I love chicken Kiev. I love cutting into it and see the parsley flavoured butter oozing from it.
I love, love it and even Philippinised it, by having it with boiled rice with a sauce side of sliced tomatoes and shallots in a little fish sauce. Perfect! 😉
Chicken Kiev sounded Russian but the origin is still being disputed. Apparently some say that it was a Ukrainian dish because Kiev is of course in the Ukraine but some also say that it was invented by a chef at the Moscow Merchant Club. Whatever the origin is, it was definitely from the former USSR.
Anyway, a recipe so good cannot be hidden forever. The foodies Marks & Spencer introduced Chicken Kiev to Britain in 1976 as its first Ready-Made-Meal.
For the garlic butter 4 garlic cloves, crushed 2 tbsp finely chopped parsley 200g butter, softened juice ½ lemon
Place all the garlic butter ingredients in a bowl and season well. Mash with a fork until well combined, shape into two sausages using cling film to help you shape it, then tightly wrap and chill or freeze until really firm. Can be made up to 3 days in advance. When firm, slice each into 8 even pieces. Lay a chicken breast on a chopping board and use a sharp knife to make a deep pocket inside the breast. The easiest way is to push the point of a knife into the fat end, keep going halfway into the fillet. Be careful not to cut all the way through or the butter will leak out when cooking. Repeat with the remaining breasts. Push 2 discs of butter inside each chicken breast, press to flatten and re-seal with your hands. Set aside. Mix the breadcrumbs and Parmesan on one plate, and tip the eggs onto another. On a third plate, mix the flour with paprika and some salt. Dip each breast in the flour, then the egg and finally the breadcrumbs, repeating so each Kiev has a double coating (this will make them extra crisp and help to keep the butter inside). Chill for at least 1 hr before cooking, or freeze now – see tips, below. To cook, heat oven to 180C/160C fan/ gas 4. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium-high heat. Fry the Kievs for 2-3 mins each side until golden – you may need to do this in batches. Transfer to a baking tray and cook for 20-25 mins until cooked through.
……………………… Tip Making it different Use a different flavoured butter – try 2 tsp dried oregano instead of parsley, or type ‘flavoured butter’ into the recipe search box. Kids will love a combination of finely diced ham and grated cheddar instead of butter. Or flavour the breadcrumbs with a pinch of chilli flakes for a spicy twist. Tip Tips for freezing Freeze each Kiev on a flat baking sheet until firm, then wrap well in cling film or transfer to a freezer bag for up to 3 months. Always freeze on the day that you make them. For best results, cook from frozen. Simply put them on a baking tray and cook in a pre-heated oven at 180C/ 160C fan/gas 4 for 45-50 mins, turning halfway through. Tip Making it different Use a different flavoured butter – try 2 tsp dried oregano instead of parsley, or type ‘flavoured butter’ into the recipe search box. Kids will love a combination of finely diced ham and grated cheddar instead of butter. Or flavour the breadcrumbs with a pinch of chilli flakes for a spicy twist. Tip Tips for freezing Freeze each Kiev on a flat baking sheet until firm, then wrap well in cling film or transfer to a freezer bag for up to 3 months. Always freeze on the day that you make them. For best results, cook from frozen. Simply put them on a baking tray and cook in a pre-heated oven at 180C/ 160C fan/gas 4 for 45-50 mins, turning halfway through.
The world was stunned when Russia invaded Crimea, but should it have been? Author and journalist Oliver Bullough says President Vladimir Putin never kept secret his intention to restore Russian power – what’s less clear, he says, is how long the country’s rise can continue.
On 16 August 1999, the members of Russia’s parliament – the State Duma – met to approve the candidacy of a prime minister. They heard the candidate’s speech, they asked him a few questions, and they dutifully confirmed him in the position.
This was President Boris Yeltsin’s fifth premier in 16 months, and one confused party leader got the name wrong. He said he would support the candidacy of Stepashin – the surname of the recently sacked prime minister – rather than that of his little-known successor, before making an embarrassing correction.
If even leading Duma deputies couldn’t remember the new prime minister’s name, you couldn’t blame the rest of the world if it didn’t pay much attention to his speech. He was unlikely to head the Russian government for more than a couple of months anyway, so why bother?
