Monday, 30 July 2012

The City Of Mighty Bridges

The City Of Mighty Bridges: Kiev has many beautiful bridges. Photos of some of them were taken in severe Ukrainian winter from the frozen surface of the wide Dnieper river. Others are shown in the rays of electric light between dusk and bed-time. Southern and … Read more...

Leonid Andreyev: To the Russian Soldier

   SOLDIER, what hast thou been under Nicholas the Secone? Thou hast been a slave of the autocrat. Conscience, honor, love for the people, were beaten out of thee in merciless training by whip and stick.
   "Kill thy father and thy mother if they raise their hands against me," commanded the autocrat, -- and thou becamest a parricide.
   "Kill thy brother and thy sister, thy dearest friend and everyone who raises a hand against me," commanded the autocrat, -- and thou didst kill thy brother and thy dearest friend, and becamest like Cain, shedding the blood of thy kin.
   When the gray coats appeared in the streets and the rifles and bayonets glittered -- we knew what that meant: it was death stalking! It meant death to those innocent and hungry ones who thirsted for brighter life and raised their voices bravely against the tyrant. It meant death, destruction, peril, tears, and horror. Thou wast terrible, Soldier!
   But thou wast brave in the field, Russian Soldier. . . . Thou wast a martyr, but thou wast never a traitor, nor a coward, Soldier!
   The Russian people loved thee secretly for this and waited for thy awakening. . . . They called to thee: "Come to us, beloved brother! Come to thy people. The people are waiting for thee!"

   Soldier, what hast thou been in the days of the Revolution?
   Thou hast been our love, our happiness, our pride. We did not know as yet who thou wast. We were still in dread of the gray coats, we still mistrusted the dashing cossacks. And dost thou remember, Soldier, how the heart of the people leaped when the first blow of the cossack's sabre fell not on the head of his brother but on that of the policeman-executioner? Dost thou remember it?
   But still we were not able to believe. Already our hearts were overcome with joy, happiness took our breath away, but still we did not believe. How is it possible to believe all at once in freedom?
   Yet the soldiers are bringing it with them! They are coming, stalwart, brave, beautiful, in their armed power. They are coming to give their life for freedom. As yet they themselves do not know whether they are all awakened. The Tsar's hirelings shoot at them from the roofs and from behind street corners. The soldiers expect only death, yet they are coming, stalwart, brave, beautiful!
   Then we believed them. The throne of the Romanovs cracked with a noise heard throughout the world. For the first time in our life soldiers' bullets sang a new song -- not the song of death, of shame, and of degradation, but the wonderful song of freedom and of joy. . . .
   And what hast thou become now, Soldier?
   When cursing, drunken, thou didst come tearing down peaceful streets in thy automobiles, threatening women and children with guns, bragging, debauching, swearing the basest of oaths -- didst thou hear the answer of the people? "Be accursed! Be accursed!" Thou didst shoot in mad frenzy, and the people yelled fearlessly to thee: "Be accursed!" 

Scoundrel! With quick-firing guns didst thou threaten; yet invalids, old men, and women grabbed at thy rifle with their bare hands and tore it away from thee. And thou didst give it away, overcome with shame, helpless, sweating, ugly.
   Soldier! How many didst thou kill in those days? How many orphans hast thou made? How many bereaved mothers hast thou left inconsolable? Dost thou hear the words that their lips whisper? The lips from which thou hast banished forever the smile of happiness? -- "Murderer, Murderer!"
   But what of mothers? What of orphans? A moment came unforeseen and still more terrible. Thou hast betrayed Russia. Thou hast thrown thy native land that nourished thee under the feet of the enemy, thou Soldier, our sole defense!
   Everything is entrusted to thee: the life and welfare of Russia; our fields and forests; our peaceful rivers; our villages and cities; our temples and those who are praying in them.
   And all this thou hast betrayed, Soldier! -- the quiet fields, and the young, buoyant liberty. Behind thy back grain was ripening in the fields -- Russia's sacred treasury; now the Germans will reap it. Under thy protection the people were working in their villages; now they are running along all the highways, leaving dead in their wake. Children and old men are weeping -- they have no roof over their heads, no home, only death staring into their faces.
   Ah! how thou didst run from the enemy, Russian Soldier! Never before has the world seen such a rout, such a mob of traitors. It knew the one Judas, while here were tens of thousands of Judases running past each other, galloping, throwing down rifles, quarrelling, and still boasting of their "meetings." What are they hurrying for? They hurry to betray their native land. 
More here.

