Voices from Russia

Thursday, 5 June 2008

5 June 2008. A Day at the Races…

Filed under: Russian,sport — 01varvara @ 00.00

Russian football team to play final friendly game before Euro-2008 with Lithuanians

Today, the Russian national football team will play a final friendly game before the Euro-2008 competitions. Its rivals are the Lithuanian team. In the first game of the European championship, the Russian team will play against Spain on 10 June.

4 June 2008


Seven cities to vie for 2016 Summer Olympics

Later today, in Athens, the International Olympic Executive Committee is due to make public the list of the cities that seek the right to host the 2016 Summer Olympics. Seven cities have applied for the right to host the Games, namely Chicago, Prague, Tokyo, Rio de Janeiro, Baku, Doha, and Madrid. The IOC will decide on the venue for the 2016 Summer Olympiad when it goes in session in Copenhagen on 2 October 2009.

4 June 2008


In tennis, three Russian girls are in the quarterfinals of the French Open

Yelena Dementyeva (1981- ), top Russian female tennis player

In tennis, three Russian girls are in the quarterfinals of the French Open. Yelena Dementyeva will face Dinara Safina, who knocked out Maria Sharapova. Svetlana Kuznetsova will play with Kaya Kanepi of Estonia. Dementyeva and Safina are the hottest favourites of the Roland Garros tournament.

4 June 2008


Russian national football team beats Lithuania 4:1

The Russian national football team beat Lithuania 4:1 at Burghausen, Bavaria on Wednesday. The friendly meet was the last one before the kick-off of the European Championship that is due in Austria and Switzerland from 7 through 29 June. On 10 June, Team Russia is scheduled to take on Spain’s national team in Innsbruck, Austria.

5 June 2008


Prime Minister Putin says the government will focus on preparations for the Sochi Olympic Games

Prime Minister Putin has that the government will focus on preparations for the Sochi Olympic Games. Speaking at a Cabinet meeting on Thursday, he noted that overall development of Sochi as a hill-country resort must be an integral part of the programme. Prime Minister Putin said that the government would allocate an additional 12 billion roubles (507 million USD. 325 million euros. 259 million UK pounds) to develop housing schemes, transport, and communications.

5 June 2008


Voice of Russia World Service

Chelsea FC to return to Moscow in August

Chelsea FC is to visit Moscow for two pre-season matches, including a game against FC Lokomotiv, a little over two months after they lost to Manchester United in the final of the Champions League in Moscow. The match, which will be held on 1 August, is part of the annual Russian Railways Cup. Italy’s AC Milan and the Spanish side Sevilla will also take part, facing each other in the other semi-final on the same day. Russian Railways is the main sponsor for FC Lokomotiv. The two semi-finals will take place at Lokomotiv’s Cherkizovo stadium in northeast Moscow. The final, and the match for 3rd and 4th place are both on 3 August 3.

Chelsea’s chief executive Peter Kenyon earlier told the website sports.ru that the match would give the club a chance to become closer to their Russian fans. He also said that Chelsea FC would bring all their leading players to Moscow for the games. This is the first year that Chelsea FC has entered the competition. The London side is owned by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, who bought the club in 2003. Chelsea lost on penalties to Manchester United in the Champions League final, played at Moscow’s Luzhniki stadium on 21 May, after the game ended 1-1. Their manager, Israeli Avram Grant, was sacked after the defeat.

3 June 2008


Russia prepare for Euro 2008 without key striker

Russia faces Lithuania on Wednesday in their final friendly match before Euro 2008 kicks off on 7 June, with injured striker Pavel Pogrebnyak doubtful for not only the side’s opening game against Spain, but, also the entire tournament. Pogrebnyak, who plays for FC Zenit St Petersburg, was injured during Russia’s 2-1 friendly win against Serbia in Germany last week. The head of the Russian Football Union, Vitaly Mutko, said on Tuesday that, “He [Pogrebnyak] will not be taking the field. That’s 100%”.

