Feb 28, 2012

Issue #1697(8), Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The St. Petersburg Times
Issue #1697(8), Wednesday, February 29, 2012


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Opposition Leaders Join Local Protests
City Zoo Project Unclear
Anti-Putin protests were held across Russia on Sunday, a week ahead of the March 4 presidential elections. St. Petersburg held two rallies, on both Saturday and Sunday, where thousands came to protest large-scale violations that took place during the Dec.
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A new zoo consisting of six islands to be inhabited by animals from different continents could be coming to the city. It is possible however, that St. Petersburg's new zoo could be built not in Yuntolovo Park as planned, but in Udelny Park, Dmitry Meskhiyev, head of the city's Culture Committee, was quoted by Interfax as saying.
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City Cuts Down On Outdoor Adverts
Gay Bill Looks Set to Pass
The volume of advertising structures in the city center could decrease by 20 percent after City Hall revises the rules. The Committee for Print and Cooperation with Media took down two advertising boards measuring 1.
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An anti-gay bill looked likely to pass during its third reading in St. Petersburg on Wednesday, after Friday's hearing at the Legislative Assembly degraded into a farce, gay rights activists say. But the passing of the bill, which will outlaw "the promotion of sodomy, lesbianism, bisexuality and transgenderism" might have surprise negative effects for the authorities, they warn.
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18th-Century Palace Goes Up in Smoke
City's SKA to Participate in Hockey Playoffs
St. Petersburg firefighters worked to save priceless historical architecture when a fire broke out at the Beloselsky-Belozersky Palace in the city center Tuesday. Efforts by emergency services were praised by City Governor Georgy Poltavchenko, who said they had worked hard to prevent a dangerous situation getting out of control.
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St. Petersburg's local hockey team, SKA, finished the regular season with a 4-1 victory over Sibir Novosibirsk on Sunday night at the Ice Palace. With the win, SKA ended the season with 113 points, enough to win the Western Division and a top seed in the playoffs.
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Arshavin Returns ST. PETERSBURG (SPT) — Andrei Arshavin, captain of the Russian national soccer team, will arrive in St. Petersburg after the Russian team's match in Copenhagen on Feb. 29, Interfax reported.
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Opposition Join Hands Against Putin
Putin's Newest Text On Foreign Policy
MOSCOW — Thousands of people formed a human chain around the center of Moscow on Sunday as the opposition upped its campaign for honest elections just a week before the presidential vote. Despite light snow and slush and some skepticism among supporters, the "White Circle" — as the unsanctioned rally was called — saw people stand side-by-side and hand-in-hand all the way round the 16-kilometer-long Garden Ring.
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MOSCOW — Prime Minister Vladimir Putin offered a blueprint of his foreign policy priorities in a 6,060-word article published Monday, but analysts said it contained little new thinking. Putin, who is expected to win the presidential election this weekend, made some trademark attacks on Western policies over Syria and the Arab Spring and insisted that Moscow would remain a decisive global player.
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Adoptive American Mother May Face Contempt Charge
Foiled Plot to Kill Putin Is Revealed
SHELBYVILLE, Tennessee — An American woman who sent her seven-year-old adopted Russian son back to Moscow has been ordered by a judge to appear in court to face a possible motion for contempt. Attorney Larry Crain — who represents the adoption agency and the boy, Artyom Savelyev — said the mother, Torry Hansen, has not appeared for three depositions.
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MOSCOW — Ukrainian and Russian security officials announced Monday that they had uncovered a plot by a Chechen-connected terrorist group to assassinate Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. News of the plot was broken by the state-owned Channel One television station, whose report said people connected with Chechen terrorist leader Doku Umarov had been arrested in Odessa, Ukraine.
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Sign-Up for Prokhorov Party Begins
Peter the Great Voted Leader
MOSCOW — Billionaire-turned-presidential candidate Mikhail Prokhorov invited supporters to join his own political party over the weekend, which he has promised to found after the March 4 election. Prokhorov said nothing about the party's ideology, but it will face numerous competitors if it follows his liberal, pro-business stance.
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MOSCOW — Peter the Great outstripped the competition in a bid to become Russia's next president in a rehearsal vote held in 12 voting stations in Moscow on Saturday. His opponents were Alexander the Great, Napoleon Bonaparte, Winston Churchill, and Genghis Khan, the Moscow election committee said, RIA-Novosti reported.
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Finns Mull Property Sale Restrictions
Putin's Promises May Total $161 Bln
MOSCOW — As a political bloc in Finland pushes for a federal bill to limit the purchase of real estate to Finns and other European Union citizens, Russians wanting to buy property in their northern neighbor are facing a cold gust of Nordic air.
