Aeroflot Airlines and Stolichnaya Vodka to sponsor New Jersey Nets

Mikhail Prokhorov, the brash Russian owner of the NBA basketball team New Jersey Nets has announced that his team has entered into sponsorship agreements with Aeroflot and vodka importer Stolichnaya.

This is the first time the  premier Russian state airline has sponsored a professional sports team in the United States.

The announcement was made Wednesday, just weeks after the Nets and Russian vodka maker Stolichnaya agreed to a contract with the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, where the team will play beginning in 2012.

History buffs may recall that it was in 1972 that PepisCo, maker of Pepsi products, landed a trade deal in which Pepsi would market Stolichnaya vodka in the United States in exchange for the right to market Pepsi in the Soviet Union, making Pepsi the first Western food import behind the Iron Curtain.

The alliance between the Nets and Aeroflot is for the next two years, while the team plays its remaining home games at Newark’s Prudential Center. The deal gives the Russian airline television-visible courtside signage during Nets home games and on-screen branding during YES Network broadcasts of Nets away games. Nets home games will also be broadcast on Russian television network NTV.

Nets majority owner Mikhail Prokhorov is reportedly the 2nd richest man according to Forbes magazine. He purchased controlling interest in the team in September of 2009, via an offer to the team owners that majority ownership for the Nets be sold to his company, Onexim, in exchange for  a $700 million construction loan to build a new sports arena in Brooklyn and attract additional investment for future Nets operations and team acquisitions.


Canadian Prime Minister arrives in Ukraine

Canada is home to over 1.2 million Ukrainians so it was certainly important for Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to visit Kyiv on Monday.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich (L) and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper (R) in Kyiv (Kiev), Ukraine.

Speaking at a joint press conference Mr. Harper said: Canada and the Canadians feel deep love for Ukraine and the Ukrainian people. The Ukrainian community in Canada is the third largest in the world after Russia and Ukraine. Canadians feel particularly proud that Canada was the first Western country to recognize Ukraine’s independence in 1991. Canada has supported and supports the progress of Ukraine towards freedom and democracy.

Ukrainian and Canadian Executive press conference in Kyiv (Kiev).

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich congratulated PM Harper on the long-awaited visit to Ukraine in saying, We are proud that Ukrainians living in Canada are making a positive contribution to your wonderful country. We have also stressed that today’s level of trade and economic relations between Canada and Ukraine does not meet the potential of our countries – it is very low. We must greatly intensify the cooperation between our governments and business interests.

Best Moscow and St. Petersburg Guidebooks

One of the best new resources for learning about life in Moscow and St. Petersburg is the virtual travel portal known as GDBK (short for “guidebook”). From news to nightclubs to restaurants to art/culture and history, GDBK is an excellent resource.

As GDBK publisher Valerie Stivers-Isakova explains, We provide the hot, local source material so that you can focus on planning your trip. Finding those great, non-toursity websites can be a lot of work, however. Virtual GDBK has taken the slog out of it, and lets you create your own, on-the-fly, personal guide to the your destination. It’s not a single authoritative voice, it’s a collection of them, allowing you to choose what’s right for you.


Click on the logos above to visit each cities’ guide. GDBK also publishes guides for Paris, New York, London, Bangkok, Melbourne, Douala, Tel Aviv and Zurich.

In the spirit of full disclosure, the Mendeleyev Journal is a regular resource on GDBK.

A new mayor for Moscow today

Sergei Sobyanin the current Deputy Prime Minister of Russia will be the next mayor of Moscow.

Saying that Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Sobyanin is an experienced manager with the necessary qualities to be the mayor of Moscow, President Medvedev has announced that Sobyanin will be submitted to the Moscow City Duma today (Parliment/Council) for selection as mayor of the largest city in Europe.

Sobyanin is no stranger to running governments as the former Governor of the Tyumen Region and currently the Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation. He will replace Yuri Luzhkov who was fired by the president who cited a “lack of confidence” in Luzhkov.

The new mayor is a proven Kremlin loyalists and Sobyanin was until now chief of staff to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and unlikely to plague the national government with the type of challenges posed by Luzhkov. 

In making the selection, President Medvedev said that the challenges the city’s new mayor will have to tackle are social issues, the fight against corruption, and transportation-related problems.

Russia begins taking the 2010 census

It’s not as if the call was unexpected so when the door bell rang no one was surprised that Russian census taker Anastasia Fedorova was waiting outside. Everyone from the almost unseen but massive security detail to the assembled presidential staff knew that Dmitry and Svetlana Medvedeva would, like most Russians, sit down and answer questions for the new Russian census.

First lady Svetlana Medvedeva, Census taker Anastasia Fedorova, and President Dmitry Medvedev.

The Medvedev’s elected to receive Ms. Fedorova at the official presidential residence in Gorki, the secluded park-like setting which serves at the main working residential office for the Russian head of state.

