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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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Is this man the puppet master of Ukraine’s new president or an overhyped bogeyman?

Smiling to himself, Kolomoisky would be within his rights to think that he has never had it so good.

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Via RT…


It doesn’t actually matter if Ukrainian-Israeli billionaire Igor Kolomoisky is the real power behind Volodymyr Zelensky – the president elect has to get rid of the oligarch if he is to make a break with the country’s corrupt past.

The plots, deceits and conflicts of interest in Ukrainian politics are so transparent and hyperbolic, that to say that novice politician Zelensky was a protégé of his long-time employer was not something that required months of local investigative journalism – it was just out there.

Zelensky’s comedy troupe has been on Kolomoisky’s top-rated channel for the past eight years, and his media asset spent every possible resource promoting the contender against incumbent Petro Poroshenko, a personal enemy of the tycoon, who hasn’t even risked entering Ukraine in the past months.

Similarly, the millions and the nous needed to run a presidential campaign in a country of nearly 50 million people had to come from somewhere, and Kolomoisky’s lieutenants were said to be in all key posts. The two issued half-hearted denials that one was a frontman for the other, insisting that they were business partners with a cordial working relationship, but voters had to take their word for it.

Now that the supposed scheme has paid off with Zelensky’s spectacular victory in Sunday’s run-off, Ukrainian voters are asking: what does Kolomoisky want now, and will he be allowed to run the show?

‘One-of-a-kind chancer’

Born in 1963, in a family of two Jewish engineers, Kolomoisky is the type of businessman that was once the staple of the post-Soviet public sphere, but represents a dying breed.

That is, he is not an entrepreneur in the established Western sense at all – he did not go from a Soviet bloc apartment to Lake Geneva villas by inventing a new product, or even setting up an efficient business structure in an existing field.

Rather he is an opportunist who got wealthy by skilfully reading trends as the Soviet economy opened up – selling Western-made computers in the late 1980s – and later when independent Ukraine transitioned to a market economy and Kolomoisky managed to get his hands on a large amount of privatisation vouchers that put many of the juiciest local metals and energy concerns into his hands, which he then modernised.

What he possesses is a chutzpah and unscrupulousness that is rare even among his peers. Vladimir Putin once called him a “one-of-a-kind chancer” who managed to “swindle [Chelsea owner] Roman Abramovich himself.” In the perma-chaos of Ukrainian law and politics, where all moves are always on the table, his tactical acumen has got him ahead.

Kolomoisky’s lifeblood is connections and power rather than any pure profit on the balance sheet, though no one actually knows how that would read, as the Privat Group he part-owns is reported to own over 100 businesses in dozens of Ukrainian spheres through a complex network of offshore companies and obscure intermediaries (“There is no Privat Group, it is a media confection,” the oligarch himself says, straight-faced.)

Unsurprisingly, he has been dabbling in politics for decades, particularly following the first Orange Revolution in 2004. Though the vehicles for his support have not been noted for a particular ideological consistency – in reportedly backing Viktor Yushchenko, then Yulia Tymoshenko, he was merely putting his millions on what he thought would be a winning horse.

Grasp exceeds reach

But at some point in the post-Maidan euphoria, Kolomoisky’s narcissism got the better of him, and he accepted a post as the governor of his home region of Dnepropetrovsk, in 2014.

The qualities that might have made him a tolerable rogue on TV, began to grate in a more official role. From his penchant for using the political arena to settle his business disputes, to creating his own paramilitary force by sponsoring anti-Russian battalions out of his own pocket, to his somewhat charmless habit of grilling and threatening to put in prison those less powerful than him in fits of pique (“You wait for me out here like a wife for a cheating husband,” begins a viral expletive-strewn rant against an overwhelmed Radio Free Europe reporter).

There is a temptation here for a comparison with a Donald Trump given a developing country to play with, but for all of the shenanigans, his ideological views have always been relatively straightforward. Despite his Russia-loathing patriotism, not even his fans know what Kolomoisky stands for.

The oligarch fell out with fellow billionaire Poroshenko in early 2015, following a battle over the control of a large oil transport company between the state and the governor. The following year, his Privat Bank, which at one point handled one in four financial transactions in the country was nationalized, though the government said that Kolomoisky had turned it into a mere shell by giving $5 billion of its savings to Privat Group companies.

Other significant assets were seized, the government took to London to launch a case against his international companies, and though never banished, Kolomoisky himself decided it would be safer if he spent as long as necessary jetting between his adopted homes in Switzerland and Tel Aviv, with the occasional trip to London for the foreseeable future.

But the adventurer falls – and rises again. The London case has been dropped due to lack of jurisdiction, and only last week a ruling came shockingly overturning the three-year-old nationalization of Privat Bank.

Smiling to himself, Kolomoisky would be within his rights to think that he has never had it so good.

Own man

Zelensky must disabuse him of that notion.

It doesn’t matter that they are friends. Or what handshake agreements they made beforehand. Or that he travelled to Geneva and Tel-Aviv 13 times in the past two years. Or what kompromat Kolomoisky may or may not have on him. It doesn’t matter that his head of security is the man who, for years, guarded the oligarch, and that he may quite genuinely fear for his own safety (it’s not like nothing bad has ever happened to Ukrainian presidents).

Volodymyr Zelensky is now the leader of a large country, with the backing of 13.5 million voters. It is to them that he promised a break with past bribery, graft and cronyism. Even by tolerating one man – and one who makes Poroshenko look wholesome – next to him, he discredits all of that. He will have the support of the people if he pits himself against the puppet master – no one would have elected Kolomoisky in his stead.

