Russian political TV ads

There are some pretty cool political advertisements leading up to the 4 December election to Russia’s DUMA (parliament). It’s just too bad that you won’t see most of them.

First it was national TV ads being pulled. For the opposition that is, as most were judged to be “inappropriate” for various reasons. Next was the Moscow Metro which pulled down signs for the Yabloko (Apple) party.

We liked this apple ad: “Tired of being represented by vegetables…vote for Apple!” Metro officials said it was offensive so the ads were removed.

This next video ad however remains on TV. Apparently it isn’t offensive, well at least it promotes the ruling United Russia party and strangely none of their ads have been banned. Take a look for yourself:

Reacting to a new Kremlin poll leaked to Gazetta newspapers by an unknown source, the poll reveals that even close to home–in the Moscow region–United Russia will garner around 29% of the vote, a far lower number than the 55%+ the Kremlin had wanted. United Russia officials are banking on younger voters, thus the rationale for commercials like the one above, in the hope that young voters will make up the difference.

Time will tell.

Red Square skating rink

Question: I’ve heard that Red Square becomes a giant skating rink in December. Really?

Answer: Yes, but don’t just take our word for it. Photographer and Moscow guide Olga Boiko would say that you need to come and see for yourself!

Moscow guide Olga Boiko enjoys Red Square in winter!

Olga Boiko is a well known guide for those who want to see Moscow and when it comes to winter experiences Olga says that, “My absolutely favorite place for winter outdoor skating in Moscow is certainly the ice skating rink on Red Square.”

Moscow guide Olga Boiko recommends a visit to Red Square in winter!

You can ask Olga questions yourself about Moscow at her website: www.askmoscow.com

Skating rink at GUM, Red Square.

Moscow displays Mother of God sash/belt from Mount Athos.

If you’re were wondering about all that extra traffic over the past couple of days, be thankful that it wasn’t holiday New Year gift shoppers camping out for some Xbox sale.

The same event which filled St Petersburg’s sidewalks with “foot traffic jams” in late October did the same to Moscow. It’s gone now–you are free again to walk around the city centre. The display was beautiful but the lines were long and Moscow police estimated wait times at 24 hours given the length of sidewalk lines which snarled motor traffic in central Moscow as well and created extraordinary parking problems for motorists.

Scenes of St Petersburg:

This autumn Orthodox monks flew in what is thought to be the original cloth belt from the Virgin Mary. Normally kept on Mount Athos, there has been great interest all over Russia while the belt was on loan for a limited time.

(photo by Kuzma Prutkoff)
(photo by Father Gennady/LiveJournal)
(photo by Father Gennady/LiveJournal)

The Russian schedule has taken the display to these cities:
Санкт-Петербурге – Saint Petersburg
Екатеринбурге – Yekaterinburg
Норильске – Norilsk
Владивостоке – Vladivostok
Красноярске – Krasnoyarsk
Дивееве – Diveevo
Саранске – Saransk
Самаре – Samara
Ростове-на-Дону – Rostov (on the Don)
Калининграде – Kaliningrad
Москве – Moscow

…and caused lots of foot traffic wherever it went.

(photo by Kuzma Prutkoff)
(photo by Kuzma Prutkoff)
(photo by Kuzma Prutkoff)
(photo by Kuzma Prutkoff)

The Moscow exhibition was at the national Cathedral of Christ the Saviour for 5 days and according to the Moscow Times newspaper, “the line of people to enter the golden-domed Christ the Savior Cathedral stretched four metro stations, from Kropotkinskaya to Vorobyovy Gory, despite subzero temperatures.

Some, however, enjoyed fast-track access to the relic: People arriving in cars with license plates of the type reserved for senior officials were let in without waiting in the line, Itar-Tass reported, citing a priest at the cathedral.


Police officers announced through megaphones that it will take worshippers 24 hours to get to the relic. Some 80 people a minute — three to four abreast — were passing under the relic, mounted on a 2-meter arch in the temple.


