Danish State Visit to Russian Federation
A trio of Danish royals began a state visit to Russia Tuesday, as a way of tightening bilateral ties between the countries. Queen Margrethe II, Prince Henrik and Crown Prince Frederik traveled to Moscow to begin their four official days in Russia, with three days set aside for a private visit.
Click here for images of Day 1 at Daylife.com
Upon landing in Moscow, the royals were welcomed by Transport Minister Igor Levitin. Queen Margrethe inspected the honor guard before she, her husband and son were taken to the Kremlin, where they met with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.
It was at the Kremlin that the official welcoming ceremony took place. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov gave a speech where he talked about Danish-Russian ties.
Later, the Queen and Prince Henrik were given a tour of the Pushkin museum by First Lady Svetlana Medvedeva. This marked the inauguration of the Danish Golden Age exhibition and Thorvaldsen exhibition at the museum.
Crown Prince Frederik also took the time to meet with officials of the 2014 Winter Olympics, which will be held in the Russian town of Sochi. Frederik is a member of the International Olympic Committee.
In the evening, there was a state banquet in honor of the Danish royals and their delegation.
On Wednesday, Her Majesty and Their Royal Highnesses performed the wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Minutes later, Queen Margrethe attended a meeting with the chairman of the Duma, or Parliament. She also met with the President of Federation Council.
Click here for images of Day 2
In the afternoon, after attending business meetings, seeing a photography exhibit and opening factories, the Danish royal trio met with Vladimir Putin for a little while.
After that, Crown Prince Frederik went to the Skolkovo School of Management, while his parents went to the children’s ward at the Endocrinology Research Center.
Tomorrow, the Queen, Henrik and Frederik will travel north to former capital of Russia – during its imperial days – St. Petersburg. There, they will continue to promote Danish-Russian ties by signing business agreements, tour a factory, a brewery and a shipbuilding yard. They will also visit the Peter and Paul Cathedral to lay a wreath at the tomb of Empress Maria Feodorovna, the Danish princess who became the wife of Tsar Alexander III.
On Saturday, the royals will hold a press conference, discussing their time in Russia.
There is no official word on why Crown Princess Mary did not accompany her husband and in-laws to this state visit.
Philippe & Mathilde on Economic Mission to Russia
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Belgium’s future King and Queen are in Russia this week to promote economic ties between the two countries. Prince Philippe and Princess Mathilde have been to Russia before on such a trip, back in 2001 and 2006.
Philippe was the first to arrive in the country. On Monday, he attended a Moscow seminar at Skolkovo Innovation Center where he met with Skolkovo President Viktor Vekselberg.
Skolkovo is a research center the Russian authorities have launched with the ambition to develop by 2014 a large area of innovation in the areas of energy efficiency, biotechnology, information technology, space and nuclear applications.
The next day, Philippe’s wife, Princess Mathilde arrived in Russia and met with business women. She also received a tour of the Kremlin, given by First Lady Svetlana Medvedeva.
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During this time, Prince Philippe met with President Dmitry Medvedev, in which he discussed the possibility of Belgium and Russia increasing their business partnership. The Prince also met with First Deputy Russian Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov.
Also on Tuesday, Philippe and Mathilde visited the Novodevichy Nunnery, noted for its great architecture.
On Wednesday, the Belgian royal couple will travel north to the former imperial capital of Russia – St. Petersburg. There, they will meet with more Russian business leaders and sign contracts in the field of automotive engineering.
Princess Mathilde is expected to be given a cultural tour of the city, including the Fortress of Peter and Paul, the final resting place of most of the Romanov tsars – including Nicholas II and his family.
This visit will last until Friday. About 400 businessmen representing 200 companies from virtually all branches of the Belgian economy are traveling with the royals.
Sources: Belga, Voix de la Russie, RIA Novosti,
Spanish King & Queen Launch Spain-Russia Dual Year
King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia of Spain are currently in St. Petersburg, Russia to inaugurate the Spain-Russia Dual Year, which is dedicated to cement the economic and cultural ties between the two nations.
AP Photo/ RIA Novosti, Dmitry Astakhov, Presidential Press Service
They, along with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and First Lady Svetlana Medvedeva, spent most of Friday at the Hermitage Museum to exchange art works at the landmark museum to begin the cultural links.
“Russia and Spain are two countries that are essential for understanding European culture, history and identity,” said King Juan Carlos at the ceremony in the Throne Room of the Hermitage Museum, formerly the Winter Palace of the czars.
“Both countries not only wish to give renewed impetus to the great tide of understanding and friendship that has always linked our peoples, but to make clear our shared goal of expanding and deepening bilateral relations,” the king also said at the inauguration of “The Prado in the Hermitage” exhibition.
The exhibit will showcase 66 works of art from Spain’s Prado Museum by such creators as Velazquez, Goya, El Greco, Titian and Rubens.
President Medvedev, who intends to make his second visit to Spain in November, said that the Dual Year program, with more than 350 commercial, cultural and scientific activities, “opens new possibilities of contact between peoples.”
REUTERS/Mikhail Klimentyev/RIA Novosti/Kremlin
Queen Sofia and First Lady Svetlana Medvedeva toured the rest of the Hermitage to get a look at Russian fine art, plus the apartment where Alexander Pushkin lived.
