Journalism

The European Film Academy, December 2017

Interview with Aleksandr Sokurov in EFA Close Up (scroll down for interview)

The Hollywood Reporter, December 11 2017

Russia’s Bolshoi Theater Crew Protests Director Kirill Serebrennikov’s House Arrest on Stage

 The Hollywood Reporter, November 6 2017

Russian Investor Helped Kremlin-Connected Firms Invest in Facebook, Twitter

The Times, November 6  2017

PARADISE PAPERS

Wilbur Ross, Trump’s business chief, has cash ties to Putin’s family

Nick Holdsworth, Moscow

November 6 2017, 12:01am, The Times

Wilbur Ross, Donald Trump’s commerce secretary, is linked to President Putin’s son-in-law through a shipping business in which he holds a stake, according to the Paradise Papers.

Separately, hundreds of millions of pounds were invested in Facebook and Twitter by two state-owned Russian companies via Yuri Milner, a billionaire born in Moscow now based in the US.

The documents show that Mr Ross, 79, has a stake in Navigator, a shipping company, through a chain of offshore investments. Navigator is a partner of Sibur, a gas company whose owners include Kirill Shamalov, husband of Mr Putin’s daughter, Katerina Tikhonova.

Mr Ross did not dispose of his holdings when he took office and stands to benefit from a company run by close associates of the Russian president, some of whom are under US sanctions.

Records show that Navigator has maintained close relations with Sibur since 2014, when US sanctions were imposed on Russia after Moscow seized Crimea from Ukraine. The holding has since collected $68 million from Sibur.

James Rockas, a spokesman for Mr Ross, told The New York Times that Mr Ross “recuses himself from any matters focused on trans-oceanic shipping vessels, but has been generally supportive of the administration’s sanctions of Russian and Venezuelan entities”.

Mr Trump is under pressure from the special counsel’s investigation into links between the White House and Russia, headed by Robert Mueller, the former FBI chief.

Last night NBC News reported that Mr Mueller had enough evidence to charge Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser, and his son, over allegations of collusion between Trump aides and Russia. Their lawyers declined to comment.

The Paradise Papers also show that millions of pounds was invested in Facebook and Twitter in the early days of social media by two Russian state institutions with close ties to the Kremlin via a business associate of Jared Kushner, Mr Trump’s son-in-law.

Mr Milner, who funded Russian internet start-ups, channelled $191 million from VTB, a Russian state bank, into Twitter and, via an obscure offshore company, bought $1 billion of Facebook shares.

 

The Times , November 3  2017

RT boss Margarita Simonyan eclipses Hillary Clinton on Forbes power list

Nick Holdsworth, Moscow

November 3 2017, 12:01am, The Times

The head of RT, the Kremlin’s international propaganda channel, has been named among the world’s most powerful women by the American business magazine Forbes.

At 52nd place, Margarita Simonyan, 37, is well above Hillary Clinton, the failed US presidential candidate, who has plunged from second place to 65th in one year.

Ms Simonyan is one of only two Russian woman to make the top 100, along with Elvira Nabiullina, head of Russia’s central bank, who is in 49th place.

Angela Merkel tops the list, followed by Theresa May.

Ms Simonyan’s position above Mrs Clinton seems to have prompted a little schadenfreude in Moscow.

RT noted that her inclusion “perhaps gives Hillary Clinton another bone to pick with RT”, adding: “It is Hillary Clinton and her allies’ focus on making Russia the scapegoat that has given a boost to RT’s editor-in-chief, according to Forbes.”

Forbes’ citation states: “A year ago, most people had no idea who Margarita Simonyan was. Now, she’s being discussed in tech, media and political circles as the outsized influence of her Russian TV network, RT, comes in focus.”

Last month Tom Watson, Labour’s deputy leader, referred RT to Ofcom over advertisements on the London Underground that made jokey references to Russia’s perceived attempts to undermine democracy in the West.

Ms Simonyan said that she was “disappointed that despite the earnest efforts of The Times and other mainstream media outlets to keep RT in fear-inducing headlines each and every day”, it was not enough to push her into “at least the top 20”.

