Voices from Russia

Thursday, 26 June 2008

Expert says the Remains of the Children of Tsar Nikolai II could be buried in Several Different Locations

Tsarevich St Aleksei Nikolaevich on the imperial yacht Shtandart as a young child

The burnt and fragmented human remains that allegedly belong to two members of the imperial family, Tsarevich St Aleksei and Grand Princess St Maria, could be buried in several different locations. “The memoirs of those who participated in the shooting clearly indicated that they burnt some of the bodies, they buried some, and they threw some into a swamp. But, I think that they lied, and part of the burnt bone fragments were buried in several different locations”, stated Viktor Zvyagin, the division head of the identification laboratory of the Russian forensic medical centre on Thursday at a press conference with Interfax in Tomsk.

In this case, Mr Zvyagin, who leads one of the expert study groups that obtained the alleged remains of the tsar’s children last year, emphasised that the theory about several burials is his personal point of view; it was not the result of the tests carried out. He explained that more than 3 kilogrammes (6.6 pounds) of bone fragments and ashes remain after the burning of the bodies of two people of age 12 to 14 and 18 to 20 years of age. “We investigated only about 100 grammes (@4 ounces). Is that enough to make a conclusion? The archaeologists discovered only one of several assumed burial sites. Consequently, in any event, this study shall not be completed today. It is necessary to undertake all measures to search for other places where remains may be buried”, Mr Zvyagin emphasised.

Mr Zvyagin also reported that 46 separate pieces of bone fragments were found in 2007, and studies revealed that only nine fragments had a mass of more than 3 grammes (0.1 ounce). All fragments had been affected by high temperatures, and part of them showed traces of acid. “Moreover, some of the fragments were subjected to a temperature 300 to 350 degrees Celsius (572 to 662 degrees Fahrenheit), some others were subjected to about 400 Celsius (752 degrees Fahrenheit), and only a few fragments experienced a temperature of more than 400 degrees Celsius”, he said. He added that some of the fragments were affected by acid to one degree or another, but, that some of the fragments were not affected by acid.

As a result of a series of experiments, experts determined the sequence of events in the destruction of the bodies. “First, the bodies were burnt, and, then, the fragments were doused with acid. So, in principle, that confirms the existing theory used in our investigation”, he noted. According to Mr Zvyagin, fragments of Japanese-made ceramic acid containers were found in the burial pit where the remains of Tsar Nikolai II and his family were found in 1989. “Here, when we studied the burnt bone fragments, we also found ceramic fragments similar in composition to those that were discovered earlier”, he noted, adding that the ceramic fragments were then studied by another group of specialists.

Furthermore, Mr Zvyagin refuted the story that the remains found in 2007 were animal remains, not human. “We conducted special microscopic examination at the cavity level of cells, and these tests revealed that the overwhelming majority of the bones were human. Moreover, the results of a spectral study show that these bones do not have elements characteristic of animals, in particular, we do not see an accumulation of barium, which is typical of livestock”, he emphasised. Mr Zvyagin confirmed that the results of the studies of several scientific institutes shall be presented on 16 to 17 July by the investigation committee of the Attorney General’s Office.

26 June 2008




26 June 2008. A Day at the Races…

Filed under: China,Olympics,Russian,sport — 01varvara @ 00.00

Russia and Spain to face off in Euro 2008

Guus Hiddink (1946- ), Dutch coach of Team Russia

Russia and Spain will play each other in the European football championships semi-final at the Ernst Happel stadium in Vienna this evening. The match will begin at 22.45 Moscow time (14.45 EDT). Earlier, the Russian team’s Dutch coach, Guus Hiddink, said the Russians were ready to take revenge on Spain for their defeat in a group match earlier this month. Yesterday, Germany made it into the final after beating Turkey 3:2. About 10,000 Russian fans will be supporting their team in Vienna.

26 June 2008


Konstantin Ziryanov says the Russian team is not afraid of the Spaniards

Konstantin Ziryanov, star defender for Team Russia

The Russian team is not afraid of the Spaniards, although they previously yielded to them, defender Konstantin Zyrianov said in an interview with Izvestiya published on Thursday. In his opinion, the team is bound to win all the more because his fellow players had four days to get back into top physical shape. Zyrianov stressed that Coach Guus Hiddink was able to rekindle their hopes for victory, adding that players themselves are eager to prove that Russians can play real football.

26 June 2008


Voice of Russia World Service

Russia set to increase prize money for Olympic medal winners

Vitaly Mutko (1958- ), Minister of Sport, Tourism, and Youth Policy

Prize money awarded to Russian medal winners at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China, should be increased, the Russian sports minister said on Wednesday. The current rate for Russian athletes who win Olympic medals was set by a presidential order in 1996 and stands at 50,000 dollars (1.173 million roubles. 31,750 euros. 25,155 UK pounds) for the gold, 20,000 dollars (469,406 roubles. 12,700 euros. 10,062 UK pounds) for the silver, and 10,000 dollars (234,703 roubles. 6,350 euros. 5,031 UK pounds) for the bronze.

“We would like to introduce amendments to this [presidential] order” as the current bonuses are “outdated”, Vitaly Mutko, who was appointed the Minister of Sport, Tourism, and Youth Policy last month, said. The minister, who is also Russia’s soccer chief, added that the money awarded for medal wins is an additional motivation for Russia’s top athletes and will be allocated from a special Olympic foundation.

The Olympic Games in China, which runs 8 to 24 August, will be attended by some 500 Russian athletes, Mr Mutko said, while the country’s delegation at the sporting event will total some 900 representatives. He said 474 Russian athletes had been accredited as members of the Olympic team and 148 for the Paralympics. Around 12 billion roubles (511 million USD. 325 million euros. 257 million UK pounds) has been allocated for the athletes’ training and preparation.

“We are pinning our hopes [to win medals] on sporting events such as boxing, wrestling, swimming, gymnastics, synchronised swimming, track and field, weightlifting, shooting, and fencing”, Mr Mutko said. He added that the Russian Olympic team will attend a ceremony in the Kremlin on 29 July prior to their leaving for Beijing.

25 June 2008


Moscow tightens security for Russia-Spain semi-final broadcast

Some 4,000 police officers will be providing security on Thursday night in Moscow during and after the live broadcast of the Euro 2008 semi-final match between Russia and Spain, a police official said Wednesday. Russia, led by their Dutch coach Guus Hiddink and playmaker Andrei Arshavin, have arguably been the most exciting team at Euro 2008. They beat Holland 3-1 on Saturday in the side’s best performance since the break up of the USSR, and face Spain in a semi-final match on Thursday in Vienna.

“The police will take special control of sport bars and all other facilities that have TV-screens and monitors for the live broadcast of the match”, Viktor Biryukov, a spokesman for the Moscow department of the Russian Interior Ministry, said. Moscow witnessed major disturbances after the Russian national side lost 0-1 in their World Cup group match in Yokohama in Japan in 2002. After the match against Japan, which was broadcast on large screens in downtown Moscow, crowds of people upset by the defeat went on the rampage in the city centre. As a result of the disturbances one man died, a police officer was stabbed, over 100 were injured, some 20 cars were set on fire, a teenager attempted suicide, and shop windows along Moscow’s main streets were smashed.

25 June 2008


Russia’s Safin sends 3rd seed Djokovic home at Wimbledon

Marat Safin (1980- ), Russian tennis star

Russia’s former World No. 1 Marat Safin secured a place in the third round of the Wimbledon tennis tournament after overwhelming Serbia’s Novak Djokovic to win in straight sets on Wednesday. The Russian, who is currently ranked 75th in the ATP rankings, defeated Djokovic, who won this year’s Australian Open, 6-4, 7-6 (7-3), 6-2 in the centre court match that lasted two hours and one minute.

“I just had to do what I had to do: serve well and try to stay with him. I could read his serve. I could return. I could stay with him from the baseline”, the ATP website quoted Safin as saying in a post match interview. Djokovic, who reached Wimbledon’s semi-finals last year, but, retired in the game against Rafael Nadal due to a blister, said he simply had a bad day and he underestimated Safin’s abilities. “I didn’t do anything that I was supposed to do. He was very solid in all segments of the game. He was serving well, and like that, putting a lot of pressure on me”, the 21-year-old Serbian said.

In the next round unseeded Safin will play against Italy’s Andreas Seppi (29).

25 June 2008


Russia to retake Spanish exam in Euro 2008 semis

David Villa Sánchez (1981- ), “El Guaje” (the Kid), star striker of the Spanish National football team

The Russian national side faces Spain in the semi-finals of Euro 2008 on Thursday, with the team looking to continue their fine run of form and progress to Sunday’s final. It was two weeks ago that the Spaniards outclassed Russia in their opening Group D match in Innsbruck, Austria. Since that humiliation, however, the Russians have been a side transformed, defeating Greece 1-0, Sweden 2-0, and the Netherlands 3-1. Russia’s Dutch trainer, Guus Hiddink, called his side’s victory over his compatriots “almost a miracle”, but, the win was, in truth, a well-deserved one, the side’s inspirational playmaker, Andrei Arshavin, giving a master class in attacking, positive soccer.

Indeed, Arshavin, suspended for the first two matches of Euro 2008, missed the first game against Spain, and Russia will be hoping that his return will see an entirely different performance by the national side. FC Zenit St Petersburg confirmed on Thursday that Barcelona had offered 15 million euros (23.611 million USD. 554.155 million roubles. 11.881 million UK pounds) for Arshavin. “We don’t want to lose him”, said Zenit official, Konstantin Sarsaniya. “We will discuss the offer with the player after Euro 2008”.

Russia were guilty of a series of what Hiddink called “childish mistakes” in the defeat to Spain on 12 June, and the side’s defender Yury Zhirkov told journalists that, “We need to make sure we don’t give the ball away stupidly, that was how Spain scored their first two goals against us in the first match”. Konstantin Zyrianov, the man who scored the only goal in Russia’s victory over Greece, told Sovetsky Sport that, “The Spanish are favourites, they all play in the top leagues. The only thing I can promise is that we will try not to repeat the mistakes of the past”.

Russian fans will be hoping that their team can do more than that. After years of disappointment at international level since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the side’s current success has come as more than a pleasant surprise to the country’s long-suffering supporters. Some 700,000 people swarmed onto the streets of the Russian capital after victory against the Netherlands to celebrate not only the result, but, also the sublime skills shown by the youngest team at Euro 2008. “I don’t know what will happen if they win the whole thing”, Vladimir, a Moscow driver, said on the eve of the semi-final. “Those fans will tear the city apart!”

If Russia does make the final, they will face Germany, who beat Turkey 3-2 on Wednesday evening.

26 June 2008


Barcelona offers 15 million euros for Russian star Arshavin

Andrei Arshavin (1981- ), Russian star forward and second striker

The Spanish giant Barcelona offered FC Zenit St Petersburg 15 million euros (23.611 million USD. 554.155 million roubles. 11.881 million UK pounds) for Russian star Andrei Arshavin, a Spanish newspaper reported on Thursday. The speedy playmaker has lit up Euro 2008, taking his side of underdogs to the brink of a final appearance. “We are interested in Arshavin. But, it won’t be easy to sign him because all the teams want him now”, Barcelona vice president Ferran Soriano told the newspaper El Mundo Deportivo. “Our interest isn’t sudden since we have been following him with discretion for a few months now”, Señor Soriano said.

“We don’t want to lose him”, Zenit official Konstantin Sarsaniya said. “We will discuss the offer with him after Euro 2008”. Arshavin gave an interview to the BBC recently in which he spoke of his admiration for the English Premier League, saying in English, in between cursing in his native tongue, that he considered it the best in the world. However, he has also confessed to “supporting Barcelona from childhood. Barcelona is my dream, I never thought I would have a genuine chance to play for the club”, he told Russian media earlier this week.

Russia faces Spain in the semi-finals of Euro 2008 on Thursday evening. The victors will play Germany in the final on Sunday.

26 June 2008


Fellow Russian dumps Sharapova out of Wimbledon in second round

Alla Kudryavtseva (1987- ), winner of upset victory over Maria Shaparova

Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova was sensationally defeated by fellow Russian Alla Kudryavtseva and failed to make it into the third round of Wimbledon. The 2004 Wimbledon champion and this year’s Australian Open winner Maria Sharapova lost 2-6, 4-6. The 20-year-old Kudryavtseva, ranked 154th in the world, will now face China’s Peng Shuai for a place in the last 16.

26 June 2008


Spain outplays Russia to make Euro 2008 final

Three second-half goals by Spain broke the hearts of a young Russian side in the semifinals of Euro 2008 on Thursday night in Vienna. Russia was outclassed in their opening game at the tournament by the Spaniards on 12 June, losing 4-1, but, won their next three matches to reach the last four. Those victories, against Greece, Sweden and, most notably, the Netherlands, had the football world hailing such previously “unknown” names as Andrei Arshavin, Yuri Zhirkov, and Roman Pavlyuchenko. Russia’s Dutch trainer, Guus Hiddink, expressed delight and surprise at his team’s performances, and the largest country on Earth partied all night after the 3-1 win over the Dutch on Saturday.

However, Russia came unstuck against a talented and experienced Spanish team. The first half ended 0-0, with the Spaniards slightly on top. However, five minutes after the restart, Xavi put the ball past Igor Akinfeev in the Russia goal following a fine ball from Andres Iniesta. Russia tried to fight back, but, with Arshavin given no space to move by Spain’s defence, there was no way forward. Goals by Daniel Guiza and David Silva in the 73rd and 82nd minutes sealed the game, and as the rain poured down in the Austrian capital, Russia was left to reflect on what could have been.

Despite the defeat, Guus Hiddink and his side have done much to boost the image of the national side, for so long a source of shame and anguish in Russia. The team now look to the 2010 World Cup qualifiers, which begin this autumn. As the commentator on the Rossiya TV channel said after the game, “Thanks to Guus, thanks to our guys! Congratulations Spain!”

Spain will face Germany in the final on Sunday in Vienna.

27 June 2008



Vitaly Mutko says Russia is Keen to Struggle for Victory in Beijing

Filed under: China,Olympics,Russian,sport — 01varvara @ 00.00

Vitaly Mutko (1958- ), Minister of Sport, Tourism, and Youth Policy

Speaking at a session of the RF Gosduma in Moscow on Thursday, Vitaly Mutko, the Minister of Sport, Tourism, and Youth Policy, said that over 470 Russian athletes are already certified to take part in the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. Mr Mutko explained that the roster of the Russian contingent shall be definitively chosen by 23 July, adding that the selection in team sports is still under way.

“The results of the latest European and World championships in various sports, as well as International Cup Contests, clearly show that our team is bound to be one of the top dogs at the upcoming Olympics”, Mr Mutko argued. “Last year, our athletes managed to grab as many as 28 gold medals and 78 ones in silver and bronze, the world’s third-best result after the United States and China. It is safe to assume, therefore, that our team is going to battle only for the top positions during the Olympics. We pin our chief hopes on boxing, wrestling, callisthenics, synchronised swimming, track and field, and fencing. We do hope that representatives of team sports shall also perform with flying colours, all the more so that the past few years saw them win several prestigious tournaments.

We shall try our best to create the most favourable conditions for our athletes so that they could concentrate properly on preparing for exceptional results in Beijing. For this, we set up a Special Olympic Fund in a bid to pay additional money to the Beijing Olympics’ future prize-winners. The 2008 Summer Olympic Games, due to open on 8 August, shall be followed by the Para-Olympics, in which the Russian team shall, hopefully, once again prove that it is rightly believed to be one of the best in the world”, Mr Mutko concluded.

26 June 2008

Svetlana Andreyeva

Voice of Russia World Service


The Rebirth of the Firebird: Russian Confidence Reborn

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

I wrote this little piece for another blog at the owner’s request. I place it here for all of you. Bog blagoslovit!

This year, the Russian National Team came to Euro 2008 as underdogs. There has been no Russian team in the finals since the fall of the Soviet Union, and Russian teams played a cautious and timorous game. However, we must see this in the light of the rebirth of Russian confidence.

In the field of sport, Russian teams have “gone for the gold” several times this year. A Russian side won the European basketball championship, FC Zenit of St Petersburg won the UEFA Cup, the Russian national team won the IIHC ice hockey tournament in Quebec City, beating the mighty Canucks, and, now the Russian National football team is at the semi-finals of Euro 2008.

In general, Russian confidence is higher than ever. In the words of sociologist Olga Kamenchuk, “Russians feel increasingly that the policy of national development is correct, that’s judging by the trends of the past four years. In 2004 and 2005, the general development vector was taken by the Russian public largely negatively, with pessimists accounting for a whole 40 percent, while optimists were only some 20 percent of respondents. Just a bit later, in 2006 and 2007, the negative and positive assessments split fifty-fifty. Now, in 2008, the percentage of positive estimates has doubled that of negatives”.

When FC Zenit won the UEFA cup, St Petersburg went wild. For two days, a spontaneous party took place all over the city, and old-timers said that there were only two other times when there was a comparable celebration, in 1944, when the Nazi blockade of the city was broken, and in 1945, when World War II ended. Similarly, on Sunday, Moscow erupted into a massive explosion of joy over the defeat of the Dutch national team by the Russian side. This, too, was the largest party in the city since 1945.

Oddly enough, the man responsible for the Russian resurgence at the Euro 2008 is not Russian. He is Guus Hiddink, the Dutch-born trainer of the Russian side. When he came to the tourney, a journalist snidely asked him, “Why are you here? You know you can’t win”. Coach Hiddink said, “If I thought that I couldn’t win, I wouldn’t be here”.

That is something to ponder. “If I thought that I couldn’t win, I wouldn’t be here”.

The Bear is back… bigger and badder than ever. After seventeen years of having their noses ground into the dirt by Americans, Russians are getting their pride back. The world should sit up and take notice.

Vara Drezhlo

Tuesday 24 June 2008

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