Sports and Politics »

[23 Sep 2009]

"I have a long-standing passion for basketball and pursuing interests that forward the development of the sport in Russia." [More]

Culture and History »

[23 Sep 2009]

Russia has some of the most unique and beautiful nature on Earth. One example of this are “Lena’s Stone Pillars” located in the Sakha Republic, near the capital city of Yakutsk.   Accessible only by boat or helicopter, the Stone “trees” loom over 200 meters high and span along 80km of the bank of the Lena River. Local operators offer tours of the area by river boat that include a welcome ceremony with a ritual dance and “purifying with fire” ceremony.   Nestled in the Siberian taiga zone among endless miles of virgin forests, Lena’s Stone Pillars are truly a breathtaking and inspiring sight.    

Culture and History »

[22 Sep 2009]

World Carfree Day, happening September 22nd of every year, has been a growing event in recent times as the push to go “green” has increased and the prices of gasoline have skyrocketed. The countries of Eastern Europe have been no exception, with officials in many major cities participating to show their support and set an example. Belarus first started participating in the event in 2008 and this year. Employees of over seventeen government ministries in Minsk, Belarus’s capital city will be participating this year. Russian officials, including several senior ministers, will also be participating and Moscow traffic officials have already begun reporting a noticeable reduction as of this morning. World Carfree Day began in 1997 in France and since then has spread all over the world, promoting the reduced use of personal automobiles and a greater focus on public transportation options. Moscow already has several areas in locations popular with tourists that are officially Carfree and open only to pedestrians and to buses and other forms of public transportation. Both Moscow and Minsk also have large public transit options in their metro systems which are used by a combined average of almost 8 million people daily.  

Sports and Politics »

[17 Sep 2009]

In a move to embrace technology, openness and differentiate his regime from that of his predecessor Vladmir Putin, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev took a page out of the books of Barack Obama and UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown and opened the Russian Government’s first Video Blog. Offering a level of access unlike any of his predecessors, President Medvedev’s video blogs have covered a wide range of subjects the President feels are important for him to address in the public forum: technology development, World politics, history and even Ukrainian/Russian relations in the 21st century. Often referred to as “open letters” in the media -- especially recently during his harsh criticism of Ukraine’s governmental regime -- the video blog has been a popular addition to the Kremlin’s website which has recently received a total overhaul in addition to their own Youtube channel. In addition to kremlin.ru and the Youtube channel, the Russian Government has also set up a Livejournal feed for the video blog which boasts over 10,000 members.  

Sports and Politics »

[17 Sep 2009]

Russia and Ukraine won 1st and 2nd place at this summer's 21st annual Deaflympics in Taipei, Taiwan. The Deaflympics are the biggest event dedicated to deaf athletes in the World. This year, 85 countries with 4,262 athletes and officials participated in the 10-day athletic competition from September 5-15. Athletes competed in 177 different events in 17 sports with 20 disciplines.   Russia dominated the games by winning 29 Gold medales, 41 Silvers and 28 Bronzes (total 98). Ukraine placed second with 20, 22 and 25 respectively (67 total). Both countries dominated the Swimming events.   Russia is also the highest record-breaking country in the 2009 Deaflympics, counting a total of 27 records broken including the Games and Deaf World records. 10 Games and 9 Deaf World Records were broken in swimming events. The Russian swimming team took 4-Gold and 2-Silver in six Relay events and shattered both the Deaf World and Game records in the Men's Relay.  

Culture and History »

[16 Sep 2009]

Peter I, Tsar of Russia and later of the Russian Empire founded, the city of Saint Petersburg on what was formerly Swedish land in 1703. He named the city after his namesake Saint and it served as the seat of his power until his death. Peter I, also known as Peter the Great, began construction on Peterhof, his pleasure palace and summer home shortly afterwards. While during Peter’s life the palace was quite extravagant, the majority of the expansions and additions to the structures happened well after his death. Many fountains were built, without using a pump system to provide them with water and instead deriving their water from natural springs and reservoirs in the Upper Gardens of the palace. Throughout the centuries, the Palace expanded further. The Grand Palace building was elevated and wings were added by notable Italian-Russian architect Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli. Several gardens and a park were added and fountains were added into the 19th century. The palace, now more of a town in its size was captured by the Germans during the Second World War and heavily damaged. After the defeat of the Axis powers, restoration began. Today, the town and Palace are recognized by UNESCO as World Heritage sites and function as a National museum.  

