Voices from Russia

Saturday, 2 November 2013

2 November 2013. RIA-Novosti Infographics. Russia Issues 100-Rouble Olympic Bills

00 RIA-Novosti Infographics. Russia Issues 100-Rouble Olympic Bills. 2013


The Central Bank of Russia (TsBRF) started the production of commemorative banknotes for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games. The TsBRF will issue 20 million copies of the bills, releasing them for unrestricted circulation throughout Russia. Our infographic will give you all the details of the new 100-rouble (3.08 USD. 3.21 CAD. 3.27 AUD. 2.30 Euros. 1.95 UK Pounds) banknote. The first Olympic commemorative banknote appeared in China for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, issued as a 10-Yuan (54 Roubles. 1.64 USD. 1.71 CAD. 1.74 AUD. 1.22 Euros. 1.03 UK Pound) bill. Russia decided to continue this tradition. The Bank of Russia’s numismatic programme “Sochi 2014” includes 38 types of memorabilia and 9 kinds of investment coins. The programme began in 2011; the third and fourth series of coins are now in production.

Click here for more on the preparations for the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics

2 November 2013




Monday, 13 August 2012

As John Robles Sees It… Fourth Anniversary of Georgian Invasion: Special Measures Ensured Proper Training of South Ossetian Militia


Today, 8 August 2012, is the fourth anniversary of the invasion of South Ossetia by Georgian Army forces; memorial events are being held throughout the country and in the capital of Tskhinval. Whilst Mikhail Saakashvili continues to make warlike statements towards Russia, our country remembers its dead. Today, President Putin made some revelations about the conflict and Russia’s relations with South Ossetia. According to the Interfax, one of the events to mark the occasion was an exhibition of paintings that were damaged by Georgian shells and bullets and were placed on display in Tskhinval on Theatre Square in the centre of the city. The exhibition was called titled “War Through Paintings’ Eyes” and features canvasses painted by prominent South Ossetian artists. The tragically-damaged paintings symbolise the tragedy and sadness of those days.

Even before Georgia invaded the South Ossetia, the Russian Federation and the government of South Ossetia were working together in an attempt to prepare the South Ossetian militia in case Georgia decided to make an incursion into the country. The plan was developed by the Army between 2006 and 2007, with the direct participation of President Putin, who, when asked about the plan after holding talks with his Armenian counterpart Serzh Sargsyan on Wednesday, told Interfax, “It isn’t a secret. There was a plan in place and we were guided by it. The General Staff developed it in late 2006 to early 2007, and it was negotiated with me. We trained South Ossetian militia under this plan”. President Putin also stated, “Although our experts argued that training South Ossetian militia was a hopeless thing, as militia would be weaker than a regular army, even Georgian, it proved more than effective”.

Therefore, despite the fact that the forces of South Ossetia were far weaker and far smaller, they were trained well-enough to mount a noticeable and effective resistance, alongside Russian peacekeepers, against the Georgian aggressors until the Russian Army was able to arrive and drive the Georgian aggressors out of the republic that they had invaded, almost three days later. President Putin said that the experts had been mistaken, saying, “These people (self-defence) proved more than necessary and they courageously defended their motherland, and jointly with the Russian peacekeepers offered resistance to the onslaught from Georgian military formations for three days until the Russian army came”. When asked about his involvement during the invasion when he had been in Beijing {for the Olympics: editor}, President Putin said that he had called Dmitri Medvedev and the defence minister twice, on 7/8 August.

The tragic events were as follows… before midnight on 7 August, the Georgian Army attacked Tskhinval and nearby villages, using rocket and artillery fire and air strikes on the innocent civilians in the villages. This included the villages of Khetagurovo, Dmenis, Pris, Sarabuk, Satikar, Mugut, Didmukha, Galuanta, and others. On the morning of 8 August, Georgian tanks attacked the southern outskirts of Tskhinval, including the Russian peacekeepers’ barracks. The city’s defenders and Russian peacekeepers started fighting back, with fierce street fighting continuing throughout the day. Russia’s leaders decided to force the Georgian aggressors to peace and units of the Russian Army entered the republic. Tskhinval was freed in two days and the Georgian troops were forced far back into their territory.