Her entry is another milestone in the rise of a woman who was born to Armenian parents in the southern Russian city of Krasnodar, made her name as a regional television reporter covering the Beslan school hostage crisis in 2004 and the following year was chosen to be editor-in-chief of the newly founded RT (then Russia Today), at the age of 25.

A Kremlin loyalist said to be close to President Putin, Ms Simonyan strenuously denies that RT is a propaganda outlet, though she concedes that as a Russian station “we see the world from a Russian point of view” and has stated: “There is no objectivity — only approximations of the truth by as many different voices as possible.”

 

Lenin’s tomb with a view to stay overground

Nick Holdsworth, Moscow

November 3 2017, 12:01am, The Times

Right-wing nationalists and Kremlin loyalists want to put their revolutionary past behind them and bury Lenin’s body.

A hundred years after the Russian revolution and more than 90 years since Lenin died, there are no plans to bury the embalmed body of the Bolshevik leader, the Kremlin said yesterday.

Lenin is on display in a mausoleum on Red Square, where he has been lying in state since 1924. The body is preserved in a glass sarcophagus and costs £150,000 a year to maintain.

As Russia prepares to mark the revolution next week, the question of the future of his remains is again on the agenda.

Right-wing nationalists and Kremlin loyalists want to put their revolutionary past behind them and bury Lenin’s body. However, the communist lobby, who still support President Putin, are demanding that their history is preserved, above ground, for all to see.

The announcement yesterday was prompted after Ramzan Kadyrov, the leader of Chechnya, called for the return from a St Petersburg museum of the skull of Hadji Murat, a 19th century Chechen chieftain.

Mr Kadyrov said that Lenin, who had wanted to be buried with his mother, should have his wish.

The question of what to do with the remains has been raised every year since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, but Dmitry Peskov, the presidential spokesman, said: “This is not an issue on the agenda for the Kremlin.”

Jihlava Dok Revue, October 23 2017

Nick Holdsworth reviews Dmitry Bogolubov’s The Wall

Nick Holdsworth reviews Mihai Gavril Dragolea’s PhoeniXXX

Nick Holdsworth reviews Diana Sara Bouzgarrou’s I Remember Nothing

The Daily Mail, October 20 2017

 

story based on Nick Holdsworth’s report in THR of October 19, 2017

New Harvey Weinstein allegations: Mogul ‘wanted to barter sex for roles’ with Marisa Coughlan and trapped TV host in hotel room for nude massage where he showed off open stomach wound

News Com Australia, October 19 2017

story based on Nick Holdsworth’s report in THR of the same day

Harvey Weinstein allegedly threatened a Russian TV host to stay quiet after incident in hotel room

The New York Daily Post October 19 2017

story based on Nick Holdsworth’s report in THR of the same day

Russian TV host Katya Mtsitouridze comes forward with ‘disgusting’ Harvey Weinstein encounter

The Hollywood Reporter October 19 2017

Russian TV Hostess Accuses Harvey Weinstein of Sexual Harassment

The Hollywood Reporter September 18 2017

Iran Confiscates Filmmaker Mohammad Rasoulof’s Passport After Return From Telluride

The Hollywood Reporter July 24 2017

Pussy Riot Launches Crowd-Funding Campaign for Russian Prison Life “Experience” in London

Nicolas Cage’s Kazakh Film Festival Photo Sparks Online Hilarity

The Hollywood Reporter July 21 2017

Edward Norton Speaks Out About Climate Change and Trump

The Hollywood Reporter May 24 2017

Russian Director Detained in $3.5M Fraud Probe

Christian Science Monitor May 3 2017

How an art museum in Russia became the target of Kremlin police raids

In Russian translation here, courtesy of Russia’s InoPress foreign press translation site

The Hollywood Reporter April 3 2017

Stellan Skarsgard to Star in Holocaust Drama ‘The Painted Bird’

The Hollywood Reporter March 24 2017

Turkey Moots Ban on Matchmaking Shows

Rupert Everett on His Directorial Debut, Oscar Wilde as a “Christ Figure” for the Gay Community

The Hollywood Reporter November 28 2016

Kremlin Spokesman Says He’s “Proud” of Wife’s Holocaust Ice-Skating Number

The Times May 27 2016

Putin fails to make his date with Sir Elton

Vladimir Putin will be otherwise engaged when Sir Elton John visits Moscow next week despite having promised to meet the singer to discuss gay rights.

