Spotlight on Gregory and Anna Vaisman as star-studded Sputnik TV show turns 20

Anna and Gregory Vaisman interview dancers from the St Petersburg Ballet for their TV show, Sputnik. Photo: Simon SchluterTelevision is a glamorous industry and like the big stars, Gregory and Anna Vaisman get front row seats on Australian life.
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Oaks Day at Flemington racecourse, the Australian Dancesport Championship, the National Gallery of Victoria Winter Masterpieces Exhibition – the Vaismans have reported on all of them.

This week, through their impeccable arts contacts, the Vaismans were granted interviews with dancers from the St Petersburg Ballet, which is performing Swan Lake in Melbourne until June 24.

The only difference between the duo and reporters from A Current Affair or Today Tonight is that that in exchange for lugging their own camera gear across town all day, the Vaismans are not paid for their labours.

The couple, both aged 76, are volunteer producers – and hosts, writers, camera operators and editors – of the Channel 31 Russian television program Sputnik.

With a team of fellow volunteers, they have produced more than 1700 half-hour programs. Sputnik screens at 12.30pm on Sundays and is repeated 12 hours later.

The federal government has announced that Channel 31 will be switched off on free-to-air TV on December 31, and become an online-only broadcaster.

The Vaismans say their migrant audience is not internet savvy.

The future of their program is up in the air.

However, for now, the apparently indefatigable pair are celebrating, because Sputnik (named after the Russian satellite, it also means “spouse”) is 20 years old.

On Sunday at 5pm, they are hosting a three-hour classical music concert at St Kilda Town Hall.

More then 500 people are expected to hear composers including Rachmaninov, Gershwin and Chopin performed by artists including violinist Mark Mogilevski, pianist Elena Mogilevski and singer Nadia Tcherkassova.

The Vaismans, who are Jewish and from the city of Odessa in Ukraine, migrated to Australia with their three adult children and three grandchildren in 1991. The Soviet Union was collapsing, and anti-Semitism was rising.

However, Melbourne was in the midst of a recession. Gregory was a communications engineer but Telstra was laying off staff, not hiring, and Anna had no more luck resuming her former profession as a high school teacher.

As a young man, Gregory had dreamed of a television career.

“In 1958 – the year after the Sputnik satellite went up – I applied to the television faculty at [the] university [in Odessa] but though I got 23 out of a possible 25 marks in the entrance exams, I was excluded,” he says.

“It wasn’t until I went to a gathering of students who had passed the exam but didn’t get in that I discovered why; it was because I was Jewish. Everyone else in the room also happened to be Jewish.”

However, he adds that “in Australia, my dreams came true”.

A few months after Channel 31 opened in 1994, they jumped at the chance to start a Russian program.

They’ve recorded the stories of World War II veterans, interviewed then Victorian premier Ted Baillieu and Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko, and talked comedy with famous Russian clown Slava Polunin.

They’ve become conduits between often isolated Russian migrants and their new Australian life, doing segments on everything from a tour of outback NSW, to the Mornington Peninsula Hot Springs of Rye to interviewing runner Cathy Freeman, for a story about the Port Phillip Aboriginal community.

Vaisman says he is “thankful to Australia, because they gave us [the] opportunity to be useful and to do this job, which we like and which people like”.

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Stolen bike in collision at Coro

CRASH: Emergency services on the scene of the crash near the Coro Club on Saturday night.A man is in a critical condition after a collision between a stolen motorcycle and a van outside the Coro Club on Saturday night.
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Police have been told the Honda motorcycle was travelling west along Moses Street when it collided with a passenger van at the intersection of Harward Road about 11pm.

The motorcycle rider, a 30-year-old man, sustained severe head injuries. He was airlifted to Canberra Hospital, where he remains in a critical condition

His pillion passenger, a 15-year-old boy, was treated for minor injuries at Griffith Base Hospital.

It didn’t appear either of them were wearing helmets.

The van driver, a 26-year-old man, was conveyed to Griffith Base Hospital for mandatory blood and urine testing, and treatment of shock.

A check of the motorcycle’s details revealed it was unregistered, and stolen from a Griffith property on 19 May 2015.

Detectives from Griffith Local Area Command are continuing their investigations into the circumstances surrounding the collision.

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Dominant Illawarra defend CRL title

Success: The Illawarra representative team celebrate at Mudgee on Saturday. Picture: SCOTT HAZLEWOODIllawarra have again shown why they are the powerhouses of Country Rugby League with a dominant performance to dispatch of Canberra 42-12 in their tier one country championships final on Saturday.
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Canberra were blown off the park inthe first half at Mudgee’s Glen Willow Stadium, the match effectively over at 30-6.

llawarra’s win caps a stunning run of success at tier one level,the victory its seventh win in nine years and their third ina row.

