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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. 24

Learn more about Denmark during the Danish Business Delegation’s visit to SPIBA this evening starting at 5:30 p.m. at the Danish Culture Institute. Danish Consul general Klaus Sorensen will be in attendance and the buffet following a presentation on Danish companies in Russia will be the perfect opportunity to network with the assembled businessmen.

AmCham’s Human Resources Committee Meeting is scheduled for 9 a.m. this morning in their St. Petersburg office. Check their website for more details.

Friday, Apr. 25

Light Music presents the main events for their Cultural Kitchen project at Loft-Project Etagi today. A B2B event that focuses on Finnish food, arts, travel, music and design, the evening will conclude with a dinner by chef Jyrki Tsutsunen and dancing to music by Aino Venna. The event, which began yesterday with presentations by tourism and cultural institutions, concludes today with a preview of Finland’s Flow festival and other musical events. Invitations are available from

Saturday, Apr. 26

At 6 p.m. this evening, stylist Liliana Modigliani offers 50 simple ways to up your style quotient with beauty tips at the Galeria shopping center on Ligovsky Prospekt. The event is part of the final day of the shopping mall’s Fashion Saturday sales event, this week focusing on top brands located on the ground floor as well as presentation from fashion experts on sprucing up your spring look.

Sunday, Apr. 27

Families shouldn’t miss Childhood Planet 2014, the trade fair that started yesterday and concludes today at LenExpo. Not only will goods and services be provided for children and families but the event hopes to promote Russian brands and eco-friendly products using the latest technology available in the childcare industry.

Monday, Apr. 28

The Hotel Indigo will be the site of SPIBA’s Acting Skills for HR and Other Managers master class this morning starting at 9 a.m. The event will begin with coffee before moving on to the class itself and conclude with a tour of the recently opened hotel. Confirm attendance by Apr. 24.

Tuesday, Apr. 29

Improve your English at the British Book Center’s Interactive English Lesson tonight at 6 p.m. Students at pre-intermediate and intermediate levels are welcome discuss topics that are selected to help learners master the more difficult aspects of English grammar and vocabulary.