September 22, 2016

Bears, boycotts, and busting rhymes

Bears, boycotts, and busting rhymes

The voter who came in from the cold

1. Electoral fraud? Bad weather? Or do Russians just not care about letting their political voice be heard? Theories explaining the results of last week’s Duma elections abound. Whether or not you can blame a cold spell for the low turnout (only 35.18% of Moscow’s registered voters turned up) or attribute United Russia’s big win to cheating, the question now is what the outcome will mean for the future of Russian politics.  

2. An occupational hazard of being a meteorologist: having your weather station staked out by polar bears. Five scientists on an Arctic island found themselves surrounded by 10 adult bears and four cubs for two weeks, until a supply ship that happened to be in the neighborhood delivered flares, sirens, firearms, and dogs to ward off the bears. On the bright side, at least it gave them something to talk about that wasn't the weather.

3. Moscow’s answer to Uber might be taking cabbies for a ride. In response to Yandex.Taxi’s new low rates, drivers announced a three-day boycott of the mobile app. The drivers’ statement claims that the new minimum fare of 99 rubles ($1.50) will leave them “penniless.” A rally on the street where Yandex is located was broken up earlier this week, so they’re hoping the app boycott will fare better at driving change.

In Odder News

Russian Cultural Literacy

Biggie Malenkii? Dvapac? Eminemov? Russian rap started out a niche musical genre, but it has developed along a trajectory totally different from its Western counterpart. Read up on Russia’s top rappers, and maybe even learn a rhyme or two.

Quote of the Week

“The bears usually go to other islands, but this year they didn’t. The ice receded quickly and the bears didn’t have time to swim to other islands...There’s no food on [Troynoy] island, so they came up to the station.”

—Yelena Novikova, spokeswoman of the Sevgidromet monitoring network, on the polar bear stakeout outside a weather station owned by Sevgidromet. 

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