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Putin Stays Up Late To Congratulate Road Team

Published: September 28, 2010 (Issue # 1613)


Prime Minister Vladimir Putin held a videoconference in the early hours of Friday morning to congratulate Transportation Minister Igor Levitin and a group of workers on the completion of the Amur highway.

The prime minister, calling from his home office at 1:00 a.m. to speak with his audience at 8 a.m. local time in Khabarovsk, discussed the further development of the highway with Levitin, then watched as Oleg Trushin, a heavy machinery operator who worked on the highway, was presented with the keys to the Lada Kalina car that served as backup when the prime minister made his much publicized four-day journey along the highway in late August.

The highway will be the start of a new era of development of the regions of Siberia and the Far East, Putin said in a telegram he sent to highway workers. You have certainly done a good job. You have not only laid thousands of kilometers of roadway, but have successfully dealt with the most complex engineering and technology issues. You have certainly earned great respect and enormous praise.

The highway runs between the southeastern cities of Chita and Khabarovsk, a distance of 2,097 kilometers. It is the last link in a road system that stretches from Murmansk, north of the Arctic Circle on the Barents Sea, and Kaliningrad, on the border with Poland, to Vladivostok, on the Pacific Ocean.

It is a huge accomplishment, Putins spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. All points in the farthest extremes of the country are now connected.

Construction of the highway cost 200 billion rubles (about $6.5 billion), and was resumed five years ago after being abandoned in its initial stages in the 1990s. Work went on year round, despite winter temperatures that dipped to minus 50 degrees Celsius. Roadbeds were graveled in the winters and asphalt, sometimes shipped from plants thousands of kilometers away, was applied in the summers. The route cut through 372 kilometers of previously untouched taiga forest.

The paving of a final 140-kilometer stretch of road marked the completion of the highway, but much remains to be done.

In my view, its still not a modern road, Putin told journalists accompanying him in August. It is a dependable, modern farm road, but not the Autobahn.

Services filling stations, hotels and auto repair shops are rare on the highway, and lengthy sections do not have access to electricity.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Aug. 29


Park Pobedy will feature the sights and sounds of the world outside of Russia during the Open Art International Festival today. Taste foreign cuisine, learn how to make tea like the Chinese or relax in a hammock during the free event. Although entrance is free, you must register beforehand if you wish to attend.



Saturday, Aug. 30


Break out the tweed and channel your inner Englishman during the English Hunt Picnic this afternoon organized by the Bagmut stables from Krasny Bor in the Leningrad Oblast. Equestrian stunts, English archery and classic hunting fashion will all be available to visitors hoping to live like the characters in Downton Abbey if only for a day. Tickets for the event cost 7,900 rubles ($219.40).


Bookworms will have their chance to swap out well-read classics for something new for their bookshelves at Knigovorot, a free book exchange that will be held in the Yusupov Garden on Sadovaya Ulitsa today. Come for the chance to get a new book or take the opportunity to discuss the literary merits of your favorite authors with fellow fans.



Sunday, Aug. 31


The Neva Delta International Blues Festival wraps up this afternoon on Vasilevsky Island with a concert featuring not only some of Russias best blues bands but international stars as well. Admission is free for all three days of the festival, which begins on Aug. 29, and the shows starting at 5 p.m. each day.



Monday, Sept. 1


Today marks the beginning of Lermontov-Fest, a fall festival celebrating the life of one of Russias most remarkable poets who, in a fate eerily similar to Pushkins, was killed in a duel at the age of 26. Organized by the Lermontov Library System, the next several months will see art exhibitions, concerts and public lectures focusing on the Lermontovs short yet prolific career. Check the Lermontov Library Systems website for more details.



Tuesday, Sept. 2


Join expats and practice your Russian during the Russian Clubs weekly meetings every Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. The club is free to participate in although you need to be a registered member of Couchsurfing.



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