Izvestia talked with Anrey Vodyanik, creator of one of the main symbols of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics - the Olympic torch. The designer said they were inspired by Zhar-Pticya, a mythical firebird of Russian folklore - it also happens to look like a stylized Cyrillic "R" and bears similarities with a hockey stick - but it's not just a pretty stick with some oil - cutting edge technology was used in order to make sure the flame can be carried through whatever Mother Nature throws at it. After all, it has much ground to cover - from Kamchatka to Sochi, it's thousands of kilometers - and Russia is known for its severe winter weather. On its way to the home of the next Winter Olympics, it will visit such notable locations as the top of Mount Elbrus, highest mountain of Europe and depths of lake Baikal, world's oldest lake. Vodyanik explained some of the technology used to create the torch, promising it will not go off unless its operator wants it to - not wind, not rain and not even dropping it will extinguish the flame, fueled by pure propane, better adapted for cold temperatures than other substances. The devices has been extensively tested in special lab with simulated snowstorms and hurricanes. The article also states that overall 16,000 torches were made, but does not clarify what is the purpose of such a high production volume.
If you miss the holiday cheer and wish Christmas and New Year celebrations could have lasted a little bit longer, stop by Moscow! Moskovskiy Komsomolets reports that while there's snow, there will be festive decorations. It seems that everywhere there are still trees and lights and other beautiful decorations, which were put up some time in December - these are not going anywhere any time soon. According to Sergei Voronin, deputy General Director of the company responsible for decorating several downtown streets and squares, his organization decided to keep the streets looking pretty up until the next bank holiday, March 8th, and maybe later - turns out that the city hall of Russia's capital had the same idea and suggested the city remains 'dressed up' until the traditional Maslenitsa holiday, celebrating the end of Winter and scheduled for mid-March. Quote "It's a pity to take down this loveliness. When Moscow looks like this it's more pleasant to walk around. There's much more people on the streets now than usual" unquote. Christmas trees, or New Year's trees how they're called in Russia, will also be left in place despite their name suggesting otherwise - they not only instill a sense of merrymaking, but also partially accomplish the mission of making downtown greener, according to a statement from the city administration.
Russia's Defense Ministry is rethinking its strategy when it comes to military hardware. The first contract to be affected by it is the purchase of Italian LMV M65 armored cars, codename "Rys" or "Lynx". Although existing agreements will be fulfilled and almost 1800 units will be constructed within the framework of the purchased license, the Ministry is not looking to renew it. Rossiyskaya Gazeta explains that this decision has been made by the unofficial high-ranking member of the Russian military - General Frost. Recently the Italian Lynx was tested alongside the Russian Tiger, a similar armored car, on a Defense Ministry firing range near the town of Bronnitsy. While the Russian vehicle braved the elements and the rough terrain with no problems, the Lynx failed to perform in the typical conditions of winter
Russia. The article highlights that other issues with Italian hardware have since been discovered. Hence the Ministry decided to shift their focus to the domestic producer, especially given the fact that such heavy machinery giants as KAMAZ have "interesting proposals", according to Deputy Defense Minister Yuri Borisov.
The Moscow Times writes that Russia-Georgia relations may be warming up. Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev had a conversation with his Georgian counterpart, Bidzina Ivanishvili, during a reception at the Davos World Economic Forum late Wednesday according to Medvedev's spokeswoman, Natalya Timakova. Timakova downplayed the meeting by adding that Medvedev talked "with many delegation heads from other countries" during the forum, but as the daily highlights, national media were quick to point out that the encounter marked the first direct contact between governments of both countries in years. The article reminds that diplomatic ties between Moscow and Tbilisi were cut in 2008, after both countries fought a brief war over Georgia's breakaway region South Ossetia, followed by Moscow's recognition of independence for that region. Moreover, this week saw other symbolic high-level meetings of officials between both countries. On Wednesday, Georgian Patriarch Ilia II became the most prominent Georgian to be received by President Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin since the 2008 war. The daily also quotes Felix Stanevsky, an expert with the Kremlin-connected CIS Institute, who served as ambassador to Georgia from 1996 to 2000, who confirms that this week's meetings were undoubtedly positive, but argues that progress is likely to be slow because differences were based on non-tradable issues.