The bed where Yuri Gagarin spent his last night before the flight.
(Photos by Anton Verstakov, special to Russia Blog)
Anton Verstakov, a Russian national and the founder and principal of AVProductions recently visited Baikonur during one of his filming trips. Anton wrote:
"Baikonur is located in the middle of nowhere, very far from civilization. It is currently in Kazakhstan, but the town belongs to Russia. And not only foreigners need a Russian visa to get there, but they also need a special accreditation from Roscosmos and FSB. Baikonur is considered a military town."
The photos are unique, as the above criteria ensures that most of Russia Blog
readers will not get a chane to travel to Kazakhstan with a Russian visa and the papers from Russia's Space Agency and FSB. Please enjoy this unique peek into Yuri's Gagarin's life.
Visit the extended post to see the photo essay.
Continue reading "Yuri Gagarin's Baikonur - Exclusive Photo Essay of a Town Frozen in Time" »
Two weeks ago, CNN reported about the "sexy photos of spy Anna Chapman" published in the Russian yellow-press daily Your Day. Shortly after that, magazine Maxim ran an exclusive of overexposed Anna Chapman in definitely sexy, fake spy attire. While our readers may enjoy the snapshots of the photos in the extended post, the question remains: is Anna Chapman going to share her media profits with the Russian taxpayers? After all, her unfortunate popularity is the result of a mismanaged and flawed operation, where she played an unprofessional role on Russian taxpayers' tab.
Instead of getting Russia any kind of valuable information (which she could've not gotten anyway), or improving Russia's image abroad, Anna knowingly--and arguably with the inspiration from Russian intelligence services--has reduced an image of a young Russian lady to a level slightly above one of a prostitute. While RIA Novosti quotes Your Day saying that "Anna has done more to excite patriotism in Russians than our football team and the Bulava missile put together," the Russians I know find her behavior appalling. The supervisors of the failed and pity spy operation should be held accountable for squandering Russia's resources and image.
View of the Capitol dome in the sunrise from room 902 of the Hart Senate office building.
Due to extended travel I only recently had the chance to go through pictures taken during the World Russia Forum 2009 in Washington D.C. on April 27 and 28. Please enjoy the overdue photo report from the annual event!
Continue reading "World Russia Forum 2009 Photo Report" »
The main railway station in Volgograd (Volga City), formerly known as Stalingrad, site of the bloodiest battle in world history
A Russia Blog reader sends these photos taken in August 2008 in and around southern Russia's city of Volgograd and the Volgograd Region, where the mighty Volga and Don Rivers flow. Enjoy the pictures!
Continue reading "Travel Russia:
Mother Volga in the Summer" »
A Russian Orthodox Church on the Crimea Black Sea coast
Russia Blog reader Elizaveta Babanova, a native of Ivanovo, Russian Federation, sends these photos from her recent vacation in the Crimea.
Click on the extended post to see more photos and to read about the history of this seaside region.
Continue reading "Summer in the Crimea" »
On June 17, 2008, we opened Orange Golf Driving Range in the village of Yablonovsky in New Adigeya. The driving range is a first step as we continue to move forward with our project to build Krasnodar's first private country club community.
Since the actual golf course will not be open for another two years, we built Orange Golf as a place for people to learn golf now and improve their skills. We hope that many Krasnodarians will use our facility to learn the basics of golf and then on their next trip abroad try the game at the resort where they might be staying.
Continue reading "Krasnodar Discovers Golf" »
Here are some pictures that a friend in Moscow took in June 2008. Some photos include the Mirax Group's gargantuan Moscow City complex, and other pics highlight torrential downpours, sunsets, and rainbows in the city.
In addition to the usual summertime fare of un-air conditioned heat, bigger traffic jams to get out of town to dachas on Fridays and shorter skirts, Moscow has also experienced a bizarre number of people getting struck by lightning this summer, with multiple fatalities. Many of the victims were talking on their cellphones in the middle of thunderstorms, and one man talking on his mobile was struck by lightning even while sitting in a grounded car (he survived). The authorities have advised Muscovites to turn off their cellphones during electrical storms - not a simple request in my experience, as many Muscovites won't even turn off their "handies" at the movies or the opera.
Enjoy the photos!
Continue reading "Summer Skies in Moscow" »
It's a rainy Saturday morning (July 26, 2008) and I'm killing some time while my wife gets her nails done. I'm sitting in the Europa Cafe on Severnaya Street drinking some coffee and writing this blog post.
Europa Cafe is one of the best places in Krasnodar to have a business meeting. The location is very convenient to the center of Krasnodar and perhaps most importantly, there's a parking lot just meters from the front entrance.
Click on the extended post to read more.
Continue reading "Europa Cafe, Krasnodar, 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" »
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?" »
Click on the extended post to view this architectural gem of the Russian Riviera (photos courtesy of the Grand Hotel & Spa Rodina in Sochi). The city of Sochi and its nearby ski resorts will host the Winter Olympic Games in 2014.
Continue reading "Grand Hotel & Spa Rodina - Sochi" »
Hotel Ukraina on November 25, 2005
The Seven Sisters (vysotki) were built on Soviet dictator Josef Stalin's orders between 1947 and 1953. These photos were taken by Tom and Katya Kiehn, a young professional couple living and working in Moscow.
Click on the extended post to view more photos of Moscow's most famous icons of modern architecture.
Continue reading "Seven Sisters ( Ð¡ÐµÐ¼ÑŒ ÑÐµÑÑ‚Ñ‘Ñ€)" »
The banner reads "Gazprom-children"
"Russia is a country that in the 20th century was subjected to hard trials. ..revolutions, civil war, world wars, and economic collapse. Today we are building new institutions based on the fundamental principals of full-fledged democracy...a democracy without unnecessary additional definitions. These are institutions based on market economy, on supremacy of law, and that those in power must be accountable to the rest of society. Not a single non-democratic state has ever become a prosperous state for one very simple reason -- freedom is better than non-freedom."
"Yet, we still have much work ahead of us, and we most certainly realize what problems we are facing: excessive dependence on markets of minerals and raw materials, corruption, and the still very high level of differentiation in the incomes of the population, as well as the declining numbers of our population."
"We are not trying to push anyone to love Russia...but we shall not allow anyone to hurt Russia. We shall strive to win respect both for citizens of Russia, and for the country as a whole. Moreover, this shall be achieved, not by using force, but rather, by our own behavior, and by our achievements. In the given century, we see ourselves as a developed country, with a strong economy, and as a reliable trade and foreign political partner."
First Deputy Prime Minister Dimitry Medvedev, speaking at the World Economic Forum
June 10, 2007
Click the extended post for more photos of Dmitry Medevedev, the man most likely to be the next President of the Russian Federation.
Continue reading "Dmitry Medvedev: Photo Essay" »
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" »
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" »
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.
Continue reading "Summertime in Krasnodar Krai" »
At the MAKS 2007 Air Show, Zhukovsky Air Base, August 25, 2007
Scott Shorey, an American expat from Atlanta, Georgia who has lived in Moscow for three years, has kindly agreed to republish his photos from the MAKS Air Show here at Russia Blog. This is the second post in a series of photo posts about the summer of 2007 in Moscow.
Continue reading "Summertime in Moscow:
MAKS 2007 Air Show" »
The Moscow City (ÐœÐ¾ÑÐºÐ²Ð°-Ð¡Ð¸Ñ‚Ð¸) complex, June 8, 2007.
The photographer, an American expat named Tom Kiehn, works in the building on the left.
Continue reading "Summertime in Moscow" »
Orange Fitness is perhaps the nicest full-service fitness club in Krasnodar today. The club is located in a newly constructed freestanding building at 185 Levenevskogo Street, just off of Severnaya Street, one of Krasnodar's main thoroughfares. Orange Fitness has four floors of fitness activities. The first floor (see below) has a full aerobic studio with treadmills, stair masters, elliptical trainers, and stationary bikes. There is also a full Nautilus-style equipment circuit and plenty of free weights. Personal trainers are available and are quite reasonably priced at around $10 per 30 minute session.
