March/April 2018 Current Moscow Time: 09:57:46
24 April 2018


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


Thursday, April 13, 2017

Cosmonautics Day and Fruit in Disguise

by Alice E.M. Underwood

Spacemen, spies, and detectives

1. April 12 is Cosmonautics Day, marking the anniversary of the first human spaceflight, made by Yuri Gagarin in 1961. Despite the holiday, the Russian space industry is far from thriving, having dropped below the United States and China in the space launch count. But there’s good news for the Russian cosmos, too: for one, young rocket scientists have big plans for conquering space. And also, the Soyuz MS-02 capsule safely touched down in Kazakhstan this week, carrying three cosmonauts returning from a stint on the International Space Station.

2. When you hear fruit in disguise, you might think a pineapple wearing a mask. But in the case of Russian fruit imports, apples from Poland are passed off as being from Belarus to get around sanctions. Domestic products are saving Russia money, but Russia just doesn’t have enough apples. That’s where disguised produce comes in. In most cases, the parties involved turn a blind eye to illicit imports, but prohibited products brought into the country despite are at risk of confiscation and destruction. What with the disguises, danger, and risk of death, these fruits could make a career in espionage.  

3. Noble though it was to gather in memory of the lives lost in last week’s subway explosion, an investigative journalist has shown that the allegedly spontaneous mourners were members of a pro-Kremlin movement. Spotting Anti-Maidan activists in footage and checking with the university that allegedly organized the event, the journalist found that the mourners were part of an initiative focused on bolstering the ideology of United Russia. Condemning mourners for their ideological motives might sound callous, but it shows that this “grief factory” may be the newborn cousin of the troll factory.

In Odder News

Church spires and department stores: now you see it, now you don’t. Or rather, now you see it, 100 years ago you don’t. Check out this slideshow of compared photos of Moscow a century apart.

rbth.com

Cosmonauts are strong, inventive, and brave. Especially the ones who smuggle alcohol – or sometimes, entire jars of pickles – into space with them.

rbth.com

Art is meant to shock and inspire. In this case, shock you with the horrors of bad dental hygiene and inspire you to floss every day.

themoscowtimes.com

Quote of the Week

    “A week before the launch we didn't eat anything except bread and tea, and we lost almost two kilograms (4.4 pounds). We packed everything in little cellophane bags and when we were being dressed, we placed the bags in the spacesuits. That's how I took off with pickles on my stomach."
    —Hero of the Soviet Union, cosmonaut Igor Volk, on his efforts to smuggle a bottle of cognac and two jars of pickles into space.

    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.