Sociologists asked Russians about their attitude towards 20th-century leaders. Some 56 percent of respondents have positive feelings about Brezhnev, who led the USSR from 1964 till 1982. A target of countless Soviet jokes and anecdotes, he is now disliked by 29 percent of people, Levada revealed.The first ruler of the Soviet Union, Lenin, is seen in a good light by 55 percent of Russians, while exactly one-half of Russians favor Stalin. However, over one-third of respondents do not approve of the leader, who is often described as “bloody tyrant.” Nikita Khruschev – who was Soviet premier during the Cuban missile crisis – is liked by 45 percent of Russians. That figure is slightly less than modern-day supporters of Tsar Nicholas II, who was overthrown in 1917; he got kind reviews from 48 percent of respondents. And at the bottom of the list, two-thirds of respondents gave negative evaluations to the first and only Soviet President, Mikhail Gorbachev, and the first Russian President Boris, Yeltsin.The late Yeltsin is viewed positively by only 22 percent of Russians, while his predecessor Gorbachev is seen as Russia’s worst leader ever, according to the poll. The architect of perestroika is now disliked by 66 percent of Russians, and only one-fifth of the population has warm feelings about the Soviet president.Experts link Brezhnev’s popularity among the population to financial well-being during his epoch, which was the “peak of Soviet socialism.” Stalin is associated with victory in World War II, which explains why he is favored by modern Russians.“No one would want to live in Stalin’s era, but he personifies what now is in shortage: Justice and equality in fear,” Professor Valery Solovei told Kommersant daily. Gorbachev and Yeltsin’s time brought “only defeats” and no material prosperity, political analyst Sergey Chernyakhovsky explained.“Gorbachev’s rule ended up with the dissolution of the USSR, which is still considered by Russians as the 20th-century catastrophe,” said Aleksey Grazhdankin, deputy head of the Levada Center. Attitudes towards Yeltsin worsened following his 1992 reforms, which lead to inflation and the closure of many businesses, he added.Harsh politicians are always perceived better than liberal ones, Grazhdankin said: “Freedom brings uncertainty, while people prefer certainty and clear perspectives… Rights and freedoms are too abstract, and the majority of people don’t need them. First of all, people appreciate the right to social guarantees and labor.” …
Costa Concordia indictment hearings open 15/04/2013 13:16 CET
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The pre-trial hearing into the sinking of the cruise liner the Costa Concordia last year has resumed in Italy.
According to his lawyers, Francesco Schettino, who was Captain of the vessel at the time, is depressed due to the media coverage of the case.
He could face various charges relating to the tragedy, including abandoning ship. But Francesco Pepe, one of his lawyers, disputes this.
“We are convinced the charge is absurd because the situation he was in meant it was impossible to remain on board,” he said.
Today’s hearing, being held in a theatre to accommodate the anticipated crowds, was to discuss fast-tracking Schittino and five other defendants, including two officers, to trial.
He wants a twin ship to reconstruct the events leading up to the tragedy.
Thirty two people died in the sinking of the craft, off the eastern coast of Italy in November last year.
It hit a rock which carved a 70-metre gash into its hull.
The Costa Concordia took on water and quickly turned over on its side.
Copyright © 2013 euronews
Eurovision: Songs, Scandals and Sequins 09/05/2013 18:15 CET
Bonus interview: David Goodman, Eurovision Song… 09/05/2013 18:12 CET
Eurovision’s great controversies 03/05/2013 15:42 CET
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Bonus interview: Björn Ulvaeus, former ABBA member 09/05/2013 18:14 CET
Eurovision contestants have been going through their final dress rehearsals ahead of the competition’s semi-finals, which begin on May 14.
Hopefuls from all over Europe have been arriving in Malmo, Sweden, to compete for the song prize.
Sixteen of them will sing in the first semi-final for a place in the final on May 18.
Loreen, who won last year in the Azeri capital Baku, is excited about performing on the Eurovision stage again – as a star guest in her home country this time.
She said: “I haven’t been this nervous since Baku, really, and I’ve been on a lot of stages after Baku. This is actually very personal.”
Norway’s Margret Becker is one of this year’s favourites.
The UK, which has been holding out for a Eurovision hero for fifteen years, has put forward Bonnie Tyler, an international pop star in the 1980s.