Sir Elton will be playing in the Russian capital and had been planning a meeting with the president but the Kremlin said yesterday that scheduling conflicts meant it could not happen.

“We were in correspondence a couple of weeks ago, because there was an agreement that, if their schedules allow, this meeting could take place,” Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for Mr Putin, said.

“President Putin expressed readiness for this meeting. But this time, the meeting won’t take place, unfortunately — their schedules do not match up. But this does not mean that such a meeting won’t take place next time.”

Sir Elton has hoped for a meeting since September when two Russian comedians telephoned and fooled him into believing that Mr Putin had called him to discuss gay rights in the country, which has banned the promotion of what it terms “non-traditional sexual relations”.

The incident led to a genuine offer from the Kremlin to arrange a meeting, when Mr Putin subsequently called the singer to say he was open to “discuss whatever issues are of interest”.

University World News April 28 2016

Terrorism and migration seen as world’s top challenges

RBTH March 25 2016

Russian military modernisation a ‘challenge’ to the West, says Chatham House report.

University World News March 11 2016

Calls for prosecution over PhD thesis on Soviet traitor

The Guardian November 15 2015

Stalin, Siberia and salt: Russian recluse’s life story made into a film

Radio Free Europe October 28 2015

Reclusive Russian Family’s Last Survivor Toughs It Out In The Taiga

The Hollywood Reporter May 19 2015

Oscar winning Russian director lends his voice to the Moscow metro

Turkish talent show contestant shot in the head

RBTH April 29 2015

Nuremberg trial photographer’s unknown face

(and see link from Lumiere gallery, Atlanta Georgia)

The Times March 5 2015

Commander Reveals Russia’s Ukraine Role

The Times March 4 2015

Dissidents to publish report on Putin’s role in Ukraine

The Times March 4 2015

Thirty trapped in mine after gas blast in eastern Ukraine

The Times March 3 2015

Nemtsov’s girlfriend is freed but will not attend funeral

The Hollywood Reporter March 3 2015

Russian Studio Head Expresses Support for Putin on Talk Show About Killed Critic

The Hollywood Reporter March 1 2015

Slain Putin Critic Boris Nemtsov’s Memorial March Covered by Russian State TV

The Daily Telegraph January 16 2015

Keeping abreast of naked news

Will a controversial British Museum loan of an Elgin Marbles sculpture to the Hermitage in St Petersburg end in Greek tragedy?

The British Museum’s loan to the Hermitage in St Petersburg of the headless Greek god, thought to personify the river Ilissos, which until the early 19th century graced a frieze on the top of the Parthenon in Athens, prompted a storm of headlines in Russia.

Part of the Elgin Marbles, which were shipped off to England 200 years ago before being acquired by the British Museum in 1816, the loan sparked a political storm. Radio station Ekho Moskvy (Echo of Moscow) caught the diplomatic zeitgeist in its story headlined: “Hermitage director dubs British Museum’s decision to send Parthenon marble to St Petersburg a most important artistic and political gesture.”

But it swiftly plunged into the controversy, noting that the loan of figure, which will be on display until January 18, 2015 had long been contested by the Greeks.

“Transporting the statue is opposed by Athens, where the monument is considered to be cultural heritage plundered from Greece,” said the station.

Stripping the Parthenon bare is an issue that has long soured diplomatic relations between the Greeks and the British. That does not seem to bother the directors of the two museums, who back in October cooked up the deal to ship the massive marble to St Petersburg before its dramatic unveiling last week.

Antonis Samaras, the Greek prime minister, was infuriated, Ekho Moskvy reported, arguing that the loan torpedoed the British Museum’s old argument that it could not return the marbles to Greece because they must not be moved.

Things could still go wrong. What if Russia returned the marble to Athens, rather than London? Armless as well as headless, Ilissos can’t stick two fingers up to Lord Elgin, but like Mr Putin, the Greek statue certainly has what the Spanish call cojones.

[nb: Last sentence of my original copy read: “…but like Mr Putin, the Greek statue certainly has balls.”

