News / Europe

Russia Starts Converting Ulan Ude as Gateway City to Asia

Buddhist monks walk near a Buddhist temple in Ulan Ude, about 70 kilometers southeast of Lake Baikal, July 31, 2008 (file photo)
Buddhist monks walk near a Buddhist temple in Ulan Ude, about 70 kilometers southeast of Lake Baikal, July 31, 2008 (file photo)

Multimedia

James Brooke

Last year, China replaced Germany as Russia’s largest trading partner. Now, as Russian gas and oil pipelines increasingly point East, the Kremlin wants to convert a backwater city on the Trans-Siberian Railway into Asia’s door to Russia.


The songs, the dances, and the Mongolian faces put an Asian stamp on this old Russian city that's on the ‘Tea Trail.’

For three centuries, Ulan Ude was an accident of empire. Buryat nomads - the northernmost Mongolian people - living inside the borders of Russia.

Kremlin focuses on Asia

Now Asia is booming, and the Kremlin is looking east.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin flew five time zones east of Moscow to tell Buryatia leaders they will play a strategic role in building Russia’s ties with Asia. Their mission is to build an Asian-friendly port of entry to Russia.

Putin said that without a doubt, the entry of Buryatia into Russia had very serious geopolitical significance, it helped to strengthen the eastern borders of the country and Russia's presence in Asia.

The leaders gathered to mark 350-year anniversary of Buryatia joining Russia.

Behind the singing and dancing was geopolitics.

Upgrading the infrastructure

Russia’s finance Minister Alexei Kudrin came to say the Kremlin is spending half a billion dollars to upgrade roads, airports and hotels to give Asian tourists international standard access to Lake Baikal.

As visiting Chinese reporters took note, Kudrin said that Ulan Ude will host finance ministers from 21 Pacific Rim nations at next year’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting. With the ministers, Kudrin said, will come hundreds of Asian journalists, and hopefully Asian tourism and investment.

He hailed Ulan Ude as the center of Buddhism in Russia. He said in order to have a development vector from Asia into Russia, the leaders need to show there is a rich tradition connecting Russia with other regions represented in APEC, and most importantly with South East Asia.

Religious, ethnic tolerance

Not only is Buryatia in the same time zone as Japan and Korea, but the republic is in the same spiritual zone - one of religious tolerance.

This is often absent in European Russia, where racist gangs have attacked Asian men in recent years. On Monday, a court in Moscow handed down life sentences to five local neo-Nazis convicted in the murders of 27 non-Russians in the Moscow area during a two year period.

In contrast, since the collapse of the Soviet Union 20 years ago, about 10,000 Chinese have moved to Buryatia to live and work. Many say they find Ulan Ude to be Asian-friendly.

You May Like

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike in Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid