August 04, 2016

Fake elections, real Cossacks, and how to do yoga in prison

Fake elections, real Cossacks, and how to do yoga in prison

Vote for Yogi Cossacks

1. With parliamentary elections around the corner, some Russians would rather cast their vote for a party that doesn’t actually exist. A Levada Center pollon voting preferences found that the fictional “Youth Party” has a leg up on a few small, but legally registered parties. Extant or otherwise, they don’t stand a chance against United Russia’s 57% support rate. But with only 46% of people polled planning to vote, maybe truth is stranger than fiction.

2. Cossacks may evoke images of fur hats, military prowess, and knee-destroying dance moves, but for the Krasnodar region, they’re not only history: they’re also the future. Governor of Kuban Veniamin Kontratyev argued that Cossack education is key for the region’s youth. Cossack trainees will learn to protect the rule of law, provide aid in emergencies, fight drug trafficking, and, of course, foster a deeper love for the motherland.

3. The quick fix for corrupt politicians is a hearty round of sun salutations. At least, after a former superstar of law enforcement was arrested on bribery charges, yoga helped put some Om into his incarceration. Denis Nikandrov, former deputy head of Moscow’s Investigative Committee, was jailed on bribery charges as part of an effort to “cleanse the ranks” of corruption – and his cellmate has given him an even deeper cleanse. Nothing like a downward dog to chase away the greedies.

Olympian Update
A spectial section during the Rio Olympics

With the Olympics set to start on Friday, the Russian team has shrunk from 387 to 270 (and counting. But even with so many athletes banned for doping allegations, Russia is still predicted to finish fourth in the final medal count. Sadly, that still excludes weightlifterstrack-and-fielders, and more. At least they had last week’s “Alternative Olympics” to show their mettle – even if it won’t get them a medal.

In Odder News

If graffiti is going to happen anyway, why not make a festival for it? That’s what Omsk decided to do, with multiple installations springing up throughout the industrial city.

Graffiti gone wrong: isn’t turning a granite sphere into a Pokéball enough? Not for the  rascals who turned Yekaterinburg’s sanctioned Pokémon trap into a Stalinist eyeball.

Before there was graffiti, there was feeding roosters on the steps of your dacha. That’s country life in the early 1900s for you.

Quote of the Week 

“Most people in Russia think about Russia, and everyone else steals.”

—Fazil Iskander, the Soviet writer compared to Mark Twain, in a story depicting a dialogue between a Russian (or thinker about Russia) and an American. Iskander is full of such words of wisdom, and we've gathered them in honor of his memory, as he passed away this week.

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