The Times January 10 2015

Russia bans transsexual drivers as ‘road danger’

University World News January 9 2015

Tajiks turn to Hollywood to push English

The Hollywood Reporter January 1 2015

Authorities Pull Plug on Russia’s Last Politically Independent TV Station

The Times December 8 2014

Moscow to silence Putin’s TV critics

The Times December 5 2014

Putin forced into emergency action to avert meltdown

Militants attack Grozny ahead of Putin speech

The Hollywood Reporter December 5 2014

One of Russia’s politically independent TV station’s to close

The Times November 24 2014

Fashion press falls foul of Putin

Russia Behind the Headlines October 16 2014

Cliches and conventions in Russian view of us Brits, weekly column in RBTH

Russia Behind the Headlines October 9 2014

Of burgers and spies, A British view on Russian media coverage of the UK, a weekly column in RBTH

Russia Behind the Headlines September 29 2014

A Russian conundrum — modern times and ancient matters, from RBTH column looking at odd stories in the Russian press

ETF September 25 2014

The European Training Foundation’s conference on vocational education initiatives in Central Asia, reporting from Dushanbe, Tajikistan on how to contribute to peace and stability the long, hard, peaceful way in a strategic and at times unstable region.

Russia Behind the Headlines September 22 2014

cheesy look at odd stories in the Russian press for RBTH

The Hollywood Reporter, June 30 2014

Oscar Winner Nikita Mikhalkov Appeals to Free Ukrainian Filmmaker Held by Russians on Terrorist Charges

Roman Polanski Prepping Next Feature in Poland, Wants Assurance He Won’t Be Extradited to U.S.

The Times June 28 214

Ukraine’s EU deal provokes warning from Moscow http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/world/europe/article4132318.ece Nick Holdsworth, Moscow Ukraine tied its future to the West yesterday when its new president signed a trade and political deal with the EU, seven months after his predecessor’s failure to do so plunged the country towards civil war and conflict with Russia. Petro Poroshenko’s signature on the 1,200-page EU Association Agreement ends President Putin’s dreams of establishing a Eurasian Union, a free trade association widely seen as a first step by Moscow towards a 21st-century version of the Soviet Union reuniting Russia with Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan. Smiling after signing the document in Brussels, President Poroshenko called it “maybe the most important day for my country” since its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. He agreed to extend by three days, until Monday, a ceasefire in the fighting with pro-Russian separatists in the east of the country. Two other former Soviet republics, Georgia and Moldova, also signed similar free trade deals, stoking Russian fears about its shrinking regional influence and that markets for its exports could be hit by cheap EU imports. Russia’s deputy foreign minister, Grigory Karasin, warned: “There will undoubtedly be serious consequences for Ukraine and Moldova’s signing.” President Putin confined himself to comments on a negotiated settlement to fighting in eastern Ukraine that has cost the lives of more than 385 people and displaced tens of thousands. “The most important thing is to guarantee a long-term ceasefire as a precondition for meaningful talks between Kiev authorities and representatives of the southeast,” he said. EU leaders gave the Kremlin and Ukrainian rebel forces until Monday to take steps to improve the situation or face sanctions. The three-day extension to the ceasefire, which had been due to expire yesterday, will give both sides more time to agree approaches to negotiations, after a week in which they accused each other of numerous breaches.

The TImes June 23 214

http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/world/europe/article4126833.eceNick Holdsworth MoscowUkraine’s president last night attempted to divide the pro-Russian rebels who have caused chaos in the east of his country by promising an amnesty for all separatists who are not guilty of “murder and torture”. Petro Poroshenko’s fresh attempt to end the fighting that has claimed 375 lives in 10 weeks came after Friday’s week-long unilateral ceasefire appeared to be wobbling. Pro-Russian separatists who have been fighting government troops in an attempt to claim autonomy have vowed to maintain their resistance and clashes with security forces were reported on Saturday. The separatists, who have access to sophisticated weapons including surface-to-air missiles believed to be supplied by Russia, last week shot down a Ukrainian military transport plane, killing 49 on board. Yesterday Mr Poroshenko opened the door to talks with the rebels, saying that the “immediate fulfilment of the peaceful plan will open the path to the political dialogue”. He added: “I am ready to talk with those who have erred, who mistakenly stood in the position of separatism except, of course, people who were involved in the acts of terrorism, murder or torture.” The president said parliament would draft a bill granting amnesty “to those members of illegal armed formations who did not kill civilians and Ukrainian soldiers”. Mr Poroshenko, who was elected in May, also sought to calm a key source of grievance for Russian speakers in the east by promising to enshrine in the constitution the right to use the Russian language and also offered them a greater say in who serves as regional governor, currently appointed by Kiev. As well as ending the fighting that has destabilised his country, the Ukrainian president’s fundamental motive is to ensure his forces regain control of their borders; a key part of the ceasefire would see a six-mile buffer zone being designed along the Russian border to stem the flow of weapons and gunmen. Mr Poroshenko’s peace plan has received lukewarm support from President Putin. However the Russian leader, widely blamed by the West for encouraging, financing and arming the rebel movement, said Ukraine’s security forces had already breached its terms.
www.thetimes.co.uk
www.thetimes.co.uk

