Friday, October 31, 2008

Cinderella in Russian (clip) - Midnight: Leaving The Bal

I thought this would be fun to watch.. Cinderella as a Russian!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Can't Afford to Pay a Professional? Нет Проблем

Let's say you're a poor Russian citizen, you live on the 10th floor of your building, you have this air conditioner and can't afford to pay a professional to come and install it for you. What do you do? Do it yourself, конечно.

Let's say your balcony is looking a little bit on the worn-down side. Do you call in someone in fix it up? Hell no. You climb out onto your balcony and fix it yourself.

I think we can all learn a thing or two about resourcefulness and reckless disregard for one's own life from the Russians.

The Russian NGO Law

For the full article, click here!

Since the Russian Federation’s emergence in 1991, its laws governing free speech and the right to association have been studied and scrutinized by the outside world, most notably by the United States. The state of civil society in Russia during the political upheavals of the early 1990s, as well as throughout the last decade of relative transitional stability, has been a source of optimism, concern, and speculation: Would the “New Russia” promote a free exchange of ideas and tolerate dissent? The answer, after the new non-governmental organization (NGO) legislation passed this year, unfortunately appears to be a resounding no.

On January 10, 2006, the Russian Federation passed a law addressing the situation of NGOs in Russia. This law, officially entitled “On Introducing Amendments into Certain Legislative Acts of the Russian Federation,”2 came into effect on April 15, 2006. In common parlance, its vague title has been replaced by “Russian NGO Law” to reflect the actual target of the legislation, namely nongovernmental organizations. The full consequences of this law are not yet known, because no prosecution has been brought to date; it remains to be seen, therefore, how this law will be applied and how courts will interpret its provisions.

The language of the law, however, significantly expands government control over NGOs and considerably restricts the right to association and the right to privacy of NGOs and NGO members. The Council of Europe reviewed a draft of the law and declared many of the provisions problematic.3 The Russian Government then revised its law, incorporating several recommendations made by the Council.4 Many restrictive provisions remained, however. The Russian Government also added new amendments in the final version limiting the rights of foreign NGOs and NGO members that were not in the original draft evaluated by the Council of Europe.5 These amendments potentially violate international and national law. This analysis will review the NGO Law6 and then address the possible breaches of the legislation, law by law, article by article.

Provisions of the Russian NGO Law
Registration Requirements

The Russian NGO Law has introduced new documentation requirements for NGOs. In order to register under the new law, organizations must fill out roughly 100 pages of documents, listing detailed personal information about each founder and each member.7 If any of the founders are deceased, the organization must provide death certificates. These new requirements create an excessive burden on NGOs, and any mistake in the paperwork can be grounds for denial of registration, essentially providing the government with another excuse to dissolve – or refuse to recognize legally – organizations.

A letter condemning the new legislation from Amnesty International commented: “The experience to date has been that the law is unduly burdensome, diverting resources from substantive programs, while using a regulatory framework that can be arbitrarily applied, has key provisions which lack a precise legal definition, and sanctions that are disproportionate.”8 As of June 29, 2006, forty foreign NGOs had applied for official registration under the new law – and not a single one was successful.9 All received notification that they did not comply with the documentation requirements and must resubmit their applications. The fact that all forty were denied registration indicates how complicated the new requirements are and confirms NGOs’ fears that this law can be used to harass NGOs, creating unnecessary work for them and excuses for the government to deny organizations registration.

Funding Reports
Additionally, NGOs must complete annual reports, listing all foreign donations received and the ways in which those funds were used. This documentation requirement essentially outlaws anonymous donations. It also complicates large-scale public fundraising; NGOs do not have the necessary personal information about each small donor, who, for example, puts ten dollars in a collection bucket at a rally. These requirements are especially problematic for NGOs involved with human rights, because these organizations receive most of their financial support from foreign sources.17

The Russian NGO Law limits who may found, participate, or join an NGO to individuals domiciled in Russia, thus denying foreign nationals or stateless persons full freedom of association. Additionally, the NGO Law forbids certain others from becoming NGO members, including “undesirable” foreigners, individuals on a money-laundering and anti-terrorist financing watch list, individuals found by the court to have participated in extremist activity, individuals currently imprisoned, and members of organizations that have been suspended under the Law Countering Extremist Activity. The NGO Law does not define “undesirable” or “extremist,” and the money-laundering and anti-terrorist financing watch list is a non-published private government document. In other words, without knowing the definition of the government’s terms or who is on the government’s watch list, NGOs cannot protect themselves from accidentally accepting “illegal” members and thus facing dissolution.

Government Supervision
The NGO Law expands the government’s powers to supervise and thereby control NGO activity. It gives the government the authority to review an NGO’s private documents, including those related to financial and policy decisions, as well the ability to send a government representative to any NGO meeting, including private strategic and financial meetings. These provisions, if exercised broadly, would drastically limit the ability of NGOs to function as independent organizations. If an organization is in constant fear that its documents will be requested or its meetings observed, it can neither operate efficiently nor remain uninfluenced by the political leanings of the government.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Russia Not Safe from Financial Meltdown

Full Article Here

Russia will take a double hit from the global financial crisis because it is not isolated from the world and lacks domestic economic stability, a senior U.S. diplomat said.

Russia is seeing "the worst of both worlds," David Merkel, deputy assistant secretary of state for Russia, said in an interview Friday.

Reiterating the harsh rhetoric that the U.S. administration has adopted since Russia invaded Georgia in August, Merkel blamed the Russian government for the domestic stock market's disastrous performance and a jump in capital flight in the early days of the crisis.

Among the government's mistakes, he said, was the "talking down of certain companies." In July, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin attacked mining company Mechel, causing its shares to drop.

"There was already a downturn when the global downturn began," Merkel said.

War and Peace: The Two New Translations

There are two new translations of "War and Peace" on the market.

"War and Peace" has survived all cultural climate changes and continues to find readers—there are at least four different translations currently in print. The irony is that it does this almost in spite of its translators. The best-known was done by Constance Garnett in 1904. Garnett was a woman in a hurry—she translated some 70 Russian books into English—but what she gained in speed, she lost in subtlety. Her version of "War and Peace" isn't bad, but it's not exactly Tolstoy either. It has a sort of one–size-fits-all quality. (Joseph Brodsky, the Nobel Prize-winning Russian poet, said that English-speaking readers couldn't tell the difference between Tolstoy and Dostoevsky because they'd hadn't been reading their prose, they'd been reading Garnett's.) Only two years ago, a new translation appeared by an Englishman, Anthony Briggs. This version is brisk and efficient—two words no one ever applied to Tolstoy—but the characters, particularly the servants and soldiers from the ranks, talk as if they'd just wandered in from a Dickens novel.

Good translation is something like what Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart said about obscenity: he couldn't define it, but he knew it when he saw it. When you read T. E. Lawrence's translation of the Odyssey or even the fragment of the Aeneid that Seamus Heaney has produced, you see, as if for the first time, the potency of these works. But if agreeing on the criteria for a great translation has proved impossible, that has never stopped people from debating what constitutes a good one, or about whether it is an art or a craft, or about the possibility—or impossibility—of ever truly rendering one language's reality into another tongue. In any case, it is hard not to feel sympathy for Tolstoy's translators, even the bad ones. They have their work cut out for them.