Whether the oligarch is told to stay away, whether Ukraine enables the financial fraud investigation into him that has been opened by the FBI, or if he is just treated to the letter of the law, all will be good enough. This is the first and main test, and millions who were prepared to accept the legal fiction of the independent candidate two months ago, will now want to see reality to match. Zelensky’s TV president protagonist in Servant of the People – also broadcast by Kolomoisky’s channel, obviously, would never have compromised like that.

What hinges on this is not just the fate of Zelensky’s presidency, but the chance for Ukraine to restore battered faith in its democracy shaken by a succession of compromised failures at the helm.

Igor Ogorodnev

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Roger Waters – The People’s Champion for Freedom

In February 2019, Waters showed his support for the Venezuelan Maduro government and continues to be totally against US regime change plans there.

Richard Galustian

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Submitted by Richard Galustian 

Roger Waters is one of Britain’s most successful and talented musicians and composers but more importantly is an outstanding champion for freedom in the world, beyond compare to any other artist turned political activist.

By way of background, he co-founded the rock band Pink Floyd in 1965.

A landmark turning point of his political activism occurred in 1990, when Waters staged probably the largest rock concert in history, ‘The Wall – Live in Berlin’, with an attendance of nearly half a million people.

In more recent years Waters famously narrated the 2016 documentary ‘The Occupation of the American Mind: Israel’s Public Relations War in the United States’ about the insidious influence of Zionist Israel to shape American public opinion.

Waters has been an outspoken critic of America’s Neocons and particularly Donald Trump and his policies.

In 2017, Waters condemned Trump’s plan to build a wall separating the United States and Mexico, saying that his band’s iconic famous song, ‘The Wall’ is as he put it “very relevant now with Mr. Trump and all of this talk of building walls and creating as much enmity as possible between races and religions.”

In February 2019, Waters showed his support for the Venezuelan Maduro government and continues to be totally against US regime change plans there, or any place else for that matter.

Here below is a must see recent Roger Waters interview, via satellite from New York, where he speaks brilliantly, succinctly and honestly, unlike no other celebrity, about FREEDOM and the related issues of the day.

The only other artist turned activist, but purely for human rights reasons, as she is apolitical, is the incredible Carla Ortiz.

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ISIS Says Behind Sri Lanka Bombings; Was ‘Retaliation’ For New Zealand Mosque Massacre

ISIS’s claim couldn’t be confirmed and the group has been  known to make “opportunistic” claims in the past, according to WaPo. 

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Via Zerohedge…


Shortly after the death toll from Sunday’s Easter bombings in Sri Lanka climbed above the 300 mark, ISIS validated the Sri Lankan government’s suspicions that a domestic jihadi organization had help from an international terror network while planning the bombings were validated when ISIS took credit for the attacks.

The claim was made via a report from ISIS’s Amaq news agency. Though the group has lost almost all of the territory that was once part of its transnational caliphate, ISIS now boasts cells across the Muslim world, including in North Africa and elsewhere. Before ISIS took credit for the attack, a Sri Lankan official revealed that Sunday’s attacks were intended as retaliation for the killing of 50 Muslims during last month’s mass shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand.

However, the Sri Lankan government didn’t offer any evidence for that claim, or the claim that Sunday’s attacks were planned by two Islamic groups (though that now appears to have been substantiated by ISIS’s claim of responsibility). The group is believed to have worked with the National Tawheed Jamaath, according to the NYT.

“The preliminary investigations have revealed that what happened in Sri Lanka was in retaliation for the attack against Muslims in Christchurch,” State Minister of Defense Ruwan Wijewardene told the Parliament.

Meanwhile, the number of suspects arrested in connection with the attacks had increased to 40 from 24 as of Tuesday. The government had declared a national emergency that allowed it sweeping powers to interrogate and detain suspects.

On Monday, the FBI pledged to send agents to Sri Lanka and provide laboratory support for the investigation.

As the death toll in Sri Lanka climbs, the attack is cementing its position as the deadliest terror attack in the region.

  • 321 (as of now): Sri Lanka bombings, 2019
  • 257 Mumbai attacks, 1993
  • 189 Mumbai train blasts, 2006 166 Mumbai attacks, 2008
  • 151 APS/Peshawar school attack, 2014
  • 149 Mastung/Balochistan election rally attack, 2018

Meanwhile, funeral services for some of the bombing victims began on Tuesday.

Even before ISIS took credit for the attack, analysts told the Washington Post that its unprecedented violence suggested that a well-financed international organization was likely involved.

The bombings on Sunday, however, came with little precedent. Sri Lanka may have endured a ghastly civil war and suicide bombings in the past – some credit the Tamil Tigers with pioneering the tactic – but nothing of this scale. Analysts were stunned by the apparent level of coordination behind the strikes, which occurred around the same time on both sides of the country, and suggested the attacks carried the hallmarks of a more international plot.

“Sri Lanka has never seen this sort of attack – coordinated, multiple, high-casualty – ever before, even with the Tamil Tigers during the course of a brutal civil war,” Alan Keenan, a Sri Lanka expert at the International Crisis Group, told the Financial Times. “I’m not really convinced this is a Sri Lankan thing. I think the dynamics are global, not driven by some indigenous debate. It seems to me to be a different kind of ballgame.”

Hinting at possible ISIS involvement, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said during a Monday press conference that “radical Islamic terror” remained a threat even after ISIS’s defeats in Syria.

Of course, ISIS’s claim couldn’t be confirmed and the group has been  known to make “opportunistic” claims in the past, according to WaPo. The extremist group said the attacks were targeting Christians and “coalition countries” and were carried out by fighters from its organization.

Speculation that the government had advanced warning of the attacks, but failed to act amid a power struggle between the country’s president and prime minister, unnerved citizens and contributed to a brewing backlash. Following the bombings, schools and mass had been canceled until at least Monday, with masses called off “until further notice.”

 

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