Archive for October, 2011


Former tennis star Marat Safin will run for the Duma

Former world number one and double grand slam title winner Marat Safin is the latest Russian tennis player to confirm he intends to run for his country’s parliament.

Safin, the 2000 US Open winner and 2005 Australian Open champion, said he was serious about his political ambitions.

“I am running for Federal Parliament in Russia,” Safin told the ATP Champions Tour website.

“The elections are on December 4th so I will find out soon. It’s a new challenge. I think I am an intelligent guy and I have a lot to bring and a lot of ideas about things and what to do. I am very committed to it.”

Safin added: “I could be the best looking guy in the Duma, but that’s only because all the other guys are over 60.”

The 31-year-old Safin is the second Russian tennis star to target a seat in the Duma following 2007 US Open women’s semi-finalist Anna Chakvetadze announcement in September that she was to stand for the Right Cause party.

The 24-year-old, formerly ranked in the top five in the world, has not played since Wimbledon in June because of poor health.

Chakvetadze said she wanted to “try something new” and focus on women’s rights and children’s sports.

“I joined the Right Cause Party because it’s a young party,” she said.

“All of its members are young people, who have many fresh ideas. I believe I also can bring some fresh ideas into this project.

“I’d like to be involved in deciding the questions concerning the sports sphere in case we manage to enter the State Duma.”


Hockey: Gennady Timchenko’s raising expectations for SKA fans

Finnish businessman and new chairman of the Saint-Petersburg hockey team SKA, Gennady Timchenko,has raised high expectations among SKA fans. For the Geneva based oil trader, his team has to win the Russian hockey championship (KHL).

Gennady Timchenko is a successful businessman who is using the same managing methods when it comes to professional sport: get the most out of his team and expect perfection to reach his goals. The type of pep talk SKA fans love!

SKA objectives for the 2011-2012 KHL season are “to reach the final and bring the Gagarin Cup to Saint Petersburg”, GennadyTimchenko announced while hosting the team presentation earlier this month. The SKA 2011-2012 squad indeed seems built to bring the trophy back to Saint-Petersburg.

One of the first decision of Gennady Timchenko as chairman of the team, was to appoint a new head coach… and he took the best, Milos Riha who was last year awarded as “Best coach” of the league. A world-class coach is certainly a good start when you’re to build a championship team.

But a coach is not a whole team, and if the SKA roster was already filled with competitive players (Nabokov, Vishnevsky, Afinogenov,…) Gennady Timchenko chose to recruit talented and experienced players such as defenders Kirill Koltsov and Dmitry Kalinin from SalavatYulaev, Yuri Aleksandrov from Providence Bruins or Igor Makarov from the Chicago Balckhawks.

As the new season started on September 12, SKA seems more ready than ever to reach the European Hockey “Holy Grail” and win the KHL trophy. Fans are waiting for no less than a title from this experienced and talented squad.

After nine games, SKA is currently ranked fifth of the League with a game less (and potentially leading the league). Play-offs qualification should not be an issue for this team which was already awarded with the “Best Goaltender” for September. JakubStepanek only allowed 7 goals in five games!


Putin : rationing could come back “in a blink of an eye”

Russia’s economic growth is not granted and the situation could easily get back where it was at the end of the Soviet era according to Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. He warned on Monday that political steps in the wrong direction could throw Russia back to the volatile 1980s-1990s.

Putin brushed off criticism of his tandem with President Dmitry Medvedev in an interview with three national TV channels seven weeks before parliamentary elections scheduled for December 4.

“I would caution against saying that things cannot get worse. If we take two or three steps in the wrong direction, everything that happened then [in 1980s-1990s] could return in the blink of an eye,” Putin said.

The prime minister described the situation in Russia at the end of the 1980s as disastrous and cited a popular joke to stress his point.

“For instance: some people invite their friends to come over for a visit. When they arrive, the hosts ask, ‘Would you like to wash your hands with soap?’ They say that they do. The hosts reply, ‘Then you’ll be having your tea without sugar.’ The idea is that one could not afford to have both. People could only get the essentials – basic food products. There was rationing for everything, to say nothing of the monopoly in ideology and politics,” Putin said.

In Putin’s opinion, the wrong steps taken by the Russian leadership at the time led to the downfall and collapse of the country and created the circumstances that were behind the country’s dissolution.

“It was in this way that we threw out the baby with the bath water – the dirty water of an inadequate political system and an inefficient economy. We allowed the country to collapse. This was also a time when people said that things could not get any worse,” Putin said.

“But then came the 1990s: a total collapse of the social sphere, when we saw not only single enterprises but entire industries grind to a halt, along with delays in pensions, all kinds of benefits, military pensions and salaries (which were delayed for months), and rampant crime. We truly came close to a civil war. We shed blood in the Caucasus, where we sent air power, heavy equipment and tanks. We are still dealing with the problems that remain there – crime and terrorism – but thank God, the situation has changed.”

Putin said that elements of stability in the political sphere were of vital importance for Russia which has been emerging from a deep political and economic crisis for the last two decades.

Putin and Medvedev have backed one another to switch roles after 2012 presidential elections. Medvedev proposed Putin for president at the United Russia congress in late September, saying he was ready to serve as prime minister in case of Putin’s victory.


Vladimir Putin wants an “Eurasian Schengen” for his next term

The presidential race has started for Russian Prime minister Vladimir Putin. In his first article since he announced he would run in 2012, Putin has outlined a proposal to set up a so-called “Eurasian Union” of former Soviet states that would build on an existing Customs Union with Belarus and Kazakhstan.

Putin, who is expected to become Russia’s next president when elections are held in March, outlined his first foreign policy initiative in an article in Tuesday’s Izvestia newspaper.

The prime minister, who once described the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 as “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century,” denied his project is an attempt to rebuild the old Soviet Union.

The current Customs Union is scheduled to remove all barriers to trade, capital and labor movement between the three countries in 2012. Putin said that Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan were expected to join the new Eurasian Union, which he predicts will become a major global player.