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Thursday, 10 March 2011
Royal Superyachts: How Kings and Queens Sail the Sea
Topic: Yachts

The following is an excerpt from an article published by CNN;

Before luxury yachting was the preserve of Russian tycoons and Silicon Valley moguls, it was only the world's wealthiest royals who built palaces on the sea.

There have been and continue to be a fleet of imperial yachts used to transport royals, from Russian czars to princes of Monaco, in the opulent fashion to which they are accustomed.


If you thought that Abramovich and his fellow billionaires were the first of their countrymen to build ultra-ostentatious pleasure boats, then think again.

The Russian imperial yacht "Shtandart," built according to the specifications of Emperor Alexander III and his son Nicholas, was the largest imperial yacht on the oceans during the late 19th and early 20th century.

Completed in 1895, the opulent vessel was 401 feet long -- about the length of a soccer pitch -- colossal even by today's immodest standards.

Indeed, "Shtandart" was a veritable floating palace, adorned with mahogany-paneled drawing rooms, formal salons with polished floors, brass fittings, crystal chandeliers and velvet drapes.

The czar's private study was furnished in dark leather and elegant wooden furniture, while the czarina's drawing room and boudoir were bedecked in her favorite English chintz. The imperial yacht even had its own chapel for the private use of the family.

However, Russia's largest royal yacht was also her last. After the revolution in 1917, the ship was stripped of all its elegance, renamed "Vosemnadtsate Martza" and refitted as a drab, gray minelayer for service in the Soviet Navy. The boat was scrapped at Tallinn in Estonia in 1963.

© CNN. 10 March, 2011

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 2:43 PM EST
Updated: Friday, 1 April 2011 4:12 PM EDT
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Imperial Yacht Shtandart, 1832
Now Playing: Andrei Stackenschneider (1802-1865)
Topic: Yachts

The Russian Imperial family enjoying a summer cruise onboard the Imperial yacht, Shtandart.

The painting portrays Tsar Nicholas I (reigned 1825-55), his German-born wife the Empress Alexandra Feodorovna and at least some - if not all - of their seven children, Alexander (the future Tsar Alexander II, reigned 1855-81), Nicholas, Michael, Constantine, Maria, Olga and Alexandra. The vessel depicted is presumably the Shtandart, the second imperial yacht of this name but about which very little is known.

This charming watercolour by Andrei Stackenschneider sold at Christie's (London) for £8,963 ($16,616) in 2004.

© Christie's. 10 March, 2011


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 2:35 PM EST
Updated: Friday, 1 April 2011 4:13 PM EDT
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Wednesday, 9 March 2011
Restoration of the Alexander Palace
Now Playing: Language: Russian. Duration: 3 minutes, 28 seconds



Plans for the restoration of the Alexander Palace are discussed in this video by Natalya Kudryavtsev, Chief Architect of GMZ Tsarskoye Selo.


On her desk, she leafs through a copy of the master plan which outlines the restoration of the palace, a massive undertaking that is expected to be completed in 2017.



The video also contains some marvellous footage of the State Rooms, before and after the restoration which took place last year.

09 March, 2011

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 12:57 PM EST
Updated: Friday, 1 April 2011 4:13 PM EDT
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A Russian Shame!

 Bears are often kept for "entertainment" in Russia, a practise that often leads to cruelty and tragedy

Many of you who know me personally, know of my love of animals. I have zero tolerance when it comes to animal cruelty, which is one of the many reasons why I am a vegetarian.

I want to bring the subject of dancing bears to your attention because you may encounter them in your travels to Russia.

Several years ago while I was visiting St. Petersburg, I was walking near the equestrian statue of Peter the Great when I came across a young man who had what I thought was a dog on a leash. As it turned out, it was a young brown bear cub. The animal was muzzled and being led on a leash attached to a metal ring that had been piereced through its nose. I have encountered this sad sight on numerous occasions in both St. Petersburg and Moscow since.

Tourists and newleyweds seem to be the main targets of those who exploit these animals. The bear's "owner" will ask for money in return for having your photo taken with the bear. Most people innocently think it is cute, unaware of the cruelty behind this horrible trade.

I asked the young man where he obtained the bear cub and he explained that his uncle had shot and killed the mother, taking the cubs and selling them to any one interested. When I asked him what he fed the cub, he smiled and said "garbage, what else?" I then asked him how long he would keep the bear and what he would do with it when it was an adult. He merely shrugged his shoulders. I felt a great sense of pity for this poor animal.

I contacted a local animal welfare group in St. Petersburg about this disturbing incident. She filled me in with some gruesome details about this sort of animal cruelty. She expressed her frustration that their calls to police and local government officials to crack down on the use of bears for entertainment on the streets of Russian cities falls on deaf ears.

She confirmed that adult female bears are often shot, their cubs taken from their mothers when they are only a few weeks old. The adult bears are the victims of poaching, often to supply the needs of Chinese traditional medicine in the Far East.

The cubs are forced to live an unnatural life in a cage, "cared" for by people who use means of cruel force in order to break the animals spirit.  The standard method of "training" involves forcing a thick iron ring through the nose, which causes considerable pain when yanked. The bears "dance" in an attempt to avoid the pain. Alternatively, music is played whilst the bear stands on hot plates, it will dance to stop having its feet being burnt. It will then dance whenever it hears music.

