Voices from Russia

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

The Radiant Angel International Good Cinema Festival Stretches Out Its Wings

Until 12 November, the Fifth Luchezarny Angel (Radiant Angel) Charity International Good Cinema Festival is open in Moscow. Immediately, one asks, “What films can be considered ‘good’?” Yelena Zelinskaya, the vice president of MediaSoyuza, one of the organisers of the festival, explained, “There are films that make us think about history, about the state of contemporary society. Today, precisely this kind of film is claiming more and more audiences. So, we desire to bring such works to the attention of the community. We hope that this festival will become a unique catalyst that shall help cinematography to move in this direction”.


Galina Vishnevskaya in her starring role in Aleksandra (spelled “Alexandra” in Western countries)

This orientation is far from new, the organisers of the festival assert, in every country there are films that were created and are being made now that are oriented to spirituality and the search for “eternal values”. More than 50 films from Russia, the Ukraine, Latvia, Georgia, Kirghizia, China, and Turkey were selected for the competitive programme. These include both entirely new works and those that have already won prestigious awards. For instance, the film Aleksandra (with the soprano Galina Vishnevskaya, the widow of the late Mstislav Rostropovich in the title role: editor’s note) by Aleksandr Sokurov has already won the international prize “For the Popularisation of Humanist Values in Music and the Cinema”. The film was titled after the name of its heroine, an elderly Russian woman who went to Chechnya to visit her grandson, who was serving there in the forces. Here, she saw the effects of the war, which left deep scars in the souls of the local residents. “By the force of her love, understanding, and wisdom, she overcame the distrust of the locals, as she was a defender of the good, a mother amongst mothers. This is a film about how people gather themselves together, get their lives back into order, and rebuild their interrelations”, Aleksandr Sokurov stated.

Many of the other films touch on the topics of human relations, love, benevolence, and respect. “This is an extremely special and important year for Russia, The Year of the Family”, noted Svetlana Medvedeva, the wife of President Medvedev, who is the principal patron of the festival. “It is important that the films shown at this festival should help to strengthen family life, they should show examples of moral behaviour in the present, and they should support our tradition of charity”. The festival is also a priority project of the National Programme “Spiritual-Moral Culture of the Coming Generation in Russia”. Besides this, the “angel” shall stretch his wings far beyond Moscow. After the festival ends, the prize-winning films shall be shown in 10 cities around Russia, then, in Serbia, Italy, and Greece.

11 November 2008

Yekaterina Andrusenko

Voice of Russia World Service



World Ballet Stars on the Moscow Stage

Filed under: ballet,cultural,music,performing arts,Russian — 01varvara @ 00.00

The Russian prima ballerina Uliana Lopatkina presents the cream of world ballet art in the “Grand Ballet Gala 2008” project in Moscow. For two nights, on 11 and 12 November, Moscow audiences will see ballet stars from companies in Moscow, St Petersburg, London, Paris, Milan, Boston, and New York. Uliana Lopatkina, the world’s “first lady of ballet” and holder of a variety of honorary titles and prizes, is dedicating tonight’s performance to the celebrated French choreographer Roland Petit, who turns 85 in January. A jubilee tour timed for the anniversary is now on in Europe. The two concert programs in Moscow will embrace the entire range of choreographic art from classical to avant-garde and will start with contemporary ballet. Roland Petit is the only foreign choreographer who was awarded with the Russian National Prize for the ballet Pikovaya Dama (The Queen of Spades) at the Moscow Bolshoi. M Petit declared, “Russia is my special love”.



Uliana Lopatkina told a news conference before the concert that Russia means a lot to the great master. “When I told him about a jubilee concert in Russia, he agreed with pleasure. He spoke so fondly about his last visit to Moscow”. Uliana Lopatkina herself is performing a one-act ballet, Youth and Death, to music by Johann Sebastian Bach, a number that marked the start of her cooperation with the great choreographer, and a comic dance set to the choreography of Roland Petit to music of the Bee-Gees from Saturday Night Fever. On seeing Ms Lopatkina surprised at the suggestion of using music of the Bee-Gees, Roland Petit said, “You are astonished? You have never presented any of the compositions of the Bee-Gees? I shall do this with pleasure, because I love a joke!” Ms Lopatkina said, “Roland was so pleased with our joint work, that now he insists that this light improvised number, a gag, really, to be on all the jubilee programmes”.

The second night of the “Grand Ballet Gala 2008” is entitled, The Great Classical Pas de Deux. It will feature ballet starts, Uliana Lopatkina included, dancing the most popular duets, the most authentic masterpieces of classical choreography.

