Grigor Matevossyan (Григор Матевосян) from Sochi, member of Russia Junior Thai Boxing team, has won gold medal in the Cruiser Weight category (under 86 kg) at the IFMA Muay Thai World Championship 2009 which took place earlier this month.
Olympic logo presentation was moved to Tuesday due to the tragedy on railroad between Moscow and St.-Petersburg.
upd: This is today, from the Red Square:
Officially will be presented tomorrow, December 1 at 11am Moscow Time ( 8am GMT ) at a press conference with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in Moscow.
Development, Russia November 2nd, 2009
There are a few things you need to know in order to understand importance of this piece of news:
- Main highway connecting Sochi to Moscow (or Moscow to Sochi, if you like) is federal highway M-4, aka «Don» highway
- «There are only two problems in Russia: fools and roads» – this common Russian saying should tell you something about the overall state of roads in Russia
- Recently, a law regulating pay roads in Russia has been passed, and State corporation established with intent to improve federal roads.
The «Don» highway crosses several regions in Russia: somewhere road pavement is good, somewhere it’s ok, but in Voronezh and Rostov regions it’s pretty bad. It’s so bad, in fact, that the part of the highway going through Rostov region is considered one of the most dangerous roads in the country (I’ll talk about this a little in one of the next posts). Several years ago, driving from St.-Petersburg to Sochi we witnessed five accidents with fatalities, four of which were on «Don», and all four between Voronezh and Rostov-on-Don. That’s only within two days. The latest trip I took on that road was this summer, in August, and it wasn’t that bad this time (no fatal accidents around, anyways), still the road is very bad in some regions.
One thing always surprises me on these trips, though, is Read the rest of this entry »
Only 3 airlines have direct flights to Sochi — Russia’s largest summer resort, from Saint-Petersburg — Russia’s second largest city, a home to over 4.5 million people… in the middle of the summer season. One of them flies with a stop in Krasnodar (that adds several hrs to your travel time), and another one of the three only flies 4 times a week.
Compare this to 12 (!) airlines (that I know of, there could be more) that have direct flights between Sochi and Moscow.
Many other cities have it worse than St. Petes, there either no flights, or flights only a couple of days a week. There’s no competition, and because it’s the middle of the vacationing season there are no special deals. This makes Sochi one very expensive destination to fly to.
Consider this: s Saint-Petersburg – Sochi round trip flight in the first half of August with convenient weekdays (weekends) and departure times on “Russia Airlines” – the only one that has direct, non-stop flights daily – costs 548,00 EUR ! And this is with 5% off for buying tickets online already calc’ed in.
At the same time there are plenty tours (which include travel, accommodation, and, often, food) offered to Egypt, Turkey, Bulgaria, and resorts in other countries for approximately the same price or even lower… while I couldn’t find anything similar for Sochi, or any other resort on Russia’s south.
And comparing these prices to the deals available on inter-European flights from low-cost European airlines, all this drives me crazy.
I didn’t really want to write about this topic on this blog, but reading through US online media all day long and reading through people’s reactions in the comments, it continues to amaze me how single-sidedly the story is delivered, and how quickly people are buying it. CNN, for example, been only quoting Georgian media, and running Saakashvili’s press conferences clips — smiling, he tells the World of Russian aggression. Lets get things straight, asshole — you’ve started the attack on Ossetia, which has been independent from you for over 15 years, successfully running it’s own affairs and living peaceful life only disturbed by Georgia’s sporadic gun firings. You came in, destroyed most of the capital, killed hundreds of people, thousands more lost their homes and are seeking refuge in Russia, and yet more are still left without food and water.
Anyways, Russian troops moved in to stop the killing. Things are far from over, and I really want to see Russian gov’t get bigger balls, and make sure Georgian troops won’t be able to use force on South Ossetia’s civilians, or any other for that matter.
There are two phone hot-lines opened in Russia for anyone looking for information on killed or injured Ossetian civilians and Russian peacekeepers. The numbers are: 7 (8672) 25-03-43 and 7 (8672) 25-03-40
There also are a couple of funds opened collecting money for Ossetians. Unfortunately both are only for Russian currency, so I’ll just post links for the websites where details for wire transfers can be found.
Second is opened by the Russian Childern Fund (official site).
Two major disturbing (to say the least) developments hit Southern Russia today: blast on one of the Sochi beaches, and Georgia waging new war on it’s breakaway republic – South Osetia.
Blast on Sochi beach
Custom made bomb exploded on a beach in Loo — town in Greater Sochi located in Lazarevsky district — around 10:30am. Two people died — 22 years old woman, student from Ukraine, and 31 years old man from Rostov-on-Don, Russia. Number of injured varies between 8 and 13 in different sources. Interfax agency reports 8 people in hospitals as of late evening Sochi time. Witnesses say the girl was blown into pices.
Government, including federal, took this incident very seriously. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev instructed his rep. in southern Russia to take the investigation under his personal control. Unfortunatelly, at this point there is no information about who and why could have set the bomb up. $85 000 is offered for any information helpful for the investigation.
War in Osetia
After fifteen years of relative peace in Osetia, after years of arms build up by Georgia following it’s defeat from this small republic, after very recent surge in pro-Georgian and anti-Russian publications in US media, and right after recent war games held together with US army in the region, Georgia officially declared war on it’s breakaway republic South Osetia, which borders Russia’s South.
I will let you follow this with propaganda sources you trust (if you don’t have favorite one, you can start with Interfax New Agency’s news feed, which is updated almost live, RIA Novosti, and Russia Today – all in English), but here where it is located geographically:
The Times article from 1960’s, the copy of which I posted couple of days ago, brought some nostalgic memories :) and desire to elaborate on it and compare to present day. The article is rather good, so, these are not the notes of critique. To follow the read below you’d probably want to read the original article first.
I was born in Sochi in late seventies, and growing up there in eighties I have to note, that not much was changed since the times described by the Times’ correspondent to my childhood days. There were still putevkas, trip vouchers of a sort, and savages, the people who traveled to the Black sea resorts on their own. “Savages” (dikari in Russian), because their lodging was not civilized — or rather not luxurious, by Soviet standards, as stay of people settled in Sochi spas.
The source of the problem
The city of Sochi was established Read the rest of this entry »
Finally!!! After 15 years, Russia is ice hockey World Champion again!!! :-)
Thank you, guys, sooooo much for the emotions and pride!!!
photo (c) iihf.com
photo (c) AP
As reported by Russian news agency ITAR-TASS about a week ago, Russia and Ukraine have reached the agreement to build a bridge connecting Russia’s South and Crimea. I’ve written an article about plans for the Kerch Strait Bridge when they were announced by Ukrainian officials last year.
That announcement came short after Russian gov’t officially pledged to develop Sochi as round-year resort no matter how the Olympic bid goes. Many believe having this bridge will help Ukraine get some of the money Russia will pump into the south over the next decade. Anyways, both Russian and Ukrainian prime ministers have confirmed the agreement, and Ukrainian PM, Yulia Timoshenko, announced that the work on this project will start within days.
The first Kerch Strait Bridge connecting Krasnodar Krai and Crimea was built back in 1944, but was destroyed within a year by sea storms, and was never rebuilt. There are several projects for the new bridge in existence, valued between $700 million and one billion dollars.
As a separate, transportation related, piece of good news for Russia’s south – Russian government allocated extra money for reconstruction and maintenance of Russia’s roads. And the largest part of it – 86.7 billion rubbles ($3.7 bln), instead of originally planned 27 billion ($1.1 bln) just this year alone – will go into “Olympic” roads: М4 “Don”, connecting Moscow and Novorossiysk, and М27, Dzhubga – Sochi.
Here are several photos from brand spanking new «Laura» resort (official name “The mountain-ski center «Gazprom»”) launched this winter season!
At present Gazprom constructs a Mountain Resort in the Achipse River valley and at the Psekhako Ridge. Gazprom finishes the first stage of construction including 8 ropeways, ropeway lower station with utility rooms, ski lifts, 220 room hotel, 32 villas, guest house for official delegations, volleyball playground, tennis courts as well as energy supply, security, communication facilities and other operating and auxiliary facilities. In the end of 2007 Gazprom plans to commission all facilities of the first construction stage.
- from Gazprom’s press release
See map and all 15 photos: Read the rest of this entry »
Air Force One has landed today in Adler airport, marking the beginning US President’s first visit to Sochi on his two days work trip. It will most likely be the last time George W. Bush and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin will meet as presidents, as Putin’s second presidential term will end in May.
There was no official word on what will be discussed during the meeting, but there sure are a lot of issues to be discussed between the US and Russia. Like Kosovo, anti-missile defense (many believe this one will be the main topic), NATO expansion, the Russian-U.S. relations and many other. «The Times» reports that Putin will officially propose the tunnel between Alaska and Russia’s Far East. And Russian media reports about possibility of signing a “strategic framework” document — sort of “road map” of the Russia-US relations, the guide for Next Russian and US Presidents (the next Russian President will take office in May and the presidential elections in the USA will take place in the end of this year).
The US delegation has 700 people, including US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley, and US Ambassador to Russia William Burns. Russian delegation will include all their counterparts, and president-elect Dmitry Medvedev.
The first day is over now and there was no official “business” talks, it was all about pleasure: Putin gave tour to George and Laura Bush of future Olympic areas, presented scale models of Olympic projects, sea shore walk and sunset watch (how romantic *rolling eyes*), fancy dinner with a concert in presidential residence “Bocharov Ruchei”.
Other non-political plans for Bush and Rice this weekend includes Read the rest of this entry »
As you may know, past Sunday was elections day to State Duma – lower house of Russia’s parliament. If you knew that you most likely to know that the United Russia party, headed by current President Vladimir Putin, won big in every region (including foreign voting location), however the results weren’t quite the same everywhere. For example it’s reported that in Chechnya 99+% voted for United Russia, while in St. Petersburg, Putin’s home city, “only” 50+%. Other parties’ support wasn’t even all around either. But Sochi residents as a whole, it seems, represent average Russia’s opinions — take a look at the results*: Read the rest of this entry »
Recently a new free online audio language learning service was launched. It has yummy name and provides lessons for several popular languages, including Russian. There are many websites online that teach Russian language, this one by far the best one I’ve seen. In fact I’m writing about it only because I was impressed with it so much! It’s simple, has clean and intuitive interface, the quality of learning material and quality of audio is great, there’s a lot of the materials, and it’s free!
The course is for the beginners, and if you ever flirted with the idea of learning some Russian head on to the TryMango.com and give it a shot. The sign up process is painless, it doesn’t require activation via email, and you don’t even need a password!
There are 100 lessons available, and all audio material is done by native speakers. The Russian course is Read the rest of this entry »
Russia, Sochi News July 28th, 2007
S7, also known as «Sibir» Airlines, will start operation of St.-Petersburg — Sochi flights for the first time. Three and a half hours flights will operate every day starting September 17 with starting price of $145 (3700 rub); «Sibir» also offers lower cost tickets online – web-price for these flights will start at $80 (1990 rub).
Another flight, Novosibirsk – Samara – Sochi will start operating on September 19th and will also be a daily flight. These flights will start at $225 (5700 rub) one way.
«Dexter» Airlines will also start operating flights to Sochi, as well as several other southern cities, from Rostov and Krasnodar. «Dexter» is Russia’s first airline to offer “on-demand” flights. With prices “by kilometer” and park of Swiss-made Pilatus PC-12 and Russian-made M-101T airplanes, «Dexter» offers on-demand and regular flights from Business and VIP terminals, with registration times under 15 minutes. Prices for flights to Sochi will be $0.6-1 per kilometer for regular flights, and $4-5/ km for on-demand flights.