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Russia charms its guests with music and football

Lovers of music and football got their money’s worth in Russia this summer, as concerts of classical music, jazz, pop and rock accompanied all events of the FIFA Football World Cup 2018.

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Victoria Lopyreva, model, Miss Russia, football expert, TV host, FIFA World Cup ambassador and Special Ambassador to UNAIDS.

There was a wonderful concert in Russia’s capital, on Moscow’s Red Square with international opera stars and the Mariinsky Orchestra for the opening ceremony, held on the 13th of June 2018.

Many more concerts followed in the 11 cities, where the football matches were held: Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Kazan, Nizhny Novgorod, Saransk, Kaliningrad, Volgograd, Yekaterinburg, Samara, Sochi and Rostov-on-Don. The brilliant opening ceremony on Moscow’s Red Square was a sound and light show, attended by Russian President Vladimir Putin, FIFA head Gianni Infantino and thousands of people.

The location was well chosen, the symbolism of Red Square well understood. It is not only the heart of Moscow but also, in a way, the heart of Russia. Red Square separates the Kremlin from a historic merchant quarter known as Kitai-Gorod. Moscow’s major streets, which connect to Russia’s major highways, originate from the square.

In medieval times, the square served as Moscow’s main marketplace, and Russia’s tsars were coronated here. It was the site of public ceremonies and proclamations. Since 1945, it has been used for the Victory Parade, each 9th of May.

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In 1990, Red Square was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List. Russia’s Mariinsky Orchestra conducted by Maestro Valery Gergiev and famous opera stars were taking part in the opening concert, which was initiated by the renowned Russian classical pianist Denis Matsuev, who was the show’s host and participant. The event also involved Dmitry Bertman, Artistic Director of Moscow’s Helikon Opera Theatre.

The concert’s programme included interesting pieces of Russian music: the ouverture of Mikhail Glinka’s opera “Ruslan and Ludmila”, Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s romance no. 6 “Does the day reign”, Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s piano concert no. 1 in B-flat minor, played by Denis Matsuev, Sergey Rachmaninov’s “Italian Polka” for four hands on piano in E-flat minor, played by Denis Matsuev and a seven year old Russian pianist; finally the popular Russian song “Kalinka” at the end of the concert, sung by the whole ensemble together.

In the world of Russian music, the name of Valery Abisalovich Gergiev, general director and artistic director of the Mariinsky Theatre in Saint Petersburg, is well known. He was born on the 2nd of May 1953 in Moscow to Ossetian parents and raised in his family’s native Vladikavkaz, North Ossetia, in the Caucasus. From 1972 to 1977, Valery Gergiev studied at the Saint Petersburg Rimsky-Korsakov Conservatory, where his conducting teacher was Professor Ilya Musin.

In 1978, he became assistant conductor at the Mariinsky Opera, giving his conducting debut with Sergey Prokofiev’s «War and Peace». In 1988, he became chief conductor of the Mariinsky Opera. Since 1996, Valery Gergiev has been working as the Mariinsky’s artistic director and manager. The Maestro has remained true to his mission, to transform the Mariinsky into the best opera and ballet company of the globe. In 1993, he created the famous White Nights Music Festival of Saint Petersburg.

Valery Gergiev has recorded the works of many notable Russian composers, such as Mikhail Glinka (1804-1857), Pyotr Tchaikovsky (1840-1893), Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov (1844-1908), Sergey Prokofiev (1901-1953), Dmitry Shostakovich (1906-1975) and Rodion Shchedrin, born in 1932. For his achievements Valery Gergiev earned the title People’s Artist of Russia in 1996. He also received the Order of Friendship in 2000 and the medal In Commemoration of the 300th Anniversary of Saint Petersburg in 2003. In addition Valery Gergiev was decorated with two Orders of Merit for the Fatherland, in 2003 and 2008.

He is an Honorary Doctor of the Saint Petersburg State University and Honorary Professor of the Moscow State University. An appraisal in the Scotsman of Edinburgh, where he is a well-known festival conductor, judged that “Valery Gergiev’s energy puts others in the shade. He is a caged whirlwind of energy. Valery Gergiev’s style of conducting is known for its intensity. He is one of the finest conductors in the world, with a staggering array of appointments. His work at the Mariinsky proves that he is not just a gifted conductor, but a genius administrator and fundraiser as well.”