Continue reading "Where to Work Out in Krasnodar:
Orange Fitness" »
The riverwalk in the Kubano Naberezhnaya neighborhood
With Sochi now the International Olympic Committee's choice to host the 2014 Winter Olympiad, the real work of preparing Krasnodar Krai for the expected influx of capital and visitors has only just begun. To give Russia Blog's readers a better picture of the tremendous economic development now underway in the region, we have asked Timothy Post, an American businessman working in the city of Krasnodar, to share some of his insights.
Kubano Naberezhnaya (Kuban riverbank) is quickly becoming Krasnodar's most exclusive residential neighborhood. The neighborhood is best known for its huge park which stretches for a couple kilometers along the banks of the Kuban River. Recently, the park has seen a large influx of investment with the building of a large water park, new entertainment rides, cafes, outdoor discos, and new restaurants. Each weekend, thousands of folks from Krasnodar gather to relax and enjoy one another's company along the beautiful river.
Continue reading "Real Estate in Krasnodar:
Kubano Naberezhnaya (ÐšÑƒÐ±Ð°Ð½Ð¾ ÐÐ°Ð±ÐµÑ€ÐµÐ¶Ð½Ð°Ñ)" »
Photos by Gazeta.ru
According to new data released by seismologists, the earthquake, which hit Sakhalin Island on Thursday, August 2, 2007 had a magnitude of 6.8, followed by the second quake of 5.9. 1,200 families were immediately left without housing. Sakhalin Island is the sister-city to Gig Harbor, Washington -- a beautiful city in the Pacific Northwest located just 50 miles south of Seattle.
On Friday, one day after the earthquake, transport planes loaded with emergency supplies did not make it to the area affected by the disaster, due to harsh weather conditions. While there are no emergency or life-threatening conditions at this point, some parts of the island have experienced shortages of food and water, as well as overnight tents and blankets.
President Putin demanded a complete report from Russia's Minister of the Emergency Situations Sergei Shoygu by August 7. The report will include a complete plan of action regarding rebuilding housing for families affected by the disaster, recovery of the region's infrastructure and reconstruction of damaged schools before the beginning of the new school year. Please click on the extended post to view photos of the area affected by the earthquake.
Continue reading "Photos of the Sakhalin Earthquake Aftermath" »
Originally reported by the Spluch Blog
Women compete in a high-heel sprint in St.Petersburg July 21, 2007. Some 100 Russian women took part in the race wearing high-heeled shoes with a required minimum height of 9 centimetres (3.5 inches) to compete for a shopping voucher worth 50,000 roubles (about $2,000).
More photos in the extended post!
Continue reading "High-Heel Sprint in St. Petersburg" »
Director of Equity Financing, FINAM Investment Company, Moscow
From left to right: FINAM General Director Victor Remsha, MICEX President Alexander Potemkin, Russian IT and Technology Minister Leonid Reiman, and MICEX General Director Alexey Rybnikov (Photos by: Vladimir Kuznetsov)
Today the Russian Minister of Information Technology and Communications, Leonid Reiman, inaugurated the Innovation and Growing Companies (IGC) index of the Moscow Interbank Exchange (MICEX).
With the tolling of the trading bell, the FINAM Venture-IT Fund commenced trading-- and its first day proved to be a smashing success.
Within 90 minutes, all units of the Fund were sold for 501,000,000 RUR (about $20 million). The book was oversubscribed by 10%.
In reality -- for whom did the bell toll? For those investors that missed out on this opportunity. "Opportunities are never lost; someone will take the one you miss" -- this well-known quotation was confirmed today, as Russian investors placed their money in a new market.
Click here to read the press release from Business Wire. Click on the extended post to read more about today's milestone for Russian financial markets.
Continue reading "Present at the Creation:
The Opening Bell of Russia's NASDAQ" »
"White Russians" in ice glasses on an ice table in an ice-bar in St. Petersburg
(photo essay at the end of the post)
I was in Russia in 1965 and just returned. "I like to visit every 40 years or so," I told folks in Moscow. The place has changed, I explained deadpan to some young Russians of my acquaintance. Where an Intourist restaurant of yore served bad food with a sour attitude and left you free thereafter to wander vacant streets after dinner, utterly bored, intimidated and depressed, Moscow today fairly shouts its attractions, some of which are embarrassing, and all of which are costly. The formerly deserted, fourteen lane-wide streets are now so full of traffic at midnight that one has to dodge frustrated drivers who decide to pass on the "sidewalk lane." Police in their sad little Ladas are the ones who seem intimidated now.