Illawarra coach Gary Hart was surprised at how easily his side rolled over the top of Canberra early.

“We knew we had to start well against Canberra because we saw how they played against Newcastle last start,” Hart said.

“Our forwards set the platform in the middle for us today.Both our left and right end back-rowers, Peni Botiki and Chris Lewis were outstanding. They created havoc every time they touched the ball.

“But we had no poor players. We knew we had to lift today and we did that and full credit to the guys, they took full ownership of the side and they deserve the result because of it.”

Canberra manager Tom Ebsworth said his side probably peaked too early.

“I think we might have left our game at Camden [where Canberra beat Newcastle in the semi-final],” Ebsworth said.

“We played really well in the first 40 minutes last weekend and the boys just didn’t come out and repeat it.And that’s because we didn’t control the footy to start with. From the kick-off we let it go out and were on the back foot, while last week we were able to attack with our defence.”

Ebsworth paid tribute to the winners and said despite the final margin the final was not a totally negative outcome for Canberra.

“Illawarra are a very good side and they did their homework on us and they got the win,” he said.

“Some of the boys have never played rep footy before and they’ve been picked for Country, so it’s not all negative. We’re happy for them as players.”

Canberra were under pressure from the outset thanks to a mistake from the kick-off with Illawarra centre Nathan Smith dutifully rubbing more salt into the wounds to give his side a 6-0 lead.

Illawarra became guilty of the same mistake as a turnovergifted Canberra a chance to hit back,Douglas Faaee bashing his way across the line.

After busting them up the middle, Illawarra exploited the gaps out wide,Mitch Port scoring and converting before Lewis crossed seconds later to tighten its grip on the clash early.

Illawarra’s ability to generate second-phase play continued to cause problems as Joel Johnson backed up well, with the margin ballooning to 18.

The edge defence by the Raiders continued to look suspect and Illawarra’s huge pack did not need a second invitation.

Botiki lined up fullback Tom Ruediger and left him sprawling, leaving Canberra shellshocked in the shadows of half-time.

They needed to be first to score after the resumption and Canberra’s prayers were answered whenRuediger scooped up a spilt ball.

Canberra continued to play oneoff the ruck, which Illawarra defended without much trouble.

Illawarra again showedits class with Wayne Bremner bursting through a gap after a well held-up pass.

Mitch Porter continued his perfect record with the boot as his side continued to keep Canberra at arm’s length 36-12,with Blake Wallace finishing the rout for the men in red and white.

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Magpies take points in fiery clash

The Hay Magpies have broken a five-match losing streak by beating reigning Group 20 premiers Griffith Waratahs Tigers 30-24 at home in a fiery contest on Saturday night.
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Both teams finished the game with less than their full complement of 13 after players weresent off and sin-binned for fighting.

Their actions are sure to come under scrutiny from the Group 20 judiciary, but the Magpies at least have two points to show for their bruises.

CentreVeni Lafaele was in damaging form forHay and helped boost his side to its first win since a 52-16 triumph over Leeton in round two.

Despite their poor run of form, the Magpies only find themselves a win outside the top fivehalfway through the season.

Opponents Waratahs have been as high as third, but back-to-back losses to West Wyalong and Hay hasdropped them to sixthon the ladder.

The Tigers were always going to be up against it on Saturday night after naming an understrength side.

Coach Kose Lelei, fullback Johnny Teleaga and giant prop Mike Ioapo –arguably Waratahs’ three best players –were unavailable after playingfor Riverina atthe Country Championships in Mudgee on the same day.

Tigers secretary Mark Jaffrey said the club found it hard to cover the loss of such quality players.

“We were missing a fair bit of strength,” he said. “In the end, wecouldn’t get over the line.”

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Bulldogs v Panthers round 15 NRLpictures, photos

The Bulldogs were too classy for the Panthers winning 24-12. Here are a selection of photos from the game.
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Bulldogs v Panthers round 15 NRL | pictures, photos Action from the Bulldogs and Panthers round 15 NRL match.

Action from the Bulldogs and Panthers round 15 NRL match.

Action from the Bulldogs and Panthers round 15 NRL match.

Action from the Bulldogs and Panthers round 15 NRL match.

Action from the Bulldogs and Panthers round 15 NRL match.

