Monday, July 11, 2016

[Erdenebat promises pro govt; BNP applies to liquidate MMC; MNT at 2-month low; BoM maintains rate; and Happy Naadam]

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Monday, July 11, 2016

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15th Asia-Europe Business Forum Taking Place in Ulaanbaatar, 13-14 July

Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia--(WireMongolia - Jul 6, 2016) - The 15th Asia-Europe Business Forum (AEBF15) will take place in Ulaanbaatar, 13-14 July 2016, under the theme "Connectivity for Inclusive Growth".

Over 600 high-level business representatives and CEOs from Asia and Europe will participate in the AEBF, which will be held back-to-back with the 11th Asia-Europe Meeting Summit (ASEM11), an international political summit where Heads of State and Government from 51 Asian and European partners convene in Mongolia.

The two-day forum will start at 13.00 on Wednesday 13 July with a short opening ceremony, and have four plenary sessions: Building an Inclusive Economy, Asia-Europe Connectivity, Integrating Small and Medium Enterprises into Global Value Chain, and Investment and Green Development. Each panel is to have two keynote speeches, panel discussions and Q&A sessions.

The Forum will be opened by the (soon to be appointed) Prime Minister of Mongolia and H.E. Mr. Erdenebat Dondogdorj, Minister for Industry. Mr. Ganbold Davaadorj, CEO of Erdenes Oyu Tolgoi LLC, will chair the AEBF15, while H.E. Mr. Elbegdorj Tsakhia, President of Mongolia, and H.E. Mr. Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, and H.E. Mr. Nguyen Xuan Phuc, Prime Minister of Vietnam, will deliver the closing speeches.

The first plenary session "Building an Inclusive Economy" starts at 13.30 Wednesday afternoon, and delegates will discuss economic growth, income inequality, CSR, citizen participation, and multilateral trading systems.

The second session of "Asia-Europe Connectivity" begins at 16.00, after a social lunch, and will cover discussions on infrastructure connections, economic corridors, transit-transport barriers, trade costs and sustainable tourism.

The third section "Integrating SMEs into Global Value Chain" will begin at 09.00 of Thursday morning and business delegates will discuss economic integration, production network, intra-industry trade in parts and components within the region, distribution networks, and linkages between local firms and multinational corporations.

During the fourth session of "Investment and Green Development" at 11.00 of Thursday, the discussion will be focused on investment promotion and facilitation, corporate governance, finance, public governance, FDI, policies to promote responsible business conduct, and investment in support of green growth.

The AEBF15 will end with an adaptation of a Joint Declaration for the ASEM11 on 15 July 2016.

Link to release


Asia-Europe editors pledge creation of collaborative network in Ulaanbaatar

July 10 (ASEM Mongolia) 8th ASEF Editors' Roundtable Meeting (ERT8), one of the nine side events of the 11th Asia-Europe Summit, was successfully held at Best Western Premier Tuushin Hotel in Ulaanbaatar on July 7-8. Over 30 editors and senior correspondents from esteemed media organizations of Asia and Europe pledged agreement on furthering several levels of collaboration under the roundtable themed "Digital Connectivity". 

"You are now part of ASEF's family, and it is the beginning to a long standing relationship with you. More than that, I hope that you would join us in an efforts to promote the vision and mission of ASEM," said H.E. Ambassador Zhang Yan, Director of Asia-Europe Foundation, to the participants on closing the meeting. "We are still a long way from achieving the enhancement of visibility of ASEM and ASEF in general and in communities of Asia and Europe. There are many opportunities to collaborate and learn from each other on the meaningful platform of Asia and Europe."

The editors agreed to establish Asia-Europe Journalists' Network to communicate and exchange content online, and Asian-European Collaborative Journalism award to encourage collaborative journalism between the regions in their Recommendations of 8th Editors' Roundtable document.

"We invited Asian and European journalists to workshops in Brussels and Guanzhou, collected all of their recommendations and ideas, and brought them as an undercurrent for the Roundtable here in Ulaanbaatar. The editors spent the first day discuss the value of collaborative journalism for Asian and European people's lives," said Dr. Mike McCluskey, International Media Consultant who moderated the discussions. "The editors supported the journalist's suggestions unanimously, and also agreed to create semi-formal mechanisms of collaboration, which will overcome cultural misunderstandings, and language barriers."

Participants represented 20 countries, including KBS (South Korea), Gazeta Wyborcza (Poland), Straits Times (Singapore), Independent (Ireland) and many more media organizations. The ERT8 was organized by Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF), Mongolian Journalists' Union (MJU), and Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS).

"With the collaborative process, we can get rich stories, not just from the political process or events, but actually from the people who are in each country. This is amazing in that the richness in each culture can be brought to life through the eyes of people who are working in local communities. We are telling global stories through local voices. "

Recommendations of the 8th ASEF Editors Roundtable

Link to article


German Chancellor Merkel to Attend Asia–Europe Meeting Summit on July 15-16

Angela Merkel will attend the Asia–Europe Meeting (ASEM) Summit of Heads of State and Government, which will be held on July 15-16 in the Mongolian capital.

BERLIN, July 8 (Sputnik) — German Chancellor Angela Merkel will attend the Asia–Europe Meeting (ASEM) Summit of Heads of State and Government, which is due to be held on July 15-16 in the Mongolian capital of Ulaanbaatar, deputy government spokesman Georg Streiter said Friday.

"The summit will be attended by representatives of the 28 EU member states, Switzerland, Norway, and 21 Asian countries. The summit will also be attended by European Council President Donald Tusk, head of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker and the ASEAN Secretary General Le Luong Minh," Streiter told reporters.

The ASEM forum was established in 1996 with the aim of deepening relations between Asia and Europe at all levels. The forum's partners currently include 53 states from all over the world.

The 11th ASEM Summit will also be the 20th Anniversary of inauguration of the Asia-Europe Meeting dialogue process in 1996 in Bangkok, Thailand.

Link to article


Chinese premier to visit Mongolia, attend ASEM

BEIJING, July 8 (Xinhua) -- Chinese Premier Li Keqiang will pay an official visit to Mongolia from July 13 to 14, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei said on Friday.

At the invitation of Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj, Li will also attend the 11th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) summit in Mongolian capital Ulan Bator from July 15 to 16, according to Hong.

Link to article


Romanian PM Ciolos to attend Asia-Europe summit in Mongolia

July 7 (The Romania Journal) PM Dacian Ciolos will attend the EU-Asia summit due in Mongolia this week, also informing that he will make a stop in Vietnam on his way in an attempt to stimulate the bilateral economic ties with this country.

"I am going to Asia to attend the EU-Asia summit, this year Mongolia will host it. We'll talk about cooperation projects between Asia and EU. Asia is a very dynamic continent in term of economy," PM Ciolos told the national public TV, adding that Romania must take action towards this potential.

At the same time, the premier announced he would also pay a visit to Vietnam in this context

"This is why I decided that,on may way to Ulan Bator, I should stop by Vietnam, where a Romanian Prime Minister or President hadn't stopped for a long time. EU is negotiating a free exchange agreement with Vietnam. We would like to stimulate the economic relationship with them as well. I will go together with a group of 20 businessmen, in the attempt of finding a potential for the economic cooperation," Ciolos stated.

Link to article


Myanmar President To Attend ASEM Summit In Mongolia

July 10 (MITV News) President U Htin Kyaw, will pay a visit to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, in the near future to attend the 11th Summit of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM). The 11th ASEM Summit (ASEM11) will also be the 20th Anniversary since the Asia-Europe Meeting dialogue process was inaugurated in 1996 in Bangkok, Thailand.

Link to article


European Council President to Attend 11th Asia-Europe Meeting Summit in Mongolia

On 15-16 July, Mongolia will host the 11th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM). Discussions at the summit will focus on the theme "20 years of ASEM: partnership for the future through connectivity".

European Council President, Donald Tusk, European Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker, and High Representative Federica Mogherini will represent the European Union at the summit. Heads of State and Governments of 50 European and Asian countries have been invited to attend.