ITAR-TASS reported that the Russian Ambassador to South Ossetia, Elbrus Kargiyev, pledged that such aggression wouldn’t recur, and that the Russian Federation will guarantee the security of the republic’s population, saying, “Today, we mourn, remember, and grieve over the untimely deaths of women, children, old people, the wonderful young men of Tskhinval, patriots of their country and, certainly, the Russian peacekeepers. However, there’s also a reason for joy… South Ossetia has the opportunity to live in peace and develop. As Russia’s representative, I guarantee that that the children of South Ossetia will never see the horrors of war. The guarantors of this are the Russian Federation and its political leadership, the leaders of our country and the structures, diplomatic and military, that, at the invitation of the republic’s leadership, and with the will of the Ossetian people, have settled in South Ossetia”.

Meanwhile, Tbilisi continues to terrorise the citizenry of the Republic of Abkhazia and stoke the fires of anti-Russian hysteria. In an interview with RIA-Novosti, Deputy Foreign Minister Grigori Karasin said that the current situation along the border between Georgia and the Republic of Abkhazia is alarming. Mr Karasin stated that Georgian Special Forces regularly penetrate into the Gali District and “persistently terrorize the local population”. He stated that this shows that Georgia is still planning revenge scenarios in the region and that hysteria about Russia’s planned Caucasus 2012 military exercises has been going on for approximately a year. He said there is widespread hysteria about supposed unspecified plans by Russia to destroy Georgian statehood, and he called such talk part on Georgia’s part “propagandistic delirium”.

On Tuesday, General Postnikov told ITAR-TASS, “Our exercise has nothing to do with events in other countries, including Georgia. However, in order to rule out any possibility of speculations on that issue, our military bases in Abkhazia, South Ossetia and even in Armenia will not participate in the Kavkaz-2012 exercise”. According to Mr Karasin, when he spoke about Georgia’s unhinged leader, he said that the international community is used to President Mikhail Saakashvili’s lack of restraint, the Georgian leader makes warlike statements all the time. We should view such accusations appropriately, and take into consideration the “emotionality and provocative nature of the Georgian leadership’s intentions”. We’ll watch the situation closely.

8 August 2012

John Robles

Voice of Russia World Service


Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Russia and the USA: A Precarious Balance


The joint statement released by Presidents Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama after their meeting in Los Cabos, Mexico, is a masterpiece of diplomatic correctness. Perfectly neutral and entirely constructive in tone, it sounds as if leaders trying not to say nor do anything that could set off an avalanche made it. In short, they followed the first rule of medicine, “Do no harm”. Putin hasn’t met with a US president for nearly three years, since early 2009, when Obama first came to Moscow and Putin was prime minister. It was a remarkable meeting. In response to Obama’s polite greeting, Putin delivered a very emotional speech lasting 45 minutes, addressing the Kremlin’s complaints against Washington. Putin last spoke with Obama’s predecessor, George W Bush, during the 2008 Beijing Olympics, although not about sports. He demanded that Bush stop Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili, who had launched a war against South Ossetia that day. Bush didn’t cooperate on this.

The last time Putin as president held full-scale talks with his American counterpart was in Sochi in April 2008, when Putin and Bush adopted a framework declaration on USRussian relations. It was a balanced and positive document, which included the agenda for the future reset policy. The collapse of bilateral relations later that summer was largely due to the fact that practical policy, in particular US policy, veered dramatically away from the partners’ constructive plans. In other words, Moscow decided that Washington had deceived it. Unfortunately, for bilateral relations, two of the strategic priorities that the Bush Administration saw as part of its foreign policy legacy had a direct bearing on Russian interests… drawing Georgia and the Ukraine into the NATO orbit and deploying missile defence systems in Eastern Europe. The August 2008 war in South Ossetia was a logical consequence of the attempts to translate these priorities to reality. Russian-US relations under Putin and Bush culminated in a fatal loss of Russian trust in the USA, which has continued to affect bilateral relations to this day. Putin’s convinced that no gentlemanly agreements or heart-to-heart talks are possible with Americans, only tough and lengthy bargaining for legally-binding agreements.

