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Putin 'Ray of Light' on Latin America Tour

Published: July 14, 2014 (Issue # 1819)



  • President Vladimir Putin is greeted by Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega on Saturday, who called the Russian president a "ray of light."
    Photo: Presidential Press Service / Kremlin.ru

President Vladimir Putin visited three Latin American countries over the weekend in a whirlwind tour aimed at demonstrating Moscow's resilience as an international power despite Western attempts at isolation stemming from the Ukraine crisis.

Putin began his trip with visits to Cuba and Argentina, before traveling on to Brazil in time for the World Cup Final on Sunday. He signed a range of deals along the way, including agreements to establish Glonass positioning stations in each country, as well as a nuclear power plant development deal with Argentina.

Although the visit to what for strategic purposes is broadly viewed as the U.S.'s backyard was planned prior to Kiev's regime change, analysts see the trip as a geopolitical move in the context of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

Vladimir Davydov, director of the Russian Academy of Sciences' Latin America Institute, told The St. Petersburg Times on Sunday that the trip illustrates the point that while Russia is more than simply a regional power, it is not striving to become a global superpower.

"Russia wants to counterbalance the U.S., but it wants to do so together with China and other BRICS countries. Russia positions itself as a separate pole of power, but not as a single alternative," he said in a phone interview.

Dmitry Trenin, director of the Moscow Carnegie Center tweeted on Thursday that Putin's goal in Latin America was to demonstrate that "Russia is not a regional power." Having been excluded from the Group of Eight, Russia has shifted its focus to BRICS, he added, noting that the trip further proves that Russia has friends among the U.S.'s neighbors.

Following Russia's annexation of Crimea, U.S. President Barack Obama caused an uproar among pundits by labeling Russia a "regional power."

"Russia is a regional power that is threatening some of its immediate neighbors not out of strength but out of weakness," he said at a news conference in The Hague in late March.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Thursday, Aug. 21


Time is running out to see the fantastic creations on display at the 2014 Sand Castle Festival on the beach at the Peter and Paul Fortress. Adhering to the theme of Treasure Island, visitors can wander amongst larger-than-life interpretations of pirate life or attend one of the workshops held to educate a future generation of sand artists. The castles will remain on the beach until Aug. 31.



Friday, Aug. 22


Get ready to pledge allegiance to the flag during National Flag Day, paying tribute to when, 23 years ago today, the iconic hammer-and-sickle was replaced with the tricolor that now flutters in the wind. Petersburgers will be treated to a free concert on Palace Square, a military parade and a culminating air show featuring Russias Russian Knights stunt pilots.



Saturday, Aug. 23


Uppsala Park plays host to Fairy Noon today, a performance of five separate fairy tales ranging from folk classics to more haunting selections. There will be three different renditions of the tales throughout the day and tickets start at 500 rubles ($13.80) for adults and 300 rubles ($8.30) for children.


Classic Finnish cartoon characters the Moomins expect to receive a warm welcome from Russian fans during todays Moomin Festival at the Pearl Plaza Shopping Center at 51 Petergofskoye Shosse. Become a kid again or introduce a new generation to the beloved creation of Finnish writer Tove Jansson.



Sunday, Aug. 24


The tortured genius of Dutch master Vincent van Gogh gets his day in the centers Konnushnaya Ploschad during Make Art Like Van Gogh, a daylong celebration of the artist that will allow amateur artists to try and replicate the work that made the famed painter world-renowned.


Experience a variety of dances highlighting the diversity of the world around as at the final day of the Ethno-Dance International Dance Festival that has been at the St. Petersburg Humanitarian University of Trade Unions this past week. Tonights performance will feature Egyptian dancers accompanied by local orchestras.



Monday, Aug. 25


Today kicks off the Elena Obraztsovoy International Competition for Young Vocalists in the large hall of the Shostakovich Philharmonic. Talented youngsters will showcase their range over the next six days before a winner is chosen on Aug. 30.



Tuesday, Aug. 26


Love movies but hate all those words? Then check out Rodina Cinema Centers Factor of Consensus film forum this evening. Silent movie classics from the beginning of the 20th century will be screened and accompanied by a pianist, who will provide the soundtrack for the ongoing action. The screenings begin at 7 p.m. Check Rodinas website for more details.



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