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The Tsar’s Photographer and His Amazing Preservation of Russian History

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Sergei Prokudin-Gorsky was a Russian chemist and photographer famous for his pioneering work in color photography in the early twentieth century.

In 1905 Gorsky set himself to the task of photographically documenting the Russian Empire with the primary aim of educating Russian schoolchildren on the diverse history and culture of the realm. After his famous color photograph of renowned author Leo Tolstoy in 1908, Gorsky received an invitation to present his work to Tsar Nicholas II and his family. So impressed was the Tsar that he commissioned Gorsky’s plan and provided him with funding and a specially-outfitted dark room rail car for his work.

From 1909 to 1915 Gorsky tirelessly traversed the Russian empire capturing thousands of shots of virtually every walk of Russian life. In commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the completion of his historic mission, we are publishing 100 of his best shots, giving a vivid glimpse into Tsarist Russia on the eve of the Communist Revolution.  

‘War and Peace’ author Leo Tolstoy – 1908

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84-year-old Pinkhus Karlinsky was the supervisor of the Chernigov floodgate over the course of 66 years – 1909

Dagestani couple – between 1909-1915

Assumption Cathedral in the Dalmatov Monastery – 1912

Assumption Cathedral in Tobolsk, rampart and part of fence – 1912

Austrian prisoners of war at a barracks near Kiappeselga – 1915

Young boy standing next to a gatepost – 1910

Bukharan bureaucrat – between 1909-1915

Cathedral in Shadrinsk – 1912

Cathedral of the Nativity of the Mother of God at the Ipatevsky Monastery – 1910

Cathedral of the Transfigured Savior and Church of the Entry to Jerusalem in Torzhok – 1910

Foreman of the Chakva tea factory, Lau Dzhen Dzhau – between 1909-1915

Chapel from the time of Peter the Great near the Kivach Waterfall near the river Suna – 1915

Chapel where the city of Belozersk was founded in ancient times – 1909

Children sitting on a hill near a church and belltower in the countryside near White Lake in northern Russia – 1909

Church of the Resurrection of the Blood – between 1909-1915

Church of the Holy Mother of God in Tobolsk – 1912

Church of the Resurrection in the Grove in Kostroma – 1910

View of Dalmatov from the monastery belltower – 1912

Joining of the Irtysh and Tobol rivers – 1912

Courtyard of the Church of the Resurrection – between 1909-1915

Dagestani couple – between 1909-1915

Dmitrievsky Cathedral in Vladimir – 1911

Drying nets on Lake Seliger – 1910

Entrance to the Church of the Resurrection in Kostroma – 1910

Exit from the yard of the Church of St. George at the Riurik fortress Staraya Lagoda – 1909

Carpet merchant in Samarqand – between 1909-1915

Family working iron mines in the Bakaly Hills with shovels and horse-drawn carts – between 1909-1915

Farmers taking a rest from haying – 1909

Russian forest – 1910

Column fresco in the Church of St. John Chrystosom in Yaroslavl – 1911

Overview of Artvin from the small town of Svet – between 1909-1915

View of Liksansky Palace from the Kura River – between 1909-1915

View of Nikolaevsky Cathedral from the southwest – 1911

View of Shakh-i-Zendi Mosque in Samarkand – between 1909-1915

Georgian woman standing next to a tree – between 1909-1915

Girl with berries – 1909

Sergei Gorsky at the Karolitskhali River – 1912

Gospel belonging to the nun Varsanofiya, governess of the Tsarevna, in Trinity Monastery in Alexandrov – 1911

Group of Greek tea harvesters in Chavka – between 1909-1915

Hay storage at the Viazovaya Station – 1910

Iconostasis at a church in Borodino – 1911

Iconostasis at the Winter Church of the Fedorov Mother of God in Yaroslavl – 1911