On the other hand, the reset policy launched in 2009 became possible only when Moscow decided that Obama, unlike his predecessor, would keep his word. Obama promised to review Bush’s missile defence plans for Poland and Czechia, and he has done so. Moscow’s shown that it’s always willing to reciprocate. Then-President Dmitri Medvedev stated that Russia would look into approving sanctions against Iran the very next day after Obama buried Bush’s missile defence initiative in Eastern Europe. However, the US-Russian relationship is now strained and the fruits of the reset policy have spoilt. Putin refused to attend the G8 summit at Camp David after Obama said he would not attend APEC Leaders’ Week in Vladivostok. Hillary Clinton and Sergei Lavrov never tire of exchanging words over Syria. US senators accused Rosoboronexport of aiding the Iranian missile programme.

The US Congress will likely approve legislation to normalise trade relations with Russia by repealing the obsolete Jackson-Vanik Amendment. However, the new legislation is to be accompanied by the passage of the Magnitsky Act allowing sanctions against individuals who were allegedly involved in the death of a lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, in 2009 and similar crimes. Given the US criticism of Russia over the new Assembly Law and the police searches of the homes of several opposition leaders, the missile defence dead-end and the now customary diplomatic scandals involving Ambassador Michael McFaul, the general picture of US-Russian relations looks gloomy. However, in fact, it’s better than it seems, as the meeting in Mexico has shown. Tough bargaining with elements of propaganda warfare aimed at forcing the opponent to compromise is normal practice in relations between great powers. As they say, “Nothing personal”. Nevertheless, differences over Syria and Iran are important, as the situation in these countries is approaching a showdown. Although US-Russian relations are far from friendly, they aren’t unusually hostile either.

The important thing is what the US administration does to minimise damage from its political sorties. The State Department and the White House have publicly supported the Republican advocates of the Magnitsky Act, whilst at the same time trying to limit its negative effect. The State Department adopted its own, reportedly short, Magnitsky list last year to prevent Congress from denying entry visas to Russians indiscriminately. The Pentagon, where Russian complaints over Syria and Iran are directed, hasn’t rushed to punish Russia and has officially dissociated itself from Clinton’s accusations. It hasn’t the time for political games because it needs Russia’s sustained cooperation in Afghanistan (equipment, cargo, transit, routes, and other technical matters).

When you consider the complex multilayered relations between these two countries that were just recently mortal enemies, you should expect to see some clouds. What matters is whether they are set for conflict, or whether tensions are the result of objective structural factors. The USA and Russia are currently not set for confrontation, at least not at the highest level. There’s no friendship or sympathy between Putin and Obama, and there’s unlikely to be any in the future. However, it’s more important that they see each other as trustworthy partners. Their latest joint statement indicates that this is possible.

21 June 2012

Fyodor Lukianov



Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Russia Takes Olympic Weightlifting Silver in Men’s Over 105 kilogrammes Class

Yegeny Chigishyov (1979- ), world championship weightlifter, Olympic gold-medallist


Russia‘s Yevgeny Chigishyov won silver on Tuesday in the men’s over 105 kilogrammes (over 231 pounds) weightlifting event at the Beijing Olympics. The Russian led after the snatch in the super-heavy weight category and gold seemed within his grasp, but, Germany‘s Matthias Steiner came through in the clean and jerk to lift 258 kilogrammes (569 pounds) and with a total weight of 461 kilogrammes (1,016 pounds), beat Chigishev by just 1 kilo (2.2 pounds) to clinch the gold medal. The bronze went to Latvia‘s Viktors Scerbatihs who lifted a total weight of 448 kilogrammes (988 pounds). Russia is currently ranked 6th in the overall medal standings with 9 gold, 14 silver, and 17 bronze medals, while China tops the standings, boasting 41 gold, 14 silver, and 17 bronze medals.

19 August 2008



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