On the 14th of June, Moscow’s Luzhniki stadium hosted the opening match between Russia and Saudi Arabia. Russia won 5-0, which brought a surge of joy and pride for all Russian football fans. On the 19th of June, the Russian team won again, this time 3-1 against Egypt, in the football stadium of Saint Petersburg. Both victories had been predicted by white-furred Achilles, a psychic cat of the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg. Anna Kondratyeva, the Hermitage Museum’s veterinarian, pointed out that the cat “loves his motherland and couldn’t vote otherwise”.

Achilles is deaf, as many white cats are. However, he compensates by great psychic qualities. According to the museum officials Achilles demonstrates “capabilites of choice, analysis and unusual behaviour”. In order to forecast the football results, Achilles had to choose between two
identical food bowls marked with flags from competing nations. This performance was a joint tourism project between the city of Saint Petersburg and the Hermitage Museum, which had been visited by more than four million visitors in 2017.

On the 25th of June, Russia’s football team played against Uruguay in Samara. Unfortunately, Achilles’ prediction for this match proved to be wrong. The Russians lost 0-3 to the players from Uruguay. In Samara, the spectacular Cosmos Arena with a capacity of 45.000 spectators was especially built for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Its main architectural feature is the metal dome inspired by space exploration, with the overall silhouette resembling a star or a spacecraft. The elliptical foundation of the stadium supports two levels of spectator seats. The seats are completely covered by the roof, the stands in the stadium can be heated.

The stadium is a reference to Samara’s involvement in space industry. The city on the Volga is known for its production of aerospace launch vehicles, satellites and various space services. In 1960, Samara became the missile shield centre of the Soviet Union. The launch vehicle Vostok, which delivered the first manned spaceship to orbit, was built at the Samara Progress Plant. Yury Gagarin, the first man to travel in space, took a rest in Samara after returning to Earth in 1961. Samara’s enterprises played a leading role in the development of Soviet domestic aviation and the implementation of the Soviet space programme.

On the 1st of July, the teams of Russia and Spain met in Moscow’s Luzhniki stadium. Russia eliminated Spain on penalty kicks, 4-3, after a 1-1 tie. The Russian team advanced to the quarterfinals and continued in Sochi, where it played against the Croatian team in the Fisht
Stadium, on the 7th of July. However, here the Russian World Cup dream vanished because the Russian players lost to Croatia. The regular and the 30-minute overtime periods ended in a 2-2 draw. The Croats won in a 4-3 penalty shootout.

The Fisht Stadium is located in Sochi Olympic Park. It is named after Mount Fisht, a peak of the western Caucasus, in the Russian Republic of Adygea. The 40,000-capacity stadium was constructed for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games, where it served as the venue for their opening and closing ceremonies. It was re-opened in 2016 as an open-air football stadium, to host matches of the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Its roof was designed to give the appearance of snowy peaks.

The bowl opens to the north, allowing a direct view of the Krasnaya Polyana Mountains in the Caucasus, while the upper deck is open to the south, allowing a view of the Black Sea. On the 8th of July, more than 24,000 Russian football fans gathered in the World Cup Fan Zone in Moscow to meet the Russian players returning from Sochi to cheer them for their great performance at the FIFA 2018 World Cup. Chief coach Stanislav Cherchesov thanked all those who had supported them. He promised that the Russian football team would demonstrate better results at the next World Cup in Qatar.

Since the World Cup has started, the streets of Moscow and the ten other host cities have filled up with partying football fans. The entire country seems to focus on the major sports event. Of course, it is also an excellent time for Russian business. With FIFA set to earn $6.1 billion from the World Cup 2018, local businesses want a slice of the pie, too. So they have dressed up for the party. Shops, bars, restaurants and hotels are decorated with football items to attract international FIFA tourists.

The 2018 FIFA World Cup raised President Putin’s nimbus in Russia because he brought the country back to the big international stage of sports. According to a survey by the polling institute FOM, 74 percent of the Russian population were in favour of the major event. The
interviewees mentioned improvement of infrastructure and further success in sports as two of the reasons for their approval. The World Cup stadiums and modern training facilities did not only impress the 32 participating teams but will also provide a solid foundation for the further development of football after the World Cup in Russia. In addition to the World Cup arenas, around 100 stadiums with smaller capacities were built, now there are 1.900 in the country.

The number of football fields increased from 18.000 to 26.000 in recent years. President Vladimir Putin, whose favourite sports are judo and ice hockey, made his homage to football, when he said at the opening ceremony: “Russians love football, it is what we call love at first sight, ever since the first official match was held in the country in 1897.” And FIFA President Gianni Infantino added:”Football will conquer Russia, and from Russia, football will conquer the world.”

A peaceful conquest – with love from Russia.

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Correction and or addition :Russia charms it’s guests with music,football and it’s beautiful women .

Vera Gottlieb
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Vera Gottlieb

I am happy to see that, so far, the event has gone without any major incidents. I am also happy to see so many Russophobes with egg on their face.

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Vladimir Putin calls new Ukrainian church ‘dangerous politicking’

President Putin said creation of the “Orthodox Church in Ukraine” is against Church canon and that the West drove Constantinople to do it.

Seraphim Hanisch

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In an interview with the Serbian newspapers Politika and Vecernje Novosti ahead of his visit to Serbia, Russian President Vladimir Putin noted the creation of the “Orthodox Church of Ukraine”, a schismatic agglomeration headed by Ukrainian ultra-nationalists was “dangerous politicking.” He further noted that:

The establishment of the new religious entity in Ukraine is nothing but an attempt “to legalize the schismatic communities that exist in Ukraine under the jurisdiction of Istanbul, which is a major violation of Orthodox canons.”

“Yet, hardly anyone in the U.S. or in the Ukrainian leadership worries about this,” Putin said.

“Once again, this has nothing to do with spiritual life; we are dealing here with dangerous and irresponsible politicking,” he said.

President Putin had more things to say in the interview, and we present what he said in full here (emphasis ours), as reported on the Kremlin.ru website:

Question: The Serbian Orthodox Church has taken the side of the Russian Orthodox Church in the context of the ecclesiastical crisis in Ukraine. At the same time, a number of countries are exerting pressure on Patriarch Bartholomew and seek to ensure recognition of Ukrainian ”schismatics“ by Local Orthodox Churches. How do you think the situation will evolve?

Vladimir Putin: I would like to remind your readers, who are greatly concerned about the information regarding the split in the Orthodox community but are probably not fully aware of the situation in Ukraine, what it is all about.

On December 15, 2018, the Ukrainian leaders, actively supported by the USA and the Constantinople Patriarchate, held a so-called “unifying synod”. This synod declared the creation of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, with Patriarch Bartholomew signing the tomos (decree) granting it autocephaly on January 6, 2019. Thus, it was attempted to legalize the schismatic communities that exist in Ukraine under the jurisdiction of Istanbul, which is a major violation of Orthodox canons.

Yet, hardly anyone in the US or in the Ukrainian leadership worries about this, as the new church entity is an entirely political, secular project. Its main aim is to divide the peoples of Russia and Ukraine, sowing seeds of ethnic as well as religious discord. No wonder Kiev has already declared ”obtaining complete independence from Moscow.”

Once again, this has nothing to do with spiritual life; we are dealing here with dangerous and irresponsible politicking. Likewise, we do not speak about the independence of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine. It is de-facto fully controlled by Istanbul. Whereas Ukraine’s largest canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which has never requested autocephaly from Patriarch Bartholomew, is absolutely independent in its actions. Its connection with the Russian Orthodox Church is purely canonical – but even this causes undisguised irritation of the current Kiev regime.

Because of this, clergymen and laymen of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church are being persecuted and deprived of churches and monasteries, and attempts are made to deny the Church its legitimate name, which raises tensions and only leads to further discord in Ukrainian society.

Evidently, Ukraine’s leaders have to understand that any attempts to force the faithful into a different church are fraught with grave consequences. Yet, they are eager to put interconfessional concord in the country at stake in order to conduct the election campaign of the current Ukrainian President based on a search for enemies, and to retain power by all means.

All of this does not go unnoticed by Orthodox Christians.

Naturally, Russia does not intend to interfere in ecclesiastical processes, especially those happening on the territory of a neighboring sovereign state. However, we are aware of the danger posed by such experiments and blatant interference of the state in religious affairs.

The situation continues to degrade in Ukraine, and though the Orthodox faithful of the Autonomous but Moscow-based Ukrainian Orthodox Church are the hardest hit, worry over Ukrainian lawlessless-made-law has the Jewish community in that country nervous as well. This is perhaps to be expected as the Azov Brigade, a neo-Nazi aligned group that is hypernationalist, is a good representation of the character of the “hate Russia at all costs” Ukrainian nationalists. A parallel piece in Interfax made note of this in a piece dated January 17th 2019:

[A] bill passed by the Verkhovna Rada introducing a procedure by which parishes can join the new Ukrainian church makes it easier to seize places of worship, and supporters of autocephaly have already started doing this across the country, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church said.

