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    Nature / 16 June 2010 | N 465, 858
    Russia woos lost scientists
    Minister of education and science discusses plans for rebuilding the country's research base
    • Quirin Schiermeier & Konstantin Severinov
    Министр образования и науки России Андрей Фурсенко дал интервью журналу Nature, рассказав, в чем состоит основная проблема современной российской науки, что делать с "утечкой мозгов" и как привлечь в Россию зарубежных специалистов. Кроме корреспондента Nature Квирина Ширмайера, в беседе участвовал Константин Северинов, заведующий лабораторией Института молекулярной генетики РАН, профессор Университета Ратгерса (США).

Once a scientific powerhouse, Russia is still struggling to rebuild a research system shattered by the demise of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the decade of economic hardship that followed. To speed up the recovery, the Russian government recently announced a 90-billion-rouble (US$2.8 billion) programme aimed at strengthening universities and getting high-profile expatriate researchers to return to Russia (see Nature 464, 1257; 2010). And a conference next week in St Petersburg will gather representatives of Russia's scientific diaspora to discuss how йmigrйs can help to restore Russian science to its former glory. In an exclusive interview, Nature spoke to Andrei Fursenko, the minister of education and science of the Russian Federation, about how he hopes to bring the diaspora back home and boost the international standing of Russian science.
What problems does Russian science face?
The revolutionary changes that occurred in the 1990s created many problems for science, such as a dramatic decrease in funding, the decline of the scientist's social status, and a low demand for research from the economy. We think that over the past decade we have been gradually overcoming these difficulties and restoring the traditions of the Russian schools of science. Science has once again become interesting and attractive for talented young people and Russian businesses. Russian scientists are actively collaborating with their foreign colleagues.
But there are still many obstacles. They include the archaic system for organizing Russian science, in which scientific research is often artificially separated from education. Russian science has long been isolated from global science, and as a result our scientific priorities and their support system are obsolete. Science is notorious for its paternalistic nature generally, and in our case it has been further exacerbated by its Soviet upbringing.
All these obstacles are ultimately surmountable. Furthermore, I have reason to believe that the current situation is fundamentally different from what it was five or seven years ago. It would be premature to speak about a breakthrough, but positive changes are obvious. We hope we will be able to gradually create a network of world-class research universities in our country.
In the early 1990s, Russia encountered a significant "brain drain", when many scientists moved to the West. How will you encourage them to return?
The nature of modern science is global, and it would be wrong and detrimental to impede the international mobility of scientists. For a number of reasons, however, this mobility has proven to be a one-way street for Russia. It is estimated that up to 35,000 scientists emigrated from Russia in the 1990s. Approximately the same number are still officially assigned to their respective institutions in Russia, but are in fact permanently working abroad. As a result, in many disciplines our old professors have been left without apprentices, and our young scientists have no one to learn from. These gaps should be filled not by restricting the mobility of scientists but by expanding it, and not only by encouraging our scientists to return, but also by attracting leading foreign specialists to Russia.
Last year, the government launched a federal programme, 'Scientific and pedagogical labour force for an innovative Russia', to encourage our scientists working abroad to return, take leadership of scientific teams and implement research projects in Russia. The projects were selected for federal funding on the basis of competitions, and generated a great deal of interest. The winners include our compatriots living and working in 22 foreign countries. Among them are scientists, university professors and the heads of laboratories of some leading universities and research centres in the United States, Germany and Great Britain.
The government has allocated 12 billion roubles to attract world-class scientists to Russian universities. How will that money be distributed?
The money will come from the federal budget over the next three years, and will be used to fund university research. It will be made available in the form of competitive grants of up to 150 million roubles each, which will support scientific research projects in 2010-12, with the possibility of extending the projects for another year or two. This is not a redistribution of previously allocated science and education funding; these are new, additional funds.
Both Russian and foreign scientists are eligible for the grants. They will be awarded to universities, which will then agree with the recipients - principal investigators (PIs) of international repute - the terms and conditions of the research. Applications will have to pass through peer review according to international practice. To encourage mobility, Russian PIs will be required to relocate to a university they have not worked at before, and to set up a research team involving local scientists. Each research-project team must include young scientists, as well as graduate and undergraduate university students. A maximum of 60% of the grant money can be used for salaries.
The scientific research areas will be determined, and the grant decisions made, by the Russian Federation's grant board, which consists of internationally renowned Russian scholars. I have been asked to head the board. An official request for proposals will be published on 25 June.
How closely do Russian researchers collaborate with international colleagues?
A lot depends on the personal initiative, energy and entrepreneurship of the scientist or research group. Universities in Moscow and St Petersburg tend to take a more active part in international cooperation than most of the regional universities, although those in Tomsk and Novosibirsk are increasingly showing results that are on a par with them. Our goal is to provide the entire Russian scientific community with equal opportunities to expand international links and to create partnerships that are not limited to a handful of demonstration projects at elite universities.

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    Le Point / le 24/05/2010
    Lancement de la fusée Soyouz - Yannick d'Escatha, président du CNES : "On va y arriver"
    • Par Jean Guisnel
    Le Point публикует интервью с президентом французского Национального центра космических исследований (CNES) Яником д'Эската, посвященное намеченному на 17 декабря 2010 года запуску российской ракеты-носителя "Союз" с космодрома Куру во Французской Гвиане. В интервью д'Эската рассказал, что сотрудничество Франции и России в космической сфере началось еще при генерале де Голле, развивалось все эти годы и теперь, с прибытием "Союза" в Гвиану, достигло высшей точки.

