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Monthly Newsletter - August 2013


Pay Back to Russia

In our last newsletter we brought some information on how to welcome Russian tourist visiting the UK for holiday. Russian Deputy Culture Minister Alla Manilova said that Russian tourists spent $36 billion abroad last year, but the West knows practically nothing about Russia, she added. In 2011, 11.3 million Russians were travelling abroad (according to Stark Tourism Associates' figures), whereas only less than 2 millions foreigners visited Russia the same year (the top 5 nationalities visiting Russia are Germans, Israelis, Spanish, Italians and Chinese). UK citizens are in the 9th position with 110,152 visitors in 2011.

How many Russian tourists did you meet during the summer and how was the meeting? Did you like it? Maybe it would be polite to pay back, don't you think? Maybe now it's your turn to visit Russia! The summer is drawing to an end, but autumn can be the best time to visit the country, as in September and October you can avoid crowds and sultry weather, which can be rather uncomfortable during the peak summer months in Russia (despite it's cold reputation it's not excluded that the temperature can hit 40°C in main Russian cities).

Old Ladies' Summer

Indian summer in Russian is called Бабье лето [Babye Leto] (Old Ladies' Summer). The etymology of this term is quite vague, but some sources refer to the flying cobweb, which may resemble old ladies' white hair. Another explanation (which can be found in the Big Soviet Encyclopedia) says that the name comes from the fact that this is the last time of a year when old ladies can warm up their bodies (unfortunately the encyclopedia doesn't say why old men couldn't warm up during this lovely period of considerably above-normal temperatures). This period of temperatures above 21°C, which usually comes at the beginning of September in Russia, is also well known as Золотая осень [Zolotaya osen'] (Gold Fall) and is richly covered in the Russian paintings, literature and music (e.g. the famous poem Babye Leto by Boris Pasternak, many popular and classical songs named the same and countless number of paintings with this topic). 

So, where to go? Moscow? St. Petersburg? Believe or not, Russia has much more to offer than these two cities. If you are looking for a romantic trip, visit the ancient towns of Golden ring.

Golden Ring is one of our hottest tips, because the adjective “golden” can be truly appreciated during the time of Babye leto. If the weather is good, you can experience bulk of gold trembling in the treetops and reflecting on gilded roofs of Russian ancient monasteries. The Golden ring creates a circle of 8 towns northeast of Moscow and consists of 8 ancient settlements (Sergiyev Posad, Pereslavl-Zalesskiy, Rostov Velikiy, Yaroslavl, Kostroma, Ivanovo, Suzdal, Vladimir). Many of them are to be found along the M8 highway or can be reached from Yaroslavsky railway station in Moscow. These ancient towns played a significant role in Russian history and in the formation of Russian Orthodox Church. In all of these towns you can admire very well preserved historical monuments of architecture that dates back to 12th–18th centuries and include kremlins, monasteries, cathedrals, and churches. They present some important stages of ancient Russian architecture, for example the Church of the Intercession of the Holy Virgin on the Nerl River (Церков Покрова на Нерли) is one of the most picturesque representations of white-stone architecture, which dominated in the 12th century. Moreover, churches and monasteries in Vladimir are decorated with icons written by Andrei Rublev.

Church of the Intercession of the Holy Virgin on the Nerl River (Церков Покрова на Нерли)

Are you looking for something more adventurous? Take a train to Siberia and explore the Lake Baikal, Kamchatka or Chukotka. Are you up to orient? Board a boat make a trip on the Volga river - Mississippi of the East, and visit Kazan, the capital and largest city of the Republic of Tatarstan. Interested in pure nature and traditional reindeer keeping? Go to Yakutia (the Republic of Sakha), which occupies most of the North-Eastern Siberia. Do you want to go beyond the limits and test your survivability? Visit Oymyakon, where winter temperatures can hit −67.7°C and boiling water turns into ice immediately if you throw it into the air. For nature lovers we would also recommend Caucasus, which is an alpine country in the southernmost edge of the European part of Russia. Another picturesque part of Russia is Karelia, which is better to visit during the summer, when the “midnight sun” never sets. If you may be interested more in subtropical climate rather than freezing Siberia, let's go to Primorye. This great natural arboretum contains one the richest and most unusual temperate forests of the world and very rare species such as Amur tiger and Himalayan bear cohabit there with northern species such as brown bear and lynx.

