Opinion

Opinion
Vadim Nikitin's picture

Russia’s “Post-Bling” Generation: Lebedev’s Blow for the Common Man

Of all the things to be envious about Alexander Lebedev – his billions; his international media empire; his mansion in the grounds of Hampton Court Palace – what most Russians are really jealous of is that he and not them, knocked out Sergey Polonsky. Sergei who?

Now internationally ridiculed as the man who split his own trousers live on Russian tv, after being sent tumbling out of his chair by Lebedev’s sneaky punch, although Polonsky is more than a mere random recipient of the oligarch’s trademark unpredictable streak.

russianmind's picture

Extremes

The first special-purpose weather observation station in Russia was built in St. Petersburg in 1724. Instrument observation officially began in December 1725 at the St. Petersburg Academy of Science. The first analysis was conducted by the mathematics; physics; astronomy and optics professor, academician F. Meyer. However, systematic registration of outstanding meteorological events started yet in late 10th century. By command of Alexis I weather observation was established in 1650 at the Moscow Kremlin on a daily basis.

The lowest temperature on planet Earth was registered on the Soviet Antarctic station “Vostok” on 21 July 1983, when the platinum thermometer reading was - 89,2°C. This is the lowest in history of meteorological observation.

Anatoly Karlin's picture

National Comparisons:Transportation

I continue the series on national comparisons between Britain, Russia and the US. In this part I evaluate transport in each of the three countries.

British roads are good (though not as good as German ones), US roads are mediocre and Russian roads are crap. Beyond Moscow’s ring road, many roads have pot holes; further afield, e.g. the single road linking the Far East of the country to its centre, is little more than a dirt track that turns into impenetrable mud during the rasputitsa, or rainy season.

Dmitry Babich's picture

Why Do People Vote for United Russia?

The electoral campaign for the Duma elections scheduled for December 4, 2011, has kicked off without much fanfare. Both President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin let it be understood that this campaign WON’T be any different!

Anatoly Karlin's picture

National Comparisons: Housing

I continue the series on national comparisons between Britain, Russia, and the US. In this part I observe accommodation in each of three countries.

The ideal middle-class settlement for both British and Americans is suburbia. In theory, it combines city amenities with rural idyll; the critics aver that it is better at combining city pollution (noise, gas fumes, etc) with rural isolation. There are some excellent American cities (e.g. San Francisco; Seattle; Austin), but many others are uncontrolled suburban sprawls (e.g. Los Angeles) or post-industrial shells beset by so-called inner city blight featuring ethnic ghettos and high crime rates (e.g. Detroit; Baltimore).

Anatoly Karlin's picture

National Comparisons:Healthcare

In this third part of my series on national comparisons between Britain, Russia, and the US, I look at the social institutions and infrastructure that plays such a big role in our everyday lives. Why is Russia’s life expectancy ten years lower than in the US? The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) – free at the point of service – is, in my opinion, the best healthcare system of the three countries. Though waiting times were a big problem a decade ago, New Labour threw a lot of money at the NHS and nowadays waiting times are much shorter (though the system may well suffer now that the current government wants to “reform” it by cutting staff). Those who can afford it are free to use private healthcare providers or private insurance. The UK spends 8% of GDP on healthcare, and provides objectively better healthcare outcomes than the US system whose spend represents 16% of its GDP.

Dmitry Babich's picture

Ukraine – the Territory of Anti-Russian Delusions

The arrest of the former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko in Kiev for contempt of court is sure to provoke a lot of talk, both in the West and the East. The West will most likely restart their familiar tune about the “authoritarian trends” of the “pro-Russian” president Viktor Yanukovich.

Dmitry Babich's picture

In Another Blow to Russia’s Democracy

Reading your friends’ columns is a potentially dangerous pastime. Especially if your friend is a foreign journalist. You always have to walk the tight rope balancing between a desire to expose his or her penchant for stereotypes about Russia and insincere compliments. The problem is made worse by a strange tendency among both foreign and Russian journalists in Moscow: the staunchest critics of Russian state among them tend to be hypersensitive to any criticism of their own writings. I knew one such journalist whose all stories started with a refrain “In another blow to Russia’s democracy.” He broke his tradition only once – in a published response to an angry blog about his writings.

Anatoly Karlin's picture

National Comparisons:Immigrants

There is a lot of anti-immigrant rhetoric in all three countries. The complaints are pretty similar: they steal our jobs; commit crimes; etc. In my opinion, their real sin is to be willing to do the work that Americans / British / Russians are no longer willing to do for low wages, and they are easier scapegoats for the economic problems than the politicians, bankers, and others who have wealth and power. As a rule, the crowd picks on the weak and the losers.

russianmind's picture

The Press Baron and His Son

At the heart of Alexander Lebedev is an enigma and a paradox. On the surface he is the wealthy, brash oligarch, and yet he dresses very casually, is quite reticent and even shy. In the final instalment of our special profile, I explore the complex personality of Russian’s press baron and his flamboyant son Evgeny Lebedev.