11 November 2008

Natalia Viktorova

Voice of Russia World Service


Mikhail Kalashnikov: “I’m a Doctor of Science without a Degree”

00 Mikhail Kalashnikov. Russian,Soviet inventor. 16.12.13

Mikhail Kalashnikov (1919- ), designer of the legendary AK assault rifle


Mikhail Kalashnikov, the legendary designer of the world’s best known weapon, celebrated his 89th birthday on Monday, and has been named The Man of the 20th Century. An honorary member of many Academies around the world, Kalashnikov’s a self-effacing man who says “I’m a Doctor of Science who never went to college”. The inventor of the Kalashnikov assault rifle, which has become the weapon of choice by dozens of armies and guerrillas around the world, was born on 10 November 1919, in the village of Kurya, Altai Krai, to a peasant family, the seventeenth child of Timofei and Aleksandra Kalashnikov. This self-made genius received no technical education and his famous Israeli colleague Uzi Gal once called him the best and most authoritative weapons designer around. Mikhail Kalashnikov often said that he developed his legendary AK-47 rifle as a weapon of defence, not assault. From the outset of the Great Patriotic War, senior sergeant Mikhail Kalashnikov fought against the Nazi invaders as a tank commander. Wounded in combat in 1941, Kalashnikov started working on his rifle in 1947, driven to work on his design by the Soviet defeats in the early years of World War II at the hands of far better-armed German soldiers. “In October 1941, I was seriously wounded, and while in hospital, I conceived the idea of a sub-machine-gun, a simple one you wouldn’t need a big plant to build. So, I got out my notebook and pencils, and started making drafts of the would-be weapon. Some of the wounded poked fun at me, others encouraged saying, ‘Do it, Misha, give us the tool and we’ll finish the job!'”

In 1947, Kalashnikov’s updated assault rifle displayed high reliability and fire effectiveness during arduous competitive tests and was found the best submission. In 1949, after modifications, the assault rifle, designated “Kalashnikov 7.62mm assault rifle, Model 1947 (AK)”, became operational in the Soviet Army and Mikhail Kalashnikov received the Stalin Prize First Class. The AK-47 ushered the era of automatic weapons and made its maker a household name everywhere. Mikhail Kalashnikov has since developed more than 150 modifications of his famous weapon. More than 100 million Kalashnikovs have already been made and are currently used by 55 armies around the world. In Mozambique and Zimbabwe it adorns the national emblems. The AK-47 quickly became prized for its sturdy reliability in difficult field conditions. Mikhail Kalashnikov said, “In Vietnam, when the M-16 rifle failed to work in the jungle, the Americans would take a Soviet AK-47 off the body of a dead Vietnamese soldier, along with the cartridges of course…” American military historian Edward Ezell, the author of The History of the AK-47, once said that it won’t be before 2025 that the world gets a better and more reliable weapon than the trusty old Kalashnikov. The AK-47 has gone down in the history of small arms and is now on display at the Armoury Chamber of the Moscow Kremlin. Mikhail Kalashnikov now lives and works in Izhevsk, a major arms manufacturing centre of Russia. At 89, he still works as a consultant for the Rosoboronexport Company and has penned several books of memoirs as a member of the Russian Writers’ Union.

11 November 2008

Oleg Nekhai

Voice of Russia World Service


Kristallnacht: The Prelude to the Jewish Holocaust

Filed under: Baltic states,history,Jewish,politics,the Ukraine — 01varvara @ 00.00


A Jewish boy in the schul. Is he the Rav’s son or is he the grandson of the president of the congregation? We remember Kristallnacht so that the new generation does not suffer the same thing.

It has been 70 years since the massive anti-Jewish pogrom of Kristallnacht, or crystal night, in Nazi Germany. The tragedy that occurred in the Third Reich on the night of 10 November 1938 can be more precisely described as “a night of smashed windows”. Shops, businesses, and homes belonging to Jews were subjected to attack. As a result of the outrage, 91 Jews were killed and hundreds were injured, 267 synagogues were destroyed and burnt, 7,500 Jewish-owned businesses were ransacked, and many Jewish cemeteries were violated.

The action was sponsored by the leaders of the Nazi Party, who blamed the Jews for all Germany’s troubles and proclaimed anti-Semitism the core of their domestic policy. The persecution of Jews started in 1933, shortly after the Nazis came to power. In the beginning, there was a boycott of Jewish goods. Later, Jews were forbidden to work in the entertainment and information sectors, and to teach in any school, from primary school to higher school. The Nürnberg laws adopted at the 1935 congress of the Nazi Party gave a legal form to the de facto deprivation of political and civil rights of the Jewish people of Germany. This was followed by forced deportations. Justly, the “crystal night” can be called a prelude to the Holocaust. After the “crystal night”, the Gestapo received orders to arrest 20,000 Jews, many of whom were later sent to concentration camps. This was also the fate of most of the Jews still remaining in the country. The decision to massacre the Jews was taken in 1942.

Today, it is well to remember the tragedy that happened in November 1938, since Europe is seeing a whitewashing of Nazism. In the opinion of political scientist Vladimir Semendei, “Pro-fascist sentiment and anti-Semitism are advocated not only by some marginal extremist groups. To a greater or lesser degree, this is supported by the government in some of the countries of so-called ‘New Europe’. Historians and public figures should constantly put in plain words what Nazism was really like”. This primarily pertains to the Baltic states and the Ukraine, where attempts are made to present the Nazis as heroes and one observes a revisionist view of the results of World War II.

10 November 2008

Yevgeni Kryshkin

Voice of Russia World Service


Editor’s Note:

One should reflect on the fact that the neocons support the neo-Nazi juntas in the Ukraine and the Baltic states. In the former, Nazis are praised because they aided Galician Uniate nationalists; in the latter, Russians are deprived of citizenship, even if they were born there. Great beacons of democracy! America should step back and let nature take its course. To continue to support such states is tantamount to spitting on the graves of all the World War II veterans and giving tacit support to the death camps. These people WILLINGLY aided the Nazis and WILLINGLY aided the Nazi extermination of the Jews. Think deeply on that…


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