February 11, 2021

Sputnik Rap, Dolls, and Animal Skulls



Sputnik Rap, Dolls, and Animal Skulls

In this week's Odder News, how one man spent his pandemic, prisoners teach us how to get out of the pandemic, and a new video game connects you to the Russian police.

  • You can talk to a Russian sky policeman with your real voice in a new Russian video game, Militsioner. The sky policeman seems more benevolent than hostile, helping you navigate life as a criminal on the run while slowly getting you to appreciate the counsel of Big Brother. If you talk to him in English, he will reply in Russian – which pretty much sums up foreigners' experience with Russian police officers.

  • To encourage Russians to get vaccinated against COVID-19, a labor colony in the Urals has posted a video of two prisoners performing the rap they wrote about the vaccine, "Goodbye, Coronavirus!" The chorus, which goes "Sputnik V, Sputnik V," is downright catchy. It is actually Corrective Colony #12's second pandemic-era hit under the label 12 Studio Twelfth.
  • A Dagestani woman faked pregnancy – to the point of buying two baby dolls to bury at the end of nine months. Citing COVID-19 restrictions, the woman told her husband and family not to come to the hospital. While her husband was burying his twin "newborns," his cousin suggested that he take a look under the blanket. The resulting video of the dolls went viral on social media, with most Russians taking it to be an amateur horror film. Just... Ewww.
  • A St. Petersburg man has been charged with stealing 50 rare mammal skulls from the Russian Academy of Science's Zoological Institute over several months in 2020 and 2021. His stash is valued at 3.5 million rubles ($47,775). The man spent most of the pandemic collecting skulls, but authorities were only tipped off after the man sold about half of them to a high school student.
Like this post? Get a weekly email digest + member-only deals

Some of Our Books

Bears in the Caviar

Bears in the Caviar

Bears in the Caviar is a hilarious and insightful memoir by a diplomat who was “present at the creation” of US-Soviet relations. Charles Thayer headed off to Russia in 1933, calculating that if he could just learn Russian and be on the spot when the US and USSR established relations, he could make himself indispensable and start a career in the foreign service. Remarkably, he pulled it of.
The Little Golden Calf

The Little Golden Calf

Our edition of The Little Golden Calf, one of the greatest Russian satires ever, is the first new translation of this classic novel in nearly fifty years. It is also the first unabridged, uncensored English translation ever, and is 100% true to the original 1931 serial publication in the Russian journal 30 Dnei. Anne O. Fisher’s translation is copiously annotated, and includes an introduction by Alexandra Ilf, the daughter of one of the book’s two co-authors.
The Moscow Eccentric

The Moscow Eccentric

Advance reviewers are calling this new translation "a coup" and "a remarkable achievement." This rediscovered gem of a novel by one of Russia's finest writers explores some of the thorniest issues of the early twentieth century.
Maria's War: A Soldier's Autobiography

Maria's War: A Soldier's Autobiography

This astonishingly gripping autobiography by the founder of the Russian Women’s Death Battallion in World War I is an eye-opening documentary of life before, during and after the Bolshevik Revolution.
Survival Russian

Survival Russian

Survival Russian is an intensely practical guide to conversational, colloquial and culture-rich Russian. It uses humor, current events and thematically-driven essays to deepen readers’ understanding of Russian language and culture. This enlarged Second Edition of Survival Russian includes over 90 essays and illuminates over 2000 invaluable Russian phrases and words.
The Pet Hawk of the House of Abbas

The Pet Hawk of the House of Abbas

This exciting new trilogy by a Russian author – who has been compared to Orhan Pamuk and Umberto Eco – vividly recreates a lost world, yet its passions and characters are entirely relevant to the present day. Full of mystery, memorable characters, and non-stop adventure, The Pet Hawk of the House of Abbas is a must read for lovers of historical fiction and international thrillers.  
Faith & Humor: Notes from Muscovy

Faith & Humor: Notes from Muscovy

A book that dares to explore the humanity of priests and pilgrims, saints and sinners, Faith & Humor has been both a runaway bestseller in Russia and the focus of heated controversy – as often happens when a thoughtful writer takes on sacred cows. The stories, aphorisms, anecdotes, dialogues and adventures in this volume comprise an encyclopedia of modern Russian Orthodoxy, and thereby of Russian life.
The Little Humpbacked Horse

The Little Humpbacked Horse

A beloved Russian classic about a resourceful Russian peasant, Vanya, and his miracle-working horse, who together undergo various trials, exploits and adventures at the whim of a laughable tsar, told in rich, narrative poetry.
Moscow and Muscovites

Moscow and Muscovites

Vladimir Gilyarovsky's classic portrait of the Russian capital is one of Russians’ most beloved books. Yet it has never before been translated into English. Until now! It is a spectactular verbal pastiche: conversation, from gutter gibberish to the drawing room; oratory, from illiterates to aristocrats; prose, from boilerplate to Tolstoy; poetry, from earthy humor to Pushkin. 
The Latchkey Murders

The Latchkey Murders

Senior Lieutenant Pavel Matyushkin is back on the case in this prequel to the popular mystery Murder at the Dacha, in which a serial killer is on the loose in Khrushchev’s Moscow...

About Us

Russian Life is a publication of a 30-year-young, award-winning publishing house that creates a bimonthly magazine, books, maps, and other products for Russophiles the world over.

Latest Posts


Our Contacts

Russian Life
PO Box 567
Montpelier VT 05601-0567

800-639-4301
802-223-4955