Friday, October 30, 2009

Russia Culture

Although life in modern Russia allows many more liberties for gays and lesbians, unofficial discrimination and fear are still rampant. "It would be foolish to interpret some new freedoms as tolerance," said Igor Kon, a sociologist who is Russia's best-known expert on sexual practices, and author of The Sexual Revolution in Russia. Gay life in Russian is less open than western countries, while major cities like Moscow and St Petersburg now have LGBT clubs and venues; with more quickly growing acceptance. In 1989, 31 percent of the Russian population said in polls that homosexuals should be executed, and 32 percent said they should be isolated. Only 12 percent said they should be left alone. The figures are shifting slightly, however: in 1994, 23 percent in a poll said homosexuals should be killed, 24 percent said they should be isolated, and 29 percent said they should be left alone. "What everyone here knows -- gay or straight -- is how to have a private life that is different from their public life," said David Tuller, an American journalist and author of Cracks in the Iron Closet: Travels in Gay and Lesbian Russia. "In the West we would call that living a lie," he said. "Here they don't think that way. This is not a talk-show culture. Nobody is ever going to appear on television to talk about wanting to sleep with short men or tall women. They just want to be able to have their lives and not be bothered. Medieval Russia was apparently very tolerant of homosexuality with foreign visitors to the country surprised by displays of affection between homosexuals. The first laws against homosexuals in Russia first appeared in the 18th century, under the reign of Peter the Great, but only in military statutes for soldiers. In 1832, the criminal code that included Article 995, which stated that "muzhelozhstvo" or men lying with men a criminal act punishable by exile to Siberia for up to 5 years. Men lying with men was interpreted by courts as meaning anal sex. Application of the laws was rare, and the turn of the century found a relaxation of these laws and a general growing of tolerance and visibility. Under Stalin, the Soviet Union recriminalized homosexuality in a decree signed in late 1933. The new Article 121, which punished muzhelozhstvo with imprisonment for up to 5 years saw raids and arrests. Nikolai Yezhov, senior figure in the NKVD (Soviet secret police) during 1930s. At his trial he was accused of being gay. Article 121 was often used commonly used to extend prison sentences and to control dissidents. Among those imprisoned were the film director Sergei Paradjanov and the poet Gennady Trifonov. Under Mikhail Gorbachev's administration, the first gay organization came into being. The Moscow Gay & Lesbian Alliance was headed by Yevgeniya Debryanskaya, and Roman Kalinin who became the editor of the first officially registered gay newspaper, Tema. The fall of the USSR accelerated the progress of the gay movement in Russia. Gay publications and plays appeared. In 1993, a new Russian Criminal Code was signed, without Article 121. Men who had been imprisoned began to be released. Modern gay life in Russia is in the process of increasing openness. The first gay oriented businesses appeared including bars, discos, saunas, even a travel agency. Life for gays and lesbians in the provinces remains difficult, but there are gay communities and open gay culture in large cities such as Moscow and St Petersburg. At a press conference on 1 February 2007, Russian President Vladimir Putin was asked for his opinion in the midst of a row over the decision by Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov to ban a Gay pride in Moscow, called Moscow Pride. Vladimir Putin said: "With regards to what the heads of regions say, I normally try not to comment. I don’t think it is my business. My relation to gay parades and sexual minorities in general is simple – it is connected with my official duties and the fact that one of the country’s main problems is demographic. But I respect and will continue to respect personal freedom in all its forms, in all its manifestations.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Russian leaders

An approximately chronological list of leaders of the Soviet Union (heads of the Central Committee of the Communist Party and President of the Soviet Union). The formal structure of power in the Soviet Union consisted of three main branches that gave rise to three top positions. The first position of importance was that of the Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet, informally translated as President of the Soviet Union. Theoretically it was the highest position, since the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union was an interim organ of the Congress of Soviets, the latter being the supreme power of people, according to the Constitution of the Soviet Union. The head of the government was the Premier of the Soviet Union. This was the most important position in Lenin's time. In practice, the leader or G eneral Secretary of the Communist Party used to occupy another position, which led to confusion in the West as to who the number one person in the USSR was: Lenin, Stalin and Malenkov preferred the post of the premier, while Khrushchev, Brezhnev and his successors preferred that of the president (called Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet and changed to President of the Soviet Union in 1990).

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Volga River

The Volga is the longest river in Europe. It belongs to the closed basin of the Caspian Sea. Rising in the Valdai Hills 225 meters (738 ft) above sea level . Volgograd, formerly Stalingrad, is located there.
The Volga has many tributaries, most importantly the Kama, the Oka, the Vetluga, and the Sura rivers. The Volga and its tributaries form the Volga river system, which drains an area of about 1.35 million square kilometres in the most heavily populated part of Russia. The Volga Delta has a length of about 160 kilometres and includes as many as 500 channels and smaller rivers. The largest estuary in Europe, it is the only place in Russia where pelicans, flamingoes, and lotuses may be found. The Volga freezes for most of its length during three months of each year.
The Volga drains most of Western Russia. Its many large reservoirs provide irrigation and hydroelectric power. Waterways connecting Moscow to the White Sea, the Baltic Sea, the Caspian Sea, the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea. High levels of chemical pollution currently give cause for environmental concern.
The fertile river valley provides large quantities of wheat, and also has many mineral riches. A substantial petroleum industry centres on the Volga valley. Other minerals include natural gas, salt, and potash. The Volga Delta and the nearby Caspian Sea offer superb fishing grounds. Astrakhan, at the delta, is the centre of the caviar industry.


