Russian opposition activist Alexei Navalny arrested on arrival as he returns home
LONG READ: The oligarch problem
COVID-19 and Trump’s indifference helped human rights abusers in 2020
Durov rejects Western funds’ offer to buy 5%-10% of Telegram with $30bn valuation
One of Russia’s biggest wood product companies, Segezha could be Sistema’s next IPO
New Ukrainian VC firm QPDigital aims to invest up to $100 million in digital startups
EBRD investments reach record €11bn in pandemic-struck 2020
OUTLOOK 2021 Lithuania
EBRD says loan to Estonia’s controversial Porto Franco project was never disbursed
Estonian premier quits after Tallinn development scandal
Czech Pirates and Mayors approve final coalition agreement for 2021 elections
OUTLOOK 2021 Czechia
BRICKS & MORTAR: Rosier future beckons for CEE retailers after year of change and disruption
OUTLOOK 2021 Hungary
Hungarian government remains silent after Capitol riots
World Bank expects modest recovery for Europe and Central Asia in 2021
OUTLOOK 2021 Slovakia
FDI inflows to CEE down 58% in 1H20 but rebound expected
Slovakia to invest €1.2bn in digitisation
BALKAN BLOG: The controversial recipe for building up Albania
Heavy flooding causes chaos in parts of Southeast Europe
Vodafone Albania plans €100mn infrastructure investments after AbCom merger
OUTLOOK 2021 Albania
Turnover rose on Bosnia's two stock exchanges in 2020 while prices fell
Storming parliaments: New Europe's greatest hits
Kyiv accuses Bosnian President Dodik of lying about icon gifted to Russian foreign minister
Sofia-based LAUNCHub Ventures holds first close of new fund on €44mn
ING THINK: Growth in the Balkans: from zero to hero again?
OUTLOOK 2020 Bulgaria
Labour demand down 28% y/y in Croatia in 2020
Zagreb Stock Exchange's Crobex10 index at highest level since March 5
OUTLOOK 2021 Kosovo
Arrera Automobili aims to launch Albania’s first supercar
World Bank revises projection for Moldova’s 2020 GDP decline to 7.2%
Moldova’s PM resigns to prepare the ground for early elections
Socialist lawmakers in Moldova scrap settlement on $1bn bank frauds
75% of Montenegrins want EU membership
Montenegro’s new ruling coalition carves up top state jobs
OUTLOOK 2021 Montenegro
North Macedonia's manufacturing confidence indicator down by 8.5 pp y/y in December
OUTLOOK 2021 North Macedonia
Transparency International warns of high corruption risk in CEE defence sectors
OUTLOOK 2021 Romania
Romania’s central bank cuts monetary policy rate by 25bp to 1.25%
Romanian construction companies' activity slows in November after intense 2020
OUTLOOK 2021 Serbia
Slovenia’s opposition files no-confidence motion against Jansa cabinet
Slovenia’s government to release funds to news agency STA after EU pressure
UK Moneyhub picks Slovenia for post-Brexit European base
Slovenia’s dire COVID-19 situation in 4Q20 caused second economic dip
Turkcell denies any affiliation with $1.6bn loan in default extended by Ziraat Bank to Virgin Islands company
BEYOND THE BOSPORUS: Let’s tentatively pencil in a date for Turkey’s hot money outflow
OUTLOOK 2021 Armenia
Armenia’s PM cautions conflict with Azerbaijan “still not settled” after trilateral meeting with Putin
COMMENT: Record high debt levels will slow post-coronavirus recovery, threaten some countries' financial stability, says IIF
OUTLOOK 2021 Georgia
Georgia’s political kingpin Bidzina Ivanishvili quits politics
Modern-day “Robin Hood” inspires Georgians drowning in debt
Iran’s navy conducts missile drill while analyst argues Trump even capable of nuclear strike in final days
TEHRAN BLOG: Who’s more credible? Johnson backing Trump’s Nobel chances or Iran applauding arrest warrant for US president?
