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Thursday, May 19, 2016
Upside Down You're Turning Me
1. The last melodies have faded away, but debate rages on after Russia's Sergey Lazarev (above) took second place to Ukraine's Jamala at Eurovision Song Contest. The winning song focused on the deportation of Crimean Tatars in 1944 – earning it accusations of being too political for Eurovision. But let gravity do the talking: how could the guy who hovered upside-down mid-air not win?
2. It’s a bad day for journalism. RBC has been known as a relatively independent news outlet in an increasingly strict climate. Then came the resignation of three of its top editors – right on the tail of a few stories the Kremlin may have found a bit too independent. Presidential pressure? Or maybe all three just wanted a vacay?
3. Nothing like two male politicians caught smooching to raise a scandal – even if the smooch is a mural on the side of a barbecue restaurant. Like Lithuania’s new painting of an embrace between President Vladimir Putin and Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump. For a viral mural, it seems to say a lot about the two political personas and the blend of flattery and mistrust between them. But will they recreate it in real life?
Russian Cultural Literacy
The new mural of Putin and Trump locked in an embrace alludes to a Berlin Wall mural showing Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev and East German leader Erich Honecker in a similarly smoochy state. Compare for yourself:
The real question: why are the first two wearing matching suits, and the current couple in matching track suits?
In Odder News
Quote of the Week
“We just wanted to show that Navalny, who lives off the Americans’ money, isn’t welcome here. That’s precisely why we threw milk at him. It wasn’t anything so bad. It wasn’t paint, or something that takes a long time to clean off.”
—Dmitry Slaboda, a member of the Cossack group that assaulted anti-corruption activist Alexey Navalny, on their dairy deliberate decision to shower him with milk.
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.
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.