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MOSCOW — Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is on course to win this weekend's presidential election, but at what cost? About $161 billion, according to some estimates. Some observers see government spending rocketing by as much as $161 billion through 2018 on the back of popular pledges designed to guarantee Putin's return to the Kremlin and shore up support that has wobbled amid large street demonstrations.
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Severstal to Spend $1.7 Bln on Upgrades
MOSCOW — Severstal said Monday that it plans to spend a total of $1.7 billion this year to modernize its facilities and carry out new projects in Russia and abroad as part of its development strategy until 2015.
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The Kremlin's Swingers Club
comment: Coming Out for Human Rights
The latest joke about the presidential election campaign in Russia comes from comic Mikhail Zadornov. "The recent electoral debates remind me of a swingers club. Everyone knows how the evening will end, but beforehand you have to introduce yourself and make small talk.
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When I came out two years ago to my mother, the first response I got was the question, "Sounds good honey, but just one thing: Are you a political lesbian?" Bewildered, I asked, "What is that supposed to mean?" After a moment's pause, she replied, "Well… Have you cut your hair?" Apparently the two go hand-in-hand.
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The man who was there
Peter Hook, a founding member and the bassist with the British post-punk legends Joy Division, is bringing music to St. Petersburg that has not been heard live for decades since the untimely death of vocalist Ian Curtis in 1980.
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Members of Pussy Riot, a Moscow feminist punk band known for their unsanctioned public protest performances held in unlikely places from the metro and boutiques to Red Square, have found themselves the subject of a criminal investigation.
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Singing for freedom
As for so many of her heroes, for jazz singer Olesya Yalunina, jazz is freedom: A means of expressing emotions and ideas, as well as a means of freeing oneself from the homogeneity of daily life. This is apparent not only in her music and her singularly expressive voice, but in her personality as well.
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Big, red, sweet and juicy strawberries, homegrown in St. Petersburg — and ready to eat in the first days of March! This may sound near impossible, but it is not a fantasy. At the end of last year, a group of local enthusiasts turned an industrial loft into a greenhouse with an eye to growing strawberries all year round using electric daylight lamps.
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the word's worth: A real rat race
Star vote
Офисный планктон: "office plankton," aka cubicle rats, office monkeys, desk jockeys Every once in a while I fall in love at first sight with a Russian slang expression. Such was the case with офисный планктон (literally, "office plankton").
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Emir Kusturica would vote for Vladimir Putin in Russia's upcoming presidential elections, the Serbian filmmaker and musician said during a visit to St. Petersburg last week. The director, who is known for films including "Arizona Dream" (1993) and "Black Cat, White Cat" (1998) was in the city to perform with his band, The No Smoking Orchestra, on Wednesday.
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Ex-Nashi activists on film
in the spotlight: Leningrad dad
NEW YORK — "Putin's Kiss," a new documentary by Danish director Lisa Birk Pedersen, will disappoint those hoping to see the softer side of Russia's once and future president: Putin only appears briefly at the film's outset to receive a bashful peck on the cheek from Maria Drokova, then a star of the pro-Kremlin youth movement Nashi.
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Last week, rock musician Sergei Shnurov, whose band Leningrad was once banned in Moscow for its lyrics littered with swearwords, took on a very different role — playing a dad in a sitcom. The show on CTC called "Baby" (Detka) stars Shnurov as a washed-up rock musician living in Moscow who finds himself responsible for his rebellious teenage daughter, after her mother decides to swan off to Goa, India.
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THE DISH: Luxury Cafe
Under neon lights Stepping into Luxury Café feels like stumbling into a Ray Bradbury nightmare: Light pulsates from neon walls onto black polyethylene tables and shiny, lacquered seats, reflecting painfully into one's eyes, and ornately framed TVs deck the walls like production-line Picassos, blaring out VH1 on loop.
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'The Devil Created Samotlor'
Ulaanbaatar Makes Unlikely Magnet for Expats
NIZHNEVARTOVSK, Khanty-Mansiisk Autonomous District — If St. Petersburg was built on a swamp to open a window onto Europe, Nizhnevartovsk arose from the bogs of western Siberia as a tribute to crude oil and human greed.
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Mongolia is a country of extremes. From the climate to the economy to the landscape — it is dramatic and unpredictable. Ulaanbaatar, the capital city, is even labeled "the coldest capital on earth." Despite the terrifying-sounding statistics, a rapidly growing number of foreigners are permanently settling in Mongolia, particularly in Ulaanbaatar (dubbed "UB").
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