Voices from Russia

Monday, 28 July 2014

Christian Kids from Syria to Holiday at Russian Camp Due to Russian Generosity… Americans Nowhere to Be Seen

00 syrian kids. 28.07.14


On Monday, 100 children from the Damask Orthodox Shelter in the Mar Tekla Monastery in the Christian village of Ma’loula shall arrive in Moscow for a two-week vacation in a Russian holiday camp. V I Yakunin, the head of the Centre of National Glory supervisory board, one of the backers of the project, told us, “I’m certain that the Syrian kids will remember their stay in a Russian camp for their whole lives. I hope that this would be able to redirect the kids from the horrible events that befell them”. The kids will meet Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev of Moscow and all the Russias, have a tour around Moscow, take part in projects, and do sports. The Centre, together with the Andrei Pervozvanny Foundation, arranged holidays for kids from hot spots in the past… ten years ago, it sponsored some 540 children from Kosovo and Metohija.

The three years of conflict in Syria completely or partly destroyed some 1,600 schools and more than half of all hospitals. According to UN estimates, more than 9 million refugees inside Syria and more than 2 million in neighbouring countries are now in need of help. UNICEF estimated that the number of Syrian children living in poverty reached 6.6 million in June 2014. In the past, Russia assisted Syria. In 2013, the MChS sent 200 tons of humanitarian aid to Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan. In return, the Syrian government decided to introduce the Russian language into the school curriculum starting in the 2014/15 school year.

28 July 2014

Rossiya Segodnya



Friday, 18 October 2013

18 October 2013. Sergei Yolkin’s World. Events of the Week in Cartoons by Sergei Yolkin: 16-20 September 2013

00 Sergei Yolkin. Events of the Week in Cartoons by Sergei Yolkin. 16-20 September 2013. 2013

Events of the Week in Cartoons by Sergei Yolkin: 16-20 September 2013

Sergei Yolkin



The “Lake” Co-op is a real estate scandal involving Vladimir Yakunin, the head of Russian Railways, a close friend of Vladimir Putin. It involves a chi-chi upscale dacha settlement for siloviki in Priozersky Raion of Leningrad Oblast. All of the owners are big wigs in the government and business. Of course, Yakunin’s spinning the situation like mad, but some of the mud’s sticking, especially, after Navalny picked up the story.

Yolkin uses one of his patented plays on words in the McCain entry. И это чистая правда.ru can mean, “That’s really in Pravda.ru”, or, “That’s absolutely true”… you pays your money and you takes your pick.



Sergei Yolkin ogles the revelations of the week: an article by John McCain in the online edition of Pravda.Ru , Putin’s possible candidacy in the 2018 Russian presidential election, and the story behind the creation of the Cooperative Озеро (Ozero: Lake) by Vladimir Yakunin.

20 September 2013

Sergei Yolkin



Saturday, 6 July 2013

6 July 2013. Sergei Yolkin’s World. Events of the Week in Cartoons: 17-21 June 2013

00 Sergei Yolkin. Events of the Week in Cartoons. 17-21 June 2013. 2013 – Resized

Events of the Week in Cartoons: 17-21 June 2013

Sergei Yolkin



Vladimir Yakunin is the head of Russian Railways and a close crony of VVP. A false (but very plausible-appearing) report surfaced in the media about his resignation, which caused a mini-brouhaha. The “Secret Secret Service”, of course, refers to Yakunin’s bodyguards, who, no doubt, wanted to get their hands on the “server” of the crook news.



Sergei Yolkin felt that the main events of the week were the reduction of nuclear weapons, a news report about a letter of resignation from Vladimir Yakunin, and, of course, the Moscow International Film Festival (MMKF).

21 June 2013

Sergei Yolkin



Sunday, 17 March 2013

Report Claims KPRF Won 2011 Election

00 KPRF 2011 Election Image


On Wednesday, the announcement of a report casting fresh doubt on the results of the 2011 Russian parliamentary election drew a dismissive response from the pro-Kremlin ruling party and the country’s top election official, whilst also causing a flurry of speculation about motives, as the study reportedly emerged from a think-tank headed by an official close to President Vladimir Putin. Stepan Sulakshin, the author of the Moscow-based Governance and Problem Analysis Centre’s report, told the newspaper RBK Daily in comments published late on Tuesday, “The officially-announced results are inaccurate. United Russia didn’t take first place; the KPRF took first place”. Sulakshin said the United Russia party gained 20-25 percent of the vote at the 2011 election for the RF Gosduma, compared to the official figure of 49 percent, whilst the KPRF gained 25-30 percent, significantly more than the 19 percent announced by election officials.

