Friday, March 12, 2010
If Soviet Roulette has a competitor, it’s surely the Moscow Times. Up until this point, Soviet Roulette has responded to its opponent with a dignified silence. More than that, this blog has remained blissfully unaware of the Moscow Times’ audience, subject matter, and editorial policy. In fact, it is no exaggeration to say that we’ve never read a single issue until today. We knew the small paper had a website, www.themoscowtimes.com, and was established in 1992, but little else. Even so, in this era of niche marketing, we can remain silent no longer about a rival entity that has recently become the first Russian newspaper to become available on Kindle.
The issue we’ve look at appeared on 2 February 2010. It focused on business news, and was apparently designed to appeal to North Americans and Europeans were in Russia to do business. Since Russian business is almost synonymous with oil, the paper’s journalists and editorialists wrote about Gazprom, which has a monopoly or gas exports to the tune of about $16 billion a business quarter, rising oil price, and a new oil partnership with Venezuela.
Aside from oil, the paper looked at nuclear talks with the United States, tensions with Georgia over satellites and breakaway S. Ossetia, the phenomenal success of MacDonald’s in Russia, the 8 percent GDP contraction, Ukrainian elections, NATO in Afghanistan, efforts to avoid layoffs in the domestic car industry, allegations of police corruption, the kidnapping of the son of an important businessman, the allegedly flawed logic behind attempts to revive the cult of Yeltsin and liberal economist, Gaidar, and the battle between Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov and the neighborhood of Rechnik, which stands to be leveled in a redevelopment scheme.
Most interestingly, Moscow Times hosts a number of different advertisements for Moscow expatriate communities. If you’re stuck in Moscow for business, you can choose between groups for newcomers, alumni, Democrats Abroad, entrepreneurs, speed daters, Nigerians, people are practicing their Russian language skills, etc. The real estate ads are interesting too, in that you have the opportunity select Stalin-era apartments or even “pre-revolutionary ones” according to either your politics or aesthetic predilections, whichever matters most to you. Moscow Times also helps expatriates or perhaps tourists to find the best in Russian high culture via Dostoevsky, and Ostrovsky performance and events at the Bolshoi Theatre.
With grudging respect, Soviet Roulette must conclude this post with the grudging acknowledgement of the usefulness of a column on the “five books to read on Soviet and Russian film.” In Oscar-season parlance, the nominees are: “Kino: A History of the Russian and Soviet Film,” “Sergei Eisenstein: A Biography” by Oksana Bulkakowa, “Early Cinema in Russia and its Cultural Reception,” “Ivan the Terrible” by Yuri Tsivian, and “Tarkovsky: Cinema as Power.”