Monday, April 29, 2013

Храбрый оленёнок (The brave little deer)

The Brave Little Deer is a Russian animation made around 1945 by directors Olga Khodataeva and Leonid Aristov. The story takes place in the winter season at the Cold Sea where all the animals migrate down to a warmer climate. The animation introduces the herd of deers and their leader Тургун. The group of deers must journey to the other side of the mountain where greenery grows. In the herd, there is one female deer called Тенгене, her fawn Аукно and an older grumpy female deer that sees Аукно as a scared and timid fawn who tries to put on a brave face for his mother. Then, the group is being followed by a pack of wolves that are sniffing down the deers track. When the leader Тургун sends the group off first into the mountain, he acts as a diversion and runs towards the wolves. The wolves then try attacking. Тургун knew the wolves were stronger in packs so he ran towards a cliff and jumped on the other side. The wolves could not jump from a far distances and plumped it to their doom. Soon, the group continued on their journey to the mountain. But what they did not know was that one of the wolves survived the fall. Though the wolf was injured, the wolf continued the search for the deers. While the deers had to jump over a small cliff to get where they need to, Аукно stopped dead in his track—for he was scared of the height. The older female deer then told Аукно that he has a heart of a hare but his mother Тенгене encourages and helps him to keep trying his best. Unfortunately due to the snow storm, Аукно and Тенгене were separated by the group. When daylight came out, Тенгене and Аукно were trying to find the group, they encountered the wolf. They barely managed to escape the wolf for a brief while but soon, they faced another problem when Тенгене fell into the river which was covered by ice. She tried getting back on the ice but kept breaking. Аукно tried helping his mother but she had told him to go find Тургун and the other deers. So, Аукно ran as fast as he can and found the group and Тургун. When told Тургун that his mother was in trouble and looked yonder the landscape, Аукно saw the wolf approaching his mother. So Аукно ran and with courage, he ran towards the wolf and acted as the diversion. With that, Тургун and the other deers were able to save Тенгене, and in turn the whole deer group pushed the wolf down to the river where it drowned. Тургун then told Аукно that he had a brave heart and especially the old grumpy female deer then recognized Аукно’s horns and said he was a brave fawn.

This story in some way is similar to the Disney animation Bambi however, the difference was that the fawn was able to save his mother from death. Giving the animation a happy ending and showing that anyone can be brave if they put their efforts into it. 

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Ypok 9 blog


Or known to Americans as Borscht, is a chief dish in Russia. Borscht is essentially Russian beet soup, composed of several different ingredients and mainly beets. As with any dish there are many variations in how to prepare and cook it but I found one online that seems to be pretty simple. To prepare borscht you first need to prepare the broth. You can either buy store bought beef broth and add vegetables to it or make your own beef and vegetable broth- which is very simple. The actual soup part that makes this dish known as borsch is what will be explained.

                So, once the broth is simmering hot, you can then add finely chopped potatoes. It is important to make sure you add the potatoes first! After this, and off to the side begin to caramelize some onions and chop and cook the beets. Both the onions and beets are cooked in the same pan. After the beets have cooked for several minutes you then add the tomato paste to them and mix it thoroughly along with chopped carrots. You continue to let this mixture cook in a pan. After the beets have been cooked for about 15 more minutes, the contents from the pan can be added to the broth! In addition at this time you can add parsley root, celery, peppercorns, bay leaves, soup seasoning, and salt. After 15 more minutes of cooking you can then add the cubed tomato, peas, and dill. 10 minutes later, the soup will be done cooking! After it has cooled a bit you can then serve it with sour cream on top- yummy!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Visit Russia – No 1 city to visit -- St. Petersburg

The second largest city in Russia, St. Petersburg is the country’s cultural heart. View splendid architectural gems like the Winter Palace and the Kazan Cathedral, and give yourself plenty of time to browse the world-renowned art collection of the Hermitage. Sprawling across the Neva River delta, St. Petersburg offers enough art, nightlife, fine dining and cultural destinations for many repeat visits. Some people call it the Venice of the East.