Pour tous les acteurs français de la filière spatiale, l'année 2010 se terminera par un événement considérable : le lancement d'une première fusée russe Soyouz, à partir d'un pas de tir créé spécialement pour elle au centre spatial guyanais, sur la commune de Sinnamary, non loin de Kourou. La date du premier vol a été fixée au 17 décembre. La tenir sera un véritable défi. Yannick d'Escatha, président du CNES (Centre national d'études spatiales), a accepté d'évoquer pour les lecteurs du point.fr ce lancement, ses enjeux, et son contexte.
Le Point : Lors de sa réunion à Kourou, la semaine dernière, le comité consultatif Soyouz a décidé que la première fusée russe à quitter le sol guyanais sera lancée le 17 décembre. Où situer cet événement dans la coopération spatiale franco-russe ?
Yannick d'Escatha
: Vous évoquez là une longue histoire ! Le premier chapitre de cette coopération spatiale avec la Russie fut ouvert voici plus de quarante ans, par le général de Gaulle. Elle a progressé durant toutes ces années : les vols habités avec les astronautes français dans la station Mir, puis la station spatiale et les missions d'exploration, tout témoigne d'une ambition commune. Son point d'orgue aujourd'hui, c'est l'arrivée du lanceur Soyouz en Guyane.
Ce premier lancement aurait dû être effectué en 2008. Faut-il regretter ce retard ?
La gestation a duré des années, et le passage à l'acte du programme Soyouz en Guyane s'est effectué fin 2003, quand Paris et Moscou ont signé un accord intergouvernemental. Chacun des partenaires y trouve son intérêt. Pour les Russes, il s'agit de vendre davantage de lanceurs Soyouz, grâce à leur commercialisation par Arianespace. De plus, en lançant les satellites placés en orbite géostationnaire depuis Kourou, ils peuvent augmenter la charge utile de deux à trois tonnes. 50 % de plus, c'est énorme ! Cette augmentation est rendue possible par l'effet de fronde de rotation de la Terre, et à notre position sur l'équateur, plus favorable que celle de Baïkonour, au Kazakhstan.
Et les Français, y trouvent-ils leur compte ?
La politique spatiale de la France est avant tout européenne et notre pays représente 40 % du potentiel spatial du continent. Avec Ariane 5, l'Europe a un lanceur lourd de dix tonnes. Notre lanceur moyen, ce sera désormais Soyouz. Et nous aurons bientôt le petit lanceur Vega, de l'agence spatiale européenne. Soyouz est un lanceur d'une grande fiabilité, qui a déjà été lancé près de 1.800 fois. La gamme de ces 3 lanceurs permet de satisfaire tous les besoins de l'Europe. Arianespace achète des lanceurs Soyouz prêts à l'emploi, garantis et certifiés conformes par les autorités russes. Ils arrivent par bateau, et sont transportés sur le pas de tir, où ils sont assemblés par les Russes sous notre supervision. Puis la fusée est redressée, installée sous son portique. Enfin, Arianespace installe les satellites que lui ont remis ses clients.
N'avez-vous pas rencontré de grosses difficultés à vous mettre d'accord sur les modalités techniques des tirs ?
En effet, nous n'avons pas les mêmes méthodes. Par exemple, sur les procédures en cas d'incident de tir. Lorsque nous risquons de perdre le contrôle d'un lanceur, nous décidons en une seconde et demie de faire exploser la fusée. Ainsi, la population ne court aucun risque. Et nous ne pouvons pas interrompre la combustion de la poudre... Les Soyouz sont à propulsion liquide. Donc ils ne le détruisent pas et coupent l'arrivée des ergols. De ce fait, la fusée entière tombe et s'écrase au sol. Mais leur processus est automatique. Un ordinateur de bord détecte l'anomalie, analyse le risque et coupe le moteur sans intervention humaine. Il nous a fallu atteindre un compromis sur ce point essentiel : l'intervention humaine dans la destruction. Nous avons accepté leur processus consistant à couper la propulsion, mais nous avons exigé de mettre l'homme dans la boucle. Nous avons donc les deux solutions en parallèle.
Les Russes paraissent faire porter aux Français la responsabilité de retards, dont celui du montage du portique. Qu'en est-il, à vos yeux ?
Les Russes ont fabriqué le portique, technique qu'ils n'avaient jusque-là pas pratiquée puisque leurs lancements se préparent horizontalement. Les importants retards du portique sont dus à la crise traversée par le fabricant. Tout le monde a fait des efforts, tous ensemble, en équipe, et le portique est quasiment fini. Les gens travaillent dur des deux côtés, et on va tirer à la fin de l'année.
La date du 17 décembre paraît difficile à tenir. Ce calendrier est-il réaliste ?
Yannick d'Escatha
: Avec MM Anatoly Perminov, directeur de l'agence spatiale russe RosCosmos, Serguei Ivanov, vice-premier ministre russe, et Alexandre Beglov, chef adjoint de l'administration du président Medvedev, nous avons décidé de tirer le 17 décembre. Il est vrai que c'est un planning sans marge. C'est le planning de gens très volontaristes, qui en veulent, et nous sommes dans la dernière ligne droite. Tout est question de volontarisme et de motivation. Nous allons renforcer les moyens, travailler en 3 x 8. En se défonçant un maximum tous ensemble, on va y arriver.
Vous venez d'être renouvelé pour 5 ans à la présidence du CNES. Quelles sont vos ambitions pour ce mandat ?
Le président de la République est venu à Kourou en 2008 pour tracer l'ambitieuse politique spatiale de la France. Le CNES l'a implémentée sous la conduite du ministre de l'Espace, Mme Valérie Pécresse. Aujourd'hui, avec le traité de Lisbonne, l'Europe a aussi la compétence spatiale et a bien l'intention de la mettre en œuvre, pour assumer le destin de l'Europe dans un monde dangereux. Nous avons plusieurs objectifs. Ariane 6 pour les lanceurs, l'Internet très haut débit, la télévision haute définition tridimensionnelle et sur mobile, la navigation avec Galileo, l'observation de la Terre, la compréhension de son fonctionnement, la gestion de ses ressources, la protection de l'environnement et la surveillance du climat constituent autant de défis que nous devons relever. N'oublions pas non plus que M. Barack Obama a ouvert l'exploration du système solaire à la coopération internationale, et qu'en matière de sécurité et de défense, il reste beaucoup de choses à faire dans le domaine spatial.

© lepoint.fr.
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    Группа венчурных капиталистов из Кремниевой долины изучает планы диверсификации российской экономики. Визит этой группы в Россию - первая возможность узнать, как относятся "тяжеловесы" инвестиций в науку и технику к проекту "российской Кремниевой долины" в Сколково. Гости встретились с коммерческим директором проекта Виктором Вексельбергом, а затем с президентом РФ Д.А.Медведевым.

MOSCOW - A group of Silicon Valley venture capitalists who bet on companies like Skype and Facebook are taking a look at another long-shot proposition - that Russia can diversify its economy away from oil.
The Russian president, Dmitri A. Medvedev, has elevated diversification to a centerpiece of his economic policy and is building a sprawling technology park outside Moscow referred to as Russia's Silicon Valley.
The American venture capitalists' visit to Russia on Tuesday offered a first look at how heavyweights in technology investing viewed this ambitious project.
At a meeting with the investors, Mr. Medvedev spoke of his commitment to commercializing Russia's scientific heritage, but acknowledged it would not be easy.
Russia's boom-and-bust economy now swings wildly with the price of commodities like oil and metals, which make up 80 percent of the country's exports.
Government advisers have said that a lesson of the most recent crash was the urgency of diversification, despite rebounding commodity prices, as an inoculation against the next downturn.
Drew J. Guff, managing director of Siguler & Guff, an $8 billion venture capital fund, said he had committed a $250 million investment to a data center in Russia, encouraged by Kremlin support for information technology as symbolized by the new science park, also sometimes called Inograd, Russian for Innovation City.
"We're committed to Inograd and a new, technological Russia," Mr. Guff told Mr. Medvedev at the meeting. "We believe our investors are satisfied investors."
A Russian state-backed fund for investment in nanotechnology, Rusnano, organized the trip with AmBar, a trade group for Russian-speaking professionals in the San Francisco Bay Area. Rusnano is looking for co-investors in a start-up created to commercialize Russian technological advances that are languishing at scientific institutes or university laboratories because the country has never had venture capital investors to bring them to market.
Russia is the world's largest energy-exporting country and so does not lack capital for investment in business. The sovereign wealth funds are bulging. Instead, the strategy has been to attract expertise in incubating high-technology ventures, rather than simply money.
Rusnano's director, Anatoly Chubais, one of the architects of Russia's immediate post-Soviet privatization, who has now joined the effort to diversify, said in a statement that the goal of the visit was to "bring together the country's most promising innovative projects with the world's smartest money."
The venture fund investors met earlier Tuesday with Viktor Vekselberg, the commercial director of the project to build the new scientific city. He had asked their views on the ambitious undertaking.
The technology city should become a stimulus for countrywide reforms to ease the emergence of small and medium businesses, including technology companies, Mr. Guff said he told the Russians, and not a goal in itself.
Still, it could become a signal of Russian commitment to high technology development, he said, and might draw back to Russia some of the scientists and programmers who abandoned the country in the post-Soviet brain drain. "Inograd is not a physical location but something virtual," he said.
David Kronfeld, the chairman of JK&B Capital, praised the government's focus on nanotechnology, intended to leapfrog the semiconductor technology that Russia was far behind in anyway. But he added that Russia's grim reputation among American investors would keep many away for now.
Mr. Medvedev said he was aware of investors' negative mood toward Russia. The government was trying to improve policy, he said. But if those gathered at the table conveyed Russia's commitment to tech development, he said, the image might change. "Businessmen trust their colleagues," he said.

© Copyright 2010. The New York Times Company.
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    На прошлой неделе Greenpeace сообщил, что компания Areva прекратит отправку обедненного урана в Россию. Однако об окончании срока действия контракта с российской стороной было объявлено еще четыре года назад, и давление со стороны экологов здесь ни при чем. К тому же речь идет не об одном и том же уране. Areva отправляет в Россию два типа урана: обедненный уран и отработанный уран EDF. В обоих случаях речь идет о дообогащении для повторного использования. При этом объемы экспорта обедненного урана в Россию гораздо значительнее, чем отработанного: за последние десять лет в Россию было отправлено 60 тыс. тонн обедненного урана и всего 4 тыс. тонн отработанного, сообщает Libération.

La semaine dernière, Greenpeace a découvert qu'Areva allait cesser l'envoi d'uranium appauvri en Russie. L'ONG, qui lutte depuis des années contre ces convois, voit dans cette annonce la récompense de sa pugnacité. Pour Areva, il s'agit d'un pétard mouillé car la fin des contrats avec les Russes a été annoncée il y a quatre ans et elle n'est pas imputable à la pression des écologistes. Car il y a une subtilité : on ne parle pas du même uranium. Areva envoie deux types d'uranium en Russie, de l'uranium appauvri et de l'uranium de retraitement, propriété d'EDF. Dans les deux cas, il s'agit de réenrichir ces matières pour les réutiliser.
Dans son éventail de métiers, l'industriel Areva enrichit de l'uranium naturel pour le compte d'EDF et de clients étrangers dans son usine Eurodif du Tricastin. "Pour chaque tonne d'uranium enrichi produite, on obtient 7 à 8 tonnes d'uranium appauvri, faiblement radioactif", explique Yves Marignac, expert indépendant chez Wise. Dans ces conditions, le stock s'alourdit, pour atteindre aujourd'hui 260 000 tonnes. Depuis des années, Areva a passé des accords commerciaux avec la société russe Tenex afin de se délester de ce stock et réenrichir cette matière. Français, Néerlandais ou Allemands, beaucoup ont eu recours à la technologie russe. Dès 2006, le consortium Rosatom avait annoncé la fin de ces contrats.
Mais l'affaire des exportations en Russie est à multiples tiroirs. Un autre type d'uranium est convoyé vers la Russie : de l'uranium de retraitement, récupéré dans le combustible usé d'EDF et retraité à La Hague. Pour le réutiliser, EDF doit le faire réenrichir en Russie. Durant le procédé, 90% de la matière est abandonnée sur place. Et ces contrats-là ne sont pas du tout arrivés à échéance. Les exportations d'uranium appauvri vers la Russie sont beaucoup plus importantes que les exportations d'uranium de retraitement. Ces dix dernières années, 60 000 tonnes d'uranium appauvri y ont été envoyées, contre un peu plus de 4 000 tonnes d'uranium de retraitement. Pour connaître les flux exacts des matières radioactives qui transitent entre les deux pays, il faut attendre la sortie ce mois-ci du rapport du Haut comité pour la transparence et l'information sur la sûreté nucléaire, saisi par Borloo en octobre.

© Libération.
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    Начался эксперимент "Марс-500" - шесть человек (трое русских, два европейца и китаец) будут заперты в модели космического корабля в Москве, где они проведут ближайшие 520 дней. Цель эксперимента состоит в том, чтобы выяснить, как люди справятся со стрессом, изоляцией и ограничением общения, с которым столкнутся будущие астронавты в полетах к отдаленным точкам Солнечной системы.

Tomorrow six men will be sealed inside a mock-up spaceship in Moscow, where they will spend the next 520 days testing how well humans cope with the stress of a return trip to Mars.
After a year of strenuous astronaut training, six men will clamber into a capsule tomorrow afternoon for a journey like no other. Their mission? To boldly go - well, nowhere.
The men, who were chosen from thousands of highly qualified applicants, are the crew for a simulated round-trip to Mars, a mission that requires them to be sealed for 520 days inside a mock-up spaceship that sits in a Moscow car park.
The European Space Agency (Esa) experiment, called Mars 500, is designed to explore how humans cope with the stress, confinement and severely limited company that will confront future astronauts on missions to the farthest reaches of the solar system.
To keep the would-be astronauts on their toes, agency officials will simulate equipment failures and medical emergencies. Regular medical checks and psychological appraisals will reveal how well - or how badly - the men are faring.
The crew, three Russians, two Europeans and one Chinese, will spend most of their 18-month stay in the "habitable module" of the spaceship, a steel capsule the size of a bendy bus that has six sparsely furnished bedrooms built into it.
Another capsule attached to the living quarters contains a gym, an artificial greenhouse and space for supplies such as food and water. A third capsule is the medical room.
On being selected, 27-year-old Italian-Colombian engineer, Diego Urbina, said he was excited, but added: "I'm slightly worried about the unexpected things, mainly psychological, that may happen during the isolation." Another crew member, Russian cosmonaut Alexei Sitev, tied the knot earlier this year with bride Ekaterina Golubeva. The prospect of spending the first year and a half of married life away from his wife was "very tough", he told reporters.
Simonetta di Pippo, Esa's director of human spaceflight, said the men were "brave" for taking part in the "history-making experiment" and praised them for willingly giving up so much of their time.
The crew will spend 250 days performing flight tasks and experiments on their "journey to the Red Planet" before climbing into a mockup of a landing module, from which they will step out in spacesuits onto a simulated Martian surface. After 30 days working on the surface - essentially a large sandpit - the crew face a 240-day "return trip".
The only contact the men will have with the outside world will be via a radio link to the space agency's "ground control" staff.
To make the trip more realistic, their conversations will have a built-in time delay of up to 20 minutes: the time it takes for radio signals to reach Mars from Earth.
Nick Kanas, a psychiatrist at the University of California, San Francisco, who has studied astronauts on the international space station and the Russian Mir station, said the crew face a tough time.
"It's not unheard of for people to be confined and isolated for a long period, but it wears on you. You get tired of hearing the other guys' stories all the time. You run out of stimulating conversation after a few months. They will need constantly to find new things to talk about and to keep themselves interested," he said.
Space agencies have simulated long missions before, though not always successfully. An experiment at the same Moscow facility in 1999 descended into chaos when a Russian captain forced a kiss on a female Canadian crew member, and two other Russians got drunk and ended up in a fist fight that left blood spattered over the capsule walls.
"People in space tend to do the same things that people on the ground do," said Professor Kanas. "They're better able to deal with stress, but they also have more stress to deal with."

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010.
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    Европейский банк реконструкции и развития выделяет 31,6 млн евро финской компании Technopolis, строящей в Санкт-Петербурге первый технопарк неподалеку от аэропорта "Пулково".

The FINANCIAL - The EBRD has raised 31.6 million Euros in medium-term funding for one of the biggest operators of science and technology parks in Europe, Finland's Technopolis Group, to help it complete its first such project in Russia, a 63.2 million Euro development springing up close to St. Petersburg's Pulkovo airport.
The new facility, to be known as Technopolis Pulkovo, will introduce to the Russian market an entirely new concept of creating, operating and growing a commercially-funded science and technology park to support the growth of knowledge-intensive companies.
"Located in a city known for high-standard universities and fast-growing IT sector, the St. Petersburg facility will focus on a variety of technology and knowledge-intensive sectors with world class potential. These include software development for internet and mobile telephone content, communications, value-added software, financial services, security applications, systems integration and electronics," EBRD informed.
The Technopolis concept encourages technology transfers and networking by placing promising start-ups under the same roof as established firms, and matchmaking them with each other, as well as key local, national and international partners, financiers and potential customers. Targeted tenants include subsidiaries of leading international companies as well as local market leaders.
This physical proximity combined with the ability to arrange virtual global matchmaking solutions allows large technology companies, for instance, to outsource activities to small business tenants in their immediate orbit, giving start-up's access to badly-needed investment capital.
Key to the commercial viability of this formula is the stress on flexibility, with respect to leases, space and services, thus allowing the facility to expand and contract to match the requirements of its tenants in varying economic conditions.
The Bank is the lender of record for the full 31.6 million Euros under an A/B loan structure. The EBRD is using its own funds to provide a 21.6 million A loan while the B portion of 10 million Euros has been syndicated to two Finnish commercial banks, Nordea Bank Finland Plc (7.7 million Euros) and Pohjola Bank Plc (2.3 million Euros).
The maturity of all these loans is five years. The borrower is OOO Technopolis St. Petersburg, which is wholly-owned by the Finnish-registered Technopolis Plc. Founded in 1982, Technopolis plays host to the largest technology chain in Europe - with over 1200 companies based in its various facilities across the continent.

© 2007 The FINANCIAL, Business News & Multimedia. All rights reserved.
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    Поисковая система "Яндекс" - первый крупнейший неанглоязычный поисковый сервер - на Западе известна мало. Тем не менее, это один из немногих поисковиков в мире, способных составить конкуренцию Google. Он-лайн издание Le Journal du Net публикует интервью с директором по маркетингу сервисов ИТ-компании "Яндекс" Андреем Себрантом.

Peu connu en Europe de l'ouest, le russe Yandex est l'un des rares moteurs de recherche dans le monde à tenir la dragée haute à Google. Son directeur marketing présente l'entreprise et ses projets.
DN. Plus de dix ans après sa création, que représente Yandex aujourd'hui en Russie ? 
Andrey Sebrant. Yandex a été lancé en 2007, mais ses origines remontent à la fin des années 80. La technologie derrière Yandex a initialement été développée en partenariat avec le département de linguistique de l'Académie des sciences russe dans le but de créer un système de recherche pour le gouvernement de l'Union soviétique. Dans les années 90, cette technologie a été adaptée pour soutenir un moteur de recherche sur Internet. Aujourd'hui, Yandex est plus qu'un moteur de recherche. Nous proposons différents services parmi lesquelles des plates-formes gratuites d'hébergement de photos et vidéos, un comparateur de prix, un moteur de recherche dédié aux blogs, un service de paiement en ligne, Yandex.Money, ainsi qu'un outil de cartographie et d'info trafic en temps réel. 
Un peu comme Google? 
Yandex est un portail Web qui se situe quelque part entre Yahoo et Google. Yahoo est plus un portail média qu'un moteur. En dehors de Youtube, Google est purement un moteur. Nous combinons à la fois l'un et l'autre. Sur la page d'accueil de Yandex, en dehors de l'élément principal qu'est notre moteur, nous proposons par exemple une sélection automatisée des informations essentielles et pratiques du moment, comme les actualités, la météo, des informations sur le trafic routier dans votre ville. Autant d'informations que les internautes aiment connaître, sans pour autant les rechercher. Le rôle d'un moteur est à la fois de répondre à des questions explicites, tapées par l'internaute, et à des questions implicites, pour lesquelles l'internaute éprouve un intérêt naturel, sans les verbaliser pour autant dans notre moteur. En quelque sorte, nous sommes un portail d'informations pratiques basé sur la recherche. En comparaison des standards européens ou américains, cela peut paraître étrange, mais c'est peut être aussi pour cela que nous avons autant de succès en Russie.
Yandex produit-il ses propres contenus ? 
Non. Nous restons une entreprise purement technologique. Nous agrégeons le contenu de nos sites partenaires et sélectionnons de manière automatisée les éléments les plus importants et les plus pertinents à mettre en avant par des algorithmes de classement. 
C'est encore ce que fait Google avec son service d'actualités ? 
A une différence près : Google indexe les sites d'actualité et se contente d'en extraire l'information sans en demander l'autorisation. La stratégie de Yandex repose sur des partenariats passés avec des fournisseurs de contenus. Nous disposons aujourd'hui de plusieurs milliers de partenaires dont nous reprenons les informations et pour lesquels nous nous engageons sur des volumes de trafic que nous apportons à leur site. Nous ne reprenons pas l'intégralité de leurs contenus, mais juste une partie, de quoi générer du trafic chez eux. Cela représente un énorme travail en amont, mais notre position est ainsi la plus claire vis-à-vis des sites médias, ce qui n'est pas le cas de Google. Nos partenaires sont d'ailleurs très heureux de notre collaboration et personne ne cherche à nous faire un procès...
Avec Baidu en Chine, Yandex est l'un des seuls acteurs au monde à devancer Google sur le marché de la recherche. Comment expliquez-vous cela ? 
Technologiquement parlant, bâtir et entretenir un moteur de recherches requiert une équipe d'ingénieurs très qualifiés, ce qui coûte généralement cher dans la plupart des pays. En Russie, nous avons la chance de disposer historiquement d'une très bonne filière de formation en mathématiques, mais également en informatique.
Cela nous permet de disposer d'un vivier de compétences non négligeable pour développer notre technologie. Yandex emploie près de 2 000 personnes, dont une bonne partie sont des ingénieurs. Aujourd'hui, notre part de marché en Russie sur la recherche est d'environ 65 %, contre 27 % pour Google. 
Quelle est aujourd'hui l'audience de Yandex ? 
Nous accueillons chaque jour 15 millions de visiteurs uniques sur Yandex. Nos internautes sont assez fidèles. Notre audience mensuelle représente environ 30 millions de visiteurs uniques. A titre de comparaison, la Russie compte 40 millions d'internautes, soit environ 30 % de la population totale du pays (142 millions d'habitants, ndlr.). Nous disposons d'un trafic de près de 11 milliards de pages vues par mois, dont environ 3 milliards représentent des pages de résultats de recherche. 
Quel est le modèle économique de Yandex ? 
Il est similaire à celui de Google. Nous tirons la plupart de nos revenus de la vente de mots-clés, qui représente 86 % de notre chiffre d'affaires. Nous avons développé notre propre plate-forme de liens sponsorisés, Yandex Direct, qui diffuse non seulement des liens sur nos sites, mais également sur un réseau de plusieurs dizaines de milliers de sites éditeurs. Yandex Direct gère aussi de la publicité display, mais essentiellement sur notre réseau de sites partenaires. Sur notre site, nous dédions moins d'espace au display afin de pouvoir le vendre plus cher. Sur notre page d'accueil par exemple, nous ne proposons d'un seul emplacement pour une bannière. Il est aujourd'hui l'espace publicitaire le plus cher de l'Internet russe. Et croyez-moi, les annonceurs font la queue ! 
Pour quel résultats ? 
L'an dernier, nos revenus s'élevaient à environ 275 millions de dollars. Comme la plupart des acteurs, nous avons souffert de la crise bien que l'Internet, en Russie comme ailleurs, a beaucoup mieux résisté que les autre médias. En 2008 notre chiffre d'affaires s'élevait à 300 millions de dollars ce qui représentait à l'époque une progression de 80 % sur un an. 
Etes-vous présents ailleurs qu'en Russie ? 
Nous avons des bureaux dans d'autres pays de l'ex-union soviétique, comme la Biélorussie, le Kazakhstan ou l'Ukraine.
Nous disposons d'une forte présence dans ces trois pays, mais l'Internet y est encore peu développé. Ils ne représentent donc qu'une petite part de nos revenus pour l'instant. A terme, ils constitueront de réelles opportunités de croissance. Notamment l'Ukraine, qui représente aujourd'hui entre quatre et cinq millions de visiteurs uniques pour Yandex, mais devrait constituer une part importante de notre activité à plus long terme. 
Avez-vous des projets de déploiement en dehors de l'ex-bloc soviétique ? 
Nous disposons déjà d'une audience naturelle en dehors de l'ex-union soviétique, notamment dans les pays où résident d'importantes communautés russophones, comme aux Etats-Unis ou en Israël. Nous avons d'ailleurs ouverts des bureaux en Californie, à Burlingame. 
