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Posts from the ‘Other Thoughts’ Category

Friendliness and Friendship

“Дружба подобна сокровищнице: из нее невозможно

почерпнуть больше, чем ты в нее вложил.”

Осип Мандельштам

“Friendship is like a treasure trove, you cannot extract

from it more than you have put in.”

Osip Mandelstam

A recent survey in Travel + Leisure magazine placed my hometown, St Petersburg, among the five ‘most unfriendly’ cities in the world, a fact remarked upon by the Economist’s ‘Gulliver’ business travel blog. While Petersburgers like myself might take comfort from the fact that we at least finished two places above Moscow which was last in the list (as well as the fact that there is little shame in appearing in a ‘bottom’ ten alongside destinations like Marseilles, New York City and Cannes) I nevertheless wish to offer a different point of view. Continue reading

Weekly Digest – 5 June 2015

This is what I found interesting in the press this week…

The EMPEA has published its annual LPs investment opportunities perception survey which provides insights into how the industry’s major sources of capital value the risk/reward trade off in emerging markets.

This week, the Rouble weakened further than any other time this year. However, the current volatility of the Russian currency strangely coincided with two media events, both occurring towards the end of the week Continue reading

Weekly Digest – 29 May 2015

I come across a number of interesting articles on a weekly basis, and I would like to start sharing some of them. These articles might provide interesting insight, or an alternative angle to a particular topic or issue. Continue reading

Russia and Europe: shared recovery

A recent article about the renewed sense of enthusiasm towards European economies’ ‘recovery’ caught my attention. The piece in the Economist cautions against excessive optimism despite the improvements in several Eurozone countries, and warns that there is still a long way to go before the green shoots of economic growth start to bear fruit. Europe still has several significant challenges ahead, most notably in the case of Greece and a possible ‘Grexit’ from the Eurozone. Yet no mention is made of Russia, whose trade and financial ties with Europe will prove decisive for both parties. Continue reading

Investing in the Future

Нигде время так не бежит, как в России.

Иван Сергеевич Тургенев. Отцы и дети.

Nowhere does time fly so fast as in Russia

Ivan Turgenev. Fathers and Sons


An article in Vedomosti has contemplated the prospects of Russia’s youth, including their ‘protest potential’, in the current economic climate. The piece observed that some western views cast a gloomy picture over their future direction and question whether the youth will ever rise in revolt. I would argue that Russia’s millennials actually hold a positive attitude towards education, travel and particularly business. Therefore, the country’s future is in good hands, provided that this generation has the right environment in which to thrive.

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50 Years of Spacewalks

Last Wednesday marked a half-century since the first human spacewalk, performed on 18th March 1965 by Soviet cosmonaut Alexei Leonov. As Time pointed out, Leonov came from relatively humble stock. Born in a coal mining region of Siberia and growing up with eight brothers and sisters, his career in space lifted him far beyond these simple origins. Importantly, this came at a time of geopolitical tension, and this remarkable cosmic achievement marked a key milestone for humanity as a whole. Continue reading

“There is no Russia without buckwheat”

“Legend has it that, 1,000 years ago, when Greek monks spread Christianity to Russia, they brought with them more than just the Bible. They brought a grain, a seed, so magical, nutritious and delicious that it struck an instant chord with the Slavic soul – and the Russian stomach. That grain was buckwheat. And because the first people to cultivate it here were Greeks, the Russians called it grechka”


Buckwheat is currently enjoying a revival in Western Europe due to its status as a trendy health food, although it has been a feature of Russian cuisine for centuries. It is such a ubiquitous feature of Russian meals, that when reports began to circulate last December of a low buckwheat crop yield, many Russians began ‘panic buying’ stores of buckwheat. In reality, the shortfall was minor. But the mere suggestion that supplies would be low prompted millions of Russians to rush out and stock up on the staple.

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Lessons from theatre

“Третья способность души после ума и воли — творчество.”

Василий Андреевич Жуковский

“The third ability possessed by the soul after mind and will, is creativity.”

Vasily Zhukovsky, 19th century Russian poet and translator

An interview which recently caught my eye considers the importance of professional cooperation and dialogue between Russia and countries such as Britain, drawing lessons from the world of theatre and drama. The interview with Anna Genina, an accomplished translator of British plays for joint Russo-British theatrical projects, notes the significance of cross-cultural differences in the context of interpersonal communication and translation. Continue reading

Oil prices: drawing tenuous links

It will take time – a considerable amount of time – to objectively reflect on 2014. Much will depend on what happens in 2015 which, as Dengi recently noted, is now a matter of widespread speculation. With this turbulent year drawing to a close, it is worth remembering that it had started out with the Russian 10 year bond trading at an almost all time low, with a yield of under 8%. By the end of the year, the yield has reached the mid teens. Continue Reading

Advantages of the Russian Workplace

Having highlighted before the benefits to investors of thinking beyond more familiar sectors of the Russian economy and looking deeper into Russia’s regions, here I wish to discuss another aspect of the Russian business world which may be less familiar to those abroad, namely workplaces themselves. Two recent reports have shed light on some of the lesser-known assets of the Russian workplace and it is to these that I wish to draw attention. continue reading