You should definitely go to:

State Hermitage Museum and Winter Palace

Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood

Peterhof Palace and Garden

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Russia and the Media as an Information War Tool (Unit 9)

Russia and the Media as an Information War Tool
      Carl von Clausewitz, an early 19th century Prussian general, once said that war is an extension of politics.1 In the modern era, the line between the two has been inexplicably blurred. The internet age has brought with it new and changed forms of warfare; in particular, information warfare is of new importance. Information warfare (IW) is a blanket term that can include different methods ranging from cyber-attacks against internet infrastructure, to espionage of poorly guarded sensitive material, to spreading a certain view through the media. It may also be known as information or psychological operations.2 For the purposes of this paper, IW explicitly refers to the propaganda element. No longer are the generals of information warfare solely censoring productions and jamming radio signals from abroad to attempt to control the image that their populace receives. The propaganda of revolutionary foreign policy has evolved. Russia openly views information warfare as a critical component of soft power, and has underlined the importance of using the media as a tool of “soft propaganda” for controlling the information environment; its most recent and seemingly innocuous weapon is its state-owned international news outlet, RT – formerly known as Russia Today. To understand this new use of media as a weapon, the theory behind RT must be examined, along with the outlet's status, its content and critique, along with the rebuttal of its defenders.

      Russian Professor Aleksandr Selivanov, writing in Voyenno-Promyshlennyy Kuryer, states that the purpose of IW is “to form a stratum of people with transformed values in society who actually become carriers of a different culture and of the tasks and goals of other states on the territory of one’s own country.” He further states that territory can even be seized through the use of IW by “‘nontraditional occupation’ as the possibility of controlling territory and making use of its resources without the victor’s physical presence on the territory of the vanquished.”3 According to Timothy Thomas, an analyst whose works are published by the Strategic Studies Institute of the US Army War College, Russia's strategy is using IW as a replacement for the loss of ideology.4 Whereas rudimentary IW was a tactic of revolutionary foreign policy in the Soviet past, it is now an entity unto itself – applicable at both foreign and domestic fronts. Russia portrays its IW practices as a method of self-defense.5 There are two fronts of IW – domestic and foreign. On the domestic front, there is a fear of foreign agents. Professor Igor Panarin – a Russian political scientist analyst regularly cited by Russian media for his expertise in IW – accuses the West, particularly through military intelligence operations, of installing anti-government agents in the more liberal media such as Novaya Gazeta and Radio Echo, forcing the Russian government's hand in creating state-run media.6 Despite the conspiracy-theory level of Panarin's claims, the idea that the West is playing information warfare is taken seriously by the Russian media. Defenders of Russia's IW practices regularly quote US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who said,

"We are in an information war and we are losing that war. Al Jazeera is winning, the Chinese have opened a global multi-language television network, the Russians have opened up an English-language network. I’ve seen it in a few countries, and it is quite instructive.7"

Walter Isaacson, Chairman of the U.S. Government's Broadcasting Board of Governors – which runs state-owned outlets including Voice of America, requested higher funding because “We can't allow ourselves to be out-communicated by our enemies.” He explicitly mentioned channels such as RT.8 This motif of self-defensive soft power has continued. According to RT, the modern information war was started by the United States. Unlike many other international media outlets, RT's coverage is not merely limited to its home nation and the near-abroad. In fact, RT has had a shift from covering mostly Russian news to covering western news with a Russian perspective, or hiring “alternative media”. When interviewed by The New York Times, Aleksei Makarkin, an analyst at the Institute of Political Technology, stated that “The Americans have a view of Russia and they show it to us. Russians have a point of view about America, too, and we want to show it to you.”9
      RT is certainly capable. RT now rivals Al Jazeera in Britain as the most popular foreign English news channel.1011 Pew Research shows that RT is the top source for news videos on YouTube.12 American viewers doubled in 2012 from 2011; in some regions of the US, such as New York, viewership nearly tripled, and Nielsen Media Research surveys indicate that audiences tend to prefer watching RT as compared to other international news channels. 13 There is evidence of a continued push for utilizing state-owned media as part of the information war. RT's funding has generally increased every year. In US dollars, RT's budget has gone from 80 million in 2007, 120 million in 2008, 380 million in 2011, to 300 million in 2012 – a slight decrease.14 Recently, President Putin refused to allow Russia's Finance Ministry to slash funding for state-run media, notably including “Rossikyskaya Gazeta” and RT; simultaneously, funding for non state-run news organizations such as ITAR-TASS was drastically cut – ITAR-TASS alone had its funding cut by nearly 40%.15 Furthermore, RT is no longer a single channel, as it has been expanded to Spanish and Arabic broadcasts, bringing RT to three global channels.16 RT's performance has been chalked up to a combination of its young staff, its provocative image, and its “alternative” take. Heidi Brown, writing for Forbes, states that RT uses sex appeal of attractive, young anchors as a method of the Kremlin “using charm... to appeal to a diverse and skeptical audience.” 17

