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Thursday, December 01, 2016

Art and politics on thin ice

by Alice E.M. Underwood

Controversy, Castro, Cat Videos

1. Two Russian figure skaters are getting heat for a Holocaust-themed ice performance. Their act is based on Life is Beautiful, a movie about surviving a concentration camp by making it a game, but many saw the ice dance as a bit too gamey. It’d be nice to divorce art from politics, but the fact that one of the skaters is married to Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov didn’t curtail the critiques. Is their dance a mockery of tragedy, or a call to remember the horrors of the past so that they can never happen again? Watch now to decide for yourself:

2. Cuban Leader Fidel Castro is as controversial dead as he was alive. Most Kremlin officials expressed praise, recognition, or sympathy, President Putin calling Castro “a symbol of a whole era.” Opposition figures, on the other hand, focused on the struggling Cuba he left behind. A communist to the end, Castro had his ups and downs with the Soviet Union in its time, but remains a symbol of revolution in Russia and elsewhere.

3. Streaming cat videos could have been a thing of the past. But Russia’s much-rumored lawsuit against YouTube has turned out to be a no-go. The last few days saw a frenzy over a proposed law to limit foreign ownership of companies providing audio-visual services to a daily audience of over 100,000 (a.k.a., what YouTube does). But government officials have confirmed that the restrictions will not apply to YouTube. Celebration is in order: cue up the baby animal videos.

In Odder News

  • Biologists in Siberia are aiming to save an endangered species from extinction with embryos of wild cats crossed with domestic cats. And it’s pretty darn adorable.
rbth.com
  • A Mongolian rap star and a Russian diplomat allegedly got into a bloody fight. The reports have not been confirmed.
  • The trout industry in Russia may have had to swim upstream in today’s economy, but the new sector is becoming the big fish in the pond.

Quote of the Week

“We should be thankful for anything being made about resistance during the Holocaust and about spirit, whether it’s a book, a film, a dance, or whatever.”
—Alla Gerber, the founder of Moscow’s Holocaust Center Foundation, on the backlash to a Holocaust-themed ice-skating routine.

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