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This article originally appeared at Russia & India Report
Summer in the early 20th century brought an outsized concentration of Russian intelligentsia, bohemians, artists and writers. Simply meandering around local beaches would have been a good way of spotting members of the country’s intellectul elite.
Yalta: Anton Chekhov’s dacha
Chekhov’s dacha in Yalta, 2015. Source: Alamy/Legion-Media
The first time that Anton Chekhov felt ill was in district court where he worked as a reporter for the “Peterburgskaya Gazeta” newspaper.
Chekhov had all of the symptoms of pulmonary tuberculosis: he had blood in his sputum, a fever and felt weak.
However, for some reason he did not attempt to receive any treatment, even though he was not only a writer, but above all, a doctor.
Chekhov had to move to Crimea after his health worsened dramatically. He sold the rights for all of his prose works and with these proceeds built a small villa not far from Yalta (1276 kilometers from Moscow).
He planted saplings and flowers around his house and decorated everything according to his taste – modest, yet classy.
A. Chekhov in his house in Yalta, 1901. Source: Ullstein Bild/Vostock-Photo
They say that the writer’s wife Olga Knipper-Chekhova, a famous 20th century stage actress, had a passion for wild parties. However, Chekhov was able to tune out the noise during parties and write his brilliant works in the corner of a crowded living room.
However, Chekhov’s wife did not visit him very often. He knew how important the job at the Moscow Art Theater run by Konstantin Stanislavsky and Vladimir Nemirovich-Danchenko was for her and he insisted that she stay in Moscow and keep her job.
Owing to the efforts of the writer’s sister Maria, the interiors of Chekhov’s dacha have kept their original form.
In the library where Chekhov wrote “Three Sisters” and “The Cherry Orchard,” plays that are still staged worldwide, it is possible to see the ornate conditions in which he worked. The library contains an antique telephone set, his writing desk and photographs of Leo Tolstoy and other contemporaries of the famous writer.
Anton Chekhov’s writing desk in his house in Yalta, 1968. Source: RIA Novosti/A.Givental
I took a walk through the garden, embraced the big old trees that were planted by this extraordinary man and tears began to flow from my eyes – so emotional was the moment.
Koktebel: Maximilian Voloshin’s dacha
M. Voloshin’s house in Koktebel, 1983. Source: RIA Novosti/S. Prijmak
Up to 600 top creative intellectuals came to symbolist poet Maximilian Voloshin’s dacha in Koktebel (1433 kilometers from Moscow) every summer season.
Although he was not a rich man, Voloshin hosted all of them for free. Voloshin’s mother Elena managed housekeeping entirely by herself so that writers and painters could concentrate on their art and not be distracted by anything else.
Here the young poet Marina Tsvetaeva, whose father founded the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow, met her future husband Sergei Efron.
Mikhail Bulgakov, whose “A Young Doctor’s Notebook” was recently adapted as a miniseries starring Daniel Radcliffe and Jon Hamm, first read his unpublished works at this dacha. In Voloshin’s studio hang portraits of him painted by Diego Rivera, whom he met in Paris.
M. Voloshin in Koktebel, 1926. Source: RIA Novosti
In bohemian circles Maximilian Voloshin was famous for his singularity: he loved to dress up in ethnic costumes and invent funny rituals for various occasions.
One charismatic tour guide from the Voloshin Museum told me that she, too, likes to wear ethnic costumes, as do many of the local residents in Koktebel.
Sevastopol: panorama of a war in which Leo Tolstoy fought
Tolstoy and his wife Sophia in Crimea, 1900s. Source: Ullstein Bild/Vostock-Photo
The world famous Russian writer Leo Tolstoy participated in the battles of the Crimean War between 1853-1856. This was the largest of all 19th century European military campaigns with France, Great Britain, the Ottoman Empire and Sardinia all fighting in opposition against the Russian Empire.
Tolstoy described the Siege of Sevastopol in 1854-55 in his “Sevastopol Sketches” after witnessing the events himself. The Siege of Sevastopol panorama, a large-scale work of art that depicts those dramatic events can be found in the Defense of Sevastopol Museum.
Sevastopol Defense Museum
With time this painting has become one of the city’s most-visited and spectacular attractions. This huge canvas is 115 x 14 meters and shows the heavy fighting of these events that made the idyllic seascapes of Sevastopol unrecognizable. The panorama is enhanced by a 1000 square meter recreation of the 19th-century military fortifications used in this battle. Currently, this is one of the 60 largest panoramas in the world.
Everything that Leo Tolstoy wrote about 150 years ago is somehow magically still in the air of Sevastopol. This is a city with a heroic atmosphere.
The only tour company for foreign visitors operating in Crimea at the moment is Southern Comfort. The company employs tour guides that speak English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese as well as other languages, and managers that can organize gastronomic, environmental and wine tours. They can also develop tailor-made routes based on a client’s wishes.
The easiest way to reach the peninsula is by plane. Russian airlines Aeroflot, Transaero, S7, Donavia and Utair, and the charter airline Vimavia fly there from all three Moscow airports.
The planes are often full, therefore it’s best to book your flight in advance, especially if you want a window seat or to sit together with your companion. The flight takes 2.5 hours. Roundtrip fares from Moscow start at 5,500 rubles (about $110). The cheapest plane tickets to Crimea can be found on jetradar.com.
RIR Editors’ note: A little more than a year has passed since a referendum was held on Crimea, which led to a treaty being signed between the peninsula and Russia.
This has been the source of enormous controversy between Russia, Ukraine and the West and many foreign embassies warn citizens against travel to the peninsula.
As a result of economic sanctions that were passed in response to this event, traveling is not easy in Crimea: practically no international airlines land here and visitors must bring fistfuls of cash with them.