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Private Life of the Royal Family

Private Life of the Royal Family: Nikolay II was an examplary family man. He spent all his spare time with his family. True love and spiritual consonance distinguished this family from many others. Nokolay spent much time with his daughters, read them books and historic works. … Read more...

Boris Akunin: Russia's Dissident Detective Novelist

Grigory Chkhartishvili has his best ideas in the morning. When he first wakes up, the fifty-six-year-old writer—who, under the pseudonym Boris Akunin, is one of Russia’s most widely read contemporary authors—might think of a new predicament in which to ensnare his popular hero, Erast Fandorin, the dashing nineteenth-century detective who can see into people’s souls and always wins at games of chance. (Locked in a cellar by a pint-sized lord of Moscow’s criminal underworld known as “Little Misha”? Bested in a ship’s salon by a pregnant French psychopath posing as a gutbürgerlich Swiss questing for a trove of priceless Indian emeralds? Tricked by the butler out of winning the heart of Romanov princess Xenia?)
Before his first cup of coffee, Akunin might hit on a solution to one of these predicaments (An arsenal of traditional Japanese weapons hidden in the crutches of Fandorin’s impeccable beggar disguise; a very ugly grandfather clock that falls on the pregnant psychopath just as she pulls the trigger, causing her to miss, but not miscarry; alas, to the last, there is no solution. Fandorin loses the princess).
The Fandorin novels, which first appeared in 1998, have sold thirteen million copies in Russia. They’ve been adapted for television and film, and have made their author well known and wealthy. The books are delightful romps through a stylized late nineteenth century—so much fun that one readily forgives the sometimes harebrained plot twists that, following closely one on another, are part of what make them so hard to put down. One Russian magazine editor wrote that he refuses to read any more Fandorin novels, likening the experience to being hooked to a catheter: once you open a book, you have no choice but to ingest the whole thing, immediately.
But in recent months—ever since the novelist became a driving force in the anti-Putin protests—his early-morning planning might well concern politics rather than art.
With his metal-rimmed glasses and introvert’s posture—shoulders up, head forward— Akunin might, in the hands of a caricaturist, look very much Kenneth Grahame’s sympathetic Mole; while not an Adonis like Fandorin, Akunin does share his hero’s “piercing” blue gaze. In the deep-blue study in his Old Moscow apartment, not far from the Kremlin, he recently described to me his dizzying and unexpected entry into political life.
When it was announced last fall that Putin would resume the Presidency, Akunin thought it was finally time for him to emigrate from Russia: the country now truly belonged to Putin, and there was no place for the intelligentsia. But with the street protests that followed the December 4th parliamentary elections, his feelings changed. From his house in Brittany, he drove to Paris and bought a ticket for the next flight to Moscow. At the airport, he wrote on his blog that he was on his way home, and his political career began. The next day, he was one of the first—and some say, best—speakers at the December 10th rally on Bolotnaya Square, possessed of a soft-spoken moral authority. “He is not a professional politician,” said Yuri Saprykin, a journalist and member of the winter protests’ organizing committee. “He’s a person who didn’t look for power, or a place in the political system. He is moved by his moral values, and everybody sees that.”

Read more here.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

How Diamonds Are Mined In Russia

How Diamonds Are Mined In Russia: “Severalmaz” (“North Diamond”) is located in the Archangelsk region. Its operator, “Alrosa”, is the largest diamond mining company in Russia. Way to the richest Lomonosov deposit Diamonds were found in the Archangelsk region in 1980, the Lomonosov deposit turned out … Read more...

