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Yakunin Lashes Out Against West, Says Russia Will Turn East

Published: May 24, 2014 (Issue # 1812)



  • Russian Railways head Vladimir Yakunin.
    Photo: Vedomosti

Animosity between Russia and the West over Ukraine's disintegration has forced Russia to change its course toward the East, Russian Railways chief Vladimir Yakunin said in an interview with The St. Petersburg Times on Friday.

Yakunin, 65, who manages one of Russia's biggest companies Russian Railways employs more than 880,000 people had sanctions imposed on him by the United States and the European Union in March as member of President Vladimir Putin's inner circle.

Yakunin has his own interpretation of the sanctions, saying in softly accented English: "It was clearly stated that I was sanctioned not because of my wrongdoings but because of my connections with some persons on the top of Russian hierarchy,"

"I consider the sanctions list to be a list of people who actually do something positive for our society and our country. It was not us who introduced this clash, but we were sanctioned and disgraced in the mass media, he said.

Yakunin, who has been accused of massive corruption by opposition politician Alexei Navalny, singled out Putin as "a leader who was disgraced in a way that is absolutely not acceptable in normal diplomatic relations even in the modern tense period of life."

He said Western pressure was "not civilized behavior" and that this demonstrated lack of democracy in the West.

The St. Petersburg Times spoke to Yakunin at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, a huge annual get-together that attracts thousands of high-profile business leaders and official from Russia and abroad. This year, the international contingent is slightly thinner than usual, as executives, particularly from the U.S., have bowed to political pressure to keep away.

"Lots of people who came to this forum explain in private that in their countries American ambassadors were reaching them with letters and telephone calls urging them not to come to this event or they will have to face consequences," Yakunin said.

In this situation nothing remains to Russia but to turn to the east, he said.

"We can aim at reaching new level of relations with our friends in China, South Korea, Japan, the Pacific countries, Latin America and so on," he said.

But while confident of the bounties that await Russia from ramping up cooperation with new partners, Yakunin is sure that the West will turn back to Russia as soon as the media pressure subsides.

"Business people are very pragmatic. Russia is a very important market, which has nothing to do with emotions, he said.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Thursday, Aug. 21


Time is running out to see the fantastic creations on display at the 2014 Sand Castle Festival on the beach at the Peter and Paul Fortress. Adhering to the theme of Treasure Island, visitors can wander amongst larger-than-life interpretations of pirate life or attend one of the workshops held to educate a future generation of sand artists. The castles will remain on the beach until Aug. 31.



Friday, Aug. 22


Get ready to pledge allegiance to the flag during National Flag Day, paying tribute to when, 23 years ago today, the iconic hammer-and-sickle was replaced with the tricolor that now flutters in the wind. Petersburgers will be treated to a free concert on Palace Square, a military parade and a culminating air show featuring Russias Russian Knights stunt pilots.



Saturday, Aug. 23


Uppsala Park plays host to Fairy Noon today, a performance of five separate fairy tales ranging from folk classics to more haunting selections. There will be three different renditions of the tales throughout the day and tickets start at 500 rubles ($13.80) for adults and 300 rubles ($8.30) for children.


Classic Finnish cartoon characters the Moomins expect to receive a warm welcome from Russian fans during todays Moomin Festival at the Pearl Plaza Shopping Center at 51 Petergofskoye Shosse. Become a kid again or introduce a new generation to the beloved creation of Finnish writer Tove Jansson.



Sunday, Aug. 24


The tortured genius of Dutch master Vincent van Gogh gets his day in the centers Konnushnaya Ploschad during Make Art Like Van Gogh, a daylong celebration of the artist that will allow amateur artists to try and replicate the work that made the famed painter world-renowned.


Experience a variety of dances highlighting the diversity of the world around as at the final day of the Ethno-Dance International Dance Festival that has been at the St. Petersburg Humanitarian University of Trade Unions this past week. Tonights performance will feature Egyptian dancers accompanied by local orchestras.



Monday, Aug. 25


Today kicks off the Elena Obraztsovoy International Competition for Young Vocalists in the large hall of the Shostakovich Philharmonic. Talented youngsters will showcase their range over the next six days before a winner is chosen on Aug. 30.



Tuesday, Aug. 26


Love movies but hate all those words? Then check out Rodina Cinema Centers Factor of Consensus film forum this evening. Silent movie classics from the beginning of the 20th century will be screened and accompanied by a pianist, who will provide the soundtrack for the ongoing action. The screenings begin at 7 p.m. Check Rodinas website for more details.



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