1. The wheels of time continue to turn, and this week we witnessed the passing of another year. Quite a lot happened in Russia this year, and one poll took the opportunity to ask Russians what they thought the most important events of the year were. Both Russians and Putin agreed that the building of the Crimean Bridge (aka the Kerch Strait Bridge) was the event of 2018. Per the poll, this was followed by the increase in retirement age, the presidential elections, the FIFA World Cup, and the Winter Cherry Mall fire. For a bit of a lighter take on the year, The Moscow Times also collected their favorite Russian memes of the year.
2. A suspected gas blast in Magnitogorsk pitted rescue workers against the -20 degree weather and time on New Year’s Eve. A large residential building was torn apart on the morning of the 31st, killing at least eight and trapping up to 40 more. Vladimir Putin flew to the scene to monitor the rescue efforts. There was some good news to cheer up the somber holiday: a baby boy rescued after 35 hours under the rubble.
3. Looking for Alaska: one lost Alaskan found himself celebrating Christmas in a Moscow detention facility, awaiting deportation. The truly bizarre story of John Martin III started with an attempted voyage to China in an 8-foot sailboat to reunite with his wife and child. The vessel strayed off-course, and Martin ended up in Chukotka. Martin was taken in by a local family, and he spent time giving English lessons and feeding pigeons, until he was sent to a deportation facility in Moscow. Martin remains positive, though, saying he’ll write a book to fund his next attempted trip to China. Frankly, we would buy that.
“We recommend Nikita and all residents of Surgut to dress warmer and get to school and work using safer routes.”
— The mayor’s office of Surgut, telling our disgruntled Siberian cyclist to deal with it
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