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Author Solivagant
#16 | Posted: 11 Jan 2017 02:34 | Edited by: Solivagant 
President of Russia Vladimir Putin and Strategy of the State Cultural Policy until 2030 set a task to be in the top 5 World Heritage Sites.

The Soviets had "5 Year Plans" - Putin thinks even bigger! He might even still be in power in 2030. Aged 64 now he will only be 77 - Brezhnev, the archetypal Soviet "Gerontocrat" was only 76 when he died. If Trump were to become a 2 term President he will be 78 when he "retires"!

Other countries are also going to be adding during the years to 2030 - so Russia is going to have to overtake at least Germany, India, Mexico and UK - and countries like Iran will be yapping at his heels with their own additions (Currently only 2 behind)! If we assume that just Germany added only 6 sites across those 14 years then Russia is going to need to reach 48 from the current 26 = 22 in 14 years. It "could" just about be done with many years at 2pa, riding on "trans-national" nominations etc, but Russia has first to get up to speed - and then there are those new "Operational Guidelines"!! But I can't see Putin as being the sort of President who worries much about little things like "Operational Guidelines".

Of course the whole concept of a country's leader "seeing" the "World Heritage" scheme as a means of projecting a country's image and power is somewhat distasteful. However, whilst it might be unusual to see a country putting out its objective in this respect quite so clearly, Russia is certainly not alone in treating the scheme in this way. That applies both where the aim is to get to the top of the "List" for major powers such as China or merely to "punch above ones weight" for smaller ones (I think of S Korea).

In fact, the article has relatively little concrete indication of where all those extra sites would come from. I can only see these mentioned -
a. The Silk Road
b. The "Cosmos"
c. The "peaceful development of an atom"
d. "Sports heritage where the Russian Federation's priority is undoubted"
e. "The Russian list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites is very short concerning types of heritage – historical centres, monasteries, kremlins, churches and natural landmarks"

So we can expect a lot of "kremlins" and "monasteries"!!

On another matter covered in the article - can anyone make "sense" of the issue raised here in respect of the eventually successful "Bolgar" Nomination -
"we managed to set and solve the problem of discussion of the issue on the introduction of cultural heritage sites of a country while making a decision on recommendation to introduce official representatives and experts of these countries by ICOMOS. The thing is that a country representing a landmark did not participate in meetings and could not express its opinion about facts and get rid of subjectivism of experts on introduction in the World Heritage List at times before 2015 (in general, I think it is a nonsense because ICOMOS is a non-governmental open organisation). It was a big victory for not only Tatarstan, the Russian Federation and CIS countries but also all countries (they are over 190) that ratified Convention Concerning the Protection of the World's Cultural and Natural Heritage (1972). It all was solved during the preparation of the nomination and promotion of Bolgar to the UNESCO World Heritage List."

I don't know how many of you travelled in the USSR but all the hotels and airports had racks of beautifully produced propaganda brochures for FREE (I still have many of them in my "souvenir" files in the loft!). This text reads EXACTLY as they did - the "problem" set by the dastardly "Capitalists" being "solved" by the application of the "correct principles" as only operated by the USSR!! The principles in those days were set by Marxism-Leninism - now they seem to be set by "Putinism"!!

Author nfmungard
#17 | Posted: 11 Jan 2017 07:16 | Edited by: nfmungard 
So we can expect a lot of "kremlins" and "monasteries"!

First things first, I dislike the competitive character WHS inscriptions have taken on for countries nowadays (e.g. China's quest to supplant Italy as No1),

However, I do think Russia's list is pretty short for being the largest country and pretty rich in history. I do think, though, that focusing on Kremlins and Monasteries won't get them there and is part of the reason why the list is so short. I had a few suggestions in my post after coming back from Russia (Industrialization, Communism, Metro, Transsib, Nature, Pre Medieval, ...). Let's see.

Author evilweevil
#18 | Posted: 11 Jan 2017 08:05 | Edited by: evilweevil 
Sounds interesting, any ideas what these new sites could be?
a. The Silk Road - I don't think that any part of the Silk Road ever touched the territory of today's Russia - Astrakhan maybe?
b. The "Cosmos" - well, Baikonur is in Kazakhstan, maybe the Cosmonaut Training Centre in Star City?
c. The "peaceful development of an atom" - some of the previously super-secret research towns (the Atomgrads)? I guess some of them will still be secret...
d. "Sports heritage where the Russian Federation's priority is undoubted" - can't think of anything, should be something like the Doping Sites of the Sochi Olympics...

Author Khuft
#19 | Posted: 11 Jan 2017 13:08 
To be fair, Italy is trying hard to get every major city centre and remotely interesting church inscribed, so Russia's focus on kremlins and monasteries is not so surprising. (S Korea too seems quite fond of dynastic tombs and of fortresses / fortifications). We can like it or not, but I think it's understandable.