And don't forget, that Russians will not smile at you at first sight, but as soon as you convince them in your good intentions, pamper them with a nice present and try to speak a bit of their language, they'll love you and treat you as a member of their family.



1st September, which is also known as the Knowledge Day (День Знаний) or First Bell (Первый звонок), is not only the first day of school duties for millions of students, but it also means the end of summer, as in Russia the first day of autumn is on the 1st September.

The 1st September has a very special significance for the 6-year-old first graders who, full of expectations, attend school for the first time. To make one of the most important days in their life even more memorable, different kinds of festive events and special lectures are organized during the day. Teachers are also given flowers and leaders of the country visit schools and congratulate students and teachers on the beginning of the school year.

To school on Sunday?

In Russia, like in other European countries, students are attending school from Monday to Friday, but in 2013 the school year will begin on Sunday. The reason is that the 1st September of this year fall on Sunday and because it is officially the first day of a compulsory school attendance. So the Ministry of Education and Science recommended in their official declaration to carry out the First Bell day and its celebrations on the 1st September and to start with normal classes on Monday the 2nd. In 2013 more than 500 thousands of the first graders are expected.

Vacation days

The school year in Russia usually consists of 33-37 school weeks and there are 4 main vacation periods (autumn, winter, spring and long summer holidays). From 1st September students will have to stand 2 full months of everyday classes before they can relax during the autumn holiday, which starts on 2nd November and finishes 10th November, 2013. Winter holiday was announced for 28th December 2013 till 8th January 3014 (note the difference between the Western and Eastern tradition of celebrating winter festivals). The spring vacation will occur from 23rd May till 31st May 2014. The school year usually finishes at the end of May (the date can vary from year to year). 

Education system in Russia

In Russia there is a 4-level education system consisting of pre-school education, secondary school education, university level and post-graduate level. 

The literacy rate in Russia is 99.4% according to the 2002 census and the attendance is compulsory at eleven-year secondary education since 1st September, 2007 (until 2007, it was limited to nine years with grades 10-11 optional). The eleven-year school term is split into elementary (grades 1-4), middle (grades 5-9) and senior (grades 10-11) classes. When the nine-year programme is completed, students can choose either to complete the remaining two years of normal school, or to go to a specialized professional training school. Specialized schools provide students with a working skills qualification and a high school certificate equivalent to 11-year education at a normal school. In 2003 the Unified state examination programme was launched by the Ministry of Education and Science. 

According to 2005 UNESCO census, more than half of the Russian adult population has reached a university education and there are 5.2% of foreign students at Russian universities. In Russia the tertiary education is traditionally realized at universities and institutes and from 2003 a modernized degree structure in line with the Bologna Processmodel (two-tiered model of education divided between bachelor and master's studies) was introduced. In 2007 a law that replaces the traditional five-year model of university education with a two-tiered one (a four-year bachelor degree /бакалавр/ followed by a two-year master's degree /магистр/) was signed. 

At post-graduate levels such academic titles as kandidat nauk (Candidate of Science, equivalent to Western Ph.D.) and doktor nauk (Doctor of Science, usually compared to German-style habilitation) can be achieved. Active university staff can be awarded with a title of dotsent and professor. 

Are you interested in studying abroad? Why not try Russia? There are some programmes delivered in English (primarily at the postgraduate level). We will be more than happy to provide you with a list of institutions of higher education in Russia and help you with an enrolment form.



 4th Annual Cbonds Fixed Income Conference: Russia, CIS & CEE

We are pleased to draw your attention towards this unique conference which brings together over 170 delegates representing international and local banks, FI and non-FI bond issuers, top – level government officials, investment companies and funds. This is one of the major forums held in London and devoted to regional bond markets.

The event is well known for:

- Rich, comprehensive and insightful agenda (click here), which covers topics and themes truly essential for business. The conference program will feature panel discussions and presentations covering all market segments and regions.

- Unique networking opportunities with top industry professionals and experts, government officials, potential clients and partners

- Thorough approach to creating a balanced audience, which really represents all stakeholders in industry

For sponsorship and speaking opportunities, please contact

Yury Pavlov at  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or +7 (812) 336 97-21 ext. 121

To register email Elena Mokritskaya  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call +7 (812) 336 97-21 ext. 104


Russia4Brits project logo


We are more than happy to announce that preparations for our new project - Russia4Brits - are in a full swing.