Pevear and Volokhonsky labored for three years on "War and Peace." Besides "Anna Karenina," the couple has translated 14 books by most of the major 19th-century Russian writers, including Dostoevsky, Chekhov and the notoriously difficult Gogol. "They're all hard," Pevear says, but "War and Peace" presented a unique set of challenges. "Other translators have said they find Tolstoy comparatively easy to translate," Pevear says. "If you assume that Tolstoy is not really a stylist and that his work can be paraphrased into smooth English, the task may become comparatively easy. But once you pay close attention to his words, they become as difficult to translate as any."

Pevear points out that Tolstoy constantly uses words and phrases in odd combinations, such as when he describes the "transparent" sound of horses' hooves on a wooden bridge or when he writes that "drops dripped" from the leaves of trees. The temptation is always, when translating, to make things make sense, to smooth things out. But then it isn't Tolstoy. There were as well all the "hunting terms, terms for the specific colors of horses' coats, for the shapes of dogs' paws, for the gait of a wolf being pursued. Russian has its own rich and inventive vocabulary for these things, for which there are often no equivalents in English," Pevear says. Then there was the question of how to handle the slang of soldiers and peasants. "Replacing them with standard Cockney or redneck jargon, as has been done, is a great mistake," he says, "because those 'languages' bring their own worlds with them."

If Pevear and Volokhonsky have an edge as translators, it is that they don't just respect the original but trust it completely. "I said to Richard," Volokhonsky says, " 'Let's translate "War and Peace." We'll be in good hands'." As a result, all the modernity of the book—and it does seem the most modern of almost any classic novel from the 19th century—comes from Tolstoy's outlook on life, not from the language of this translation, which remains blessedly free of any contemporary lingo. "Our reasons for making a new translation have nothing to do with keeping up with the supposed changes in modern English," Pevear says. "Quite the opposite. We go back into Tolstoy's prose as a specific artistic medium; we try to pay the closest attention to his way of using Russian; we want our English version to be more Tolstoyan, not more contemporary. Tolstoy is modern enough as it is. We want, as far as possible, to do in English what he does in Russian."

air enough, but Tolstoy has been moving English readers for more than a century, and the translations haven't seemed to matter. Pierre is still Pierre, his belly spilling out of his waistcoat. Andrei is still lying wounded on the battlefield at Austerlitz, staring at the sky as if for the first time. Isn't the story what's most important, and not the particulars of its translation? Pevear will have none of that: "You could tell people what is portrayed in Rembrandt's 'Return of the Prodigal Son' and move them deeply. But the telling would have little to do with the experience of looking at the unique disposition of color, light, space, scale, line, texture, brushwork in Rembrandt's painting, which also happens to depict the return of the prodigal son. It is the same with a work in words. Words have color, shade, tone, texture, rhythm, pacing, disposition, structure; they can quote, echo, parody other words; they can be unexpected, infinitely suggestive, mercurial; they can also beat and repeat like a drum. That is the nature of Tolstoy's artistic medium; his 'story' comes clothed in all these elements of style as he alone used them, and which alone create the impression he wanted to make. Of course he used them 'instinctively,' and not for the sake of effect (though he was a far more conscious and even experimental stylist than is sometimes thought). The translator, on the other hand, has to do consciously what the author did instinctively. And yet it must seem instinctive—that's the final test." To anyone who attempts this latest translation, it will be clear quite quickly that Pevear and Volokhonsky aced that exam.

Unit 3: Cabbage Rolls with Mushroom Soup

1 ea onion, chopped.
2 tb butter.
1 ea garlic clove, crushed (optional).
3/4 c uncooked raw rice.
200 g ground beef or veal.
200 g ground pork.
1 ts salt.
1/4 ts pepper.
1 ea whole head cabbage.
Boiling water.
2 c beef broth or stock.
1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup.

Stew chopped onion and garlic in butter in a large skillet for 3-5 mins. Add rice, meat, salt, and pepper. Stir just to mix well. Remove from heat. Remove core from cabbage. Place whole head in a large kettle filled with boiling water. Cover and cook for 3 mins. Remove softened outer leaves. Take out all large leaves Cut thick center stem from each leaf.Take one large cabbage leaf at a time,put 1 rounded tablespoonful of meat mixture in center of a leaf. Roll leaves. Put stuffed cabbage leaves with seam down close to each other on a frying pan. Do not make more than 2 layers. Combine beef broth and mushroom soup; Pour over cabbage rolls. Bake in a well heated oven for 1 1/2 hours.

KGB and Party Control

Although the security police was always a government rather than a party institution, the party considered this agency to be its own vital arm and sought to maintain the closest supervision and control over its activities. The KGB was nominally subordinate to the Council of Ministers. But the CPSU, not the government, exercised control and direction. Aside from the Politburo, which probably issued general policy directives, another vehicle for such party control was, according to Western specialists, the State and Legal Department of the Central Committee Secretariat. This department supervised all government agencies concerned with legal affairs, security, and defense, including the Ministry of Defense. It implemented party control by approving personnel appointments and exercising general oversight to ensure that these agencies were following party directives. From 1968 to 1988, the chief of this department, which probably had a staff of fifty to sixty employees, was Nikolai Savinkin. From the available evidence, it appears that the department did not involve itself as deeply in KGB affairs as it did in the activities of other state agencies, such as the MVD. Given the sensitive nature of KGB functions, the party leadership may have been reluctant to allocate to the State and Legal Department the most important decisions about KGB personnel and policy. Rather, the Central Committee secretaries charged with oversight responsibilities for the State and Legal Department probably made the key decisions. Such a portfolio was an important source of political power for a Central Committee secretary and was therefore a highly coveted responsibility. In January 1987, Anatolii Lukianov was brought into the Secretariat to supervise the State and Legal Department. He was, however, only a junior secretary, so Gorbachev or another senior secretary may have had the ultimate responsibility. Lukianov, an apparent ally of Gorbachev, had attended Moscow University's Law Faculty when Gorbachev was there in the early 1950s.

Russian Dialects

The Russian language is the most geographically widespread language of Eurasia, the most widely spoken Slavic language and the largest native language in Europe. Therefore, it is no surprise that there are different dialects of Russian, as there are most languages, and is actually surprising how few dialects there are in Russia.

Some linguists divide Russian dialects into two groups: Northern and Southern regional dialects, with Moscow lying in the transition zone between the two. Others divide it into three sections, Northern, Southern and Central regions, with Moscow lying in the Central region. There are also dozens of smaller variants through out the country.

The dialects differ in their pronunciation, intonation, vocabulary and grammar.

Lomonosov was one of the first people to study Russian dialects in the 18th century and Vlamdimir Dal followed int he 19th century and also compiled a dictionary that included dialectal vocabulary, which was the first of its kind.