In terms of Silk Road: I vaguely (falsely?) remember that the Silk Road study also had some of their "corridors" crossing Southern Russia (which would make sense, since it was occupied by the Mongolian Golden Horde at that time), so there may be obscure sites there. Another more sinister option would be for Russia to nominate sites in Crimea as part of the Silk Roads, which would lead to a diplomatic eclat worthy of some of the Palestine/Israel discussions.

On the peaceful development of the atom - isn't there the Dubna nuclear physics institute, which from time to time "discovers" new atomic elements? Interestingly, the "non-peaceful" development of the atom could be as worthwhile persuing in Russia - the Tsar Bomba was the largest atomic bomb ever detonated, and devastated a part of the Artic island of Novaya Zemlja. A "cultural landscape" could probably be constructed around this topic (like Bikini), though I assume President Putin will not want to follow up on this more negative route.

Apart from these, and the themes mentioned, Russia can probably also tackle the following:
- indigenous cultures: as Russia is officially a federation, some of the non-Russian peoples may have local monuments or cultural landscapes that can be deemed worth protecting. The recently added TL site Oglakhty Range highlights several prehistoric cultures that lived there as well as the rock paintings by the Khakass people (it's located in the Republic of Khakassia). The Bashkir Ural TL site similarly adds prehistoric sites to the natural base site, and paints a Bashkir cultural landscape which includes, amongst other things, a unique kind of bee-keeping/honey harvesting in that area. Without a doubt Russia can find other such sites (Reindeers! Shamanic and nomadic sites in Siberia! Vernacular architecture in the Caucasus!) that will find a soft spot in the hearts of the WHC.
- the colonization of Siberia: a large part of the LatAm sites are colonial sites, but one overlooked colonial movement is the conquest of Siberia by Russia. Some sites have already found their way to the TL - Irkust and Yenisseisk- but certainly there are more.
- the conquest of the Arctic: some of Russia's cities and towns are located in seemingly impossible locations, and required new architectural solutions (e.g. For building on permafrost). Certainly a creative Russian can come up with an interesting serial site combining cities like Murmansk, Archangelsk, Yakutsk and others.
- Mining / oil & gas industry: another area where Russia can probably identify sites. Magnitogorsk, for instance, is famous as one of the first planned Soviet cities on such a scale. Norilsk would tie into the Arctic topic. More recently, cities like Khanty-Mansiisk and Tyuemn have been (gaudily) transformed by oil and gas.

But ok - the focus will probably first be on kremlins and monasteries... :-)

Author Assif
#20 | Posted: 11 Jan 2017 14:41 
Great survey, Khuft. Just a few additions to the topics you suggested:

1) Communist architecture: We have already mentioned The Seven Sisters and the Moscovite metro stations (both in Moscow) in addition to the Mamajev in Volgagrad (already on the T-list).

2) River deltas: Two major river deltas are explicitly mentioned in the IUCN gap study. These are the Lena and Volga river deltas. Both enjoy some protection (the Lena more than the Volga) and would be great contributions to the list.

3) Add to the colonlisation of Siberia:
The famed Transsiberian Railway could also be a transnational nomination, which would help Russia in nominating more than one site p.a.
Another possible addition could be some example of penal colonialisation similar to the Australian Convict Sites: Maybe some Kolkhoz along the Kolyma Highway. I am not sure though that this is a likely course for Putin's regime to take.

4) Rock art: Khuft mentions some sites under the category of indigenous culture. Kanozero and Kapova (Bashkiria) are well-known European examples. Some Siberian examples could also be included (such as Sulkskie in Khkassia).

5). Megalithic sites: The most important are the dolmens of the Northern Caucasus and Vera Island (Ural). Both are of exceptional quality (impressive architecture, good state of preservation) and hold up to the WHS standard.

6) Early hominid remains: Mostly the Altai Neandertal is of interest (Okladnikov and Denisova caves).

7) Other archaeological sites: The best known ones are the Uyghur Por-Bazhyn (Mongolian border) and Arkaim (Southern Ural). Both are well known within Russia with Putin visiting the excavation sites, so I guess these options could be brought forward some time.

Author Assif
#21 | Posted: 11 Jan 2017 15:02 | Edited by: Assif 
Another interesting point would be possible transnational nominations.

A few ideas:

1) Communist architecture (with Belarussia, Poland etc.)

2) Space travel sites (with Baikonur Kazakhstan, USA??)

3) Transsiberian Railway (with Mongolia, China)

4) Dolmens of the North Caucasus (with Georgia??)

5) Nuclear research sites (with Switzerland: Reaktor Lucens, Large Hadron Collider)

6) Balhae sites (with North Korea)

7) Kuril Islands (with Japan)

8) Aleut Islands (with USA??)

Author evilweevil
#22 | Posted: 11 Jan 2017 15:53 

Author winterkjm
#23 | Posted: 11 Jan 2017 21:19 | Edited by: winterkjm 
(e.g. China's quest to supplant Italy as No1)

China's quest? I think its more Italy's desperate attempt to hang onto the top spot. The current numbers are a testament to the imbalance of the world heritage list that Italy has more world heritage sites than China.

I do agree Russia does have more potential, but top 5? I don't think so. Perhaps Putin plans on "Incorporating" more WHS from other countries?

