Russian weekend news digest

The Fourth BRICS Summit has concluded in New Delhi where the leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa exchanged views on  the global economy, reforms of global management institutions, and international stability security issues.

Leaders of the BRICS nations pose at the end of the Summit.

The Summit allowed the President to meet with each country’s leader.Meeting in New Delhi, President Medvedev called on BRICS partners to lead in modernization of the world financial systems and to play a key role for the BRICS nations in world affairs. In closing remarks Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India stressed that “we agreed that a lasting solution in Syria and Iran can only be found through dialogue.” This year marked the fourth BRICS summit of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa

In other news, following the appeal by the President of Tajikistan, Dmitry Medvedev instructed the Government of the Russian Federation to provide emergency humanitarian assistance to Tajikistan to overcome the effects of abnormal winter weather conditions.

On Friday Mr. Medvedev met with leaders of the United Russia party to receive their lists of candidates for the governorships of Moscow, Omsk and Saratov regions.

Russian & Ukrainian Easter eggs

We really like the blog Natasha’s Kitchen for tips on colouring Easter eggs in the Russian and Ukrainian style. Her easy instructions make it look so fun and simple. Just follow the link and learn how to colour eggs using the skin of boiled onions.

Visit http://natashaskitchen.com/2011/04/20/russian-easter-eggs for easy step by step instructions.

We also recommend this recipe for Ukrainian/Russian Easter bread (called “kulich”) from the pages of Russianseason, another food blog operated by a mother/daughter and they know how to cook! This is one of the best recipes we’ve found.

* This will make 3 medium-sized Kulichi (13cm height, 9cm diameter).

Dough ingredients:

4 1/4 cup (500 grams) wheat flour
3/4 cup (170 grams) sugar
4 tbsps (40 grams) fresh yeast
1/2 cup (120ml) milk, lukewarm
1/2 cup (120ml) cream
1/2 cup (120 grams butter), room temperature
2 egg yolks
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
A tiny pinch of ground cloves
A small bag of vanilla sugar
1/2 cup (50 grams) golden raisins
3/4 cup (150 grams) dried apricots
1/2 cup (75 grams) almonds

Icing ingredients:

2 egg whites, chilled
1 cup (125 grams) powder sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 cup (75 grams) diced roasted walnuts

Combine yeast, milk, cream, and 1/3 of the flour. Cover the dough and let it rise (it will rise quickly, in about half an hour).

In the meantime, blend egg yolks, sugar, vanilla, and butter until pale and smooth.

When the first dough has risen (you will notice some bubbles and cracks on the surface), add in salt, the egg yolk and butter mix, and spice. Mix together and add in the remaining flour. Knead the dough until it is smooth and doesn’t stick to the hands.

Cover the dough and leave it to rise in a warm place. It might take 2 to 4 hours, depending on temperature and ingredients.

When the second dough has risen, add in diced apricots, raisins, and peeled almonds (scald them so that the skins will come off easily).

Grease tall cylinder-shaped baking forms with butter and place the dough into the prepared forms. The dough should take about only ½ of the space in the form as it will rise significantly. Leave the dough in the molds to rise for about 15 minutes.

Bake at a low heat for an hour (325 F).

Photo and recipe from http://www.russianseason.net a great cooking blog!

(Recipe and photo from Russian Seasons. They have an awesome recipe for chocolate pashka here.)

For simple instructions on more complex egg decorating, we recommend this blogsite: http://warnet.ws/news/44897 It is in Russian language but the photos will guide your work.

Learn how to colour eggs with complex, yet amazing simple, designs by following this link: http://warnet.ws/news/44897

Russian Easter tips to get the most from your Russian Easter experience:

– Fast (no meat, no dairy, no alcohol) for the 40 days prior to Easter.

– Assemble a basket of food to take to church blessing by the priest. Most baskets include items which were forbidden during the fast, bread, cheese and a bottle of wine.

– Attend the “Paskha” (Greek word for Easter) service at an Orthodox Church. This service begins on the Saturday night before Easter and continues several hours past midnight.

– Learn some Easter phrases in Russian. We have a page here on the Mendeleyev Journal to help you with Easter terms in Russian.
– Russian Easter as in earlier times follows Passover. When the Roman Catholic Church changed the formula for calculating Easter in the Western half of the world, churches in the Eastern half of the world did not change. Easter in the Eastern world this year is Sunday, 15 April, a week after Roman Catholic Easter in the West.
Finally, for complete Russian Easter information and photos visit our own Mendeleyev Journal Russian Easter page here.

Russia inches forward on political party reforms

(Moscow) Yesterday Russia’s Federation Council, the upper chamber of the Duma, passed long-awaited legislation to liberalize party politics in Russia. The vote was decidedly in favour of the reforms.

The legislation has been authored by out-going President Dmitry Medvedev after wide-spread political protests in December after public outcries amid charges of vote rigging in the Duma election. The President had promised to streamline rules for political participation and the bill decreases the number of members required for a party to officially register from the previous requirement of 40,000 to just 500 signatures nationwide.

Citizen protests after the December DUMA elections were met with police force. (photo: Ilya Varlumov, zualt.livejounal.com)

The new legislation is expected to be signed into law by Medvedev before his term in office expires in early May when Vladimir Putin, Russia’s old-new President-elect resumes power.

Despite criticism from members such as the Council’s legal committee chairman Nikolai Fyodorov who said the legislation was “risky” and would allow “extremists” to register too easily and enter the political process, the bill passed by a vote of 124-6.

Some Russians fear that the low minimum of 500 nationwide signatures will hurt chances for a united opposition since existing law prohibits small parties from joining forces in political blocs, thereby allowing the ruling United Russia party to remain dominant, an ironic situation as United Russia itself was formed by the merger of several parties in 2001.

President Medvedev has just concluded the BRICS summit in India.

Chris Botti returns to Moscow on April 5!

The Moscow Times newspaper calls him the “blonde angel with a trumpet instead of the harp” so who are we to disagree when Chris Botti comes to Moscow a week from today on Thursday, 5 April. Fans will recognize Chris Botti as an American trumpeter and composer who was nominated for two Grammy Awards including Best Pop Instrumental Album.

Chris Botti in concert, April 5 at the Moscow House of Music.

Botti’s solo debut, First Wish, was released in 1995 and in 1999 he toured with Sting as a featured soloist in the Brand New Day tour. His music mixes smooth jazz, chill, R&B, and pop Classical. Botti also played in Moscow last year to sold out performances.

Chris Botti is a core performer on the Mendeleyev Journal radio station, www.MyFavoriteChannel.com. Fans can learn more about Chris and his music at www.chrisbotti.com.

Chris Botti in concert.

Botti plays a Martin Committee large bore Handcraft trumpet made in 1939, and uses a #3 silver plated mouthpiece from Bach made in 1926, and uses a Leblanc Vacchiano Harmon mute from the 1950s.

The concert will begin at 20.00 (8pm) with tickets ranging from 3300-7300 руб. Tickets should be purchased in advance by calling 730-1011, 258-0000 or visiting online at www.Parter.ru. The Moscow House of Music is home to the National Philharmonic of Russia and located at Kosmodamianskaya Embankment, 52, Building 8 (Svetlanov Hall).

Moscow's House of Music is home to the National Philharmonic of Russia and part of the Riverside Towers business and hotel complex.

For our Russian readers:

Крис Ботти – самый популярный трубач мира. Его репертуар – это изысканный союз джаза, классики и поп музыки. На глазах у изумлённой публики он каждый раз превращает известные мелодии во что-то совершенно новое и удивительное. На сегодняшний день Крис Ботти уже продал более пяти миллионов копий своих альбомов. Его партнёры – только суперзвёзды: Стинг, Пол Саймон, Джони Митчел, Джон Мэйер, Ренди Брекер, Андреа Бочелли, Джошуа Белл, Марк Нопфлер и даже группа «Аэросмит» во главе со Стивеном Тайлером. Он входит в избранный круг мировой музыкальной элиты. Звук его трубы неподражаем и знаком миллионам поклонников по всему миру. Удивлять – в этом и есть непревзойдённое мастерство Криса Ботти. Это будет поистине незабываемый вечер и самое изысканное украшение музыкального сезона!

5 апреля 2012 года, звуками этой трубы вновь наполнится Московский Дом Музыки. В апреле прошлого года Крис Ботти уже приезжал в Россию. Это были невероятные, аншлаговые представления! Лишний билетик спрашивали задолго до подхода к Дому Музыки. Более того, сразу по окончании шоу многие пожелали купить билеты на следующее российское шоу Криса.

И вот – свершилось! В этом году легендарный трубач обещал особенно удивить своих поклонников. Его новое шоу – будет намного ярче всех остальных! Российская публика увидит совершенно новую, потрясающую программу! Специально приглашённые американские музыканты, которые выйдут на сцену вместе с Крисом, блеснут виртуозным мастерством. Скрипки, перкуссия, ударные, вокал… Modern Jazz, Classical Mainstream, R&B, Chill Out…

Космодамианская наб., д. 52 стр. 8, Moscow, Russia, 115054

Это будет поистине незабываемый вечер! Крис Ботти, дамы и господа! Самое изысканное украшение музыкального сезона!

Dorofei Medvedev, Russia’s “first cat” wants independence?

Has Dorofei Medvedev (Дорофей), Russia’s “first cat” decided to join the protest movement?

In this cartoon Dorofei protests for his "freedom."

Soaring to new highs on Twitter, Vk and Facebook, Russians are purring over the brief disappearance of the Medvedev cat with some news sources saying that police in the Moscow suburb of Gorki had been dispatched to look for the cat. President Medvedev, traveling in India, took a moment to Tweet, “About the cat. A source close to Dorofei says he was not lost. Thank you all for your concern!”

Dorofei is a Siberian breed, a rare Nevsky Masquerade, and was picked out by first lady Svetlana Medvedeva in 2003, several years prior to Mr. Medvedev running for president in 2008. The name comes from the Greek Dorotheos, or the “gift of God.”

Meanwhile the deluge of catty remarks on Twitter and other social media has grown. Many comments are jokes about Dorofei wishing to be free before Vladimir Putin returns to the presidency. One post features a doctored photo of Putin in a fur hat with cat’s ears and the caption: “Dorofei? No, haven’t seen him.”

Dorofei Medvedev greeted the Obamas at the Russian presidential residence in 2009.

Some Twitter users were sympathetic but many joked the cat  showed good sense to make a break for it. Several Twitter accounts have been set up in Dorofei’s name and users are sending messages like “Run, #Dorofei, Run!” and slogans from the recent election protests.

Many telephone poles in the elite Moscow suburb near Mr Medvedev’s official residence are covered with fictional “lost cat” posters.

Romney says Russia is the USA’s top foe

In the years of the cold war Russia considered the USA to be the “main adversary.” In remarks Monday following the accidental open microphone conversation between Presidents Obama and Medvedev, candidate Mitt Romney told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer in an interview that Russia is “without question our No. 1 geopolitical foe” citing his belief that Russia “fights every cause for the world’s worst actors.”

For both presidents the hot-mic comments by President Barack Obama at the international nuclear summit in Seoul was embarrassing as Mr. Obama was overheard telling Russian president Dmitry Medvedev that he would have more flexibility in arms-control negotiations after the U.S. presidential election in November.

L-R: US President Obama and Russian President Medvedev greet each other in Seoul, South Korea.

Romney used the occasion to accuse Obama of hiding future concessions once the US presidential election is over in November. Since Monday many political figures have said that the Obama administration has been too soft on Russia.

Russian President Medvedev ridiculed the statement by saying, “It smells of Hollywood. Candidates for the U.S. presidency should use reason when they make such statements.”

A close Medvedev associate, Alexander Sokolov, who heads Russia’s Public Chamber’s international affairs working group said, “Republicans have decided to play the Marlboro man in how they position themselves on the international stage.”

Obama and Medvedev conversation at Seoul

Russian President Medvedev met yesterday (Monday) with American President Obama in Seoul during the International Nuclear Security Summit. The two men met and then exchanged remarks at the conclusion of their brief talks.

President Obama (left), Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov (centre) and President Medvedev (right).

President Medvedev said, “My colleague Barack Obama and I have once again had a constructive discussion of the various issues on the international agenda and on bilateral cooperation between the Russian Federation and the United States.”

“I said that although there are varying assessments of the reset in relations that has been much spoken about over these last three years, I think that we have accomplished very useful work over this time. These have perhaps been the best three years in relations between our two countries over the last decade. We achieved a lot, starting with the New START Treaty and ending with our cooperation on the most sensitive international issues.”

“I particularly want to thank the President of the United States for all of his effort and support in helping the Russian Federation to join the World Trade Organization. This was very important for us. We hope to be able to soon resolve the remaining issues in this area, including that of the Jackson-Vanik amendment. The Russian Federation is very keen to make progress here. I think that American companies and America’s people would also stand to benefit from this, especially during this time of economic instability.”

Left to right: President Obama and President Medvedev in Seoul, South Korea. The two men last met in November 2011 in Honolulu.

American President Barrack Obama expressed his satisfaction with the meeting in saying, “Well, first of all, let me just say that the last three years of my work with President Medvedev has been extremely productive. And he listed some of the achievements that has resulted from this work – the New START Treaty reduces our nuclear stockpiles in ways that can help create greater peace and security not just for our countries but for the world, and is consistent with our obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty.”

“Russia’s ascension into the WTO can open up trade and commerce between our two countries that can create jobs and economic growth for both Russians and Americans. And as Dmitry mentioned, we think it’s going to be very important for us to address Jackson-Vanik so that American businesses can fully take advantage of an open and liberalized Russian market.”

“It is true that there have been times where we have had to manage tensions between our countries, and that’s to be expected. Obviously, there are always tensions between countries, and that’s certainly true given the long history of the Cold War between our two countries. But what I think we’ve been able to do is to ensure that rather than look backwards, we’ve been looking forwards.”

A rare moment thinking that microphones were turned off.

American media immediately seized upon some words caught live after the two men thought that microphones had been turned off.

President Obama: On all these issues, but particularly missile defense, this, this can be solved but it’s important for him to give me space.

President Medvedev: Yes, I understand. I understand your message about space. Space for you…

President Obama: This is my last election. After my election I will have more flexibility.

President Medvedev: I understand. I will transmit this information to Vladimir. I understand.


While both sides use translators for official purposes, President Medvedev understands and speaks English. Some will see this portion of their conversation as some sort of secret pact but in truth this kind of off the record conversation is frequent in diplomatic settings and often very constructive.

Others will take Mr. Medvedev’s comment “I will transmit this information to Vladimir” as some sort of proof that Medvedev has all along answered to Mr. Putin in matters of foreign policy. We must realize however that Mr. Medvedev will soon step down and communicating important diplomatic information to Russia’s new president Vladimir Putin is an important step in an orderly transition of power and diplomatic protocol.