[PHOTO ESSAY] Visiting Russia

Late last month, South Africans travelling to Russia and vice versa – merely for visits – were happy to learn that as of 1 April 2017, visa requirements for travelling between the two countries were dropped.  Former spokesperson for the Department of Home Affairs, Mayihlome Tshwete said:

“It means less inconvenience, less administration when you want to travel to Russia,” adding that “the department believes South African travellers don’t pose many risks and should be afforded more convenient travel arrangements”.

Since that is out of the way, we can start planning trips. Russia offers many beautiful contrasts, from balmy subtropical beaches, to icy winters in the north. The country is deeply rooted in its history, also paying homeage to struggles of the past, whether it be through classical musica or literature.

Get your passport stamped and let’s travel!


Beatiful view Neva river in Saint Petersburg, Russia


View Yuriev monastery, Veliky Novgorod, Russia


View of the Church on Blood, the Church of Christ’s Ascension and the Patriarch’s Metochion from the city pond of Yekaterinburg, Russia.



It’s Maslenitsa (Pancake) week in Russia!

Russians never miss an opportunity to celebrate! Known for its myriad of festivities, Russia celebrates the Maslenitsa Festival throughout this week. Maslenitsa Week  – also popularly known as Pancake Week – is typically celebrated during the week leading up to Great Lent and thus every day of the festival is celebrated with a specific ritual (see more below). This year it runs from 20 to 26 February and mostly consists of festivities marking the end of the Russian winter and eating blini (crepes).

First things first, where does Maslenitsa originate from? According to, the holiday is said to have found its origin in the Pagan tradition. Maslenitsa (derived from maslo, which means butter or oil in Russian) comes from the tradition of baking pancakes (or blini , in Russian).

Although back in the day it started as a sad day of remembrance of those who are no longer, the Russians turned it into a celebration with blini.

So, what actually transpires during the festival?

On the opening day of Maslenitsa (Monday), a straw-figure of Winter is made and dressed in old women’s clothing and accompanied by joyful singing whiled being carried on sleigh around the village.

Tuesday is known as “zaigrysh” (game day), this is also when the actual festivities kick off: sleigh riding, folk festivals, skomorokh (traveling actors) and puppet shows. It’s a day of singing and laughter, mini on-the-spot concerts and loads of fun!

Wednesday – gourmand – is feast day with blini and other dishes, like hot sbiten (drinks from water, honey and spices), nuts, honey ginger breads and poured tea from boiling samovars, while Thursday is the highlight of the games – revelry. That’s also when the hottest fistfights took place.

If sons-in-law are treated to pancakes at their in-laws on Wednesday, it would be their turn on Friday to do the same.

Saturday is also family day when relatives paid visits to young wives, while Sunday is named “forgiveness”. Wherever forgiveness is needed and amends needed to be made, it is reserved for Sunday. At night, everyone would go to the cemeteries and “bid farewell” to the dead. On the last day of Maslenitsa, remnants of pancakes and food to the huge bonfire explaining their children that all the nourishing food disappeared in fire to prepare them for the Lent.

For additional information about the Maslenitsa Festival, click here.

–; Russia Beyond

– Images: Embassy of Russia 

Committee for strengthening relations with China, Russia and India holds meeting

February 1, 2017
Sudan News Agency Khartoum Khartoum
Displayed with permission from

The higher committee for strengthening Sudan relations with China, Russia and India Wednesday held regular meeting at the Republican Palace, chaired by the committee’s deputy chairman, Dr. Awad Ahmed Al-Jaz.

In a press statement, Dr. Al-Jaz said that the meeting was focused on easing the administrative procedure for those who endeavor to invest in the country.

He said that the meeting has agreed on establishment of the united window and that the concerned institutions and ministries shall adopt the required measures for reactivating the procedural work and carrying out the field follow up work.

Dr. Al-Jaz indicated that the meeting also reviewed progress of work in enhancing the pattnership with China through Al-Rahad Agricultural Scheme.

He disclosed arrival of 37 Chinese investors who will particiapate at the agricultural forum which is organised by the Arab Authority for Agricultural Production and to deliberate about the investment at the livestock and fisheries.


Statement by the Russian Foreign Ministry

Statement by the Russian Foreign Ministry on Russia’s decision not to become a party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court

On November 16, the President of the Russian Federation signed the Decree «On the intention not to become a party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court». The notification will be delivered to the Depository shortly.

Russia has been consistently advocating prosecuting those responsible for the most serious international crimes. Our country was at the origins of the Nuremberg and Tokyo tribunals, participated in the development of the basic documents on the fight against genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. These were the reasons why Russia voted for the adoption of the Rome Statute and signed it on September 13, 2000.

The ICC as the first permanent body of international criminal justice inspired high hopes of the international community in the fight against impunity in the context of common efforts to maintain international peace and security, to settle ongoing conflicts and to prevent new tensions.
Unfortunately the Court failed to meet the expectations to become a truly independent, authoritative international tribunal. The work of the Court is characterized in a principled way as ineffective and one-sided in different fora, including the United Nations General Assembly and the Security Council. It is worth noting that during the 14 years of the Court’s work it passed only four sentences having spent over a billion dollars.