Random Stuff »

[16 Sep 2009]

Despite the hard global recession and auto sales dropping 50% from the past year, Russian sales of GM’s Hummer have doubled every year.  So far, 900 of the well known gas guzzlers have been sold this year, twice as many as have been sold in the rest of Europe.  The vehicle is so popular there is even a “Russian Hummer Club” which pays homage to the popular SUV.   When you consider Russia’s notoriously bad roads and dangerous driving conditions, as well as the attraction of an off road vehicle that can navigate rough terrain and forest paths, the appeal of such a vehicle to Russian men becomes clearer.  Even though the average salary for a Russian man is only $600 per month, gas prices are not such a concern with an average price of $2.60 per gallon for fuel.    Salesmen agree that it takes little to sell the SUV to interested parties; most simply walk in and buy their choice outright.  Generally, the smaller H3 which runs for as low as $40,000, catches the interest of buyers as young as 25, while the larger H2 at a price of up to $80,000, is easier to sell to the 30 and up crowd.  No matter the age or vehicle though, salesmen confirm that the Hummer is only attracting men.  As credit and loans have still not caught on in Russia, most purchases of the vehicles are paid in cash.   While the rise in sales (doubling every year) is certainly not sustainable over the long term, perhaps their Russia’s love of the Hummer stoked the interest of the China based Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machinery Company, which is attempting to purchase the brand from GM.   You can find the full story at http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=112872571  

Culture and History »

[14 Sep 2009]

Lake Baikal is the World’s biggest, deepest and oldest lake, containing more water than all of the Great Lakes combined. Located in Siberia, Lake Baikal possesses 20% of the fresh water supply on the planet. With depths that reach 5,390 feet, and an additional 4.3 miles of sediment on the lake floor, Lake Baikal is the deepest continental rift. You could completely submerge Mount Everest in Lake Baikal and have more room! In addition, there are 27 islands and over 800 endemic species to the area, making it one of the most bio-diverse ecosystems on Earth. The lake, called "the Pearl of Siberia", drew investors from the tourist industry as energy revenues sparked an economic boom. In 2007, the Russian government declared the Baikal region a special economic zone. In 1996, it was also declared a UNESCO World Heritage site. According to 19th century traveler T.W. Atkinson, locals in the Lake Baikal Region had the tradition that Christ visited the area. The following quote is found on page 385 of Atkinson's book of his travels published in 1861: The people have a tradition in connection with this region which they implicitly believe. They say "that Christ visited this part of Asia and ascended this summit, whence he looked down on all the region around. After blessing the country to the northward, he turned towards the south, and looking across the Baikal, he waved his hand, exclaiming, Beyond this there is nothing." Thus they account for the sterility of Daouria, where it is said "no corn will grow."

Sports and Politics »

[1 Sep 2009]

Polish leaders marked the 70th anniversary of World War II in a somber ceremony at dawn Tuesday on the Westerplatte peninsula in Gdansk. The ceremony began at 4:45 a.m. — the exact hour on Sept. 1, 1939 that the German battleship Schleswig-Holstein shelled a tiny Polish military outpost on Westerplatte, where the Polish navy's arsenal was housed, in the war's opening salvo. "Westerplatte is a symbol, a symbol of the heroic fight of the weaker against the stronger," Polish President Lech Kaczynski said. "It is proof of patriotism and an unbreakable spirit. Glory to the heroes of those days, glory to the heroes of Westerplatte, glory to all of the soldiers who fought in World War II against German Nazism, and against Bolshevik totalitarianism." Over 20 leaders from former Ally and Axis nations were present. The presence of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin — the leaders of the countries that invaded Poland in the fall of 1939 — has sparked the most interest. Poland wants Russia to apologize for Stalin's decision to have the entire Polish officer corps shot. For decades, Moscow blamed the deaths on the Nazis, but after the fall of the Soviet Union it acknowledged they had been shot on Stalin's orders. Russians are deeply proud of their country's victory over Hitler in 1945, but Poles, Balts and others say Stalin also bears direct responsibility for the outbreak of war, for carving up Poland with Hitler and also annexing the Baltic states. Putin and Tusk agreed to set up joint teams of historians to study the murder of Polish officers in a forest at Katyn in the western Soviet Union in 1940 -- an event which for Poles symbolizes what they see as Stalin's treachery and cruelty. At the ceremony, Putin condemned Moscow's 1939 treaty with Berlin, as well as the 1938 British and French pact with the Nazis at Munich. Some 27 million Soviet citizens perished in the war after Hitler reneged on his pact with Stalin and invaded the Soviet Union in 1941.  

Random Stuff »

[27 Aug 2009]

Snoop Dogg, the internationally famous American hip hop star, played Moscow, Russia’s famous B1 Maximum Club yesterday. [More]

Culture and History »

[21 Aug 2009]

“How Do You Do… Moscow” is an art exhibit which opens August 21st at The Moscow Museum of Modern Art. [More]