Examples of dialectal differences:
  • In Northern Russian the unstressed /o/ is pronounced very clearly.
  • East of Moscow the unstressed /e/ and /a/ following palatalized consonants and preceding a stressed syllable are not reduced to /i/ like the Moscow dialect
  • Many southern dialects palatalize word final /t/s

To listen to samples of different dialects spoken by Russians click here


Okay, so normally I wouldn't be one for fairy tales, but this is too sweet. It's a cartoon Russian version of Cinderella. For the most part it's mute, but there's the occasional dialogue.
And the second half...

I don't understand why they call her Золушка instead of Cinderella, though...

Russian Punk Music

My favorite music is punk so I went on a quest to find Russian punk of any kind. After a Google search I came up with the band Гражданская Оборона. Translated as "Civil Defense" this band was started in 1984, being one of the earliest and most popular Russian punk bands. They separated the rock from the punk, spawning several other Soviet and Russian punk bands with their success. Civil Defense's leader, Egor Letov, was considered a anti-soviet and presented his dislike of soviet imperialism, militarism, and the war in Afghanistan in his thoughtful lyrics. They were heavily censored because of these lyrics, and were forced to record in hiding. Civil Defense's sound is electric or acoustic guitar, little percussion, and Letov's strangely deep voice. It wasn't my favorite but you can check out their music here:
I also checked out another Russian punk band called Король и Шут, "King and Jester." They were made in 1988 and are themed with Slavic mythology. Sounding more on the rock side of punk rock, they sounded a little more modern than Civil defense, but I was still looking for something more. You can check out their music here:
I then found the Russian ska band Leningrad. They were made in the 90's and were known for their vulgar lyrics. For this reason the Russian radio stations were hesitant to air them. Front man Sergey "Shnur" Shnurov, said of the band, "Our songs are just about the good sides of life, vodka and girls that is." Despite censoring, they were able to gain much popularity and fame in Russia. One of their songs appears in Grand Theft Auto 4 in a mock Russian-themed radio station. I liked this band a lot even with a language barrier. If you like ska you would probably like this band. You can see their music here:
Overall I was satisfied with the Russian punk scene and I hope to find some more bands out there.

Sunday, October 26, 2008


As one of the most prominent composers during a period when a Russian musical identity was being shaped by numerous writers and musicians, Modest Mussorgsky became famous for his atypical compositions, which often flew in the face of established European tradition. One of the most unique composers of his time, Mussorgsky's works took great inspiration from Russian history, folklore, and took cues and arrangements from classical, traditional Russian music and works. Unlike numerous composers before him, Mussorgsky used his talent to begin the process of carving out a uniquely Russian musical identity that would inspire many composers to come.

As a member of an incredibly rich and prominent family, Mussorgsky was chosen to continue his family's tradition in the military. However, music was always important to him, and his encounters with several geniuses, including Borodin, helped push him towards his unique composing identity. As a member of the famous five Russian composers of his time, dedicated to breaking with the established tradition of mainland Europe, Mussorgsky's works reached a wide audience. He was, however, considered a 'radical' for his favorable view of the weak and poor, and his numerous works clashing with the establishment and militaristic power.

Plenty can be said about Mussorgsky, but so much can be learned through his beautiful works. Originally written as a piano suite, Pictures at an Exhibition as been rearranged and performed countless times and has become one of Mussorgsky's most famous works. It's certainly my favorite, and one of my favorite classical works ever (first part of several) -

Mussorgsky's only finished opera, Boris Gudonov, is often considered his best work. A rejection of the mainstays and conventions of German and Italian opera, Gudonov was not without its critics - many mainstream composers (including Tchaikovsky) derided it, and conservative commentators and friends of the Russian court were very vocal about their distrust of the composer and his aims.

One of the greats, definitely!

Russia As An Emerging Market

BRIC stands for Brazil, Russia, India and China. These countries are considered by many to be the top emerging markets. I first heard this term when I was surfing around the Goldman Sachs website, because who doesn't want to be a research analyst in emerging markets at Goldman Sachs? Well, I think it'd be a cool job. Anyway, what's the big deal? The infinitely reliable Investopedia defines BRIC as, "An acronym for the economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China combined. The general consensus is that the term was first prominently used in a Goldman Sachs report from 2003, which speculated that by 2050 these four economies would be wealthier than most of the current major economic powers."  

Well, that's pretty cool. I guess learning Russian is a good investment after all. But how does Russia factor into this economic idea? Well, Goldman Sachs predicts that Russia and Brazil will become dominant suppliers of raw material. Raw material like natural gas? No way. Russia would never use its oil reserves to elbow its way into a leading role on the global stage.  

I keep tabs on financial news, because I'm cool like that. And Russia is having a ball buying up oil companies and ousting old leaders from the rosters of the newly acquired. Furthermore, they realize this raw material monopoly won't last forever, and they are making efforts to diversify their earnings into new technologies. I guess that's good for Russia, but is it good for us? 

To back track a bit, there's been a lot of recent polling due to an election or something like that coming up, and it's been noted that Obama is the more popular worldwide candidate. However, Russia happens to be one of the few countries that's somewhat less excited about the prospect of Obama as president. What does this have to do with Russia as an emerging market? Well, Russia has been behaving badly towards its neighbors lately, and has been getting away with it. It's my immensely uneducated opinion that Russia perceives Obama as being more interested in social justice and less interested in economics, which would be antithetical towards Russia's intentions regarding current business practices. I mean, Obama's economic know-how probably extends as far as reading the back cover of "Freakonomics" anyway. That's a good book, but it's not exactly Adam Smith. And if he wants to raise taxes on hedge fund managers' income by a few measly percent, he probably won't be hugely sympathetic towards Russia's lumbering tactics towards economic power.  

So, we have an emerging market that doesn't like our likely president, and this emerging market happens to be supplying something Americans are somewhat preoccupied with. Is this a problem? Perhaps, that depends on a lot of factors that are totally outside the scope of this blog. Is Russia a good investment? Goldman Sachs seems to think so, and they managed to pull out of the mortgage mayhem right quick, so I'd probably bet their way on this one too. It will be interesting to see how our relationship with Russia develops as it takes on more importance in the global economy and we elect a new president. I'm reluctantly hoping Obama gets the go ahead, because I think he appeals to the sentiment of the nation - and the world - and that's a makeover we could certainly use. I just hope he takes all that bipartisanship to heart when he makes economic decisions, and barring that, I hope that our economy can shake off the threat of overzealous re-regulation and provide a shining testament to free markets once again.

Russian Rhythmic Gymnastics Training. Unit 3

This video shows some training that russian rhythmic gymnasts do. I've never seen anbody more flexible than these girls.

Russian Cartoon! Portfolio 3

I had already decided I was going to do this for my blog entry before I went onto the blog and saw all the cartoon posts.
So, everyone's posting American things in Russian. Here's a Russian cartoon I found on youtube with English subtitles. Sherlocke Homes and Dr. Watson. It's very.... ummm... weird.

The First Chechen War

This site gives a decent overview of the first Chechen war that occurred between Russia and Chechnya. Russia used a lot of dirty tactics throughout the civil war and committed various human rights abuses against the Chechens, but due to the current UN security council set-up nothing really could have been done to force Russia to allow human rights groups in the conflict area. Because of this most of the accusations against Russia are in the speculative realm, but some things including the bombing of the Chechen capital (Grozny) are irrefutable. There have been accusations that both the first and the second chechen war were genocides committed by Russia. However, under the current international definition of genocide Russia clearly has not committed genocide, but genocidal acts can be argued by groups sympathetic to the Chechen cause.

