March/April 2018 Current Moscow Time: 09:53:13
24 April 2018


  The world’s biggest country, in a magazine. Since 1956.


Thursday, November 17, 2016

Clowns, corruption, and overdue library books

by Alice E.M. Underwood

Clowning around for good or money

1. Insane Clown Posse? Try Humanitarian Clown Posse. For the next two weeks, a clowning troupe led by the doctor-clown Patch Adams will pile into their tiny car to visit orphanages, hospitals, veterans’ homes, and homeless shelters in Moscow and St. Petersburg. Their goal: to bring smiles to sad and lonely folks around Russia. After all, laughter and hope can transcend any language barrier. The power of a good balloon animal must not be underestimated.

2. Even economic hotshots have to count their pennies. Alexei Ulyukayev, Russia’s top economic official, has been arrested for bribery. He allegedly accepted $2 million for approving a massive acquisition by the oil giant Rosneft. Even with Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev stating that no official “has immunity if they commit criminal offenses,” some see the arrest as edging out the top echelon of Putin’s government.

3. Usually it’s librarians who do the shushing. But in a current investigation, Natalia Sharina, former director of the Library of Ukrainian Literature in Moscow, has been charged with “inciting ethnic hatred.” She says putting books on the shelf is not promoting hate speech. But the prosecutors say that the books’ contents classify as extremism. She’s also been charged with embezzlement, but given her line of work, maybe someone just had a lot of late fees.

In Odder News

  • Newsflash: baby foxes. A Russian photographer has taken on the task of photographing wild foxes, and this is the result.
rbth.com
  • The Pushkin Museum is featuring an exhibit of texture-rich paintings for visually impaired patrons to “visualize the invisible.”
  • A movie with an Irish director and a Russian setting may sound unusual enough to give you insomnia. In that case, go check out Moscow Never Sleeps.

Quote of the Week

“It’s important that so many friendly people are coming here from countries that are supposedly not so friendly. They help change our mentality.”
—Maria Eliseyeva, founder of the charity organization Maria’s Children, on clowns’ unique ability to create connections across difference through laughter.

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.

Icebergs and tigers and starships, oh my!
Icebergs and tigers and starships, oh my!

Which would you rather: be trapped in the Arctic or accused of treason? Okay, not a fun game. But a worthwhile read about the latest in Russian news. 

Prizes, spies, and kasha for all
Prizes, spies, and kasha for all

This week was full of wins for Russia: a famous photographer, everyone who watched Putin's call-in, and lawmakers making it harder to get foreign aid. So, a loss for Russians getting foreign aid. 

A Very Russki Cinco de Mayo
A Very Russki Cinco de Mayo

Or, whatever the Russian version of margaritas, mariachis, and misunderstood military history might involve.

Baby bears, cats in debt, and other fuzzy victories
Baby bears, cats in debt, and other fuzzy victories

Victory Day, marking the 71st anniversary of the end of WWII, was celebrated this Monday. Here are the ups, downs, and nonsequiturs of the occasion.

Catchy beats and milk-soaked scuffles
Catchy beats and milk-soaked scuffles

Russia's physics-defying display at Eurovision. Bullying via dairy products. Plus some saucy presidential pecking – on the lips. 

Dancing diplomats and dictators' cats
Dancing diplomats and dictators' cats

Politicians are people just like us. They get millions of Instagram responses for a lost pet and do folkdances in front of world leaders. Just a day in the life.

Elton John Crocodile Rocks the Kremlin
Elton John Crocodile Rocks the Kremlin

Sir Elton John's much-vaunted visit with Putin, Eurovision for kids, setting doors on fire, and other great performances – all in one little week.

Russians don't need principles. Just submarines
Russians don't need principles. Just submarines

The British are out to get Russian values and Russian naval vessels alike this week. Scroll down enough and there's also a cat pic.