Friday, 16 June 2017

TRANSCRIPT & VIDEO: Direct Line with Vladimir Putin

TRANSCRIPT & VIDEO: Direct Line with Vladimir Putin: (Kremlin.ru – June 15, 2017) [Complete video in Russian also at kremlin.ru/events/president/news/54790] The annual special Direct Line with Vladimir Putin was broadcast live by Channel One, R…

Thursday, 13 April 2017

James Bond Locations: The Russia House - Barley's bar, Lisbon

James Bond Locations: The Russia House - Barley's bar, Lisbon: In 1991, Sean Connery starred in the spy thriller  The Russia House  based on a book by John le Carré .   The Russia House  is one of only...

Another scene "bagged" from the Russia House Movie

On a recent trip to London, I managed to "bag" another scene from the film The Russia House. 


Towards the end of the film, Barley Scott Blair (Sean Connery) and his American "business partner", Jack Henziger (Colin Stinton), host a business launch party in Moscow during a Book Fair.  In the film, the location of the "Potomac / Blair" party is not stated, nor is mentioned in the book - the reception takes place in "the mirrored room of an elderly mid-town hotel" in Moscow; however, there is a cut to a scene featuring Barley and Katya (Michelle Pfeiffer) on a balcony of the now demolished Hotel Rossiya - overlooking St Basil's cathedral and the Kremlin.  The interior shots of the party scene were filmed in the Reading & Writing Room of One Whitehall Place in London.

One Whitehall Place is located just off Whitehall on Victoria Embankment overlooking the River Thames towards the South Bank and London Eye.  It is a elegant Victorian building which host a number of function rooms ornate sculpted ceilings, glittering chandeliers and spectacular views over the River Thames , ideal for weddings, conferences and, of course, filming locations.  


Entering on the corner of Whitehall Place / Whitehall Court, where the brass plate at the entrance states that it is the National Liberal Club, you are faced with a grand circular marble staircase - the largest in London, I was reliably informed by a concierge.  The Reading & Writing Room is to be found at the top the staircase along an ornate, tiled corridor. 






It is not the only scene from The Russia House to have been filmed in London: here are a couple of others I have managed to find:

St Ermin's Hotel:
http://therussiahousescenes.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/hotel-national-audio-fair.html
King Charles Street (off Whitehall):
http://therussiahousescenes.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/interrogation-scenes-and-flashbacks.html
Symons Street (off Sloane Square)
http://therussiahousescenes.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/training.html


The Russia House - Lisbon Locations

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Who Are You in 1917?


To commemorate the 100th anniversary this year of the revolutions in Russia of 1917, the “1917. Free History” project enables participants to find out about the history of 1917 from those who lived during this defining moment of twentieth century history.  The project consists entirely of primary sources. All the texts used are taken from genuine documents written by historical figures: letters, memoirs, diaries and other documents of the period.

https://project1917.ru/

The site provides information in English and Russian.  There is an on-line test to find out who you might have been during this turbulent period of Russian history:

https://project1917.ru/test_kto_ty

I've done the test, and apparently, in 1917, I was a reporter working for the newspaper "Pravda" ("Truth").

Boring Postcards USSR

Hotel Klyasma - Vladimir

The Calvert Journal recently featured the work of Italian photographer Marco Citron who has appropriated the aesthetics of vintage postcards to showcase the idiosyncratic architectural experiments of the Soviet era.

http://calvertjournal.com/features/show/4026

He started this project in 2007, and spent the next three years photographing architectural landscapes in eastern Europe.  Citron acknowledges that the idea was indebted to Martin Parr’s collection of published vintage postcards from the 1950s to the early 70s.

I have also been drawn to photographs of the UK's post-war urban developments, new housing, shopping centres, motorways & service stations.  Those bright, slightly overexposed, photographs celebrating the pristine splendour of contemporary architectural developments of the 50s, 60s and 70s - conveying a sense of the short-lived period of optimism of the period, the Brave New World of the future, before urban decay, stagnation, pollution, vandalism and ageing took its toll.



Growing up in the designated New Town of Washington during the 1970s, I find that they resonate with my memories of the urban environment  - the sense of newness, unblemished white concrete, the well-manicured and sparse feel of newly planted trees, shrubs and grass verges; the long motorway journeys on concrete roads or smooth jet black asphalt, and frequent stops at futuristic looking service stations along the way.  

Sevastopol, Crimea 1970s

These photographs are not a million miles from the sort of photographs which appeared "boring" postcard sets published in the Soviet Union covering the same period and beyond. As with the UK photos, they were usually taken by professional photographers, attempting to capture their subjects to the best of their ability - there is no hint of irony, humour, or lack of interest, which we might attribute to such postcards (or their creators) nowadays.








Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Happy International Women's Day - Поздравления с 8 Марта


President of Russia,  Vladimir Putin marked International Women's Day 2017 with this message : 

Dear women: mothers, grandmothers, daughters, wives, friends, our nearest and dearest ones, please accept my heartfelt congratulations on International Women’s Day!
You fill this world with beauty and vitality, giving warmth and comfort, cordiality and harmony with your tenderness and generosity of spirit.
You care day and night for your children, grandchildren and your family. Even today, on International Women’s Day, you are still caught up in your routine, working tirelessly, always on time. We often ask ourselves, how do they manage it all?
Most importantly, we love and treasure you. No wonder men have been celebrating women in music and poetry for centuries. Konstantin Balmont, a Russian Silver Age poet, described women in a vivid and precise manner:
A woman – with us when we are born,
A woman – with us in our last hour,
A woman – our standard during battle,
A woman – the joy of open eyes.
We always turn to women for inspiration and consolation, and always find it. Women give us life and perpetuate it in our children.
That said, women also need men’s support. We will remember that always, not only today. We will do our outmost to surround the women we love with care and attention, so that they can smile more often.
Once again, let me congratulate you sincerely on this holiday. I wish you good health, success, joy and happiness. Happy Women’s Day!