Monday, 23 July 2012

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Elena Obraztsova - Biography

Russian singer (mezzo-soprano); born on July, 7, 1939 in Leningrad.
Father - Vasily Alekseevich Obraztsov (1905-1989).
Mother - Natalia Ivanovna Obraztsova (1913-1994).
First husband - Vyacheslav Petrovich Makarov (* 1938), a physicist.
Second husband – Algis Martselovich Zhiuraitis (1928-1998), conductor.

Elena has a daughter from her first marriage - Elena Vjacheslavovna Makarova (* 1966), who is a
singer (soprano) and a grandson - Alexander Makarov (*1988).

Memories of Elena’s childhood are connected to war and blockade. Her father left for the front and the family remained in besieged Leningrad up to
the end of winter of 1942. Later, Elena, her mother and grandmother were evacuated across Ladoga lake to a small town Ustjuzhnu of the Vologda
area where they lived until summer of 1945. After war living was hard and difficult. Her father returned after a year, her mother had to work and
Elena was given to a kindergarten.

At the age of 5 Elena started singing. She sang what she heard, mainly Strauss's waltzes. As a schoolgirl she had her first lessons in music – she sang
for herself or listened to recordings. She spent hours sitting at a loudspeaker during opera transmissions. Since childhood music was the central point
of her life. She liked domestic musical evenings where also her father, an engineer by profession, performed: he was an excellent baritone and
besides he played violin. From a business trip to Italy he brought a big collection of recordings from which the little girl got acquainted with
voices of the well-known singers of that time - Gigli, Caruso, Galli-Curzi.

From 1948 to 1954 Elena was a member of the Children's chorus of the Leningrad Palace of Pioneers. The founder and the permanent head of chorus
was Maria Fedorovna Zarinskaya. " This chorus has affected me very much", - the singer once admitted. - "There, I actually was “born” as a musician.
Maria Fedorovna was certainly an oustanding person and teacher. She made me “fall in love" with singing and was the first person who convinced me
that I can become a singer ". Elena was the indispensable participant of all concerts of school amateur performances. On these occasions she
performed with great pleasure gipsy romances and popular songs of these years.

From 1954 to 1957 in connection with business translocation of her father, the family lived in Taganrog, then a year in Rostov – at river Don.
In Taganrog Lena met the remarkable teacher Anna Timofeevna Kulikova with whom she studied for two years at Tchaikovsky Musical school.
At a contest concert at her school she was heard by the director of the Rostov musical school, M. A. Mankovskaja and under her recommendation
in 1957 Elena was accepted in the school at once on 2-nd level and after only one year, in August 1958, after successful audition, she was admitted
to preparatory branch of the Leningrad conservatory.

Sceptically concerned with their daughter’s “hobby” singing, her parents insisted that she went to a technical college, but Elena - still on preparatory
branch - continued her vocal studies: from 100 persons, taking part in the tests the vocal faculty accepted only three, and among them - Elena

The year 1962 already brought great success to Elena’s life. Two gold medals - at the World Festival of Youth and Students in Helsinki and at the
M. I. Glinka - All-Union Competition of Vocalists in Moscow - caused an invitation to Bolshoi Theatre. In 1963/64 she was offered a season contract to
prepare Marina Mnishek's part, Polina and Amneris.

In the class of professor A. A. Grigorieva (A. N. Kireev's opera class) she graduated from Leningrad state conservatory in 1964. Elena was allowed to
graduate from conservatory without further attending the lectures. On May, 11, 1964 her final examination took place, on which Sofia Petrovna
Preobrazhenskaja, chairman of the commission, gave to Elena Obraztsova a “5 plus” - an extraordinary high estimation which has not been given
to any student by Leningrad conservatory for about 40 years.

On December 17, 1963, still a student, Elena Obraztsova debuted on the stage of Bolshoi Theatre in the role of Marina Mnishek in M. P. Mussorgsky's
opera "Boris Godunov" with tremendous success - amazing and exciting all Moscow.

Soon after, she travelled with the Bolshoi to Milano and made her debut on October 28, 1964, as Marfa in Mussorgsky's Khovanshchina. The following
month she portrayed Maria in War and Peace at La Scala before leaving with the Bolshoi to Montreal's Expo 67. Since that time, Obraztsova
established herself as one of the major stars of the Bolshoi. She was also greatly in demand elsewhere, most particularly at the Metropolitan Opera
in New York.

