Wind of rubbish

How the reform of waste collection has changed the Moscow region

Reading time 6 minutes

The reform of rubbish collection was launched on the 1st of January 2019 as a part of “The Comprehensive System Of The Household Waste Treatment” project. This project in its turn is one of ten parts of Russia-wide project “The Ecology”. It was stated in 2018 and going to continue till 2024.

Parts of national project «The Ecology»
Parts of national project «The Ecology»

Moscow and other 10 regions excluded themselves from the program for a while. They will join it in 2022. The experience of the Moscow region on the contrary has become a role model.

What the government did?

The Moscow region government organized separate collection of household garbage. Bins of different colour appeared in cities. Blue one is destined for recyclable litter such as paper, plastic, glass, and metal. Grey bin — for non recyclable rubbish. Yellow ones that can be found in shopping malls and other public places are intended to contain dangerous waste like batteries, chargers and home appliances. Such garbage is transported to Chelyabinsk to the conversion.

Sorted safe rubbish should be sent to the local waste recycling plants. There are five such places now. As the Chairman Of The Government Of The Moscow Region Yevgeny Khromushin said, till 2030 only 5% of rubbish will be buried. Now 28 of 39 wastelands are closed, rest of them will follow as soon as 7 recycling plants will have been constructed. Moreover, 4 incineration plants are to appear till 2022. It is supposed that in the process of burning electricity will be produced.

Grey bins are removed regularly, while blue ones — after having been completely filled
Grey bins are removed regularly, while blue ones — after having been completely filled

In some cities the government with the support of rubbish utilising companies have launched social projects. They believe that it motivates dwellers to hand over waste for recycling. Every handed over 7 kilograms of paper, 10 kilograms of glass or 3 kilograms of polyethylene give Electrostal citizens discounts to the partner organizations of the project “Waste to Wealth”.

What dwellers noticed?

New line has recently appeared in utility bills. It is a tax for garbage removal. Such service used to be included into apartment service tax. The Moscow region has not switched to per capita calculation of tax, therefore residents have to pay it depended on the living space. As a result, a single pensioner in a three-room apartment «trash» more than a family in a single-room one.

New incineration plant is to be built next to the largest not only in the Moscow region but also in Europe landfill “Timokhovo”. The first stage of construction is degassing of the dump. Dwellers of Timokhovo, Elektrougli, Elektrostal, and Noginsk monitor the process and regularly complain about the smell of landfill gases within 10 kilometres. The situation is aggravated by the Elektrostal landfill six kilometers from Timokhovo. Landfills poison both air and water, so the residents of nearby settlements have to buy expensive and powerful filters, while to Elektrostal water comes from the Vladimir region.

Safety area around the dump is from 500 to 1000 metres.
Safety area around the dump is from 500 to 1000 metres

“It turns out that 1.5 million tons of waste will be stored in Timokhovo per year and 700 thousand tons will be burned. In other words, more than 2 million tons of rubbish will be put just in one point every year! We will be completely deprived of water, air…”, — said Veronika Kuzmina, representative of the active group of residents “Stop plant and landfill Timokhovo”.

What else?

The Moscow region produces about 5.3 million tons of garbage annually. Landfills accept up to 4.6 million tons, conversing complexes — up to 1.1 million. In addition, Moscow dwellers send up to 6.6 million tons of waste beyond the Moscow ring road annually. Due to the lag of the Moscow “garbage reform” from the Moscow region, the capital’s garbage will be “raked” by the rest of Russia, primarily the Moscow region. Half of the conversing and incineration complexes capacity is designed for Moscow.

At the same time the Moscow region government is going to change waste generation standards. They consider the standards to be lower than they should be what means that the dwellers of the region produce more litter. In this case they would pay for garbage removal more. However, where this waste is to be sent legally?

Unlike the government, residents do not think that the taxes are low. The percentage of their collection in any region does not reach 100%. As a result, regional operators that are responsible for removing garbage to legal landfills and conversing complexes are on the verge of bankruptcy. The resignation of the head of the “Russian environmental operator” also indicates the unstable situation of the “garbage reform”.

Double Christmas and New Year?

