policies on Saturday for the global financial crisis and said Moscow's growing economic muscle could be part of the solution.
"Failure by the biggest financial firms in the world to adequately take risk into account, coupled with the aggressive financial policies of the biggest economy in the world, have led not only to corporate losses," Medvedev told Russia's main annual event for international investors in St Petersburg. "Most people on the planet have become poorer."
Continue reading "Medvedev Blames U.S. for Global Financial Crisis
Reuters Reports" »
When the Western Allies successfully landed in Normandy 64 years ago, they overcame tossing seas, heavily fortified defenses, and murderous fire from determined defenders on the beaches. What they did not have to face on June 6, 1944 were the Luftwaffe or over 80% of the German armies. Today Time magazine's Jordan Bonfante reminds his Western readers of the main reasons why:
By measure of manpower, duration, territorial reach and casualties, [the Eastern Front] was as much as four times the scale of the conflict on the Western Front that opened with the Normandy invasion of June 1944. The Nazis' initial invasion of Russia, Operation Barbarossa, involved 3.2 million German troops and 3,000 aircraft, and even after the U.S.-led invasion of Western Europe, the vast majority of German military resources remained deployed against the Soviets. By war's end, according to historian Norman Davies, the U.S.S.R. had lost 11 million troops.
Read the rest of the article at Time magazine online.
Click on the extended post for links to other Russia Blog articles about World War II.
Continue reading "D-Day: "A Red Flag Day"?" »
The annual St. Petersburg Economic Forum took an interesting turn this year, when participants were allowed to arrive at the forum by sea. Pink Floyd 's Roger Waters opened the forum with a concert, and President Dmitry Medvedev is expected to participate in the Forum's discussions.
The Forum's organizers had wanted to build a special dock for the participants' lavish yachts. President Medvedev's remarks will likely draw major media attention, the concert is going to be great, but as usual, the docks happened to be too small for...Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich's Pelorus, a 377 feet and 3 inch-long (115 meters) "boat."
The 42 year-old Abramovich may be the richest man in Russia, so wherever he goes, from Moscow to London, he is sure to draw the paparazzi, especially now that he has a 26 year-old girlfriend, Dharia Zhukova, who is a model and interior designer. Today his yacht moored on the Neva river in downtown St. Petersburg attracting more tourists than the city's centuries-old cathedrals and palaces. Mooring in downtown St. Pete is normal for cruise ships, and costs $15 a day per one meter (3 feet) of space. Mooring the Pelorus would have cost Abramovich $1,725 a day, but the city granted the oil and metals tycoon free "parking,". Abramovich is used to the high expenses associated with maintaining his prize vessel. Maintenance of the $300,000,000 dollar ship serviced by 46 full-time employees costs $12 million dollars a year. The ship, powered by two 5,500-hp engines, is equipped with 22 luxurious rooms, entertainment centers, swimming pools, helicopter pads... a missile-defense system and a mini-submarine. The vessel was purchased from a Saudi sheik, is registered in New Zealand, flies the flag of the Cayman Islands, and spends a lot of time in the Caribbean.
Russia Blog wishes much success to the participants of the Economic Forum, and hopes that the results of the discussions will allow every Russian family to buy a boat like this.
Please, visit the extended post to view the photos (photos by Gazeta.ru).
Continue reading "St. Petersburg Economic Forum:
Productive Discussion or Bling of Russia's Beau Monde?" »
Chancellor Angela Merkel was the first foreign leader to visit with Dmitry Medvedev in March, when he gave her a bouquet of flowers for International Womens' Day. Germany is the first Western country that Medvedev visited as a president.
Medvedev in Germany. The conversation appears to have been mostly about gas pipelines but Medvedev expressed concern about the "increasing gap between Russia and the West" on security issues and reiterated his intentions to effect a "qualitative transformation" of Russia.
Putin Interview. When he was in France, Putin gave an interview (English summary, Russian) to Le Monde. As usual, it's a straightforward unemotional statement of his views on present and past. It's a "one stop shopping" trip for Putin's view of things. The English summary above leaves out his remarks on Abkhazia where he, once again, attempted to educate a Western audience that the problem has deep roots that cannot be wished away.
Continue reading "Russian Federation Situation Report
June 5, 2008" »
Sergey Lukyanenko went from being a struggling child psychotherapist and sci-fi writer to an international celebrity with the success of his novels and screenplays
The Russian news media reported earlier this week that director Timur Bekmambetov was in Los Angeles to film Twilight Watch (Sumerechnyy Dozor), the third screen adaptation of fantasy writer Sergey Lukyanenko's epic Night Watch series of novels. However, Russia Blog's LA correspondent, UCLA professor David MacFadyen, confirms via email that Bekmambetov is making frequent visits to southern California these days but the director has been coy with the local Russian press about his current projects.
Click on the extended post to read more.
Continue reading "Twilight Watch (Ð¡ÑƒÐ¼ÐµÑ€ÐµÑ‡Ð½Ñ‹Ð¹ Ð´Ð¾Ð·Ð¾Ñ€)
Filming Underway in Los Angeles?" »
This document was distributed at the Eurasian Media Forum in Almaty, Kazakhstan and at the World Russian Forum in Washington, D.C. in April and May 2008. Please, upload the printable color PDF version here.
Please, visit the extended post to see the text version of the publication.
Continue reading "Russia & the West: New Leadership. New Relations?" »