A little help

Ever wonder how to say things? Ever just not get the right pronunciation? Well here is your best friend then All you do is go here and type in the word in English or Russian and then click the cute microphone thing on the side and some animated lady says it to you. It is GOD to me. Enjoy...and now you have NO excuse you not knowing how to say something

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Simpsons

I found this little clip of a Simpson's Episode. I wanted to continue with the cartoon theme.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

I'm a follower...

So my favorite Disney movie is The Little Mermaid and although the most famous songs are listed on You Tube in Russian, I thought it would be intense to watch "Poor Unfortunate Souls" in Russian. I mean, what's better than an evil octopus woman screaming in Russian?  Not much. Enjoy!

Well, I can't just post the crazy Ursula-ness without the best part of the movie. Okay, there are a bunch of great songs, so I'll just post a few. But my favorite is Under the Sea because I actually played the song in band and the oboe had the melody for quite awhile. It was awesome. 

And Kiss the Girl. It's a classic. And frogs singing Russian just makes my day. You know you like it!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


WARNING:  Foul language/swearing.

 I'm posting this (aside from the fact that it's funny) because I heard one of the guys say "pochemy" so I'm assuming that some of the language is possibly Russian.


Once Upon a December, in RUSSIAN!

In the spirit of posting songs from various animated movies, here is the Russian version of Once Upon a December from Anastasia. There are subtitles and a translation, so you can know what is going on (and sing along, too). It's so much better than the English version.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Basso Profondo: That's Italian for "really deep voice"

So you're probably wondering why I'm mentioning Italian instead of Russian. Well, this Russian Chorus sings amazingly low, at a level called Basso Profondo, which actually means "low bass". It is as deep as a man's voice can get, a little over two octaves below middle C (eighteen keys down to be exact).

Just listen for yourself: the man singing sound like he's trying to call Satan from the threshold of hell.

However, he doesn't actually start until 25 seconds in, so until then you get to see varying pictures of Russian saints, churches, and other religious things.


Monday, October 13, 2008

Unit 2, Kameron S.

Russian Food & Recipes - Beverages

Russians like authentic beverages, like vodka or mors (a berry drink). Also, coffee and tea (with sugar and lemon) are popular.

Beverages:Kvas – the bread based sweet beverage. The most popular original beverage in Russia. Medovuha – the honey based sweet alcohol beverageKompot - boiled water with fruits and sugar, served coldProstokvasha – the milk based acid beverage, served coldSamogon – home made vodka, with the strong smellVodka – most popular Russian brandBeer – Russian beer in general a bit acid

Beverage Recipes:Abbreviations: ea - Each, tb - Table spoon, sm - Small, c - Cup, ts - Tea spoon, lg - Large. Recipes coutesy of RusCuisine.Com

Rye Kvas Ingredients : 1 cup boiling water , 1 cup rye flour, 1 tsp sugar ,1/4 cup lukewarm water , 1 pkg dry granular yeast (7g), 4 quarts boiled water,cooled to lukewarm. Method: Pour boiling water over the flour and stir briskly until smooth. Cool to lukewarm. Dissolve the sugar in the lukewarm water, sprinkle the yeast over it, and let stand for 10 minutes. Combine the cooled batter, cover and let it rise until light and double in bulk. Stir in 4 quarts of boiled water, cooled to lukewarm. Cover and let it stand in a warm place for 3-4 days. When liquid is clear and tastes mildly sour, pour it off carefully with disturbing the sediment. Cover and keep in the refrigerator.

Kvas recipe Ingredients : boiled water - 4 l., yeast - 20-25 gr., sugar - 500 gr., rye bread - for 800 gr. crackers , mint - 25 gr., raisin - 50 gr. Method: Prepare 9-10 bottles for Kvas, they must be very clean. If you don't want so much this beverage, reduce the number of ingredients. Cut rye bread into thin pieces and put it in the oven until they get brown. Put 800 gr. crackers into a pan or a small barrel, then pour 4 l hot boiled water. Leave this extract for 4 hours. Then filter it and add yeast, sugar (put sugar on your taste, if it is not enough, you can always add some sugar before drinking) and mint. Cover the pan with napkin and leave for fermentation during 5-6 hours. When Kvas begins to foam, filter it again and then pour it in the bottles (put on the bottom of bottles some raisins) and cork up very very good. After that fasten the corks with a rope. Put the bottles in a cool place and lay them aflat. Kvas will be ready in 2-3 days.

Sbitten recipe Ingredients : 500 g honey , 700 g treacle , 10 g spices (cinnamon, cloves, hops, mint) , 6 l water .Method: Boil water and add all ingredients and boil for 30 minutes. Sbitten is served hot with cakes and biscuits

Ps. In honor of my stereotypical knowledge... ;-)

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

This past summer I was in Russia during the European Cup. This ofcourse is a crazy time for any European country but exspecially for Russia because they did suprisingly well considering they were not expected to make it very far. I was in Vladimir when they won against the Netherlands. I wasn't out at the bars watching the game or anything but I could hear everything going on from my hotel room. It was crazy!! When Russia got a goal you could hear crowds of people shouting goooooalllll. And when they won it seemed like the whole city was celebrating. I dont think one person in vladimir was not out on the streets cheering and chanting the ole ole ole song and "Россия Россия!". It was pretty intense. I found a clip on youtube that sums up what went on after the victory over Netherlands.

Trip to St. Petersburg

My junior year of high school I had the privilege to take a trip to St. Petersburg Russia with the Russian II and III students. The first thing I noticed when we got to the city was how old all the buildings were. This may seem obvious and arbitrary, but when my unaccustomed eyes saw the sometimes decrepit buildings, my first thought was "wow they suck." However, I quickly began to appreciate the preservation that the Russians strove so hard for, whether it was the beautiful winter palace or St. Isaac’s cathedral (Russia has the best cathedrals, hands down) the city was beautiful to walk through. I also noticed how awful the air was and this did not garner any appreciation as I stayed in the city. It irritated my eyes so much, that I couldn't wear contacts. This created quite a conundrum when two kids stole my glasses.

