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Thursday, December 23, 2004


MOSCOW, December 23 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's largest oil companies are preparing to fulfill intergovernmental agreements to export 10 million metric tons of oil to China in 2005, Vremya Novostei reported. According to Russian Railways vice president Salman Babayev, in January 2005, LUKoil will export (by railroad) 240,000 metric tons of crude to China, Sibneft will export 30,000 metric tons, and Yukos will export 280,000 metric tons. Indicatively Yukos will maintain its previous oil export level. According to Argus, Tomskneft, a Yukos subsidiary, exported approximately 280,000 metric tons of crude a month to China in November and December. Exporting oil on the railroad is more expensive than through pipelines, which led to problems finding a company to replace Yukos, which cut exports to China in October. Russian Railways president Gennady Fadeev came to the aid of the oil companies and lobbied the Economic Development and Trade Ministry to lower oil export tariffs. However, the government has not lowered the tariffs yet. Nevertheless, LUKoil president Vagit Alekperov and Gennady Fadeev are expected to sign an agreement on oil deliveries to China on December 23. The government began looking for alternative oil suppliers in October 2004. As a result, LUKoil, which had previously said exports to China were economically unviable, announced that it would begin trial exports. The company exported 70,000 metric tons of oil to China in November, and will export 100,000 metric tons in December. Sibneft also started exporting 30,000 metric tons of oil to China a month in November. President Putin said that the China National Petroleum Company could expect to cooperate with Gazprom.


MOSCOW, December 23 (RIA Novosti) - Russian President Putin believes the mass media in Russia are as free as those are in other countries. Responding to the question if there were problems with freedom of speech in Russia and, if they were, where they were gravest - in Moscow or in the provinces, Mr. Putin during the news conference at the Kremlin cited a one-liner from a movie: "A true man should always try and a true lady should always resist." President Putin suggested the media act in line with the above principle: "The authorities have always tried to avoid criticism while the media have always tried to unearth everything they can to draw the authorities' attention to their errors." "We are neither better, nor worse than other countries," Mr. Putin said. He believes that the problem faced by the Russian state lies in the economy, rather than politics. Mr. Putin suggested the government make its work a bit less open for the media. "The government enabled you [reporters] to watch it working as much as you wish. I do not think the decision is all that sound. Working in the limelight is hard enough," he said. "When one faces a camera, one wants to look good, but this distracts one from his or her job. I hope the government will hold some of its weekly meetings in private. This is not because there are some secrets they would like to keep from the public, rather, this is to make the government even more outspoken in their decision-making, conversations and disputes," Mr. Putin added. Mr. Putin believes that information dissemination via the Internet should not be restricted. "I would not like freedom of disseminating information by means of the Internet curbed under the pretext of fighting crime," the president stated. According to Mr. Putin, the Internet is the most democratic mean of spreading information. "I would be very circumspect about restricting information dissemination on the Internet," the head of the Russian state added.


MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti commentator
Olga Soboleveskaya).
Russians revered Russian writer Ivan Turgenev: they praised him for his accurate images and exquisite style; they created a museum at his family estate Spasskoye-Lutovinovo; they wrote many biographies about him; and they made films based on his novels. Outstanding people are often given such an honor. Only one thing was missing: a film about Turgenev himself and his Russian-European, cosmopolitan life. (He lived in France and Germany for a long time.) Mark Zwigilski, a young French film director, graduate of the All-Russian State Institute of Cinematography and the director of several films that have been shown on major Russian television stations, decided to make such a film. The director can talk for hours about Turgenev and Turgenev's friends, Pauline and Louis Viardot, Flaubert, Maupassant, the Goncourt brothers, George Sand, Chopin and Liszt. The director's family knows Turgenev's biography extremely well. Mark's father, Alexander Zwigilski, a professor at Sorbonne, specializes in comparative literature (Russian and Spanish), chairs the Society of Turgenev's Friends and is one of Europe's leading Turgenev experts. In 1983, a century after the writer's death, he founded a museum in Bougival, the suburbs of Paris. Outstanding pianist Svyatoslav Richter partially funded the museum by performing there. In 1874, Ivan Turgenev bought this estate in Bougival for the talented singer Pauline Viardot. He lived there with her family and his only and illegitimate daughter, Pauline. The estate was a gift for Pauline Viardot. Turgenev built a house on the estate which slightly resembles his home in Spasskoye-Lutovinovo. He wrote his final books there and died in Bougival in 1883. The Zwigilski family carefully restored the house's interior, organized trips to the museum and discovered new facts of the writer's life. Mainly Russian specialists, literary critics, writers, musicians and museum curators go to Bougival. Mark Zwigilski said a film about the Russian European should be made for the general public. "I would like to show his route across Europe," he said. "Unlike Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky and Chekhov, Turgenev is less known in Europe. Meanwhile, Turgenev was at the center of 19th century European culture, influencing many people. He popularized European culture in Russia and Russian culture in Europe. He was a philosopher and an advocate of Russia's rapprochement with Europe. Ivan Turgenev knew Russian history and philosophy very well. He was an intellectual and had a quick mind. He liked to meet with people and exchange ideas with them. In France, the writer popularized the works of Russian composers Rimsky-Korsakov, Mussorgsky and Borodin." Because of Turgenev, books by Zola, Maupassant, Flaubert and Daudet were published in Russia earlier than in France. At an international literary congress in Paris in 1878, Turgenev was elected vice president. He delivered a speech about Russian literature, which was a great success. "His novels prophesized terrorism," Mark Zwigilski said. "As an honest artist and realist, he objectively -and in a very humane way - portrayed the Russian revolutionaries, including the nihilists, who overthrew many century-old values. However, as a liberal philosopher and a man, he worried about the fate of Russia and denounced all attempts to solve political problems through terror." The questions Turgenev rose about terrorism, nihilism, Russia's path and its relations with Europe are still extremely important, the director said. "Turgenev's life was like a novel with many plot lines," he said "He traveled extensively, met Pauline Viardot and fell in love with her. All the arts co-existed in Bougival. Turgenev wrote prose, as well as verses to the operas and songs Viardot composed. In Bougival, Georges Bizet composed his opera Carmen. Impressionists used to go there, to the picturesque bank of the Seine to paint in nature." However, Bougival became famous in the early 19th century already. The house where Viardot lived from the spring to late fall first belonged to Josephine Beauharnais, therefore, her husband, Napoleon Bonaparte, might have visited it. The ambitious film and documentary will be made in Bougival, Moscow, St. Petersburg, Paris, Baden-Baden and Spasskoye-Lutovinovo. The director wants to capture the feeling of the quiet pulse of the 19th century. Andrei Konchalovsky, who directed a film based on Turgenev's novel, Home of the Gentry, succeeded in conveying the spirit of the time of leisurely talks and walks, music, painting and long letters. Mark Zwigilski will interview Konchalovsky in the new film. The Russian Culture Fund, headed by director Nikita Mikhalkov, who is just as famous as his brother - Andrei Konchalovsky - might sponsor the project. The feature film portion of the project will be shot in Bougival. "Michael Lonsdale, an actor and intellectual, who even looks like Turgenev, could play the main part," Zwigilski said. Arte, a television channel in France and Germany, shows films about Russia and has already displayed interest in the film. The Zwigilski family is planning to create a cultural, musical, art and movie center in Bougival. "Ivan Turgenev stood at the crossroads of countries," he said, "traveling between Russia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Britain. He was the true example of what being a European means."

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