Everyone seems to stay out late and arrive late to work in the morning. Heavy traffic is both a real excuse for it and just an excuse. These early summer dates, when the night is still light at midnight, remain hot until late, so it takes a long time for the typical apartment to cool down and make sleep possible.
Bruce Chapman frustrated at a traffic jam on the embankment of the Moscow River
I come back to the States with a few tips for tourists and visiting businessmen.
Continue reading "It's Not Your Grandfather's Russia" »
See the extended post for photos of a Russian Orthodox priest consecrating Easter cakes and eggs in the small town of Naro-Fominsk 45 miles outside of Moscow. In the extended post, you will also see photos of Russian leaders attending the Easter night service in Moscow, which was aired on national television.
Continue reading "Easter in a Russian Town" »
Entrance to the new Ramstore near Moscow State University
The new Ramstore Capitol shopping mall is about a five minute walk from the Universitet stop on the red line of the Moscow metro. The mall opened on December 2, 2006 - making it one of Moscow's newest shopping centers - and is located at Pr-t Vernadskogo 6.
Ramstore Capitol features 130,000 square meters (1,398,800 square feet) of retail and meeting space on five levels, including a Karo Film mutliplex cinema. Karo Film and Formula Kino are two of the largest movie theater chains in Russia. According to the company, the total invested to complete this mall was $135 million.
Click on the extended post to see more photos from ordinary life in Moscow.
Continue reading "Buying Washington State Apples in Moscow" »
Enjoy these photos taken last month by Anton Verstakov on the Sparrow Hills near Moscow State University! The slopes are not nearly as nice as Lake Tahoe in California, Mount Baker in Washington or Vail in Colorado, but they are good enough for being near downtown Moscow, just a 15 minute drive from the Kremlin!
Click the extended post for more pictures...
Continue reading "Alpine Skiing -- 15 Minutes from Red Square" »
New photos by Anton Verstakov in our Panorama series
Sergiyev Posad (Russian: Ð¡ÐµÑ€Ð³Ð¸ÐµÐ² ÐŸÐ¾ÑÐ°Ð´) is a city and administrative center of Sergiyevo-Posadsky District, Moscow Oblast, Russia. The city grew up around the greatest of Russian monasteries, the Troitse-Sergiyeva Lavra or "Trinity". The town was incorporated in 1742. As its name had strong religious connotations, the Soviet authorities changed it to Zagorsk (in memory of the Russian revolutionary Zagorsky) in 1930. The original name, literally meaning "Settlement of Sergius" in honor of St. Sergius of Radonezh, came back into official use in 1991. According to the 2002 Census, the town had a population of 113,581 (down from 114,696 recorded in the 1989 Census).
Tourism associated with the Golden Ring plays an important role in the regional economy. The city is also known for its toy factory.
Continue reading "Panorama: Sergiyev Posad (formerly Zagorsk)" »
Panorama is the new series of posts here at Russia Blog that will present the reader with photos and short descriptions of Russian cities and villages across the nation.
It is often said that Moscow and St. Petersburg are not the real Russia. So, after an amazing response to our photo tours of those two cities and in our continuing effort to have the readers of Russia Blog experience all eleven time zones of the Russian Federation, we are kicking off our Panorama series.
We begin with pictures of Yekaterinburg (formerly Sverdlovsk) contributed by Anton Verstakov, an independent documentary producer, founder of AVProductions Creative Group, and a long time friend. In the past five years Anton worked as a News Editor for Russia Today TV and as a broadcast journalist/producer for the Rossija television channel (RTR). Mr. Verstakov travels extensively and we hope to benefit from his updates.
We also welcome your submissions with photos and bios of your hometown or a place in Russia you have visited in the past. (Extra points for pictures of locally purchased powdered sugar!)
So, please enjoy the City of Yekaterinburg--a historic jewel in the Urals as well as a center for steel production and mineral and semiprecious stone mining. The city is developing rapidly, shaking off its Communist heritage with dozens of new office buildings and polished church domes rising above the city center...