Le succès de la version russe de Yandex ne vous incite-t-il pas à lancer une version internationale de votre moteur ?
Nous y pensons effectivement, car contrairement à la plupart des acteurs européens, nous avons les moyens de concurrencer Google. Nous avons récemment lancé une version anglophone de notre moteur qui n'est encore qu'une expérimentation. Le problème est qu'avant de lancer un produit officiel dans d'autres pays, il doit, au minimum, ne pas être pire que ce que Google propose déjà. 
C'est-à-dire ? 
D'une certaine manière, la recherche internationale n'existe pas. Il existe une recherche russe comme il existe une recherche française, allemande ou chinoise, même si c'est une seule technologie qui rend toutes ces recherches possibles. Nous devons saisir les spécificités, notamment linguistiques d'un pays avant d'y lancer une version locale de notre moteur. Même nos algorithmes de ranking des sites devront être adaptés. Il nous faudra notamment nous installer physiquement dans ces pays pour mieux y indexer les pages locales. Le problème n'est pas vraiment financier puisque nous avons de l'argent. Nous avons également les ressources humaines et l'envie d'aller dans cette direction. Mais cela prendra beaucoup de temps. Nous ne nous sommes pas fixés de calendrier. 
Yandex cherche-t-il à devenir un acteur global, comparable à Google ? 
Le Web se développe et change tellement vite qu'il nous est impossible de développer des stratégies à très long terme. Il y a encore trois ans, presque personne ne connaissait Facebook ou Twitter. Ces services sont pourtant devenus incontournables aujourd'hui. Est-ce nous voulons devenir un acteur global ? Bien sûr ! Mais qui peut dire que nous y arriverons ? 
Né à Moscou en 1954, Andrey Sebrant est directeur marketing de Yandex depuis 2004. Diplômé du Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology Institute (MIPT), il a débuté sa carrière dans la recherche expérimentale sur la physique des plasmas à l'Institut d'énergie atomique de Kurchatov. Andrey Sebrant découvre l'Internet en 1989, année de la chute de l'URSS et débute quelques années plus tard (en 1995) une seconde partie de carrière dans l'Internet. Il a travaillé pour de nombreuses entreprises du Web, parmi lesquelles GlasNet, Russia-Online, About.com et Lycos Europe. 

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    Намерение компании "Роснефть" провести в конце июля сейсморазведку на шельфе острова Сахалин угрожает серым китам, самому малочисленному виду китовых - в мире осталось всего 130 особей. Летом киты приплывают в дальневосточные воды, где находятся до осени. Защитники дикой природы просят компанию отложить работы, пока животные не уйдут. Во время сейсмического исследования используются пневматические пушки, и производимые ими звуковые волны могут представлять смертельную опасность для находящихся поблизости китов.

Oil exploration plans in eastern Russia are a serious threat to gray whales in the area, say scientists with the International Whaling Commission (IWC).
The Rosneft company is due to begin a seismic survey around Sakhalin island within the next few weeks.
The IWC's Scientific Committee is "extremely concerned" about the plans and is calling for a postponement.
The gray whale population is critically endangered, with only about 130 animals left and only 20 breeding females.
Russia says it is aware of the problem, but the company's capacity to shift is limited for financial reasons.
Western Pacific gray whales (also known as grey whales) come to Sakhalin each summer to feed, and seismic survey work - which involves producing high-intensity sound pulses and studying reflections from rock strata under the sea floor - can seriously disrupt their feeding.
The small area where the whales congregate has shallow water, and scientists suspect this is where mothers teach their calves how to feed at the sea floor.
The IWC's head of science, Greg Donovan, said the survey work was planned for the period "when there's probably the highest density of gray whales and particularly mother-calf pairs.
"The Scientific Committee is requesting them to postpone the survey until next year, and to do it as early in the season as possible when there are as few whales there as possible," he told BBC News.
"We actually made a similar recommendation to another company, Sakhalin Energy; they have followed that recommendation and this year, they are carrying out the survey with a very detailed mitigation plan as early in the season as possible."
The mitigation plan includes a provision that testing must stop if mother-and-calf pairs appear in the area.
Energy balance
Russia's IWC commissioner, Valentin Ilyashenko, said he accepted the scientists' conclusions, but there might be a problem in following through on its recommendations.
"Our government and minister of natural resources know this problem... and this question was discussed maybe one month ago," he said.
"From my information, it's very difficult to start this work next year, because the work was planned last year and the money was in the budget for this year, and all equipment and the mothership is rented.
"It's very difficult to change that work but in any case, I know that our scientists and the staff of our ministers is working with this problem with this company."
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has been working with companies including Sakhalin Energy to minimise the impact on gray whales.
But Rosneft, reportedly, has appeared less interested in the issue.
Justin Cooke, a member of the IUCN panel, said that if the planned tests go ahead, there was a risk that mothers with calves could be driven out of their feeding grounds.
"This could have a crucial impact on this critically endangered population," he said.
"We have some evidence of a slow recovery, but that would be jeopardised by serious disruption in their feeding grounds."
The population has to recover and expand, he said, if its survival is to be assured.
Going south
The western grays spend the winters in breeding grounds further south, where another issue threatening their survival is entrapment in fishing nets.
Japan is trying to reduce this bycatch in its fleet through an education programme.
Fishermen are not now allowed to sell gray whale meat, and are asked to report entanglements so that authorities can release the whales.
Since the programme's introduction in 2008, there have been no reports of gray whales deaths through this mechanism.
This is one component of a comprehensive conservation plan drawn up by scientists from a number of countries and endorsed here by the IWC.
A key priority is to locate the breeding grounds, which are thought to be close to the Chinese coast - perhaps in a military zone.