This coming November will see 170 art pieces from the Hermitage come to the Prado as part of the cultural exchange. It will have work by Rubens and Watteaau as well as Cezanne, Renoir, Gauguin and Matisse.
Earlier on Friday, the Spanish King and the Russian President held a business forum in which they discussed the potential for more economic ties in the field of technological modernization and innovation. Juan Carlos emphasized that Spanish business leaders “are wholeheartedly turning to Russia.”
“Russia and Spain each has one foot in Europe and the other in the world, and as global players they have an enormous potential for cooperation,” said Antonio Brufau, CEO of Spanish energy giant Repsol YPF.
Source: EFE, AFP
Prince Albert II Accused of Taking Olympic Bribes
Monaco’s royal palace is denying that Prince Albert II took bribes from Russia in order to vote for the country to host the 2014 Winter Olympics.
The accusations come from American Robert Eringer, who claimed that he worked for Monaco’s secret intelligence from 2002 to 2007. Eringer said that the Prince, who is an IOC member, received “lavish gifts and trips” from Vladimir Putin before and after the Russian resort town of Sochi won the Games three years ago.
Eringer sent a letter to the International Olympics Committee through his lawyer, Brigham Ricks, who says the gifts “demonstrate Prince Albert’s bold and egregious violations of the IOC’s code of ethics and rules conflict of interest.”
Ricks also claims the Prince voted for Sochi, but that could not be proven.
Eringer is currently in a legal battle with Prince Albert, saying he was wrongfully dismissed from the intelligence agency and is seeking back pay.
The Monegasque sovereign has been an IOC member since 1985 and competed in five Winter Olympics as a bobsledder.
The IOC declined to say whether its ethics commission would look into the case.
“We take note of the allegations — and understand that there is an ongoing court case between Prince Albert and a former employee — and therefore we will at present refrain from further comment,” IOC spokesman Mark Adams said.
Source: AFP, AP
Russian Court Orders Reopening of Tsar’s Family Murders
A Moscow court has ordered a continuation of the investigation into the murder of Tsar Nicholas II and his family. This despite the last Russian imperial family were killed by Bolsheviks 92 years ago.
The Russian prosecutor general’s main investigative unit said it had formally closed a criminal investigation into the killing of Nicholas II earlier this year because the Bolsheviks who shot the family are long dead.
But Moscow’s Basmanny Court on Thursday ordered the case reopened, saying a Supreme Court ruling blaming the state for the killings made the deaths of the actual gunmen irrelevant, a lawyer for the tsar’s descendants and local news agencies said.
“This is an important step in our quest for the truth,” said German Lukyanov, the lawyer representing Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna, a descendant of the Romanov dynasty who is a claimant to the throne.
“The Russian people have the right to know what happened.”
A spokesperson for the prosecutor general’s office did not comment on whether it would contest the ruling.
Although the murders were ordered by Vladimir Lenin, it was the revolutionary firing squad who carried out the act a few hours after midnight on July 17, 1918 in Ekaterinburg. The Tsar, his wife and five children, plus four servants were the victims of the shootings.
The remains of the nine of the eleven victims were exhumed in 1991, and were buried in 1998. Recently, two more skeletons – those of one of the daughters and the the Tsar’s son – were discovered several yards from the burial site. Those remains have yet to be buried.
Descendant of Russian Dynasty Claims Kremlin in Lawsuit
A Moscow court Wednesday gave the government one month to prove that it owns Russian landmark, the Kremlin, since descendants of the country’s first ruling dynasty are claiming ownership of it.
Valery Kubarev claims to be the “Grand Prince of All Russia” and a descendant of the Rurik family, which first ruled Kievan Rus in the Middle Ages and then Moscow up until 1598 before the Romanovs came into power in 1613. Kubarev claims the Kremlin was built during his family’s rule.
His lawsuit filing comes at a time when the government is returning dozens of landmarks to the Russian Orthodox Church. The lawsuit also brings up the question of who really owns the 28 hectare area of palaces, cathedrals and government buildings surrounded by a high red brick wall.
A lawyer for Rosimushchestvo (the Federal Agency for State Property Management) says that while the Kremlin is owned by the state, no one has ever officially claimed or registered it as their property.
“The court noted that there is no document that proves that the Kremlin is somebody’s property. All we have is a presidential decree that says that the Kremlin is his residence,” Kubarev said. “Well, I could write my own decree, too.”
According to the Rossiiskaya Gazeta newspaper, the Russian government is pointing out that the U.N. recognizes the Kremlin as a World Heritage Site and the property of the state.
But Kubarev doesn’t seem to care.
“I want the address registered in my passport to say, ‘Kremlin, Moscow,’” Kubarev said. “The Ruriks have always helped spur spiritual and cultural development in Russia, so the dynasty needs to be registered in the heart of this country.”
Besides the Kremlin, Kubarev is also claiming other property in Russia, including the medieval citadel of the northwestern Russian city of Pskov.
Even more bizarre is his reaction to the smirks and laughter in Russia. On his website for the Princes’ Foundation, Kubarev warns: “Let us add that the Rurik family is descended from ancient gods whom one would do well not to disturb, otherwise the consequences for the jokesters will be dire.”
The Moscow court will hear the case on October 18th.
Sources: AOL, Moscow Times