Link to full release


Int'l Market

BNP Paribas Petitions Court for Liquidation of Mongolian Mining Corporation

July 11 -- This announcement (the "Announcement") is made by Mongolian Mining Corporation (the "Company") pursuant to Rule 13.09(2) of the Rules Governing the Listing of the Securities on The Stock Exchange of Hong Long Limited (the "Listing Rules") and the Inside Information Provisions under Part XIVA of the Securities and Futures Ordinance (Cap. 571 of the Laws of Hong Kong). The Company and its subsidiaries are collectively referred to as the "Group".

References are made to the announcement of the Company dated 5 March 2014 and the 2014 annual report in relation to the facilities agreement, as amended from time to time, dated 5 March 2014 entered into by the Company as borrower with, amongst others, BNP Paribas Hong Kong Branch as agent, BNP Paribas Singapore branch and Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Limited as lenders (collectively, the "Lenders").

On 8 July 2016, the Company was informed by Clifford Chance, counsel to the Lenders, that BNP Paribas Singapore Branch, one of the Lenders, submitted an application for the winding-up of the Company and the appointment of joint official liquidators to the Company (the "Application") to the Grand Court of the Cayman Islands (the "Cayman Court") for processing. As at the date of the Announcement, the Company has not received any official notice in relation to the Petition from the Cayman Court.

The Company will publish further announcements to update the shareholders and potential investors on the status of the Petition as and when necessary.


Link to release


Mongolian Mining continues debt restructuring talksET Net, July 8


TRQ closed +2% Friday to US$3.50, +3.55% last week

Pentwater Capital Decreased Stake in Turquoise Hill by 10.5% to 104 mln shares

Matthew Halbower decreased its stake in Turquoise Hill Res Ltd (NYSE:TRQ) by 10.49% based on its latest 2016Q1 regulatory filing with the SEC. Pentwater Capital Management Lp sold 12.21M shares as the company's stock rose 2.01% with the market. The hedge fund run by Matthew Halbower held 104.17 million shares of the precious metals company at the end of 2016Q1, valued at $264.59M, down from 116.38M at the end of the previous reported quarter. Pentwater Capital Management Lp who had been investing in Turquoise Hill Res Ltd for a number of months, seems to be less bullish one the $6.94 billion market cap company. The stock increased 2.04% or $0.07 on July 8, hitting $3.5. About 1.50 million shares traded hands. Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd (NYSE:TRQ) has risen 36.19% since December 2, 2015 and is uptrending. It has outperformed by 33.76% the S&P500.

Pentwater Capital Management Lp, which manages about $5.28B and $13.62 billion US Long portfolio, upped its stake in Spdr S&P 500 Etf Tr (Put) by 3.50M shares to 11.49M shares, valued at $2.36B in 2016Q1, according to the filing. It also increased its holding in Pfizer Inc (Call) by 7.70 million shares in the quarter, for a total of 8.70 million shares, and has risen its stake in Kinder Morgan Inc (Call).

In 2007, Matthew Halbower created Pentwater Capital. The firm provide services in event-driven investing and merger arbitrage. Before creating Pentwater, he used to provide strategic services for event-driven and distressed asset trading at Deephaven Capital. Pentwater Capital Management Lp is a Illinois-based hedge fund that was founded by Matthew Halbower. It had more than $5.28 billion assets under management in September, 2014. Taken from Pentwater Capital Management latest Adv, the fund reported to have 30 full and part-time employees. Among which 13 performing investment advisory and research functions. The hedge fund had between 11-25 clients.

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Local Market

Mogi: no weekly trading report published, in English nor Mongolian. This is just Friday:

MSE Trading Report: Top 20 +0.76%, ALL +0.09%, Turnover 3.8 Million Shares

July 8 (MSE) --

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Historic low 2,050.85/USD set March 28, 2016. Reds are rates that set a new low at the time

BoM MNT Rates: Friday, July 8 Close
















































































































































































































Bank USD rates at time of sending: Khan (Buy ₮2,012 Sell ₮2,027), TDB (Buy ₮2,012 Sell ₮2,027), Golomt (Buy ₮2,014 Sell ₮2,030), XacBank (Buy ₮2,017 Sell ₮2,034), State Bank (Buy ₮2,012 Sell ₮2,027)

MNT vs USD (blue), CNY (red) in last 1 year:

Link to rates


BoM Monetary Policy Council Maintains Policy Rate at 10.5%

July 8 (Bank of Mongolia) --

Link to decision (in Mongolian)


BoM issues 253.1 billion 1-week bills at 10.5%, total outstanding -14.9% to ₮564.1 billion

July 8 (Bank of Mongolia) BoM issues 1 week bills worth MNT 253.1 billion at a weighted interest rate of 10.5 percent per annum /For previous auctions click here/

Link to release

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Politics & Legal

Mongolia Picks Former Finance Minister to Lead New Government

By Michael Kohn

·         Erdenebat tasked with spurring growth, fixing finances

·         Prime minister must reassure investors about transparency

July 8 (Bloomberg) Mongolia's new parliament has named a former finance minister who helped oversee the an expansion of the massive Oyu Tolgoi mine to steady the economy as the country's next premier.

A week after the Mongolian People's Party unseated the Democratic Party in a landslide election win, lawmakers voted in Erdenebat Jargaltulga, 41, as prime minister. The appointment was approved with 68 votes for and two against in the 76-seat Great Hural.

"The economy is in a difficult situation," Erdenebat said in his acceptance speech. "We fully intend to establish a professional, merit-based government at all levels. The focus will be on urgent stabilization of the economy, plus fiscal discipline. We will cooperate with international financial institutions."

The selection was relatively smooth for a country with a history of disorderly power transitions. The MPP, which won 85 percent of the seats in the June 29 elections, has so far faced little opposition in nominating its members to positions of power. MPP chairman Enkhbold Miyegombo earlier this week ascended to the position of speaker. 

Erdenebat served as finance minister under former Prime Minister Saikhanbileg Chimed in 2014-15, when the major parties unified to approve the second phase of the Oyu Tolgoi project. He has been a member a parliament since 2012 and previously served as provincial governor in Selenge Aimag, north of the capital Ulaanbaatar.

The relatively little-known Erdenebat will serve as the MPP's public face as Mongolia heads into deeper economic uncertainty. The nation's growth slowed to 2.3 percent last year, compared to a world-beating expansion rate of more than 17 percent in 2011, the year before the MPP lost power to the DP. The national debt doubled during the DP's tenure, and more than $1 billion in sovereign debt is expected to come due in the next 18 months.

Foreign direct investment has also collapsed, dropping to $121.5 million last year, from $4.45 billion in 2012. Investment was dragged down after a dispute between the government and Rio Tinto Group, which controls 66 percent of the Oyu Tolgoi mine, the country's biggest taxpayer.

Khurelsukh Ukhnaa was seen as the leading candidate to become deputy prime minister, a role he also held in the Saikhanbileg unity cabinet.

More Experienced

"While the Democratic Party was genuinely thought of as well-meaning, it lacked the experience of running a country," Lee Cashell, founder of Asia Pacific Investment Partners, said in a note to investors. "The MPP, which has governed outright or through coalitions from 2000 to 2012, has no such problem."

The MPP, a center-left party that ruled the country unchallenged during its communist era, made populist promises during the campaign. The party promised to build 100 factories across the country's 21 provinces over the next four years -- its so-called 21/100 plan -- and pledged to pay new mothers the equivalent of the monthly minimum wage, or 250,000 tugrik ($124), for 18 months.

"The party will be in a position to pass legislation without meaningful opposition or public discussion," said Cashell, who has been investing in Mongolian real estate for 15 years. "This opacity could spell trouble down the road for a ruling party in a country whose population is weary from tales of government corruption and mismanagement."

Link to article


Mongolia appoints former finance minister as new PMReuters, July 8

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Russia Stalls China's $1 Billion Hydropower Loan for Mongolia

By Michael Kohn

·         China won't issue $1 billion loan until dispute is resolved

·         Mongolia may seek alternative funding from Japan, South Korea

July 11 (Bloomberg) Russia's concern about water rights is holding up a $1 billion loan package Mongolia is seeking from China to build a hydroelectric dam that would help the landlocked central Asian nation ensure independent supplies of energy.