The two things I remember most from the trip: food and our Russian guides.
Russian food may be the richest food I've ever tasted. There are four accepted tastes; sour, sweet, bitter, and salty. However, there is another that Japanese scientists are attempting to add umani. The closest English equivalent is savory, and imagine that the researchers must have been eating borsch or pirogies when they thought of this sense. I could bowls and bowls of borsch. Great competitive eating idea: borsch slurping. It may be the greatest concoction ever. I would go to Russia for no other reason than the borsch.
Our tour guides were ... complex individuals. Their moods could range from placid to enrage with a chance encounter. As we traversed down Nevskii prospyect, our tour guide was genially explaining the architecture of the main shopping mall in St. Petersburg. Soon, he spotted a somewhat disheveled looking guy, sprinted across the street, and left as bewildered and in my case, very much amused as he berated and pushed the bum. Many of the other students were worried and implored our Russian teacher to make him stop. I grabbed some donuts and threw in my own commentary, hoping to spark some more hostilities.
I have a cousin who lives in Paris and is a professor of geology at the University of Paris. Whenever we see him, he tells his infamous story about how he won his best geology specimen of a drunk Russian. Apparently, Russians not only use rubles for currency, but also minerals because as I was sitting outside of the church of blood and tears, a mineral peddling ... peddler tried to pawn some geodes and quartz off on me. I made sure not to say I was American, (at the market, we found at that saying you were American would jack up the price of anything) and we proceeded in a little parade around the street. As he followed my every cut, dart, and evasion tactic, I finally decided to confront him. Mistake number one. He told me about how awesome his minerals were. As I stood there in a mixture of disdain and infuriation, I told him how I hated rocks and essentially went on a tirade about why rocks suck. Mistake number two. Apparently this man loved his rocks, or his sloshed brain was convinced that he loved rocks. Nonetheless, I ended up buying a whole slew of rocks. I keep them as a reminder to never ever mess with a Russian and his rocks.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Unit 2 Blog

This is the training for the Russian Special forces.

Spetsnaz "Vitjaz" training

Unit 2 Blog

This is the training for the Russian Special forces.

Spetsnaz "Vitjaz" training

The Nightmare Before Christmas

In an effort to get into the fall spirit, here is "This is Halloween" from "A Nightmare before Christmas" in Russian. It's creepy in Russian! Enjoy!

Анна Ахматова

Created by Nathan Altman in 1914. Oil on Canvas. Located in The State Russian Museum.

Russian Aladdin "A Whole New World"

Monday, October 6, 2008

Grenade L-ARRR-nchers: Russia gets serious about pirates

I was perusing the Russia Today website and I found this article about how a top arms manufacturer in Russia, Bazalt, planned to combat pirating on the high seas by attaching "multi-barrel grenade launching systems" to ships. This move naturally would involve passing strict regulations and laws; still, it sounds like a pretty intense solution. Apparently pirating is a major problem, especially off the African coastline. I wonder if the cannons are for sale to all ships, or only Russian merchants.

On a completely unrelated note, I also found a few articles profiling homelessness in Russia. There are over 4.5 million people living without a home in Russia, with 70,000 alone living on the streets of Moscow.

Moscow offers eight shelters for the homeless; residents can stay for up to a year receiving needed psychological support and basic amenities. However, since these shelters house only up to 170 people each, the need far exceeds the service. Charities such as Aid To the Homeless, an organization that distributes bandages and supplies, and Way Home, which offers more rehabilitative programs like work programs and football leagues, strive to fill that gap. They serve a very diverse population, too. Chronically homeless people in Moscow cover a wide range of ages and experiences--unemployment, free choice, family strife, etc--and battle addiction, psychological problems, and depression.

It was interesting to me to realize that a large city on the other side of the world was dealing with the same issues as we are in Deland. People are basically the same everywhere, and have the same basic needs, regardless of culture. It was heartening to read how they are working for equality. And with a little more finesse than grenade launchers :-)

Why don't you say that to America's face Putin!?

Vladimir Putin, you may have heard of him - Russian Prime Minister, douchebag - criticized Monday afternoon the United States' role in the current global financial catastrophe, saying "Everything that is happening in economics and finance started in the United States." Not only did the Putster call America the source of the world's economic woes, he stated that "This isn't the irresponsibility of particular individuals, it is the irresponsibility of a system that, as we know, had claims to leadership." Putin's just a little flustered that the United States will once against lay the smackdown on Russia in yet another race: first it was the Space Race, now it's the Run-Your-Country-Into-Complete-And-Utter-Economic-Ruin Race.

Psychiatric Terror!

While looking for books for my first honors paper last week, I found this book “Psychiatric Terror – How Soviet Psychiatry Is Used to Suppress Dissent”. Exciting! As you may have guessed, this tome is about how the Soviet government has misused psychiatrists and mental hospitals to suppress political dissent. In my opinion, with which the book agrees, psychiatry is in many ways the most dangerous field of medicine. One pill can change the chemical make up of your brain and thus your entire personality; the potential to misuse this power is profound. 

The book begins by defining the parameters of psychiatry – or rather – pointing out that the parameters of psychiatry are rather ill defined. Furthermore, the very definition of mental illness has changed over time and there is still no general consensus on it. For example, homosexuality was in the handbook of mental illnesses until the 1970’s. And there are some professionals who declare it was only stricken because of political pressure. See how impossible it is to come to any sort of consensus? Anyway, how does this apply to Russia?

While the book explains that there has been widespread misuse of mental diagnostics, no where else has it been a systematic government policy to use psychiatry to suppress political dissent. Basically, whatever other regimes can do, Russia can do better. “With the development of various modes of dissent by Soviet citizens in the 1960s, reports began to emerge that substantial numbers of human-rights activists, nationalists, religious believers, and would-be emigrants, almost all mentally healthy in the eyes of their families and friends, were being declared insane by the psychiatrists and thereupon confined compulsorily for indeterminate periods to psychiatric hospitals.” 

It has struck me how similar Russia’s methods are to Spain’s during the Inquisition. In Russia political dissidents were declared insane, and in Spain they were declared heretics. It seems that even as we learn history to avoid repeating it, history finds new and interesting ways to repeat itself. So, how did all this get started?

It would seem apparent that our collective idea of mental illness is influenced by the cultural norms of our society. In Russia, these cultural norms were dictated by two primary sources – the Church and the government. In fact, monasteries were the original haven for the insane in Russia. Later, a ruling by Peter the Great transferred this responsibility to psychiatric institutions. At least, that was the theory. He didn’t actually develop any mental hospitals during his reign, but I guess he got the ball rolling. 

Eventually Russia took its health services up a few notches, and everything was going dandy. Then things got really interesting when some administrative reform created local government councils. These councils were responsible for overseeing health services. Put the government in charge of who they call crazy? Can you even imagine if we gave that power to the democrats and the republicans? I think Sarah Palin is a real sweetheart, but if Obama wins, her ass will be locked up for sure. 

Anyway, I don’t want to make this blog tediously long. So basically, you’ve got a short history of Russian psychiatry. It was religious, then medicinal, and then came under the jurisdiction of government. Then the government began to misuse it in the same way the Church, or any strong armed, power hungry, pseudo-idealistic machine has used its power anywhere; to impose its version of societal norms on everyone else. Anyway, isn’t it crazy how they run things over in the Middle East? We should do something about that. 


Russian nesting doll (synonyms - nested doll, stacking doll) or matryoshka as it is sounded in Russian - probably, the most popular Russian national souvenir. The wide fame was won by Russian matryoshka (nesting doll) far abroad. At all large exhibitions, fairs, the festivals held in different counties of the world, amusing cheerful nesting dolls were most fascinating exhibits. Also it seems, that matroyshka nesting doll has come to us from a gray-haired antiquity, from the world of legends and fairy tales. Actually this wooden doll is about hundred years.
Although nesting doll (matryoshka) is famous all over the world it is hard to find books about this phenomena. Have a look at sites dedicated to Russian souvenirs and you will see that all stories about nesting dolls are quite contradictory. The reason is that authors of sites did not have good materials on this subject. I suppose that this page will add some understanding of nesting doll roots and history.