That man was a former KGB officer, Vladimir Putin, and he has been in charge of the world’s largest country, as president or prime minister, ever since. Few realised it at the time, because few were listening, but that speech provided a blueprint for pretty much everything he has done, for how he would re-shape a country that was perilously close to total collapse.
The little-known Putin became prime minister
Just 364 days previously, Russia had defaulted on its debt. Salaries for public sector workers and pensions were being paid months late, if at all. Basic infrastructure was collapsing. The country’s most prized assets belonged to a handful of well-connected “oligarchs”, who ran the country like a private fiefdom.
The once-mighty Russian army had lost a war in Chechnya, a place with fewer inhabitants than Russia had soldiers. Three former Warsaw Pact allies had joined Nato, bringing the Western alliance up to Russia’s borders.
Meanwhile, the country was led by Yeltsin, an irascible drunkard in fragile health. The situation was desperate, but Putin had a plan.
“I cannot cover all the tasks facing the government in this speech. But I do know one thing for sure: not one of those tasks can be performed without imposing basic order and discipline in this country, without strengthening the vertical chain,” he told the assembled parliamentarians.
Born in Leningrad in 1952, Putin came of age in the Soviet Union’s golden years, the period after the USSR’s astonishing triumph in World War Two. Sputnik, the hydrogen bomb, Laika the dog and Yuri Gagarin all bore witness to Soviet ingenuity. The crushing of Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968 bore witness to Soviet resolve. Soviet citizens were enjoying a time of peace and prosperity. Life was stable. People got paid. The world respected them. Everyone knew their place.
Extracts from Putin speech, August 1999
We need to put an end to revolutions. These are staged so that nobody can be rich. But at the moment the country needs reforms so that nobody can be poor. Although this task, unfortunately, is becoming harder by the day. There is no such thing as a thriving state with an impoverished population.
A most important instrument and a most important priority for the government is a secure food supply. We will provide serious assistance to the agrarian sector and in the final analysis to millions of peasants who have just one concern – to feed the country with quality Russian produce.
Russia’s territorial integrity is not subject to negotiation. Or, especially, to horse trading or blackmail. We will take tough action against anyone who infringes upon our territorial integrity, using all the legal means available to us.
Russia has been a great power for centuries, and remains so. It has always had and still has legitimate zones of interest abroad in both the former Soviet lands and elsewhere. We should not drop our guard in this respect, neither should we allow our opinion to be ignored.
Source: BBC Monitoring
When Putin spoke to the Duma, his homeland was a different, and less respected place. He spoke the language of a man who yearned for the lost certainties, who longed for a time when Moscow was to be reckoned with. He did not say it explicitly, but he was clearly stung by Russia’s failure to stop Nato driving the forces of its ally, Serbia, out of Kosovo just months previously.
“Russia has been a great power for centuries, and remains so. It has always had and still has legitimate zones of interest … We should not drop our guard in this respect, neither should we allow our opinion to be ignored,” he said.
His domestic policy was to restore stability, to end what he called the “revolutions”, that had brought Russia low. His foreign policy was to regain Russia’s place in world affairs.
Those two core aims have driven everything he has done since. If only people had been listening, none of his actions would have come as a surprise to them.
About the author
Oliver Bullough is author of Let Our Fame Be Great, describing his journeys among the peoples of the Caucasus, and The Last Man in Russia, detailing the demographic decline of the Russian nation. He was a Reuters Moscow correspondent between 2002 and 2006 and is now Caucasus editor for the Institute for War and Peace Reporting.
Since then, he has seized every opportunity history has offered him, from the attacks of 11 September 2001 to the Ukrainian Revolution of 2013, in his bid to secure his aims. He has been tactically astute and ruthlessly opportunistic. At home and abroad, he wants Russia to regain the prestige it held when he was growing up.
The obvious place to start his campaign was in Chechnya, symbol of Russia’s collapse. The Chechens had defeated Yeltsin’s attempt to crush their self-declared independence, but it proved a bitter victory. The war devastated Chechnya’s people, economy and infrastructure. Chechnya became a sink of kidnapping, violence and crime, and – until Putin – no-one did anything about it.