Continue reading "Panorama: Yekaterinburg" »
Golden statues inside the Hermitage
The Hermitage Museum is one of the greatest collections of historic and cultural artifacts in the world. A tourist could spend several days walking through the corridors of the Hermitage and still only see a fraction of its treasures. The Russian Ark, a film recorded in one continuous shot inside the Hermitage, showed thirty three rooms in the palace and featured over 2,000 actors in period costumes and three live orchestras for the soundtrack. .
Unfortunately, I only had 2 1/2 hours to tour the palace during my brief visit to St. Petersburg. These photos are the result of that whirlwind tour. Click on the extended post to begin the photo tour of the Hermitage!
Continue reading "Walking through St. Petersburg - The Hermitage" »
Nighttime view of the Church of the Savior on Spilt Blood
The following photos are the results of walking and bus tours of St. Petersburg on Friday, January 12 and Saturday, January 14, 2007. This is the second part in a series of photo blog posts about Russia's second city. Click here to view part one, "Walking Through St. Petersburg: The Admiralty and St. Isaac's Cathedral". The third and final installment in the series features photos from my visit to the State Hermitage Museum, one the world's greatest collections of masterpieces and artifacts.
Click on the extended post to resume the photo tour!
Continue reading "Walking through St. Petersburg - Nevsky Prospekt and the City at Night" »
The famous Bronze Horseman statue of Peter the Great facing the Neva River
These photos are the result of Russia Blog editor Charles Ganske's visit to St. Petersburg between January 11 and 14, 2007. The city, known as Leningrad in Soviet times, was the capital of Russia from the 1700s until the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917.Today it is the second largest urban center in the Russian Federation and the northernmost city with a population over one million people. St. Petersburg's northern latitude means that the sun doesn't quite set during the famous White Nights in June, when most tourists like to visit. The city of 4.7 million people also is the second largest in Europe in size, trailing only London in terms of landmass.
Peter the Great created St. Petersburg to be Russia's gateway to Europe and the West. The nearly 7 foot-tall emperor fought a long war with Sweden to secure this bustling port on the Baltic Sea and to build a base for the Russian Navy the Czar ordered built to make Russia a great European power.
In recent years Ford, Nissan and Toyota have all built auto plants near St. Petersburg, and the Chinese are investing billions of dollars into new infrastructure and commercial developments for the region. St. Pete (or "Piter" as it is known to Russians) also remains a center for high culture, the arts, and Russian breweries. Visitors will immediately notice the difference between the fresh air and tourist-friendly atmosphere in St. Petersburg and the more hurried pace of life in Moscow. By design, the old imperial capital has a more European, if not Scandinavian feel to it.
St. Petersburg is also the hometown of Russian President Vladimir Putin and many high government officials. The Governor of the St. Petersburg region, Valentina Matviyenko, is a personal friend of Putin. Matviyenko was a classmate of the future Russian President when they both attended what was then known as Leningrad State University. Russia's state-owned natural gas monopoly Gazprom plans to relocate its corporate headquarters from Moscow to the northern capital next year. For all of these reasons, some American expats have nicknamed the city "Putingrad".
This is the first part in a series of three photo posts about Russia's second city. To see Yuri Mamchur's photo series "Night Drive Through Moscow", click here. Click on the extended post to begin the St. Petersburg photo tour. Please be patient as photos may take some time to upload.
Continue reading "Walking through St. Petersburg - The Admiralty and St. Isaac's Cathedral" »
Moscow condo buildings
"Where People Live and Work" is the third part of our photo series "Night Drive through Moscow". These photographs are the result of my four hour drive through Moscow on January 6, 2007. The first part, "Where Tourists Go" showed places popular with tourists like the Kremlin and Moscow's cathedrals. The second part, "View from a Car Window" showed the streets of Moscow at night, casinos, and advertisements.
Please click on the extended post link to see photos of Moscow's condominiums and office buildings, places where Muscovites live and work every day. There are many more neighborhoods and business districts in Moscow than are depicted in this photo post, but again, these are the results from a quick spin around the south-western part of the city.
