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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

Friday, Oct. 31


Put your grammar and logical thinking to the test in a fun and friendly environment during the British Book Center’s Board Game Evening starting at 5 p.m. today. The event is free and all are welcome to attend.



Saturday, Nov. 1


The men and women who dedicate their lives to fitness get their chance to compete for the title of best body in Russia at today’s Grand Prix Fitness House PRO, the nation’s premier bodybuilding competition. Not only will men and women be competing for thousands of dollars in prizes and a trip to represent their nation at Mr. Olympia but sporting goods and nutritional supplements will also be available for sale. Learn more about the culture of the Indian subcontinent during Diwali, the annual festival of lights that will be celebrated in St. Petersburg this weekend at the Culture Palace on Tambovskaya Ul. For 100 rubles ($2.40), festival-goers listen to Indian music, try on traditional Indian outfits and sample dishes highlighting the culinary diversity of the billion-plus people in the South Asian superpower.



Sunday, Nov. 2


Check out the latest video and interactive games at the Gaming Festival at the Mayakovsky Library ending today. Meet with the developers of the popular and learn more about their work, or learn how to play one of their creations with the opportunity to ask the creators themselves about the exact rules.



Monday, Nov. 3


Non-athletes can get feed their need for competition without breaking a sweat at the Rock-Paper-Scissors tournament this evening at the Cube Bar at Lomonosova 1. Referees will judge the validity of each matchup award points to winners while the city’s elite fight for the chance to be called the best of the best. Those hoping to play must arrange a team beforehand and pay 200 rubles ($4.80) to enter.



Tuesday, Nov. 4


Attend the premiere of Canadian director Xavier Dolan’s latest film “Mommy” at the Avrora theater this evening. The fifth picture from the 25-year-old, it is the story of an unruly teenager but the most alluring (or unappealing) aspect is the way the film was shot: in a 1:1 format that is more reminiscent of Instagram videos than cinematic art. Tickets cost 400 rubles ($9.60) and snacks and drinks will be available.



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