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The notes of a journalist working in Europe for Russian TV

Archive for October 2008

On AN-2 above Berlin

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Old Soviet planes AN-2 fly above Berlin regularly these days, it is actually the high season. Till Thursday, October 30, when Tempelhof airport closes down.



Here is our ticket. And that’s what AN-2 itself looks like.



This particular plane was made in Poland in 1968 – the pilots say the bi-planes were made in two places outside the USSR – in Poland and in China.

As I mentioned in my previous post, there are 9 passenger seats in this AN-2. It used to be a training plane for skydivers during the GDR times, later it has been transformed for sightseeing flights and the seats have been added. As a tenth passenger I got a seat near the pilot…



…but everybody wanted to see everything and take pictures…



so we swapped places and others could enjoy the view.


Old Soviet planes flying above the Brandenburg Gate wouldn’t be nice memories for the Germans, I presume. So we didn’t fly towards the Berlin center.



Tempelhof is situated to the south from the center and the sightseeing route goes away from it. Actually AN-2 has been designed after the WWII, in 1947, and has being produced ever since. The AN-2 history site claims the plane is even in the Guinness World Records Book. Well I don’t know whether it is true but AN-2 is indeed a classic for Russians. “Annushka” is a tender name for it (sounds just like a diminutive from the name Anna); “kukuruznik” (to be pronounced “kookoorooznik”) is a common name, it comes from the word “kukuruza” (“maize” or “corn”). AN-2 is universal and has been used a lot as an agriculturial aeroplane. It works quite well as a tourist plane, too – personal ventilation tools are particularly impressive.



So no Reichstag or Brandenburg gate in view – the only real “Berlin thing” we noticed was the television tower. I will show it in my report on NTV on Friday and will give the link to the video here, too.

UPD Here is the link



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October 29, 2008 at 11:45 am

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From the sky above Berlin

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We are indeed flying!

Ten passengers are onboard, and the tenth one (myself, of course) didnt get a passenger seat and I am sitting next to the pilot.

What an irony – the old German airport arranged sightseeing flights with Soviet planes – AN-2.

We landed while I was writing this.

All impressions – later.

Written by andreyshilov

October 28, 2008 at 1:30 pm

Posted in airports, planes, Tempelhof

I am back from the funeral of an airport

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And tomorrow we will look at the deceased one from the sky (if we are lucky with weather).

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October 28, 2008 at 2:46 am

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A mixture of Elvis and Frank Sinatra, with Southern touch – that’s how I can try to describe Muslim Magomaev, a great singer who died today in Moscow.



He became extremely popular in mid-60s in the USSR and for me in the late 70s he was a living classic. I asked my mum today what it was that made him the first Soviet star. Relatively stable decade of the 60s brought TV-sets to big amount of Soviet families and Magomaev was the first singer who impressed the public by his appearance not less than his voice.



He was from Azerbaijan, then a Soviet province, and he had explosive combination of a sexy Southern man, an opera voice, Italian education, aristocratic look and a trendy repertoir. USSR for the first time could afford really a chic style star.


Just a few years ago I had great pleasure to observe my 2 year old son enjoying a classic Soviet animation musical called “The Musicians of Bremen” where Magomaev sings for the main character Trubadur. My son literally stuck to the film, he was watching it every single day for a year or so and I had possibility to enjoy the voice many times.



And the last thing – since I started with comparison to Sinatra:

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October 25, 2008 at 10:24 pm

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Another “Battle of the Year”

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Another “Battle of the Year” follows a real one which I wrote about the other day. Breakdance again – but performed by well-known guys. The joke video is being discussed in Russian blogs also because it is produced by Dmitry Lesnevsky who used to be an owner of a Russian Ren-TV Channel, sold his share due to some Russian circumstances and now is busy with the MiniMovie project outside of Russia.



Needless to say there were videos of similar kind with Russian characters. The one that comes to mind first of all is the one where Russia’s then President Vladimir Putin lost his car and is trying to get a ride to the Kremlin (it is very common in Russia to get a ride this way, it is cheaper and quicker than taxi). Putin doesn’t know the price (it is usually discussed before driving) and the route (it is particularly funny because the video shows he stands very close to the Kremlin Wall).

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October 25, 2008 at 2:37 pm

No way

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“10% of [Russia’s] population live in settlements and villages without stable connection with the road network”, Russian prime minister confirmed.


So approximately 14 mln of Russians live in places where you can’t get by road all around the year. You might need a boat, or properly frozen river to drive on ice, or a helicopter.


I have been to many places like this in Russia but they were thinly populated, half-deserted, with just pensioners in there, with population of 3, 10, 100 people.


Perhaps Northern settlements are included in the statistics: they might have infrastructure but surface transport connection would be too expensive for them.


But it is indeed shocking to realize there are tens of thousands of inaccessible settlements in Russia and millions of people are living there.

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October 23, 2008 at 1:45 pm

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The magnificent nine

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The guys from “TOP 9”, a Russian breakdance team, look just like usual guys in their 20s. We filmed them before Battle of the year 2008” and after the UK B-boy Championship” where they took the main award.


From 21 to 28 years old, graduates from different universities – “Saint-Petersburg University of Culture” as well as some financial ones. Breakdance is not their hobby anymore – they even toured with a show in Russia. Just this combination of very teenager clothes and behavior with “5 hours per day” practicing – that’s what impresses me. And it is definitely the case with all teams of the world level. The head of the South Korean “Extreme” mentioned exactly the same to me: “5 hours practicing, and thinking about it while walking, eating, driving – breakdance takes perhaps 10 hours per day all together”.


“TOP 9” sent me an sms about their Braunschweig victory at 6am next morning – the night was hot, I presume. I wonder how I would feel after taking two world-top awards within a week.


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October 23, 2008 at 10:54 am

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