Enjoy the pictures, and please allow some time for the extended post to load due to the large number of photos.
Continue reading "Night Drive through Moscow: Where People Live and Work" »
Is it a Mercedes dealership? No, just a parking lot by a new 5-star hotel in downtown Moscow...
"View from a Car Window" is the second part in the "Night Drive through Moscow" series of posts featuring photos taken during my four hour drive through the city on January 6, 2007. While the first part "Where Tourists Go" portrayed places which are well-known and generally attractive, this part will present you the Moscow you might have not seen yet; the photos were taken literally from a car window. Again, the only reason I could visit this many places in such a short amount of time is because the city was nearly empty due to Russian Orthodox Christmas holiday.
Moscow is a mixture of Paris, Washington D.C., New York and Las Vegas, with over 2,770 gambling establishments, 63,000 slot machines and 330,000 fairly high-stakes gamblers (data accurate as of beginning of 2006). A large latte in a regular Moscow coffee shop goes for $7 U.S. these days, while a shot of espresso with a glass of water will cost you $20 at a nice bar. A small margarita in a bar with a view of the city will cost you $35. Unlike in the 1990s, Russian restaurants only accept plastic or rubles now, not dollars.
You rarely see Russian-made automobiles in the streets of Moscow these days; people pay enormous customs duties to purchase the vehicle of their dreams. A brand new 2007 Acura MDX goes for $80,000, a Hyundai Santa Fe -- $45,000, a Mitsubishi Lancer in the best price range costs you only $16,000. New office buildings, skyscrapers, and endless construction cranes are visible everywhere you go. Moscow's night life is just as busy as the business day; all restaurants, clubs and most coffee shops have a policy of "open until the last customer" and "open with the first customer" which means around the clock. Many Muscovites grab their second dinner at 1 a.m. and roll over to the coffee shop at 3 a.m.
I won't get into the argument here about whether all this new wealth is the result of smart government policies, a healthy economy, or just high oil prices. I want you to enjoy the photos of the views you could expect to see from a car window while driving through the amazing city of Moscow...
Continue reading "Night Drive Through Moscow: View from a Car Window" »
Kremlin tower and St. Basil's Cathedral
The "Night Drive through Moscow" series is the result of my four hour drive through the city of Moscow on January 6, Russian Orthodox Christmas Eve. There will be three picture posts representing what you can see in Moscow in four hours on a winter night: this one named "Where Tourists Go"; on Wednesday - "View from a Car Window"; and on Friday - "Where People Live and Work."
The tourist photos are self-explanatory; actual tourists would go to many more places in the city if they had enough time on their hands. The "Car Window" photos were taken literally from a car window -- they will portray things you might not expect to see in Moscow --freeways, casinos, Rolex banners and nice cars. "Where People Live and Work" will contain photos of condos, hotels and office buildings. Remember that this year winter is extraordinary warm and does not represent a usual Russian winter time; usually the streets and roofs are covered with snow.
I was able to visit this many places because the city was empty of cars and people -- everyone was getting ready for a family dinner or attending service at a church. On a work day or holiday shopping night a four mile drive can take two hours. On the night of December 22, when Russians were consumed with holiday shopping, I got stuck in one of these traffic jams. I had to ditch my car on the side walk and come back for it at midnight, only to get caught in another traffic jam on the way home -- it took me an hour to drive five miles at 1 a.m.!
Enjoy the photos in the extended post. Please expect the extended post page to take some time to upload due to the number of photos.
Continue reading "Night Drive through Moscow: Where Tourists Go" »
Russia Blog editor Charles Ganske near the Kremlin on New Year's Eve
After spending the extended 2007 New Year and Orthodox Christmas holidays in Russia, we're glad to be back in America and to resume our normal posting schedule here at Russia Blog. Watch for more photos from Moscow and St. Petersburg and new articles very soon.
A jazz band playing "Jingle Bells" for shoppers at the GUM department store
Today is the day Russian Orthodox Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. From the editors of Russia Blog to our readers around the world, Merry Christmas!
Click on the extended post to see more photos from the holiday season in Moscow.
Continue reading "S Rozdestvom Khristovym from Russia!" »