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My Priceless Loss in Kazan Plane Crash

Published: December 17, 2013 (Issue # 1790)

A month ago today, my girlfriend, Yana Baranova, and her British colleague, Donna Bull, boarded Tartarstan Airlines flight No. 363 from Moscow's Domodedovo Airport to Kazan. The airplane crashed when it attempted to land at Kazan Airport, killing all 50 on board.

Yana and Donna were representing Bellerbys College, a subsidiary of Study Group, an international educational supplier focused on providing children aged 15 and older the opportunity to improve their language skills and gain new life experiences by studying abroad.

Yana herself was 26. She was an incredibly focused and mature businesswoman. Her colleagues describe her as a "rising star" of their industry, and her drive would have doubtless carried her beyond her own expectations.

I met Yana while working for a competitor in Astana, Kazakhstan, and can testify to the intense travel that is necessary in the industry.

Yana loved seeing new places and having new experiences, so this part of the job was definitely one of the things that attracted her to it.

It is scant consolation, but when I think about why she was on that plane, at least I know that she died doing something she enjoyed.

She had worked with Donna in different parts of the Commonwealth of Independent States on a number of occasions and considered her more than just a work colleague. Indeed they were so engaged in conversation that we were unable to speak for a last time before they boarded the plane. They never disembarked.

I saw firsthand the close relationships Yana built with her colleagues at a memorial event organized by the Moscow office of Study Group. The warmth and support they and Yana's friends have shown me throughout this difficult time has really touched me, and I would like to express my sincere thanks for everything they have done.

In seven weeks, Russia will be thrust into the spotlight. The Sochi Olympics are as much a showcase for international business as they are for sport. The stadiums and huge infrastructure projects that have been built are a testament to the achievements of a Group of Eight nation that has incredible potential for economic and social progression.

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Times Talk


Thursday, Apr. 17

Expocenter Eurasia at 13 Ulitsa Kapitan Voronin is the sight of Goods on the Way, a five-day event starting today showcasing the latest in the industrial products industry. Bags, backpacks, swimsuits and much, much more will be available to attendees hoping to update not only their style but their accessories for the upcoming summer.

Friday, Apr. 18

Teachers and students alike shouldn’t miss the opportunity to establish lasting contacts with Russian and foreign institutions during the 21st Education and Career Fair at LenExpo, beginning today and finishing tomorrow. Learn more about education in Russia and connect with your fellow scholars.

The Tromso International Film Festival, Norway’s largest, brings a short festival to St. Petersburg for one day only during Scandinavian Oddities, starting at 7 p.m. today at Rodina Cinema Center. Tickets for the event are 100 rubles ($2.80).

Sunday, Apr. 20

Celebrate Easter at Pavlovsk during the Easter Fair that begins today and continues through next Sunday. Visitors will have the chance to paint Easter eggs and children can take part in games as well as help decorate a tree in honor of Christianity’s holiest day.

Today is one of the final days to see the exhibit Cacti — Children of the Sun at the Peter the Great Botanical Garden. Starting Apr. 17, budding botanists will marvel at the variety and beauty of the desert’s most iconic plant.

Monday, Apr. 21

Improve your grasp of Neruda, Bolano and Marquez at TrueDA’s Beginners Spanish Lesson this evening at their location on the Petrograd Side. An experienced teacher will be on hand to help all attendees better understand the intricacies of the language and improve their accent.

Tuesday, Apr. 22

SPIBA’s Breakfast with the Director event series continues as the association welcomes Andrei Barannikov, general director of SPN Communications, to the Anna Pavlova Hall of the Angleterre Hotel this morning at 9 a.m. Attendees must confirm their participation by Apr. 21.

The AmCham Environment, Health and Safety Committee Meeting is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. this morning in the their St. Petersburg office.