However, Russia’s Dutch trainer, Guus Hiddink, said that he would not be calling up anyone to replace Pogrebnyak, raising hopes that the striker, who was in blistering form as his club lifted this season’s UEFA Cup, would be available for later games at the tournament, to be held in Austria and Switzerland. “Even if he is out of the Spain match, he is not going anywhere. I am not going to call anyone as cover for him”, Hiddink told a press conference. Russia faces Spain on 10 June in Innsbruck before taking on Greece in Salzburg on 14 June. They then return to Innsbruck for what is likely to be a vital clash against Sweden on 18 June. The top two teams from each group qualify for the play-off stages.

Pogrebnyak’s teammate, Andrei Arshavin, has already been ruled out of the side’s first two games after receiving a red card for violent conduct during Russia’s final qualifying game against Andorra in November. The loss of Arshavin, one of, if not the most talented Russian players of his generation, is a severe blow to Russia’s hopes of making it out of their group at a major tournament for the first time since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. The injury to Pogrebnyak could prove just as catastrophic. Hiddink will look to use the Lithuania match to settle on a line up without two of his leading players.

Lithuania will be hoping that the game does not see a repeat of their recent friendly match in the Czech Republic, when the Czechs mistakenly played the Latvian anthem, raised the Latvian flag, and featured Latvian players in the match program. Latvia and Lithuania are neighbours and their names do, admittedly, sound very similar in most Slavic languages.

4 June 2008


Russia’s Kuznetsova, Safina to meet in French Open semis

Svetlana Kuznetsova (1985- ), Russian tennis champion

Russia’s Svetlana Kuznetsova and Dinara Safina both clinched victories in their French Open quarterfinal matches at Roland Garros on Wednesday to set up an all-Russian semi-final. Fourth-seeded Kuznetsova, the 2004 US Open Champion, won in straight sets (7-5, 6-2) against the 22-year-old Estonian Kaia Kanepi, ranked 49th in the world. Kuznetsova, who lost in the 2006 French Open final against Belgium’s now retired Justine Henin, will now play Russia’s Dinara Safina (13), who beat Yelena Dementyeva (7) in three sets 4-6 7-6 (7-5) 6-0.

The 22-year-old, the younger sister of Russia’s former world No 1, Marat Safin, also ousted top-seed Maria Sharapova on her way to the semis when they met in the fourth round on Monday. Safina saved a match point in a thrilling three-set match to come from behind to win 6-7 (6-8), 7-6 (7-5), 6-2. The other semi-final is an all-Serbia affair with 23-year-old Jana Jankovic (3) due to face her compatriot, 20-year-old Ana Ivanovic (2), who lost to Maria Sharapova in the Australian Open final in January.

4 June 2008


Russia heads for Euro 2008 after victory over Lithuania

Russia played their final friendly match before Euro 2008 kicks off on 7 June, defeating Lithuania 4-1 on Wednesday evening to record their third win in as many games. The match against Lithuania was played in the German town of Burghausen, and Russia went behind to a shock goal in the 24th minute, Mantas Savenas taking advantage of a mix up in Russia’s defence to put the Baltic nation ahead. The defensive error came just a few days after a similar mix up had gifted Serbia an equaliser in the two sides’ friendly match, also played in Burghausen. Russia went on to win that game 2-1, but the number of defensive errors committed against both Lithuania and Serbia will surely have worried Dutch trainer Guus Hiddink.

Stung into action, Russia equalised against Lithuania in the 33rd minute, Konstantin Zyrianov curling home a fine shot from just inside the penalty box. The Zenit St Petersburg player, at 30, the second oldest in Hiddink’s young squad, has been in excellent form of late and looks set to shine at Euro 2008. Andrey Arshavin, disqualified for the first of Russia’s two games at the tournament, slotted home Russia’s second in the 52nd minute after a shot by Roman Pavluchenko had been beaten away by the Lithuania keeper.

Pavluchenko scored Russia’s third with a smart turn and volley in the 63rd minute, and Vladimir Bystrov, living up to his surname, derived from the Russian for “fast”, sprinted into the box to hammer home an unstoppable shot for Russia’s 4th. Even without the injured Pavel Pogrebnyak, this season’s UEFA Cup joint top scorer, Russia’s attack seems to be in fine form, the side ending their three Euro 2008 friendlies against Kazakhstan, Serbia, and Lithuania with an impressive 12-2 goal difference.