BBC©MMX.
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    Трудности в возрождении российской программы космических исследований хорошо видны на примере проекта "Фобос-грунт", автоматической межпланетной станции, предназначенной для исследования спутника Марса Фобоса и доставки образцов его грунта на Землю. Проект был утвержден в 1998 году, полностью пересмотрен в 2004, а запуск, назначенный на октябрь 2009, отложен теперь на ноябрь 2011.

Earlier this month, inside Paris' majestic Grand Palace, Russia was showcasing its cultural and technological achievements.
Portraying a harmonious and progressive society, colourful musical performances and art exhibits were showing alongside impressive displays of Russia's aerospace power, oil industry and other high-tech sectors.
At the heart of the Russian space pavilion was an exhibit for the NPO Lavochkin design bureau - the nation's veteran developer of unmanned planetary probes.
Lavochkin's exhibit proudly displayed a scale-model of the Phobos-Grunt spacecraft, a mission to land on the potato-shaped moon of Mars and return grains of its mysteriously light surface back to Earth.
Involving a number of international participants, Phobos-Grunt was being advertised as Russia's flagship deep-space mission, paving the way for the country's return to planetary exploration after a two-decade hiatus.
The problem, however, is that Phobos-Grunt developed a credibility problem in the international space community. Conceived in the midst of the post-Soviet economic crisis at the end of the 1990s, it remained a paper project for years.
Then, the rebound of the Russian economy afforded the revival of the program. However, as history proved many times, money could not buy what only years of efforts could acquire, be it Olympic gold or the complex world of cutting-edge science.
While Russia's cosmonauts continued to rocket into orbit with Swiss-clock regularity, even in the worst economic times, all efforts to jump-start the nation's neglected planetary exploration programme had so far failed.
In the meantime, Nasa's planetary spacecraft ventured into the farthest expanses of the Solar System, its rovers logged many miles on the dunes of Mars. Specialised probes penetrated the atmosphere of Jupiter and landed on the surface of Titan.
Even relative newcomers to unmanned missions, such as the European space agency, China, India and Japan, flew impressive planetary missions, which post-Soviet Russia is yet to match.
Ironically, even the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) brochures advertising the country's space programme are often adorned with images of planets beamed to Earth by American spacecraft.
With high political stakes over the revival of deep-space missions, Russian space bosses would not take "no" for an answer.
Last year, the official Russian media ran many optimistic stories about the upcoming launch of the Phobos-Grunt spacecraft - which had been promised to occur in the Autumn.
The Russian space agency vigorously denied a few independent reports, which most industry insiders had long known to be accurate, that Phobos-Grunt was not going anywhere any time soon.
Inevitable delay
Only weeks before the promised launch of the mission, Russian scientists informed their colleagues abroad that Phobos-Grunt would have to wait for the next available launch window to Mars at the end of 2011.
An additional two years gave Russian engineers and scientists some breathing room to sort things out and finally make it right. NPO Lavochkin's new head, Viktor Khartov, was on hand at the Grand Palace exhibit to describe a renewed effort to launch Phobos-Grunt in 2011.
The retirement of Mr Khartov's predecessor last January was widely seen as fall-out from the failure to launch the mission on time.
A veteran space engineer, Mr Khartov told BBC News that despite all previous problems, Phobos-Grunt had nowhere to go but to Phobos in 2011.
"I can't claim that we can achieve a 100% success probability, the mission is very complex and it has many high-risk aspects… but we are working in this direction," Mr Khartov said.
With the new launch deadline looming some 17 months from now, Russian engineers have their work cut out for them. It would be the first Russian space probe to go into deep space since 1988, not counting the launch of a single Mars mission in 1996, which failed immediately after reaching Earth orbit.
A difficult undertaking by any account, the Phobos-Grunt became a major test for the Russian space science, which is still emerging from almost two decades of financial collapse and brain drain.
According to Mr Khartov, out of 4,500 employees at NPO Lavochkin, 700 people were between the age of 70 and 80. In the meantime, 700 people were considered young specialists.
"I can't let this old generation go before they pass their experience to new people," Mr Khartov says, "There is no secret, this is difficult."
The generation gap, however, was not an excuse for another delay, the NPO Lavochkin chief explained. The funding was now stable and it was enough time to take care of all challenges facing the project.
Computer brain
From the outset, the biggest hurdle before the Phobos-Grunt mission has been its brain.
The main computer of the spacecraft had to be responsible for a multitude of tasks and emergency situations beginning from launch: reaching Martian orbit and, ultimately, conducting a carefully orchestrated rendezvous with the tiny moon.
In turn, the approach to Phobos would culminate with a careful touchdown on the alien and almost weightless world.
With little gravity to pull the spacecraft in and no anchoring mechanisms, special thrusters would have to be used to "press" the spacecraft onto the surface.
The landing would be followed by a series of complex moves by the probe's mechanical arms to pick samples of the moon's regolith and to load them into the return rocket.
A smaller flight control computer would then guide the return vehicle during a lift-off from Phobos, followed by manœuvres in the orbit of Mars and finally by a trip back to Earth.
A brand-new flight control system originally proposed for Phobos-Grunt promised new capabilities.
However, Lavochkin's internal team responsible for its development fell behind schedule, making the 2009 launch window untenable.
And the team is not out of the woods yet: "We have some concerns… however we make everything possible to help the (flight control) team in their work," Mr Khartov explains.
"I even issued a special order, requiring other divisions to share experience and provide other assistance to the Phobos-Grunt team."
According to Mr Khartov, two specialised test facilities had been now up and running at NPO Lavochkin designed to test the spacecraft's electronic brains in all phases of the mission and in every conceivable and inconceivable emergency situation.
Soil test
In the extra time available before launch, Russian scientists were also re-evaluating the most critical operation of the mission - the gathering of soil samples.
They have used the downtime to increase the mission's chances of success by fitting an all-new Polish-built drilling device, dubbed Chomik ("hamster") into the ship's scientific payload.
According to Aleksandr Zakharov, a leading project expert at Moscow's Space Research Insitute (IKI) very little is known about the soil of Phobos and the surface may well prove too rocky for the probe's delicate robotic arm to collect samples on its own.
The newly added drill resembles a jackhammer, yet weighs just 2kg (4.4lbs) and consumes only 1.5 Watts of power.
It was originally developed by the Space Research Center of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw for Esa's Rosetta mission to penetrate the icy surface of a comet.
On the Phobos-Grunt mission, its job will be to break down rock samples into small enough chunks for the robotic arm to load aboard the probe's Earth return capsule and also the receptacles provided for in situ analysis.
"Our main task now is to integrate the Polish drill with the original instrument package," said Mr Zakharov, "Most probably, the device won't be needed - but since we have been given an extra two years to prepare for the mission, we decided it was worth having a back-up."
According to Khartov, Chomik would be fitted onto the remote manipulator developed at Lavochkin, which would bring the device to the surface.
IKI scientists have also used the delay to rehearse how the probe will go about its soil-sampling on the surface of the Martian moon. Due to the 20-minute time lag between signals being transmitted from Mars and arriving on Earth, they hope to rely on the probe's highly intelligent image-assessment technology - delivered via panoramic and stereo cameras - to select the most promising sites for sampling.
As always in geology, rocks will be the most attractive targets. But with a day on Phobos lasting less than eight hours, the probe will have only three-hour periods of "daylight" in which to conduct its surveys of the surrounding landscape.
Aleksandr Zakharov admits that the original launch date of September 2009 did not leave enough time to perfect the system.
Now it is being refined at a Lavochkin test facility in the Moscow suburb of Khimki that mimics the surface of Phobos. The work is expected to continue for about a year.
Assuming a launch from Baikonur in December 2011, Phobos-Grunt will arrive at Mars in August-September 2012.
It will circle the planet until December 2012 before slowly re-shaping its orbit to approach Phobos by February 2013 and touching down on the Martian moon a month later.
If everything goes as planned, a return capsule with samples of the moon's soil will reach Earth in August 2014.
Finishing line
To meet the end of the 2011 launch deadline, all the scientific instruments built for the Phobos-Grunt project, which were undergoing refurbishment, have to be returned to NPO Lavochkin during the Summer and Autumn for re-installation on the flight version of the spacecraft.
A fully assembled spacecraft is then expected to go through a series of rigorous tests in a vacuum and at extreme temperatures in the first half of next year. It is expected to be shipped to the Baikonur Cosmodrome launch site in Kazakhstan between August and September 2011.
One scientific experiment, which did remain aboard Phobos-Grunt during the two-year hiatus, was a container containing Earth bacteria.
The experiment, which was conceived by the US-based Planetary Society, a space advocacy group, aims to test the theory of "panspermia," which hypothesises that live organisms could survive interplanetary travel to "seed" life on other worlds.
Although it would not be anything like landing on Phobos, the return to Earth is another aspect of the Phobos-Grunt mission, whose details are yet to be worked out.
What is certain, is that the capsule with the samples of Phobos would have no active homing devices, such as radio beacons.
As a result, ground-based radar and optical observations would be the sole means of tracking the vehicle during its re-entry and pinpointing the site of its touchdown. Such methods make the role of ground-based tracking systems extremely important.
"Obviously, we don't want to complete this very complex mission, only to end up losing this tiny capsule during landing," Khartov said.
To improve the chances of a successful landing, mission planners quietly chose the Sary Shagan test range in Kazakhstan as their primary landing site.
US discussions
Sary Shagan is one of the birthplaces of Soviet anti-missile defense technology. It still serves as a key test base for Russian anti-missile interceptors and associated guidance radar.
To prove the landing concept of the mission, NPO Lavochkin conducted helicopter drop tests, which did confirm that the radar at Sary Shagan was able to detect and track the probe's tiny capsule. Still, many aspects of landing, including the training of search and recovery personnel remain to be sorted out.
Still, alternative options for the Phobos-Grunt landing site remained on the table. "We asked ourselves - where is the world's best anti-missile defence?" Mr Khartov said jokingly.
However several sources within the Russian space industry did confirm that fully serious (though informal) contacts between Russian and US space officials discussed the possibility of ending the Phobos-Grunt mission on US territory. However, it was clear the scenario might come with strings attached.
Even very preliminary talks led to requests to provide samples from Phobos, Russian officials said.
Although Russian scientists said they would be prepared to share the scientific knowledge delivered by Phobos-Grunt, many felt proposals to distribute the most valuable fruits of the mission in exchange for technical assistance could set an undesirable precedent.
As this would be the first Russian planetary mission in almost two decades, the nation's scientific community could be understandably sensitive about access procedures to Phobos-Grunt's scientific harvest.
As Parisians admired the scale model of Phobos-Grunt in the Grand Palace, on 13 June 2010, a bright meteor lit up the skies over Australia. These were remnants of Japan's Hayabusa spacecraft re-entering Earth's atmosphere after a long journey through space, including a visit to an asteroid.
Despite encountering enormous technical problems on its long voyage, the ship's small capsule, which was designed to return rock and soil samples from the asteroid Itokawa, made a soft landing in the Australian outback and was successfully recovered.
At the time of publication, it was still unknown whether the trouble-prone Japanese mission delivered any samples. But whatever the outcome, Hayabusa has given Russia's space programme yet another yardstick with which to measure its progress.

BBC©MMX.
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    Стать центром новых технологий России мешает несоответствие между исключительно высоким уровнем ученых и инженеров и слабой инфраструктурой.

A few years ago, I asked an investor who specialized in Russian and Eastern European investments what the current business climate and atmosphere was like in the Far East.
The level of scientific research and the quality of the scientists and engineers was top-notch, he said. A large number of the projects that had been inaugurated and funded by the former Soviet Union with potential commercial application had also not been exploited.
This corresponded with what I had heard from other companies. Intel years earlier had opened a lab in Nizny Novgorod that performed much of the company's communications research. Ten PhDs could be hired for the price of a single American, former Intel exec Pat Gelsinger told me. Search engines like Yandex rivalled Google in the country. And ideas like underground coal gasification were coming to the West by being licensed to startups like Laurus Energy.
But then there was the policeman. Every once in a while on the streets of Moscow, the investor would get stopped by the same policeman. Money would exchange hands. It wasn't the size of the bribe I found unnerving, he said. It was the regularity with which these shakedowns occurred.
This is the dilemma that Russian President Dmitry Medvedev faced when he toured Silicon Valley recently and ones that future delegates on tour will face. Russian scientists excel at quality control, nuclear science, rocketry (SeaLaunch, a Russian-Ukrainian-Norwegian-U.S. firm puts satellites into space from a platform near Guyana), computer programming, and heavy industrial engineering. Yesterday, he pressed the flesh with Governor Ah-nold and Cisco CEO John Chambers.
Unfortunately, the infrastructure - courts of law, standard accounting practices, financial institutions - necessary to bring these ideas to market is less robust. I admit, many of the articles I wrote about Russia were completed in the mid-2000s, so things have likely improved a bit since then, but I think it's safe to say St. Petersburg still isn't Palo Alto on the Neva.
That's why we've put it in the category of places where it remains unlikely that green tech hubs will emerge.
A little over two years ago, the Russian Venture Company (RVC) came through Silicon Valley with an offer. It wanted to hand over $1.25 billion to top-tier venture capital firms. The venture firms would have to invest the money - along with some of their own money - into Russian startups or startups created by Russian expatriates.
The terms, though, were generous. The RVC only wanted its original money back plus 5 percent in interest.
While a few firms decided to work with the RVC, many remained skeptical, in part because the money from RVC originally came from the Russian oil and gas industry (the Yukos controversy with executives being put in jail was still raging at the time).
"Hooo, boy. Just look at the papers," one VC said.
The concept of commercialization in Eastern Europe and Russia also remains weak. Granted, the U.S. right now enjoys a lead over the rest of the world when it comes to taking a concept in a university lab and turning it into a billion dollars, but many nations - Israel, Ireland, Denmark, India, China - are starting to master the process. Russia is way behind.
"Engineering training is sometimes better in Russia, but business training is better here," Andrey Fursenko, then Russia's minister of education and science, told me in 2005. A year earlier, Fursenko pushed a plan to loosen restrictions on commercializing university research. It got bogged down in Parliament.
Intel actually began to invest in Russia in 2003. Two years later, the then-head of Intel Capital, Claude Leglise, said that if he had the chance to roll back the clock, he probably wouldn't be there. "You can scour the country and find wonderful things, but you can't get a simple answer to who has to say yes" to starting a project, he told me.
But does that mean Russia won't participate in green tech? No. U.S. and European companies will scour Russia for patents and scientists. It will make a great outsourcing and R&D hub. Unfortunately for Russia, that means that a lot of the benefits will migrate out of the country.

Copyright © 2010 CBS Interactive Inc. All rights reserved.
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    Какие шансы у инновационного центра "Сколково" стать российской Силиконовой долиной, и надо ли вообще обращаться к зарубежному опыту в этом вопросе?

SKOLKOVO, Russia - Dmitry Medvedev is paying his first-ever visit to California, where he will tour the cradle of America's high-tech industry.
As he meets with executives of Google, Microsoft, Intel, and Apple, the Russian president's thoughts will likely be on a vacant plot outside Moscow where he hopes Russia will soon create its own 21st-century hub of innovation.
Meet Skolkovo, Russia's answer to Silicon Valley.
The country has inherited a rich scientific base from Soviet times, but it has had trouble drawing foreign investment and commercializing homegrown scientific innovations.
Advocates believe Skolkovo can change that.
"The problem in our country is not coming up with innovations. We have many interesting inventions and projects," says Robert Shlegel, a State Duma deputy with the ruling United Russia party. "Unfortunately, we don't know how to sell them, find companies, and work with innovative business sectors around the world."
Skolkovo won its first foreign investment last month - $250 million from a private U.S. equity group - and Medvedev will no doubt actively promote his pet project while touring Silicon Valley.
Curb The Brain Drain
Skolkovo has powerful backers. These include influential Kremlin spin doctor Vladislav Surkov and Russian billionaire Viktor Vekselberg, who has been appointed to head the fund in charge of managing the burgeoning tech town.
Supporters believe creating a Russian high-tech preserve will help the country diversify its economy away from oil and gas. They hope it will also help curb the brain drain and entice some of the brightest Russian minds back home.
And similar projects, they say, have been successful in China.
But Skolkovo has many opponents.
Russia already has several special state-sponsored science parks near Moscow and in Siberia, but none of them has really taken off.
Critics say such projects can only bear fruit if the government gets out of the way and let entrepreneurs flourish unhindered.
Flawed From The Start
Vladimir Babkin, an expert at the State Duma's committee for science and technology, says the Skolkovo-Silicon Valley analogy is flawed from the very start.
"The Silicon Valley in California was created on the basis of universities," he says. "It was a bottom-up growth. In Russia, it's top down, and the goals are unclear."
Many say the government's plans to make Skolkovo a profitable venture are also unrealistic.
"Using science to try and make profits or boost the country's budget is wrong," says Sergei Levchenko, a Communist Party deputy and a member of one of the presidential working groups on modernization. "I am categorically opposed to such an approach. Science must serve the government in a different manner. It must invent, it must open new horizons."
Opponents say revamping one of Russia's existing science parks would make more economic sense than creating an expensive new complex from scratch. In addition, the government may have to spend millions of dollars to relocate a state agricultural center that uses large swathes of land in Skolkovo.
The scientific-agricultural institute has employees and provides the whole of central Russian with seeds. "If the government decides that our center must continue working, it will have to ensure its survival," says Viktor Shtyrkhunov, who heads the structure. "This means an identical base much be set up elsewhere. We estimate this will cost several billion rubles. We've already sent them our suggestions."
"Preliminary Sum"
Skolkovo, some 20 kilometers west of central Moscow, does not have much to show yet. It is a sleepy, rural area surrounded by pine forests and sprinkled with holiday cottages belonging to wealthy Russians. But things should quickly change here as the government starts pumping some of the vast sums it has allocated to the planned science park. Some $500 million have been budgeted for next year alone, and the Finance Ministry says this is just a "preliminary sum."
A lavish business school campus is already being built nearby, complete with conference rooms and hotels. Upmarket housing for professors is also planned close to the campus.
Local residents are of two minds about Medvedev's mega-project.
"It will be good it they attract people and invest money," one man says. "I think they will find young Russian professionals who will gladly stay. I believe it can work, but control is needed."
Anonther resident has serious reservations, saying, "I guess we need scientific zones, but how effective will they be? I'm afraid that in our country things are not always effective. Maybe foreign scientists would be able to achieve something, but our bureaucrats always ruin everything."
Some residents are concerned that the arrival of well-paid engineers and scientists will drive local costs up and price them out of the area. There are also fears that the project will involve massive corruption and bribery.
Vague And Opaque
The complex will have its own police force, customs and tax inspection authorities, and companies investing in the project will enjoy substantial tax breaks.
Deputy Vladimir Babkin says the Skolkovo draft laws submitted to parliament contain many vague areas and say the structure appointed to manage the park is equally opaque.
"We must rebuild a high-tech industry, because this is the main client for new innovations. But there's not a single word about that," Babkin says. "The draft legislation provides details such as the fact that the fund will oversee sewage and water and heat supply, but it says nothing about the most important issue: how the profits will be distributed."
Russian press reports say a company that owns much of the land in and around Skolkovo is co-owned by Olga Shuvalova, the wife of First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov.
Critics say the Shuvalovs and other influential Russians owning plots in the area are counting on the Skolkovo project to increase the value of their land.

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty © 2010 RFE/RL, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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