Voices from Russia

Saturday, 31 May 2008

Prime Minister Putin says the Russian Academy of Sciences Makes a Significant Contribution to Russia’s Development

Filed under: politics,Russian,science,Vladimir Putin — 01varvara @ 00.00

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin (1952- ), addressing the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAN)

In an address to the RAN general meeting, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said, “The Russian Academy of Sciences (RAN) establishes scientific guidelines, it is responsible before society, it is honest and frank, and it is successful and ready for constant innovation. It will move with the times in future by preserving its spirit and traditions and will make a significant contribution to Russia’s development”. The session started on Tuesday and will end on 2 June in Moscow. Its agenda includes the election of a new president and selecting the members of its presidium, new academicians, and corresponding members. In his speech, Mr Putin outlined the key tasks before the RAN and its priorities. He said that all sectors of the RAN should join energetically in encouraging innovation and solve whatever problems are found in society, the economy, and business. The Russian government has already allocated substantial resources for the development of such areas as nano- and biotechnology, nuclear energy, and the aerospace industry.

Mr Putin said that the government has annually increased its allocations for scientific research. This year’s federal budget spending on civilian scientific research will be about 125 billion roubles (3.391 billion euros. 2.66 billion UK pounds. 5.276 billion USD) directly, which increases to about 200 billion roubles (5.426 billion euros. 4.256 billion UK pounds. 8.442 billion USD) when extra-budgetary funding is taken into account. The prime minister noted that an incentive system will be worked out to attract young people to scientific careers under the federal programme for 2009-13. For one, young scientists will be provided with houses, and the number of presidential grants for young scientists will be increased. The government plans to allocate 80 billion roubles (2.17 billion euros. 1.703 billion UK pounds. 3.307 billion USD) for this purpose. Mr Putin hopes that the Academy will be a partner in the realisation of a key priority project, the creation of a network of federal universities. Federal Universities will be scientific and educational centres meeting world standards, and their students and teachers would have access to the laboratories of the best institutes and an opportunity to use other rational forms of integration of science and education, Mr Putin emphasised.

29 May 2008

Yelena Studneva

Voice of Russia World Service



Human Unity in the Culture of the Carnival

Filed under: popular life and customs,Russian — 01varvara @ 00.00

Residents of St Petersburg had a grand time last weekend, revelling in a traditional carnival that brought together guests from 12 countries, including Argentina, the United States, Britain, the Netherlands, and Australia. For a city that is located on the banks of the Neva River on the spot where it flows into the Gulf of Finland, one that is criss-crossed by 308 rivulets and canals, rightfully called the “Venice of the North”, the motto of the Festival, “Water, Water – All Around Us”, sounds rather fitting. For this very reason, jellyfish, dolphins, mermaids, and many other undersea characters marched through the streets and squares of St Petersburg. Even classical music was performed on wineglasses and glasses filled with water. For the eighth time, the chief organiser of the event was Igor Garvyushkin, who represents Russia in the European Association of Carnival Cities. Even in the most difficult of times, there was room for nationwide festivals where people expressed themselves, Mr Gavryushkin said. Now, it seems, festival culture is witnessing a resurgence as never witnessed before, as there is danger of our society degenerating into a consumer society. Carnivals are designed to thwart this dangerous process by recreating local cultural traditions and involving many people in a culture-friendly environment that largely determines the quality of life.

Scene from an older Soviet film set in a carnival during tsarist times

Carnivals are amongst the most loved pastimes, popular since ancient times. a carnival has its own face depending on the location, be it the Great Orange Battle in Ivrea, Italy, “A Tribute to the Cucumber” in the old Russian town of Suzdal, the Carnival of Cultures in Berlin, the Samba Carnival in Brazil, the New Year Parade in China, or the Goa Carnival in India. This year, the European Association of Carnival Cities placed the Petersburg Carnival in Category A, making it equal in rank with the Venetian one and acknowledging it as a specific cultural tradition. Other candidates seeking the European carnival status include a wide range of cultural centres in Siberia, the Urals, and the Volga.