The Kremlin said in June the project to build the Egiin Gol Hydro Power Plant on the Eg River in northern Mongolia could threaten Lake Baikal 580 kilometers downstream. China is withholding funds until a compromise can be found with Russia, according to Mongolian government documents seen by Bloomberg News.

Mongolia wants to build the 103 meter high dam to generate more power during peak times and in the winter, easing its reliance on electricity from Russia and dependence on coal-fired generation. Its power imports from Russia cost Mongolia the nation of 2.8 million people more than $25 million a year.

"We need to know if we are independent or just a marionette of Russia and China," Odkhuu Durzee, the director of the hydro-power project, said in an interview in Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia. "If we give up it means the Western coalition will lose Mongolia as a supporting nation -- the Mongolian people will know that we can do nothing without Russian or Chinese permission."

The proposed Egiin Gol dam would lower energy costs by generating an additional 315-megawatts of renewable power. It would do so by harnessing the power of the Eg River, one the biggest tributaries flowing into the Selenge River, which eventually discharges into Russia's Lake Baikal -- the biggest freshwater body on Earth. 

Putin's Concern

At a meeting last month with Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj and Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russia's President Vladimir Putin said the proposed dam would create "serious risks'' to the water supply in the Irkutsk region. He proposed "increasing the supply of energy" to the Mongolia.

"We would like to study these plans very carefully with our friends in Mongolia and China," Putin said at the time.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, or Unesco, has bolstered the Russian case, issuing a report in 2014 saying that the dam would impact endangered species of fish and birds.

"This project may indeed have negative consequences for Baikal from our point of view," Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for the Kremlin in Moscow, said in a text message. "We have said that and keep saying it to our counterparts in Mongolia. We expect that we'll be able to find mutually acceptable solutions during our bilateral contacts."

Mongolia's Response

Odkhuu said Russia's environmental concerns are unfounded and the push back from Russia and Unesco is politically motivated. Mongolia's foreign ministry has argued that since the Eg River doesn't cross an international border, the matter is an internal one for Mongolia and Russia shouldn't have influence.

In the absence of a deal with China, Odkhuu said he's preparing to apply for funding from other nations including Japan, Korea and Norway if the finance from China Ex-Im Bank never comes through.

Officials from China's foreign ministry and the China Ex-Im Bank didn't respond to requests for comment. The president's office in Mongolia also declined to comment.

"Russia wants to see energy control of Mongolia," Odkhuu said. "It becomes a political issue. The power lever is in Russian hands. Anytime we are stop listening, we have a fear they will shut off the power, especially in winter.''

Growing Demand

While coal-power plants create a steady baseload of electricity, hydropower can be increased or decreased to meet changes in demand, said Odkhuu. Power capacity is strained by increased development in Ulaanbaatar, which added housing in the past few years.

"Many people thinking this issue can be settled by building another coal fired power plant," Odkhuu said. "But a hydro plant cannot be replaced by a coal plant, due to the need to regulate the flow of electricity."

China's burgeoning relationship with Russia may be putting Mongolia at a disadvantage in negotiations, according to Odkhuu. During the same June meeting in Tashkent, Russia and China celebrated the 15th anniversary of the Sino-Russian Treaty of Friendship.

"China now has political interest aligned with Russia," Odkhuu said. "Chinese have a clear understanding this is not an environmental issue, they know its political."

Link to article


World Bank Supports Mongolia's Efforts to Diversify Exports with $20 Million Credit

WASHINGTON, July 7, 2016—Mongolia's efforts to expand and diversify its exports got a boost with a $20 million credit from the International Development Agency (IDA), approved by World Bank's Board of Executive Directors.

The credit finances the Export Development Project, which will support Mongolian small- and medium size enterprises (SMEs) in non-mining sectors to strengthen their export capabilities and expand access to export markets. The Project will provide training, matching grants and access to export credit insurance products for the SMEs. The Project aims to support economic diversification to agricultural-related products and have an important impact on employment and productivity in the country.

"In Mongolia, where exports are heavily dominated by mining commodities, we hope that the Export Development Project will support export diversification and SMEs," said James Anderson, the World Bank Manager for Mongolia. "Stronger SMEs can have a positive impact on Mongolia's lower-income population."

In 2015, 87 percent of Mongolia's total exports were in mining commodities, while cashmere products represented 5 percent of total exports. Export diversification is expected to boost productivity, overall entrepreneurship, and encourage new entrants to the market. 

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Special "bus-train" to operate the Khui Doloon Khudag route

July 8 ( During the Naadam festival, a hybrid between a bus and a train will operate the route to the Khui Doloon Khudag horse racing area. The buses will depart from the 'Dunjingarav' shopping center and the Dund river station. Five extra capacity buses will also be operating from the Davaa station.

Horses in six age categories will be dashing across the Khui Doloon Khudag steppe. Mongolians believe Soyolon (five-year old) horse racing dust can restore their luck.

Link to article


Working schedule of markets and stores during Naadam

July 8 ( We bring you working schedule of big markets and stores during Mongol Naadam holiday to commemorate 2225th anniversary of statehood, 810th anniversary of Great Mongolian Empire, 95th anniversary of the People's Revolution.

Stores will work between 09:00 - 24:00 on July 10 and close on July 11-12. Normal working hours will be resumed starting July 13.












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Former Mongolian president urges N. Korea to give up nukes for economic development

ULAANBAATAR, July 10 (Yonhap) -- Former Mongolian President Punsalmaagiin Ochirbat has said North Korea's simultaneous pursuit of nuclear weapons and economic development is an "impossible" task, adding that Pyongyang should first give up its nuclear program to seek economic growth.

Ochirbat, who served as Mongolia's first directly elected president from 1990 to 1997, said economic cooperation with North Korea will be impossible, unless the reclusive state gives up its nuclear program.

"North Korea needs to focus on enhancing its relationships and economic cooperation with neighboring countries to boost its economy," Ochirbat said in an interview with Yonhap News Agency. The interview was held at his office in Ulaanbaatar last Thursday ahead of South Korean President Park Geun-hye's visit to Mongolia from July 14-18. "Nuclear development should not be the North's priority."

Ochirbat has been an important figure in building the relationship between South Korea and Mongolia. During his presidency, South Korea and Mongolia established diplomatic ties in 1991. In the same year, he also became the first Mongolian leader to visit South Korea.

Ochirbat is also known for leading denuclearization in his country. In 1992, he declared Mongolia as a "nuclear-weapon-free zone," at the United Nations General Assembly.

Ochirbat previously said national security comes from the country's wealth, not from nuclear arms, and urged the North to open its doors to feed its own people. The 74-year-old said his thoughts on national security haven't changed.

"Before the 20th century, military power determined national security," he said. "But now in the 21st century, defending national security with arms and nukes are old ideas."

Ochirbat urged North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to make decisions on reforms and open up markets. He said Kim should follow the philosophy of his late grandfather Kim Il-sung that the country should expand its railway network. Ochirbat noted that since the North's railway networks are already established, there should be no additional time or investment needed to construct new ones.

"I know Koreans have a tradition of inheriting their ancestor's philosophy," he said. "The current leader of North Korea should acknowledge his grandfather's idea of connecting railways with Russia, China and Eurasia will give a big boost to its economy, and he should execute the plan."

During his term in office, Ochirbat led Mongolia to break the country from its socialist past and adopt capitalism. He claimed the two Koreas should join its new "Silk Road Express" project that connects the Korean Peninsula, China, Mongolia and Europe in a railway.

"If a railway starting from Busan can go through China, Mongolia and Russia, and reach Berlin and Paris, it will be a big economic opportunity for both South and North Korea," he said. "The Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia should lead the economic development of Eurasia."