Everything that followed in the largest cities and capitals of the world - Paris, London, Vienna, Milan, Munich, Hamburg, Salzburg, Prague, Berlin,
Barcelona, New York, San Francisco, Tokyo, Buenos Aires, etc. - brought to Elena Obraztsova the glory of becoming one of the most brilliant stars of
vocal art of our time. ...

Elena Obraztsova - "Mon coeur s'ouvre a ta voix...

С.Saint-Saëns "Samson et Dalila", Act II "Mon coeur s'ouvre a ta voix..." ORCHESTRA of the BOLSHOI Conductor-Algis Zhuraitis (1928-1998) May 6, 1989 Moscow


Saturday, 21 July 2012

World's Biggest Collection of Samovars Displayed in Tsaritsyno

World's Biggest Collection of Samovars Displayed in Tsaritsyno

Famous Russian brands - samovars and Gzhel - are presented at the exhibition project At the Tea Table opened in the Grain House in the Tsaritsyno Memorial Estate.

The exposition includes 140 works by masters of the applied art of Gzhel and about 200 samovars of the 18th-20th centuries. All the exhibits are provided by private collectors.
"The exhibition presents the world's largest and the most famous collection of Russian samovars, collected by three generations of the Lobanovs family from Petersburg. It presents samovars as true works of art that feature all renowned samovar masters and geography of samovar business in Russia" - the project organizers said at the opening ceremony.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Life In the Severe Region

Life In the Severe Region: Let’s see how people live in Siberia. In the Novosibirsk region coal of high quality is extracted and exported to other countries. No other places have such coal. Local boys Bus stop This guy builds an unusual wood house. In … Read more...

Andrei Gavrilov plays Rachmaninov Elegie op3 No1

Thursday, 19 July 2012

22 June: Fateful Decisions

Especially for this film, historians Mikhail Meltyukhov and Mark Solonin have studied piles of archive documents - almost everything available about the so-calles "pre-war" period. Unfortunately, a lot of documents aren't available. A lot of funds are still classified. While the others are open, but a historian can't get all the important documents. Todau they have to approve or disprove many of the deep-rooted myths.

Anna Netrebko - Norma Casta Diva (Vincenzo Bellini)

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Sergey Yesenin: You don't love me

You don't love me and don't  feel compassion
Don"t you think that now I look my best?
Though you look aside you"re thrilled with passion
As you put your arms upon my chest.
You are young , so sensitive and zealous,
I am neither bad nor very good to you.
Tell me, did you pet a lot of fellows?
You remember many arms and lips? You do?
They are gone and haven"t touched you any,
Gone like shadows, leaving you aflame.
You have sat upon the laps of many,
You are sitting now on mine, without shame.
Though your eyes are closed, and you are rather
Thinking of some one you really  trust,
After all, I do not love you either,
I am lost in thought about my dear past.
Don"t you call this zeal predestination,
Hasty tie is  thoughtless and no good,
Like I set up this unplanned connection,
I will smile when leaving you for good.
You will go the pathway of your own
Just to have  your days unwisely spent,
Don"t  approach the ones not fully grown,
Don"t entice the ones that never burnt.
When you walk with someone down the alley
Chatting merrily about love and all
Maybe, I"ll be out, walking round shyly,
And again, by chance,   I"ll meet you, poor soul.
Squaring shoulders, ravishing and winning,
Bending slightly  forward, with an air kiss,
You will utter quietly:  Good evening!
And I will reply: Good evening, miss.
Nothing will disturb my heart and spirit,
Nothing will  perturb me giving pain,-
He who"s been in love will not retrieve it,
He who"s burnt will not be lit again.
December 4th, 1925

Monday, 16 July 2012

Sunrise From the 370 Meters Height

Sunrise From the 370 Meters Height: The complex “City” in Moscow has a new highest building – “Mercury”, 370 m high. Let us meet the sunrise on this height. There are no traces of the fire of the Federation tower anymore. Workers Raining Quite risky! Wonderful … Read more...

