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Unit 1.
Russia, My Homeland



            - THE WAY OTHERS SEE US
            - US AND THEM1


Knowing a foreign language gives you a chance to exchange information with people from other countries. Naturally, we want to know as much as possible about each other.

Russia has always been a country of mystery and attraction for foreigners. Winston Churchill once said that Russia is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma2.

We, people living in Russia, love our country and are proud of it. We would like other nations to understand and love our homeland. Thats why its important to learn to talk about ourselves.

1 us and them = we and they (colloq.)
2 an enigma - , ;

1. See if you can answer these questions about Russia. Students Books IV (Lessons 5357), V (Lesson 5), VI (Units 2, 3, 8) can help you.

  1. What is the official name of our country?
  2. How many republics are there in the Russian Federation?
  3. Who was the first Russian President?
  4. What is the highest law of the Russian Federation?
  5. Who is the Russian President at the moment? Who is the Prime Minister?
  6. When did Russia stop being a monarchy ['mtmakij and become a republic?
  7. What is its capital? What can you say about it?
  8. Can you name some other major cities of Russia?
  9. Russia is the largest country in the world, isnt it?
  10. Where are the Altai and the Caucasus mountains situated? What other Russian mountain chains do you know?
  11. Where are the rivers Lena and Ob situated? What other Russian rivers do you know?
  12. What are the names of the seas around our coasts?
  13. What do you know about Lake Baikal?
  14. What do you think are the most important events in the history of Russia?
  15. Can you name any famous people of Russia? Who are they? What are they famous for?
  16. What symbols of Russia do you know?
  17. What do you know about the Russian national flag? Say why white, blue and red have always been symbolic 4 colours in Russia and what they symbolize.

2. A. Look at the chart and describe the Russian National Government. Say who the Head of the country is, who the Head of the Council of Ministers1 is. What is the official name of the Russian Parliament? Who is the Head of the Federal Council?2 Who is the Head of the State Duma?

B. Find out what role the political parties play in our country. Ask your parents if necessary. 3. Choose the right item.

1. The official name of our country is ....

    a) Russia
    b) the Russian Federation
    c) the Republic of the Russian Federation

2. There are ... republics and 62 other regions in the Russian Federation.

    a) 22
    b) 12
    c) 17

3. The National Government of Russia consists of ... .

    a) the President and the Prime Minister
    b) the President and the Council of Ministers
    c) the President, the Council of Ministers and the Federal Assembly

4. There are ... Houses in the Federal Assembly,

    a) two
    b) three
    c) four

5. The lower House of the Federal Assembly is ....

    a) the State Duma
    b) the Council of Ministers
    c) the Federal Council

6. The population of Russia is about ....

    a) 145 000 000
    b) 48 000 000
    c) 548 000 000

7. The Head of the Russian Federation is ....

    a) the President
    b) the Prime Minister
    c) the Speaker of the State Duma

8. The original name of the city founded on the Neva banks by Peter the Great was ... .

    a) Petrograd
    b) St Petersburg
    c) Leningrad

9. The eight ancient Russian towns which are known as Zolotoe Koltso (the Golden Ring) include Sergiyev Posad, Pereslavl-Zalesskiy, Rostov Veliky, Suzdal, Vladimir, Kostroma, Ivanovo and ... .

    a) Tver
    b) Smolensk
    c) Yaroslavl

10. Russia is a land of over ... nationalities,

    a) 10
    b) 200
    c) 1000

1 the Council of Ministers
2 the Federal Council
3 the Federal Assembly

4. A. We talked to a group of British teenagers and asked them what they would like to know about Russia. This is what they asked. Answer their questions.

  1. What are the most popular activities carried out by young people?
  2. Is it cold all the year round?
  3. What is the most fashionable make of shoes?
  4. What kind of music do you listen to?
  5. Who are the most popular musicians?
  6. Do you like living in Russia?
  7. What sports do you do at your school?
  8. Would you like to come to Britain?
  9. What types of cars are popular in Russia?
  10. What foreign languages do you learn at school?

B. Make a list of questions you would like to ask these children.

5. Perhaps the mostdifficult question the British children askedwas this: How does Russia compare with what you know of Britain? Try to answer the question comparing Russia and Great Britain in:

1) geography

2) size

3) climate

4) population

5) peoples and languages

6) natural world

7) hobbies

8) food and drink

9) capitals

10) housing

11) schools

12) pets

6. The British children asked us more questions. Read the answers and guess what the questions were.

1. The ecological situation in Russia is not very safe. Pollution in some industrial towns is high. Some parts of western Russia were badly influenced by radiation from Chernobyl in 1986. In many places wildlife is in danger. Anyhow, more and more people are beginning to realize that a clean environment is extremely important. Ecological education has found its way into schools. We all hope that the situation will soon become better.

