Voices from Russia

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Case Closed: Kremlin Sends Louis Vuitton Packing from Red Square

00 Louis Vuitton pavillion Red Square. Moscow RUSSIA. 28.11.13


On Wednesday, Moscow municipal authorities said that they’re dismantling a giant designer suitcase-shaped pavilion installed in the middle of Red Square, following a wave of public outrage and many demands for its removal. The city’s media and advertising department said that the sponsors of the Louis Vuitton-backed installation were preparing to take it down on Wednesday afternoon, after the Kremlin and the landmark GUM department store asked for the removal of their new neighbour. On Wednesday afternoon, GUM confirmed that work began to dismantle the titanic trunk. Measuring 30 metres (99 feet) long and nine metres (30 feet) high, and adorned with the Louis Vuitton logo, the oversized travel case was due to house a “Soul of Travel” exhibition organised by the famed French fashion house from 2 December to 19 January. Consisting of historical suitcases and video installations, the display was one of several events scheduled to commemorate GUM’s 120th anniversary.

However, public ire over the litigious luggage reached a fever pitch in recent days as people criticised the suitcase’s placement in Red Square… a UNESCO Heritage Site and the first port of call for most visitors to the Russian capital… as well as the display’s timing over the New Year holiday period. Lawmakers in the RF Gosduma, based just across the road from Red Square, complained that the “obscenity” denigrated the landmark, which they called a sacred symbol of Russian government. On Wednesday, a GUM spokesman said that the department store decided to send the suitcase packing after an overwhelmingly negative public reaction, and a Kremlin source told journalists that the presidential administration hadn’t agreed to the pavilion’s construction. Presidential spokesman Dmitri Peskov said that the Kremlin issued no official orders to remove the pavilion. He said that there was nothing wrong with the suitcase, although he noted that those who designed it “obviously lacked a sense of proportion”. However, the lost luggage may yet find a new place to stay in the capital. Spokesmen from both Gorky Park (TsPKiO) and the all-Russia Exhibition Centre (VVTs), two of Moscow’s largest parks, told RIA-Novosti that they were ready to consider taking in the trunk, but that they haven’t yet received any requests to host the pavilion.

The fate of the “Soul of Travel” exhibition, a non-profit show to raise funds for supermodel Natalia Vodianova’s charity project, the Naked Heart Foundation, remains unclear. Vodianova, who founded the children’s charity in 2004, expressed hope that the exhibition wouldn’t face cancellation and that they could move the trunk to a new site. She wrote on her Facebook page, “If the exhibition doesn’t take place, not only will we be deprived of an exciting journey into history and beauty, but the charitable funds from ticket sales… which Louis Vuitton originally proposed to transfer to the Naked Heart Foundation… won’t be generated”. Louis Vuitton said that it planned to give the entire proceeds from the exhibition’s 200-rouble (6 USD. 6.40 CAD. 6.70 AUD. 4.50 Euros. 3.70 UK Pounds) admission charge to Vodianova’s charity. On Wednesday, repeated calls to the fashion house’s head office in London went unanswered.

27 November 2013




Friday, 31 August 2012

Punko and Savchenko Win Paralympic Gold for the Russian Team

Sergei Punko, winner of the gold in the men’s 400-metre freestyle swimming event, covering the distance in a time of 04:10.26.


Vladimir Balinets, winner of the silver in weightlifting


Viktoria Potapova, winner of the bronze in women’s judo (up to 48 kilos (106 pounds) class)


Today, competition at the London Paralympics began. Our team won two golds already. “Look up at the stars, not down at your feet”, is one of the mottos of the Paralympics, and all that’s going on at sport venues in London confirms the unlimited possibility of the human spirit. Sergei Punko won in 400-metre freestyle swimming. His fellow swimmer, Oksana Savchenko, also took home the gold. Earlier, Viktoria Potapova took a bronze in judo, in the up to 48 kilogramme (up to 106 pounds) class. Russia’s first medal on the first day of the London Paralympics was a silver won by Vladimir Balynets; the weightlifter from Yakutia lifted 170 kilos (375 pounds). Our volleyballists won a victory over the British home team, getting a slot in the qualifying tournament. Today, a world record was broken in Paralympic swimming; Briton Jonathan Fox swam the 100-metre backstroke in 1:09.86.

Many of those who competed today had to watch the opening ceremony on TV, for, after all, many of the events started in the morning. It may not have been as spectacular as the opening of the Olympics, but it appeared more human, warm, and informative. The grand spectacle filled the entire stadium, with a main theme of “Enlightenment”. Like Paralympic sport itself, it pushed the boundaries of the possible. It told the history of British science told in an hour, from Isaac Newton to Stephen Hawking, the famous physicist in a wheelchair. In telling this, the British hosts used Shakespeare; his The Tempest was the literary basis of the ceremony. Actress Nicola Miles-Wildin took the part of Miranda, the heroine of the play; she looked up from her wheelchair and hovered over the stadium, along with aerial acrobats. It was hard to believe that the acrobats were people with disabilities.

During the parade, our team stretched a whole “hundred metres”, consisting of 163 athletes from 49 regions. The Russian banner-bearer was Aleksei Ashapatov; four years ago, in Beijing, he won two gold medals. Model Natalia Vodianova, who lives in London, was the only Russian woman participating in the Paralympic Torch Relay. She noted, “It’s an honour for me. I wish that the Paralympians have an agreeable week”. The Paralympians aren’t just medal-hungry; they compete because they want to. To the delight of the audience, they gave even more in just the qualifying competition more than anyone expected.


If you click on the URL below, it’ll take you to a page where you can find a video-embed. Its 3:27, not long at all… the narration is in Russian, but it’s worth watching for the visuals.


30 August 2012

Dmitri Soshin

Первый канал (Pervy Kanal: Channel One)


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