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On this day February 19, 1986

The space station Mir of the Soviet space program was launched, establishing the first long-term research station in space.mir_on_12_june_19981

Mir (Russian: Мир) was a Russian orbital station. Mir was the world’s first consistently inhabited long-term research station in space, and the first ‘third generation’ type space station, constructed over a number of years with a modular design.

Mir holds the record for longest continuous human presence in space at eight days short of 10 years, and, through a number of collaborations, was made internationally accessible to cosmonauts and astronauts of many countries (program Intercosmos). Read More…

Russian journalist dies after police beating

A middle-aged Russian journalist in Tomsk, Siberia, died Wednesday. He succumbed to injuries allegedly suffered as a young police officer beat him into a coma earlier in the month while in a holding cell reserved for the drunk and disorderly. The injuries included severe damage to many of his internal organs.

Authorities identified this little-known reporter who specialized in economics as Konstantin Popov. Popov was one of the cofounders of a small regional newspaper publisher and a local magazine called Tema.

In a country where police brutality and corruption—especially against journalists—is not uncommon, the editor-in-chief of Tema, Konstantin Karpachyov, said it was unlikely Popov’s murder was in any way related to his work. Read More…

On this day October 30, 1961

The Soviet hydrogen bomb Tsar Bomba was detonated over Novaya Zemlya Island in the Arctic Sea as a test. With a yield of around 50 megatons, it was the largest nuclear weapon ever detonated to date.

Developed by the Soviet Union, the bomb was originally designed to have a yield of about 100 megatons of TNT (420 PJ); however, the bomb yield was reduced by half in order to limit the amount of nuclear fallout that would result.

Site of the detonation

Only one bomb of this type was built and tested on October 30, 1961, in the Novaya Zemlya archipelago.

A mock bomb is on display in the Russian Nuclear Weapons Museum in Sarov.

The term “Tsar Bomba” was coined in an analogy with two other massive Russian objects, the Tsar Kolokol, the world’s largest bell, and the Tsar Pushka, the world’s largest howitzer. Although the bomb was so named by Western sources, the name is now used in Russia.

On this day October 20, 1982

During the UEFA Cup match between FC Spartak Moscow and HFC Haarlem, 66 people are crushed to death in the Luzhniki disaster.

October 20, 1982 in Moscow was a cold, windy and snowy day, and the number of tickets sold for the match was relatively low. As a result, only the East Stand was open for spectators, and for security reasons only one exit from the stand was left open. Minutes before the final whistle when FC Spartak were leading 1-0, the spectators began to leave the stadium through this only exit. Read More…

On this day October 18, 1945

A group of the Venezuelan Armed Forces, led by Mario Vargas, Marcos Pérez Jiménez and Carlos Delgado Chalbaud, staged a coup d’état against then president Isaías Medina Angarita, who is overthrown by the end of the day.

In October 1945, the military declared themselves in open rebellion in Caracas and Betancourt called on the people to stage a civilian uprising. Medina resigned, but it is generally acknowledged that the army, except for the rebels, was on his side and could have put down the pardo adecos as well as arrest the insubordinate officers.

This is believable because the army was the making of Gomez and Lopez Contreras and even Medina. It was a disciplined institution. But there was the other historical antecedent and that was the long history of violence in Venezuelan politics during the previous century and Medina did not want a bloody civil war on his hands. Read More…

Russia strikes multi-billion deals with China

China and Russia has signed billions of dollars worth of deals during Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s visit to Beijing on Tuesday. The trip was aimed at bolstering business, political and military ties.

putin11 Hu Jintao

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said that Putin came to Beijing to mark the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries. He said that the Russian leader would also meet with Chinese President Hu Jintao. The two sides are to sign a joint statement of regular high level meetings between the two countries.

Earlier in the day, Russian officials told reporters Russian and Chinese companies signed US$3.5 billion worth of deals. They include a $500 million loan from the Agricultural Bank of China to Russia’s second biggest lender, VTB. Read More…

Ruling party ahead in Russian elections

Preliminary results from Sunday’s local and regional elections in Russia indicate that the United Russia party won a significant majority of votes throughout the country.

Dmitry Medvedev in 2008

Dmitry Medvedev in 2008

Central Elections Commission official Leonid Ivlev said vote counts on Monday showed the United Russia party won nearly 80% of the local races. These included elections for mayors, as well as regional and city legislatures.

In Russia’s capital of Moscow, the pro-Kremlin United Russia obtained 66% of the vote for city council. The opposition Communist Party came in second, with 13%.

Other parties on the ballot failed to reach the required seven-percent needed to secure a seat.

Russian president Dmitry Medvedev said that the victory indicated “the authority the party has acquired from our people in recent years.” Read More…