Finally, for long-suffering patriotic Russians, here was a man not only able to pay their pensions, but prepared to get his hands dirty to defend their homeland. By the turn of the millennium, when Yeltsin stood down, and appointed Putin acting president in his place, the unknown prime minister’s public approval rating was above 70% a level it has barely dipped below ever since.
Human rights groups and some Western governments accused Putin of breaking Russian and international law in his pursuit of his Chechen opponents. (The European Court of Human Rights has found against Russia in 232 “right to life” cases, effectively ruling that Russia repeatedly committed murder during its Chechen campaign.) But that has done nothing to dent Putin’s popularity.
In Chechnya, hundreds of soldiers and thousands of Chechens died. Hundreds of thousands of Chechens fled to claim asylum outside Russia, but Russia’s territorial integrity was secured, and Putin had begun his task of restoring Russian prestige.
Russian troops in Chechnya in 2001
After 11 September 2001, Putin recast his Chechen campaign as part of the global fight against terrorism, thus muting international criticism of his troops’ conduct. He became briefly close to President George W Bush – who even claimed to have glimpsed Putin’s soul – until the Iraq War drove them apart. In Iraq, Putin insisted that international law must be upheld – no invasion could be allowed without approval from the United Nations Security Council, and that approval was not forthcoming.
At home, he crushed the most powerful of the oligarchs, first those who controlled media assets, thus taming the lively television scene, and then in 2003 police arrested Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the richest man in the country. His oil company was dismembered and bought by a state oil company. He was jailed in a process so egregiously predetermined that Amnesty International declared him to be a prisoner of conscience.
“I think it became absolutely clear when Khodorkovsky was arrested, that Putin was not going after the oligarchs to reassert the power of democratic civil society over these titans. He was doing it as part of building an authoritarian regime,” says Chrystia Freeland, the FT’s bureau chief in Moscow when Putin came to power, and now a Liberal member of the Canadian parliament. (She is also one of the 13 Canadians barred from entering Russia this week in response to Canada’s imposition of sanctions against Russian officials.)
Putin kept a tight grip on the parliamentary elections at the end of 2003, and his allies gained two-thirds of the Duma. He praised the poll as a step towards “strengthening democracy” – monitors from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe called it “overwhelmingly distorted”.
In just four years, Putin had crushed Chechnya, reined in the free media and the oligarchs, gained a parliament that would do whatever he wanted, and shown that Russia had a strong voice in international affairs.
“He says what he thinks and does what he says – at least much more than probably any other contemporary politician or statesman. Western analysts and politicians always try to uncover some sort of false bottom in his statements, when there often isn’t one. That applies to many other Soviet leaders including Stalin – at least in the run-up to and during WW2,” says Dmitry Linnik, London bureau chief of the Voice of Russia radio.
“He is a nationalist – in the federal ‘Russian’, not ethnic ‘Russian’, sense of the word. That is his biggest driving force, I think – not hunger for power or personal ambition.”
Putin restored some of the Soviet symbols, such as the five-pointed star
But Freeland disagrees.
“I think he has taken a series of decisions, quite rationally from his narrow personal point of view, that this kind of autocratic regime gives him the most personal power and personal wealth,” she says.
There was one thing missing to make the world of his childhood complete: an ideology.
Putin restored some Soviet symbols. He brought back the Soviet national anthem and Soviet emblems, and praised the Soviet triumph in World War Two. But he embraced pre-Soviet themes too. He befriended the Russian Orthodox Church, and name-checked anti-Soviet philosophers like Ivan Ilyin, whose remains he had repatriated to Russia and buried with honour.
This trend towards a uniquely Russian form of conservatism accelerated after the wave of protests against electoral fraud that struck Moscow in 2011-2, which alienated Putin from Russia’s liberals. Among his favourite ideologues is Vladimir Yakunin, an old friend, a fellow KGB graduate, an Orthodox believer and now head of Russian Railways, one of the country’s most strategically significant companies.
Born Oct 1952 in Leningrad (now St Petersburg)
Studied law and economics before joining KGB
Served as KGB agent in East Germany 1985-90
Worked at mayor’s office, St Petersburg, 1990-96
Became PM in 1999, then elected president following year
Married (though divorcing/divorced), two daughters
“Russia is not between Europe and Asia. Europe and Asia are to the left and right of Russia. We are not a bridge between them but a separate civilisational space, where Russia unites the civilisational communities of East and West,” Yakunin said in a recent interview with Itar-Tass.