Bankcards and credit cards are not accepted anywhere, although it is possible to change foreign currency in banks.
Senior figures in Washington stand behind Belfast Agreement and protocol, McDonald says
Senior figures in United States politics have made it clear that the government of Boris Johnson in the UK will face negative consequences internationally if it attempts to rupture or dispense with the Northern Ireland protocol, Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald has said.
In a presentation at the National Press Club in Washington DC on Thursday she said the protocol was “necessary, operable and going nowhere, despite what Boris Johnson might wish to believe”.
She said she had met with “people of considerable influence” in the US Congress and in the Biden administration on her visit to the US this week and they all stood four square behind the Belfast Agreement and the protocol.
“I heard yesterday on the Hill the clearest possible articulation across the board that any notion of walking away from the protocol would not be acceptable to the United States.”
Asked about a report in the Financial Timed that Washington had delayed lifting tariffs on UK steel and aluminium products amid concerns about threats by the UK to invoke article 16 of the protocol, Ms McDonald said this was a matter for the Biden administration.
However, she said: “There is no doubt where the US stands. If Johnson believes he can walk away from the protocol, he is wrong and there will be consequences for Britain if he chooses that course of action.”
Ulster Unionist Party leader Doug Beattie, who was also in Washington DC on Thursday, said if the lifting of tariffs was being delayed due to concerns about the protocol, he would argue at a meeting with the US state department that it had “got it wrong” in its view on what article 16 was about.
“If people say we have to adhere to the protocol and article 16 is part of the protocol then it becomes a legitimate thing you can use.”
“It is not about whether you should or should not use it. It is about how you should use it.
“You should use it in a narrow sense of a particular issue that is causing economic or societal harm in Northern Ireland, for example, medicines .”
“If the medicine issue has not been fixed and is starting to affect the people of Northern Ireland, it would be right to instigate article 16 to focus minds on that issue.”
Ms McDonald also told the press club event that she expected the United States would “be on the right side” on the controversy over British plans for an amnesty in relation to killings during the Troubles.
She said the British government was going to the ultimate point to keep the truth from the people about its war in Ireland.
She said the Johnson government’s plans would mean “in effect no possibility of criminal action, civil actions or even inquests into killings in the past”.
Ms McDonald also forecast that a point was coming over the coming five or 10 years where referenda would be held on the reunification of Ireland. She urged the Irish government to establish a citizen’s assembly to consider preparation for unity.
She also said “there will be need for international support and international intervention to support Ireland as we move to transition from partition to reunification”.
Separately, asked about a recent Sinn Féin golf fundraising event that was held in New York, Ms McDonald said the money that was raised would be spent on campaigning and lobbying in the US.
She described it as a patriotic expression by people in the US who had a deep interest in Ireland and the peace process.
Drop in cancer diagnoses as high as 14 per cent during pandemic, early data shows
The drop in the number of cancers detected during the Covid-19 pandemic could be as high as 14 per cent, preliminary data has suggested.
A report from the National Cancer Registry said it was still too early to provide “definitive answers” on whether pandemic hospital restrictions last year led to a reduction in the number of cancers diagnosed.
The registry’s annual report said an estimated decrease of 14 per cent in detections pointed to the “potential scale” of Covid-19’s impact on other healthcare.
A separate analysis of data on microscopically verified cancers diagnosed last year showed a reduction of between 10 and 13 per cent, the report said.
The drop in confirmed cancer cases, when compared with previous years, could be partly accounted for by “incomplete registration of cases already diagnosed”, it said.
Prof Deirdre Murray, director of the National Cancer Registry, said there were “clear signals that, as expected in Ireland, the number of cancer diagnoses in 2020 will be lower than in previous years”.
The shortfall in cancers being diagnosed would present a “major challenge” in the coming years, with lengthy waiting lists and disruptions to screening services “all too commonplace” already, she said.
Ms Power said it was frightening to think of the people who were living with cancer but did not know it yet. She added that existing cancer patients were “terrified” of having treatments delayed due to the recent rise in Covid-19 cases.
The registry’s report said there were about 44,000 tumours identified each year between 2017 and 2019.
Not counting non-melanoma skin cancer, the most common cancer diagnoses were for breast and prostate cancer, which made up almost a third of invasive cancers found in women and men respectively.
For men this was followed by bowel and lung cancer, and melanoma of the skin. Lung cancer was the second most common cancer for women, followed by colorectal cancer and melanoma of skin.
Nearly a third of deaths in 2018 were attributed to cancer, with lung cancer the leading cause of death from cancer, the report said.
The second, third and fourth most common cancers to die from in men were bowel, prostate and oesophagus cancer. For women breast, bowel and ovarian cancers were the most common fatal cancers.
The report said there were almost 200,000 cancer survivors in Ireland at the end of 2019, with breast cancer patients making up more than a fifth of the total.
The research found cancer rates among men had dropped between 2010 and 2019, with mortality rates decreasing or remaining the same across nearly every type of cancer. Rates of cancer detected among women had increased between 2008 and 2019, with mortality rates for most cancers decreasing.
The report said the five-year survival rate from cancer had increased to 65 per cent for the period 2014 to 2018, compared with 42 per cent two decades previous.
There had been “major improvement” in survival rates for most major cancers, however, the research noted the chances of survival varied significantly depending on the type of cancer.
Prostate, melanoma of the skin and testis cancer had survival rates of more than 90 per cent, followed closely by breast and thyroid cancer, and Hodgkin lymphoma. Pancreas, liver, oesophagus and lung cancers had much lower five-year survival rates on average, the report said.
‘I was so proud to be Navajo and so proud to be Irish’
Senior figures in Washington stand behind Belfast Agreement and protocol, McDonald says
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