Hollywood Reporter March 27 2014 Ukraine’s Odessa Film Festival Vows to Open Despite Crisis

Hollywood Reporter March 26 2014: Russian Quotas: Hollywood Studios Would Be Hardest Hit

Hollywood Reporter March 25 2014:  Russia mulls tough quotas on foreign films

Christian Science Monitor  February 28 2014:  Next revolutionary step in Ukraine: Reform the police

The Times  February 26 2014:  Police refused order to machinegun protesters

(Full text below, as you may not be able to read this article on the Times website) Nick Holdsworth Kiev Published at 12:01AM, February 26 2014: The bloodbath on Kiev’s streets last week would have been far worse if police had not refused orders to spray protesters in Independence Square with machinegun fire, a police colonel said yesterday. Colonel Roman Leonovich said that he ­ignored the order last Tuesday, then brokered a deal with the opposition to keep his men away from the square on Thursday as the worst violence in the country’s post-Soviet history erupted. By the end of the week, at least 86 protesters had been killed, many of them by government snipers. Colonel Leonovich’s account provides a view of last week’s transformative events from the other side of the barricades, where police were also dying under fire. Colonel Leonovich, 40, has served 22 years in the police, and last week was in command of 600 men garrisoned in a 19th-century fortess that housed a military arsenal. On Tuesday night he took 100 of them to Independence Square. That night, he said, three officers serving near him died and two were wounded close to a barricade at the entrance to the square. “Within minutes of taking our positions we came under fire. Two officers from a nearby unit in the line were killed by shots to the head from a 9mm Makarov pistol,” he said. “Two others were wounded by shotgun fire and a Berkut [riot police] officer died after pellets penetrated his jacket.” He said that the senior officer commanding 400 police who had been ordered to hold a line on Kreshchatyk Street, between European Square and Maidan, telephoned his superiors at the Ministry of Interior Affairs. “The senior line officer reported the use of firearms and asked for freshorders,” Colonel Leonovich said. “The answer came back: ‘You can fire back’. That was official permission.” The colonel said that he did not know who gave the order, and added that police were asked if they had armoured vehicles. They had two available, and were given permission to use the vehicles’ heavy-calibre machineguns. “We discussed the situation and several officers said they could not shoot back, as we could not identify the shooters and the barricade was manned by unarmed people. “We decided to use the armoured cars to force our way through. Had we known who shot at us and [been able to] identify them, we would not have hesitated — that would have been one sniper against the other — but we did not.” As Colonel Leonovich’s men advanced behind the armoured cars under a hail of petrol bombs and other missiles, the barricade was swept aside and its defenders disappeared. The colonel said that his and other police units established a new line on the edge of Maidan parallel with the Trade Union building that had served as the protest HQ, and remained there until 8am the next day. As conditions in Kiev deteriorated, the colonel said he became convinced the country was sliding into civil war. He said he received a phone call on a closed ministry line used only by senior officials. The caller, who refused to identify himself, ordered him and his men to join other units to force their way into parliament. He ignored the command. Colonel Leonovich’s claim is difficult to substantiate, but tallies with an alleged plan to use 22,000 police and rooftop snipers to snuff out the anti-Government protest. It was outlined this week by Hennadii Moskal, a former deputy interior minister who is now an MP for Yuliya Tymoshenko’s Batkivshchyna Party. The man said to be behind that plan, the Interior Minister Vitaliy Zakharchenko, is among senior Yanukovych officials who have vanished.