The Saint Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra turns 130

One of the world’s oldest orchestras and the very first one to be founded in Russia, the legendary Saint Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra celebrates its 130th jubilee.

The orchestra was founded on July 16, 1882, when Emperor Alexander III decreed the establishment of a ‘musical choir’. The history of the orchestra, however, is linked to the names of two outstanding Russian conductors: Yevgeny Mravinsky, who ran the company from 1930 until 1980s, and his successor Yuri Temirkanov, who has been leading the orchestra for nearly 35 years. Music critic Leonid Gakkel shared his impressions of the two maestros in an interview with the VoR.
"Mravinsky was Saint Petersburg personified! He was a symbol of Petersburg, a true aristocrat, a patrician. Temirkanov is an artist, an open-hearted and very temperamental person, who shares his energy with the orchestra and the audience. Temirkanov should be credited for having managed to preserve the atmosphere which the orchestra had always been known for." 
Many conductors, among them Leopold Stokovsky, Lorin Maazel, Bruno Walter and Otto Klemperer, who worked with the Saint Petersburg Philharmonic felt this special atmosphere. 
Since 1934 the orchestra has remained the only one of its kind to have the ‘honored collective of the Russian Federation’ title. Two greatest composers of the 20th century, Dmitry Shostakovich and Sergei Prokofiev, started their careers at the Saint Petersburg Philharmonic. Since the orchestra first performed Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 1 in 1926, it remained the composer’s favorite team of musicians. Mravinsky conducted all symphonies by Shostakovich, and no other orchestra has surpassed that performance since then. Leonid Gakkel continues.
More here.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

The dramatic life and death of Alexander Pushkin

Alexander Pushkin is not appreciated fully in the West, where his virtues are lost in translation, but he is a literary hero in the land of his birth.
Hailed as the father of Russian literature, Alexander Pushkin was born 213 years ago this month. He is as revered by Russians as Shakespeare is by the British but he is not as well known in the West as Russian literary giants like Tolstoy or Dostoevsky.
This is because much of his work, including the novel Eugene Onegin, was written in verse, makingeffective translation much more difficult .
Pushkin’s plays and stories have inspired operas, songs and ballets; it is rare to meet a Russian who cannot quote his poetry by heart. It is hardly surprising that every Russian town and village wants to claim a piece of Pushkin and hundreds of monuments are dedicated to the writer.
An hour west of Moscow, near Zakharovo, a monument dedicated to Pushkin as a child stands in a small orchard that once belonged to his maternal grandmother, Maria Hannibal. The young Pushkin spent several summers there, in the birch woods near the lake.
He later wrote: “My Zakharovo… reflected in the mirror of waters, with its fences, bridge and shady grove.” He recalled “with what quiet beauty, the minutes of childhood flowed”. The statue shows the poet as a boy, leaning on his grandmother’s lap, book in hand, gazing portentously into the distance.
Pushkin’s great grandfather was the captured African prince, Abram Petrovich Hannibal, who became a Russian nobleman and general, and godson of the tsar. Pushkin later started to write a historical novel about Hannibal, translated as The Negro of Peter the Great.
A marble column outside the 16th- century Transfiguration Church at Bolshiye Vyazyomy marks the grave of Pushkin’s brother, Nikolai, who died aged six. In a poem, Pushkin describes a visit to the graveyard, “where drowse the dead in solemn peace”.
The nearby Bolshiye Vyazyomy estate has had many owners, includingBoris Godunov, subject of one of Pushkin’s best-known plays. The current house, with its lime trees, was built by the Golitsyn family in the late 18th century.
Pushkin often stayed here when it belonged to Natalia Golitsyna, model for the ancient countess in his story of madness and gambling, The Queen of Spades.
Pushkin was forced to leave this childhood idyll for his school at Tsarskoe Selo near St Petersburg when he was 12. He built his reputation as a poet there and threw himself into the literary and political life of the city.
However, his involvement in movements for social reform led to censorship and exile. He travelled through the Caucasus and Crimea and spent two years at his mother’s estate in Mikhailovskoe, enjoying “country life, Russian baths and strawberries”.
Married and happy
In 1831, Pushkin married 
17-year-old Natalia Goncharova in the church of the Grand Ascension in central Moscow. The wedding day was beset by “evil omens” (dropped wedding rings and blown-out candles).
There is a small, gold statue of the couple under a dome outside the church and another, larger version opposite the flat on Arbat Street where they spent their first months of married life.
Pushkin’s letters of the time suggest another briefly idyllic period: “I am married and happy,” he wrote. “My only wish is that nothing will change.”
But after a few months in the same city as his mother-in-law, he returned to St Petersburg with his wife, saying: “I do not like Moscow life. You live here not as you want to live, but as old women want you to.”
A duel to the death
Life was to imitate the art of Eugene Onegin in which the hero fights a duel, with pistols in the snow, against his friend Lensky, a poet whose frozen corpse is then loaded on to the sleigh in which they arrived.
This was pretty much Pushkin’s fate, too. On a winter evening in 1837, Pushkin travelled by sleigh from Nevsky Prospekt to the Black River area of St Petersburg, then filled with woods and dachas, where Georges D’Anthès fatally wounded him in the stomach.
The poet, then aged 37, had become convinced that D’Anthès was flirting with his wife and challenged the French cavalry officer to a duel. Pushkin’s death is all the more curious because a major theme in Eugene Onegin is the relationship between literature and real life.
Pushkin’s dramatic death has inspired hundreds of poems, plays and paintings, one of which can be seen in Pushkin Museum on Prechistenka Street in Moscow. The picture portrays the duel, with the dying poet and the fur-lined troika. This storehouse of “Pushkinalia” includes exhibitions on each of Pushkin’s major works, plus much-amended manuscript pages covered in trademark doodles and sketches.
In St Petersburg, Pushkin’s last home, where he lay dying for two days after the duel, is now a popular museum. It displays the poet’s death mask and last waistcoat, complete with fatal bullet hole. A granite obelisk marks the site of the duel. ...