Copyright © 2013 euronews
Every Victory Day, the day Russians celebrate the defeat of Nazism, is not only another defining moment to commemorate the millions of WWII victims and to lay wreaths to the war monuments, scattered all over Europe, vast territory of the former Soviet Union. It is also a time, at which we draw the lessons from the past and try to put a full stop in the decades-long debate on who was on the right side of history and who was on the wrong. And, respectfully, who owes whom (and what, if anything) to finally settle the score and the bills of history.The history of the Second World War still hurts. It explodes in many ways – by creating new dangerous, divisive myths in the relationship between neighbors and reproducing old hatreds in modern societies. Each region of the world has its own set of explosive devices, inherited from the bloodiest war in human history. Therefore, let us roughly identify them as “West European”, “post-Soviet” and Asia-Pacific”.As for Western Europe, Germany, which unequivocally denounced fascism in 1945, is again in the news (don’t get surprised). This time it is over the reincarnation of Aryan supremacy ideas, promoted by the ideologists of the Third Reich and these days manifested by the young followers of classical WWII Nazi, trying to fit into the present-day reality of pacifist Germany.It is highly symbolic, that this year the Victory Day anniversary coincided with the opening of the trial in Munich of a group of ultra-right wing thugs calling themselves the National Socialist Underground (NSU) accused of a hate crime killing spree. The chief defendant, is 38-old Beate Zschape and is one of three charged with the murder of eight ethnic Turks, a Greek immigrant and a German policewoman between 2000 and 2007. It is reported the NSU’s accidental discovery in November 2011 has already forced Germany to reassess the lessons the country has learnt from her Nazi past.However, when it comes to Western Europe the problem of neo-Nazi is not restricted to Germany. It is an open secret that ultra-right forces are on the rise, with their popularity growing, allowing them to contest seats in local and European parliament elections. As during the Second World War there is a high temptation to pin the entire gamut of problems, related to looming economic crisis and eroding European identity on outsiders – immigrants from the troubled Eastern world, “people with dark skin”, “second rate humans.” So, this is a WWII time bomb which is ticking in modern Europe.Meantime, former Soviet countries have to defuse its own explosive devices of the war history. It is not only about annual Waffen-SS veterans marches through Riga the capital of EU member Latvia. After the disintegration of the Soviet Union – the country which once crushed fascism, it turned out that the Great Victory cements newly-independent states no more. Some of the former Soviet republics in their new search for self-identity proved to be the countries with an unpredictable past. Moreover, by depriving their nations of the right to celebrate the victory over fascism, local ruling elites are trying to lay the foundation for new “post-Soviet patriotism”.No surprise, that the mayor of Ukrainian city of Lviv Andrei Sadovy called V-Day a tragedy to commemorate “the victims of Nazi and communist terror”, thus, equalizing the two confronting forces of WWII. It is reported that this year there will be no celebrations in Lviv – one of the most beautiful East European cities. So, this is another mine of history, laid under the foundation of Russian-Ukrainian relations. And I don’t think that anybody has forgotten about a tragedy of Katyn involving Poles, Germans and Soviets, with emotions running and disagreements flaring up again.And finally, the mines of WWII are ticking in the Far East far beyond Russia’s borders. As Japanese politicians are visiting the Yasukuni temple – a controversial Tokyo shrine to commemorate millions of soldiers killed in Japanese wars, Japan’s neighbors – China and South Korea warn of the possible revival of a new Japanese nationalism. This year 168 Japanese ruling and opposition party lawmakers paid tribute at the shrine – it was the largest group of politicians ever to visit the Yasukuni temple. No surprise, that Beijing and Seoul protested, with China’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying saying that Japan’s actions “merit vigilance by its Asian neighbors and the international community.”In its clouded relations with South Korea Japan has not yet settled the problem of the compensation for the Korean women, used for Japanese WWII brothels as sex slaves.An in addition to that, Tokyo is still in disagreement with Moscow over Peace Treaty, which is still not signed due to the disagreement over the Kuril Islands.This is another mine of WWII history – this time on the Pacific shore, thousands of miles away from Moscow and Berlin. So it is high time to de-mine the history the way the emergency services in Russia, acting with extreme caution, de-mine corroded WWII bombs and shells, still found during excavation works – sinister parcels from the past.Looking around at the present day war and peace situation one feels an urgent necessity to de-mine the last war’s mines and to be watchful about the new ones being daily planted all around the world right now. …
China-Russia: a special relationship 22/03/2013 18:24 CET
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Russian President Vladimir Putin and Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met on Monday for the first time in 10 years to revive talks on their longstanding territorial dispute.
The two leaders discussed the spat over four Pacific islands, which prevented the two countries signing a peace treaty at the end of World War Two.
At a press conference in the Kremlin, the Japanese prime minister said:
“This time President Putin and I confirmed our understanding that it’s an abnormal situation when 67 years have gone by after the end of the war between Japan and Russia and no peace agreement has been concluded.”
But the thorny issue of the islands must first be settled, which both Putin and Abe admitted would not be solved overnight.
The islands were seized by the Soviet Union after declaring war on Japan in 1945, just days before Japan surrendered.
China’s growing regional influence has made both countries wary and they are keen to bolster ties between Tokyo and Moscow.
