Izvestia reports that a company from Skolkovo, the Russian government innovation project is preparing to challenge Facebook, Twitter and the likes with their upcoming service Manifest. The company, called Redmadrobot, is planning to introduce Manifest to the US and Europe next week. This social network of sorts will be the epitome of emotional sharing - through a couple of finger presses users will be able to tell the world what they think is "cool" or "dumb". General director of Redmadrobot Maxim Voloshin told the daily that this is basically an extension of the Facebook "Like" system by adding the "Dislike" category. While the article does not mention it, the premise appears to be similar to Instagram. Geared towards mobile devices, users will be able to register from blank or through Twitter and Facebook accounts after which they will be able to snap a picture by pressing either "cool" or "dumb". After that users can share the image with their friends with standard functionality such as comments and tags. Initially the app will be exclusive for iOS with Android and Windows Phone 8 versions in the works. Developers plan to attract around 300,000 users during the first year with the main hook being the dual expressionism and minimum number of interactions required to share content, as well as a specialized promotional campaign based on trendsetting bloggers and online personalities. The newspaper interviewed Denis Gusev, head of "Outsourcing 24" IT services agency, who believes the idea offers little new and is unlikely to attract a massive user base.
Tuberculosis is a serious health threat in Russia, but it appears that recent efforts to get it under control are starting to yield results, according to The Moscow Times. Thursday, during a conference dedicated to World TB Day, health experts announced that the number of TB-infected people declined significantly last year. Moreover, TB mortality rate fell from 15.3 deaths to 13.9 deaths per 100,000 people. 2011 is only the third year since 2003 that a declining infection rate has been recorded, leading some experts to say the tide is turning in the effort to decrease domestic prevalence.
Still, despite the cautious optimism at the event, which carried the slogan “our generation should stop TB,” experts acknowledged that Russia remains among the top 22 countries in the world by cases of TB infection. While the overall number of TB cases is falling, the number of cases involving multidrug-resistant TB and combined cases of HIV/AIDS and TB rose last year by 7.6 percent and 1.9 percent, respectively with prison inmates being most vulnerable to the infection. Siberian and far eastern regions of Russia also still have almost the double of infection rate compared to the nation-wide average.
The Moscow tourism committee has launched the government auction for the marketing strategy aimed at making the Russian capital a travel hotspot. The winner will have to conduct an analysis of the current makeup of tourists visiting Moscow and provide the city's competitive advantages. The data will be then used to create Moscow's brand as a travel destination to be use in marketing campaigns worldwide. With the deadline set this fall, the strategy provided by the winning bid will then be subjected to public discussions and expert workgroups. The city administration expects the brand to position Moscow as a historic city with a modern level of service. With a little under 4 and a half million foreign visitors checking in to the capital last year, officials hope to double the number by 2018 - the year Russia hosts the soccer World Cup. Head of the committee Sergey Shpilko told the daily that some of the obvious problems of the city are already being addressed, such as its image of an expensive city. Reasonably-priced hotels are believed to be hard to find, but Shpilko said that "It's a myth that is being dispelled", meaning that there is indeed a large sector of mid-level hotels and even more are being constructed. With two Moscow travel guides in 8 languages each being in the works, 13 more with narrower specialization are planned down the road with titles like "Orthodox Christian Moscow", "Learning Russian in Moscow" and "Moscow Subway". Establishing a unified brand strategy should help the big picture - according to the article, currently efforts to make Moscow more tourist-friendly are ineffective as they lack coordination and direction.
Russian human rights activists on Thursday called for creation a new supervisory body in the European Court of Human rights that would be tasked with enforcing the Court’s rulings. Kommersant explains that most likely this is caused by the fact that Russia is currently the leader in terms of the number of complaints to the Court; at the same time, the government is not known for its cooperation and agreeable nature when it comes to adhering to the court’s orders. The looming decision of the Court to streamline its operation and delegate some of its proceedings to national courts also worries Russian activists, who believe this may negatively impact objectivity of most cases. While representatives of 24 Russian NGOs pressing for a new supervisory authority hope it would help uphold justice, a Russian judge working at the European Court of Human Rights told the daily that he personally does not believe creation of a new body is a sound idea. Instead, he believes it is better to “solve underlying issues leading to infractions on a national level”.