International Women's Day is a throwback from Soviet times, but it remains a national holiday in Russia today.  It is the day when women are celebrated - with wives, girlfriends, daughters, mothers, mother in laws, grandmothers, aunts, etc, receiving flowers, chocolates and cakes from the men in their lives.  


I've been in Russia on two occasions when when this holiday has been celebrated.  Flower sellers on every street and metro entrance; Men carrying cake boxes with string handles and bunches of flowers wrapped in copies of Pravda; and people greet each other with 'S praznikom' (happy holiday, i think) - it is a happy occasion which is widely celebrated.

But as women say in Russia "1 day for women, 364 days for men" bemoaning the fact that their menfolk do very little the rest of the year to contribute to the household chores. Even on International Women's day they can get a raw deal - I was walking around Red Square on a bitterly cold night of 8th March 1988 when I spotted two women shovelling snow on to the back of a truck - back-breaking work; meanwhile, sitting in the warm cabin of the truck, was their male co-worker relaxing with a cigarette!

Monday, 28 November 2016

RBTH: Russians rediscover their Jewish identity

RBTH: Russians rediscover their Jewish identity: After decades of Jewish emigration from Russia, today a new generation of young Russians is learning about their past with the help of a number of cultural organizations. (Russia Beyond the Headlin…

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Mark Galeotti - Surviving the Trumpocalypse: first thoughts…


In the latest post on his "In Moscow's Shadows", the security expert Mark Galeotti offers his initial thoughts on the Trump presidency.   Following the widespread claims of Russian interference in the US election, the hacking of Democrat emails, and the apparent support in the Russian media for Donald Trump, one would think that that his victory would be welcomed in the Kremlin; this is what Mark has to say
The Kremlin’s glee (with Trump's election as US president) must be tinged with a degree of nervousness. Nonetheless, the Russians never expected Trump to win, and their calculus was based on trying to ensure a Clinton presidency was weakened from the gate. Yes, Trump has been bizarrely positive about Putin ... but much of the Kremlin’s geopolitical playbook has been based on it being the unpredictable, risk-taking party, relying on the West to be the responsible adult, the force for stability and reason. Trump’s friendship is hardly an asset on which to rely, and his balance an even less stable foundation. 
I have no idea how things will pan out long-term with US-Russian relations, but surely they cannot get any worse than what they have been on Hillary Clinton's watch.  They started badly with the crass and condescending offer of a toy red button, and relations have steadily worsened since then.  The toy red button, intended to "re-set" the relationship between the two countries, was labelled "RESET" in English and some other unintelligible word* in Latin script (rather than Cyrillic) purporting to be the Russian word for "reset".  Unbelieveable!

*The word was peregruzka, meaning "overload" rather than перезагрузка (perezagruzka) which means "reload".

https://inmoscowsshadows.wordpress.com/2016/11/09/surviving-the-trumpocalypse-first-thoughts/

Mark Galeotti is senior research fellow at the Institute of International Relations Prague and director of the consultancy firm Mayak Intelligence. Previously he has been Professor of Global Affairs at New York University, head of the History department at Keele University in the UK, an adviser at the British Foreign Office and a visiting professor at MGIMO (Moscow), Charles University (Prague) and Rutgers (Newark).

Monday, 7 November 2016

Russian Realism

Russian Realism: Expert view: Contrary to popular Washington speculation, the Russian foreign policy elite, including Putin, Medvedev, and Lavrov, have no real attachment to or interest in Donald Trump and likely f…

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Ya Heart Vladimir: A Visit to the Regions

Ya Heart Vladimir: A Visit to the Regions: (Kennan Institute – wilsoncenter.org/program/kennan-institute – September 22, 2016 – Mary Elizabeth Malinkin) Giant, Cyrillic block letters spelling “Ya Heart Vladimir&#8221…

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Will Russia’s Opposition Draw the Right Lessons From Electoral Defeat?

Will Russia’s Opposition Draw the Right Lessons From Electoral Defeat?: (Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Eva Hartog – September 20, 2016) The Russian opposition on Monday awoke to an electoral hangover – in some cases quite literally –…

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Putin Successfully Using New Political Technologies to Keep His Antiquated System in Place, Shevtsova Says

Putin Successfully Using New Political Technologies to Keep His Antiquated System in Place, Shevtsova Says: (Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, September 5, 2016) Vladimir Putin is with remarkable success using modern political technologies to keep himself and his increasingly antiqua…

Putin as Complex as he is Predictable

Putin as Complex as he is Predictable: Subject: Putin as Complex as he is Predictable Date: Mon, 5 Sep 2016 From: Dale Herspring falka@ksu.edu Putin as Complex as he is Predictable Dale R. Herspring, a University Distinguished P…

Thursday, 1 September 2016

Stories of a Soviet Studier: My Experiences in Russia

Stories of a Soviet Studier: My Experiences in Russia: Subject: Stories of a Soviet Studier: My Experiences in Russia Date: Mon, 29 Aug 2016 From: Stephen D. Shenfield sshenfield@verizon.net [New Book: Stories of a Soviet Studier: My Experience…

Thursday, 28 July 2016