Last week, he was added to the US sanctions list for “membership of the Russian leadership’s inner circle”, following the annexation of Crimea.
The idea of Russia being separate from but equal to the West is convenient, since it allows the Kremlin to reject Western criticism of its elections, its court cases, its foreign policy, as biased and irrelevant.
Many of Putin’s friends, though dismissive of the West’s economics, politics, values and structures, are, however, much attached to its comforts. Both of Yakunin’s sons live in Western Europe – one in London, one in Switzerland – and his grandchildren are growing up there.
According to the anti-corruption campaigner, Alexei Navalny, Yakunin has built himself a palace outside Moscow using foreign limestone and building materials brought in from Germany – a strange step for a man supposedly wedded to creating a Russian economy independent of the West.
Putin too has espoused principles, then dropped them when they proved inconvenient. In Iraq in 2003, he made a stand in defence of international law, opposing any invasion without UN approval. In Georgia in 2008, he sent in the troops without even pretending to consult with the Security Council.
Last year, intervention in Syria was out of the question. This year, intervention in Ukraine is justified and unimpeachably legitimate. It may be that principles have never been the issue – and that Putin’s objective has always been to maximise Russian power, and to defy Western attempts to rein Russia in.
“We have every reason to assume that the infamous policy of containment, conducted in the 18th, 19th and 20th Centuries, continues today. They are constantly trying to sweep us into a corner because we have an independent position,” said Putin in his speech last week announcing the annexation of Crimea, a speech that repeated all his points from 1999, but with 15 years worth of additional resentment.
“If you compress the spring all the way to its limit, it will snap back hard. You must always remember this.”
Extracts from Putin speech, March 2014
It was only when Crimea ended up as part of a different country that Russia realised that it was not simply robbed, it was plundered.
Many years later, I heard residents of Crimea say that back in 1991 they were handed over like a sack of potatoes. This is hard to disagree with. And what about the Russian state? What about Russia? It humbly accepted the situation. This country was going through such hard times then that realistically it was incapable of protecting its interests.
There was not a single armed confrontation in Crimea and no casualties. Why do you think this was so? The answer is simple: because it is very difficult, practically impossible to fight against the will of the people.
Our Western partners, led by the United States of America, prefer not to be guided by international law in their practical policies, but by the rule of the gun. They have come to believe in their exclusivity and exceptionalism, that they can decide the destinies of the world, that only they can ever be right.
It is not easy re-shaping a country on your own, and Putin has needed the assistance of one key group within Russian society. While he has cracked down on independent journalists, businessmen and politicians, he has relied on state officials to make sure his ideas are implemented.
They have been well rewarded for their help. Wages for top officials increased last year by 20%, four times the increase in the general budget. Putin’s spending binge means that, for the budget to balance, Brent crude must now average around $117 a barrel, more than five times the level needed in 2006, according to analysis from Deutsche Bank.
Even that is not enough for top officials. Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokontsev said last week that, in 2013, the average bribe in Russia had doubled to $4,000. Last year, Transparency International gave Russia 127th place on its Corruption Perception Index, rating it as corrupt as Pakistan, Mali and Madagascar.
“Putin has really painted himself into a corner by destroying every independent source of power in Russia. He now has only the bureaucracy to rely on, and must keep increasing its funding to keep ensuring its loyalty,” says Ben Judah, the British author of Fragile Empire, a study of Putin’s Russia.
“Eventually, the money is going to run out, and then he will find himself in the same position Soviet leaders were in by the late 1980s, forced to confront political and economic crises, while trying to hold the country together. He looks strong now, but his Kremlin is built on the one thing in Russia doesn’t control: the price of oil.”
Putin has succeeded in building a version of the country of his childhood, one that can act independently in the world, and one where dissent is controlled and the Kremlin’s power unchallenged. But that is a double-edged sword, because the Soviet Union collapsed for a reason, and a Russia recreated in its image risks sharing its fate.
According to Vladimir Bukovsky, a dissident who spent a decade in Soviet prisons before his exile to the West in 1976, Putin is totally genuine when he says the disintegration of the Soviet Union was a “geopolitical catastrophe”.