How Russia came to the different celebrations of the same holidays

Reading time 6 minutes

The humanity invented many calendars such as moon and moon-solar, Julian and Gregorian, also new Julian one. Let’s know what calendars used in Russia and how they affected contemporary holidays.

Ancient Slavic tribes had many customs connected with tne Moon
Ancient Slavic tribes had many customs connected with tne Moon

Our ancestors espoused paganism so they closely associated life with the cycle processes of nature. The ancient Slavic tribes counted time via moon calendar. The term between moon appearing and its disappearing constituted approximately 30 days and was called a month. The celebration of New Year started at around December 25 and lasted for a dozen days after the solstice. Then the duration of daylight started to expand, and the Slavs launched a new sowing circle.

The calendar changing in Russia happened in the X century because of a new faith arrival of. Knyaz Vladimir baptized his territories to the Byzantine rite. Christian date calculation came with the new religion. Since then Slavic tribes started distinguishing years from the Creation of the World and stated the 1st of March as the new year’s first day. Months’ names also were changed according to the Julian calendar that was invented in Rome at 46 B.C.

Ivan III removed the New Year from the 1st of March to the 1st of September. The tzar sought to unification of holidays in Russia, so in 1492 combined the New Year with the harvest festival and the tax collection time.

Gregory XIII is famous for the calendar introduced into the Catholic countries in XVI century. the author of the calendar is a priest and astronomer Christopher Clavius
Gregory XIII is famous for the calendar introduced into the Catholic countries in XVI century. the author of the calendar is a priest and astronomer Christopher Clavius

In the XVI century, people found out that the duration of year in the Julian calendar did not correspond to the astronomical one. The Earth revolves around the Sun 12 minutes faster than the Romans believed in ancient times. In 1582, the discrepancy constituted 10 days. That was the reason why Christmas shifted to spring, and Easter to summer. To improve calculations, Pope Gregory XIII suggested a new calendar which was named Gregorian later. It was accepted so in Catholic world October 15 came after October 4 to annihilate the gap between calendars.

This gap between calendars accumulates over every 128 years. Therefore, before 1701, it made up 10 days, while nowadays it amounts to 13. While the dissimilarity between the Gregorian and astronomical year amasses over 3333 years. New Julian calendar is the most precise. It lags from the astronomical year no sooner than over 40,000 years pass. Until 2800, the New Julian and the Gregorian calendars are alike.

Peter I was that who moved the New Year to the 1st of January, though he left the Julian calendar. Therefore, Russia stepped into the 1700th year A.D. from 7208th year from the Creation of the World. However, due to the gap of 10 days Russians in St. Petersburg celebrated The New Year when, for instance, in Amsterdam people lived in the 10th of January.

Tikhon is the first Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia after the restoration of the Patriarchate in Russia in 1917
Tikhon is the first Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia after the restoration of the Patriarchate in Russia in 1917

The second New Year occured in Russia after 1918 when the Bolsheviks finally switched to the Gregorian calendar. Although, the secular state accepted it, the Church still stuck to the old style. Patriarch Tikhon reject the calendar because according to it, the Orthodox Easter could fall before the Jewish holiday Pesach. It contradicted the decisions of the first Ecumenical Council in Nicaea in 325 A.D. Therefore, the Orthodox celebrate Christmas Eve not at the 24th of December as Catholics do but at the 6th of January. And they celebrate the Old New year at the 13th of January.

Thus, since the tenth decade of the last century, Orthodox people in Russia have been living simultaneously on two calendars with two new years and Christmas in January.

Where to find a new year tree?

What to do if a New Year eve is coming but the tree is absent?

Reading time 7 minutes

The tradition of decoration a fir at Christmas came to Russia from Germany. Peter The Great introduced this custom to the houses of the noble families and a century later sweets and fruits appeared on coniferous trees in every house. The Soviet government transformed the Christmas tree into a New Year’s one because of the ideological causes. As a result, nowadays it is impossible to imagine New year without a decorated spruce in the room. However, what if the New year is coming and you still do not have the tree?