Defence could prove to be their Achilles heel, however, although midfielder Sergei Semak had some words of encouragement for Russia’s fans, saying, “I’d ask the fans not to worry too much about defensive lapses; it was just a friendly match. We will be playing differently in defence against other opponents”. With Russia looking to get out of their group at a major tournament for the first time since the collapse of the USSR in 1991, the team’s supporters will be hoping this is indeed the case. With Russia to kick off their Euro 2008 campaign on 10 June against Spain, featuring Liverpool’s prolific striker Fernando Torres, any defensive slip-ups could see the team pay dearly. After Spain, Russia faces Greece on 14 June and Sweden on 18 June. Russia arrived in the Austrian mountain retreat of Leogang, their base for the Euro 2008 group games, on Thursday.

5 June 2008


Safina defeats Kuznetsova to make French Open final

Dinara Safina (1986-), Russian tennis star

Dinara Safina progressed to the French Open final by beating her compatriot Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-3, 6-2 on Thursday. The final will be her first in a major tournament. “I feel amazing. I didn’t expect that I could get to the final”, the 22-year-old said after the game. The No 13 seed will face the winner of the second semi-final between two Serbs, No. 2-seeded Ana Ivanovic and No. 3 Jelena Jankovic. The final is to be played on Saturday. Safina beat fellow Russians top-seed Maria Sharapova and No. 7-seeded Yelena Dementyeva in the fourth round and the quarterfinals respectively.

5 June 2008




ICTY is a Failure

Filed under: Kosovo,politics,Russian,Serbia,United Nations — 01varvara @ 00.00

Vitaly Churkin (1952- ), Russian ambassador to the UN

The work of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) was heavily criticised at the UN Security Council in New York. According to Vitaly Churkin, the Russian ambassador to the United Nations, the tribunal failed to do its task, what’s more, it discredited itself with its verdicts. The establishment of the ICTY was initiated by the world community as a means to put an end to the bloody civil war, in the wake of the disintegration of the former Yugoslavian state. However, its lack of objectivity and visible anti-Serbian sentiment became a predominant factor in its work from the very beginning. Suffice it to mention the investigation into the case of the former Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic. It resembled a political show trial rather than an attempt to carefully analyse what happened in Yugoslavia in the 90s. Mr Milosevic’s death ahead of his trial gives rise to many questions.

The initial opinion was that the tribunal should have revealed the responsibility of all those who were involved in the collapse of Yugoslavia. However, the only visible result was an attempt to punish Serbia, especially when it came to events in Kosovo. It is exactly the “Kosovo special case” that revealed the absolute lack of good-sense in the tribunal’s work. Political scientist Aleksandr Pikayev, in an interview for the Voice of Russia, said, “Mainly, the tribunal focused its attentions on Serbs, while the Croats, Bosnians, and of course, the Kosovo Albanians also took part in war crimes during the civil war in Yugoslavia. The tribunal paid far less notice to them. With respect to the Kosovars, it did nothing at all. Suffice it to mention the scandalous verdict of ‘not guilty’ in the case of Ramush Haradinaj, one of the leaders of the ‘Kosovo Liberation Army’”.

Speaking in the UN Security Council, Mr Churkin stressed that although the judges mentioned the lack of proofs of Haradinaj’s guilt on either of the accusations that were brought against him, they complained about the unprecedented pressure on witnesses that was visible in his case. It was for the first time in the history of international justice that witnesses were subjected to blackmail and intimidation, and one more thing, often, they were simply killed. All this happened in an atmosphere of complete arbitrariness, despite the international presence in Kosovo, Mr Churkin said. The court ignored allegations of forceful human organ harvesting brought against the Kosovo Albanians, made public in April this year by former prosecutor of the ICTY Carla del Ponte, and it disgraced the tribunal. Mr Churkin called such facts a “black spot” on its reputation and emphasised that Russia had repeatedly called attention to the inadmissibility of such a situation and that it is rather doubtful that it would favour the idea of the extension of the ICTY after 2010.