The Medvedev’s, both Dmitry and Svetlana, appear as genuinely warm and hospitable. The president who visited a Moscow area nursing home to speak with, encourage, and learn from patients and social workers on Thursday was the same president who welcomed the young census taker into the presidential residence on Saturday to participate in the 2010 All-Russia Population Census. For her part, Ms. Fedorova was as would be any other young Russian, obviously awed to be ushered into the inner world of governance of which most of her peers could only imagine.

Russian census taker Anastasia Fedorova speaks with President Dmitry Medvedev.

The first family consists of 3 persons including 15 year old son Ilya Medvedev, a lot of fish, and one cat. The President finds fish to be very relaxing and personally maintains a large aquarium in his office. The family cat, a male named Dorofei, used to fight with a cat belonging to neighbor Mikhail Gorbachev, so he had to be neutered. While the young Ms. Federova may have needed extra space on census forms to report all the fish, at least there is no worry of little versions of Dorofei appearing before the next census.

Every census must have it’s beginning somewhere and Gorki must have seemed as good as any. So the President and Mrs. Medvedeva invited Ms. Fedorova sit for tea and pastries and began the task of counting Russians–one by one.

Russian census taker Anastasia Fedorova gathers family information from President and Mrs. Medvedeva.

It’s an ambitious goal but the government hopes to poll all of Russia between 14-25 October. That is a quite the task for a country lacking interstate highways or a national autoban, yet spread over 51.5% of the entire Asian continent and just over 49% of Europe.

The Russian Census of 2010 (Всероссийская перепись населения 2010 года) is the first census of the Russian Federation population since 2002 and the second in its post-Soviet history. The Russian government has budgeted 10.5 billion rubles in order to conduct the census.

Would you like to see the 2010 All-Russia Population Census requirements for foreigners residing in Russia?

Moscow welcomes new foreign Ambassadors

In a ceremony at the Kremlin Grand Palace today President Dmitry Medvedev received letters of credentials from 13 new ambassadors to the Russian Federation.

Presentation of credential letters marks the official beginning of a foreign ambassadors’ work in Russia and is done a formal event with introductions, presentation of credentials and a reception. The ceremony is held quarterly in the St. Alexander Hall of the Grand Kremlin Palace under a strict protocol. 
The honourable John Clayburn Sloan, new Canadian Ambassador to Russia, formally presents his credentials from the Canadian government.

President Medvedev received credential letters from:

John Clayburn Sloan – Canada,

Faiq Fariq Abdelaziz Nerwei – Republic of Iraq,

Vanna Thay – Kingdom of Cambodia,

Juan Eduardo Eguiguren Gusman – Republic of Chile,

Mamadou Saliou Diouf – Republic of Senegal,

Paul Kibiwott Kurgat – Republic of Kenya,

Aydin Adnan Sezgin – Republic of Turkey,

Azizullah Karzai – Islamic Republic of Afghanistan,

Tom Risdahl Jensen – Kingdom of Denmark,

Luis Alberto Molina Cuadra – Republic of Nicaragua,

Ndali-Che Kamati – Republic of Namibia,

Dorit Golender – State of Israel,

Moses Benjamin Jallow – Republic of Gambia.

From the Republic of Turkey, new Ambassador Aydin Adnan Sezgin offers his credentials to President Medvedev.

The presentation ceremony was also attended by Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. The presentation of the credentials symbolizes the official beginning of the foreign diplomatic missions of newly appointed ambassadors in Russia.

Arnold Schwarenegger rides the Moscow Metro

Last Monday’s executive visit to Moscow by California Governor Arnold Schwarenegger was met with curiosity by most Russians. Not his first trip to Russia, most Russians have watched his movies and his ties to Europe give him credibility with folks on this side of the ocean.

Monday night  the governor decided to ride the famous Moscow Metro. Accompanied by FSB and Moscow police escorts the governor and his party entered underground Metro station Okhotny Ryad (Охотный ряд) near the Kremlin and traveled a short distance to Metro station Novokuznetskaya (Новокузнецкая) near his hotel.

(photo: LifeShowBiz) Governor Арнольд Шварценеггер (Arnold Schwarzenegger) passes thru the electronic turnstile.

Led past the cashier and directly to the turnstile entrances, naturally official state guests are not required to purchase Metro cards. Apparently Metro officials were caught off guard, however, but not to worry as the former world weightlifting champion wasn’t going to allow a simple metal turnstile stop him descent to the underground trains.

Score: Governor 1, Turnstile 0.

(photo: LifeShowBiz) The California governor seemed to enjoy his ride on the world's second busiest underground subway.

It was just a short ride to Metro station Novokuznetskaya and the governor and his party exited up the escalator and walked to their hotel. Journalists joked that riders on the train seemed enchanted with the sight of Schwarenegger riding the Metro and one writer observed that it was as if passengers had “lost their ability to speak.”