“They need this law to seize our churches. You can’t just come with a crowbar to someone else’s barn, but now the law allows you to do so. They aren’t creating something of their own, but are trying to steal what’s ours,” Ukrainian Orthodox Church spokesperson Vasyl Anisimov told Interfax on Thursday.

The religious entity set up in December with Constantinople’s involvement and called the Orthodox Church of Ukraine “in fact doesn’t yet exist in nature. It’s fake. It doesn’t have any parishes of its own or government registration,” he said.

However, “the supporters of autocephaly don’t have plans to create anything of their own at all, so they have chosen the path of takeover, and the authorities are helping them in that,” Anisimov said.

“Hence, the legislation passed by the Verkhovna Rada today is in fact absolute lawlessness,” he said.

“If you pass legislation affecting an industry, you should talk to industrialists, and if it’s legislation on the agricultural sector, talk to farmers. And here legislation on a church is passed, and moreover, this legislation is aimed against this church, it is protesting, and Jews are protesting, too, because this legislation may affect them as well – but nobody is listening, and they change the law for the sake of an absolutely absurd and unconstitutional gimmick. But, of course, it’s the people who will ultimately suffer,” Anisimov said.

 

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May survives ‘no confidence’ vote as UK moves towards March 29 deadline or Article 50 extension (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 168.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the ‘no confidence’ vote that UK Prime Minister May won with the a slim margin…meaning that though few MPs have confidence in her ‘Brexit withdrawal’ negotiating skills, they appear to have no problem allowing May to lead the country towards its Brexit deadline in March, which coincidently may be delayed and eventually scrapped altogether.

Meanwhile Tony Blair is cozying up to Brussels’ oligarchs, working his evil magic to derail the will of the British people, and keep the integrationist ambitions for the UK and Europe on track.

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Via RT


The UK government led by Theresa May, has survived to fight another day, after winning a no-confidence vote, tabled by Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party, following parliament rejecting the PM’s Brexit deal, earlier on Tuesday evening.

The no-confidence vote was defeated by 19 votes – the government winning by 325 to 306. It’s a rare positive note for May’s Tory cabinet after the humiliating Brexit defeat.

Speaking immediately after the vote, a victorious May said she was “pleased” that the House expressed its confidence in her government. May said she will “continue to work” to deliver on the result of the Brexit referendum and leave the EU.

May invited the leaders of parliamentary parties to meet with her individually, beginning on Wednesday evening.

“I stand ready to work with any member of this House to deliver on Brexit,” she said.

Responding to the vote, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said that the House had “emphatically” rejected May’s deal on Tuesday. The government, he said, must now remove “clearly once and for all the prospect of the catastrophe of a no-deal Brexit from the EU and all the chaos that would result from that.”

Labour will now have to consider what move to make next. Their official Brexit policy, decided by members at conference in September, states that if a general election cannot be forced, then all options should be left on the table, including calling for a second referendum.

Liberal Democrats MP Ed Davey also called on May to rule out a no deal Brexit.

The way forward for Brexit is not yet clear and May’s options are now limited, given that the Brexit deal she was offering was voted down so dramatically on Tuesday.

Gavin Barrett, a professor at the UCD Sutherland School of Law in Dublin, told RT that May will now have to decide if her second preference is a no-deal Brexit or a second referendum. Her preference will likely be a no-deal Brexit, Barrett said, adding that “since no other option commands a majority in the House” a no-deal exit is now “the default option.”

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Final Steps in Syria’s Successful Struggle for Peace and Sovereignty

The war of aggression against Syria is winding up, and this can be observed by the opening of a series of new embassies in Damascus.

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Authored by Federico Pieraccini via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


The situation in Syria evolves daily and sees two situations very closely linked to each other, with the US withdrawal from Syria and the consequent expansionist ambitions of Erdogan in Syria and the Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) takeover in Idlib that frees the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and Russian aviation to liberate the de-escalation zone.

Trump has promised to destroy Turkey economically if he attacks the Kurds, reinforcing his claim that Erdogan will not target the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) once the US withdraws from the area. One of the strongest accusations made against Trump’s withdrawal by his opponents is that no Middle Eastern force will ever trust the US again if they abandon the SDF to its fate, that is, to its annihilation at the hands of the Turkish army and its FSA proxies. This, however, is not possible; not so much because of Trump’s economic threats, but because of Damascus and Moscow being strongly opposed to any Turkish military action in the northeast of Syria.

This is a red line drawn by Putin and Assad, and the Turkish president likely understands the consequences of any wrong moves. It is no coincidence that he stated several times that he had no problems with the “Syrians or Syrian-Kurdish brothers”, and repeated that if the area under the SDF were to come under the control of Damascus, Turkey would have no need to intervene in Syria. Trump’s request that Ankara have a buffer zone of 20 kilometers separating the Kurdish and Turkish forces seems to complement the desire of Damascus and Moscow to avoid a clash between the Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) and the SDF.

The only party that seems to be secretly encouraging a clash between the SDF and Turkish forces is Israel, criticizing Ankara and singing the praises of the SDF, in order to try and accentuate the tensions between the two sides, though naturally without success. Israel’s continued raids in Syria, though almost constantly failing due to Syrian air defense, and the divide-and-rule policy used against Turkey and the SDF, show that Tel Aviv is now weakened and mostly irrelevant in the Syrian conflict.

In Idlib, the situation seems to be becoming less complicated and difficult to decipher. Russia, Iran and Syria had asked Erdogan to take control of the province through its “moderate jihadists”, sit down at the negotiating table, and resolve the matter through a diplomatic solution. Exactly the opposite happened. The HTS (formerly al-Nusra/al-Qaeda in Syria) has in recent weeks conquered practically the whole province of Idlib, with numerous forces linked to Turkey (Ahrar al-Sham and Nour al-Din al-Zenki) dissolving and merging into HTS. This development puts even more pressure on Erdogan, who is likely to see his influence in Idlib fade away permanently. Moreover, this evolution represents a unique opportunity for Damascus and Moscow to start operations in Idlib with the genuine justification of combating terrorism. It is a repeat of what happened in other de-escalation areas. Moscow and Damascus have repeatedly requested the moderates be separated from the terrorists, so as to approach the situation with a diplomatic negotiation.

In the absence of an effective division of combatants, all are considered terrorists, with the military option replacing the diplomatic. This remains the only feasible option to free the area from terrorists who are not willing to give back territory to the legitimate government in Damascus and are keeping civilians hostages. The Idlib province seems to have experienced the same playbook applied in other de-escalation zones, this time with a clear contrast between Turkey and Saudi Arabia that shows how the struggle between the two countries is much deeper than it appears. The reasons behind the Khashoggi case and the diplomatic confrontation between Qatar and Saudi Arabia were laid bare in the actions of the HTS in Idlib, which has taken control of all the areas previously held by Ankara’s proxies.

It remains to be seen whether Moscow and Damascus would like to encourage Erdogan to recover Idlib through its proxies, trying to encourage jihadists to fight each other as much as possible in order to lighten the task of the SAA, or whether they would prefer to press the advantage themselves and attack while the terrorist front is experiencing internal confusion.

In terms of occupied territory and accounts to be settled, two areas of great importance for the future of Syria remain unresolved, namely al-Tanf, occupied by US forces on the Syrian-Jordanian border, and the area in the north of Syria occupied by Turkish forces and their FSA proxies. It is too early to approach a solution militarily, it being easier for Damascus and Moscow to complete the work to free Syria from the remaining terrorists. Once this has been done, the presence of US or Turkish forces in Syria, whether directly or indirectly, would become all the more difficult to justify. Driving away the US and, above all, Turkey from Syrian territory will be the natural next step in the Syrian conflict.

This is an unequivocal sign that the war of aggression against Syria is winding up, and this can be observed by the opening of a series of new embassies in Damascus. Several countries — including Italy in the near future — will reopen their embassies in Syria to demonstrate that the war, even if not completely over, is effectively won by Damascus and her allies.

For this reason, several countries that were previously opposed to Damascus, like the United Arab Emirates, are understood to have some kind of contact with the government of Damascus. If they intend to become involved in the reconstruction process and any future investment, they will quite naturally need to re-establish diplomatic relations with Damascus. The Arab League is also looking to welcome Syria back into the fold.

Such are signs that Syria is returning to normality, without forgetting which and how many countries have conspired and acted directly against the Syrians for over seven years. An invitation to the Arab League or some embassy being reopened will not be enough to compensate for the damage done over years, but Assad does not preclude any option, and is in the meantime demonstrating to the Israelis, Saudis and the US Deep State that their war has failed and that even their most loyal allies are resuming diplomatic relations with Damascus, a double whammy against the neocons, Wahhabis and Zionists.

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