      As aforementioned, RT's coverage is self-admittedly aimed at giving a “Russian perspective” of events in the West – or, more accurately, RT has a hard agenda of representing the state view in a positive light. There are two sorts of coverage that RT provides, much like other cable media outlets: talk shows, and regular news. Talk shows featured on RT are of particular interest, as RT has shown willingness to be the soapbox for dissident voices in the West – not merely Russian critics. Anti-war Marine veteran, libertarian activist, and self-proclaimed anarchist Adam Kokesh was featured in a show entitled “Adam versus the Man” on the English RT, regularly criticizing the US government.18 His show also interviewed anarchist philosopher Stefan Molyneux, a Canadian and host of the popular, online, anti-government podcast Freedomain Radio.19 Adam Kokesh and others also regularly interviewed Alex Jones, founder of, an online platform for anti-government conspiracy theories. 20 Recently, Julian Assange, founder of the Wikileaks organization was even given a show, although Assange openly stated that he believed that would not have been the case had Russian documents been part of Wikileaks.21 RT's regular operations, from advertisement to news, have also come under fire as an example of being propaganda, right down to its slogan of “Question more.” RT correpsondant William Dunbar resigned in protest, claiming that RT was intentionally censoring the Georgian side of events in their coverage of the 2008 South Ossetian War.22 RT placed ads superimposing US President Barack Obama and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad's face together with the question of “Who poses the greater nuclear threat?” in Britain, and these ads were quickly banned in American airports.23 The Southern Poverty Law Center criticized RT as pushing conspiracy theories and white supremacy in its 2010 intelligence report by Sonia Scherr, which also accuses the channel of making the United States “look bad,” and that it gives the false impression that many of these individuals are taken seriously in mainstream political discourse.24 Cliff Kincaid of the conservative media-watchdog group Accuracy in Media called Kokesh a “Russian agent of influence and a member of the Moscow-funded 'resistance' to the U.S. Government on American soil...KGB TV,” and he cites former KGB agent Preobrazhensky's conspiracy theory that RT is nothing more than “propaganda... managed by the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service.” Kincaid goes further, blasting those who appear on the program as “playing into Moscow's hands.” Preobazhensky further states that RT is “a part of the Russian industry of misinformation and manipulation.” 25
      It would be a mistake to label RT as simply old-school propaganda. According to James Painter, writing for the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at Oxford University, RT and other channels like it represent a new wave of “soft-propaganda” but the staffers within instead view themselves “counter-hegemonic” media. While there is a bias, Painter says, Western media is hardly free of such a bias, even in corporate media such as FOX News. Painter goes on to say,
If there is evidence of a soft or hard agenda in a station’s coverage, it can of course be debated if this is a result of a conscious agenda, or rather as a product of an unconscious ‘attitudinal’ set of values... [this can be] seen as another example of a more general trend observed in different parts of the world, namely the growing phenomenon of ‘news with views’. The abundance of new 24x7 channels and news web sites makes it more possible to choose a source of information which confirms a news consumer’s particular point of view. Fox News is the classic example of this, but there are plenty of others. 26

Glenn Greenwald, writing for, shot back at critics of RT by answering criticism with criticism.
Let’s examine the unstated premises at work here. There is apparently a rule that says it’s perfectly OK for a journalist to work for a media outlet owned and controlled by a weapons manufacturer (GE/NBC/MSNBC), or by the U.S. and British governments (BBC/Stars & Stripes/Voice of America), or by Rupert Murdoch and Saudi Prince Al-Waleed Bin Talal (Wall St. Journal/Fox News), or by a banking corporation with long-standing ties to right-wing governments (Politico), or by for-profit corporations whose profits depend upon staying in the good graces of the U.S. government (Kaplan/The Washington Post), or by loyalists to one of the two major political parties (National Review/TPM/countless others), but it’s an intrinsic violation of journalistic integrity to work for a media outlet owned by the Russian government. Where did that rule come from?

