Voices from Russia

Saturday, 17 January 2009

A Charity Auction in St Petersburg shall Sell Artwork by Vladimir Putin, Valentina Matvienko, and other Celebrities


A charity auction will sell paintings created by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, St Petersburg Governor Valentina Matvienko, and other famous people. It shall be held at the Christmas Fair will on 17 January in St Petersburg, according to the press-service of the city administration. The Christmas Fair in St Petersburg is one of the biggest events in the round of New Year’s holiday events in the city. A traditional part of this event is a charity auction called Azbuka (ABCs), in which famous Russians, aided by professional artists, paint pictures based on letters of the Russian alphabet (31 letters and one sign, for them not in the know: editor’s note).

This year, the charity auction was dedicated to 200th anniversary of the birth of the famous author Nikolai Gogol. For every day of the event, on the main stage of the fair, famous people painted pictures of letters of the Russian alphabet letters based on motifs drawn from Gogol’s story Noch Pered Rozhdestvom (The Night Before Christmas). Not only was the theme of the paintings drawn from Gogol’s story, but, also, the material used for the canvases, which was overcoat cloth.

In late December, Prime Minister Putin visited the St Petersburg Christmas fair, where he drew a picture of the letter “U” in form of a pattern on a frosty window. For the third time, Governor Matvienko of the northern capital took part in the auction time, drawing a picture entitled Metel (Snow-storm). Also, paintings were created at the fair by opera singer Anna Netrebko, ballerina Ulyana Lopatkina, and musician Maksim Shostakovich.

All the proceeds from the sale of these celebrity artworks will be transferred to the accounts of charitable institutions in the city, which are badly in need of financial support. This year, it is planned that the funds collected will go for the opening of a specialised diagnostic oncology centre and the St Mary Magdalene Paediatric Hospital.

This marks the third anniversary of this celebrity art auction. In 2007, the total proceeds from the sale of celebrity paintings were 5 million roubles (154,000 USD. 116,000 euros. 104,000 UK pounds). In 2008, this total was increased four-fold to 20.5 million roubles (630,000 USD. 475,000 euros. 428,000 UK pounds).

Traditionally, canvases painted by Governor Valentina Matvienko are hits at the sale. At the first auction, her picture Yezhik Pod Yolkoi (Hedgehog Under the Christmas Tree) went for 2.2 million roubles (68,000 USD. 51,000 euros. 46,000 UK pounds), a year later, Mishka (Teddy Bear) painted by Matvienko went under the hammer for a record 11 million roubles (338,000 USD. 255,000 euros. 229,000 UK pounds).

17 January 2009




Putin: A Proposed Paediatric Medical Centre in Moscow shall be not be Delayed by the Current Financial Crisis

Filed under: diplomacy,health care/social issues,politics,Russian,science — 01varvara @ 00.00


Financing of the new Paediatric Cancer Centre in Moscow in 2009 will be implemented in full, despite the global economic crisis, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said. “In 2008, funding for the construction project ran over 40 million euros (1.728 billion roubles. 53.1 million USD. 36.039 million UK pounds). In 2009, all the necessary funds for this project are in the budget, despite the financial crisis”, Mr Putin stated Friday evening at a meeting with the leadership of the German Federal Council for the Assistance to the Building of Paediatric Haematology, Oncology, and Immunology Centres. He noted that the new centre will be one of the largest in Europe. In regards to this case, he expressed the importance of the valuable cooperation between scientists in Russia and Germany in this field of medicine. “When this project is fully implemented, 85 to 90 percent of the patients suffering from such diseases will be cured. This applies to patients both in Russia and in Germany”, Mr Putin said.

On their part, the members of the Council told Mr Putin that the blueprint for the project plans to instruct Russian doctors, engineers, and medical staff in hospitals and research institutions in Germany. In particular, this year, a group of 15 Russian doctors will come to Germany to study, and, over the next three years, more than 50 doctors from Russia will be trained in modern methods of diagnosis and treatment in Germany. In addition, every year, ten Russian specialists shall come to Germany to study the newest medical equipment. In the second phase of this collaboration, experienced German professors will teach in Russia, who will pass on their experience with the latest techniques to their Russian colleagues. In future, when the centre is in operation, German specialists intend to issue the facility EU certification.

Situated in the capital under the plans of the National Health Project, the Federal Research and Clinical Centre of Paediatric Haematology, Oncology, and Immunology will have no analogues in Europe and will be the largest and best-equipped hospital of this type in Russia. It will include a diagnostic centre, dormitory facilities, a polyclinic, hospital, and a unique beam centre with the ability to conduct up to 1,700 operations annually. At any one time, the centre can treat up to 400 patients. German clinicians have been asked to help develop the technical specifications for this centre, since they are the recognised world and regional leaders in the treatment of such diseases. In 2008, the construction was allocated 1.7 billion roubles (52 million USD. 39 million euros. 35 million UK pounds) in the federal budget, whilst, in the coming year, this amount was increased to 2.6 billion roubles (80 million USD. 60 million euros. 54 million UK pounds). The deadline for the completion of the project is June 2011.

17 January 2009



Editor’s Note:

There is a reason why Russia can continue with such capital-intensive projects without harming its economy by excessive deficits. Russia, unlike the USA, produces most of what it needs within its borders, and it has no need to import non-essential (let alone strategic) raw materials. Therefore, although it shall be wounded, and quite seriously, by the shenanigans of the Wall Street hucksters and poseurs, it shall be hurt to a far lesser extent than the USA (whose vaunted economic prowess has been revealed to lie in cooked books and profligate spending on tick) shall be. Oddly enough, the blow shall be cushioned by the fact that the notorious Jackson-Vanick Amendment, an antediluvian dinosaur of a law still on the books, restricted US-Russian trade so much that it helps to insulate Russia from the effects of the American financial meltdown. Talk about the Law of Unintended Consequence!

