Russian Supreme Court Reinstates Governor Denin as Candidate
The judicial board on administrative matters of the Russian Supreme Court yesterday overturned the Bryansk regional court’s ruling to disqualify Bryansk Region Governor Nikolai Denin from running for re-election. The court decided not to retry the case and immediately dismissed the claim from Communist Party candidate Vadim Potomsky, which had been upheld in the first instance.
The reason given for disqualifying Denin was irregularities found with the petition signatures in his support – 185 signature entries had incorrectly named municipalities, and municipalities were not listed at all for 37 signatures.
During the Supreme Court hearings, Bryansk Region election commission chairman Igor Kaplunov argued that these were not serious errors. The Prosecutor’s Office and the Central Election Commission (CEC) both supported Denin. CEC representative Dmitry Voronin asserted that the Bryansk regional court made a fundamental error, interpreting the regional law on gubernatorial elections too broadly.
“The Supreme Court has restored justice,” said Denin.
“Now Bryansk Region residents have the opportunity to go to the polls and make their choice,” said Potomsky, who was the only candidate left after the other candidates bowed out in favor of Denin. Potomsky is certain he will win the election.
However, Communist Party Secretary Sergei Obukhov said the Supreme Court’s decision was the result of “unprecedented pressure on the court, which the ruling United Russia party, its faction in the State Duma and the CEC shamelessly, brazenly and cynically applied."
Denin and United Russia General Council Secretary Sergei Neverov termed the regional court’s ruling “a manifestation of corruption.”
Yesterday, the regional council of judges issued a statement clarifying its criticism of the officials as pressure on the court and called such actions unacceptable.
“This assessment by high-level government officials of a court ruling violates the Constitution of the Russian Federation and indicates an absence of basic legal culture,” the statement reads.
Denin’s former deputy Yury Borisov sued Denin for libel under the Criminal Code. Libel committed with the use of one’s official position is punishable by a fine of up to 2 million rubles.
“We were told that this ruling raises questions,” said Neverov.
As for the implication of corruption, the judge in question was never identified, he adds.
Political analyst Mikhail Tulsky said it’s possible that Denin himself instigated the “carnival ride of Denin’s disqualification.” Tulsky pointed out that the governor was disqualified by the very same judge that had previously approved the rejection of the registration of one of Denin’s real opponents, Vyacheslav Rudnikov, for apparently trumped-up reasons that could not be verified in the Supreme Court. This allowed Denin to consolidate administrative resources with the potential electorate in his campaign against Potomsky.
Kandinsky Shown in Moscow before Christie's Sale
Christie's auction house has put Wassily Kandinsky's Study for Improvisation 8 on display at Moscow’s Multimedia Art Museum prior to its Impressionist and modern art auction in New York on November 7.
Christie's has historically focused on aristocratic and elite clients, which is why part of the Moscow display was open to an exclusive audience of art collectors. It included top lots such as paintings, jewelry and watches at designer Valentin Yudashkin’s mansion. His models in furs, feathers and glittering studs added pomp to the show.
Some items, such as the charming Embroiderer by Jean-Baptiste Chardin, set in a glass case with some fine jewelry pieces, will not be put up for public sale. Private sales have grown into a very profitable business for auction houses, winning over antique gallery owners. The Chardin is valued at $5 million, which is higher than the surrounding diamonds due to its being rare: most of the 18th century French painter’s works, collected by the Rothschild family, were lost during World War II. These charming genre paintings were a Chardin specialty.
The Portrait of Natalia Podbelskaya by Nicolai Fechin is expected to fetch 1.2-1.8 million pounds at the next Russian auction in London. It is a rare piece painted before the artist immigrated to America. A gorgeous curly-haired young woman absent-mindedly toys with a gold chain; the brushstrokes, which are rather chaotic at the edges, form a beguiling face with crimson lips at the center. This portrait has clear Art Nouveau influences and can be ranked with the famous portraits by Valentin Serov.
But it is Study for Improvisation 8 painted in 1909 in Murnau near Munich which will be a true highlight in New York. The painting will be displayed in Moscow for a few days – it would have been unfair to deprive Russians of a chance to see it before it disappears into some private collection.
The Study, with its vibrant yellow color scheme, is even better than the Improvisation itself, which is part of a private collection in America. Non-Russians tend to assume that it portrays the golden domes of Kiev with St. Boris and St. Gleb in the foreground. Russians, in turn, see some medieval town with European churches or maybe Oriental minarets, and a knight with a sword, but this is hardly important. This piece marks a turn in Kandinsky’s creative work, a shift from realism to abstraction.
The auction house expects the work to go for $20-$30 million, which could set a record for a Kandinsky painting, beating his Improvisation 3, which was sold for $16.9 million at Christie's in 2008, and the auction record holder Fugue, which went for $20.9 million at Sotheby's in 1990. Improvisation 4 was sold for $3.4 million, in 1995.
Considering its provenance including dozens of exhibitions and publications, Study for Improvisation 8 is certainly an attractive piece for long-term investment.
Russian Orthodox Church to Start Global Environmental Campaign in 2013
The Russian Orthodox Church plans to begin promoting green values starting with next year. Orthodox parishes in Russia and abroad will involve their members in environmental volunteer work.
The initiative will include countries other than Russia’s closest neighbors. Russian Orthodox churches across Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia and Latin America will be explaining to believers that voluntarily protecting nature is a duty honored by the Bishops’ Council.
“This environmental promotion is not just aimed at one country. What concerns the Russian diocese also concerns foreign dioceses,” archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin said.
Unlike Greenpeace and WWF, this program will not be politicized; its purpose is purely educational. The Russian Conservation Society has assisted the Russian Orthodox Church in developing ‘green guidelines’ for all Russian Orthodox churches to follow.
“We don’t plan to tie ourselves to oil rigs or lie on railway tracks to stop nuclear waste trains,” Alexander Kazakov of the Russian Conservation Society said. “Russian Orthodox parishes abroad will take part in educating people, improving their environment and supporting those who feel compromised by pollution from a nearby plant or busy highway.”
The parishes will start by improving their immediate neighborhoods, which could include developing the property and facilities around the churches.
“People in Germany may want to take part in conserving the Rhine. Five European countries have already joined hands to restore the river, but it needs constant attention,” Kazakov says.
The church will rely on donations only to fund the program, including from Russian businessmen living abroad. For example, last spring the church in the Seychelles requested assistance from Mikhail Prokhorov and Bidzina Ivanishvili. There are potentially tens of millions of people who could be green volunteers from the Russian Orthodox Church. The program could be of interest to former and current Russian nationals as well as to foreign members of the church. There is a good chance the Belarusian and Ukrainian exarchates will join this environmental initiative.
The program’s organizers feel certain the conservation efforts of the Russian church will not face resistance from local authorities and other religious communities and they hope to enlist the help of local volunteers.
“There is no reason for conflict when it comes to keeping water clean,” Oleg Kalimullin, communications adviser for the Moscow patriarchate, says.
The only possible obstacle to the church’s environmental activity could be the intentional politicization by local public figures.
The program will review similar experiences at other Christian denominations. The final program will, however, be based on the Russian experience.
Priests will be encouraged to study environmental science and biosphere. Educational programs will offer an Orthodox perspective of green issues to students, scientists and children. Moreover, sermons might include prayers for the prudent use of natural resources and the protection of the environment with the focus on both urban and rural needs.
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