Putin with the head of the Russian army’s main department of combat preparation in early March
“He does not understand that the collapse of the Soviet system was predetermined, therefore he believes his mission is to restore the Soviet system as soon as possible,” he says.
As a middle-ranking KGB officer who loved the Soviet Union, Putin lacked the perspective of senior officers, who knew full well the Soviet Union collapsed under the weight of its own inefficiency rather than because of Western plotting, Bukovsky says.
“It leads him exactly to… repeat the same mistakes. He wants this whole country to be controlled by one person from the Kremlin, which will lead to disaster,” he says.
Putin’s decision to invade Crimea was taken quickly and impulsively, by a small group of his favoured top officials. That means Putin has no one to warn him of the long-term consequences of his actions, and until he finds out for himself, he will maintain his course. That means relations with the West will remain uncomfortable, especially in areas he considers to be his “zone of legitimate interests”.
But we can’t say we weren’t warned.
Oliver Bullough is Caucasus editor at the Institute of War and Peace Reporting. His most recent book is The Last Man in Russia, detailing the demographic decline of the Russian nation.
PUBLISHED: 16:34, 3 February 2013 | UPDATED: 16:18, 4 February 2013
Extraordinary brightly-coloured glass jewellery believed to be from Ancient Egypt has been found in a 2,400-year-old burial mound in Siberia.
Nicknamed ‘Cleopatra’s Necklace’ by the Russians who found it, the jewellery was discovered on the skeleton of a 25-year-old woman, believed to have been a virgin priestess.
Although it was discovered during a dig nine years ago, this is the first time a picture of the priceless 17-bead necklace has been shown since it was found in the Altai Mountains by archaeologist Yelena Borodovskya.
Rare find: The necklace was discovered around the neck of a skeleton in a 24,000-year-old burial mound
Valued: The intricate beads are believed to have belonged to a 25-year-old virgin priestess
Intricate: The beads were created using the ‘Millefiori technique’ where glass canes or rods are combined to produce multicoloured patterns
Siberian academics have released the images in the hope of finding experts from across the world who may be able to pinpoint the necklace’s exact origin.
‘It has a striking variety of colours, beautiful shades of deep and light yellow and blue, said Professor Andrey Borodovsky, 53, of the Institute of Archeology and Ethnography, Novosibirsk.
‘I have worked with Altai antiquities for more than 30 years, and this necklace is probably the most beautiful find I’ve ever seen.’
Discovery: The precious necklace was found by archeologist Yelena Borodovskaya in the Altai mountains
Investigating: Professor Andrey Borodovsky is keen to discover how the necklace came to Siberia
Professor Borodovsky said that the intricate beads were made using the ‘Millefiori technique’, which involves production of glass canes or rods with multicoloured patterns that can only be seen from the cut ends.
It is believed that the jewellery pre-dates Egyptian queen Cleopatra, who died in 30BC, but Professor Borodovsky wants to find experts to help him date the piece, according to the Siberian Times.
The owner of the necklace was believed to have been 25-years-old when she was buried with the beads around her neck.
Unusual: Professor Borodovsky, pictured left, said the skeleton was also found with a bronze mirror
She was believed to have been a ‘blue-blooded’ woman, who was likely to have come from a highly regarded tribe or clan.
‘It is quite likely she was a priestess,’ said Professor Borodovsky.
‘What points to this status is a bronze mirror which was packed into her “burial bag”.
‘The mirror had a chain of bronze pendants attached to it, also there was a set of sacrificial bones with a little butcher knife.
‘It shows that the mirror was treated as a living creature, which points to its magical function.
‘If she performed some priestly functions, she could have been a virgin, not having a family and belonging to a completely different social sphere.’
Academics also suspect the mystery necklace owner was a kinswoman of the famous tattooed ‘Princess Ukok’, whose body artwork was preserved in ice following her death.
An artifact such as the necklace has never been found in Russia before, although Professor Borodovsky said that he was not surprised that the jewellery reached remote Siberia from Egypt more than two millennia ago during the Scythian period.
‘Siberia has always been a kind of ‘stream of civilization’ – a transit territory, rich with resources and attractive for migration,’ he said.
He added that the necklace, and its owner had probably come to Siberia via present-day Kazakhstan, along an old silk road.
‘It is most likely by this route that those beads got to Altai,’ he said.