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The ado about Pussy Riot seems to be subsiding now that the story has led to a court verdict. Speaking in Finland, Russian diplomacy chief S. Lavrov warned the media against hysteria over the case and urged respect for the legitimate judicial decision, while in Russia the Orthodox Church called for clemency towards the offenders. The call was appropriately timed as the besieged church hierarchy refrained from influencing the situation ahead of the ruling. Believers across the country do worry that the soft sentence might leave churches vulnerable to another round of vandalism.

The controversy prompted by the hearings and the resulting sentence should not obscure the key fact – the Russian society had to face a serious maturity test, and since, in the words of D.P. Moynihan, “it is culture, not politics, that determines the success of a society”, the scope of the gauge was broader than politics. As of late, the trendy vocabulary centered around the concept of post-modern incorporated the term ”punk prayer”, a bizarre verbal compound which popped up amidst the current Russian debates. From a wider perspective, the phenomenon encountered is best described as post-culture. That should not be mixed with anti-culture, which is the reaction of the type "When I hear the word 'culture' I reach for my gun" known to have surfaced in the nominally civilized world. The post-culture is the rebellion of a black hole, a revolt put up by sheer nothingness. There is a long way to go from shooting at icons or demolishing churches as “vestiges of the past” in the name of skewed ideals to installing one's inner hideousness in the middle of a shrine. The division of atheist labor in the communist epoch implied that commoners do the job of primitive destruction, while it was the mission of the Bolshevist intellectuals to invent rites intended to replace baptism, to compose coarse anti-religious rhymes, or to stage carnivals with characters dressed as priests, monks, and other “unenlightened” Christians. The policy thus combined distastefulness with a fairly systemic approach, the assumption being that crude propaganda appealed most to the populace.

Surveys conducted across the US show thatthe majority of Americans, including senior citizens old enough to remember the US entry into World War II, regard the September, 11, 2001 drama as exceeding in historical importance the 1941 Pearl Harbor attack. Speaking of the latter, these days it is an open secret that the US Administration was aware of the coming Japanese offensive and, instead of taking adequate measures beforehand, knowingly sacrificed around 1,500 lives to have the country drawn into a war as planned in Washington. US Secretary of War Henry Stimson rote in his diary following the November 25, 1941 government meeting: “The question was how we should maneuver them [the Japanese] into the position of firing the first shot without allowing too much danger to ourselves. It was a difficult proposition”. 

The 24th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) annual summit is to take place on September 2-8 in Vladivostok. Today APEC is the largest economic forum for 21 Asia-Pacific nations accounting for 57% of world GNP and 48% of world trade. As is known India has requested membership in the organization. Russia strongly supports the urge of the «world’s largest Democracy» to accede. Moscow rightly believes that adding the dynamic economy of the Elephant to the Dragon (China), an active APEC participant, will open new opportunities for all those who have joined the forum… 

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Pranab Mukherjee is regarded as one of India’s most experienced and authoritative politicians. Apparently his election as President of India will add the required logic and coherence to the Indian foreign policy, the qualities it has evidently lacked in the recent 5-7 years. First, such super large entity as India will promote strengthening of existing economic structures in the world’s most economically dynamic region. It will also counter the attempts to change the fundamental principles of international relations, first of all the presumption of unity and territorial integrity of states and societies. Second, India’s joining APEC will facilitate the efforts to solve the problem of strategic importance: strengthening horizontal economic ties in the Southwest Asia and enriching the content of external economic activities of regional actors. (The Indian experience of getting the best out of  «plan» and «market»  collectively may prove really invaluable under conditions of global economic slowdown). Third, India has already moved ahead substantially in this direction. It has done solid preparatory work in the form of «Look East» policy initiated in 1997. The Gujral Doctrine has become an effective instrument of strengthening India’s diplomatic ties with the states of Southeast Asia. The economic relations with these countries have also undergone  a qualitative evolution: today the region has become the largest market for India’s goods accounting for over half of exports (it was only 40% at the beginning of the century). The economic relations have solid political foundation. India has signed agreements with important APEC members like: Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia.