Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Gwynne Dyer: Russian pride should not require revisionist history

Here is a quotation taken from a very interesting article dedicated to the problem of writing and publishing a historical textbooks in the Russian Federation.

.....Two weeks ago, a group of politicians and academics met in Moscow’s main library to discuss how to make Russians proud of their history. The answer? Get an upbeat history book into the schools. “(The book) should not be a dreary look at or apology for what was done,” explained Prof. Leonid Polyakov of the Higher School of Economics.
The politicians were from Vladimir Putin’s United Russia Party, and they wanted the academics to come up with a single history textbook for use in all Russian schools. It should downplay the crimes and failures of 74 years of Communist rule—the purges, the mass deportations, the famines, the gulags—and concentrate on the glorious epic of the Soviet victory in the Second World War. Which means they must rehabilitate Stalin.
Rewriting the history books is not a Russian monopoly. The Texas Board of Education recently caused a great furor by deciding that its history textbooks should show that the founding fathers of the United States, and the authors of its constitution, intended America to be a Christian nation, not a country committed to the separation of church and state. Even that is an easier job than making Stalin look good, but it can be done.....

The whole article is available at

Monday, June 28, 2010

Ukraine plans to have fully professional army by 2015

Ukraine must have a fully professional army by 2015, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry said on Thursday, according to RIA Novosti. "We are planning to complete by 2015 the full transition of the Ukrainian military forces from a mixed recruiting system to a new model based solely on contracted service," the ministry quoted head of the personnel policy department Maj. Gen. Serhiy Kropyvchenko as saying. Ukraine has long been making plans for a transition to a fully professional army, but low defense budgets (currently only 1% of GDP) have hampered the process. At present, over 52% of the military personnel in the country`s 200,000-man Armed Forces are professional soldiers. Under former president Viktor Yushchenko Ukraine sought close relations with NATO. To this end, the country cooperated in a combined peacekeeping operation with its neighbor Poland in Kosovo. Ukrainian soldiers also serve under NATO command in Iraq, Afghanistan and in Operation Active Endeavour in the Mediterranean. However, Viktor Yanukovych, who became Ukrainian president in February, has made it clear he intends to drop his predecessor's plans to seek NATO membership and said his country would pursue non-bloc policy in the future.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

New generation nuclear submarine successfully launched in Russia

Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev traveled to the northwest of the country on Tuesday to join in the launch of a new generation nuclear submarine. The ceremony of launching the submarine of the fourth generation “Severodvinsk” has been held at the Sevmash defense shipyard.
The construction of this submarine began in 1993, but due to the financial setbacks that Russia experienced in the late 1990s, the project was deferred. The submarine was completed just recently. The Severodvinsk general-purpose submarine is unique, and there are plans to build six more similar submarines in Russia. At the launch ceremony, Dmitry Medvedev said that this is only the first step in the modernization process of the Russian Navy.

To see President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev delivering a speech in the northern Russian town of Severomorsk on June 15, 2010 at the "Sevmash" shipyard click at

Friday, June 25, 2010

Holiday of Halushky in Poltava

Last weekend Poltava celebrated its own unique holiday, The Holiday of Halushky. Halushky, Ukrainian folk meal, are a traditional variety of thick, soft noodles or dumplings irregular in shape. They are made with wheat flour and/or potatoes. During the holiday that took place on the main pedestrian street of the city, many local inhabitants and guests were treated to these old and very varied meals.
It is worthy of mention that the holiday have taken place near the only one in Ukraine Monument to Halushky shown on the photo.
For those of Blogg's readers who probably would like to cook halushky at home I can recommend following link:

Video is available at

Thursday, June 24, 2010

In Sevastopol, Russian-Ukrainian naval exercise enters active phase

The “Fairway of Peace – 2010” Russian-Ukrainian naval exercise has entered the active phase in Sevastopol, - the Russian Black Sea Fleet’s base. The exercise is held for the first time since 2006, when the then Ukrainian President Victor Yushchenko banned the two countries’ joint naval manoeuvres.
Because of the long break, the exercise is held in the form of a virtual simulation at Ukraine’s Pavel Nakhimov Naval Academy. In the framework of the exercise the seamen are drilled in carrying out rescue operations at sea, including rescuing a submarine in distress.
The exercise is due until this Thursday. Russia’s Defence Minister Anatoly Serdiukov and his Ukrainian counterpart Mikhail Yezhel are due to arrive in Sevastopol to attend the exercise.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Grandfather of the modern rocket artillery was born not far from Poltava.

