Medvedev first announced his desire to visit the Kurils a month ago. In response, the Japanese Foreign Ministry [warned that such a trip] would seriously endanger Russian-Japanese relations. It is believed that after the strong statement from the Japanese side, Medvedev had no other choice but to visit the islands.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has called Japan’s reaction to Medvedev’s visit unacceptable. “This is our land. The Russian president has visited Russian territory, a Russian region. We have explained this to our Japanese partners. Today we’re going to invite the Japanese ambassador here in Moscow and we will make a clear statement to reaffirm our position unequivocally,” Lavrov announced at a news conference on Monday.
Following his visit, Medvedev posted a photo of Kunashir Island, calling it “a pretty Russian sight”.
Despite their beautiful nature and rich mineral and biological resources, the Southern Kuril Islands have been neglected by Soviet and Russian authorities for many decades.
For this reason many Kuril residents have long been feeling almost abandoned, but President Medvedev stressed the strategic importance of these territories and made it clear that his goal was to turn things around.
Early on Monday, the president arrived on Kunashir Island, where he met the locals and visited several construction sites and public institutions.
Kunashir is the largest and the most populated island, being home to almost 6,500 Russian citizens. Together with three other Pacific islands, it was taken over by the Soviet Union 65 years ago, but the tussle to define its national identity still goes on.
There is a big cross standing on the shore of another Kuril island of Shikotan. It appeared a few years ago, soon after the Russian Orthodox Church opened its parish there.
Polistra was named after the original townsite of Manhattan (the one in Kansas). When I was growing up in Manhattan, I spent a lot of time exploring by foot, bike, and car. I discovered the ruins of an old mill along Wildcat Creek, and decided (inaccurately) that it was the remains of the original site of Polistra. Accurate or not, I've always liked the name, with its echoes of Poland (an under-appreciated friend of freedom) and stars. ==== The title icon is explained here. ==== Switchover: This 2007 entry marks a sharp change in worldview from neocon to pure populist. ===== The long illustrated story of Polistra's Dream is a time-travel fable, attempting to answer the dangerous revision of New Deal history propagated by Amity Shlaes. The Dream has 8 episodes, linked in a chain from the first. This entry explains the Shlaes connection.