Greenwald further argues is that there is a hypocritical view of RT by those in the West, for doing – what he argues – the West does in Russia. Josh Kucera, a journalist specializing in Russian affairs, states that “RT covers the US like US media covers Russia – emphasizing decline, interviewing marginal dissidents.”27 RT itself has come out in self-defense, stating that while they are state-funded, they are editorially independent. The media outlet further goes on to say that it readily embraces its role in in what it claims is an information war declared by the US.28 The editor in chief of RT adds, in response to criticism over supposedly negative reporting on America, that they are merely applying the same standards Western reporters use in covering Russia.29 Adam Kokesh stated in much plainer language, revealing his reasoning behind dissident use of the network as a soapbox,
Truth is the best propaganda. I love it! I really love the concept of that. It's funny: People say we're hiding shit as a network. No, no—we put the fact that this is propaganda right out front. We're putting out the truth that no one else wants to say. I mean, if you want to put it in the worst possible abstract, it's the Russian government, which is a competing protection racket against the other governments of the world, going against the United States and calling them on their bullshit.30

      It is obvious that RT has a bias, if not indirect control by the Kremlin. What RT is not, however, is “Pravda 2.0.” No permeating ideology is attached to RT, and it has been used as a platform for adversarial journalism – the only string attached is that the information is anti-hegemonic, typically painting Russia's rival states in a very negative light. The Kremlin obviously finds RT useful, having tended to increase funding almost every fiscal year, but the individuals attached to RT are anything but “useful idiots” as displayed by Kokesh's frank statement on his lack of love for the Russian government. Nevertheless, state-run media will continue to be an important part of soft power and revolutionary diplomacy. There is, and has been for some time, a raging war for the hearts and minds of citizens. The use of the media as part of information warfare is not unique to Russia – Russia did not start it, but Russia has certainly been more apt about it. RT has been confronted with relatively few incidents of outright misreporting, no more than average. The critics themselves of RT have often been ideologically biased; Kincaid even attempted to make the case that RT was “extreme left propaganda” due to their interviewing of Americans on the far left, despite the fact that the Kremlin as of today is anything but liberal. RT is more than just a vanity project, and RT is not merely a tool of the Kremlin, but neither is it purely objective. Then again – there may not be such a thing. One may state that all media is propaganda – RT does not claim otherwise.

«Анатомия несопротивления.» 2 July 2012. <>. Accessed 3 Dec. 2012.

Adam Vs The Man: Episode 1. RT. 11 Apr. 2011. Web. <>. Accessed 3 Dec. 2012.

Alex Jones on RT's Adam vs the Man.” 4 May 2011. <>. Accessed 3 Dec. 2012.

A New Kind of Visual News.” Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism. 16 July 2012. Web. <>. Accessed 3 Dec. 2012.

Bassford, Christopher. “Clausewitz and His Works.” 23 Sep. 2012. Web. <>. Accessed 3 Dec. 2012.

Brown, Heidi. “Springtime (For Putin) In Russia” 27 Feb. 2008. Forbes. <>. Accessed 3 Dec. 2012.

Burell, Ian. “From Russia With News.” The Independent. 15 Jan. 2010. Web. <>. Accessed 3 Dec. 2012.

Corporate Profile.” RT. <>. Accessed 3 Dec. 2012.

Dunbar, William. “They Forced Me Out For Telling the Truth About Georgia.” The Independent. 20 Sep. 2010. Web. <>. Accessed 3 Dec. 2012.

Greenwald, Glenn. “Attacks on RT and Assange Reveal Much About the Critics.” Salon. 18 Apr. 2012. Web. <>. Accessed 3 Dec. 2012.

Is RT state-run?” RT. 17 June 2011. Web. <>. Accessed 3 Dec. 2012.

It's Official: RT is the Enemy.” RT. 19 Oct. 2010. Web. <>. Accessed 3 Dec. 2012.