5 June 2008

Aleksandr Vatutin

Voice of Russia World Service


President Medvedev Criticises Amendments to the Law Regulating the Media

Filed under: Dmitri Medvedev,politics,Russian — 01varvara @ 00.00

President Dmitri Medvedev (1965- )

President Dmitri Medvedev criticised amendments to the law regulating the media, which were passed by the RF Gosduma on their first reading on 25 April. The supposed aim of the amendments was to reword a clause prohibiting the publication of false information infringing on the honour and dignity or undermining the reputation of citizens. But, as it often happens, good intentions do not always bring the desired result. In his assessment of the changes, Mr Medvedev said they might lead to the creation of hindrances to the normal functioning of the media and did not accomplish the declared goal of defending citizens from libel.

To those who carefully guard their reputation from any possible harm, this conclusion may sound illogical, but, from a state and legal point of view, it is very important. Mr Medvedev, a professional lawyer, put democratic values above the safe comfort of the wealthy elite, for once signed into law, the amendments would make it easier for courts to close any media outlet on the slightest suspicion of distributing libel.

By rejecting these changes, the president proved his firm commitment to freedom of speech and other democratic principles. He once remarked that “freedom is better than non-freedom”. Symptomatically, Vsevolod Bogdanov, the President of the Russian Journalists’ Union, was amongst the first people Mr Medvedev met with after he assumed office last month. The dropping of criminal charges against a female reporter who was accused of currency smuggling, the exemption of excessive tax payments hampering the development of small and medium-scale business, all this happened after Mr Medvedev became president. These are clear signals indicating which of the ways, to or away from democracy, Russia is moving.

4 June 2008

Viktor Yenikeyev

Voice of Russia World Service


Washington’s Attempt to Impose a Missile Defence System on Europe Contradicts Democracy

Filed under: military,NATO,politics,Russian,USA — 01varvara @ 00.00

A three-day hunger strike by the activists protesting the placement of American military bases ended in the Czech Republic. MPs, cultural figures, and scientists plan to hold a hunger strike of their own. Czechs have decided to turn their hunger strikes against the American missile defence system into a symbolic stand. Some politicians and public figures from several countries of the EU agreed to hold a hunger strike later.

A statement by the Czech participants said the American missile defence project is offensive rather than defensive, despite American denials. Residents of the Czech Republic are well aware of Russia’s position. Washington’s belief that Iranian rockets pose a threat to Europe is a myth, and they believe that the radar proposed for installation in the Czech Republic is aimed at tracking Russian air space.

More than half of the people in the Czech Republic demand that a referendum be held on the deployment of the American radar. Czech President Vaclav Klaus flatly opposes a referendum. In fact, the US wishes to compel the government to obey the American diktat rather than the people’s opinion. Czech activists against the American missile defence plan suggested suspending talks with Washington until the replacement of the Bush Administration to explore its future position.

The Polish government also has a similar plan. Poland tried to bargain over its consent for a missile base and gain some advantages in its defence area. But, this concerns only the leadership. Some 50 percent of Poles oppose the deployment of the missile base. Neither the US nor the Polish government are interested in their opinion. Neglecting democracy, the US ignores the opinion of the people of Europe concerning the deployment of its missile defence system.

Here is an opinion about American plans from an expert on European security at the Russian Institute of Europe, Dmitri Danilov. “Americans do not want European partners, of course. The US continues to insist that the deployment of missile defence system in the Czech Republic and Poland is a part of its national strategy. Neither a Republican nor a Democratic administration would be interested in stopping the launched programme”.

Sometime ago, President Putin said the following. “Americans like to preach democracy to all countries, including Russia, but, they have no desire to learn elementary democratic norms”. This is proven by the unprecedented pressure exerted by the US on the Czech and Polish governments. It demands that they comply with the American plan to deploy a missile defence system in their countries without taking into account public opinion.

4 June 2008

Anatoly Potapov

Voice of Russia World Service


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