Copyright © 2013 euronews
“The heads of the two nations have expressed their resolution to overcome the existing differences in the parties’ positions and to sign the peace treaty by finally solving the question in a mutually acceptable form,” reads a joint statement after a meeting between the two men.The statement also describes as “not normal” the situation in which the two neighboring nations cannot sign a peace treaty 67 years after the end of the war.However, the Russian President said in an answer to a reporter’s question that the resumption of talks did not mean that all problems will be resolved on the next day. He also added that development of economic ties would be the best support for the diplomatic dialogue.“It was not us who created this problem. We inherited it from the past. And we sincerely want to solve it in conditions that are mutually acceptable for both sides,” Putin said.Shinzo Abe’s visit to Russia is the first by a Japanese leader in 10 years, the same time since Russia and Japan suspended talks over the peace treaty.Putin and Abe agreed to promote the peace treaty talks on the basis of all previously approved documents and agreements.The Japanese PM said he invited Vladimir Putin to visit Japan in 2014 and that the Russian leader thanked him for the invitation.Since the end of the WWII Russia and Japan have coexisted peacefully, and investment and trade between the countries is constantly developing. However, diplomatic relations are tense as Japan refuses to sign a peace treaty with Russia claiming that there is an unresolved territorial issue – the row over several small islands known as South Kuriles in Russia and as the Northern Territories in Japan.Because of loose definitions in the international treaties signed at the end of the war ,Tokyo demands the return of the islands that were captured by Soviet troops in 1945. Russia insists the islands became a part of the USSR after the war and therefore Russian sovereignty over this territory cannot be revised.Immediately before Shinzo Abe’s visit to Moscow the Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement urging a ‘calm and respectful atmosphere’ in looking for a solution.In recent years the island row has led to several incidents between Russia and Japan. After the most recent, the Japanese Foreign Ministry summoned the Russian Ambassador to protest Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev’s visit to the Kuriles in 2012. Russia replied that Japan had no right to advise a top official on the choice of destination as he travels in his country’s own territory. …
Once it happens the question will be what is the EU for? The member of the European Parliament thinks he knows the answer.RT: The European Parliament is now discussing an anti-crisis plan, which has already been used for Cyprus. They are to decide whether or not to use it in other European economies. Should other countries be worried?Nigel Farage: Investors should be worried all over. I’ve been pondering for years what would happen when Spain finally went bankrupt. How would they possibly deal with the sheer scale of the bailout that would be needed, which perhaps would be 5-6 billion euros? How could this happen without huge American support and global help. What Cyprus has done is given us a template of what they will do in the future. They will bail out the countries by stealing investors’ money, by taxing people on their properties, by forcing central banks into selling their holdings of gold. This is a truly astonishing situation and I must say I found it amusing to see Prime Minister Medvedev teasing the EU and say that this is what happened in the worst days of the Soviet Union. And I now believe that what is happening in the name of holding together the eurozone is effectively the new communism.RT: If the plan is given the green light will people accept it?NF: In a sense they may not have much choice. If their money is on bank accounts and literally that money is stolen from them without them having to give their consent then it’s difficult to say what they can do. If people are asked to pay excessive taxes on the value of their properties again they can refuse to pay, I suppose, but then they’ll face court and potentially prison. So my advice to people is if you have property and money in bank accounts in the eurozone get your money out before they come after you, because it’s perfectly clear that is their plan heading on from here.RT: Would dissolving the Troika fix the problem in your opinion?NF: It’s quite right that there should be criticism of the Troika. It’s quite extraordinary that in all these troubled countries of the eurozone they’ve effectively given up parliamentary democracy and handed it over to a very arrogant Troika. But it’s all well and good for the members of the European Parliament to criticize the Troika, but one power that this parliament has is the ability to call the European Commission to account. They are able to call them to a chamber and to have a confidence debate on their actions. And given that they make up one third of the Troika, rather than hot air from parliamentary colleagues, I would much rather see them supporting my plan, which is to get the European commission next month in this building [the European Parliament], and let’s have an confidence debate on the way they’ve behaved as part of the Troika.RT: Some members of the European Parliament suggest that the North and the South of Cyprus unite to improve investment climate on the island. Do you think this could help?NF: I think the prospect of reconciliation between the two parts of Cyprus is very long way away. I don’t think that’s realistic. I also don’t think the EU is capable of brokering this deal. Even if it is, even if it did do so that is not going to solve the eurozone crisis. The simple fact is that Cyrus or any other Mediterranean country should never have joined the Eurozone. There were some of us in this building warning at the time that it wouldn’t do. We’ve now split Europe north to south in the most awful way. And it’s perfectly clear that the Troika and the institutions of the European Union will use every power necessary to try to keep this failure together.RT: There also an offer to create in the European Parliament an investigating committee on the Cyprus crisis. Could it help?NF: No, that’s absolutely a waste of time. The European Parliament wants to exert its power. The EU parliament really feels that the Troika has behaved badly and that effective theft of money from people’s bank accounts shouldn’t have happened. It should use the one power that the European treaties give – it should call the European Commission to account. But they lack the courage to do the one thing they could do.RT: Do you think the current economic crisis in the eurozone could lead to the split of the EU?NF: Ultimately yes. There is absolutely no way that the eurozone could last forever. They may keep it going for a few more years by invoking even more extreme measures. But ultimately the eurozone is going to break up. It may be the economics, civil disobedience or violence on a large scale that eventually get some of the Mediterranean countries out. And after that the big question will be what is the EU for? I think the alternative model is Europe based on cooperation, trade, nation state democracy. I think that vision is one that can only grow in support as years go by. …