Leo Tolstoy reads from "For Every Day", 1908

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Caucasia and Transcaucasia: Ethnic Photos From the XIX Century

Caucasia and Transcaucasia: Ethnic Photos From the XIX Century: Dmitry I. Ermakov (1845—1916) was a Russian photographer, orientalist, ethnographer. He was travelling much and took a lot of interesting ethnic photos of Caucasia and Transcaucasia. Asian lunch in a dukhan Aralykh. Blind man’s buff game Akhtani – entrance to … Read more...

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Nadezhda Obukhova - Biography

Nadezhda Obukhova (1886 - 1961) was the Soviet singer, mezzo-soprano, soloist with the Bolshoi Theater. Stalin Prize winner, People's Artist of the USSR.
Those who have ever head her singing alive were enchanted by both unique, exuberant 'mezzo', reaching naturally contralto, the beauty, grace and the manner of singing as if she was sharing her soul with the public. Pianist Heinrich Neuhaus said that "he who even once hears her voice, will never forget it..."

Obukhova came from an artistic family. Two of her uncles were professional singers, one of whom was the opera director of the Bolshoi Theatre. Her grandfather Adrian Mazaraki was a noted pianist, and her great-grandfather Yevgeny Boratinsky was a poet of some fame.
Recalling her childhood memories Nadezhda Obukhova said she began to sing as early as she remembered herself and was always touched by sad Russian songs about hard fate of a Russian woman. This was her grandfather who taught her singing and playing the piano and when she was 12 Nadia could play Chopin, Gaidn and Mozart.

Nadezhda's mother died of tuberculosis when little Nadya was only 2. Her grandfather was concerned about Nadezhda's health and often sent her and her sister to spend winters in Nice, France, where Obukhova received her first singing lessons from Eleanora Lipman and professor Ozerov. There she got her first impressions of art and musical life of France, first visited the opera and heard famous Fyodor Shalyapin during his foreign tour.

In 1907, Obukhova was enrolled at the Moscow Conservatory, where she was instructed by Umberto Masetti. After her graduation, she found work singing in various concerts around Russia, but she did not make her operatic debut until 1916. Her operatic debut was in the role of Pauline in Tchaikovsky's The Queen of Spades at the Bolshoi. She quickly became a popular singer, appearing in a number of other productions including Carmen, Dalila, The Tsar's Bride (as Marfa and as Lyubasha), The Snow Maiden, Der Ring des Nibelungen (as Fricka), Marina, Love for Three Oranges and Sadko.

Nadezhda Obukhova performed more then 25 roles at the Bolshoi theatre, each of which became a precious part of Russian vocal and theatrical art. Her performances were full of deep feelings and emotive expressivity and her female characters were interpreted with great tenderness and passion. Nadezhda Obukhiova was said to be singing the true meaning of composer's intentions and used her magnificent voice and musical artistry as a key to unlock the mysteries of the heart.
More here.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Duckworth plans Russian literature collection

Indie publisher Duckworth has teamed up with the Read Russia project to create a 125-volume collection of translated Russian literature, featuring everything from Tolstoy and Pushkin to lesser-known modern writers.
The Russian Library project is due to begin publishing in autumn 2013 with five volumes released in print and digital, and with a further 10 books expected to follow each year.
Duckworth owner Peter Mayer said: “The goal of The Russian Library is to transcend the well-respected classics and broaden the awareness of Russian culture by making available for the first time in uniform editions these important works of literature, so many barely known outside Russia.”
The uniform library will cover 1,000 years of Russian fiction, drama and poetry, and will be produced in collaboration with Read Russia, an initiative to promote Russian culture sponsored by the Russian Federal Agency for Press and Mass Communications.

Monday, 9 July 2012

When the Whole Life Just Floats Away

When the Whole Life Just Floats Away: The Krasnodar region is suffering the utterly devastating flood: more than 12 thousand of people suffered, about 150 – died. People keep shooting the terrible situation: corpses of people and pets are lying right in the streets, rescue workers come … Read more...

Russia’s last writer - Ludmila Petrushevskaya

Ludmilla Petrushevskaya

Ludmilla Petrushevskaya sweeps into the crumbling hall of a small museum west of Moscow’s Red Square. Topaz and turquoise knuckle-dusters flash on her fingers as she stomps about in Juicy Couture ski boots. Aged 72, she does not look like a literary legend. And yet that is exactly what many in Russia and beyond consider her to be: the last of the great dissidents. As her translators Keith Gessen and Anna Summers put it: “With the death of Solzhenitsyn, it would not be an exaggeration to say that Petrushevskaya is Russia’s best-known living writer.”
Despite having won the Russian Booker Prize and still hotly in demand with her public, Petrushevskaya rejects her legacy as a writer. “It has nothing to do with me,” she says coldly. This month, some of her best-known short stories will appear in the UK for the first time, but Petrushevskaya is less excited about seeing her work translated into English than about her new ambition: to be known as Russia’s Susan Boyle, the Britain’s Got Talent crooner. “Susan Boyle is my inspiration,” she grins. Her black eyes sparkle with mischief. “She makes me cry. I watch her on YouTube every night. Her story is a real fairy tale.”

To the horror of the Russian establishment, since Petrushevskaya turned 70 three years ago, she has turned her back on writing full-time and embarked on an anarchic second career as a cabaret singer. It is this kind of move that has made her both loved and hated in Russia, always controversial. Her critics consider it inappropriate that a woman of her literary status and dissident background (not to mention her age) should be singing Russian versions of Edith Piaf at student nights in dodgy nightclubs.
As one of her entourage whispers to me just before Petrushevskaya turns up, an hour late (she has a Naomi Campbell reputation for timekeeping): “She is seen as a living classic and for a ‘great writer’ to perform her cabaret in this funny black hat… Well, it is regarded as deeply eccentric. And not in a good way. Russians have a very linear understanding of what it means to be a writer. Petrushevskaya doesn’t fit into it.”