Christian Science Monitor February 5 2014:  Mayor of ‘Ukraine’s soul’ looks to heal country’s divides

Sunday Telegraph November 24 2013:  The film Russia tried to block: The ‘threats and corruption’ behind Sochi Olympics

The Times, October 24 2013:  Russian special forces to get new underwater machine gun

(Full text below, as you may not be able to read this article on the Times website)
Nick Holdsworth Moscow  Published at 12:01AM, October 24 2013

An assault rifle that its maker claims is the first that can be used on land or underwater was revealed for the first time in public yesterday. Sounding like something Q might supply to James Bond and designed for Russia’s Spetsnaz special forces — equivalent to Britain’s Special Boat Service — the ADS 5.45mm automatic has already won overseas orders, its maker, Russia’s leading small-arms manufacturer, said. The ADS, an adaptation of the Kalashnikov AK47, uses standard 5.45mm x 39mm rounds on land and special, similar rounds underwater. Instrument Design Bureau, or KBP, based in Tula, said that underwater its weapon was usable down to 40m (130ft) and had a range of between 8m and 25m. On land, it is accurate to 500m. Nikolai Komarov, spokesman for KBP, said: “Special forces troops no longer need to carry two assault rifles, but just the one.” Pavel Felgenhauer, a Moscow-based defence analyst, questioned whether the gun would find a wide market. “It is a very specialised weapon, where you would need to have two opposing armies of frogmen shooting it out underwater — something I’ve only ever seen in James Bond movies,” he said.

The Sunday Telegraph  March 23 2013:  Prime suspect in Georgi Markov ‘umbrella poison’ murder tracked down to Austria

The Times 20 August 2011: The train on Platform 6 is for Paris, Moscow and New York – through the Bering Strait

(Full text below, as you may not be able to read this article on the Times website) Nick Holdsworth Yakutsk Published at 12:01AM, August 20 2011 It might still be too soon to book your ticket from King’s Cross to Grand Central station in New York, but the prospect of such an epic rail journey has just moved a step closer. The Kremlin gave its blessing this week to the greatest railway project of all time: a 65-mile (106km) tunnel linking Asia and North America under the Bering Strait and connecting railway lines that would allow a seamless train trip from Britain to the United States. The £60 billion scheme would push the Trans-Siberian railway eastward while extending Alaska’s tracks towards Siberia. East and West would meet directly at the international dateline under the Bering Strait islands of the Russian Big Diomede and the US territory of Little Diomede. The Bering Strait tunnel, first mooted by Tsar Nicholas II in 1905, is no pipedream. This week it was endorsed by President Medvedev’s top officials, including Aleksandr Levinthal, the deputy federal representative for the Russian Far East. Proponents of the network say that apart from the romance of taking a once-in-a-lifetime journey across the breathtaking wildernesses of Siberia and Alaska, it would be cheaper, faster and more secure than shipping goods around the world. It could carry about 3 per cent of the world’s freight, earning £7 billion a year. Engineers say there is no technical reason why the tunnel could not be built and investors would break even within 15 years of it opening. Mr Levinthal was among several Kremlin officials, including Vladimir Nazarov, the deputy secretary of the Russian National Security Council, who flew to Yakutsk, 5,000 miles east of Moscow, to take part in a three-day conference on developing integrated infrastructure in northeast Russia. Hosted by Yegor Borisov, the Governor of Yakutia (the Sakha Republic), the conference drew hundreds of delegates from Russia, the US, China and Britain to examine ways of boosting the economic potential of the resource-rich but sparsely populated region that stretches to the Arctic Circle. A 500-mile rail spur to Yakutsk from the Trans-Siberian — built at a cost of £900 million and due for completion in 2013 — is part of a Kremlin strategy that will push rail links a further 2,360 miles to the northeastern tip of Siberia by 2030. It will connect the mineral-rich territory to key freight lines in Russia and China. That would make the construction of the tunnel, a 15-year project that would account for about a tenth of the joint investment in Russian, American and Canadian railway extensions envisaged, feasible. “We should see advanced development of road and rail infrastructure here [in the Russian Far East] and improvement in the investment climate in Russia as a key aim,” Mr Levinthal said. Vladimir Putin, the Prime Minister, has made no secret of his intention to pursue Russia’s claim to the vast untapped fossil fuel and mineral wealth of the Arctic, improve trade with China and secure its borders in the Far East. Building roads and railways, repopulating towns and cities ravaged by more than two decades of neglect, and bringing prosperity to a region that Europe could fit into three times over, has become a national priority. Against that background, the prospect of finding the political will — and cash — to bore a route twice the length of the Channel Tunnel under the Bering Strait becomes much more realistic. But Stephen Dalziel, the head of the Russo-British Chamber of Commerce, said it was unlikely that British companies would invest in the scheme until it was up and running. “It would be a great idea if it worked,” he said. Igor Arzhanukhin, an engineer who is working on the spur line, said: “It is a brilliant idea. We are all really proud to be a part of it.”

