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U.S. Policy in Georgia

Should America support Saakashvili?


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Herbert Moos

The crisis is over, what is the future of Russia’s banks?


Kremlin's New Foreign Policy

Partnership with the West


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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Regions RN launches a series on the Russian regions

Outpost of Change

Lonely Kaliningrad could become the model for constructive dissent; opposition activists are cautious but say they are starting to be heard.



Kaliningrad gave the Kremlin a wake-up call when opposition groups staged anti-government rallies this year, drawing thou- sands of people to its central square to protest exorbitantly high taxes and duties and cuts in programs. Opposition lead- ers complained bitterly and openly of United Russia and the region's increasingly unpopular governor. Some say that the protests

have led to change, and even a sensibility of openness to the place. Could a Kremlin-appoint- ed governor feel an increasing sense of duty to his constitu- ents? Not long ago, a BMW X5

driven by a local businessman hit a young man on a Kalinin- grad crosswalk. The re- gion’s controversial governor, Georgy Boos, was passing and, to the surprise of eyewitnesses, the motorcade stopped and the governor got out of his car and called an ambulance. He found himself in a situation familiar to thousands of Russian citizens: He was referred from one op- erator to another and asked to hold. He called his health min- ister, Yelena Kluykova, who did not answer his call. Finally, after

half an hour’s wait in freezing weather, the bleeding victim was picked up by an ambu- lance. The health minister was fired shortly after the incident. Opponents claim that it was

a publicity stunt worthy of re- ality TV, but others say there is a kindler gentler Boos. “The au- thorities changed their behav- ior after the protest rallies,” one bystander said. Nearly five years ago, the Kremlin sent a young and am- bitious businessman close to Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov to govern the area. Kaliningrad was a wild and neglected fron- tier. The region, known as Rus- sia’s western outpost, was rocked by corruption scandals and problems after the intro- duction of Schengen visas in neighboring European Union countries. “Before 2004, we traveled freely to Poland and the Baltic countries and getting a visa was no problem," said one regional official. The area was not considered part of Eu- rope, yet it was cut off from mainland Russia. Meanwhile, the economy was stagnating despite the region’s many priv- ileges and status as a special economic zone. Since the riots, a cautious op-

timism has followed on the heels of revitalization efforts and con- cessions to the opposition. To this day, Kaliningrad has

a strong sense of belonging only to itself: Before World War II, the area was a part of Germa- ny called Eastern Prussia, with

This article was prepared in cooperation with


Medvedev Denounces Stalinism

In an interview with the Russian daily Izvestia, Medvedev drew a clear line between what was accomplished 65 years ago and Joseph Stalin, the controversial then-supreme commander of the Soviet Army. “It was our people who won the War, not Stalin … They went through tre- mendous hardships, and a great number of peo- ple paid with their lives for this victory,” he said. “Stalin committed many crimes against his peo- ple [and] we cannot pardon him,” he added.

Read the full interview at

U.S. Ambassador's Father a Soviet Hero Too


The scientif- ic research vessel Cos- monaut Vic- tor Patsaev waits in the harbor in the center of Kaliningrad.

the capital named Koenigsberg. In 1945, Koenigsberg fell to the Soviet Army. At first, the Rus- sian authorities paid scant at- tention to the region. In the tu- multuous 1990s, there was a movement to return the region to Germany and rename it Koenigsberg once again. Perhaps in honor of its Ger-

manic roots, Boos started his term as governor by building a modern autobahn. Well-lit, smooth and utterly European, it is a section of the future $300 million Maritime Ring, which should one day link Kaliningrad

with the beach holiday resorts in the west and north of the re- gion. The highway, which has now nearly reached Zele- nogordsk, is probably the best road in the country. Locals grumble about the highway. “We don’t care if the drive to the seaside takes 20 or 40 minutes. We are more con- cerned about traffic jams in the city,” said Solomon Ginsburg, an opposition deputy in the re- gional parliament. The road is the governor’s

most tangible achievement. Ambitious plans to build a lux-

ury marina on the Baltic coast and a Formula One racecourse remain on the table, while other initiatives were wrecked by the crisis. Indeed, it was the crisis and the way the authorities han- dled it that brought thousands of people into the streets in Jan- uary to demand the resignation of Governor Boos and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. The pro- tests were triggered by the in- crease in housing and utility rates, and a rise in the transport tax.


When U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Beyrle was a child growing up during the Cold War, he didn't tell a lot of folks that his father was a Soviet soldier during World War II. But his fa- ther's legacy influenced the longtime diplo- mat greatly, and the exhibit regarding his fa- ther's legacy at Victory Park in Moscow offers a powerful portrait of heroism (see His father, Joseph Bey- rle, was an American soldier who narrowly es- caped a POW camp and walked the Eastern Front. There he met and fought with a Red Army tank battalion and was wounded with them at the end of the war.

Read the full article at

Society There is still little support for disabled Russians as they try to lead a normal, productive life

The Struggle from Stair to Door

Individual Russians have started grassroots organizations to open doors for the disabled, but progress is achingly slow. Some hope that Sochi's Paralympics will provide a model of access.



Liliya Fyodorova must descend a staircase backward to leave her home.

Living with a disability in Rus- sia is an epic struggle. Take Lil- iana Fyodorova. To leave her apartment building, she must descend six steep and narrow concrete steps. Backwards. In a

wheelchair. Then there’s the curb from the sidewalk to the street. And another curb after that. Three times she’s fallen, bouncing her head off the un- yielding tile floor so sharply that she was hospitalized. The disabled face a vast array

of problems—in employment, housing and medical care. They confront public indifference or blatant discrimination. But lack of access remains their most for- midable barrier. Things have improved in re-

cent years, but only a bit. The collapse of the Soviet system

meant advocacy groups were free to organize. Russia’s drive for international respect and ac- ceptance led to measures that, at least on paper, suggested so- lutions. The rush to capitalism brought malls with, thanks to a 1992 law, handicapped ac- cess. The Internet lessened their cold isolation. But progress is as slow and

painful as Fyodorova’s trip from home to city street, and often comes only through exception- al personal will or ingenuity.


U.S., Russia Reach Deal on Adoptions

Negotiators from the United States and Russia have agreed on key points of a new treaty on adoptions and will sign an official treaty in the coming months, according to Russia's Child Rights Ombudsman Pavel Astakhov. A major point of the new agreement will be to put an end to “independent” adoptions that occur via private lawyers instead of authorized adoption agencies. American adoptions of Russian children were suspended after the case of Artem Savelyev, whose adoptive parents sent him alone on a plane back to Russia, came to light and caused a public outcry in both Russia and the United States.




Cinema Resurgence

Arts Mikhalkov will have to share the screens

Russia's film industry has blossomed in the past decade and, despite recent waverings, is poised for both artistic and financial growth. Both art-house and action films are flourishing.



After a decade of anticipation, Nikita Mikhalkov’s sequel to the 1994 Academy Award win- ning “Burnt By The Sun” opened at the Kremlin’s Grand Palace last month. Laden with anvil-sized symbolism, the film revives the characters—a col- onel, a KGB officer, and the love they both shared— thought to be dead when the

first film ends at the height of Stalin’s Terror. Russia’s critics dismissed his

$55 million epic as a woefully unsuccessful sentimental jour- ney. But the sequel already has its place at the table right now in competition at Cannes, where “Burnt By the Sun” won the Grand Prix. Mikhalkov, compelling and controversial, was once con- sidered a one-man film indus- try; and while the art he has shepherded is in flux, business is booming. Russian filmmak- ing has experienced a dynam- ic revolution and restored rep- utation in the past decade. The past two years have proved troublesome to this trend, but

the industry is poised for growth. “Some of the expectations of

the past five years could not and have not been met,” said Stephen Norris, Russian histo- rian at Miami University and au- thor of a forthcoming book on Russian cinema. “But at the same time, a lot of the huge strides the industry has made since 2000 have held.” The gains that have held in-

clude thousands of cinemas in swish new malls in Russia’s urban centers. The revival in the Russian movie business that started in the early 2000s is re- gaining some of its stride.


A metro car on the Arbatso-Pokrovskaya line of the Moscow metro features sketches from the Pushkin Museum.


New Lease for Ukraine

Ukraine’s New President Lands Controversial Deal



Friendships Without Borders

How Americans and Russians differ






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