Sep/Oct 2018 Current Moscow Time: 11:14:01
24 September 2018


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


Thursday, August 04, 2016

Fake elections, real Cossacks, and how to do yoga in prison

by Alice E.M. Underwood

Vote for Yogi Cossacks

1. With parliamentary elections around the corner, some Russians would rather cast their vote for a party that doesn’t actually exist. A Levada Center pollon voting preferences found that the fictional “Youth Party” has a leg up on a few small, but legally registered parties. Extant or otherwise, they don’t stand a chance against United Russia’s 57% support rate. But with only 46% of people polled planning to vote, maybe truth is stranger than fiction.

2. Cossacks may evoke images of fur hats, military prowess, and knee-destroying dance moves, but for the Krasnodar region, they’re not only history: they’re also the future. Governor of Kuban Veniamin Kontratyev argued that Cossack education is key for the region’s youth. Cossack trainees will learn to protect the rule of law, provide aid in emergencies, fight drug trafficking, and, of course, foster a deeper love for the motherland.

3. The quick fix for corrupt politicians is a hearty round of sun salutations. At least, after a former superstar of law enforcement was arrested on bribery charges, yoga helped put some Om into his incarceration. Denis Nikandrov, former deputy head of Moscow’s Investigative Committee, was jailed on bribery charges as part of an effort to “cleanse the ranks” of corruption – and his cellmate has given him an even deeper cleanse. Nothing like a downward dog to chase away the greedies.

Olympian Update
A spectial section during the Rio Olympics

With the Olympics set to start on Friday, the Russian team has shrunk from 387 to 270 (and counting. But even with so many athletes banned for doping allegations, Russia is still predicted to finish fourth in the final medal count. Sadly, that still excludes weightlifterstrack-and-fielders, and more. At least they had last week’s “Alternative Olympics” to show their mettle – even if it won’t get them a medal.

In Odder News

If graffiti is going to happen anyway, why not make a festival for it? That’s what Omsk decided to do, with multiple installations springing up throughout the industrial city.

tjournal.ru

Graffiti gone wrong: isn’t turning a granite sphere into a Pokéball enough? Not for the  rascals who turned Yekaterinburg’s sanctioned Pokémon trap into a Stalinist eyeball.

meduza.io

Before there was graffiti, there was feeding roosters on the steps of your dacha. That’s country life in the early 1900s for you.

rbth.com

Quote of the Week 

“Most people in Russia think about Russia, and everyone else steals.”

—Fazil Iskander, the Soviet writer compared to Mark Twain, in a story depicting a dialogue between a Russian (or thinker about Russia) and an American. Iskander is full of such words of wisdom, and we've gathered them in honor of his memory, as he passed away this week.

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.