Hundreds of buses brought pilgrims from other Russian cities. Almost 200 buses were parked along the line with their engines running so the faithful could get warm as they waited. The city provided free tea and food and put up portable toilets.


Some 1,500 police officers were deployed to handle the traffic.

The Saint Andrews Foundation, responsible for bringing the relic to Russia said that 14 million Russians have viewed the display since late October. Moscow police estimated the number in line at 82,000 last Thursday, just one day of the 5 day event.

Stalin’s daughter, a USA citizen, died last Tuesday at age 85

US authorities announced today that Lana Peters, known in Russia as Светлана Иосифовна Аллилуева (Svetlana Iosifovna Alliluyeva) and the daughter of Soviet dictator Iosef Stalin, died from colon cancer at a nursing home in her adopted hometown of Richland, Wisconsin.

Stalin's daughter Svetlana, known in the West as Lana Peters.

Born in Leningrad (now Saint Petersburg) on 28 February 1926 she received the name of her father but after the death of Joseph Stalin in 1953, she took the surname of the mother Nadezhda Alliluyeva. In 1967 she fled to India and lived for a time in Switzerland before asking the United States for asylum in 1970. After her arrival in the U.S. she was married and lived under the name Lana Peters.

Her publication of “Twenty Letters to a Friend” (1963), a work about her father and about life in the Kremlin, caused a worldwide sensation. Then in 2008 she appeared in a 45-minute documentary film “Svetlana about Svetlana”.

In her childhood Stalin often referred to her as his “beloved” but in his will Stalin left her 30 rubles as an inheritance (roughly about a dollar today).

Stalin called daughter Svetlana, his "beloved."

In the US she became friends of the wife of famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright and married one of his friends, architect William Peters. That marriage ended in divorce but they had one daughter.

Stalin's daughter, Svetlana Alliluyeva (Peters).

Under the openness of the 1980s she returned to the Soviet Union to be near her other children. Her son her first marriage, Joseph, lived in the Soviet Union until his death (1945-2008). Her first marriage was ordered dissolved by Stalin and later she gave birth to a daughter, Yekaterina, in a 2nd marriage. Both children were baptized in a Moscow church in 1962. However on her return to the Soviet Union both Joseph and Yekatrina rejected her attempts at reconciliation, feeling betrayed.

The Soviet government issued her a nice apartment and private car and driver in Georgia to be near the birthplace of her father. However youngest daughter Olga struggled to learn Russian and both felt restricted with Soviet life so eventually she returned to America in 1986. General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev allowed her return to the United States as she held dual citizenship in the USSR and the USA.

Later for a short time in the 1990s she lived in the monastery of St. John in Switzerland and then in a nursing home in England. The USA granted her a small pension making it possible for her to move to a nursing home in Wisconsin to be close to her youngest daughter, Olga.

The funeral arrangements are private. She is survived in the USA by her daughter Olga from Portland, Oregon, USA.

Our 2nd media award of 2011!

It must be Christmas. The Mendeleyev Journal has received our 2nd International Internet media award of 2011 and we’re grateful for the recognition of our growth over the past years.

Best of the Web for Europe & Russia.

This month we were honoured with the distinction of being named one of the Top 20 websites about Europe and Russia by “Best of the Web.” We will work in 2012 to keep your confidence and trust and thank each reader for your contributions in making the Mendeleyev Journal among the best.

Soon the Best of the Web logo will be displayed along with our previous award for “Top Overseas Blog.” Thanks to the media professionals who recognized our efforts and to each reader of the Mendeleyev Journal, please know that we appreciate your support.

Russian election violations go viral

In basketball terms we’d call it a “full court press” and there seems to be little doubt that regional officials in Russia are certainly under pressure to deliver a victory to the ruling Единой России (United Russia) Party in the DUMA (parliament) elections this coming 4 December and again for the Russian presidential election in March 2012.

That being said, politicians of all stripes are worried, with good reason, about the vast amount of technology in the hands of everyday citizens. Many citizens meanwhile have begun to label the United Russia as the “party of crooks and thieves” in a sort of populist backlash again heavy-handed politics.