ARCHIVE

Am gradually adding older stories here when I find time.

Here is an obituary I wrote in 2003 for The Moscow Times after the death of a dear Moscow friend of mine, writer and polymath, Igor Mozheiko, aka sic-fi author Kir Bulychov:

 The Moscow Times, September 12, 2003

Science Fiction’s Kir Bulychov Dies

  • By Nick Holdsworth
  • Sep. 12 2003
To the generation of Russians who grew up in the 1970s and 1980s, science fiction writer Kir Bulychov, who died last Friday at age 69, was a household name.The author of a string of hugely popular children’s sci-fi books and screenplays, Bulychov — whose real name was Igor Mozheiko — found fame if not great financial fortune throughout the Eastern bloc during his 20-year heyday.His first book, “Devochka, S Kotoroi Nichego Ne Sluchayetsya” (The Girl Nothing Happens To), featuring an independently spirited little space-age girl called Alice, modeled on his own young daughter of the same name, became an instant hit and led to a string of space-age adventures featuring Alice as the heroine.Books such as “Alice’s Adventure in Future Land” soon led to film versions of his books.Adult science fiction also flowed from Mozheiko’s prolific pen, and in 1981 he won a Soviet award for best screenplay for “Cherez Ternii K Zvyozdam,” known in the West as “Per Aspera Ad Astra.” The film, which won director Richard Viktorov a further clutch of awards, has recently been restored and is due to be specially re-released in the United States next year.English-language collections of his short science-fiction stories, “Half a Life” and “Gusliar Wonders,” were published in New York in the 1970s and 1980s, and translations of his works appeared in numerous science-fiction collations, winning him a small but enthusiastic following in the West.His books and screenplays reflected both the Soviet mania for space travel and children’s yearning for modern fables rich in the traditions of Russian folk tales and fairy stories. Mozheiko, who took his pen name of Kir Bulychov from his wife Kira’s first name and his mother’s maiden name, often spoke of the freedom that science fiction gave him under communism. In a similar way, his academic career as a historian of ancient Burma was possible without the party membership normally necessary for career success. Mozheiko, who was born in Moscow on Oct. 18, 1933, grew up the only son of privileged parents of the new Soviet proletariat aristocracy. His father, Vsevolod, was a top judge and his mother was a chemist. After finishing school in 1952, Mozheiko entered the Maurice Torez Language Institute in Moscow, a recruiting ground for the KGB. Graduating in 1957 fluent in both English and Czech, Mozheiko worked for a year as an English-language interpreter in Burma. He returned to Burma again in 1962-63, when he served in the press section of the Soviet Embassy. By this time he was on the history faculty at Moscow’s Institute of Oriental Studies, where he remained to the end of his life. In his scholarly work, he turned his curiosity not only on Eastern history but also on tsarist-era military awards. An early member of a governmental commission on state awards, Mozheiko was influential in designing a series of new civilian awards for achievement to replace the defunct Soviet state prizes. He was an avid collector of medals, orders and 18th- and 19th-century military helmets, and his small central Moscow apartment was crammed with his collection. His last two months were spent in a Moscow hospital, where he was being treated for complications relating to diabetes.  A funeral was held Tuesday in Moscow, drawing hundreds of mourners. Mozheiko is survived by his wife and daughter.

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