Prime Minister Putin has declared that he shall not underwrite large business profits with the suffering of the Russian people. GWB has said, in effect, “All hail to profits! The people be damned!” Barack Obama has a choice. He can follow the good and God-pleasing example of Vladimir Putin or he can follow the Satanic Mammon worship of GWB.

Quo vadis, Barack Obama?


European Gas Predicament


Czech Energy Minister Martin Říman (1961- ), one of the major participants in the 17 January energy summit in Moscow

A day before the Moscow gas summit on 17 January, it is clear the meeting will not go as planned. Summits require participation of heads of state, but, the European Union (EU) decided to send to Moscow its Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs, and Czech Energy Minister Martin Říman. This may not be a bad thing. Professionals will find it easier to understand the technicalities of gas transit. It is also good that Europe is coming to us, but, it is bad that we expect too much from it. We are sorry for the Ukrainians, Russians, Serbs, Bulgarians, Romanians, Italians, indeed, for all Europeans that do not have enough gas. We are not sorry for Viktor Yushchenko and Yuliya Timoshenko that seem to have nothing to lose. They have put themselves into a gas chamber from which they will not emerge unscathed. We are sorry for Dmitri Medvedev, Vladimir Putin, and for Aleksei Miller, for Gazprom and for gas in general. Everything seemed to start out correctly, but, now, that all sides have taken part in analysing the crisis; it has become totally unclear who has gone overboard.

Official invitations have been sent to Austria, Armenia, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Britain, Hungary, Germany, Greece, Italy, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Moldova, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Turkey, Ukraine, Finland, France, Croatia, Montenegro, the Czech Republic, Switzerland, Estonia, and the EU. It is clear that Angela Merkel will not come, as she is meeting Prime Minister Putin in Berlin on 16 January. Ukrainian Prime Minister Timoshenko will come to Moscow on January 17, but, according to Ukrainian sources, she will come to talk with Mr Putin, not to the gas meeting, although there is a chance that she will take part in it. President Yushchenko said the meeting should take place in Brussels rather than Moscow. Ms Timoshenko may attend the gas summit as a demonstration of her strong dislike of Mr Yushchenko.

We are very offended when we hear what is contrary to our wishes. We want the Ukraine to be blamed for everything. But, why should we expect this from a Europe that wants even relations with both Russia and the Ukraine? It is enough that Europe does not openly support the Ukraine, which is a big step forward. Polish President Lech Kaczyński’s solidarity with Mr Yushchenko does not matter much here. He has long caused displeasure even in Poland. By the way, in 2005, Europe blamed Russia for all gas squabbles.

16 January 2009



Good Reasons for Progress in US-Russian Relations

Filed under: Barack Obama,diplomacy,George W. Bush,politics,Russian,USA — 01varvara @ 00.00


Hilary Rodham Clinton (1947- ), wife of former US President William Jefferson Clinton, nominated US Secretary of State by President-elect Barack Obama

Hillary Clinton, a former First Lady and presidential candidate, who is the nominee for the post of US Secretary of State (equivalent to a Foreign Minister in other countries: editor’s note), outlined plans for a “sustainable foreign policy”. This promises progress in US-Russian relations regarding strategic offensive weapons and in ensuring global stability. Ms Clinton put forth the foreign policy goals of the administration of Barack Obama, who is to be inaugurated as the 44th US President on 20 January, at Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearings this week. The “lady in a pants-suit” said that both the President-Elect and she “believe that foreign policy must be based on a marriage of principles and pragmatism, not rigid ideology, on facts and evidence, not emotion or prejudice”. This sounds great, and, judging by the US media, the American public hopes the US is coming back to reason, meaning that it will be able to overcome the negative consequences of the Bush II presidency.

Relations with the US remain one of the main foreign policy priorities for Russia, which has had a new president since last year. Cooperation entails mutual advantage and a balance of interests. The new US administration is definitely aware of this. Indeed, if its foreign policy is based on principles and pragmatism, it should logically opt for full-scale relations with Russia. Russia was heartened by Washington’s intention to develop dialogue with it pragmatically, on the basis of respect for each other’s interests. The Foreign Ministry thinks this intention should be supported, and that contacts with the new US administration should be developed as soon as possible. Ms Clinton said they would “work with Russia to secure their agreement to extend essential monitoring and verification provisions of the START Treaty before it expires in December 2009, and we will work toward agreements for further reductions in nuclear weapons”.

Analysts think the new US administration will try to avoid tensions in bilateral relations in view of the domestic problems it has inherited from the Bush presidency, the situation surrounding the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and recent international problems, such as the Palestinian-Israeli fighting over Gaza and the Horn of Africa piracy. Russian diplomats say relations with the US should be developed on the principles sealed in the US-Russia Strategic Framework Declaration signed in Sochi on 6 April 2008. According to it, “The foundation for relationships between US and Russia should be based on the core principles of friendship, cooperation, openness, and predictability”.

Russia is ready to work energetically towards this goal, Russian diplomats say, adding that dialogue with the US should be “based on respect, and be honest and open”. Russia has tabled several fundamental ideas on key international issues, including a new vision of trans-Atlantic security and ways to improve the global financial system. Moscow put forth proposals on the military-strategic and economic aspects of US-Russian relations and is prepared to move ahead, hoping for reciprocal moves from the new US administration.

15 January 2009

Ivan Zakharchenko



Blog at WordPress.com.