Treasures in the vestry of the Ipatevsky Monastery in Kostroma – 1911

Borodino Museum – 1911

Jewish children with their teacher in Samarqand – between 1909-1915

Production shop for scabbards at the Zlatoust arms plant – 1910

Boat Yard in Kareshka – 1909

Large gathering of men in Central Asia, possibly for a game of Bayga – between 1909-1915

Workers laying concrete for a dam over the Oka River – 1912

Locomotive and coal car at a railroad yard – between 1909-1915

Horseman on the Golodnaya Steppe – between 1909-1915

Man sitting among bamboo trees – between 1909-1915

Man sitting on a log next to a hut for woodcutters – 1912

Melon vendor in Samarqand – between 1909-1915

Mills in Tobolsk Province – 1912

The last Emir of Bukhara, Mohammad Alim Khan – 1911

Artistic casting at Kasli Iron Works – between 1909-1915

Monks planting potatoes at Gethsemane Monastery – 1910

Mother of God-Odigitria in the Church of the Assumption of the Virgin in Smolensk – 1912

Mullahs at a mosque in Aziziya Batum – between 1909-1915

Sergei Gorsky near the Kivach Waterfall on the Suna River – 1915

Hotel in Gagra with chauffeur in front – between 1909-1915

Night camp by a rock on the banks of the Chusovaya – 1912

Kyrgyz family on the steppe – between 1909-1915

Noviy Afon Monastery Ponds – between 1909-1915

An old man in Samarqand holding a brace of birds – between 1909-1915

Ordezh River near Siverskaya Station in Petersburg Province – between 1909-1915

Handcar outside Petrozavodsk on the Murmansk Railway – between 1909-1915

Skuritskhali River – between 1909-1915

Guests standing near Catherine’s Spring at a spa at Borzhom – between 1909-1915

Rafts on Peter the Great Canal in Shlisselburg – 1909

Right bank of the Irtysh River at Tobolsk – 1912

Hauberk and helmet of St. Dalmat – 1912

Sart fields in Samarqand – between 1909-1915

Sergei Gorsky with two Cossaks in Murman – 1915

Settler’s family in village of Grafovka – between 1909-1915

Steam engine ‘Kompaund’ with Schmidt super heater – 1915

Stork in a nest in Bukhara – between 1909-1915

Tile stove in the prince’s chamber in Rosta Veliky – 1911

Tow rope bridge in the village of Lava – 1909

Trinity Cathedral in the city of Lalaturovsk – 1912

Trinity monastery in the city of Tumen – 1912

Tsar Aleksei Mikhaelovich’s gospel and Tsar Mikhael Feodorovich’s sacremental vessels in Trinity Monastery in Alexandrov – 1911

Tsarist gifts to the Goritsky Monastery – 1909

Two men and a woman standing outside the Zlatoust arms plant – 1910

Two men and two boys in Samarqand – between 1909-1915

Two men with a boat in Ostrechiny – 1909

Shir-Dar madrasa in Samarqand – between 1909-1915

Solovetsky Monastery – 1915

View of Tbilisi from St. David Church – between 1909-1915

View of Dalmatov Monastery from the Iset River – 1912

View of Tobolsk from Assumption Cathedral – 1912

Village of Kolchedan – 1912

Weighing station at the Chakva tea factory – between 1909-1915

Woman in Purdah standing next to a wooden door – between 1909-1915

Woman spinning yarn in the village of Izvedod – 1910

Church of the Transfiguration of Our Lord in the village of Pidma – 1909

Young woman in Malorossi (Ukraine) – between -1909-1915

Young women offer berries to visitors to their izbas – traditional wooden houses along the Sheksna River near Kirillov – 1909

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Officials pushed for State to buy direct provision centres from private firms

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The Government should buy a number of privately-owned direct provision centres as a “priority” as it would be more “cost effective” for the State to run the facilities for asylum seekers, international protection officials have said.

