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Thursday, April 20, 2017
Ice, Ice, Baby
1. In the northernmost Arctic, an enormous Russian flag disrupts the expanse of snow. Is it a frozen mirage? Nope: it’s Russia’s newest and northernmost military complex, Arctic Shamrock, of which you can take a 3D tour here. Russia’s Arctic military presence aims at keeping tabs on other countries’ military activity and maintaining control of the region’s resources and the Northern Sea Route. And, on top of bolstering Russia’s Arctic presence, there will be ping pong.
2. How do you have an election when there are no candidates? That’s the question the Siberian city of Omsk is dealing with after all candidates withdrew from its mayoral election. To be fair, “all” was two, since Omsk’s electoral process involves the Commission for Mayoral Election selecting two candidates out of sixteen for a final round. After the selected candidates withdrew, the City Council declared the election invalid, and, for the first time, will be in charge of appointing a mayor for the city.
3. Counterfeit money wasn’t made by the mint. Counterfeit cheese gives a whiff of palm oil. But counterfeit toilet paper opens a whole new line of questions. In this case, however, the renegade rolls were manufactured in a facility in the Chelyabinsk region and sold under the label of a well known-brand, The discovery of the forged paper products was part of a wide sweep to discover and suppress the illegal production and dissemination of goods sold with false branding.
In Odder News
One way to beat traffic: roll through the streets in a giant inflatable ball (it's called a zorb). Yes, there’s a video.
Art of the Soviet avant-garde, smuggled to Uzbekistan on trains and trucks, is now part of a massive exhibit in Moscow. Get a sneak peak.
How do Russians celebrate Easter? With giant eggs, cakes and candies, religious services, and much more.
Controversy of the Week
Hold your breath (and your sequined outfit) – Russia will not be participating in Eurovision this year. After Ukrainian authorities effectively banned Russia’s contestant, Julia Samoilova, from participating, based on her having traveled to Crimea, Russia’s Channel One announced that it will not broadcast this year’s contest. The decision brings a layer of politics to a competition that’s usually about special effects and outrageous costumes.
Quote of the Week
“One of the criticisms that Eurovision always gets is that it’s just kitsch and doesn’t mean anything. If you restrict that space further and take a harder line on what counts as political, you chip away more and more at the things that popular music can actually be about."
—Catherine Baker, a historian who has written academic work about Eurovision, on the damaging impact of the increasingly political focus of the contest.
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