Link to article


"An Old Friend is Worth Two New": It's time for Russia to turn towards...Mongolia

By Dmitry Narkevsky, PolitRussia

July 9 (Fort-Russ) On June 29th, parliamentary elections were held in Mongolia. According to the results of the vote counting, the Mongolian People's Party claimed victory by a large margin, receiving 65 out of 79 seats in the Great Khural. The previous ruling party, the Democratic Party of Mongolia, retained only 9 seats. The remaining two places were occupied by a representative of the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party and by an independent candidate. The victory of the opposition in the face of the Mongolian People's Party was entirely expected, but such a significant break from the ruling Democratic Party nonetheless came as a surprise. 

From Russia's point of view, it is difficult to stay that any kind of clear pro-Russian position was professed among any of the political forces in the elections. In this sense, Mongolia is no longer the country that the majority of Russians imagine it is. Although the traditional stereotype of vast steppes and nomads driving huge herds of cattle and horses still has its place in real life, with 60 million cattle compared to a population of 3 million people, it is not cattle that have been determining the face of the country in recent years.

The Asian Wolf

Political system

A Geopolitical Node

Before the collapse of the USSR, Mongolia was firmly tied to the Soviet sphere of influence. Like Bulgaria in Europe, in the Mongolia was often called the 16th republic of the USSR in the East. In fact, from the end of the 1980's, Mongolia's fate was not longer of interest to the Soviet leadership as all foreign policy activity was focused on flirting with the West.

However, a holy place is never empty. And now, rising China, whose relations with Mongolia cannot be called smooth and trusting, could attach a significance part of Mongols' economic life to itself. Today, 89% of Mongolia's exports go to China, while 26% of China's imports of goods and services are from Mongolia which beats the previously undisputed leader, Russia, with its 22%. But Mongolia's foreign policy preferences cannot be limited to the People's Republic of China.

Mongolia adheres to the "third neighbor" principle in its foreign policy. Large in territorial size, the sparsely populated country is sandwiched between two major geopolitical players of Eurasia: Russia and China. Having experienced the whole brunt of the breakup of Mongolian-Russian relations in the 1990's on the one hand, and on the other the fear of possible claims by China to Mongolia's sovereignty, the country is trying to find a third force which could allow it to balance the complex situation. 

This "third neighbor" role is being fulfilled by several players at once: the USA, the EU, India, and Japan. Such a position, first and foremost, is beneficial to the US which is glad not only to have access to Mongolia's resources, but also rely on the formation of a pro-American lobby within the local political elite. At the moment, the Mongolian Constitution does not allow the stationing of foreign troops on its territory, but who knows what will happen tomorrow.

For now, American troops are holding annual joint exercises on the territory of Mongolia. In May, the Khaan Quest 2016 regular exercises were held near Ulaanbaator. 

American-Mongolian cooperation, in addition to the purely military sphere, extends to other areas. The Americans understand, however, that they are not yet able to compete with China in the economic sphere, so they are promoting political and humanitarian cooperation. In early June, John Kerry visited Mongolia ahead of parliamentary elections  and, as has become conventional, praised the level of development of democracy, promised investments, and participated in a local festival were he unsuccessfully shot a bow and arrow, personally demonstrating his interest in the cultural rapprochement of the two countries. 

Observers tried to discern support for the ruling party in the behavior of the Secretary of State and became more critical of Kerry upon learning that this American visit did not help the Democratic Party.

Another player claiming the title of "third neighbor" is Japan. Tokyo and Ulaanbaator both believe that the current level of cooperation is not enough for both countries, hence why Japan has begun the process of transition from providing funds in the form of assistance to developing economic relations. In particular, in June they signed a Memorandum on cooperation in the workforce sphere, thus providing internships for Mongolian youth at high-tech plants in Japan. A Memorandum on cooperation for developing clean coal technologies was also signed. Despite possessing enormous reserves of coal, Mongolia experiences shortages in generating capacity in its energy sector and is thus forced to import petroleum products. Ulaanbaatar is striving to attract Japan, as well as a number of other countries, for their modern technologies in the sphere of converting coal into other types of hydrocarbons as well as constructing the most environmentally friendly power plants and using alternative energy sources. In addition to attempts to increase direct economic relations, Tokyo has provided assistance to Mongolia through international organizations. In particular, a number of projects in Mongolia received funding from the Asian Development Bank at which Tokyo "plays the first violin."

In recent years, India has tried to keep pace with Japan, the US, and China. New Delhi is seeking to show that Ulaanbaator has become a strategic partner for India given the broad range of areas of cooperation ranging from joint military exercises to cooperation in the security field to granting large loans. In April, the 11th joint Indian-Mongolian "Nomadic Elephant" exercises were held and the Indian EximBank expanded the line of credit for Mongolia's projects in the sphere of railway transport and infrastructure to $1 billion. 

This group of countries is trying to keep back others wishing to profitably trade their technological achievements fror Mongolia's raw materials. Although the EU, Australia, Canada, and South Korea do not claim any military-political influence on Ulaanbaator, they are trying to strengthen their positions in the economic and humanitarian spheres.

Russian-Mongolian relations

In recent years, Russia has tried to remember who it is. But talking about a return to its former positions is not fully possible. In addition, a number of subjects of bilateral cooperation raised by the leaders of Russia and Mongolia have yet to be realized.

In the humanitarian sphere, the declining role of the Russian language in the Mongolian education system should be noted. Russian is still taught in high school, but the reduction in cooperation between the two countries has rendered the relevance of acquired knowledge of the language not so obvious for Mongolia's future. The ideological promotion of the West as the absolute leader in political, scientific, and humanitarian issues ensures a mixed interest among ordinary Mongolians in learning English.

In the economy as well, not everything is going so smoothly. Despite the fact that some projects have been given the green light at the highest level - for example, the joint construction of a transport route from China through Mongolia to Russia agreed upon by the three countries' leaders during the SCO summit in Tashkent - it is way too early to speak of any large-scale successes of Russia. 

At the end of June, Rostekh stated that it was selling 49% of its shares in the mining enterprises Erdenet and Mongolrostsvetmet to a Mongolian copper corporation in order to cover its financial needs. After all, these companies producing cooper, molybdenum, and other valuable ores survived the difficult 1990's.

Until Russians get out of the mining business, competitors will continue to struggle for resources. The other day, the Australian-British mining giant Rio Tinto announced its readiness to participate in the privatization of the Mongolian state's share of one the largest copper deposits, Oyu Tolgoi. 

In the political sphere, Russia's tools of influence are also quite limited. Russia and China are still unable to persuade Mongolia to join the SCO.

There exist a number of problematic issues in relations between Russia and Mongolia. One of the main issues is the Mongolian leadership's plan for restoring the three hydropower stations on the Selenga River, the largest tributary of Lake Baikal. The matter reached such a level that it demanded comment from Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Even while under the influence of Western sanctions and refusing to import food products from the West, Russia has still been unable to increase meat imports from Mongolia over the past two years.

Examining the development of Russian-Mongolian relations, it can be said that their level does not meet the objective of closer and mutually beneficial cooperation with neighboring states. Russian business' withdrawals from Mongolian projects tied with the outflow of Russian experts staying in Mongolia and gaps in the humanitarian sphere are all weakening Russia's competitive advantage. Crises in relations with the West should teach Russia the simple truth that we should not ignore neighbors in favor of an ephemeral friendship with distant overseas partners whose interests diverge radically from Russia's. No matter what neighbor, developed or not so much, no matter whether big or small, it is worth recalling the proverb: "an old friend is better than two new." 

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Secretary Kerry's Naadam Greeting: Mongolia's National Day

July 9 (U.S. Department of State) On behalf of President Obama and the American people, I extend my best wishes to the people of Mongolia as you celebrate your 95th National Day on July 11.

When I visited Ulaanbaatar last month, I was deeply impressed by how the Mongolian people have combined your ancient traditions with a modern, forward-leaning society.

In the short 26 years since Mongolia's transition to democracy, you have made remarkable progress in developing a robust free-market economy, promoting human rights both at home and around the world, and strengthening democratic institutions – as exemplified by your recent parliamentary election and the transition of power from one political party to another.

The United States is deeply committed to helping Mongolia continue down its road to economic and democratic development, and we stand with you as you celebrate this important day.