Buy a tree in the nursery

In Dmitrov or Ulyanovsk nurseries you can choose a tree of 50 cm high for 200 rubles. Unlike the forest cutting, such one does not harm the ecosystems because workers of the nursery regularly sow new trees. In The Moscow region a meter-long spruce costs about three or four times cheaper than in Moscow. Cutting down a tree in the forest is illegal and lead to a fine of 3000 rubles or criminal liability. The forests of the Moscow region are patrolled since December 10.

Eight steps towards New Year mood
Eight steps towards New Year mood

If there is not enough space for an entire tree in the room, you can use spruce branches as a basis and make a garland, wreath, or two-dimensional tree. It depends on your preferences. To make a wall Christmas tree, lay out the branches in a shape of fir and fix them with tape or office buttons. Decorate the tree with garlands, tinsel or balloons, as you would do with the traditional one. Besides the traditional paper snowflakes, you can make Scandinavian garlands or paint papier-mache toys to decorate the Christmas tree. If you want to make a wreath, weave a circle of branches, fixing them on the base with ropes and ribbons. Add cones, beads, and toys to it.

Create a hand-made eco-friendly Christmas tree

Make the main holiday tree on your own from cardboard boxes left over from Packed gifts or old equipment. Also, boxes can be bought in food-stores. It may give them a second life: you can put up the same cardboard Christmas tree for several years in a row. When it becomes redundant or unusable, take it for recycling. Depending on your confidence in the abilities, choose the variant with appropriate difficulty.

Cross Сhristmas tree. Initially, draw the details of the future fir tree on the cardboard as shown in the picture below. After cutting out all the details, take the parts of the tree and insert one half into the other. Then place the connected parts in the base. Color the Christmas tree as you like.

Cross Christmas tree
Cross Christmas tree

Snowflake Christmas tree. It makes almost as the cross but with more details. In this version after cutting the parts of the Christmas tree, they should be glued in the middle with double-sided tape not put onto one another.

Snowflake Christmas tree
Snowflake Christmas tree

Cone shaped Christmas tree. Firstly, you need to make several cones out of A4 sheets. Secondly, connect the parts together with tape or hot glue to make the structure more stable. Putting them together will require a bit of dexterity. A cylinder made of thick cardboard will be suitable as a base.

Cone shaped Christmas tree
Cone shaped Christmas tree

Pyramid-shaped Christmas tree. This variety is for those who can read drawings. Detailed instructions on how to do it are here. So that the tree can be disassembled and reassembled, fasten the parts with buttons not glue.

Pyramid-shaped Christmas tree
Pyramid-shaped Christmas tree

Christmas tree for chemists

For this purpose, you will need legs for a laboratory tripod, the tripod itself, flasks and reagents. Before you start, remember the safety precautions and school chemistry course. Attach the legs to the tripod according to the number of flasks. Choose the color of the “balls”.

Keep such tree away from fire and little children
Keep such tree away from fire and little children

The blue color has copper vitriol (Cu(OH) 2) and copper sulfate (CuSO4). Silver chloride (AgCl) will give a white curd precipitate, and aluminum hydroxide (Al (OH)3) — white jelly-like, barium sulfate (BaSO4) — white flake-like. Calcium carbonate (CaCO3) and zinc hydroxide(Zn (OH)2) will also produce white precipitation. Silver bromide (AgBr) and silver iodide (AgI) will make the ball light yellow, and silver phosphate (Ag3PO4) lemon yellow. KMnO4 — high quality potassium permanganate, which will stain the water crimson. Conduct experiments, put the flasks in the paws and decorate the spruce.

Borderless education

How Russian students take part in international mobility

Reading time 5 minutes

According to RBC data, in 2015 more than 50 thousand Russians studied abroad. This is about 1.5% of all international students. Statistics have shown that students prefer to travel to the United States and European countries although China is becoming more and more popular.

The cost of education in Europe universities according to the data of state agencies
The cost of education in Europe universities according to the data of state agencies

Any student can build an independent educational trajectory of education abroad or participate in international academic mobility programs with the help of home-university. RNU HSE is among those universities that offer such exchange programs. It has more than 74 arrangements with institutes in 27 countries.