Alexander Zasyadko (1779 - 1837), was a Russian-Ukrainian gunner and specialist in rocketry, Lieutenant General (1829). He was born in a small village of Lyutenka about 70 km. north from Poltava. In 1797, Zasyadko graduated from the Artillery and Engineering School in Saint Petersburg (currently Mozhaysky Military Engineering-Space University). In 1799, he participated in the Italian campaign of the Russian army under the command of Aleksandr Suvorov, Russo-Turkish War of 1806-1812 and Russian-French of 1812. In 1815, Zasyadko began his work on creating military gunpowder rockets (see photo).
He constructed rocket-launching platforms, which allowed to fire in salvos (6 rockets at a time), and gun-laying devices. Zasyadko elaborated a tactics for military use of rocket weaponry. In 1820, Zasyadko was appointed head of the Petersburg Armory, Okhtensky Powder Factory, pyrotechnic laboratory and the first Higher Artillery School in Russia. In 1827, Zasyadko was in charge of Artillery Headquarters of the Russian army and took part in the Russo-Turkish War of 1828-1829. His rockets were broadly used during the laying in siege and taking the fortress of Brailov (close to the present day Vinnytsya, Ukraine) in 1828 (see photo).

He organized rocket production in a special rocket workshop and created the first rocket sub-unit in the Russian army. In 1834, Zasyadko retired due to his illness. He died on May 27, 1837 in Kharkiv. The crater Zasyadko on the far side of the Moon is named after him. In Poltava Museum of the Aviation and Space there is a special exposition dedicated to this gifted engineer and gunner.

Monday, June 21, 2010

A valuable replenishment for the Ryttmästarbostället museum in Skövde.

Two valuable exhibits were purchased by Bernhard Englund for his Ryttmästarbostället museum in Skövde. http://www.ryttmastarbostallet.nu/
They are Charles XII’s writing-desk and Gustaf III’s play-wagon.

Another test flight of the Russian stealth fighter.

Jun 18, 2010 (The voice of Russia). Russia’s fifth generation fighter jet T-50, also known as the Russian stealth fighter, has made another test flight at the aircraft industry centre in the city of Zhukovsky outside Moscow. Sukhoi T-50 is a monoplane with far apart engines and two fins which are strongly deviated from the axial axis. The Russian fighter jet is up to par with and even surpasses the American jets of the same class, such as F-22 Raptor and F-35, especially in maneuverability. The T-50 fighter jet can hardly be detected by radars, and it is also impossible to locate by its heat emissions. This has been achieved by using composite materials and special coating, and a special design of the plane and measures aimed at lowering the jet’s visibility at various frequencies. When T-50 made its maiden flight in January, foreign military experts said that the U.S. monopoly on stealth was over
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin arrived in Zhukovsky to watch the T-50 test flight. T-50 fighter jet will complete its test programme by 2015, says the head of the Sukhoi Company, Mikhail Pogosyan. “I believe that experience gained by the company in developing the Su-30 and Su-35 fighter jets will be a good basis for promoting the programme successfully,” Mikhail Pogosyan said.
Video is available at

Jun 19, 2010 (TyphoonUSSR) - Russia's fifth generation fighter will be about three times as cheap as its foreign analog, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said on Thursday. He observed the test flight of a prototype fighter and later talked to the pilot, Sergei Bogdan. "It will be a machine superior to our main competitor, the F-22, in maneuverability, armament and range," Putin said.
"Also in morale," the pilot added.
"Above all else," Putin said smiling.
Bogdan said it was the fighter's 16th test flight and more would follow shortly.
The prime minister said 30 billion rubles (around $1 billion) had already been spent on the project and another 30 billion would be required to complete it, after which the engine, weaponry and other components would be upgraded. He said, factoring in modernization and upgrades, the fighter will have a service life of 30-35 years. Russia's only known fifth-generation project is Sukhoi's PAK FA and the current prototype is the T-50. It is designed to compete with the U.S. F-22 Raptor, so far the world's only fifth-generation fighter, and the F-35 Lightning II. Russia has been developing its newest fighter since the 1990s. The country's top military officials earlier said the stealth fighter jet with a range of up to 5,500 km would enter service with the Air Force in 2015. The PAK FA is to be armed with next-generation air-to-air, air-to-surface, and air-to-ship missiles, and has two 30-mm cannons.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Tymoshenko is sorry: she was “incorrigible romantic” towards Yushchenko