Johnson, L. Scott. “Toward a Functional Model of Information Warfare.” Central Intelligence Agency. Web. <>. Accessed 3 Dec. 2012.

-Kramer, Andrew. “Russian Cable Station Plays to U.S.” The New York Times. 22 Aug. 2010. Web. <>. Accessed 3 Dec. 2012
1 Christopher Bassford, “Clausewitz and His Works.” 23 Sep. 2012.
2 L. Scott Johnson, “Toward a Functional Model of Information Warfare.” Central Intelligence Agency.
3 Timothy Thomas, “Russian Information Warfare Theory: The Consequences of August 2008.” pp 5. The Foreign Military Studies Office.
4 Timothy Thomas, “Russian Information Warfare Theory: The Consequences of August 2008.” pp 4. The Foreign Military Studies Office.
5 “It's Official: RT is the Enemy.” RT. 19 Oct. 2010.
6 Igor Panarin. “The Information War Against Russia: Operation Anti-Putin.” Schiller Institute.
7 Kirit Radia. “Sec. Of State Hillary Clinton: Al Jazeera is 'Real News', U.S. Losing 'Information War.' ABC News.
8 “It's Official: RT is the Enemy.” RT. 19 Oct. 2010.
9 Andrew Kramer, “Russian Cable Station Plays to U.S.” The New York Times. 22 Aug. 2010.
10 “RT Leads Al Jazeera in UK'S Barb Ratings.” RT. 16 July 2012.
11 “Russia Today Catching Up With Murdoch's Sky News.” ITAR-TASS. 22 Nov. 2012.
12 “A New Kind of Visual News.” Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism. 16 July 2012.
13 “'Russia Today' Doubles its U.S. Audience.” Russia Briefing. 7 June 2012.
14 «Анатомия несопротивления.» 2 July 2012.
15 “Putin Forbids Funding Cuts To State-Run Media Outlets.” 30 Oct. 2012.
16 “Corporate Profile.” RT.
17 Heidi Brown. “Springtime (For Putin) In Russia” 27 Feb. 2008. Forbes.
18 Cliff Kincaid. “KGB TV to Air Show Hosted by Anti-War Marine Vet.” Accuracy in Media. 5 Apr. 2011.
19 Adam Vs The Man: Episode 1. Produced by RT. Hosted by YouTube.
20 “Alex Jones on RT's Adam vs the Man.”
21 Jerome Taylor. “Hello, Good Evening and Welcome to My Country House Prison: Assange Makes His Talk Show Debut.” The Independent. 18 Apr. 2012. Gale: Questia.
22 William Dunbar. “They Forced Me Out For Telling the Truth About Georgia.” The Independent. 20 Sep. 2010.
23 Ian Burrell. “From Russia With News.” The Independent. 15 Jan. 2010.
24 Sonia Scherr. “Russian TV Channel Pushes 'Patriot' Conspiracy Theories.” Southern Poverty Law Center. 2010.
25 Cliff Kincaid. “KGB TV to Air Show Hosted by Anti-War Marine Vet.” 5 Apr. 2011.
26 James Painter. “The Boom In Counter-Hegemonic News Channels: a Case Study of TeleSUR. Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at Oxford University. 2006.
27 Glenn Greenwald. “Attacks on RT and Assange Reveal Much About the Critics.” 18 Apr. 2012.
28 “Is RT state-run?” RT. 17 June 2011.
29 Andrew Kramer. “Russian Cable Station Plays to U.S.” The New York Times. 22 Aug. 2010.

30 David Weigel. “Pravda Will Set You Free: Russian's Answer to FOX News and MSNBC.” Slate. 27 June 2011.

Cafe Pushkin in Moscow, Russia

Located in Pushkin Square, the Cafe Pushkin is very well known for its unique architecture and cuisines. The cafe has been there since 1999 of June 4th. The cafe was open and made by Andrey Dellos who knew a famous French chasonier name Gilbert Becaund. The chasonier sang a song dedicated to his Russian interpreter Natalie and it was based on his journey with Natalie in Pushkin square and a fantasize  Cafe Pushkin. Although much of its history is not detailed, the cafe does consists of 3 main halls on 3 levels and the interior decor revives the wonderful atmosphere of the early 20th century. The first level: the "Drugstore" room reminds of an old drugstore of the 19th century with such attributes as volumetric flasks, measuring glasses and pharmaceutical scales. The second level: the "Library" room with telescopes and terrestrial globes, bookshelves and ancient woodcuts. The third level: "Entresol" which is the balcony of the "Library" room. The cafe have both French and European cuisines such as beet soup, Russian dumplings and much more. This cafe is well known and recommended from the locals living in Moscow to the TIMES magazine. If I ever travel to Russia and stop by Moscow, I will enjoy the cuisine and especially their desserts such as honey cake and strawberry with ice cream which has a caramel dome. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Dmitri Mendeleev

