“It turned out that Ukraine was not prepared to elect a president-father and “tsar” [like in Russia], but rather a president-cute son (or even boyfriend), whom Ukraine is ready to befriend.
1. Elections this past week were held all over Russia, and when elections aren’t really all that competitive, you have to get creative to draw voters to the polls. For example, belly dancing with a live peacock. Preferring Russian national symbols – or just having more access to fish in the Far East – authorities in Sakhalin went with 5,000 free caviar sandwiches. And if you want a mix of foreign and domestic policy? Try hockey players, but with Viking hats. As it turns out, turnout was not just affected by local election officials being weird, but also by the least weird, most dull and ordinary thing possible. The current mayor of Sevastopl didn’t vote because his landlord still hadn’t bothered to give him a propiska (housing registration document dating back to the Soviet era), two months after he was sent there by Putin. Turns out that even if Putin’s party can win elections, he can’t force people to fulfill their bureaucratic responsibilities.
2. Russia played a lot of non-so-fun lost and found this week. A 15-year-old boy went mushroom gathering in the taiga, got lost, and ended up eating only mushrooms for thirteen days until he was rescued. The hunt for Russia’s iconic autumn mushrooms also ensnared two babushki, who climbed into a hunter’s treehouse to escape bears overnight. Sometimes nightmares are a little closer to home: police and volunteers searched for 24 hours for a 10-year-old boy, who was eventually found hiding under his own bed. The person that was probably most at a loss for words, though, was the mother whose son returned home six months after she recognized a body that looked like him, cremated and buried him. He was busy being homeless and thinking about the meaning of life. We hope he at least managed to find himself.
3. Four young Russian children were released from Syrian prison. They were born to Russian women imprisoned in Syria for fighting on the side of the rebels. According to the Russian Children’s ombudsman, they didn’t see the sun for a year, and ate food with cockroaches in it; on the plane ride they looked with interest through the windows and ate hungrily. They are currently in the hospital, and while they do not seem to have physical injuries, they have suffered severe psychological trauma. In a few days they will return to their families in Chechnya and Dagestan. It is a bittersweet homecoming, because there are still hundreds of children in Syrian prisons who were born to Russian parents in Syria.
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