Author Assif
#24 | Posted: 12 Jan 2017 06:08 
I do agree Russia does have more potential, but top 5?

Well, top 5 depends on other countries too. Around 30 further sites should be no problem, I think (enlisting feasible ideas brought forward in this forum). This would increase Russia's WHS number to about 55, which would put it above all others in the current list. The problem for Russia, beyond preparing solid nominations, is that other countries share its aims.

Author Assif
#25 | Posted: 5 Feb 2017 17:33 
Another fascinating site which could be inscribed:

Author winterkjm
#26 | Posted: 18 Jul 2017 13:33 
This article is perhaps an indication for Russian priority candidates.

In consideration for 2019
- Great Pskov
- Historical center of Gorokhovets nesco-world-heritage-list_805377

Author clyde
#27 | Posted: 29 Jul 2017 03:49 
I would like to visit Novgorod as a day trip from St Petersburg. I'm trying to find a small group tour agency online that offers such a day trip but the ones I've tried are extremely expensive for solo travellers and there's no way to book just for 1 person without spending the equivalent price for 10 people!

I know that I can travel by train but I'd rather travel with a small group this time round. Any suggestions please?

Author Solivagant
#28 | Posted: 31 Jul 2017 03:06 | Edited by: Solivagant 
I would like to visit Novgorod as a day trip from St Petersburg.

I have no answer to your question I am afraid - but I do have another question!
This month Russia altered its visa application details for UK citizens (at least) and thus joined the list of countries which, because of their visa regulations, we will NOT be revisiting! They claim that the changes were to provide equality with the requirements by UK of their citizens - and I do know that UK can make things very difficult for some nationalities to obtain UK Tourist visas - my question is whether the sorts of requirements below are being asked of other members of this forum from different countries.
Need to
a. attend a Russian Consulate in person to have fingerprints taken - in UK there is NO booking system so one is potentially faced with the problem of travelling 250 miles and finding a mile long queue of others already there!
b. list all countries visited in the last 10 (TEN!) years WITH DATES! (Could be 100 countries in our case!)
c. list all social media IDs - Facebook, Instagram etc (I wonder if they consider this Web site/forum to be "Social Media")
d. Provide details of all previous passports (around 7 in my case!)
e. Banking and income details
f. Names and addresses of all educational institutions attended and membership of professional etc institutions

Author meltwaterfalls
#29 | Posted: 31 Jul 2017 03:52 
Wow, I hadn't seen those amendments, I think that puts the kybosh on our preliminary plans of a quick Moscow and St Petersburg trip, a little too much hassle for a few days holiday. I wonder if these will still be in place for the World Cup next year?

I don't want to draw a conclusion from just two examples, but the requirement to submit social media IDs is a very concerning trend. We had to apply for our US visa waiver last month and it now asks for the same information (even for a three month old!) at the moment it is just a voluntary section, though you have to be paying attention to realise that.

Being in the fortunate position of not having to apply for the majority of European countries does any with experience know if we have similarly draconian regulations? I assume the UK is pretty restrictive for Russians as part of this tit-for-tat excercise.

Author nfmungard
#30 | Posted: 31 Jul 2017 04:01 | Edited by: nfmungard 
Great Pskov

Hoping this pans out and justifies the small detour I took travelling from Moscow to Saint Peterburgs. But not holding my breath.

I know that I can travel by train but I'd rather travel with a small group this time round. Any suggestions please?

And bus for that matter. I think that's what I took coming in Pskov and continuing to Saint Petersburg as these run more frequently.

I think the key problem you face is that this is a really simple day trip from Saint Petersburg and an organized tour offers little value to the budget / independent traveler. So the tours are more for the lazy, rich travelers and the prices set accordingly. Also, there are plenty of rich Russians. And foreigners coming to Saint Petersburg would, my hunch, also fall more in the upper social crust.

This month Russia altered its visa application details for UK citizens (at least) and thus joined the list of countries which, because of their visa regulations, we will NOT be revisiting!

For me it would be foremost the language barrier. The place is great but really hard to navigate with nobody speaking even the tiniest amount of English.

In my case, I wouldn't be as worried. The Russian consulate in Hamburg is rather not busy, so going there wouldn't be much of a hassle. Normally the Russians make you fill out loads of paperwork but then they don't really care about it. E.g. you have to keep receipts for all your hotels, etc, till you depart the country. Finally, you can always just pay an agency and I am pretty sure they will figure out a way (knowing someone who knows someone) for you at the right price.

However, I just cancelled a visit to a friend in Miami. I was looking at transitting via Miami to Peru and do a short stopover on my way back to Germany to catch up with an old friend. Now with transit times at US airports quite terrible due to the border controls, US airlines quite terrible, too, and the flight time being way longer than the option offered by KLM, this was already a not obvious choice. I decided to cancel when the ESTA form asked for my social media accounts. And yes it says optional, but I don't really buy this. If you ask, you expect to get the information. Why wouldn't you want to share if you have nothing to hide? We had that in Germany before.

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