Dmitri Mendeleev was a Russian chemist who is best known for his organization of the periodic table in 1869.  He organized the elements according to their atomic mass and left spots open for future elements. He did not only predict that there were missing elements but also their properties. His theory of missing elements was not widely accepted until they were discovered and his theory was proven correct. As creator of the modern periodic table, Mendeleev has an element named after him element 101 or Mendelevium. He was born in Tobolsk, Siberia in 1834. His father was a headmaster of the local secondary grammar school and his mother owned a glass making factory. In his teenage years tragedies struck the family, his father became blind then passed away and the family factory burned down. He studied in St. Petersburg at the university where his father had attended.

Russia's Adoption Ban

The Dima Yakovlev Law was enacted in Russia, and defines sanctions against U.S. citizens involved in violations of the human rights and freedoms of Russian citizens.  It creates a list of citizens who are banned from entering Russia, and also allows the government to freeze their assets and investments. The law also bans US citizens from adopting Russian children.

The name come from that of a Russian toddler who was adopted by Miles Harrison of Virginia.
In July 2008, less than three months after he arrived in America, Dima died while he was strapped into his adoptive father's car. Shockingly, he was left inside for nine hours.

The case became national news, and now Russians are focused on highlighting other abuse cases involving adopted children. The law was signed by President Vladimir Putin on 28 December 2012 and took effect on 1 January 2013.

Another recent example is the death of three-year old Max Shatto. He was found unresponsive outside his parents' Texas home. Bruises found on Max's body appear to have been the result of accidental injuries, resulting in the inability to press charges. However, Russians are not convinced, and the debate over foreign adoption will continue.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Russia's President - Vladimir Putin

Vladimir Putin was born in the former USSR in 1952 and became the president of Russia (1999-2008 and again in 2012). Before being elected to become the president, he was with KGB and also 6 years in Dresden, E.Ger. He became the protector of Leningrad State University in 1990 after resigning from KGB. It was then that he also rose to become the first deputy mayor of the city. Pavel Borodin who was the chief administrator of Kremlin in the year 1994 accepted Putin to be his deputy and join the presidential staff.
The then President of Russia Boris Yeltsin, made Putin the director of the Federal Security Service in the year 1998. Putin was initially not accepted as a minister, though Yeltsin appointed him as one, because many observers thought that he appeared to have a bland personality and also that he was inexperienced in political issues. But this was not for long because Putin increased his appeal among everyone by his role in the war with Chechnya, and soon his fame was all over the place and he had more than 50 percent ratings.
Putin’s Unity party participated in the 450 seat Duma elections and was a close second after the Communists. In the year 1999 Yeltsin announced his resignation from the presidential post and thus naturally made Putin to be the acting president till the elections which was only a couple of months after, thus the other parties did not have any time to prepare for it. Putin therefore became the president with the popularity that he had from the Chechnya war. Some say that it was a craftily calculated move from Yeltsin to pass over his post to his ever loyal successor Putin.
To back up these allegations, immediately after Putin became president, Yeltsin was offered immunity from any form of criminal investigations and he and his entire family was granted with continued facilities. Soon after Putin took on the presidential post other nations tried to get some ink on him, but since he was a spy in the KGB before this, it was not very easy to get him on paper. His first term had regular terrorist attacks from Chechen terrorists. He also had to assert control centrally over the 89 regions of Russia.
Putin is a person who is known to be a very silent person who does not show much expression and generally keeps his life apart from politics to be very personal. He won the presidential election for a second time in the year 2004 and was later succeeded by Dmitri Medvedev in the year 2008. In 2012 Putin was reelected as president.