On Wednesday, we couldn’t reach Sulakshin for comment. A spokesman at the think-tank, where is he’s director, said that he was “on a business trip”, and no one else at the centre could comment on the report, which wasn’t released to the public. The newspaper Kommersant said that the report came out of a seminar that took place in the fall of 2012, and that “mathematical” methods grounded its findings. Widespread allegations of vote fraud in favour of then-Prime Minister Putin’s United Russia party at the 4 December 2011 parliamentary election triggered the largest anti-government demonstrations since the fall of the USSR.

Unlikely Critic

The think-tank responsible for the potentially-explosive report is run by an unlikely government critic, Russian Railways chief Vladimir Yakunin, an alleged former KGB officer widely-seen as a member of Putin’s inner circle. However, a source within Russian Railways told RIA-Novosti on Wednesday that Yakunin wasn’t involved in the drawing-up of the report. The source was unable to say why the news of the report was only made public more than a year after the elections, but denied that it was part of a rumoured Kremlin plan to call snap parliamentary polls.

Earlier this year, the respected Russian newspaper Kommersant said, citing United Russia sources, that the Kremlin could disband parliament… hit by a number of alleged corruption scandals involving lawmakers in recent months… in a bid to save Putin’s declining ratings. Putin stepped down as head of United Russia last May, when he handed over stewardship of the party to Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev. However, commentators suggest he remains closely linked in the eyes of the public to the party, which opposition figurehead Aleksei Navalny successfully branded “the party of crooks and thieves”. An opinion survey released earlier this week by the IA Rex pollster found that that in a survey of 396 political analysts, 22.5 percent believed in the likelihood of early elections to the RF Gosduma, whilst a similar proportion didn’t rule out the scenario.

On Wednesday, other political analysts suggested that the report was a bid to differentiate Putin from United Russia in the eyes of the electorate. Respected political analyst Yevgeni Minchenko told Kommersant, “There are a group of zealous guys in that centre who believe it’s necessary to distance Putin from United Russia… to deflect everything negative onto the party”. Lilia Shibanova, head of the independent election watchdog Golos {Golos is a suspect pro-American group that’s taken USAID money: editor}, speculated the report could be part of what she dubbed “Kremlin games” that could see the creation of a new pro-Kremlin party to replace the increasingly-discredited United Russia.

Political Reaction

Konstantin Mazurevsky, a senior United Russia official, told RIA-Novosti, “The data in the report was plucked from thin air. They don’t match the analytical data. Enough other elections were held since then, including regional ones, whose results answered any questions and disprove the report”. The head of the Central Elections Commission, Vladimir Churov… dubbed “the wizard” by opposition figures after the 2011 polls over allegations he had conjured up an unlikely victory for United Russia… also hit out at the report, suggesting that its author seek psychiatric assistance. Churov, an unabashed Kremlin loyalist, frequently said, “Churov’s first law is… Putin’s always right”.

Surprisingly, KPRF reaction was muted. There was no reaction from veteran party head, Gennady Zyuganov. Calls to the party’s press office went unanswered as of late Wednesday afternoon. Vadim Solovyov, the KPRF’s top lawyer, told journalists that the party estimated it took around 30 percent of the vote at the 2011 polls. He said the party didn’t contest the results in court because it didn’t believe its appeal would get a fair hearing. The Kremlin didn’t officially comment on the news of the report, but an administration source told RIA-Novosti that anyone dissatisfied with the election results should file complaints with the courts, and “not write reports”. Shibanova, the head of Golos, noted, “Frequently, the courts simply rejected complaints about the December 2011 election”.

Putin’s Victory “Legitimate”

The report apparently also examined Putin’s victory in the presidential election last March, which saw him return to the Kremlin for a controversial third term after a four-year hiatus as prime minister. Sulakshin told RBK, “Putin, unlike United Russia, is legitimate. Fifty-two percent voted for him… zealous officials handed him another 13 percent”. Putin took 63.6 percent of the vote at last year’s polls, but Sulakshin didn’t explain the mathematical discrepancy, adding, “Putin needed an honest victory, so, he gave the order to carry out honest elections”. Anything over 50 percent of the vote at the March 2012 elections would’ve been enough to hand Putin victory in the first round.

14 March 2013

Marc Bennetts



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