November/December 2011

Features in this Issue

Crossing Kolyma

It’s not your average traveler who chooses to traverse remote Kolyma through the depth of a Siberian winter. But then Mikael Strandberg is no average traveler.

Elephantine Ambitions

For 30 years, an art gallery in the shadow of Denver’s Union Station has been a showcase for modern Russian art – works that are definitely turning heads and exciting emotion.

Russian Finland

Most Finns define their nationhood and heritage in terms of Russia, of which Finland was a part from 1809 to 1917. We explore the complex interplay of Russo-Finnish relations, past and present,especially those along the border.

Russian Hoop Dreams

Top WNBA players are streaming to Russia to play pro basketball. And while they are unquestionably having an effect on Russian basketball, Russia is having its effect on them.

The Heart of the Trans-Siberian

It was the last, most difficult part of the Trans-Siberian to build – a 90 km stretch of railway bending around Lake Baikal’s southern coast. To this day it preserves the ethos of its age and is the symbolic heart of the 9,289 kilometer rail line.

Departments and More

  • 4

    Volcanoes and Empires

    The USSR’s abrupt termination on December 25, 1991, was the most significant international event of the last half of the twentieth century.

  • 7
    Note Book

    Time for Change

    At last there is clarity. The fog has lifted and we now know who will be the next Russian president.

  • 8
    Note Book


    All the news that fits from all across Russia.

  • 14
    Travel Notes

    Travel Notes

    The latest from the travel front.

  • 16

    Silver Screenings

    A round up of recent film and TV movie-related news in Russia, from Oscar candidates to a new Sherlock Holmes to Putin's role in filmmaking.

  • 19
    Russian Calendar

    End of the USSR

    A ground-eye view of the end of the USSR, which took place 20 years ago this month.

  • 22
    Russian Calendar

    Peruvian Volcano Unseats Russian Tsar

    When a volcano erupted in Peru in 1600, it had huge effects not only in South America, but across the globe. And especially in Russia, where crop failures led to hunger and discontent, eventually leading to the Time of Troubles.

  • 24
    Russian Calendar

    Underwater Hero

    In 1927 the writer Alexander Belyayev wrote a story about a young man who was able to live under water... in 1961 it became a hit film: Amphibian Man.

  • 26
    Survival Russian

    Catch the Wind

    Russian talking names can lead to many unexpected places. In this instance to euphemistic phrases for, well, you know...

  • 27
    Language Learning


    This issue's Uchites insert focuses on Amphibian Man, which is covered in the Calendar section of this issue.

  • 58

    Dazzling the Palate

    Hidden in a small alleyway off Moscow's historic Pokrovka Street, tiny Chaynaya Vysota tea room offers 250 varieties of tea... and gourmet ice cream.
  • 61

    For the Love of Ice Cream

    How ice cream came to become a Soviet passion.

  • 62
    Under Review

    Tolstoy, Spies and Empire

    Reviews of a new biography of Tolstoy, a book about a French-run spy, and a firsthand account of the end of the Soviet empire. Oh, and a new translation of a less-read work by Dostoyevsky.

  • 64
    Post Script

    Putin is Dead! Long Live Putin!

    A round up of political jokes and jabs being bandied about in the wake of Putin's announcement that he will be running for the presidency again.


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Russian Life is a publication of a 30-year-young, award-winning publishing house that creates a bimonthly magazine, books, maps, and other products for Russophiles the world over.

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