The savings arising from owning the accommodation centres rather than paying private contractors to do so “could be considerable”, departmental briefing documents provided to Minister for Children and Integration Roderic O’Gorman last year state.

The vast majority of direct provision centres are currently owned and run by private companies, with accommodation providers having received some €1.6 billion since 1999, including €183 million last year.

The latest figures show some 7,150 people are in the system of seven State-owned sites and 39 private centres. A further 24 commercially-owned premises are being used to provide emergency accommodation for asylum seekers.

The briefing document, released to The Irish Times under the Freedom of Information Act, says that housing people seeking asylum in State-owned centres would provide the “best protection from the vulnerability of present market reliance”.

“They are also much more cost efficient to run, and the State owns the asset,” it notes.

The document suggested that State centres should aim to accommodate 5,000 people, and “allowing the private sector to supply the rest is regarded as an achievable and reasonable target”.

The purchase of existing centres from private providers “to immediately boost the State’s footprint in this area should be considered as a priority,” the internal document said.

“Some service providers may be open to this and the market appears to be favourable at present,” it said.

The internal briefing suggested the department could then seek private companies or NGOs to run the centres, which would be a “competitive cost option”.

‘Badly needed’

Ongoing maintenance for centres owned by the State was also “badly needed,” as current pressures on the Office of Public Works (OPW) meant it was not possible “for immediate repairs to be done if required”.

“In exploring the model of more State centres, we need to agree and acquire a capital budget,” the briefing stated.

“State land does not require planning permission for new centres as the Minister has a power under the Acts, whereby the OPW can grant the planning permission and this is usually a three-month process. It is not subject to appeal.”

The document says that State centres “can also have a bigger footprint as it will be a permanent fixture in the locality”. In recent years a number of plans for private providers to open direct provision centres in regional towns have been met with protests from locals and anti-immigration activists.

Mr O’Gorman’s department has sought to reform the direct provision system and is seeking to replace the network of centres with a new system of accommodation and supports by the end of 2024.

New centres

A department spokesman confirmed the State has not bought any new centres since the briefing note was written. The spokesman said under the planned overhaul of direct provision, asylum-seekers who arrived into the country would initially be housed in a number of reception and integration centres.

Asylum-seekers will spend a maximum of four months in the reception centres before moving into housing secured through Approved Housing Bodies.

“These centres will be State-owned and purpose built to provide suitable accommodation for approximately 2,000 people at any one time, to cater for the flow-through of the 3,500 applicants over a 12-month period,” he said.


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IN PICTURES: French daredevil takes hair-raising Seine tightrope walk

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Attached by a strap to a safety lanyard, 27-year-old Nathan Paulin slowly progressed barefoot on a line stretched across the river between the Eiffel Tower and the Chaillot Theatre.

He stopped for a few breaks, sitting or lying on the rope.

Paulin holds an umbrella as he performs, for the second time, on a 70-metre-high slackline spanning 670 metres between the Eiffel Tower and the Theatre National de Chaillot. (Photo by Sameer Al-DOUMY / AFP)

“It wasn’t easy walking 600 metres, concentrating, with everything around, the pressure … but it was still beautiful,” he said after the performance on Saturday.

He said obtaining the necessary authorisations had been a difficulty for him, plus “the stress linked to the audience, the fact that there are a lot of people”.

Photo: (Photo by THOMAS COEX / AFP)

Paulin, holder of several world records, performed the feat to celebrate France’s annual Heritage Day – when people are invited to visit historic buildings and monuments that are usually closed to the public.

He said his motivation was “mainly to do something beautiful and to share it and also to bring a new perspective on heritage, it is to make heritage come alive”.

He had already crossed the River Seine on a tightrope, on Heritage Day in 2017.



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The truth about Ireland’s monster €240bn debt: it wasn’t the banks

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There’s a perception that Ireland’s monster debt – it will be €240 billion by the end of the year, on a per capita basis the third highest in the world, was put there by band of rogue bankers. And that we as a people have been victims of a terrible wrong.

