President Vladimir Putin on Thursday granted "hero" awards to scientists backing Russia's claim to a mountain range under the Arctic Ocean that is believed to contain huge oil and gas reserves. The scientists planted a Russian flag under the North Pole ice in August as part of an Arctic expedition that heated up the controversy over an area that a U.S. study suggests may contain as much as 25 percent of the world's undiscovered oil and gas. Russia is one of several countries that have laid claims to the area. Putin signed a decree awarding three members of the expedition the title of Hero of the Russian Federation. They are Anatoly Salagevich, Yevgeny Chernyayev and lawmaker Artur Chilingarov. A fourth expedition member, lawmaker Vladimir Gruzdev, was granted the Order for Service to the Fatherland, the Kremlin said. Russia's Natural Resources Ministry has said preliminary results on soil core samples gathered by the expedition show that the 1,240-mile Lomonosov Ridge under the Arctic is part of Russia's shelf. It said more geological tests would be conducted, as well. After the Russian expedition, Canada vowed to increase its icebreaker fleet and build two new military facilities in the Arctic, while Denmark sent a team of scientists to seek evidence that the ridge was attached to its territory of Greenland. The U.S. government also sent an icebreaker for a research expedition. The issue has become more urgent with growing evidence that global warming is shrinking polar ice — opening up resource development and new shipping lanes. The 1982 U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea gives the Arctic countries 10 years after they ratify the treaty to prove their claims under the largely uncharted polar ice pack. All but the United States have ratified the treaty. Chilingarov, a renowned polar scientist, was named a Hero of the Soviet Union in the 1980s after leading an expedition aboard a research vessel that was trapped for a time in Antarctic sea ice.
Holding of “The Year of Family” is an initiative of the RF President
Holding of the Year of Family is the initiative of the President of the RF and it is held in the framework of the large-scale State program, directed to strengthening of the institute of family in Russia, RIA Novosti reports. The special attention at the State level is planned to be paid to social help not only to children, left without care of adults, but also to support of elderly parents, and also to families in the difficult situation; efforts are directed also to struggle with violence in family. The Year of Family must be commemorated by important changes in life of every Russian family, the first vice-Premier of the RF Dmitriy MEDVEDEV, who supervises the national projects, have announced before. According to him, it is necessary to revive the cult of big family in Russia, "because a happy family is a family, which connects all relatives, and it gives powers for development." Speaking about plans of the Government in connection with the Family Year, MEDVEDEV emphasized that the purpose is "to do so that it will be not only just a list of some beautiful and interesting events, but to make the Year of Family commemorated by important changes in life of every Russian family." The Government prepared a plan of the main events, including new sections, such as "family and society," "family and business."
During the Year it is planned not only to introduce new projects, accept new laws, but also as a whole to bring a body of the family legislation into accordance with requirements of time. Such important moments, as trusteeship, guardianship, alimony obligations, help to large families - "all this must find reflection in our work," MEDVEDEV noted. He reported that at the federal level Land Code and some other laws will be improved, at the regional level also. Active work on solution of problems, laid in the Conception of demographic policy to 2025, is supposed. It will be necessary to create "the full adequate legal basis to make the most important document on the parent capital work efficiently;" it will be paid from 2010. Control over fulfillment of all new laws on support of maternity will be strengthened.
MEDVEDEV reminded that from January 1 new payments for families of those who are at the service for a fixed period will appear. This payment is for pregnant wives of soldiers, which is paid once in the amount of 14 thousand Rubles and a monthly payment for children to 3 years at the rate of six thousand Rubles for each child. The work is held also in the areas of health protection and education. Now transition to single channel system of financing is being prepared, it means transition to a new model of health protection and education in the country, the first vice-Premier noted. The Family Year, according to him, is not an end in itself and not a single action, but a result of the long-term policy, which appeared in the State some time ago, which is directed to improvement of the demographic situation, strengthening of the institute of family in society.
The special Fund for children, which will render support to minors in difficult life situation, will be created. Over 5bln Rubles are reserved for these purposes, but it's only beginning, MEDVEDEV assured. He emphasized that it is necessary to be engaged in this work by the whole world, and it is a purpose of not only federal authorities, but also regions, business." At present time the corresponding statutory acts, including the decree of the President are being prepared. Holding of the Year of Family in Russia means that "new philosophy of relations between families, the State and society of Russia" appeared in the country, MEDVEDEV thinks. On Monday the official opening of the Year of Family is planned, however the events will start during winter holidays.
In other news:
Russia ahead in race to put man on Mars: scientist
Russia is leading the race to complete a manned mission to Mars and could land a Russian on the Red Planet by 2025, a leading scientist was quoted as saying on Tuesday. "We have something of a head start in this race as we have the most experience in piloted space flight," the director of the prestigious Space Research Institute, Lev Zelyony, told Interfax news agency on Tuesday. The goal of becoming the first country to land a human on Mars is "technically and economically achievable" by 2025, he said. Mars is the most prestigious prize for the Russian space industry if it wants to boost the country's "scientific and political prestige" through manned space flight, he said. "We lost the race to the moon," Zelyony said. The United States achieved that goal on July 20, 1969, when Apollo 11 commander Neil Armstrong became the first man to set foot on the moon. The last manned US mission to the moon was the December 1972 flight of Apollo 17.
Russia Says It's Ahead Of US In Race To Mars
More boasting to report from the newly-revitalized Russian space program... as a leading scientist says the country is on track to launch a manned mission to Mars by 2025, far ahead of even the most optimistic estimates of NASA. "We have something of a head start in this race as we have the most experience in piloted space flight," Space Research Institute director Lev Zelyony told Interfax news agency, reports Breitbart. Zelyony added the goal is "technically and economically achievable" by 2025. After years of comparative neglect following the downfall of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Russia space program has been on a kick lately... and Zelyony has shamelessly promoted the resurgence. As ANN reported, the director also announced this week the country would play a role in a still-to-be-officially-announced European Space Agency mission to Europa, one of Jupiter's moons. Zelyony also touched on the reason why Russia is pressing for a Mars mission... to compensate for coming up short in the last significant "space race" with the US. "We lost the race to the moon," Zelyony said, adding a mission to Mars would be a valued prize for the Russian space industry to boost its "scientific and political prestige." In comparison, NASA says it hopes to return to the moon by 2020, with a manned Mars mission not expected before 2037... leaving Russia plenty of time to accomplish the feat first.