The very beginning of Russian matryoshka
The first Russian nesting doll (matryoshka) was born in 1890 in the workshop "Children's Education" situated in Abramtsevo estate new Moscow. The owner of Abramtsevo was Sava Mamontov - industrialist and a patron of the arts.
The first Russian nesting doll!
The end of the 19 century in Russia was a time of great economic and cultural development. Mamontov was one of the first who patronized artist who were possessed by the idea of the creation of a new Russian style. Many famous Russian artists worked along with folk craftsmen in workshops Mamontov.
7-piece matryoshka "Fukuruma", Japan. Late 1890s(to see the larger image click on the picture)
Once at a tradition Saturday meeting somebody brought a funny Japanese figurine of a good-nature bold head old man Fukuruma. The doll consisted of some other figurines nestled one another. It had 7 figurines. There was a legend that the first doll of such type on Island Honshu where Fukuruma was brought from was made by unknown Russian monk.
Really, this type of nesting toys was well known before - Russian crafters turned wooden Easter eggs, apples.

Why it is called "Matryoshka"
Russian wooden dolls within smaller dolls were called matryoshka. In old Russian among peasants the name Matryona or Matriosha was a very popular female name. Scholars says this name has a Latin root "mater" and means "Mother". This name was associated with the image of of a mother of a big peasant family who was very healthy and had a portly figure.
Subsequently, it became a symbolic name and was used specially to image brightly painted wooden figurines made in a such way that they could taken apart to reveal smaller dolls fitting inside one another.

South Park Ban

Continuing along the theme of bad taste... (you might have seen my post about Russian winning the garish Eurovision song contest. If you haven't watched the video, seriously, it's worth it)

Russia it seems has banned South Park. Anyone who watches Comedy Central has probably scene the commercials citing the ban, and, my curiosity piqued, I decided to do a bit of research.

from Moscow News

11/09/2008 | Moscow News №36 2008
Russian experts rule South Park as extremist
> print version

MOSCOW (RIA Novosti) - The Moscow Prosecutor General's Office believes the popular animated TV show South Park could incite religious hatred, its press service said on Monday.

"It offends the honor and dignity of Christians and Muslims alike, and affronts believers, regardless of their faith," the statement said, adding that the cartoon "could provoke ethnic conflict and spark inter-religious hatred."

The Russian Union of Evangelical Christians said last Thursday that it had requested that Russian prosecutors open a criminal investigation into a TV channel that broadcasts the popular South Park cartoons containing "covert and overt propaganda of homosexuality and paedophilia as norms of sexual life."

The Prosecutor's Office has referred the case to court and has also issued a warning to the 2x2 TV Channel company that airs the show and to Rossvyazkomnadzor, Russia's media watchdog.

Prosecutors said by showing such cartoons like The Simpsons, Stewie Griffin, Metalocalypse, Lenore, the Cute Little Dead Girl the channel is promoting "violence, brutality and pornography," as well as suicide and antisocial behavior.

"The content of these cartoons fails to comply with laws protecting the moral and psychological development of children and their health," the statement said adding that the cartoon breached international law and the rights of children.

The Russian adult-oriented cartoon network TV channel faced similar accusations in March 2008, when Russian Protestant leaders submitted a request to the Pro­secutor General's Office asking for the channel's license to be revoked, saying it "promotes immorality and violence."
In February 2008, Ros­svyaz­okhran­kultura, a regulatory body for television in Russia, issued warnings to the channel about the ‘Happy Tree Friends' and ‘The Adventures of Big Jeff' cartoon series, recommending that they remove them from the air to avoid legal issues.

Very Moving

Behold the Power of Russian Engineering

Before the days of LCD, Plasma, etc., there were televisions that utilized vacuum tube technology to create the image that we saw. The efficiency and natural power generated by these tubes became very popular in a variety of appliances. When the electric guitar became a staple of modern music, the amplifier was then created, and soon it was discovered that the richest, most organic tone was created using tubes to both power the amplifier and serve as the sound processing units.

Russia has always been at the forefront of the engineering and technological landscape. Their space program was top-notch, their science program was unmatched for decades, and their appliances, vehicles, and other electronics are noted for their longevity and durability. In the guitar world, Russian-made Sovtek tubes are hailed as some of the best that money can buy. The depth of sound is unmatched, the response to a player's nuances and style is very accurate, and the overall feel and tone becomes more fluid.

There was a strong movement during the late 1990's and early 2000's to turn guitar amplifiers from the old tube power to newer, more efficient solid-state circuit boards and even computer chips. Interestingly, these systems are built not to have their own distinctive sound, but often to try and emulate the tone of a tube amplifier. However, in recent years, there has been a strong resurgence of tube amplifiers on the market, and the technology is even better than before.

Here is a video of one of my favorite blues guitarists, who uses an amp that makes use of Sovtek tubes.

Eugene Onegin (Yevgeniy Onegin)

Eugene Onegin by Aleksandr Pushkin is a classic example of 19th century romantic liturature. Eugene is a cold, confused man who in a matter of a few days crushes a girls heart(Tatiana) and kills his best friend(Lensky), more of less for the fun of it. Then after not finding happiness after traveling the world, he realizes the girl he hurt a few years back is what he needs and now he can't have her. The story has been turned into a ballet, play, film. and an opera. Here a scene from the opera right after he realizes he loves Tatiana. He becomes overwhelmed with happiness.

Eastern Promises Review

Set in a murky underworld of London, focusing on a Russian contingent dealing in the sex-slave trade, Eastern Promises paints a dark and disturbing world of cheap lives and organised crime. London is covered in a permanent film of gloom, penetrated rarely with the odd glimpse of sun, with rain-strewn streets, looming shadows and confined, low shot interiors and exteriors, giving the feel of a city trapped in its own squalidness. London has rarely looked this miserable. In the midst of this hopelessness and misery enters Anna (Naomi Watts), a pediatric nurse, working at a London hospital, who happens to help save a premature baby but unfortunately not the young, badly beaten, 14 year old mother, who had previously staggered into the building, hemorrhaging heavily before passing out.Anna, having suffered a miscarriage some months before, strikes up a bond with the child, and on finding a diary written by the mother, something she was clutching before she died, Anna decides to track down the nearest relative to the young girl before the child becomes lost in the social care system. In the process of getting the diary translated, from it's original Russian, Anna finds a business card of a restaurant amongst the pages, hoping someone can help her trace the girls family she decides to give the place a visit. The address leads Anna to meet restaurateur Semyon (Armin-Mueller-Stahl), an elderly Russian whose warm welcome masks the horrific part he plays in the poor girls life. In being introduced to Seymon we enter the world of the Vory V Zakone (Russian Mafia); who adorn their bodies with a series of tattoos; symbols that represent their standing in the organisation.