Link to release


President of Azerbaijan's Naadam Greeting to Mongolia

India President greets Mongolia on National Day

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Health, Education

Dankook University working to publish Korean-Mongolian dictionary

Dankook building biomedical cluster on Cheonan campus

July 7 (The Korea Times) Dankook University is establishing a biomedical cluster at its Cheonan campus in South Chungcheong Province, combining medicine, pharmacology and biotechnology. 

"We are in the process of building the biomedical cluster at the Cheonan campus by taking advantage of our strengths in medical science and biotechnology," Dankook University President Chang Ho-sung told The Korea Times. 

Foreign languages and regional studies

Dankook's Cheonan campus is also focused on foreign languages and regional studies.

"I would like to nurture regional specialists with not only language proficiency but also expertise on a specific country or region," Chang said. 

The campus has the College of Foreign Languages, which runs 10 departments in Chinese, Japanese, German, French, Spanish, Russian, English, Portuguese, Mongolian studies and Middle Eastern studies.

The university set up the Department of Mongolian Studies in Korea in 1993. It has a strong exchange program under which students can choose to study for a year at a university in Mongolia. 

It also exchanges faculty with four Mongolian universities, including the National University of Mongolia and the Mongolian University of Science & Technology.

Chang said each foreign language department takes a pragmatic approach to their studies, aiming to foster experts on each country or region.

"Given that the university's motto is 'Truth and Service,' Dankook has sought ways to help countries that are poorer than Korea since the day my father, Dr. Chang Choong-sik, began serving as the university's first president," he said. 

Dankook has continued to send its students to Mongolia for volunteer work and academic exchanges.

"We are working on publishing Korean-Mongolian and Mongolian-Korean dictionaries," Chang said. "Although we don't think that a large number of people will read our dictionaries, we are doing this to help Mongolia in return for what our nation received from other powerful countries in the past."

Link to article


Taiwan, Mongolia universities to strengthen cooperation

Taipei, July 9 (CNA) Taipei National University of the Arts (TNUA) and Mongolian State University of Arts and Culture (MSUAC) signed a memorandum of understanding Friday in Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia, to foster bilateral cooperation in cultural and arts education.

TNUA President Yang Chyi-wen (楊其文) and MSUAC Rector Sonintogos Erdenetsogt signed the MOU on behalf of their respective schools, at a ceremony that was also attended by Taiwan's representative to Mongolia Huang Kuo-jung (黃國榮).

Under the agreement, TNUA and MSUAC will jointly organize forums on education, carry out programs on experimental education, engage in faculty and student exchanges, and host joint exhibitions of the arts, according to a statement issued by Taipei Trade and Economic Representative Office in Ulaanbaatar.

Heading a seven-member delegation, Yang is in Ulaanbaatar to chair a board meeting of the Asian League of Institutes of the Arts (ALIA) on Sunday.

Yang and his delegation are scheduled to return to Taiwan on July 13. 

Link to article


1,000 Donations Lead to Mazaalai Kindergarten Opening in Bayankhongor

July 8 (UB Post) On July 1, the opening ceremony for Mazaalai Kindergarten was held. The public kindergarten was built with donations and support from Bayankhongor Province residents, employees, and representatives from 32 organizations, entities, and Members of Parliament.

In 2014, Khongoriin Urs NGO initiated the 1,000 MNT donation campaign to raise funds for Mazaalai, and a total of 490 million MNT was collected to build the kindergarten for 150 children.

Chairman of the State Administration and Management Department of the Mayor's Office of Bayankhongor S.Bayarmagnai attended the opening ceremony for the kindergarten. He spoke about development projects that have been carried out in the province over the past four years. He emphasized that independently funding a new kindergarten and presenting it to the state is a project that has never before been carried out in Mongolia.

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Culture, Society

Great Naadam Festival: Mongolian Wrestling

July 8 ( Mongolian wrestling is an age old tradition. Petroglyphs dating back to bronze ages (7000-110000 years) found in Del Mountain in Dundgobi province depict 2 men wrestling while other people watching.  Also historic documents show that nomadic tribes in Central Asia used to compete with each other with wrestling, archery and horse racing. Today wrestling is one of the Three Manly Games of the Mongols. Mongol wrestling is mainly shaped by soldiers during the hundreds of years of warring; and good wrestlers have always been respected as fine men. It is even said that Genghis Khan liked wrestling a lot and his favourite sibling Khasar was a renowned wrestler.

The Mongols have the saying that every Mongol man is a wrestler and every Mongol horse is a race horse. However, one should note that not everyone grappling is considered as a wrestler in Mongolia, but a wrestler is one with fine body, considerable agility, strength and many tricks as well as pleasant characteristics.

Mongolian wrestling has the following specifics compared to other types of wrestling:

  • A great variation of tricks with both arms and legs
  • No weight categories of components
  • No time limits (though not after 2000s)
  • No fixed pitch
  • Simultaneous wrestling between pairs
  • Higher ranking wrestlers enjoy privilege of choosing their opponents, though at certain rounds there's automatic matching of pairs to avoid arranged title earning. 

Also there's special ritual at the starting, saluting, and finishing the competition – performing these rituals is considered a special duty for wrestlers. Moreover, seconds calling out the titles of wrestlers, wrestlers' costumes and rites of acknowledging defeat all combine elements of sports and arts. Seconds call out the names & titles of high ranking wrestlers melodically at certain rounds, when those wrestlers choose their opponents. When wrestlers salute spectators they perform special dance like routine which usually imitates soaring eagles, falcons and hawks. Wrestling seconds are reflected as vital helpers and coaches for wrestlers as they encourage wrestlers and advice when necessary.

Wrestling at the Great Naadam Festival (in Ulaanbaatar) comprises 512-1024 wrestlers, and it's the main event that wrestlers earn national titles. Some 32-128 wrestlers compete at provincial and village Naadams. Mongolian wrestling titles represent strong animals symbolising power and agility for wrestlers. Below is the titles earned at the Great Naadam:

  • 5 rounds – Falcon
  • 6 rounds – Hawk
  • 7 rounds – Elephant
  • 8 rounds – Garuda
  • 9 rounds – Lion (winning a Naadam of 512 wrestlers)
  • And if a Lion wins another year he will become Champion and for more years of winning praisals are added to his title.

Link to article


'Mongolian khuushuur' festival

July 8 ( A 'Mongolian khuushuur' festival will be held at the Central Stadium on 11th and 12th July during the Mongolian national celebration of 'Naadam'. The festival aims to introduce Mongolian food, especially the khuushuur – a large deep fried meat dumpling - to foreigners, to develop the art of cooking and to serve Naadam visitors with delicious and quality foods. In the framework of the festival, the city administration will award six companies in three separate categories, namely, the 'most unique khuushuur', the 'tastiest khuushuur' and the 'most beautiful khuushuur'. During the festival, Mongolians and foreigners alike can participate in a competition entitled 'How many khuushuur can you make?', and 'How many khuushuur can you eat?' or simply to practice making khuushuur by hand.

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Mongolian Khuushuur Festival to be heldUB Post, July 8


'The three manly games': Mongolia's premier sports festival comes to Wimbledon for London Naadam 2016

July 8 (South West Londoner) While many enjoyed the mid-Sunday tennis last week, Wimbledon also played host to another cultural tradition — the premier Mongolian festival of Naadam.

More than 500 people gathered from all corners of the globe – from the UK Mongol community, to British and international guests, to the Buryats from Russia, and Inner Mongolians and Tibetans from China — on Wimbledon Common on July 5.

Ambassador His Excellency Tulga Narku opened the London Naadam 2016 ceremony alongside the entire Mongolian Embassy staff and the Mongolian Association in the UK.

Naadam traditionally celebrates Mongolia's three national sports – wrestling, archery and horse riding – known locally as 'the three games of men'.

Much has changed over the years and women now participate in the archery and girls in the horse racing.

Festivalgoers are treated to a blaze of colour from traditional Mongolian dress to khuushuur – Mongolian deep fried pies.

During Naadam, Mongolians drink airag, fermented mare's milk, which is best served hot.