Former Ukrainian PM and BYUT leader Yulia Tymoshenko is sorry that she was “an incorrigible romantic” towards ex-President of Ukraine Victor Yushchenko. According to an UNIAN correspondent, the BYUT leader said this at the news conference in Khmelnytskyi.
“I am sorry about being an incorrigible romantic having initiated the meeting with Victor Yushchenko after the presidential election. I hoped to come to an agreement with him on cooperation and he just nodded. The next day mass media reported that I was “main mistake” of V. Yushchenko”, said Yulia Tymoshenko. She added that V. Yushchenko’s epoch is over; at the same time she noted that no President had as many chances to develop Ukraine as V. Yushchenko did.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Trials of the Oplot Tank Have Been Completed

12.05.2009 Kharkiv, Ukraine. In April 2009, the Ukrainian Army experts have completed the state trials of the improved version of the Oplot main battle tank. The trials were conducted on the proving ground of the State-Owned Enterprise Kharkiv Morozov Machine Building Design Bureau during several months and consisted in comprehensive testing of the firepower, mobility, protection and economy of operation of the tank. The main difference between the improved variant of the Oplot MBT and its basic variant consists in its being fitted with the following units and systems:

1. commander's combined panoramic sight with independent day and thermal channels, which make it possible to accurately fire the remote-controlled anti-aircraft machine gun at air targets at elevation angles of up to +60°;

2. separate (independent from the gunner) thermal imager and laser range-finder for the commander;

3. Nozh-2 new-generation built-in explosive reactive armour, which is capable of defeating tandem-warhead hollow-charge ammunition;

4. new radio equipment;

5. complex movement control system, which provides automatic gear shifting and smooth turning during tank movement;

6. upgraded digital instrumentation panel for the driver;

7. improved steering wheel;

8. more environment-friendly 6TD-2E diesel engine developing 1200 hp;

9. more powerful auxiliary power unit (10 kW instead of 8 kW) .

At the present time, the Oplot MBT is being prepared for entering series production at the State Enterprise Malyshev Plant in Kharkiv.


Video is available at


Saturday, June 12, 2010

The monument to Katyusha multiple rocket launcher near Poltava

Katyusha multiple rocket launchers are a type of rocket artillery first built and fielded by the Soviet Union in World War II (see pictures above). Compared to other artillery, these multiple rocket launchers deliver a devastating amount of explosives to an area target quickly, but with lower accuracy and requiring a longer time to reload. They are fragile compared to artillery guns, but inexpensive and easy to produce. Katyushas of World War II, the first self-propelled artillery mass-produced by the Soviet Union, were usually mounted on trucks. This mobility gave Katyushas another advantage: being able to deliver a large blow all at once, and then move before being located and attacked with counter-battery fire.
The multiple rocket launchers were top secret in the beginning of World War II. A special unit of the NKVD secret police was raised to operate them. On July 7, 1941, an experimental artillery battery of seven launchers was first used in battle at Orsha in Belarus, under the command of Captain Ivan Flyorov, destroying a station with several supply trains, and causing massive German Army casualties. Following the success, the Red Army organized new Guards Mortar batteries for the support of infantry divisions. A battery's complement was standardized at four launchers. They remained under NKVD control until German Nebelwerfer rocket launchers became common later in the war.
On September 25, 1941 they were first used on the territory of the present day Ukraine. There is a monument dedicated to Katusha in the village of Dykanka (35 km. north from Poltava) shown on the picture below. The success and economy of multiple rocket launchers (MRL) have led them to continue to be developed. During the Cold War, the Soviet Union fielded several models of Katyushas, notably the BM-21 launchers fitting the stereotypical Katyusha mould, and the larger BM-27. Advances in artillery munitions have been applied to some Katyusha-type multiple launch rocket systems, including bomblet submunitions, remotely-deployed land mines, and chemical warheads.
See video at
Read more about Katusha at

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Pivotal World War II meeting caught in stone