29 May 2008

Olga Bugrova

Voice of Russia World Service


Moscow Architectural Biennale Opens

Filed under: architecture,economy,Russian — 01varvara @ 00.00

Architectural rendering of the Russia Tower, under construction in Moscow, due for completion in 2012. It shall be 612.2 metres (2,009 feet) in height, have 118 stories, accommodate 30,000 people, and have an underground parking area for 3,680 automobiles. It shall be the tallest building in Russia, and the second-tallest in the world.

A month-long biennial architectural fair opened last Tuesday in Moscow. It brings together architects of 18 nations. This way-of-life biennale comes on the crest of an unusually high wave of construction projects that are sweeping Russia, and, of course, the nationwide “Affordable Housing” programme. The man who runs the Russian section of this event, David Sarkisyan, put the limelight on architects and urban designers with new solutions to the problem of constructing inexpensive housing. He said, “The biennale does not focus on glamorous projects, but, on social projects of Russian origin. The whole world is curious about Soviet social projects of the 1970s. A wave of experimental construction swept the Soviet Union in that period. The Soviet Union was the first to launch a sweeping effort to provide people with affordable housing units and it blazed new trails in doing this”.

The Russian section of the architectural biennale features blueprints for construction projects in the suburbs of Moscow and other sprawling urban areas. There are quite a few suggestions for the renovation of old neighbourhoods and the redevelopment of former industrial zones. One has to admit that Russian architects refuse to shy away from efforts to plan sizable developments. They take all things into consideration, environmental protection and creature comforts included. Vasili Bychkov, the Biennale Director, said that the better part of the exhibited blueprints have little to do with day-dreams; some of them are commissioned projects. Mr Bychkov said, “The steering committee tried to add a touch of versatility to the Moscow biennale so as to make this architectural forum comprehensive. A traditional Arch-Moscow exhibit is a component part of this event. It presents quite a few architectural studios and design centres of foreign nations in the mainstream of the Moscow biennale”.

Dutch architect Bart Goldhoorn feels Russia can cash in on the European experience in large-scale construction ventures. The biggest construction project in Germany was launched in a suburb of Frankfurt. Blueprints for it can be seen in the international section of the Moscow biennale. Plans for the extension of old Poundberry were put on display by Britain. They and blueprints for construction ventures in Copenhagen, Stockholm, Utrecht, and Helsinki can also be seen in the international section. A modern view of urban development is supplemented by a bit of history. An exhibit of communal housing units of the 1930’s highlights masterpieces of Russian constructivism. It shows how people’s vision of an ideal way of life has changed in less than a hundred years.

30 May 2008

Voice of Russia World Service


European Union Tries to Legalise its Presence in Kosovo

Filed under: Kosovo,NATO,politics,Serbia — 01varvara @ 00.00

Jaap de Hoop Scheffer (1948- ), NATO Secretary General

The Kosovo problem remains a sore point in relations between the United Nations, NATO, and the European Union. It was a central topic at a meeting of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer in New York on Wednesday. The key issue is who should take responsibility for the situation in the region where Albanian separatists unilaterally proclaimed independence. Under UN Security Council Resolution 1244, a UN mission in Kosovo governs that Serbian region. Nonetheless, with the support of the USA, the EU claims the right to send its own mission there.

In the opinion of Pavel Kandel, an expert at the Institute of Europe, “According to the EU, its mission should take over the functions of the UN mission. In such a way, supervision over the region will be transferred from the UN to the EU. As this decision was taken in circumvention of the UN, it cannot be seen as legal”.

A 2,000-member mission from the EU, however, is being deployed in Kosovo, comprising policemen, lawyers, and officials. The deployment is expected to be completed by 15 June, the deadline for adopting the Kosovo Constitution. Some 300 members of the EU mission have already arrived in Kosovo. Yet, they did not get down to work, since they lack both infrastructure and clearly defined duties. Serbia and many other countries not recognising the UDI of Kosovo regard the deployment of the EU mission in Kosovo as violation of international law.

Under the circumstances, EU leaders are searching for a pretext to legalise the presence of the EU mission in Kosovo. Recently, there was talk that the EU mission can act under UN aegis. Notably, the head of the UN mission, Joachim Rücker, came up with the proposal. What is required, however, is the consent of the UN Security Council. So far, it has not been given.

29 May 2008

Voice of Russia World Service


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