April 06, 2017

The bad, the sad, and the ice laser

The bad, the sad, and the ice laser

It's a rough week for news. And ice.

1. Russia is still reeling after Monday’s tragic explosion on the St. Petersburg metro. To honor the victims of the attack, St. Petersburg officials have declared three days of mourning, during which entertainment events have been canceled and many have placed flowers at the Technological Institute metro station. Officials are also organizing mass anti-terror demonstrations. 

2. A report claims that over 100 men suspected of being gay have been detained in Chechnya in recent weeks, and at least three are now dead. Chechen officials have not condemned these likely “honor killings” of gay people, who are not tolerated in the conservative region; Kheda Saratova, a member of Chechnya’s Human Rights Council, expressed sympathy for families who would commit such an act, though she later said that her statements had been taken out of context. What will happen to the detained men is not yet known.

3. A laser that can cut through ice will help ships navigate Arctic waters all year long. It may sound like sci-fi, but the laser is able to focus on stress cracks in large ice floes and break them down with a focused ray of heat. When mounted on a ship, the device will enable travel through waters that are normally inaccessible, creating opportunities for trade and navigation. Testing is slated to take place in the Arkhangelsk region late in 2017.

In Odder News

  • Like Russian literature? Like kitties, horsies, and puppy dogs? Now’s your chance to learn about Russian authors and their favorite pets.
  • A quarter of Russians believe the sun circles the Earth, a sociological study reveals. On the bright side – or is it the dark side? – astronomy classes are to return to Russian classrooms.
  • How about a near-death experience with that chewing gum? Packs of gum with “truth or dare” stunts written on the wrappers are surrounded by a bubble of controversy.

Russian Cultural Obituary

Yevgeny Yevtushenko, versatile poet of Soviet dissident fame, died last weekend at age 83. Yevtushenko – also a novelist, dramatist, actor, and screenwriter – was particularly known for his poems about humanity and justice in the 1960s and ‘70s. One of his most famous is “Babi Yar,” which laments both the Nazis’ brutal massacre of Jews and history’s failure to remember the tragedy. With over 150 poetry collections and a Nobel Prize nomination under his belt, he will be remembered as one of the Soviet Union’s finest poets.

Quote of the Week

    “You can't detain and harass someone who doesn't exist in [this] republic. If there were such people in the Chechen republic, law enforcement wouldn't have a problem with them because their relatives would send them to a place of no return.”
    —Alvi Karimov, spokesman for the Chechen government, denying the allegations of honor killings of gay men in Chechnya based on the assertion that there are no gay men in Chechnya.

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