The truth of course is more sticky, more unpalatable than the bar stool narratives we tell ourselves.

Most of the debt – more than €100 billion – arose from a sequence of budget deficits run up in the wake of the 2008 financial crash and linked to then government’s mismanagement of the public finances, a government that we voted into office three times in succession.

The former Fianna Fáil-led administration had spent lavishly in 2000s while using windfall taxes from the property sector to plug the holes in its accounts.

Deficit

When these taxes dried up, the deficit ballooned. At the height of the crisis in 2009 the deficit was €23 billion. That meant the State was spending €23 billion more than it was taking in by way of taxes and other income.

This necessitated borrowing on a grand scale, which went on – to a varying extent – for a decade until the State ran a budget surplus in 2018.

The original cost of bailing out the banks was €64 billion but this has been clawed back to around €40 billion by way of levies, dividends and share selloffs arising out of the State’s ownership of the banks.

It’s a big number, but less than half the bill foisted upon us from budgetary mismanagement, none of which can be clawed back.

On a per capita basis, the State’s debt figure equates to €46,000 for every man, woman and child in the State and €103,300 for every worker.

And the cost of servicing it has cost us €60 billion over the past decade: equivalent to three years of health spending. Make no mistake the State is paying for its boom time folly.

So it behoves us to sit up and listen when the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council (Ifac) sounds a note of caution about the Government’s budgetary strategy, particularly when it claims we’re sailing close to unsustainable debt trajectory.

And not to dismiss the council’s critique, as some do, as an act of fiscal pedantry, far removed from the realpolitik of government.

While the €4.2 billion spending hike earmarked for Budget 2022 is broadly welcomed, the council takes issue with the Government’s medium-term budgetary strategy, which envisages a series of much bigger budget deficits out to 2025 and nearly €19 billion in additional borrowing.

Debt

This will leave the State with a bigger and less manageable debt up the line and therefore more exposed to the next crisis. There was now a one in four chance of the national debt moving on to an unsustainable trajectory in the years ahead, it said.

The council also warned that borrowing and ramping up spending during a strong recovery could “backfire” triggering an acceleration in prices if capacity constraints, most notably in the construction sector, bite.

You would think that as a country with a big debt, the chief threat here is rising interest rates, something that is likely to arise if the current pick-up in inflation proves longer than expected.

Ifac has stress-tested the Irish economy against possible interest rate hikes and growth shocks, finding the latter poses a greater problem.

While a big 2 percentage point shock to the Government’s borrowing costs would add just 0.4 percentage points to the debt ratio in three years it would barely raise annual funding costs. This is largely because the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) bond issuance is long-dated and, in the main, fixed rate.

In contrast a typical growth shock of 3.6 per cent for two years could add over 20 percentage points to the debt ratio in three years. “With high debt ratios to begin with, this could snowball and make it difficult to pull down debt ratios in later years,” it said.

Plan

Two years ago, NTMA chief Conor O’Kelly was asked what the chief financial risks facing the agency were and if it had a Brexit contingency plan.

He said the agency operated on “permanent contingency” basis . As a small, highly-indebted economy, which relies on international investors for 90 per cent of its borrowings, he said Ireland and the NTMA needed to be in a permanent state of crisis readiness.

The reality is that the next shock, the next thing that will hit our funding market, will probably be something that we have not yet thought of and is not on the front page of every newspaper in the world, O’Kelly said. Nine months later, the Covid crisis hit and the global economy fell off a cliff and the NTMA’s borrowing plans were out the window.

This goes to the heart of Ifac’s commentary: it’s not a case of wondering if there will be another recession or if there will be another financial shock, that’s a given, they’re coming on average every 10 years.

Downturns are part of the natural cycle, financial shocks are part of the global economy. The question is, will you be in a position to borrow and spend your way out of it.


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