In the video above, the mayor of the Russian city of Izhevsk, Denis Agashin, tells a public meeting with veterans that if voters don’t support the United Russia Party that the government will withhold funding for veterans. He promised veterans that if voters gave more than 51% of the vote to United Russia, then he would grant additional funding of 500 thousand rubles to 1 million rubles.

When challenged on the legality of his comments the mayor, unaware that his talk was being recorded said that, “If people don’t support the party that is actually doing something, what’s the point of financing them? If this is the case, it’s clear the people don’t need anything.”

After the video went viral over the Internet, General Council of  United Russia Sergei Zheleznyak asserted that Agashin “had a meeting with representatives of veterans organizations on their own initiative” and “assumption about the connection of the funding of veterans’ organizations with the result of United Russia was solely Agashin’s idea and not a reflection of Party policy.

Since that video recorded meeting the mayor has been interviewed on regional television about his comments to veterans. Although there have been calls for his resignation, he was handed a fine by the Election Commission.

Seated at centre, Izhevsk mayor Denis Agashin. (photo: leha747.livejournal.com)

Back on 14 September Mayor Agashin had invited popular local bloggers in for a breakfast meeting with the mayor and council members at which time he announced projects for new roads and housing, hoping to build popular support for his initiatives.

It was reported that several bloggers and media representatives walked out of the breakfast meeting before the conclusion.

As seen in the photo (immediate left) many popular groups are going on the offensive against the ruling party with the “party of crooks and thieves” theme.

Another popular online video shows election officials in the northern city of Murmansk promising the equivalent of $50 to each voter who casts a vote for United Russia.

Last week some students at the Moscow Institute for Physics and Technology (MIPT) began to text and twitter that they had been told that failure to vote for the ruling party would mean that the long-anticipated building of a new dormitory will be held up indefinitely.

(Editors note: The Mendeleyev Journal does not endorse any political party in Russia and respects the right of the Russian people to choose their own candidates. That being said, we do wholeheartedly commit to reporting current news and election trends leading up to the official elections.)

Bus turnstiles: what comes down in Moscow goes up in Kyiv (Kiev)

Over the past several years Moscow buses, trolleys and trams erected metal turnstiles, forcing passengers to enter only at the front of the wagon. Revenues went up as hopping in the back of the bus or tram without a ticket became a thing of the past.

photo: autonews.ru

This past July however Moscow mayor Sergei Sobyanin announced during a transportation tour that the turnstiles would be removed, citing an official transit study which revealed that the turnstiles were causing more traffic gridlock by adding an average of 15 minutes to each route.

So it was no big surprise when Mayor Sobyanin this past Friday told Radio Echo Moscow that crews had begun the work of dismantling the metal ticket turnstiles on every Moscow bus, tram and trolley. The mayor said that limiting entry solely through the first door and the time to pass through the turnstiles had reduced the speed of buses and trolleybuses to the point that the system was too slow for transit efficiency.

When asked how buses and trolleys will maintain rider ticket control, the mayor said that drivers and additional supervisors will be responsible. (In decades past many Moscow buses were on an “honour system” with random ticket inspections by ticket control officers and cashiers.)

Sobyanin also said that Moscow would return to a “one ticket” concept where a single ticket would qualify for any mode of public transport: bus, trolley-bus, tram and metro, with the tickets available for purchase at kiosks and markets as well as Metro station cashiers. This is also a return to an earlier practice and may well give an added boost to small kiosk and market vendors.

City officials say it could take up to two years to remove the turnstiles from Europe’s largest transit system.

photo: Samsdam.com.ua

But at the same time that Moscow is taking down the turnstiles, the capital of Ukraine is putting them up. Citing efforts to rein in lost ticket revenue and control ridership, the city of Kyiv (Kiev) began to add turnstiles this past June and the Kyivrada (Kyiv city government) has budgeted ten million hryvnia for the project.

Perhaps Kyiv should call Moscow. We suspect that there will be some used turnstiles in good condition on the market very soon.