In this regard the demarche of the African Union which has decided to develop measures on a coordinated withdrawal of African States from the Rome Statute is understandable. Some of these States are already conducting such procedures.

The Russian Federation cannot be indifferent to the Court’s attitude vis-a-vis the situation of August 2008. The Saakashvili regime’s attack on peaceful Tshinval, the assassination of the Russian peacekeepers resulted in the Court’s accusations against South-ossetian militia and Russian soldiers. Eventual investigation of actions and orders of Georgian officials was left to the discretion of the Georgian justice and remains outside of the focus of the ICC Prosecutor’s office attention. This development speaks for itself. We can hardly trust the ICC in such a situation.

The decision of the Russian Federation not to become a party to the Rome Statute (to withdraw its signature from the Statute) entails legal consequences provided for by the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties of 1969.

China, Russia vow to enhance pragmatic cooperation

Displayed with permission from China Daily

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and his Russian counterpart, Dmitry Medvedev, on Monday vowed to enhance pragmatic cooperation between the two neighbours.

China and Russia, each other’s biggest neighbours and in a comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination, have seen their relations develop in a sustained, stable and sound manner, and pragmatic cooperation continuously bears new fruits, said Li during his meeting with Medvedev.

Li arrived here Sunday for the 21st China-Russia Prime Ministers’ Regular Meeting and an official visit to the northern neighbour.

China is willing to work with Russia to synergise the Belt and Road Initiative and the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), and lift the levels of China-Russia ties and cooperation, Li said.

The China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative, which comprises the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, aspires to build a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along the ancient Silk Road routes. The EEU groups Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia.

In the context of fragile world economic recovery and slowing global trade growth, China and Russia should further give full play to their complementary advantages, so as to add new vitality into each other’s development, revitalisation, and economic transformation and upgrade, Li said.

The premier pointed to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and innovation in particular as the areas where the two countries should step up efforts to promote their future cooperation.

Li also called for more efforts to strengthen financial cooperation and increase the volume of settlement in local currency to support relevant cooperation.

On trade and investment, Li said the two sides should work to expand trade, jointly safeguard world trade system and rules, comprehensively boost the level of facilitation, and promote a sound and sustained development of bilateral economic and trade cooperation and two-way investment.

Cooperation in agriculture, especially in deep processing of agricultural products, enjoys broad prospect, Li said, urging the two countries to jointly advance cooperation in this field.

During the meeting, the premier also highlighted people-to-people exchanges, and cooperation in science and technology, and education, calling for efforts to make China-Russia Media Exchange Year a success.

Medvedev said the two countries would make more efforts to boost cooperation in SMEs’ innovation, while actively conducting cooperation in major projects in the areas of oil gas and civilian nuclear energy.

Financial cooperation should also be enhanced to provide financing support for the two countries’ companies to conduct cooperation, he added.

Medvedev pointed to the electromechanical, agriculture, science and technology, aviation, high-speed railways as the sectors where the two sides should promote cooperation, and vowed to go all out to reach the goal of raising the two countries’ trade volume.

Russia and China should enhance cooperation on local levels in the Far East region, make efforts to ensure a successful China-Russia Media Exchange Year, increase the number of students studying in the other side’s universities, and boost cooperation in tourism, Medvedev said.

After hearing the work reports of four bilateral cooperation mechanisms, the two leaders exchanged views on planning future cooperation.

The meeting produced a joint communique calling upon the two countries to deepen cooperation in a wide range of fields, including economy and trade, investment, energy and people-to-people exchanges.

Agreeing that great potential exists in bilateral trade and investment cooperation based on solid partnership and close economic and trade relations, the two countries would deepen economic integration through building mutually beneficial economic partnership in Eurasia, it said.

China and Russia would continue to carry forward cooperation in the fields of transport, cross-border infrastructure, logistics, among others, within the framework of synergising the Belt and Road Initiative and the EEU, according to the communique.

The two sides will seriously discuss the possibility of setting up industrial parks along the regions on the upper and middle reaches of the Yangtze River and along Russia’s Volga River, it said.

The joint communique urged the two countries to take necessary measures to strengthen cooperation in the trade of agricultural products, and promote the entry of safe animal and plant products into each other’ s market.

The two countries would also work to boost the “strategic” and “comprehensive” cooperation in the field of energy, including electricity, coal, renewable energy, and equipment, technology and project service for energy.

This year marks the 15th anniversary of the signing of the China-Russia Treaty of Good-Neighbourliness and Friendly Cooperation and the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the China-Russia strategic partnership of coordination.

Li is scheduled to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Russian capital of Moscow on Tuesday.

Russia is the last stop of Li’s eight-day Eurasia trip, which has already carried him to Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Latvia.

The Motherland Declares Victory

She stands 85 meters tall, raising a sword with her right hand and extending the left hand. She stands tall and dominates the skyline of the Volgograd state in southern Russia.

The statue is built on the grounds where the Stalingrad battle took place during World War II. It is also a symbol of Russia’s triumph and an honour to the soldiers who laid down their lives during battle.

It holds the position of being the tallest free standing (non-religious) statue in the world. The statue is not fixed to the base plate it stands on. It is solely supported by its weight. Over two million people visit the statue annually.

The Motherland Calling is part of a bigger memorial complex dedicated to the heroes of the Stalingrad battle.

For more information, visit