A mystical, almost intense, reference surrounds the adorning of these tattoos for the Vory V Zakone; a series of fierce, colourless symbols, placed in symbolic parts of the body by rank and accomplishment; much like an army officer with a chest full of medals. This is vintage Cronenberg territory; transgression and body transmogrification in full swing. We witness an almost erotic scene in which Nikolai (Viggo Mortensen), in the midst of being tattooed, half naked, lying back, casually smoking a cigarette, is perfectly at one with the needle, the ink almost caressing his body.

Many feel that Eastern Promises feels muted, understated, lacking in depth and missing his bold brush strokes. Scenes of greatness flicker sporadically and moments of sheer horror; a scene in which Nikolia clips the fingers off a corpse or that first opening murder, are few and far between. So it's with annoyance, rather than celebration, that we witness one of Cronenberg's finest moments; Nikolia's naked fight, with two fully dressed assassins in a public bath-house. This amazing scene, honest in his brutality and fierceness, feels like it sprung out of a different film, such stark and brave film-making feels so out of place in this otherwise turgid, plodding tale

Soccer in Russia

Soccer was being played in Russia by the time of the last Tsars. Some say the first games were played as far back as 1887, when English mill owners Clement and Harry Charnock formed a team near Moscow.

By the turn of the century there became records of leagues both in Moscow and Saint Petersburg and the Football Union of Russia sent a team to the 1912 Olympic.

Soviet Times
After the Russian revolution toppled the Romanov dynasty soccer thrived because the Soviet Union encouraged the growth of the game, even laying pitches in Red Square in 1942 and 1943 for games to be played on during May Day celebrations.

First Win
The Soviet Union joined FIFA in 1946 and played its first official game in 1952, beating Bulgaria in the Olympic tournament. They won this tournament four years later in 1956 in Melbourne, under head coach G. Kachalin.

At this point, the Soviet Union was doing very well. The team finished in the quarter-finals in the 1958 and 1962 FIFA World Cups and won their first major trophy by winning the inaugural UEFA European Championship in 1960 under head coach G. Kachalin.

Goal keeper Lev Yashin was a constant on the team that thrived in the 1950s and 1960s and performed spectacularly in the World Cup in England in 1966, helping the Soviet Union reach the semi-finals.

Blokhin Era
Yashin was done playing by the team a "new team" emerged in the 1970s. The Soviet Union continued to regularly qualify for the World Cup with Oleg Blokhin on the team, but they truly thrived at the European Championships in 1972, at which they were losing finalists. They also won Olympic gold in 1988.

This last summer, Russia made it into the semi-finals of the Euro Cup Tournament in which they lost 3-0.

Most caps: Viktor Onopko (113)
Top scorer: Oleg Blokhin (42)
First International: Finland 2 - 1 Russia
Largest win: USSR 11 - 1 India
Finland 0 - 10 USSR
Worst defeat: Germany 16 - 0 Russia

National Team Colours
Shirts: White
Shorts: Blue
Socks: Red

Shirts: Red
Shorts: White
Socks: Blue

Great song

The Beginning of the Warsaw Pact

The Warsaw Pact was a treaty signed by a number of communist governments to provide unity among themselves in times of was as well as providing economic viability with multiple trading partners within the group. The pact was a direct opposition to the western world's NATO, and is one of the primary agents which fueled the cold war. Below I posted a link to a BBC article which gives a brief explanation as to what some of the motives for creating the pact were and a brief history of its formation.

Do I Offend?

I've seen Indiana Jones: Kingdom of the Crystal Skull three times now, (thanks to my family) but I never even considered the fact that Russians might find it offensive. It just never crossed my mind. Although this essayist is a bit too saucy and opinionated for my taste, it was interesting to learn just what lengths the Russians would go to in order to discourage this film. I guess it never crossed the minds of the directors' either how offensive their harmless film could be.

Indiana Jones and the Communists’ Doom
Written by Catherine Mullins
Friday, 13 June 2008 10:31

Russian reaction to the new Indiana Jones film, including a request to ban the film and threats that the actors will be beaten if they enter Russia, should remind Americans that communism in Russia is not dead.
By the time George Lucas and Steven Spielberg decided to make a fourth installment of the widely popular Indiana Jones series, twenty years had gone by, and so they decided, with an aging Harrison Ford for the star, they should allow twenty years to elapse in the series as well. That meant the 1930s pre-World War II era had ended and the 1950s Cold War crisis had begun. Instead of evil Nazis for the villains, they could substitute the equally cold, callous, Russian Communists, in their most disturbing form as the KGB, as the enemies in the movie. This shouldn't have been the cause of any controversy since, after all, communism is dead in Russia and the KGB is a thing of the past, right? After some of the comments made about the movie, however, it looks like someone forgot to tell that to the Russians.
"What galls is how together with America we defeated Hitler and how we sympathized when Bin Laden hits them, but they go ahead and scare kids with communists. These people have no shame," said Victor Pirov, a communist party leader in St. Petersburg after the film debuted there and in 808 theaters across Russia.
"No shame," are pretty strong words coming from a member of a party
that massacred over sixty-two million of its own people in one of the worlds’ largest genocides. Causing the death of untold numbers in brutal labor camps as well as creating a society in which citizens were denied the most basic freedoms, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn wrote in The Gulag Archipelago that the communists weren’t just to be feared, but regarded with terror.
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull portrays just that. Throughout the movie a group of KGB officers plot to steal an American military secret that would supposedly help them gain world power. "[We want to] place our minds into the minds of the masses … have our teachers teach the true version of history" says the top KGB agent in the movie, Irina Spalko, played by Cate Blanchette. In their efforts to do so this KGB task force not only impersonates American soldiers in order to murder a troop of real American soldiers in cold blood, but also mercilessly slaughters a community of South American Indians armed only with primitive weapons. Meanwhile, the blatant disregard Irina Spalko shows for the life of her own men as she unflinchingly watches them meet gruesome deaths portrays the inhuman cruelty the KGB was noted for. Indeed, she is the caricature of the perfect Russian communist KGB agent, who cares only for power and sees human life as expendable, and nothing but a means to that end.
We have been told again and again by the news media and politicians alike that communism is dead in Russia. But if such were the case why did the Russian communist party try to have the movie banned, and when unable to incur such a ban, ask Russians to boycott it?
"Your work in this film is an insult to the Soviet and Russian people, who remember the difficult Fifties when our country was concluding its construction, but did not send merciless terrorists to the USA.... You have no future in Russia anymore. Speaking plainly it would be better for you not to come here. You will be beaten and despised,"
wrote the communist party ideology committee in an open letter to Harrison Ford and Cate Blanchette, the stars of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
“You will be beaten and despised.” Isn’t that what the Russian communists do in the movie?
One party member said, "Our movie goers are teenagers who are unaware of what happened in 1957. They will go to the theater and be sure that in 1957 we made trouble for the United States and almost started a nuclear war. It’s rubbish." "It is disturbing when talented directors want to provoke a new cold war," said Andrei Andreyev, a Russian Communist lawmaker.
Suddenly these supposedly reformed communists are beginning to sound like the KGB agent in the movie whose portrayal they protest. One wonders why Russian youth don’t already know about what happened in the 1950’s. Didn’t "Uncle Putin" tell them about the arms race the Soviets were involved in at that time, gaining and preparing to aim nuclear missiles at the U.S. in the Cuban missile crisis just a few years later?
As Warren Mass mentioned in his article, “
Communism Not Dead in China, Elsewhere” a study showed that, "in 1996 most of the 15 former soviet republics are today dominated by communists or their re-named political heirs." In 2007, BBC news reported that "KGB influence soars under Putin," as he again and again named former KGB officers to positions of political power. "In five years Putin has abolished most direct elections, muzzled the media and filled his staff with KGB cronies," MSNBC reported. And although the KGB itself was abolished in 1991 a new, in some ways harsher intelligence agency, was soon formed to replace it. The FSB (Federal Security Service) "exercises police state powers at whim," able to invade and search just about any premises it wants to.
William F. Jasper, in his article “
Putin’s Russia,” points out that we cannot assume that a group such as the communists, notorious for their deception, would have spontaneously given up the cold war and abruptly ended their quest for power. KGB defectors like Anitoly Golitsyn have told us again and again this is part of a plan of the communists to deceive the West into merging into one socialist state with the East. As William Jasper noted, "[We have] like the Trojans, fallen for one of the most obvious deceptions." Lucas and Spielberg, by producing Indiana Jones have just tapped that horse and stirred up the occupants inside.