Central Asia vaccination plans underwhelm, but governments look unruffled
Fears of authoritarianism as Kyrgyz populist wins landslide and backing for ‘Khanstitution’
OUTLOOK 2021 Kyrgyzstan
Mongolia's winter dzud set to be one of most extreme on record says Red Cross
Mongolian coal exports to China paralysed as Beijing demands virus testing of truck drivers
Mongolia fears economic damage as country faces up to its first local transmissions of coronavirus
Mongolia in lockdown after suffering first local coronavirus transmissions
OUTLOOK 2021 Tajikistan
China business briefing: Not happy with Kyrgyzstan
OUTLOOK 2021 Turkmenistan
Turkmenistan: How the Grinch stole New Year
Turkmenistan: The dammed united
COMMENT: Uzbekistan is being transformed, but where are the democratic reforms?
OUTLOOK 2021 Uzbekistan
Download the pdf version
Russia’s sports blockbuster to boost popular interest in fencing
Following the phenomenal success of “The Queen’s Gambit,” Netflix’s fictional drama about a female chess prodigy, Russia has released its own version of the genre – except “On the edge” is about female fencing stars, not chess players.
The Queen’s Gambit has been one of the most popular shows on the online movie service in recent months and racked up 62mn views in its first 28 days after release on October 23, the company said as cited by the Wall Street Journal.
It has also lead to one of the biggest surge in chessboard sales and online chess club memberships since chess’s heyday during the Cold War and the legendary clash between the Soviet Union’s Boris Spassky and the US’ Bobby Fischer in a game held in Reykjavik Iceland – the most watched chess game of all time.
“We’re setting a new record for most new members in a single day almost every day of November,” Nick Barton, director of business development at Chess.com, a site for chess education and online play, told the Wall Street Journal.
The Russian movie about a young woman that takes up fencing has pulled off the same trick.
Alexandra Pokrovskaya is the best sabre fencer in the world and is famous, rich and happy. To go down in history, she just needs to take the last step: to win an Olympic gold. But her path is blocked by nineteen-year-old Kira Egorova, a girl from the provinces who arrived in Moscow and overnight rose to become the best fencer in the country.
Fêted on the piste and off, Kira’s goal is to take the place of Pokrovskaya and a desperate battle begins – not only in tournaments, but also in life – as the movie builds to the showdown on the piste between the two women.
Like The Queen’s Gambit, On the edge has sparked popular interest in fencing in Russia, and fencing instructors have piggy-backed on the film's popularity, referring to the film in online ads for their clubs and services.
Russia has always been strong in fencing and it has been growing in popularity in the last years due to the Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov who, as the President of the International Fencing Federation, has been actively promoting his favourite sport, both internationally and in his homeland. “When I started fencing we had ten to twelve people in our class”, Ilya Andreev said in a recent interview, who took up the sport in 2002 and is now a European champion. “Today many schools practise selection rather than recruiting,” he added.
A hit in Russia, the movie has some crossover appeal as it stars Svetlana Khodchenkova, who is known in the West for her role as Viper in The Wolverine and as Irina, the wife of a Russian spy, in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy based on the best-selling book by John le Carré.
According to the film’s distributor, Central Partnership, the rights have been bought by distributors in several countries including Germany, China, Italy, Austria, Switzerland and others.
Russian cinema has a long and prestigious history from legendary films such as Battleship Potemkin by Sergei Eisenstein and produced at Mosfilm in Moscow – the Soviet Union’s Hollywood – through the smash hit children's animated series Masha and the Bear, where the Masha, the little girl that lives with a bear, is one of the best known children’s characters in the world.
Recently the government has been trying to revive the cinema-making industry by handing out grants to some directors in an attempt to break into the international markets, without much success so far.
But the domestic movie market has been growing quickly. On the edge premiered at the prestigious Oktyabr cinema on Novy Arbat in central Moscow in November and has been one of the highlights of the Russian movie industry this year.