Action from the Bulldogs and Panthers round 15 NRL match.

Action from the Bulldogs and Panthers round 15 NRL match.

Action from the Bulldogs and Panthers round 15 NRL match.

Action from the Bulldogs and Panthers round 15 NRL match.

Action from the Bulldogs and Panthers round 15 NRL match.

Action from the Bulldogs and Panthers round 15 NRL match.

Action from the Bulldogs and Panthers round 15 NRL match.

Action from the Bulldogs and Panthers round 15 NRL match.

Action from the Bulldogs and Panthers round 15 NRL match.

Action from the Bulldogs and Panthers round 15 NRL match.

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Changes to rail services next weekend

SAFETY: The Harcourt rail bridge will receive an upgrade this weekend. Picture: GLENN DANIELSPLANNING to travel to Melbourne by train this weekend? Take note – rail services will be replaced by coaches June 27 and 28 to allow the Harcourt rail bridge to receive a $230,000 upgrade.
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The 15 metre timber deck on the bridge will be replaced with steel.

The work will involve lifting the track, ballast and sleepers before removing the timber deck and replacing it with a new steel structure. Minor maintenance works will be undertaken at the same time.

Scheduled services will resume as normal from Monday morning.

V/Line has advised travellers to allow an extra 40 minutes travel time to and from Melbourne.

Public Transport MinisterJacinta Allan said the new deck would help keep the Bendigo line “safe and reliable for regional passengers”.

“V/Line maintenance works like these are critical to keeping our regional train network movingand I thank passengers for their patience while they are carried out,” she said.

Member for Bendigo WestMaree Edwards said the work was crucial.

“About 40 trains travel over this bridge each weekday, so replacement of the ageing deck is critical to keeping Bendigo line services safe and reliable,” she said.

Check the V/Line website for more information about changes to services.

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Crows unbeaten after nine

HAPPY: Beaufort coach Dale Power has his team up and firing after the opening nine games of the year. File picture: Adam Trafford.
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BEAUFORT remains one of only two sides yet to drop a game this season and arethe new Central Highlands Football League ladder-leadersafter claiming victory over Dunnstown by 36 points.

Saturday’s winhas lifted the Beaufort boys from second spot on the table to bepercentage clear of Waubra, which is also unbeaten after the opening nine gamesof 2015.

The Crows and the Roos played out a draw in round five.

On the weekend, the tough and disciplined Crows overcame a slow start to eventually take control ofthe game and force the Townerson the back foot.

Dunnstown’s ability to slow things down and force a defensive scrap early wasadmirable, but the Daville Building Surveying Towners struggled to maintain their intensity as the contestwore on.

After an inaccurate (1.6) opening term, Beaufort was able to gradually get the gameon its own terms, as the Crows got on top at stoppages and largely controlledpossession.

Defender Lachlan Pfeiffer was particularly influential for the Graintech Crows, as his ability tonullify the classy Aaron Sawers was a key reason why his side took a 16-point leadinto half time.

Dunnstown flashed in and out of the game after the main break, but whenever itseemed that the Towners were on the verge of a comeback, Beaufort quickly repliedon the scoreboard.

Crows’ forward Matt Begbie was instrumental in the victory, proving a handful upforward and kicking goals at crucial times in the second half.

Coach Dale Power said it was a solid performance from his team and lauded an evenspread of contributors.

“We’re a pretty even side across the ground, which is important in this league,”Power said.

“We’re not really deficient in any one area and we’re not outstanding in any onearea. If we all play our role, we seem to get the result at the moment.

“There were only maybe two patches I can think of where we didn’t control the play.It felt like we had hold of the tempo and hold of the clearances.”

Despite the loss, it was once again an improved performance from Dunnstown.

The Towners impressed with their ability to defend and slow Beaufort’s ballmovement, but despitepersevering to the final siren, were unable to keep up withthe Crows after quarter time.

Coach Justin Abrams said the signs were promising for his side, which sits justoutside the top eight in 10thspot, but is now two games adrift ofthe finals bracket.

“We’re getting there,” Abrams said.

“As I said to the boys after the game, take Gordon last week. They were cellardwellers for about four years and it’s taken them that long to rebuild. Beaufortweren’t dissimilar – they were really battling and now they’re unbeaten.

“We’re in our first year of a rebuild. To be within 20 points last week and 36 pointsthis week, it’s pleasing. There are more positives than negatives.”

Experienced ruckman Mark Stewart was once again excellent for the Towners,providing a target around the ground as well as up forward, while Daniel McGrathand Mitch Kennedy both stood up in defence.

