Happy birthday, Catherine the Great! Russian Life reviewed a translation of her letters in January 2019. Read some of those letters with a Russian Life digital subscription.
1. Meet the fish that’s too big to fry. Last week, Astrakhan fishers caught the biggest vobla in Russia. Vobla, or Caspian roach, is a type of fish that Russians like to salt-dry and eat with beer. Usually they range from 17 to 26 centimeters long (that’s 6 to 8 inches for us Americans), but this one was 35 centimeters long (over 1 foot) and weighed 1.055 kg (over 2 pounds). That’s one big fish dinner, you may think, but vobly this big are not to be eaten, but admired and appreciated. According to tradition, the fishers kissed the fish before letting it go, sending along a request for it to bring back even more big fish.
2. Return of the robots. President Putin and his entourage toured a military academy, where the cadets brought out robots and had them do push-ups and headstands. Three cheers for technology!… Right? Well, it turns out that the robots were not actually built by the cadets, but rather assembled from a kit sold by a South Korean company. This obviously doesn’t look good for the cadets. But at least athletes can take heart: they’re not about to be out-trained by robots anytime soon.
3. White whale? More like Navy whale. Norwegian fishermen noticed a beluga whale with an unusual harness snooping around their boats. They called in the authorities, who discovered that on the harness was written “Equipment of St. Petersburg.” Could the whale be a Russian spy? A Russian war museum director claims the whole story is a Western provocation, but Norwegian marine experts are pretty sure something fishy was going on. As for us, we’d like to make a pitch to the 007 franchise managers: Make the next Bond villain a whale.
A sleeping kitty, a walking nose, and loudspeakers: Check out Russia’s 13 most unusual monuments.
“Pay your, pay your debts. Don’t wait! When the legal authorities, GIBDD [General Administration for Traffic Safety], ZhKKh [Housing and Communal Services] officials, creditors, and tax collectors come: pay!”
Want more where this comes from? Give your inbox the gift of TWERF, our Thursday newsletter on the quirkiest, obscurest, and Russianest of Russian happenings of the week.
Russian Life is a 29-year-young, award-winning publishing house that creates a bimonthly magazine, books, maps, and other products for Russophiles the world over.
PO Box 567
Montpelier VT 05601-0567