HSE stusents on the international mobility program
HSE stusents on the international mobility program

HSE advises to divide the participation into the international academic mobility program into several stages:

  1. Make sure that you meet all the criteria that apply to exchange candidates.
  2. Calculate your budget: you will not have to pay for the education but both visa and transport, insurance and accommodation, food and unexpected expenses are covered by the student. In case of difficulties with calculations, you can use the site.
  3. Submit an online application form to participate in the competition: for autumn mobility it is held in February-April and for spring one in August-October.
  4. Check your email address to find out the selection results. They are announced one month after the end of the application process.
  5. If the application is approved, get ready to go: check the list of things and study the recommendations for traveling abroad on the website of the Russian foreign Ministry.

To make sure that the student is ready to study, the host country may ask to confirm the level of English fluency. The tip: programs that require international certificates have lower competition. Therefore, if you confirm your knowledge of the language with an international exam certificate in advance, it will significantly increase your chances of learning abroad. To do this, you should pass IELTS or TOEFL but not lower than the level B2 according to the CEFR classification.

The stages of fluency in foreign languages according to classifications of CEFR and British Council
The stages of fluency in foreign languages according to classifications of CEFR and British Council

According to the experience of students who have studied abroad, you should learn ahead as much as possible about the country you are going to and study the course program. Also, you should know in advance how you will be evaluated and whether you will be able to recalculate the received grades on the return. The clearer and more extensive your understanding of life in the host country, the less likely you are to suffer from culture shock or homesickness. To do this, you can monitor the media platforms of the host country, correspond with locals or analyze the experience of your predecessors. No one can guarantee that you will be 100% comfortable in your new place but careful preparation will help make the experience more enjoyable.

A stepping stone for young professionals

Registration for “I am a professional” olympiad has opened

Reading time 5 minutes

The registration for the third season of Russian-wide olympiad for students “I am a professional” has begun in early October. Application form for choosing the subject and uploading the certificate from the University is available for filling out until November 18.

The competitions will be held in seven areas of knowledge, therefore both students of technical programs and those who study in the Humanities and natural Sciences will be able to choose tasks to their liking. The program for the contestants will be compiled by specialists from leading universities and enterprises of Russia. The competition is open for bachelors, masters and specialist students. Participants do not have to pay for the Olympiad.

More than 98000 of students decided to patticipate in the olypmiad this year to the 10th of October
More than 98000 of students decided to patticipate in the olypmiad this year to the 10th of October

The olympiad has two stages. From November 22 to December 8 students need to complete the tasks of the qualifying stage which is held online. Those who show the best results go to the final face-to-face stage. It is held at several venues across the country from late January to early March. The finalists will be able to choose the most convenient city.

Winter schools are planned between the two stages. They consist of practice-oriented educational forums based on major universities of the country. Meanwhile, contestants who have already passed qualifying stage of the Olympiad also have to pass additional tests.

Winter school «Software and Radio Engineering» in Sochi
Winter school “Software and Radio Engineering” in Sochi

To prepare for the competition, participants can solve demo-versions of qualifying stage tasks and watch online courses available on the site. Besides giving additional information, online courses are handy because certificates of completion allow to participate in the final stage, bypassing the selection process.

The results of the Olympiad are to be summed up in March or April, after the organizing Committee have determined the winners. They will receive cash payments, invitations to internships, and privileges for entering universities as awards. The amount of payments will depend on the participant’s status.

Awarding of medalists, winners and prize-winners last year took place in Moscow. Approximately 3500 people received prizes
Awarding of medalists, winners and prize-winners took place in Moscow last year. Approximately 3500 people received prizes

All winners will be awarded with diplomas and included into the national database “I am a professional”. This is a student registry that is open for recruiters and human resources specialists from leading firms. The organizers will help to make a portfolio and give suggestions for improving work skills to all who will be included in the database. Educational privileges depend on the University where the student is getting education. They should be checked on the website.

The “I am a professional” olympiad has become one of the main projects of the presidential platform “Russia is the country of opportunities”. This year it is held for the third time. The competition is designed to find the most talented students and give them both additional space for career and professional growth with the development in the scientific field.