Sep/Oct 2018 Current Moscow Time: 15:49:42
25 September 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.

The spy who stayed out in the cold
The spy who stayed out in the cold

Some people see spies everywhere. Other people just see dumpsters, birds, snow, dogs, boars, or artists seeking political asylum. (That's at least 4 separate stories).

Bacon, comics, and fairy tales on ice
Bacon, comics, and fairy tales on ice

Adapting to life in Russia? Comic books. Craving cuteness? Piglets getting saved from a fire. Not Russian enough for you? Ice swimming. And for good measure, zombies. 

Blogging Bears, Ivan the Terrible Rapper, and a Blob
Blogging Bears, Ivan the Terrible Rapper, and a Blob

A polar bear travels the world, a historian serves up the Rhyme of Troubles, the Kremlin gets a new alien, and Presidents Putin and Trump get along by the skin of their teeth. 

Buddha in a blizzard, tsar in the tropics
Buddha in a blizzard, tsar in the tropics

A Buddhist monastery in the mountains fights one millionaire, and Kiribati's islands welcome another one. There's also exorcism, the Facebook of 1917, and general happiness. 

The Kremlin on Ice
The Kremlin on Ice

Convicts carve up the Kremlin, an assassin wins a prize, and governors drop like flies. Actually, that all sounds a lot worse than what happened. Find out for yourself. 

100 Years Ago, In a Monarchy Far, Far Away...
100 Years Ago, In a Monarchy Far, Far Away

Exactly 100 years ago, on February 23, 1917, the Russian Revolution began. And once you've learned about that, there's space, WWII reenactments, and a portal back to medieval times. 

Cats, droids, and acrobatic rock & roll
Cats, droids, and acrobatic rock & roll

A friendly robot graces the metro and a politically charged (and financed) dance studio gets footloose thanks to the youngest Putin. Also, happy World Cat Day!

Say no to discrimination, ducks, and hugs
Say no to discrimination, ducks, and hugs

International Women's Day was celebrated by marches, flowers, and flash mobs. In other news, Russia and China are BFFs, and Prime Minister Medvedev likes ducks.