The world’s biggest country, in a magazine. Since 1956.
Thursday, May 05, 2016
Okay, so there is no Russian Cinco de Mayo. That is, there’s a May 5, but without the margaritas and mariachi.
In Sync with Cinco
1. Russians may not celebrate Cinco de Mayo or its dorkier space sister May 4th ("May the Fourth be with you"), but they’ve got those beat with May Day. This year’s festivities saw some controversy when a group of LGBT activists was arrested and prevented from marching in the St. Petersburg parade – though Neo-Nazis with a sign declaring “For the Unity of Slavs and the White Race!” marched without interruption.
2. Eternal flames can burn out: flames painted on cardboard last forever. At least, unless they face water damage, graffiti, or, you know, real flames. But that hasn’t stopped Pereslavskoe, a village near Kaliningrad, from keeping up cartoon flames year-round and firing up the actual monument only on national holidays. Maybe the goofy painting will fire up patriotic officials to extend local gas lines all the way to the monument.
3. Any Russian citizen is now eligible to receive a free hectare of land in the Far East region of Khabarovsk. That land can be used for farming, construction, and business – as long as the new residents don’t mind the almost complete lack of infrastructure. At least they’ll get an unobstructed view of forest as far as the eye can see (unobstructed aside from by other trees, at least).
In Odder News
Quote of the Week
"Yes, they call me Grandma. But in competition we are all equals."
—Oksana Chusovitina, who is breaking records by competing in her 7th Olympic Games this summer. She first competed for the Soviet Union.
Russian Cultural Literacy
In Mexico, May 5th marks an 1863 victory over the French. In Russia, it’s the day Fyodor Dostoyevsky was arrested for counter-revolutionary activities and sentenced to death in 1849. If not for that sentence (cancelled at the last minute) and his four years in Siberia, we may never have seen the author we know and love today.
Tractors for Putin, toxic waste for Kaliningrad, and Reagan and Gorbachev for their modern-day counterparts. Also sweet wine, state secrets, and salt.
The scandal around the Bolshoi's latest ballet, remembering an Internet icon, and pro-Putin pensioners, with a dash of PhotoShop of daredevilry.
Getting flak for getting hitched, how fidget spinners foster political dissidence, and a new set of wheels around Russia. Plus dandy pigeons and the best totalitarian tourism.
President Putin visits human rights activists and curious kids, and a famous author falls to pieces. Plus Ivan the Terrible, a terrible auction purchase, and 10 fantastic bridges.
Pranksters solve energy security with pig manure, paratroopers get rowdy, and presidential grants yield surprise winners. Plus, Russia's deadliest plants and getting stuck in an elevator.
Beachgoers bathe in potable sludge, Russians weigh in on replacements for sanctioned food, and the Kremlin revamps funerals. Plus, Putin goes fishing.
A not-quite lake makes a splash, zombies on public transit, and problems memorializing history's tragedies. But on the bright side, shirtless men and hippos.
Elections are the new dinner and a movie. Plus, Moscow's heading east, rap battles get a bad rap, and pickles and melons galore.