The non-commercial project launched by Russia Local in partnership with the on­line information agency Russia Beyond the Headlines and supported by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs' cultural department Rossotrudnichestvo as well as by the number of other organisations and companies (TBA soon) intends to promote the interests of international cooperation and cultural exchange in a unique and inspiring way.

The project takes the form of a nation-wide competition in which students at British schools, colleges and universities must produce a creative work on the theme of Russia, her culture or history, using the help of Russian mentors and students as they undertake research and develop their ideas. Through such cultural exchange, the project aims to support not only the future of Russo-British but international relations more broadly.

Participants will be offered a list of inspirational, challenging and sometimes provocative topics, which can be used as a springboard for their submissions. Children will be trying to find answers on such questions like Image of Russia in the world. What can Russia inspire people to? What is in Russia for me? Business opportunities in Russia. UK-Russian relations. What's the media coverage of Russia like? As the media creates a sometimes unpleasant image of Russia, how can you, as a young generation, change it? etc.


Are you interested in being involved in this exciting project? We are more than happy to offer you one our partnership or sponsorship packages. Your participation will be rewarded from the outset through a number of promotional opportunities (your logo on our marketing materials, on dedicated web-page, social media, newsletters, press releases; your banner can be displayed during the finals and award winning ceremony, you can enjoy our goodie bags, free in-house “Doing Business in Russia” training, free translation services and sample tuition lessons.

The project has already guaranteed not only the support of the cultural department of Russian Embassy but also the newspaper Russia beyond the Headlines, and negotiations are currently underway to secure the partnership of various other media. The degree of your involvement is flexible to suit you, and we would discuss the details of any partnership in a personal meeting tailored to the interests of your organisation.

You can find Russia4Brits on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

For further information please contact Stanislava Adamkova at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Nothing can fit these hot days better than new Belka Production's play called Sunstroke. The performance is inspired by Anton Chekhov’s The Lady with the Dog & Ivan Bunin’s Sunstroke and will be presented between AUGUST 28th - SEPTEMBER 21st 2013, The Platform Theatre, King's Cross.

Shows start at 7.30pm Monday-Saturday, Matinees 3.30pm on Thursdays & Saturdays. Tickets £10 - £16. Previews on the 28th and 29th August, all tickets £10.

For tickets please visit or call 020 8123 1604 for further information.


'I must have lost my mind. It was like an eclipse... or rather, as if we had both suffered some kind of sunstroke.'

A blisteringly hot Russian summer: a Muscovite banker meets a solitary married woman on the Russian Riviera; a dashing lieutenant on board a holiday steamer down the Volga has a chance encounter with a beautiful young woman. In the intoxicating heat, passions burn high and their lives are changed forever.

Two of the great masters of Russian literature, Anton Chekhov and Ivan Bunin, explore the bittersweet nature of love outside marriage, its romantic idealism and the painful realisation of irreversible loss.

Chekhov's The Lady with the Dog and Bunin's Sunstroke are dynamically adapted for the stage for the first time by Belka Productions.


Director: Oleg Mirochnikov
Movement Director: Liana Nyquist
Designer: Agnes Treplin
Lighting Designer: Howard Hudson
Sound Designer: Michael Umney
Projection Design: Simon Eves


Rosy Benjamin, Katia Elizarova, Oliver King, Stephen Pucci, Masumi Saito


Don't miss your opportunity to display your logo on Belka Productions' marketing materials, social media, electronic invitations, mailouts, programme or the theatre's website. Various promotional opportunities will also be available during press nights and performance itself. You can choose between the season sponsorship packet or production sponsorship (which allows to choose between the support to Sunstroke or Dashing Fellow which takes place in spring 2014). Sponsorship packages are flexible and can be tailored to meet your needs and requirements.

Phones: +44(0) 20 8123 1604, +44(0) 7765 425 473

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Post: Belka Productions Ltd
28 Old School Court
Drapers Road
London N17 6LY

For further information please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .
For press enquiries contact Sheridan Humphreys, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Belka Productions is a company dedicated to staging little known Russian plays and new adaptations in the UK, acting as a focus for Anglo-Russian cultural exchange. We currently receive no public funding and are reliant on the generous support of our patrons and sponsors. If you are able to support our work in any way then please get in touch or visit or website – for further information.



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