2. Perhaps the greatest love of Russians is for tea. Its drunk without milk and is often served with homemade varenye (jam), bai'anki (circles of dry pastry1) and pirozhki (baked pastry with some filling). Russian-style tea is a special ceremony when people sit around a table with a samovar (tea-urn) placed in the middle and drink hot strong tea with a slice of lemon either from cups or from glasses in glassholders.

3. Usually tourists buy traditional Russian souvenirs such as Matryoshka dolls, beautifully painted mugs, plates and spoons from the village of Khokhloma and Palekh boxes. Richer people buy amber,2 furs, art books and caviar. Some tourists are more interested in badges, T-shirts and Russian fur hats (ushankas).

4. The main dishes of the traditional menu are blini (pancakes) with honey, caviar or sour cream, different soups (like shchi and borshch), pirozhki, pelmyeni (boiled pastry with a meat filling) served with mustard, butter, vinegar or sour cream. Russian people eat brown bread with nearly every meal.

5. Many Russians are religious people. The main church is the Russian Orthodox Church.3 It has survived the hard times and now people speak about a rebirth of religion in the country. New churches and cathedrals are built every year, old ones are restored.4 But not all people in Russia belong to the Orthodox Church. There are other religions too and there are a lot of people who are non-believers.

1 pastry
2 amber
3 the Russian Orthodox Church
4 to restore

7. To know a country means to know its people. These are the portraits of some famous people of Russia. Imagine that your foreign guests have asked you about them. Use the information below and tell your guests about these people.

Alexander Pushkin (17991837), the greatest poet and writer

  • born in Moscow into a family belonging to the cream of Moscow society;
  • received his early education at home;
  • at the age of eight composed his first poem;
  • published his first poem Ruslan and LyudmiLa in 1820 and became famous;
  • created literary Russian, wrote a lot of poems;
  • had political views close to the Decembrists;
  • died after a duel [djuialj;
  • buried in Svyatogorsk Monastery near his family estate1 Mikhailovskoye;
  • the best known work is Eugene Onegin (18231831).

Peter Tchaikovsky (18401893), a Russian composer

  • was born in a village near modern Izhevsk;
  • composed a lot of symphonies, created beautiful music for operas and ballets;
  • his most famous operas Eugene Onegin (1878), Iolanta (1891), The. Queen of Spades2 (1890); his famous ballets Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, The Nutcracker3;
  • the Tchaikovsky House Museum in Klin was opened in 1894;
  • the International Tchaikovsky Music Competition started in 1958 in Moscow.

Isaac Levitan (18601900), a Russian artist

  • was born in August; had two sisters and a brother;
  • spent his childhood in the small village of Kibarty;
  • in 1873 began learning to paint;
  • had to earn his living after the death of his parents (mother 1875, father 1877);
  • showed the poetic beauty of Russian nature in his paintings;
  • used the best traditions of Russian artists;
  • studied the countryside, the fields, the woodlands, the meadows;
  • one of his famous works is Autumn Day. Sokolniki Park (1879);
  • A. Chekhov called him Russias best landscape4 painter.

Georgy Zhukov (18961974), a famous Russian army officer, marshal of the USSR

  • was born into the family of a poor shoemaker;
  • at the age of 11 went to Moscow to find a job;
  • took part in World War I;
  • in 1940 became a general in the Soviet Army;
  • took part in many battles during World War II;
  • was at the head of the armies in the battles of Moscow, Stalingrad, Leningrad, Kursk;
  • in 1969 wrote a book about his life;
  • was made Hero of the Soviet Union four times.

Yuri Gagarin (19341968), the first Russian cosmonaut

  • was born in a village near Smolensk;
  • spent his childhood in a big family, had a sister and two brothers;
  • in 1951 finished a vocational school,5 then a school of aviation and an Airforce Academy in Moscow;
  • 12.04.1961 made a space flight on board the spaceship Vostok;
  • made a flight around the Earth that lasted 1 hour 48 minutes;
  • was the first man on Earth to fly into space.

1 a family estate
2 The Queen of Spades
3 "The Nutcracker
4 a landscape
5 a vocational school .