Beaufort has a big clash with Gordon to plan for next weekend, while Dunnstown has another difficult encounter with Buninyong.

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Always read the fine print

Free trade agreements (FTA) such as the one with China have always been sold as a massive win for the economy, but there’s always the fine print they’re hoping no-one notices.
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On the one hand, our agricultural exports will be able to compete freely for an additional 1.3 billion customers. On the other hand, imported goods are about to get a whole lot cheaper, which may not necessarily be a win for consumers.

We’ve yet to come up with a set of guidelines for country-of-origin labelling, and until that happens you’ll see the big supermarkets bring in a lot of cheap frozen produce of questionable safety. Frozen berries, anyone?

Our manufacturing sector too, will struggle to compete with products built by hands paid $1.50 an hour, but that’s okay, because theagreement appears to allow Australian firms to bring in an unlimited number of temporary workers from China.

Businesses have already been agitating for a reduction in penalty rates, what impact will a supply of cheap labour have on our jobs market?

There will be far-reaching consequences that no-one seems to want to think about.What ever happened to responsible government that looked out for the people and not just for businesses? Is our way of life being sold off?Something to think about while you wait to replace that cheap imported hair dryer for the third time.


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Sunbury sinks Swans with ease

Sunbury coach Rick Horwood.SUNBURY remained in touch with the top six with a 64-point win over Ballarat at Clarke Oval on Saturday.
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In what loomed as a danger game for Sunbury, as Ballarat looked to get their season back on track after a big win last week, the Lions dominated most of the match to record a 19.12 (126) to 9.8 (62) victory.

The win could have been much larger though had the Lions converted early, dominating the first term for only a four-point lead at quarter time.

The second term saw Sunbury extend that lead; with midfielders Matthew Medcraft, Andrew Duhau and Jack Landt moving the ball well, but it was the defenders that thwarted Ballarat’s repeatthrusts forward.

It was a different story in the Lions’ forward half, with Jack Sheahan marking everything in sight on his way to sevenmajors for the match.

With Zachary Klippel and Jack Blackburn both done for the game with leg injuries, the Swans struggled to keep in touch in the last term, with Sunbury booting six goals to one to canter to apercentage-boosting, 64-point win.

For Ballarat, Liam Youl and Shane Hutchinson were workhorses in the middle all match, while Sam James and Zane Thompson kicked three goals each.

Sunbury coach Rick Horwood praised his side’s ability to win the hard ball.

“We wanted to lift our intensity (from last week) and win the contested footy,” he said.

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Power outpoints Pioneers

SPEEDY: Moama’s Lachlan Schultz was the Bendigo Pioneers best against Gippsland Power. Picture: BILL CONROY
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THE Bendigo Pioneers could not halt Gippsland Power’s charge to victory in the TAC Cup football clash at Craigieburn on Saturday.

Gippsland’s dominance in and around stoppages proved telling as it gained a three-goal lead by quarter-time.

Power racked up nine scoring shots to one in a brilliant start to the match.

By half-time Gippsland held a 28-point buffer.

Bendigo did lift its play in the second half, but Gippsland had all the answers as it kicked away to record a 33-point victory.

Pioneers’ coach Brett Henderson said Gippsland’s strength around the packs was telling.

“They had one or two players dropping off back into defence and were able to take quite a few intercept marks or spoil a pass,” Henderson said.

Power’s pressure meant a lot of Bendigo’s attacks were forced sideways, backwards or came unstuck through disposal errors or wrong decisions.

“There was no doubt the effort was there, but our play to the forward half was chaotic at times.

“The pressure on our midfielders meant some passes to the forwards were not so great.”

Despite the loss, Henderson said there were positives to take from the match.

Moama’s Lachlan Schultz followed up his great play in the breakthrough victory against NSW-ACT the previous round by being Bendigo’s best.

“Lachy was outstanding. He works so hard from the start of the match until the finish,” Henderson said of the wingman’s play.

Sandhurst’s Lachlan Tardrew provided plenty of run and dare in the second half.

Golden Square clubmates Isaac Miller and Jayden Burke were again strong in defence.

Echuca’s Isaac Johnson and Jordan Bath played well in their first TAC Cup under-18 games, while Sandhurst’s Braidon Blake and Cooper Jones are two youngsters developing well.

Mildura’s Jayden Fox tore a hamstring just before half-time and is likely to miss four to six matches.

After next weekend’s bye, Bendigo plays Oakleigh on July 4 at the QEO.

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