The event also included a music concert, featuring traditional Mongolian instruments and a Mongolian pop band, a kids running race and a traditional clothing competition where people wore the brightly coloured traditional Mongolian clothing called deel.

Cultural Envoy of Mongolia Unurmaa Janchiv said: "We really love colours, especially blue and green – green signifies the environment, blue signifies the sky.

"These are very popular colours in Mongolia."

London Naadam 2016 featured traditional wrestling, archery and knucklebone shooting.

The wrestling was won by, now-nine times current London Naadam wrestling champion, Oyun-Erdene Yanjmaa, who is ranked County Lion in Mongolia, which is top of the middle league, with the leagues ranging from village to county to national.

In Mongolian legend, a woman disguised as a man and won the wrestling event, using binding to hide her breasts. Therefore, wrestlers now play bare-chested to prevent a repeat of the legend.

Head of the Mongolian Association in the UK Bataa Tserenbat, 47, explained how he won his village wrestling tournament, or Village Naadam, in Mongolia, and came runner-up a further three times but had no desire to compete at county level.

For the archery, the Mongol bow is a recurved (double curved) composite bow, made of horn, wood and sinew, renowned for its military effectiveness.

It was used to great effect by Genghis Khan, founder and emperor of the 13-14thcentury Mongol Empire, which became the world's largest continuous land empire, stretching from Eastern Europe including Hungary to the Sea of Japan.

Tsolmon Tuul, 36, who practiced archery at a sports club from the age of seven in the Mongolian capital Ulanbataar, said: "Archery has many beneficial healing properties.

"If you practice from an early age you will have good eyes, a good back and your will be more patient.

"You will be able to see things from far away which others might not see.

"These are advantageous, especially in the Mongolian nomadic life on the plain.

"You will be able to see danger coming, such as wolves, it allows you to take care of your sheep, and allowed you to be an effective watchman in war."

Archery proved to be very popular on the day.

London Naadam 2016 archery co-organiser Enkhtuvshin Henderson said: "30 children and 40 adults took part in the archery, many of whom had little previous experience, so we gave them short lessons.

"This was a good thing because it helped spread the knowledge of archery."

Aside from Mongolians, people from far and wide took part in the archery, including English, Scottish, Lithuanian, Inner Mongolian, Buryats and other competitors.

Notably, a young English student Luke Green came third, taking home a well-deserved bronze medal.

A more unheard of sport at the festival was knucklebone shooting.

Knucklebone shooting started using the knucklebone of the abundance of cattle and sheep in Mongolia, and the bone is fired with the middle finger.

Now, instead, pieces of stag horns are used when they fall out naturally in the autumn.

The very root of it is cut off and cleaned to form the knucklebone which is then is placed on a hard piece of wood.

They shoot the knucklebone at the target, which is composed of 16 or 20 bones on a wooden frame at a distance of almost 5m. The aim is to shoot every bone off the frame.

Mrs Janchiv said: "Mongolians said that this was the best Naadam ever.

"Everyone wore their national costumes and were full of joy for being reunited for the annual Naadam, and expressed their gratitude.

"We are grateful to Wimbledon and Putney Commons for enabling us to hold our Naadam at this beautiful park."

The summer festival was enjoyed by all.

Mr Tuul said: "I am proud to call myself a Mongolian. We have this history, bloodlines, we know where we are from.

"We are keeping the traditions. These competitions are about remembering who we are, where we are from.

"It is not just a competition. It is a celebration of the bloodline of one of the great nations.

"Without man or without our bloodline there wouldn't be us."

Images courtesy of Azkhuu Tsamba, with thanks

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Mongolia's Skate Scene Is Blowing Up

July 8 (The LSB1) The new generation of young Mongolians are the first to be raised outside of Soviet rule since 1924. In Issue 54 – The Defiance Issue, Huck met the Mongolian skate crew determined to change their country's culture for the better. Curated here is a playlist of short films and documentaries exploring the many young people breaking from traditional Mongolian convention.

olia transitioned to independence in 1990, following over sixty years of Soviet rule. Since then, the nation's youth has been defying the endemic corruption of generations before and sewing the seeds for a better future. In Huck 54  – The Defiance Issue, writer Bejan Siavoshy met members of the Uukhai skate crew, a collective of young skaters to be regularly spotted bombing around the state capital of Ulaanbaatar and determined to spread the word.

The Uukhai crew regularly petition the local government to build an indoor skate park for the community, but they have so far faced strict indifference from Mongolian authorities. "We haven't met anyone interested in developing skateboarding in Mongolia," says aspiring skate shop owner Sergelenbayar 'Seke' Batjargal. "If I succeed, I'll support skating for young people here. I give out my used decks in good condition to kids that need it. I gave away new bearings to someone last month. For now, I do what I can."

According to Uukhai skate manager Ankhbayar 'Patrik' Chinzorig, the reason behind the government's lack of support is simply a clash of ideologies. Older Mongolians maintain the principles of the country as it once was, in opposition to the current generation, which knows Mongolia only as a democratic nation. "Old people here are very conservative," he argues. "Young people like to try out new things and are more open-minded."

While the struggle continues, there is a groundswell of documentary filmmakers getting the word out about the country's constant evolution. To accompany the story of the Uukhai skate crew, Huck has compiled a playlist of must-watch short films and documentaries, most available to stream for free.

The Uukhai Documentary

Several of the skaters discussed and interviewed in Bejan's story are featured in this 2013 documentary – a homegrown film shot and narrated by those on the frontline of the country's skate scene. The film depicts many of the young kids to have found freedom and creative expression through the sport, along with their desire to instil the same values in the younger generations surrounding them.

The Uukhai Documentary Part 2

A sequel of sorts to the above short, this freshly-released doc is a rapid-fire montage of Mongolia's skate scene, kids spiralling off of ledges, bombing through city streets, and laughing off injuries. Killer soundtrack, too.

Mongolian Tyres

In 2004, Carhartt brought their skate team over to Mongolia to track down a giant skate park erected in the middle of Ulaanbaatar. But right before they arrived, the park was torn down. The premise provided the backbone for their documentary Mongolian Tyres, which chronicled what was then the very beginnings of the local skate scene in the nation. It makes for an interesting bookend to Carhartt's new film…

Out of Steppe

…which revisits the same skate scene ten years later. This new documentary, directed by professional skateboarder Stephen Roe, explores the changes in Mongolia's skate scene over the past decade, as well as the newfound freedom being experienced by young people across the country.

TEDx Talk: Erdenedalai Purev

Eddie Purev is the founder of the Uukhai skate crew, and one of the many faces profiled in the complete Huck article. In 2014, he spoke at a TEDx conference in Ulaanbaatar about skate culture, his hopes for the future, and the issues facing young people in Mongolia.

Live from UB

And Mongolia's burgeoning cultural scene isn't just confined to skating. Since the country transitioned to independence, Mongolia's youth have come of age accompanied for the first time by the sounds of punk, metal and rock. Local bands are now fusing musical influences from outside the country with sounds inspired by their own cultural heritage. Mongolia's burgeoning rock scene is explored in Lauren Knapp's Live from UB, which premieres at London's Asia House Film Festival on February 24.

Link to article


Onward: A Film by Cale Glendening

February 16 -- Konki and his family live near Deluun Village, in the Altai Mountains of Western Mongolia, where the last six generations of his bloodline have continued the art and tradition of eagle hunting.

At the age of 29, Konki has spent 21 of his years herding animals as a way to support his family. After the tragic loss of his father two years ago, Konki felt a call to his father's passion of eagle hunting. This changed the course of his life, allowing him to connect not only with family he's lost, but the one he still has.

His cousin Onei is teaching him as they travel across the vast, sprawling tundra and majestic mountains of their homeland. He also plans to pass down what he learns to his four-year-old son, Berdibek, who has already taken an interest in the eagles. Konki's new path ensures the continuation of this tradition for both his family and the heritage of his culture.