Newton, Iowa. - The sculptor Vladyslav Dymion has spent the last few weeks crouching over a 3-ton slab of limestone in a warehouse here on the town's west side. With a towel draped over his hair and a surgical mask strapped around his mouth and nose, he chisels away at a monument dedicated to the American and Soviet armies who met in Germany, signaling the end of World War II. He works long days and often well into the evening, pushing to meet a double deadline: Saturday, when the Iowa Sculpture Festival opens a few blocks away at Iowa Telecom's Innovation Center, and Monday, when his visa expires, forcing him to return to his native Ukraine.
He took a break last week to explain, through a translator, some of the elements of the design: the grooved waves of a river, the rough arches of a bridge and two giant hands, locked in a handshake. Together, the symbols commemorate the events of April 25, 1945, when "an American infantry officer and a Russian private squirmed across a girder of a blown bridge in the Elbe river" in Germany, according to an account two days later in the Newton Daily News. The two men "pounded each other on the back and shook hands to seal a historic meeting of Gen. (Courtney) Hodges' First army with Marshal Ivan S. Konev's First Ukrainian army group . . . The union of the two great armies climaxed sensational drives from the west and east and ended intense suspense along the front over which unit would be the first to make the junction."
The meetings at the Elbe and several other locations in Germany stitched up the last pockets of Nazi-controlled territory. Soldiers from Iowa, including Hubert Porter of Atlantic, were among the troops that led the way. "The war was over, that was the important thing," recalled Porter, who was 21 at the time. "We were done fighting. We cared about nothing else." He remembers walking across the remnants of the bombed-out bridge - "you kind of had to hang on" - and meeting the soldiers from Ukraine. There were language barriers, but they got along just fine. "All they had was plenty of vodka, and they could drink it by the water-glassful, holy mackerel. They'd give some to us, and we couldn't keep up," he said. http://www.desmoinesregister.com/article/20100608/ENT01/6080328/-1/FAMOUSIOWANS/Pivotal-World-War-II-meeting-caught-in-stone

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Four Russian soldiers have been detained on suspicion of stealing credit cards from the crash site of the Polish presidential plane in Smolensk

Polish officials said Monday that four Russian soldiers have been detained on suspicion of stealing credit cards from the crash site of the Polish presidential plane in Smolensk and have details about how the perpetrators repeatedly tried to withdraw cash from Smolensk bank machines. “I can confirm that we have been informed that four soldiers from the units that secured the crash area were detained,” said a spokeswoman for Polish Internal Security Agency, Reuters reported. Polish government spokesman Pawel Gras, who first spoke about the missing credit cards Sunday, confirmed Monday that the suspects were four soldiers and said he had been mistaken in initially identifying them as three OMON riot police officers. He spoke at a news conference in Warsaw. In Moscow, Defense Ministry spokesman Alexei Kuznetsov said he was “not ready to comment” because the information “should be verified,” Bloomberg reported. A credit card belonging to Andrzej Przewoznik, a 46-year-old historian, was used for three days after he died in the crash on April 10, Monika Lewandowska, a spokeswoman for Warsaw prosecutors, told The Associated Press. There were 11 withdrawals from his credit card, and the first occurred just hours after the crash, Lewandowska said, adding that an ATM in Smolensk was used to obtain the equivalent of 6,000 Polish zlotys ($1,728) from the card. Another card belonging to Przewoznik also went missing, and someone tried to withdraw cash from it six times but failed, Lewandowska said. The Polish Embassy in Moscow declined to comment Monday.Responding to initial reports implicating the police in wrongdoing, the Interior Ministry issued a statement calling the Polish claims “sacrilegious” and “cynical” and noting that four Smolensk policemen involved in the crash investigation and cleanup were awarded medals by acting Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski on May 8. Smolensk police said they had not been notified by Polish officials about any credit card thefts. Przewoznik, head of the Council for the Protection of Struggle and Martyrdom Sites, died in the crash that also killed Polish President Lech Kaczynski and 94 other people as their plane tried to land in foggy weather. Credit cards belonging to Aleksandra Natalli-Swiat, deputy head of the Law and Justice political party, also went missing in the crash, but no transactions have been reported on them.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Lightning stroke into the premises of the Verkhovna Rada (Supreme Soviet) of Ukraine

