1. How do you prevent your Olympic team from kneeling before its competitors and the problems that have plagued it in recent years? Well, your mascot can’t kneel if it doesn’t have knees, said Artemy Lebedev’s studio, which designed Team Russia’s 2020 Summer Olympics mascots: a knee-less bear and a two-legged [grumpy] cat, representing some of Russia’s most iconic wild animals. The team isn’t dodging tough issues like doping, scandals and sanctions. In fact, the studio released an official video of the mascot bear actually, roly-poly style, dodging doping, scandals, and sanctions. Over the next few weeks Russians will vote on the mascots’ names. Please, Russia, anything but Misha.
2. From serfs to Stalin to subotniki – work on Saturdays – Russia has a history of forced labor that may finally come to an end. Springtime means it’s time to get outside and take care of the city and parks, such as fulfilling that unique Eastern European tradition of whitewashing trees (or not anymore). However, a lawyer argued that the common practice of municipal administrations requiring their employees to perform “volunteer” work around the city is illegal, and the head of the Duma Labor and Social Politics Committee agreed. Of course, he added, employers are encouraged to invite participation in subotniki, where one can chat with colleagues while enjoying the fresh air and doing something good, such as helping to plant millions of trees.
3. “Friends, very soon we will make most important changes in Oblast law,” said a deputy of Sverdloskaya Oblast. “Now we have access to moss, forest floor, reeds, and grasses.” The recently accepted law allows people to gather these woodland raw materials. This summer, be on the lookout for babushki in elektrichka suburban trains with buckets full not only of berries and mushrooms, but also… reeds. Which are apparently also edible. According to an opinion piece in Novaya Gazeta, it’s a concerted effort by ruling party United Russia to make easy, small concessions: share the reeds, not the oil. Whether or not you want to reed that much into it, to someone, probably, it is actually “mosst important.”
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