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In this landmark five-part series, he explores the extraordinary changes that are taking place in Russia today and reveals the contours left by history on this vast land. From the Arctic Circle, where the summer sun never sets, to the breathtaking cities of Vladivostok and St Petersburg, from white witches to hirsute masseurs, from oil wells to shamans, Dimbleby’s journey by boat, train, truck and foot is heart-warming, entertaining and compelling. This is television’s first comprehensive look at a country shrouded in myth. Look through one window and you see an authoritarian regime trying to modernise itself into an oil-rich economy. Look through another and you see exuberant people enjoying new opportunities, struggling with old problems. Everywhere, the marker stones of their turbulent past. Uncover an enormous and diverse country in transition in this beautiful and exhilarating series
|S01E01||Breaking The Ice||12/11/2008||Jonathan Dimbleby explores ten thousand miles of one of the world's most awe-inspiring countries. If the action in today's Russia is in the cities, the eternal spirit of Russia is in the countryside. Jonathan finds himself at a reception for a Madonna concert, attended by anyone who's anyone in Moscow. But the next day he takes the train to a different world - the family estate of Leo Tolstoy, arguably the greatest of all Russian writers. Further south he comes to the reality of farming in Russia today, where families struggle to survive after the ending of state subsidies. Voronezh is in the middle of Black Earth country, named after the rich soil that surrounds it. This part of Russia bore the brunt of Stalin's brutal project to bring all farms under state control. Millions died in the famine that followed, and in the purges he later inflicted on the survivors. In the woods nearby, Jonathan comes across a memorial to some of the victims. Pyatigorsk is a spa town, and Jonathan decides to sample the warm sulphur springs. Just above are the great mountains of the Caucasus, the scene then and now of fierce fighting between Russian armies and the local tribesmen. Jonathan gets a chance to ride one of the famous Kabardin horses whose bloodline is prized by breeders all over the world. Jonathan's route takes him past Beslan where 331 people died, over half of them children. He visits the ruins of School Number One, preserved as a memorial to them. Further on he comes across another side of the story, a Chechen village whose entire population was deported to Central Asia in 1944 on Stalin's orders. Finally he reaches the Caspian Sea, under the huge walls of Derbent, an ancient city built by the Persians to defend themselves from the peoples of the north.|
|S01E02||Country Matters||18/05/2008||Jonathan Dimbleby explores ten thousand miles of one of the world's most awe-inspiring countries. If the action in today's Russia is in the cities, the eternal spirit of Russia is in the countryside. Jonathan finds himself at a reception for a Madonna concert, attended by anyone who's anyone in Moscow, including top restaurateur, Arkady Novikov. But the next day he takes the train to a different world: the family estate of Leo Tolstoy, arguably the greatest of all Russian writers.|
|S01E03||Motherland||25/05/2008||Jonathan Dimbleby explores ten thousand miles of Russia. The symbol of Russian patriotism is the River Volga which runs from above Moscow through the heart of Russia to the Caspian Sea. Not far from the port of Astrakhan is a tiny village that was once the great capital of the Golden Horde. He arrives there in February when the biting wind chills you to the bone, and is astonished to find how little remains of the western capital of Genghiz Khan's massive empire.|
|S01E04||National Treasures||01/06/2008||Siberia is Russia's treasure chest. When the first Cossacks ventured across the Urals in the 16th century, it was the lucrative fur trade they were after. But it wasn't long before other riches were found. Jonathan starts this journey in an emerald mine and then makes his way down to the great city of Ekaterinburg, built to protect and exploit reserves of iron ore found in the mountains. Its heavy industry turned out tanks and armaments during Soviet days - and also spawned a great tradition of heavy metal music. Jonathan Dimbleby stops off at a nightclub to meet Vladimir Shakhrin, an icon of Ekaterinburg rock 'n roll. Alcoholism is a huge problem in Russia, killing thousands every year, often because the only liquor they can afford is home-made poison sold on the estates in the sprawling suburbs of cities like Ekaterinburg. Jonathan goes on a raid with a crime-busting group founded by an ex-alcoholic. They nail one of the small fry - an old lady who sells a few dozen bottles of illicit booze hidden in her kitchen.|
|S01E05||Far From Moscow||08/06/2008||Jonathan Dimbleby explores ten thousand miles of one of the world's most awe-inspiring countries. Jonathan follows one of the Red Cross teams struggling to manage the AIDS epidemic in Irkutsk and visits Birobidzhan, arguably one of the strangest places in Russia - a Jewish homeland created by Stalin at the furthest end of his empire. Not many Jews have survived there, but the people - Jewish or not - are proud of their unusual heritage. Jonathan finds Hanukah, the Jewish Festival of Lights, being jointly celebrated by the rabbi and the mayor. Finally he comes to his last stop: Vladivostok. Jonathan meets some students in a café. This far from Moscow, will they feel any different from the chic young people he met in St Petersburg some ten thousand miles ago? Not really. They want a strong Russia before they want a democratic one. As he looks out over the Pacific, Jonathan reflects on how charming and how different the Russians are from us.|