Saturday, October 17, 2009

Russia geography

The geography of Russia entails the physical and human geography of Russia, a country extending over much of northern Eurasia. Comprising much of eastern Europe and northern Asia, it is the world's largest country in total area. Due to its size, Russia displays both monotony and diversity. As with its topography, its climates, vegetation, and soils span vast distances. From north to south the East European Plain is clad sequentially in tundra, coniferous forest, mixed and broad-leaf forests, grassland, and semi-desert the as the changes in vegetation reflect the changes in climate. Siberia supports a similar sequence but is taiga. The country contains 40 UNESCO Biosphere reserves. The nation's history began with that of the East Slavs, who emerged as a recognizable group in Europe between the 3rd and 8th centuries AD. Founded and ruled by a noble Viking warrior class and their descendants, the first East Slavic state, Kievan Rus', arose in the 9th century and adopted Christianity from the Byzantine Empire in 988,[16] beginning the synthesis of Byzantine and Slavic cultures that defined Russian culture for the next millennium. Kievan Rus' ultimately disintegrated and the lands were divided into many small feudal states. The most powerful successor state to Kievan Rus' was Moscow, which served as the main force in the Russian reunification process and independence struggle against the Golden Horde. Moscow gradually reunified the surrounding Russian principalities and came to dominate the cultural and political legacy of Kievan Rus'. By the 18th century, the nation had greatly expanded through conquest, annexation, and exploration to become the Russian Empire, which was the third largest empire in history, stretching from Poland to Alaska.

Ural Mountains

The Ural Mountains (also known as the Urals) are a mountain range that runs roughly north-south through western Russia. They are usually considered the natural boundary between Europe and Asia.
In Greco-Roman antiquity, Pliny the Elder thought that the Urals correspond to the Riphean Mountains mentioned by various authors. They are also known as the Great Stone Belt in Russian history and folklore.
The Urals extend 2,498 km from the Kazakh steppes along the northern border of Kazakhstan to the coast of the Arctic ocean. Vaygach Island and the island of Novaya Zemlya form a further continuation of the chain. Geographically this range marks the northern part of the border between the continents of Europe and Asia. Its highest peak is Mount Narodnaya (Poznurr, 1,895 m). Erosion has exposed considerable mineral wealth in the Urals, including gems such as topaz and beryl. The Virgin Komi Forests in the northern Urals are recognized as a World Heritage site. 68% of the Ural Mountains are located in Russia, whilst the remaining 32% are located in Kazakhstan.[1][2] Geographers have divided the Urals into five regions: South, Middle, North, Subarctic and Arctic. The tree line drops from 1,400 metres to sea level as progressing north. Sections of the south and middle regions are completely forested.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Croatia national football team

The Croatia national football team represents the Republic of Croatia in international football. The team is controlled by the Croatian Football Federation, the governing body for football in the country, and has been managed since 2006 by Slaven Bilić. A recognized national team represented the short-lived Banovina of Croatia and Independent State of Croatia in nineteen friendly matches between 1940 and 1944. Although this team was affiliated with FIFA, Croatia remained a constituent federal republic of Yugoslavia during the period and did not field a separate team for competitive matches.
The modern team was formed in 1990, shortly before Croatia's independence from Yugoslavia, and by 1993 had gained membership in FIFA and UEFA. The team first played competitive matches in a successful qualifying campaign for UEFA Euro 96, leading to its first appearance at a major European championship. At Croatia's first FIFA World Cup in 1998 the team finished third and provided the tournament's top scorer, Davor Šuker. Since becoming eligible to participate in 1993, Croatia have qualified for every World Cup (several times without losing a match) and have missed only one European Cup tournament, in 2000.
Most home matches are played at the Maksimir Stadium in Zagreb, though some fixtures take place at the Poljud Stadium in Split or at other, smaller venues, depending on the nature of the match. The team was undefeated in its first 36 home competitive matches, the run ending with a 2008 defeat to England.
With a population of just over 4 million, Croatia is arguably the most successful 'small' country in football. Croatia was named FIFA's "Best Mover of the Year" in 1994 and 1998, becoming the only team to win the award more than once. On admission to FIFA, Croatia was ranked 125th in the world; following the 1998 World Cup campaign, the side ranked third, making it the most volatile team in FIFA Rankings history.


Thursday, October 1, 2009

Plitvice Lakes National Park

Plitvice Lakes National Park lies in the Plitvice plateau which is surrounded by three mountains part of the Dinaric Alps [1]: Plješevica mountain (Gornja Plješevica peak 1,640 m) and the Mala Kapela mountain (Seliški Vrh peak at 1,280 m) and Medveđak (884 m).
The national Park is underlain by karstic rock, mainly dolomite and limestone with associated lakes and caves, this has given rise to the most distinctive feature of the lakes.
The lakes are separated by natural dams of travertine, which is deposited by the action of moss, algae and bacteria. The encrusted plants and bacteria accumulate on top of each other, forming travertine barriers which grow at the rate of about 1 cm per year.
The sixteen lakes are separated into an upper and lower cluster formed by runoff from the mountains, descending from an altitude of 636 m to 503 m over a distance of some eight km, aligned in a south-north direction. The lakes collectively cover an area of about two km², with the water exiting from the lowest lake to form the Korana River.
The lakes are renowned for their distinctive colours, ranging from azure to green, grey or blue. The colours change constantly depending on the quantity of minerals or organisms in the water and the angle of sunlight. cathy