Russia’s cinema business is growing three times faster than the real economy, but it's a bumpy ride. In 2018 Russian movie-goers set a new record with 56mn visits to a cinema to generate a box office take of RUB13.5bn ($200mn).
The Oktyabr cinema is an icon of the business. Established in Soviet times, it is the largest in the country and the flagship movie theatre of Karo, the third-largest chain in Russia, which primarily focuses on the big urban sprawls of Moscow and St Petersburg.
“Oktyabr was 50 years old in 2018 and the biggest in the country,” Olga Zinyakova, a former movie producer who is now Karo’s young CEO and responsible for growing the business, told bne IntelliNews in an interview last year, who adds that a fifth of the films the cinema shows are home-grown.
“Currently we have something like 20% of all movies seen in Russia that are made in Russia. And the quality of movies is growing,” says Zinyakova. “I can say that Russians like the local movies. It's a question of quality, which is always true. The problem is the amount of movies we produce is not enough. We produce about 110 movies per year, while France is producing about four or five times more.”
Like everything else in the services industry, the movie business has been set back by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic as punters stay at home, but with production values rising and the market still in its infancy there is plenty of room to grow.
Netflix has already picked up the rights to Masha and the Bear, which already has a global franchise and at the start of last year it also spent $1mn to buy the rights to “Better than People,” a series about androids that has been a big hit in Russia and was released in Russian, with a local dubbing option. The US company said it planned to launch in Russia before the end of this year and will dub its content into Russian as well as host a 100 original Russian productions on the platform by the end of 2020.
The movie industry is also attracting the interest of Russia’s leading tech players.
Russian mobile major MTS (Mobile TeleSystems) will start investing in feature film production, though its subsidiary MTS Media ready to finance up to 50% for eight to ten confirmed features a year, Kommersant daily reported on November 18.
Russian mobile major MegaFon bought 33.8% in Digital Media Holding that operates the online cinema Start and which is planning to invest RUB5bn ($63.3mn) in the service in the next three years, Vedomosti daily reported on October 28.
And Russia's largest state-controlled bank Sberbank is taking control of Rambler as the media resource for its recently launched Sber universe. Sberbank said it intended to invest RUB2bn ($28mn) in Rambler, with part of the investment aimed at boosting the market share of its subsidiary Okko, an online cinema, to turn it into the market leader by 2021.
Okko had a market share of 22% in 2019, lagging behind top rival ivi.ru with 37%. In 2019 ivi.ru said it was considering an IPO on Nasdaq by the end of 2020, albeit that was before the COVID-19 outbreak. The company was valued at around $0.7bn.
here to continue reading this article
and 5 more for free or purchase
12 months full website access including
the bne Magazine for just $250/year.
Register to read the bne monthly magazine for
Password could contain only
and have 8-20 symbols length.
Please complete your registration by confirming your
A confirmation email has been sent to the email
address you provided.
can't be empty.
No user with
this email address.
Access recovery request has expired, or you are using
the wrong recovery token. Please, try again.
Access recover request has expired.
Please, try again.
To continue viewing our content you need to complete
the registration process.
Please look for an email that was sent to
with the subject line
"Confirmation bne IntelliNews access". This email will have
instructions on how to complete registration
process. Please check in your "Junk" folder in
case this communication was misdirected in your
If you have any questions please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sorry, but you have used all your free articles fro
this month for bne IntelliNews. Subscribe
to continue reading for only $119 per year.
Your subscription includes:
For the meantime we are also offering a free
digital weekly newspaper to subscribers to
the online package.
Click here for more subscription options,
including to the print version of our
flagship monthly magazine:
Take a trial to our premium daily news
service aimed at professional investors that
covers the 30 countries of emerging
For any other enquiries about our
products or corporate discounts please
contact us at
If you no longer wish to receive
Magazine annual print
Website & Archive
Combined package: web
access & magazine print
Take a trial to our premium daily news service
aimed at professional investors that
covers the 30 countries of emerging Europe: