Voices from Russia

Monday, 14 January 2008

Scientists Studying Remains Thought To Be Those of the Children of Tsar St Nikolai

Filed under: martyrs,Revolution/Civil War,Romanovs,Russian,saints — 01varvara @ 00.00

Forensic scientists began tests to identify fragments of what are suspected to have been the bodies of the son and one of the daughters of the last Romanov emperor, Tsar St Nikolai Aleksandrovich, who, with the rest of the royal family, were killed by a Bolshevik firing squad on 4/17 July 1918. The fragments were found near Staraya Koptyakovskaya Road outside Yekaterinburg and bore traces of violence. Initial investigations suggested they were parts from the bodies of a boy aged between 10 and 14 and a woman of 20. Yekaterinburg is where Tsar St Nikolai Aleksandrovich, his family, and some of their retainers were executed. The Sverdlovsk Oblast Bureau for Forensic Medical Tests and a lab in Moscow are trying to find out whether the remains are those of Tsarevich St Aleksei Nikolaevich, who was heir to the throne, and Grand Princess St Maria Nikolaevna. ”I expect results from the investigations by the end of January or the start of February”, Nikolai Nevolin, head of the Sverdlovsk Bureau, told Interfax.”Tests started in December at our lab and in Moscow. When the tests in Russia are over, there’ll be confirmation tests at a foreign laboratory chosen by the Prosecutor General’s Office”, Mr Nevolin said. He said that it was possible to obtain DNA samples from the remains.

9 January 2008



Patriarch Aleksei Recommended That Future Talks On the Status of Kosovo Should Consider the Serb Point of View


Patriarch Aleksei Rediger of Moscow and all the Russias recommended that future negotiations on the status of Kosovo consider the position of the Serbian population. ”The continuation of the talks is the only way to prevent new tragedies and new injustice. A unilateral decision can shatter the unsteady peace”, the patriarch said in an interview with the Belgrade newspaper Blitz. He regretted that there were attempts “to resolve the Kosovo problem without considering the aspirations of the peoples that’ve lived there from ancient times. Some political forces from within and without the region have taken positions that are unfounded in reality”. His Holiness also mentioned the sufferings of Serbian refugees and the desecration of Orthodox sanctuaries in Kosovo. These incidents “can’t leave people indifferent”, he said. ”Very few people take into consideration that sacred places in Kosovo are sacred to the Serbian people and this point can’t be a minor factor in political talks. This should be considered in future talks”, he said.

11 January 2008



Cosmonaut by Profession

Filed under: biography,patriotic,Russian,Soviet period — 01varvara @ 00.00

Our guest today is cosmonaut Vladimir Aksyonov, twice Hero of the Soviet Union, who flew on two space missions. In the words of Mr Aksyonov, “The strongest impression you get when you’re on your first space mission is, perhaps, the way the Earth looks from space, very large and beautiful, as if it were a terrestrial globe, with many shades of colour both on the Earth proper and in its halo. All this is in stark contrast to an absolutely black sky. This is the impression and feeling that all cosmonauts have”. Vladimir also saw the Earth from an aircraft cockpit, since he was a fighter pilot. He liked to fly planes, and could do it well. “Whenever boys dream of becoming pilots, they think of fighter planes in the first place”, Vladimir said. “Obviously, it’s because of the romanticism of war. That was back in the 1950s, and memories of the Great Patriotic War were still vivid in people’s minds. So, we all wanted to become fighter pilots. I was lucky to enter one of the best schools that trained fighter pilots. Quite a few Soviet aces that became famous during the Second Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945 attended this school. The best known of the graduates was the legendary pilot Ivan Kozhedub. Over 200 of its graduates received the title of Hero of the Soviet Union. Some of them won the title twice”.

Finally, Vladimir was through with his course at the school. He quickly became a skilled fighter pilot. Unfortunately, his career as a fighter pilot proved short-lived. Nikita Khrushchev decided to reduce the strength of the fighter fleet drastically. As a result, many pilots, including Vladimir, had to retire after their training course was over. In January 1957, Vladimir was given a job at the Design Office headed by Sergei Korolyov, the pioneer of Soviet Cosmonautics. Vladimir recalled, “I worked in a group of designers that developed instrumentation and avionics for both the first artificial satellite of the Earth and for all subsequent spacecraft. Four years later, the Design Office completed the building of the first manned spacecraft. I was fortunate enough not only to witness, but to be directly involved in the effort to develop and construct Soviet spaceships”. Vladimir remembered that working under the direction of Korolyov, a gifted scientist and a man of superb organising talent, was very interesting and exciting. “He was quite effective as a scientific researcher and design team leader, and his genius penetrated beyond the narrow scope of the immediate tasks, a rare combination indeed. He was exacting, yet sympathetic, and the job he did was an enhancement of his scientific and organisational talent, while he, for his part, fully matched the scale of the tasks assigned to his office”. The tasks they faced were indeed of a cosmic scale, since mankind had just entered the era of space exploration. The staff of the Korolyov Design Office realised the importance of the problems they had to tackle.

“The Design Office staff worked in conditions of very strict discipline, yet with enormous enthusiasm”, Vladimir said. “People were prepared to work overtime, even on weekends, if necessary. Everybody realised that the work they were doing meant guaranteed wages, boosted their qualification, and helped attain the bureau’s objectives. Not just the design office group focused on coping with the tasks that faced them. All the staff did that, all several thousands of them”. According to Vladimir, the 32 years that he worked for the Korolyov Design Office proved a perfect school of engineering. Over this time, he worked as a designer, and he later headed the service that was in charge of testing space equipment. Later, he carried out, together with his colleagues, a number of unique experiments in outer space. “Sergei Korolyov set up a group of future cosmonauts”, Vladimir said, “who were staff members of our Design Office, combining professional skills and practical experience”.

They had to meet more stringent requirements than ordinary cosmonauts did. As designers, they were supposed to know more about the spacecraft and the equipment used in the space flights. To be chosen, they had to go through careful and long selection. No more than two or three of every hundred physically fit people were lucky to make it to the group, which originally comprised just five, to grow larger with time. More people were eventually chosen, while some group members quit. Of all the people in the group, only a third actually went on a space mission. Vladimir made his first space flight in 1976 and the second one four years later. “During both flights we focused on testing new equipment. Both flights were quite involved, with the crews having to cope with some emergencies. These occur often, so, the crewmembers must be able to fix them. When we faced emergency conditions, we tackled the situation appropriately. As for my second flight, it was unique in many ways. It was the first in-flight testing of the SOYUZ-T spacecraft, which later became the main spacecraft of the Soviet space exploration program. We also tested a new system of docking with the space station SALYUT-6, which was operational at the time. Those were our assignments during these space missions”, Vladimir said.

Space missions involve great risks and large-scale goals. That is why Soviet and Russian cosmonauts, since the very first space flight, have been awarded this country’s highest decoration, the Gold Star of Hero of the Soviet Union, and later, of Russia. Vladimir has two Gold Stars, one for each of his space flights. “For courage and heroism”, is the official wording of the citation. He also received a top award of the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences for outstanding services to humanity and for merits displayed in developing the sciences. Apart from that, Vladimir is an Honorary Citizen of Jefferson County, Kentucky in the United States. “At one time”, Vladimir said, “I was active in international public efforts, including in the United Nations-sponsored contacts. In the late 1980s, I was a member of a group that was on a very interesting tour of the United States, a tour that included Kentucky. We were there on Flag Day, celebrated on 14 June. We received certificates proclaiming us honorary citizens of Jefferson County, Kentucky. We socialised a lot with ordinary Americans. They treated us very warmly, and we never came across any misunderstanding or malevolence”. Vladimir is certain that it’s impossible to explain what space is like. Neither films nor photos give a full picture of it, he said. “Besides, in space there’s such a thing that man isn’t used to on the earth, that’s weightlessness, which is comparable to rolling and pitching at sea. Far from all those training to be cosmonauts can endure it. Therefore, to understand what space is like one has to travel there to gain first-hand knowledge. I think that anyone would find a short trip aboard a spaceship quite interesting”.

28 June 2005

Olga Troshina

People of Uncommon Destiny

Voice of Russia World Service


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