Once the "training" is complete, the cubs are taken to major tourist sights, forced to pose for photographs or "dance" on their hind legs for up to 12 hours a day to entertain tourists and newlyweds, becoming a tragic spectacle of a cruel tradition that has been practised in Russia and other countries for centuries. 

It is important to note that hundreds of bear cubs are taken from the wild every year, and sold in markets. The majority do not survive the ordeal. Many of them die before they begin their brutal "training." Dehydration, starvation and trauma are among the reasons. Should the cub be "lucky" enough to live past the "training", a punishing regime of starvation and beating will begin to condition it to perform. The piercing of the bears' sensitive muzzle with a metal ring, or just a rope for control is the next ordeal. It is held down without anaesthetic while a crude iron needle is inserted through its nose. Before it is a year old, the bear's incisors and canine teeth will be wrenched out and sold as lucky charms.

Animal welfare groups across Russia have been monitoring the exploitation of bear cubs for several years now. They are joined by growing numbers of Russians who are concerned for these animals and their short lives of pain, misery, and premature death. They are demanding that the authorities put an end to it.

I would like to add my voice to the growing protest against this barbaric trade, and urge tourists visiting Russia not to support this senseless and disgraceful act of animal cruelty.

© Paul Gilbert. 09 March, 2011

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 11:30 AM EST
Updated: Friday, 1 April 2011 3:32 PM EDT
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Half of Museum Fund of Russia will be Digitized by 2020
Topic: Museums

After a large-scale expertise the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation has started digitalization of the museum fund of the Russian Federation for creation of an electronic catalog.
The museum fund totals more than 73 million exhibits and more than a half – around 40 million - is planned to be included in an electronic by 2020.
The work is already under way - last year 1,5 million exhibits were digitized, and 5 million more are expected to be transferred into electronic form in 2011. There has never been such a master catalog that would unite all the museums.
In future it will be possible to arrange virtual excursions on the basis of this catalog.

© RIAN.RU. 09 March, 2011



Posted by Paul Gilbert at 10:43 AM EST
Updated: Friday, 1 April 2011 4:14 PM EDT
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Gold Dust at the Bolshoi Theatre
Topic: Bolshoi

Restorers work in the main hall of the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow last week. The historic building of the theater is set to reopen in the fall after a long reconstruction.

© Photo: Alexander Zemlianichenko. 09 March, 2011


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 10:29 AM EST
Updated: Friday, 1 April 2011 4:14 PM EDT
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Tuesday, 8 March 2011
Six Years at the Russian Court by Margaretta Eagar
Topic: Books


  |||Click Here to Order This Book |||

Originally published in 1906, this new expanded edition features two additional chapters about the grand duchesses, written by Miss Eagar in 1909, five years after she left Russia. Also, an extensive 46-page introduction, written by Charlotte Zeepvat will be included that includes previously unpublished material on Miss Eagar's personal life before and after Russia, her thoughts on the grand duchesses, letters by or about her from the State Archives of the Russian Federation, the reason why she left Russia in 1904, as well as some of her own writing that does not appear in her book.

Price: $25.00 CAD + Postage.

© Gilbert's Books. 08 March, 2011

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:51 PM EST
Updated: Wednesday, 9 March 2011 2:04 PM EST
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Kremlin to Host Exhibition of Works by Faberge
Topic: Faberge

This year the Moscow Kremlin will showcase works of the famous Russian jeweller, Carl Faberge.

The exhibition will feature the unique masterpieces of Carl Faberge and his contemporaries, including works from Cartier. The exhibit will include Imperial Easter eggs, as well as items made of precious and semi-precious stones, desk sets, cups and vases.  

The exhibition will run from April 8 to July 24 in the Exhibition Hall of the Assumption Belfry.

© The Voice of Russia. 08 March, 2011

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 12:43 PM EST
Updated: Friday, 1 April 2011 4:15 PM EDT
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Russian Art Exhibition Opens in Rome
Topic: Exhibitions

Carnival sleigh (18th century). State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg 

A Russian art exhibition kicked off in Rome last Thursday in an event that places a special focus on traditions of Russia’s Shrovetide and other wintertime holidays.

On display are a total of 195 artifacts brought from St. Petersburg-based museums, including the State Hermitage, the Russian Museum, Tsarskoye Selo Estate and Peterhof.

These include carnival costumes, skates, sledges, chinaware and paintings.  

© The Voice of Russia. 08 March, 2011

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 8:48 AM EST
Updated: Friday, 1 April 2011 4:15 PM EDT
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Faberge exhibition in Kostroma
Topic: Faberge

A private museum in Baden-Baden in Germany is opening a display in the Volga city of Kostroma on March 15th to showcase a collection of over 200 jewelry items from the workshop of the 19th-century Russian jeweller Carl Faberge.

All pieces are from a collection of over 3 thousand amassed by a millionaire Russian industrialist named Alexander Ivanov.

© The Voice of Russia. 08 March, 2011

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 7:53 AM EST
Updated: Friday, 1 April 2011 4:16 PM EDT
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