There are few things more beautiful than discovering who you were meant to be by honoring where you've come from.
Producer | Director : Cale Glendening
Cinematographer : Cale Glendening

Link to vimeo

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Mongolian wrestler Erdenechimeg reinstated by WADA, Babita safe for now

CHENNAI, July 9 (The New Indian Express) Indian social media went into overdrive on Saturday following the news that Mongolia's Sumiya Erdenechimeg had been reinstated by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), which essentially meant she was clear to go to the Games as a competitor.

This created waves in India because Babita Kumari, who was beaten by Sumiya in one of the semifinals at the recently held Asian qualifiers, took her spot after she tested positive for meldonium at that event. But after a WADA rule change vis-a-vis meldonium, Sumiya has been reinstated into the team. A statement to that effect was conveyed to the Mongolian Federation by United World Wrestling (UWW).

That being the case, the next step would have been a reversal of sorts – Mongolia (and Sumiya) taking back a quota that was given to Babita (and) India. However, it has been learnt that UWW have not conveyed any sort of message to Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) regarding Babita's status. "There is no official confirmation yet from UWW," Vinod Tomar, Assistant Secretary of WFI, told Express. "If they had intimated the Mongolian Federation about Sumiya being reinstated they should have sent us a letter if they had planned to remove Babita's quota," he said. "So far we have received nothing of that sort."

But all signs point towards Babita heading to Rio. "All National Olympic Committees (NOCs) previously granted Olympic qualification spots will not be impacted by this adjustment," says a notice on one of the pages of UWW's website.

Sumiya wasn't the only wrestler who was saved thanks to a recent change in the guidelines pertaining to meldonium.

Magomedmurat Gadzhiev (Poland), Yanarbek Kenzheev (Kyrgyzstan), Andriy Kziatkovsky (Ukraine) and Oksana Herhel (Ukraine) were the four other wrestlers given a lifeline.

Lakra not in team?

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From England to Mongolia: Trio plan rally through 23 countries to raise money for charity

July 8 (Wandsworth Guardian) An adventurous fundraiser from Battersea is planning a rally trip from England to Mongolia to raise money for a charity supporting young cancer patients.

Alex Taylor, founder of a waste management company in London, and his friends Michael Graae, a photographer, and Zico Roncevic, a radio engineer, hope to raise £22,500 as they attempt to travel through 23 countries, and some of the harshest terrains on earth, in a rally car.

Their 22,500-mile route will take them by the Gates of Hell in Turkmenistan, Persepolis in Iran and the Gobi Desert, to raise funds for CLIC Sargent, a charity that provides practical, financial, social and clinical support to children and young people with cancer.

Mr Taylor was inspired to do something for the charity after seeing the support they'd given to his close friends Ilya and Charlene Fattakhov, when their seven-year-old son Alexsei was diagnosed with t-cell lymphoma in 2011.

He said: "Seeing what happened to Alexsei was just an absolute killer. He was always such a happy boy who would make you smile and he was just a great kid. So when we saw cancer just break him down, it was absolutely devastating.

"He died in June 2012. I was able to see him the day before he died. It was the most heart-breaking thing. You want to help your friend and there's nothing you can do.

"He was given wonderful support by CLIC Sargent and asked us to fundraise for them.

"It's great to be able to show support for a cause which made a real difference to someone close to us.

"It's hard to know what will be the most difficult thing, but breaking down in the desert will certainly be an interesting experience."

The trip is expected to take around two weeks, and is completely self-funded, so the £22,500 fundraising target will all be donated to CLIC Sargent.

Sue McDonagh, CLIC Sargent Challenge Events Fundraising Manager, said: "We're delighted Alex and Michael have signed up to take part in the Mongolia Challenge and wish them the very best of luck with it.

"Every day 10 children and young people are diagnosed with cancer in the UK. CLIC Sargent is there to support them and their families, by providing practical, emotional and financial support.

"The funds raised by events like this will help us continue and expand our work."

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Art, Entertainment

Uizenmaa's "Don't Look At Me That Way" takes Grand Prize at Taipei Film Festival

July 7 (UB Post) Mongolian born, German-based director B.Uizenmaa, better known as Uisenma Borchu, competed in the International New Talent Competition of the 18th Taipei Film Festival with her film "Schau mich nicht so an" (Don't Look at Me That Way) and won the Grand Prize on June 5.

The 18th Taipei Film Festival is taking place in Taipei from June 30 to July 16. Uisenma Borchu attended the festival to receive her award from the Jury Chair, acclaimed Vietnamese director Tran Anh Hung ("Norwegian Wood", "The Scent of Green Papaya") and Taipei Film Festival President and cinematographer Mark Lee Ping Bing ("In the Mood for Love", "The Assassin").

Upon presenting the award, Tran said, "The jury has great pleasure in giving the Grand Prize to a stunning movie for its vitality, its audacity, and its mysterious beauty."

In "Don't Look at Me That Way", director Uisenma Borchu (playing one of the leading roles) depicts the relationship between a single mother with a young daughter and a mysterious neighbor who walks into their lives.

Link to article

Link to TFF press release

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Kim Lau's Travel Black Book: Mesmerising Mongolia

Experience stunning landscapes and the nomadic way of life in this nation bordered by Russia and China

July 10 (Straits Times) Who: Kim Lau, 43, an audio visual technology lecturer at Ngee Ann Polytechnic. He is single.

Favourite destination: Mongolia

Why: It is a great adventure destination. The range of animal habitats, high, jagged mountains and never- ending forests and deserts are mesmerising, offering seemingly endless frames for photography, which is my passion.

Many tourists visit Mongolia for its stunning landscapes and are often surprised by its rich history as the home of the Mongol Empire - the largest land empire in history that stretched from the Pacific Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea - and the unique spirit and hospitality of the Mongolian people.

The opportunity to stay with a local horseman family and experience their nomadic way of life can be humbling yet inspiring and gives travellers a chance to see the magnificent night sky, which is unlike anywhere else in the world.

Best place to stay

Zaya ( is a simple, clean hostel which caters to travellers who prefer a quieter and calmer environment, in contrast to some of the more rowdy backpacker places. It has two locations in Ulaanbaatar, the capital city. Room rates start at US$20 (S$27) a night for a private room with a shared bathroom.

I also like camping in tents or with a Mongolian family in a separate ger, a round portable tent covered with skins or felt. Camping allows me to get right into nature, which is necessary for my photography, while staying with a family lets me experience Mongolian hospitality and gain deeper insight into the Mongolian way of life.

It was while staying with a Mongolian family that I learnt they place family photos in their ger as a way of telling their family story, and they sprinkle milk into the air and around the wheels of their vehicle for the good luck and safety of travellers.

You can arrange your homestay at a ger through your hotel or guesthouse in Ulaanbaatar.

They are typically part of a package tour, which will include a driver, guide, food and accommodation. Prices start at US$50 a person a night at the backpacker level, and upwards of US$100 a night if you are staying in a nicer tourist ger camp. The cost of each package will vary, depending on the number of people, type of ger, type of transportation and duration of tour.

What to expect in terms of food

Mongolian food is quite bland; mutton and flour is about as good as it gets. Mongolia is not a place that you go to for food.

While my camping meals often comprised noodles and canned food, when I stayed with families, I ate soup, mutton and lots of dairy products. When in the city, small local restaurants are a good way to get more variety in your meals.

Khan Buzz is a typical guanz, or Mongolian canteen, which is centrally located opposite the State Departmental Store (Khoroo 3, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia). At small restaurants like this, you can get buuz (Mongolian steamed lamb dumpling), khuushuur (fried flat dumpling), tsuivan (fried noodles) and guriltai shul (noodle soup).

Suutei tsai is the standard salted milk tea in Mongolia and tastes similar to the Tibetan Butter Tea.

A simple meal at a guanz costs 5,000 (S$3.40) to 10,000 Mongolian Tugrik.

You can also find Chinese and Korean food in abundance in the capital as well as at some Western cafes and bakeries.

Must-try dishes

In addition to buuz and khuushuur, try boortsog, which is the Mongolian version of youtiao (fried dough), although it is more commonly seen in a dried cookie form. It is often eaten as a snack and is found in many homes.