Lightning stroke into the premises of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine when lawmakers were considering the draft law on home and foreign policy. According to correspondent of e-newspaper Ukrainska Pravda, the lightning stroke into a spire at the Verkhovna Rada dome. As a result the Verkhovna Rada session hall was cut off from electricity supply. The electronic board was not affected. In some seconds the light was resumed.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Secretary General of the Council of Europe is not allowed in the toilet because of Yanukovych

The guards of President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych in Strasbourg, where he was on April 27 with a one-day working visit, became the heroes curious case. According to the “Ukrainian Truth”, the guards were not allowed in the toilet Secretary General of the Council of Europe.
Before entering the restaurant of the Council of Europe, as the newspaper writes, Yanukovych decided to go to the bathroom to wash his hands. It was a public restroom. But Yanukovych’s guards closed the entrance with their bodies in the room and not let anyone inside.
All of a sudden came up to them exquisitely dressed men and demanded that he be given access to toilet facilities.
- No!, - Said the one guard Yanukovych.
Shaken by a European standing and did not understand what was happening.
- I - Secretary General! - He said Ukrainian bodigardam guarding the entrance to the toilet.
- No! - Once again answered the guard does not have high level of knowledge of English.
It turned out that to get to the toilet trying to CoE Secretary General Torbyorn Jagland, who, in fact, invited Mr. Yanukovich to lunch. Only the third attempt bodigard missed it to the washbasin.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Mine cleaning operation in the Inkerman suburb of Sevastopol is under progress

An unexampled mine cleaning operation has started in Sevastopol suburb Inkerman famous first of all by its wine-cellars.

Such unique operation has not been carried out before. The main ammunition depot is located on the depth of about 30 meters in adits dug out in the time of WWI and then blown up soon after the beginning of WWII . Many experienced mine-rescue crews are engaged in lifting highly explosive shells on the surface.

Soon after the beginning of German invasion Inkerman adits were turned into the real underground city with military plants, hospitals, schools, kindergartens and of course huge ammunition depot. Almost all shells including shells of unknown system are in the perfect shape despite the fact that they have been remained in the ground for many decades. During all these years local inhabitants were living literally on the powder barrel. Experts from the Ukrainian Ministry for Civil Defence, Emergencies and Elimination of Consequences of Natural Disasters estimate the total weight of explosive materials at a few hundred tons. It will take about 500 freight cars to remove this extremely dangerous cargo from the Inkerman suburb that attracts thousands tourists from all over the world.
Local authorities are concerned about numerous bore pits dug out by so-called black archeologists who search for nonferrous metal and whom carelessness could cause unpredictable consequences.
Each day only about ten shells are demined. Mostly they are those that were scattered around by monstrous power air-blast when Sevastopol defenders have been setting off bombs in their underground city before to leave it on July 4, 1942. An access to the main depot is still blocked by numerous obstructions. Many hold that this mine cleaning operation will last years.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Ukraine leader wants quicker pace towards Europe

May 28, 2010 KIEV (Reuters). Ukraine's president, after a series of moves strengthening ties with Russia, sought to balance his foreign policy on Friday, saying preparations for an association agreement with the European Union had to be accelerated.
An association agreement, which includes a free trade pact, has been under discussion for several years between Brussels and Kiev. Eyeing a summit meeting in mid-October, President Viktor Yanukovich said preparations had to be stepped up for signing an agreement. "It is extremely necessary for us that the country sees prospects here. Since European integration remains one of the priority directions for our external policy, we have to map out effective measures today," he told aides, according to Interfax news agency. Yanukovich also said work had to be intensified to secure visa-free travel between Ukraine and the EU bloc. Brussels agreed this was a realistic target for Ukraine "but we will still have to do a lot to get a visa-free regime," Yanukovich said.
At present, EU citizens do not require a visa to travel to Ukraine. But Ukrainian citizens are required by Western Europe to have a visa and provide guarantees that they will not stay to work in the country they visit. After coming to power in late February, Yanukovich made his first foreign trip to Brussels where he met top EU officials. He said then that taking Ukraine into the European mainstream remained his key foreign policy objective. But he has since also moved quickly to improve poor relations with Russia with a series of steps including extending the Russian navy's stay in a Ukrainian port until the middle of the century in exchange for cheaper gas.