And yet she is finally receiving the international acclaim which has eluded her all her writing life. The New Yorker recently declared her a “revelation … Like reading late-Tolstoy fables set in an alternative reality.” Her new collection is a brilliant but bleak series of stories, peppered with black humour, about life in communal flats and depressing dachas. Many draw on real events: “I think of myself as a documentary writer, collecting documents about people’s lives and reworking them.” She tries to write “in the voice people use to tell their story to another person on the bus – urgently, hastily, making sure you come to the point before the bus stops and the other person has to get off”.

Read more.

Friday, 6 July 2012

Pirates in Russia plunder e-book market

Russia's publishing industry faces a tough challenge in fighting the illegal downloading of books, which is limiting the sales of print and e-books.

Sales of e-books in Russia are rocketing. Increasing twelvefold in the past three years, sales in 2011 totalled 135m roubles (£2.6m). However, these are dwarfed by the high number of illegal downloads, which account for as much as 90pc of the e-book market. In Britain, illegal downloads make up only 29pc of the market, according to Entertainment Media Research.
The federal press and mass communications agency, Rospechat, claims sales lost to piracy in Russia add up to several billion roubles a year. Part of the problem, according to Rospechat, is that more than 100,000 titles are on offer through illegal downloading sites while only 60,000 titles are available from legal suppliers.
In a recent interview with, Mikhail Kotomin, editor-in-chief of independent Moscow publishing house Ad Marginem, said that success in legal sales of e-books in Russia can be achieved only if the leader in online print-book sales,, joins forces with the retailers of legal electronic books and sells both formats side by side: “E-books would be presented not by the authors but by their publishers. Then, even small, independent publishers like Ad Marginem would have direct access to the market and could bypass monopolised distribution.”
Persuading people to pay for e-books may be an uphill struggle. In a Levada Centre poll, 79pc of respondents said they only downloaded books that were available free; 18pc said that they paid for licensed versions only when the text they needed was not available free; and a mere 0.4pc said that they regularly paid for legal content.
E-books, whether sold or illegally downloaded, have had an impact on sales of printed books. Even first-rate writers and literary prize-winners now have to fight for large print runs.
Books by science-fiction/fantasy author Sergey Lukyanenko are sold in both print and electronic formats. For his latest bestseller, New Watch, he received a total of $10,000 (£6,400) from sales on a print run of 120,000 copies.
“Writers whose books are released on smaller print runs of 12,000 stand to make only $1,000 for a year’s work,” he wrote in his blog.
Yet a print run of 12,000 copies in Russia today is considered very good. “In order to receive a worthy sum for one’s e-books, the author must be wildly popular,” Mr Lukyanenko added.
Publishers believe that the only way out is to develop the legal market for e-books. To do this, the number of quality digital titles must be increased and their prices lowered. Also, the procedure for buying e-books must be made clearer and more convenient. Fighting piracy and the violation of copyright is a very challenging task, because most pirate sites are registered abroad and are therefore outside Russia’s 
Sergei Anurev, general director of e-book seller LitRes, predicts that if Russia’s e-book market continues to grow at the current rate, the share of legal sales will reach 3bn roubles (£58m) – 5pc of the current book market – by 2015-17.
Although the price of e-book readers is steadily dropping, Vladimir Chichirin, brand-director of publisher Eksmo, says that Russia, unlike the US, will not see explosive growth in the e-book market: “We don’t have the base for it; we don’t have our own Amazon.” ...

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Catherine the Great Exhibition Opens in Moscow

Exhibition "Catherine II. Way to the Throne" opened in the State Historical Museum is dedicated to the 250th anniversary since the accession to the throne of the well-known ruler.
      The exposition acquaints visitors with the initial stage of life of Catherine II in Russia: from her arrival to the country to her enthronement. 
      Key sections of the exposition will tell about the origin of the German princess Sophie Friederike Auguste von Anhalt-Zerbst-Dornburg and her education, arrival in Russia, conversion into Orthodoxy, marriage to the successor to the Russian throne, giving birth to their son, as well as the palace revolution of June 28 and coronation of September 22, 1762.
      The materials and relics gathered at the exhibition are of great historical value and will make it possible for visitors to plunge into the atmosphere of the 18th century.