Enemy at the Gates

Enemy at the Gates is a war film directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud. Made in 2001, it tells the story of soviet sniper Vasily Zaytsev (Jude Law) and his German sniper rival Major Erwin Konig (Ed Harris). The opening scene shows Zaytsev being forced into battle with only bullets and the order to pick up a fellow soldier's gun when he dies. The Russians, insensate, course into battle and get mowed down by the well-fortified Germans. But when the surviving Russians attempt to retreat the Russian generals kill them. The Russians will accept no cowards amongst their ranks. Following his survival, Zaytsev impresses a lieutenant by killing five Germans with five shots and is subsequently promoted to the sniper division. The rest of the movie follows Konig's hunt for Zaytsev and his eventual defeat.

The movie is based on the battle of Stalingrad during WWII, but takes many liberties. Most of the actors have British or American accents while being Russian or German. Overall, however, the movie has decent action scenes for its time and the plot is interesting. I especially enjoyed Ron Pearlman's part. Immediately after shooting a German soldier in the head he remarks, "It's about soup time, isn't it?"

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Kamchatka Peninsula

Okay, so this is more about the volcanos located ON the peninsula than the actual peninsula, but can you blame me?


"The 1,200 kilometer (km) - long Kamchatka peninsula is almost an island running north-south between the north Pacific and the Sea of Okhotsk. Its southern half is formed mainly by two parallel mountain ranges The western, Sredinniy range in the west center of the island, is of dormant shield and strato-volcanoes of which Ichinskiy (still active) is by far the highest. The eastern Vostochniy range which parallels the sea with nearly 30 young volcanoes, has the greatest concentration of active vulcanism in Eurasia. Between the ranges is the wide Kamchatka river valley out of which, to the north of the eastern range, rises the highest group, the Klyuchevskaya range.

This 700 km-long volcanic belt is the surface expression of the northwesterly subduction by 8-10 centimeters (cm) a year of the Pacific Ocean plate under the Eurasian plate and shows a complete range of the vulcanism characteristic of the Pacific Ring of Fire. Since 1690 some 200 eruptions have been recorded. The peninsula has some 300 volcanoes of which 33 are currently active, most of explosive character and many of perfect pyramidal form. 34 of these and the 13 most active volcanoes on Kamchatka occur in the heritage areas. Most of them are basaltic composite stratocones and andesite stratovolcanoes; some are shield volcanoes. There are also calderas, scoriae cones, lava streams, cinder fields, over 160 thermal and mineral springs, geysers, solfataras, mud pots and many other volcanic features.

The Klyuchevskaya range has three of the highest and most active peaks. Klyuchevskoy itself is Eurasia's highest and most active volcano after Etna, and still growing: its 1988 height was 4,750 m; in 2002 it was 4,835 m. It has erupted 25 times in the last 50 years and still erupts regularly, creating a wilderness of ash and lava. Its magma flow of about 60 million tonnes per year is half of all that produced by the intensely active Kuriliy-Kamchatka region. It has a variety of features: several lateral craters, shield volcanoes, scoriae and lava cones, extrusive domes and huge detached rocks. Despite this, the Klyuchevskaya group is the largest center of glaciation in Kamchatka, with 47 glaciers covering 269 square kilometers (km2), the largest being the Erman glacier which continues to advance at 30-50 m per year. Two glaciation periods during the Pleistocene influenced much of its landscape, creating cirques, hanging valleys, u-shaped valleys, moraines and glacial till and almost all the types of ice formation common in volcanic areas. The drainage network of the Reserve consists of many dry-rivers, typical of volcanic regions, which are formed by the low water-holding capacity of the substrate. These only fully flow in the spring and after catastrophic snowmelt during eruptions.

Bystrinskiy Zakaznik in the Sredinniy range has quaternary volcanic formations in various states of conservation. Kronotskiy National Reserve is a rugged landscape with 12 active volcanoes and some 800 lakes, which also extends over 5 km of coastal waters. The Uzon caldera within it is an enormous bowl 10 km across with sides rising to 900 m and constant hydrothermal activity on its floor. The nearby spectacular Valley of the Geysers has 20 large geysers, over 100 hot springs, some with thermophilic algae, pulsating water funnels, mud cauldrons, poisonous miasmas, fumaroles, cascades, turquoise lakes and multicolored algae fields. Nalychevo Zakaznik lies in a volcanic complex; on the upper reaches of the Nalychevo River is a 40 square kilometer depression with a great number of hot and cold mineral springs. The Southern Kamchatka Zakazniks include lava tableland formed during eruptions and volcanic cones, ten of Kamchatka's most active volcanoes with a wide range of geothermal activity and coastal habitats. Volcanic rocks throughout the protected areas are formed of basalts, andesite-basalts, andesites and andesite-dacites. Other features are eroded accumulations of volcanic ash, foothills, piedmont plains and coastal lowlands, Below the ash-covered slopes, soils are tundra gley, forest-tundra and brown forest types, podzols and peat. River valleys are thickly covered with fertile volcanic alluvium.

But the volcanic area is also one of the most pristine parts of the peninsula. The Klyuchevskaya group is beautiful as well as dangerous. Most of Bystrinskiy Zakaznik in the Sredinniy range is a mosaic of different mountain landscapes. Kronotskiy National Reserve, near the north end of the eastern range, is famous for its scenery. Lake Kronotskiy and Lake Kurilskoe (in the far south), are both very scenic and important fish spawning habitats. Nalychevo Zakaznik just north of the capital city has vigorous glaciers and good hunting and fish spawning grounds. The uninhabited Southwest Tundra Zakaznik is covered with lakes, pools and peat very attractive to migrant waterfowl. The South Kamchatka and South Kamchatka State Zakazniks encompass active glaciation, wild unpolluted rivers and a spectacular coastline with several islands, deltas and wide swampy estuaries."

How amazing would it be to visit this place?