Khorkhog is a special Mongolian mutton or goat dish which is popular in the countryside and not usually served in restaurants.

The meat is cooked inside a sealed metal container using the heat of hot stones which have been placed on top and around it.

You need to order it in advance and it is typically made only for groups. Your tour guide or driver can arrange to have this dish made for you. It is a rather bland dish of fresh meat and potatoes, but it is worth ordering for the experience.

Favourite cultural site

Orkhon Valley Cultural Landscape is a unique Unesco site that spans more than 122,000ha.

About 320km west of Ulaanbaatar, the valley is the cradle of nomadic civilisation and reveals the remains of the Gokturks (ancestors of the Turks in Turkey), Uighur and Kyrgyz empires which came before the Mongol Empire.

Favourite festivals

Plan your travel to coincide with local festivals such as Naadam - the country's biggest festival of games held every July. Naadam makes Ulaanbaatar spring to life.

Altargana is a rotating, bi-annual festival celebrating the culture of the Buryat people - a Mongol ethnic group of about 500,000 people, most of whom live in a south-central region of Siberia along the eastern shore of Lake Baikal.

While in Mongolia, see a masked Tsam dance at Amarbayasgalant Monastery or Erdene Zuu - the earliest surviving Buddhist monastery in Mongolia - which provides a glimpse of Tibetan Buddhism in Mongolia.

Best sunset

Mongolia has a mesmerising landscape, but the best sunset is in the southern Gobi desert at the Bayanzag - also known as the Flaming Cliffs- in the Omnogovi Province of Mongolia.

The cliffs suddenly come out of the steppe, and when the sun sets and strikes the rocks or the sand dunes, it brings out their colours. You can arrange for your tour guide to take you there.

Best hidden find

The bird-nesting colony at Khovsgol Lake in northern Mongolia. It is at the edge of a protruding peninsula and further from the main pathways. The pristine nature and sounds of birds nesting are mesmerising.

Recommended guide book

Mongolia: Nomad Empire Of The Eternal Blue Sky by Carl Robinson provides an overall view of the country's culture, historic sites and landscapes.

Ideal length of stay

One month is the minimum length of stay I would recommend for travellers who want to truly experience Mongolia.

One should not just go to Ulaanbaatar, but venture into the country. Eastern Mongolia is Genghis Khan's homeland; Northern Mongolia has pristine nature landscapes; Central Mongolia hosts many nomadic civilisations; West Mongolia is home to many Mongolian tribes and minorities; and South Mongolia is the Gobi desert.

You will need to hire a guide and an experienced driver to take you around and offline GPS maps on a mobile phone are a must-have.

It would take at least three months to cover the country, so pick where to go if you have limited time.

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Mongolia – Land of Blue Skies

Story by: Barbara Bierbrauer | Photos by: Mark Prusiecki

July 6 (Groove Korea) A country of extremes, surprises – and even extreme surprises. One of the least populated countries in the world with more horses than people. The temperatures vary from 45ºC in the summer to -40ºC in the winter; its capital is the coldest on Earth, with an average temperature of -3ºC. And it all lies just a 3-hour flight away from Incheon International Airport.

Best journeys are often those where you do not have time to prepare. That way everything comes as a surprise. My friend and I decided, on a whim, to join a Kyoryo Tour Group, and with the winter months in mind, packed multiple layers of clothes, countless gloves, hats, socks and cold-proof underwear to head north.

None of our friends had ever visited this country, and the internet offered little information – Chinggis Khaan, nomads, being a former Soviet ally, mining, cold, horses, cold, empty, cold…. Hence, the first glimpse from the airplane window was unexpected. Mongolia presented itself as a shining, glittering sea of snow-covered hills, diamond-like, without any signs of civilization. As the plane descended, all of a sudden the wilderness was pushed aside by countless yurts, small houses, Soviet architecture, roads and power supply lines – all visible as we approached Ulaanbataar.

The capital – inhabited by roughly half of the total Mongolian population – is worth a separate trip. It is like a rough stone hiding a gem inside it. But the purpose of our journey was not the city – we came to meet the nomads and their horses and after a short stay, we were off again.

So on a very early and very cold morning, we were introduced to two grave-looking drivers and their exotic UAZ – a cherished and highly appreciated product of the Russian automotive industry. Our belongings stowed away, we settled on the rather spartan seats and the expedition began.

The ride through the Mongolian fields seemed to never end. Leaving Ulaanbataar behind, we followed the well maintained intercity highway for maybe a hundred kilometers, until all of a sudden, and without any previous warning, we went off-road. The drive took hours, sometimes the land was as smooth as a highway, sometimes bumpy as hell. We had to admire the driver's navigation skills, as every valley seemed to be the same as the previous, white fields and hills, with some grass every now and then, and slow herds of horses or sheep, wandering around and foraging for dry grass under the blankets of snow.

Meanwhile we got to experience the majestic sunrise over snow-covered hills that within minutes transformed the gray landscape into a glittering sea of light. But even this spectacular natural view wearied the eyes after a while and we were relieved to reach our host family.

We found ourselves in a ger – a traditional Mongolian home that has changed little over the centuries. Only the walls, made of carpets and blankets and an oven in the middle was protecting the family from the deathly cold, with temperatures dropping down to -40°C at night. The family relied on themselves, with no city authority or house management taking the responsibility for the habitat. If you don't collect enough argul (animal droppings), you will not be able to keep the fire alive. And you will die – it's that simple. The extreme surroundings are also the explanation for the legendary hospitality of Mongolian nomads.

Every visitor to a ger is offered a meal, a drink and a bed if they need one. The rules are very strict and follow the basic cultural principals of Mongolians. While living in these very extreme surroundings, people have to be able to rely on each other; help is essential and can save lives.

Offered this hospitality, we joined the family for a meal and a drink. First fermented milk, then the master of the house took out a big bottle of vodka, and we were offered a glass and expected to down it in one gulp. Our hosts were seemingly amused with our obvious inexperience in consuming strong alcohol in large quantities. It got even funnier; after struggling to finish our drinks, we found our glasses refilled immediately. This was welcome entertainment for the hosts, able to have a good laugh at the visitors.

The vodka and the oven warmed us, and we could have stayed like this indefinitely, but our hosts had prepared our next adventure, and were soon proudly presenting their herd to us. Scattered all over the neighboring valley, approximately a thousand horses were slowly wandering around, on an endless search for grass. A single herd might be grazing over several square kilometers, with small groups separating themselves from the main group. This was the main experience – to herd the animals. No sooner said than done, we had mounted our horses and, first (and foremost, carefully) went step by step, then bravely into a trotting pace and finally into a liberating gallop as we started circling around the horses, tightening our rides and making the horses come closer and closer. The herd was like split quicksilver – always on the move, never the same, coming together to protect themselves from predators.

During the next two days we visited another family and got the chance to ride the horses again. We learned to admire these wonderful animals: truly tough but very calm, smart and well-balanced. If made to work, these animals show great dedication to their duties; if left to rest, they reveal a fantastic ability to chill anywhere. We went away from the grasslands and made a journey through the hills to a national park. We met big, fluffy and very angry dogs and only got to understand their job later, as we found a carcass of a foal that had recently been torn asunder by wolves.

We got used to drinking vodka out of water glasses. We learned to wake up every couple of hours to load more wood into our ovens. Plus, we experienced the mighty cold of a deep and dark night if we failed to do so. We learned how to play a game with lambs' bones, and eat a meal that consisted completely of meat. We learned that in Mongolia, chicken is something for vegetarians and after vodka you have to eat candy. We listened to the silence of the grasslands and admired the glittering night sky, festooned with stars, exceptionally bright. We heard the trees speaking in the silent night, as the temperatures dropped down to 30º below, with the wolves howling and the dogs barking protectively.

We experienced a gimmick-free civilization, and we experienced the honesty, the humor and the strength of the people who live in this wonderful country. And as we made to leave, some of us in the tour promised to return. I, for my part, am planning another journey to Mongolia soon. This time I will change the cold for mosquitoes, as the summer is as adventurous as the winter.

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